Weekend Writing Warriors: Outback Promise - the acceptance

It’s great to be back here with the Weekend Writing Warriors. If you want to read more excerpts from other writers, click on the image above or on this link here.

My novel, Outback Promise, is a story of the tragic loss of a child. It explores how the ensuing grief drives two loving people apart. After a few long years of separate coping and more than a few mistakes, Grady has held out an olive branch to his wife Rosalyn. He proposes they run away together, seeking the magic that once held them strong.

I was stalling, not wanting to give him an answer too easily. I sighed heavily. ‘Don’t get too damn full of yourself when I tell you I can get the time off. I’m in.’

Grady half-swallowed a whoop of triumph, closed the distance between us in two long strides and kissed me. For the first time in years it felt right to be there, sheltered in his arms. I told myself to live in the moment.

He whispered, ‘We’re going to have a ripper of a time. You’ll see.’

With that declaration I knew he wanted more than my agreement, he wanted my enthusiasm. The rain was subsiding almost as fast as it started and I thought how there was just enough of it to make a mess of everything. It would turn the dust into mud and spike the humidity to an unbearable level.

***

Outback Promise

Tragedy. Betrayal. Hope.

‘I can’t remember the last time a book affected me this much,’ Tess Woods.

After losing their only child, Roslyn and Grady Balfour's lives are destroyed, shattering their perfect marriage. When Ros discovers Grady's infidelity, it sets their love on a destructive downward spiral. Grady hopes that three months camping together will rekindle what was lost so long ago. 

Attempting to repair their broken marriage, Ros and Grady set out on a journey of self-discovery and redemption deep into the Australian outback. Packing resentment and bitterness along with them on their quest, the couple struggles with what they've lost. Forced to battle the challenges of the other travelers along with the dangers of the harsh outback, their only chance for survival lies in facing the secrets of the past. Will Ros and Grady find a way to hold onto each other when everything else has fallen apart?

***

4.4 stars out of 5 – 39 reviews – Amazon.com

Buy links:

Amazon HarperCollinsKoboBarnes & NobleiBooks 

Google Play

Weekend Warriors - Outback Promise - half truths

I love the Weekend Warriors blog and I’m sorry that time has swept away and I haven’t been able to participate more.

Today's excerpt comes from my novel, Outback Promise. Ros has just told her best friend, Suzanne, that she has accepted her husband’s invitation to go walkabout in the Outback. Suzanne knows nothing about Grady’s affair. That’s a secret that Ros has kept close to her chest.

As she finished her last microdot of tomato, she set her fork down and cleared her throat. ‘Okay, you can stop the act now – what I really want to know is, when’s the big divorce?’

It took every bit of my willpower to bite back the first questions that sprang into my head. How did you find out? What do you know? I speared a small green leaf and chewed slowly, half-smiling at her. My pulse raced as I tried to imagine what she’d heard and how.

She drained her glass of chardy while her attention lit on a surfer half her age strutting past on the beach below. When I didn’t answer she continued, ‘You know – the two of you. Sleeping in a tent. Nothing around but dirt, dingos, and drongos. How long’s that going to last?’

***

Please join other authors on the blog hop by clicking here or on the image above.

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Outback Promise - blurb:

Tragedy. Betrayal. Hope.

After losing their only child, Roslyn and Grady Balfour's lives are destroyed, shattering their perfect marriage. When Ros discovers Grady's infidelity, it sets their love on a destructive downward spiral. Grady hopes that three months camping together will rekindle what was lost so long ago. 

Attempting to repair their broken marriage, Ros and Grady set out on a journey of self-discovery and redemption deep into the Australian outback. Packing resentment and bitterness along with them on their quest, the couple struggles with what they've lost. Forced to battle the challenges of the other travelers along with the dangers of the harsh outback, their only chance for survival lies in facing the secrets of the past. Will Ros and Grady find a way to hold onto each other when everything else has fallen apart?

***

4.6 stars out of 5 – 36 reviews – Amazon.com

Buy links:

Amazon HarperCollinsKoboBarnes & NobleiBooksGoogle Play

And now for something completely different - Weekend Writing Warriors' hop

This is my first week on the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop. Thank you for letting me join!

My excerpt comes from my novel, Outback Promise. Ros’s husband Grady has just suggested they escape to the Australian outback to try to heal the rift in their marriage:

How long had I been marooned on my desert island? I stood and brushed the dust off my dark brown shorts, untied the blouse from around my waist and pulled it over my exposed shoulders. The sun was hotter than ever and I hoped it wouldn’t burn.

Grady unfolded his tanned legs and sprang to his feet beside me. He tried to kiss me but I stepped away and started down the track to Bantry Bay and the old Explosives Magazine. It was my way of saying maybe, and a spiteful part of me gladdened at the hurt disappointment in his eyes. That’s the problem with being a victim – pain turns you into a tormentor.

***

Please join other authors on the blog hop by clicking here or on the image above.

 

Outback Promise - blurb:

Tragedy. Betrayal. Hope.

After losing their only child, Roslyn and Grady Balfour's lives are destroyed, shattering their perfect marriage. When Ros discovers Grady's infidelity, it sets their love on a destructive downward spiral. Grady hopes that three months camping together will rekindle what was lost so long ago. 

Attempting to repair their broken marriage, Ros and Grady set out on a journey of self-discovery and redemption deep into the Australian outback. Packing resentment and bitterness along with them on their quest, the couple struggles with what they've lost. Forced to battle the challenges of the other travelers along with the dangers of the harsh outback, their only chance for survival lies in facing the secrets of the past. Will Ros and Grady find a way to hold onto each other when everything else has fallen apart?

***

4.6 stars out of 5 – 35 reviews – Amazon.com

Buy links:

Amazon HarperCollinsKoboBarnes & NobleiBooksGoogle Play

Cheaper than a cup of coffee!

Outback Promise is on sale for two weeks for only 99¢ until June 25

You can buy it here:

Amazon.com

Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Coffee for love by Nevit Dilman

Where am I?

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been lately, for the month of April I’m touring with Outback Promise. You can find me here:

 

Another day to celebrate!

Read any poetry lately? Monday March 21st 2016 is World Poetry Day.

From the United Nations website:

Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.

Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures. In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.

Do you still remember poems or rhymes from childhood?

Occasionally I even try to write the stuff but almost everything I create is only suitable for personal consumption. Sort of like my attempt to bake perfect bread.

I wrote one poem, through the eyes of the protagonist of Outback Promise. I know it’s not bad because it was published in Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine before that publication started specializing in erotic verse.

This is Rosalyn’s voice, at age 25, before she leaves her hometown of Vancouver forever:

Upward Mobility

A raven squats on the peeling roof

crows boil by, bleating and scolding,

      as cherry blossoms strain in crusted-green captivity

I schlep my heavy backpack up the hill

away from the white-capped water

      toward the tired building where boiled cabbage

      and constant sorrow linger in the hallway

Sunshine sprawls on distant mountains.

I lift my eyes from the gray sidewalk

      In a shimmering window my reflection smiles back

          A stranger in my clothes.

So what are you doing for poetry day? Reading your old favourites? Scratching out a limerick or two?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons by: Linda Bailey

Who is helping you?

Lucky writers have a network of friends who keep them going in this isolated occupation that breeds self-doubt. Those writers usually make their luck by going to conferences, courses, and writing groups. There is another way too – the internet offers a lot of places to find like-minded friends.

Last year I met Tess Woods after I signed my contract with HarperCollins Australia. We’ve never met in person but have built a friendship over great distance.

Tess is a human dynamo. Not only does she work as physiotherapist in her busy family practice, she’s a mother of two. She has a passion for social justice and in 2014 started the Meals By Mums group that cooks nutritious meals for Perth’s homeless people. On top of that she maintains a kickass website, sends out monthly newsletters, and is working on her second novel. Her first critically-acclaimed novel Love at First Flight is being prepared for a print release in August 2016.

So I was thrilled to be featured on her March Book Club Pick this month. She has reviewed my novel Outback Promise and is giving away three copies of it. If you click on this link and leave a comment, you’ll be in the running for one of those free copies.

I’ve been blessed with some strong friendships through my short writing career. Tess is one more and I’m grateful that she made time in her busy schedule to put the spotlight on my book this month. Someday I hope I can repay her in some small way. In the meantime I try to pay the gifts of friendship forward.

Where have you found your best writing friends? How have you helped each other along the way?

What did it mean to you?

This meme been floating around the internet for some time: 

The fact is, once a work is published it’s fair and proper for everyone to have their own interpretation. Writing is art, after all. So if a book is well-written and thought-provoking, then it’s done its job.

Every so often a reader comes along who interprets my work the way it spoke to me. That doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong. They’re just different. And vive la différence – it makes the world a wonderful and diverse place.

This week The Bookfeed Blog summarized my personal interpretation of Outback Promise here, although I might have said examines in place of teaches:

Outback Promises teaches a lesson in cherishing what you have now, in this moment. It teaches you not to take your loved ones for granted. It shows that everyone has different ways of processing things and that communication really is key. The issues the couple face, are caused by both of them and I find that refreshing and realistic. Too many books these days bash men with all the blame falling on the male antagonist.

Bolitho does such a good job at demonstrating the reality of it all. Grief, love, relationships. I love that the trip isn’t all smooth sailing and that they meet so many obstacles and continue to overcome them.

The review ends with a warning that the book was emotionally draining for her. That’s reasonable, because isn’t that why we read? If we don’t want a roller coaster ride, what are we doing in the amusement park?

Guilty or Grateful?

From East of Eden by John Steinbeck:

The dry earth was ticking under the sun and the crickets rasped. “It’s real godforsaken country,” said Louis.

“Makes me feel mean,” said Adam.

“How’s that?”

“Well, I’m fixed so I don’t have to live on a place like this.”

“Me too, and I don’t feel mean. I’m just goddamn glad.”

 

Sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t have to live in the parts of the world where daily survival is a struggle. Guilt turns a person mean.

The accident of my birth in a prosperous, Western country can’t be changed. Instead I try to feel glad or grateful. Here are some of the things that made me grateful in 2015:

  • The Greater Victoria Public Library. Its seemingly inexhaustible resources of books, periodicals, movies, and music enrich my life.

  • HarperCollins Australia who contracted my novel Outback Promise and continue to help spread the word about it.

  • Great Plains Teen Fiction who continue to distribute my novel Lockdown.

  • All the wonderful people who read and / or bought my books.

  • The writing community at large who nudged me forward to helped me improve my writing.

  • The writers and readers whose well-timed encouragement kept me going. You know who you are.

  • My family and friends who continue to support of my writing caper and so much more.

  • My amazing husband whose capacity for joy and optimism encourages me every day.

I try to remember these simpler gifts also:

  • Life in a polite, orderly society where acts of terrorism or gun violence are minimal.

  • The miracles of computers and word processing that allow me to write with relative ease.

  • Having good quality food available within an easy walk of my front door.

  • The gift of electricity that fills my house with light and warmth.

  • Fresh water, hot or cold, that is delivered when I want it, with the twist of a tap.

Amy Morin tells us that gratitude has health benefits too. It seems intuitive. I know I feel better when guilt in my life is minimized.

How do you keep gratitude alive and guilt at bay? Are you feeling glad today or just a little bit mean?

 Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Rose in Winter in Tuscany by Waugsberg

More Buzz about the Book

Bree Testa gives Outback Promise 9/10 on her 1 girl…2 many books blog:

https://1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/review-outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho/

The thing that struck me most about this book was the reality of it. I had absolutely no trouble placing myself in Ros’s shoes and I could understand how such a devastating, senseless loss could cause a rift in the strongest of relationships.

[…]

I thought this book was fantastic. Amazingly well written and a deep and sensitive exploration of what must be a parent’s greatest tragedy.

 

From the Unshelfish book blog:

http://unshelfish.org/2015/12/07/review-giveaway-outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho/

Bolitho masterfully penned an emotional read, you are invested from the start, you feel the pain, the depth of sorrow. Have your tissue box handy and prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster ride, quite a compelling journey.

 

Suze Lavender said:

http://www.librarianlavender.com/2015/11/australia-days-book-review-giveaway.html

[…] a unique story with a difficult topic which is captivating, gripping, emotional, honest and absolutely brilliant.

 

By Carol Cram on November 28, 2015 five out of five stars on Amazon

Outback Promise is one of those novels that stays with you long after you've read it. A heartbreaking story is woven into a story of redemption and hope.

 

From the Coffeeholic Bookworm:

https://coffeebookmom.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/review-outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho/

It is a story about family, love, death, betrayal, financial crisis, acceptance and forgiveness. [...] the way the story was written was so beautiful and lyrical, I couldn't help but admire Maggie Bolitho

What are they saying about Outback Promise?

Three weeks ago today, Outback Promise was released into the world. Here’s early some feedback from writers and book bloggers:

Highly recommended, character-driven reading.

…from the lovely Dianne Beth at Tome Tender, 5 out of 5 stars (22nd November 2015)

http://tometender.blogspot.ca/2015/11/outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho.html

I was completely absorbed in the story all the time I was reading this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well-written, contemporary, relationship-based drama.

….the talented writer & blogger Terry Tyler, 4.5 out of 5 stars (17th November 2015.)
http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho.html

A very sensitive read with a great couple that I was cheering for at the center.

…prolific blogger and author Samantha March, 3.5 out of 5 stars (11th November 2015)

http://chicklitplus.com/bookreview-outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho/

I found many of the scenes confronting and emotionally touching - or more like emotionally punching.

…delightful book blogger Renee Conoulty 5 out of 5 stars (1st November 2015)

http://heysaidrenee.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/outback-promise-by-maggie-bolitho.html

There are lots more reviews on Amazon, GoodReads and other fine book sites.

The raffle is over for this year - many thanks to everyone who entered

Congratulations to Janvhvi from India who is the first prize winner, of the $15 Amazon gift certificate, drawn randomly by Rafflecopter.

2nd to 6th place random winners, each of whom will each receive a copy of my ebook, Outback Promise, are:

  • Katie C

  • HaveBooks W

  • Nicole A

  • Jennifer R

  • Victoria T

Thank you to everyone who entered. With 214 people trying for the prizes, it was great to have Rafflecopter’s random draw feature. I couldn’t have decided without it!


***

It’s the season when spirits start to roam the earth again. Isn't that the perfect reason to stay inside a good book?

Where better to get a new book than at the Annual Spooktacular Giveaway Hop?  Many thanks to the amazing Kathy at I am a Reader Not a Writer for putting this together each year.

Click the link here for a list of participants offering reading-related prizes over the next fifteen days.

By clicking the Rafflecopter link below, you will be in the running for either an Amazon $15 gift certificate or one of five copies of my new e-book, Outback Promise.

My raffle is worldwide so enter now and enter often.

 

 

Are you giving thanks?

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues it’s the parent of all the others – Marcus Tillius Cicero. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in Canada and I want to list some of the things I’m grateful for, in my writing life:

  • For all my writing friends who share their wealth of knowledge, read what I write in its unpolished form, offer encouragement and hold my feet to the fire when it’s necessary.

  • For all the people who have pre-ordered a copy of Outback Promise for delivery on November 1st.

  • The people who bought and read my book Lockdown. Double gratitude to those who logged into Amazon and / or Goodreads and left a favourable review.

  • For the publishers, Great Plains Teen Fiction, who took a chance on me and published Lockdown. Thank you to the entire team and Anita Daher in particular.

  • HarperCollins Australia contracted Outback Promise for release as in e-book. Thank you Rochelle Fernandez for seeing the potential. Thank you Dianne Blacklock for the edits that helped realize it. And artist Michelle Payne for delivering a gorgeous cover.

  • Friends and family who believe enough in me to encourage me on this road.  

My love of writing started, like most writers, with a love of reading. Long before I dreamed of writing a novel, I had these gifts:

  • I learned to read early and had access to a good public library.

  • Every Christmas until I was eighteen I received a gift from great aunt in England, whom I never met. But hardcover books, wrapped in thin brown paper with my name on them, arrived every December. There were few books in our home and I treasured these ones that were mine and mine alone.

  • Having an English teacher in grades 9 and 10 (RIP Peter Seale) who improved my appreciation for the beauty of language and literature.

John Milton said gratitude bestows reverence…changing forever how we experience life and the world. Do you believe that? What are you thankful for now and in the past? Who or what helps you on your chosen path?

 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Fall Colours in Canada by Vlad Livinov from Toronto

 

 

 

What happens when the music stops?

This is my last Saturday morning in Sydney. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky. It’s time to go for a walk along one of the stunning nearby beaches. Maybe stop for coffee and listen to the lighthearted banter of the locals enjoying their heavenly city.

IMG_2249.JPG

 

But first a blog. Normally my blogs are about writing. This time I’m reflecting on the past five months in this sunburnt country.

The highlights of this trip have been:

  • Standing in a vast gorge (Windjanna was my favourite) or on a wide outback plain, feeling tiny and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. At the same time I felt more connected than ever with the universe.

  • The constantly changing scenery. From towering forests to wild coastlines to dusty red roads, Australia is a dramatic country.

  • The fabulous animals, from the marsupials to the reptiles but above all, the birds. We’ve seen emus and brolgas, parrots, lorikeets, cockatoos, pelicans, and flocks of wild budgerigars. And hundreds of raptors in the drought-ravaged outback.

  • The brilliant outback night sky where the stars spread out like diamonds on velvet, unsullied by the light pollution of cities.

  • Driving hundreds of kilometres of empty highways with the man I love, with time to think, sing, laugh, and listen.

With my Australian-set novel Outback Promise being released by HarperCollins on 1st November 2015, this adventure became more significant than ever. It renewed my affinity for the sun-flattened plains and how the silent endless horizon heals the soul.

Often the pace of our travel compelled us to move from one place or another before we realized its true heartfelt significance. But isn’t that life itself? How many golden moments sift through our hands like sand, only to be appreciated in retrospect?


What's the good of writing a blog if you don't post it?

Last month I wrote this blog but forgot to publish it. That’s my life in the constant ebb and flow of travel. Also I’ve been editing my novel Outback Promise when we’ve stopped long enough to set up my computer for more than an hour at a time.

Here’s what I wrote in June. I’ll write this month’s and put it up later in a week or so. It’s important to stay in practice. But more about that later.

June 8th, 2015: I’m in Australia for five months. In the past week alone my husband and I have driven over 1,800 kilometres, visited a dozen national and state parks—more or less—and spent nights in five different locations. This is a holiday right?

Yes and no.

Yes because I’m seeing exciting places that I may never see again.

No because I can’t stop working. My work, of course, is writing.

Writing is also my obsession and compulsion.

And here’s what happens if I let it slide for a day or two: I lose track of my characters. They wander off and have conversations without me. When I get back to the keyboard, they’ve clammed up.

“You weren’t here to listen? Did you expect us to wait until you were ready?” they ask.

Then I have to tease them back to life, work with them until they’re ready to share their secrets again.

They don’t arrive on the page, fully formed. It’s up to me to perform the small acts daily that bring them to life.

What happens when you step away from your keyboard? What takes you away from your work? What brings you back?

What do you see?

Melbourne. This is where the love affair began almost thirty years ago. Not my love affair with my husband which was already burning bright when I arrived. I’m talking about my love affair with Australia.

My early weeks were spent looking for work, hopping off and on the noisy trams. I puzzled over train routes and adapted to the volatile climate. The squat brick houses with their terracotta roofs and fenced front yards soon became part of my psyche. So did the deliciously ornate buildings constructed during the gold rush years that started in 1851. By the 1880’s Melbourne was the richest city in the world which is reflected in the fabulous architecture from that period.

Knowing how way leads on to way, (thank you, Robert Frost) I realize I may not see these sites again. So this week, when my husband and I walked the neighbourhood where we bought our first home together, I absorbed as many details as I could. Sniffing the faint scent of eucalyptus on the air, I listened to the call of the wattlebirds and touched the rough case of the gum nuts from the tree on the nature strip outside our old fence. I hope I caught enough of the texture of this city to last a lifetime.

Soon we will set off into the desert to explore new places and retrace old steps. My novel, Outback Promise which will be released in November, is set on that sprawling landscape. I will walk in Rosalyn Balfour’s shoes again and refresh my memories of her troubled journey.

My love affair with Australia may have started in Melbourne but it soon spread to every corner of the continent. Even in the harshest part of the Outback there is great beauty and renewal, which is one of the themes of my novel.

Is there one place you’ve said good-bye to that you’d like to see again? Where is it and what would you hope to take away as your final impression?


Photo of Flinders Street Station, Melbourne by Alan Bolitho, LM (leading man)>