LW Campfire Conversations

I was invited by Legendary Writing on Instagram to do this interview.


  • – LW: What tips or tricks do you have for writing romance in a story?
  • – Ellen Read: The friendship and respect the characters feel for each other is the basis for good romance. Of course, there has to be attraction between them. The setting of the story can have a huge influence. Some locations just ooze romance. However, overall the romance comes from within the characters themselves
  • – LW: What mistakes do you think many writers make when it comes to writing romance and how do you think those mistakes can be fixed?
  • – Ellen Read: I don’t like to be melodramatic, which often happens with romance stories. I think a writer has to make certain you are completely inside the head of your character, so that they feel what you feel and you feel what they feel.
  • – LW: Where did you get the idea for this story and how did it evolve as you wrote it?
  • – Ellen Read: I was inspired by a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. I originally wrote ‘Love The Gift’ years ago as a short story set in England. I wanted it set in Australia. Sutton Forest felt just right. I could see Charlotte in her private garden in 1905. I wanted it over two eras – Charlotte’s and the present day. Mark is the protagonist. He’s an artist, and in touch with his feminine side. He visits his friend, Beth, who is Charlotte’s great great-niece and his journey to find his true love starts.
  • – LW: What challenges did you face writing this book and how did you overcome them?
  • – Ellen Read: The main challenge writing Love The Gift was having a male protagonist. Romances tend to have a female point of view. Although, once I started, getting into Mark’s head was easier than I thought. I overcame this challenge by making Mark an artist, with an artist’s soul. I needed him to love poetry and to see and feel the beauty in nature.
  • – LW: What lessons have you learned writing this book that you’ll carry with you into the rest of your writing career?
  • – Ellen Read: Because ‘Love The Gift’ had so many changes from the original short story, I learned to go where my characters led me. It’s no use persisting with an idea if it doesn’t work anymore.

SHOUTOUT by Legendary Writing on Instagram

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This is the cover of Love The Gift

ellenrauthor#Repost @legendarywriting with @repostapp.
“The friendship and respect the characters feel for each other is the basis for good romance.” — Ellen Read.

CONGRATULATIONS to @ellenrauthor on publishing Love The Gift, a romance story told from a male point of view! Stay tuned for our exclusive interview where we talk about the challenges she overcame writing this story and how it grew and evolved over time!


LOVE THE GIFT by Ellen Read

The Miller's Daughter

Available at Smashwords, the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Amazon and other fine ebook retailers.


Can a woman who has been dead for over one hundred years help Mark come to terms with the grief he feels over his mother’s death and find the woman he’s always loved?

Love the Gift is a love story with a difference. It’s set in contemporary times and in 1905. Mark visits his best friend Beth at her family home in the New South Wales Highlands. The house has been turned into a Boutique Hotel. Mark occupies the room that belonged to Beth’s great-great-aunt, Charlotte, who died in 1905. The room has been kept just as Charlotte left it.

On his first evening there, he steps into the walled garden that leads off the bedroom and is shocked to find he is in a sunny afternoon in 1905, with Charlotte in the garden to greet him.

Is it a dream, or is it really happening?

When he discovers it’s only three days until Charlotte’s death, he becomes desperate to save her. In the end it is Charlotte and Beth who save him.


The Beast's Garden


It’s August 1939 in Germany, and Ava’s world is in turmoil. To save her father, she must marry a young Nazi officer, Leo von Lowenstein, who works for Hilter’s spy chief in Berlin. However, she hates and fears the brutal Nazi regime, and finds herself compelled to stand against it.

Ava joins an underground resistance movement that seeks to help victims survive the horror of the German war machine. But she must live a double life, hiding her true feelings from her husband, even as she falls in love with him.

Gradually she comes to realise that Leo is part of a dangerous conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. As Berlin is bombed into ruins, the Gestapo ruthlessly hunt down all resistance, and Ava finds herself living hand-to-mouth in the rubble of the shell-shocked city. Both her life and Leo’s hang in the balance.


The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth is filled with danger, intrigue and romance and set in Germany during World War II. This story is in Berlin in the heart of the Nazi stronghold. Ava is a singer and her beautiful voice brings her to the attention of top SS officers. Her best friends are Jews and she has to watch helplessly as their lives are torn asunder. To save her father, Ava marries a young Nazi officer. To save her friends and many others, she joins an underground resistance movement. We often hear of the French resistance but not so much about the German resistance which helped victims of the horrors happening around them. There were also several conspiracies to assassinate Hitler by the resistance movements and by German officers, Valkyrie perhaps being the one more people know. Ava learns that her husband is one of these officers. The story is a retelling of the Grimm Brothers’ Beauty and the Beast. It is well researched and beautifully written. I absolutely loved it.


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief


It is 1939. Nazi Germany.The country is holding it’s breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up an object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, and it is her first act of book thievery.

So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Leisel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.


I absolutely love this book by a great Aussie author but nearly didn’t read it. I ordered it online but when it came I hesitated when I read the beginning, with Death as the narrator. I decided to plunge in and I never regretted it. The words have a life and depth of their own. It is so beautifully written. The story of a young girl, her family and friends living through World War II in Germany adds a new dimension to other stories I had read of the war.It was so interesting to glimpse what ordinary German people suffered at that time. It is wonderful and terrible. Even our narrator Death cannot cope at times with so much death. Yet while it is sad and emotional, it is also uplifting. I would whole heartedly recommend it.


The Secret Years  THE BLURB

When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry’s World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.

How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now?

As the passions of the past trickle down the years, three generations of one family pull together. Each must learn in their own way how true love can conquer the greatest challenges of all.

From the wild beauty of the Australian bush to England’s rugged south coast, this is a deeply moving story of heartbreak, heroism and homecoming by a beloved, multi-award-winning author.


I loved this story. Set in the present day and World War II, it travels from the Queensland Outback, to Townsville on the Queensland coast and to Cornwall in England. Barbara Hannay weaves an intriguing tale that kept me page-turning through the entire novel. The characters were all endearing and believable, good, strong characters. I whole-heartedly recommend this book.



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Love The Gift

Can a woman who has been dead for over one hundred years help Mark come to terms with the grief he feels over his mother’s death and find the woman he’s always loved?

Love The Gift is a love story with a difference. It is a romance with a male protagonist. Mark is an artist. He has an artist’s soul. His mother has always been his rock in life, especially after his father’s death. When she dies, Beth, Mark’s best friend, invites him to stay at her family home. He knows she wants to help him get over his grief. He’s pleased because Beth has always known when he needs her.

Mark occupies the bedroom of Beth’s great-great-aunt Charlotte who died young in 1905. Her portrait in the room mesmerizes him. On the first evening, after dinner, Beth tells Mark that she loves him. He feels an idiot not to have ever suspected it but he can’t deal with it now.

Back in his bedroom – Charlotte’s bedroom – he selects a book of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poems from the bookshelf and opens at his favourite, The Millers Daughter. Unable to concentrate, he steps outside into a walled garden that leads off the bedroom and is shocked to find he is in a sunny afternoon in 1905, with Charlotte in the garden to greet him. She is sitting on a garden seat reading The Millers Daughter.

Afterwards, he doesn’t know if he was dreaming or if it really happened.

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Love The Gift quote - sm

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I post quotes from Love The Gift, other literary things and some of my photos.

I took the tulip photo above at the Bowral Tulip Festival, where Mark and Beth visit in Love The Gift. The tulips there are gorgeous. The tulip festival is on around October every year.