After the tragic death of her parents, Rachael Watson runs away, leaving her sister to manage the family lavender farm and shop. Three years later, crushed by her unrelenting grief, workplace bullying, and guilt and shame for letting her sister down, Rachael decides to return home.
There, Rachael meets Ebony, a black mare who has been mistreated and beaten.
Rachael realises she is not the only one who has been broken.
I wanted to write a short story about a horse. A lavender farm immediately came to mind, although there’s no obvious link. In fact, horses and lavender seems poles apart, but my idea for the story was one of healing, which explains why lavender came in to my mind. The fragrance of lavender, the soft tones of lavender fields – what could be more relaxing? I saw the farm as a place of restoration and recovery of the soul.
This story is free on my website as a epub or PDF.
I’m very pleased to have Jenny Woolsey, children’s author & speaker, and tutor, as a guest on my blog. Jenny is also an advocate for facial differences, mental illness and inclusive education.
In 2018 I published two children’s novels, Daniel Barker: By Power or Blight, and, Amy and Phoenix. These are two very different novels but exemplify my theme of difference, diversity and disability.
Daniel Barker could be classed as a fun horror, and Amy and Phoenix, a heart-warming fantasy.
The books are about…
Thirteen-year-old Daniel Barker has a magical book from Egypt which gives him 99 wishes. The wishes must be used to make the world a better place. If not, the Mummy’s Blight will be awakened.
Dan is like a superhero, until he wishes for a fire at school to impress Charmaine, the cutest cheerleader. Things then start getting crazy and out-of-control.
Is it the Mummy’s Blight and how will Dan stop his favourite teacher from becoming a zombie?
Eleven-year-old Amy Pringle lives on a farm. She knows all the animals by name and can talk to them like Doctor Doolittle. Amy is looking forward to her favourite ewe, Edna, giving birth. When she sees her dad with his gun, she knows something is wrong.
Amy must think of a way to save Phoenix, the three-legged lamb’s life.
After her sister Hannah, posts a video of Phoenix on YouTube and it goes viral, Amy thinks all her problems are solved. Little does she know what is about to happen.
Will Amy be able to save Phoenix after all?
Both of these books sound wonderful, Jenny. Thank you so much for chatting about them.
If you’d like to know more about Jenny Woolsey and her books, or would like to connect with Jenny, please visit her website and go to the social media places, below.
While my third book in the Thornton Mysteries series is resting, I’m researching my fourth book in the series.
It’s set on Norfolk Island, which is a small island off the coast of Australia.
Norfolk Island and Pitcairn Island formed at same time when the peaks of two massive volcanoes thrust up from the ocean floor 6,000 kilometres apart. Both stood virtually uninhabited for 3 million years.
Then, in the late eighteenth century, Norfolk became the site of a Penal Settlement and Pitcairn became the hiding place for Fletcher Christian’s mutineers.
The British Penal Settlement on Norfolk was the most depraved and cruel of all penal settlements, even worse than Tasmania’s. The beautiful island became known as a hell on earth.
The similarities between the islands, doesn’t stop there. In 1855, when Pitcairn could know longer support its population, Queen Victoria offered them Norfolk. On 8th July 1856, the entire population of Pitcairn sailed to Norfolk Island.
The descendants of the Bounty’s mutineers found Norfolk a paradise, with its deep blue seas and mild climate. Even though at times, those seas became treacherous. The Sirius, the flag ship of the First Fleet, met its end on the rocks of Norfolk Island.
I visited Norfolk Island this year and saw their paradise. Visitor numbers are restricted, the top speed limit is 40 km per hour, all animals have right-of-way, and you may not get good wifi. I didn’t miss it at all during the week there.
The Thorntons in my book visit Norfolk in early 1929. They find a paradise, too, although Alexandra is sure she can hear the ghosts of the convicts in the ruins at Kingston, and murder is just around the corner.
I’m very pleased to have finished the Second draft of Book 3 of The Thornton Mysteries.
It’s set in the Barossa Valley, northeast of Adelaide, in South Australia, which is an area known for its superb wines. Shiraz grapes are the local speciality.
The stone cottages and Lutheran churches throughout the region owe their heritage to a 19th-century wave of German settlers.
My story is also set in Handorf, a beautiful little town, closer to Adelaide. Its German history can be traced back to 1838 when George Fife Angas, a director of a South Australian company, made a trip to London to promote colonisation. During his trip he met Pastor Kavel who was helping German Lutherans, being persecuted by the King of Prussia, to immigrate to safer places.
Set in 1928, the Handorf in my story has become Ambleside. Because of the Great War 1914-1918 (World War I), the government changed the name of the town because it sounded too German.
An interesting point I discovered in my research is that Handorf/Ambleside residents were not interned during the war, unless they posed a threat because of strong German allegiances. Anyone who was interned, however, was deported to Germany after the end of the war.
Four days ago at 11.00am on the 11 November, was the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, the agreement that warring parties would stop fighting.
In my book, the Thornton family go to the Barossa Valley as Benedict’s parents have a vineyard and winery. Alexandra wants to discover why they rejected Benedict after he returned home from the war.
This was Benedict’s war and he suffers nightmares from the horrors of it.
As writers, it would be wonderful to always stay in our own little bubble and write. Perhaps a cave, as long as there was enough light to see. Or a sanctuary with a view, overlooking the ocean, or a rainforest or even a beautiful garden. Reality won’t allow it though, and we have to peek out sometimes and see what is going on out there, knowing full well that it isn’t as interesting as anything going on in our heads.
For me, hand in hand with a passion to write, was the desire to be published. When I moved towns just over three years ago, I write Love The Gift, a time-slip novella, which I self published. I then started The Dragon Sleeps, book one in The Thornton Mysteries Series. I went down the road of self publishing with it as well – a way that is not easy. I’m pleased I did this, as I have met so many wonderful people along the way.
By the time I had finished writing book two, I realised I wanted try for a traditional publisher. I had come so close many years ago, in another life, when I had an agent in London. Things didn’t work out, even though I received a verbal offer to publish a book I’d written back then.
This time I had success. A publisher, US company Crimson Cloak Publishing, said they would publish book two. But where was book one? After reading it, they said they’d publish it also. In the end, my contract was for four books. I was ecstatic!
My first steps, onto a new publishing path, started straight away with a media kit and an interview to do for the publisher. Why did I write? Why did I write this book? Tell me about your characters. What motivated you? And so many more questions. It made me think hard about…everything. Difficult to do but it was great to go over everything.
So, now these have been sent to the publisher. What’s next? So much more, but for now back to writing book three in The Thornton Mystery Series.
I’m very pleased to announce the title of Book Two in The Thornton Mysteries Series.
THE INCA’S CURSE
In the 1850’s, Daylesford, in Country Victoria, found itself in the grip of a gold rush. Thomas Thornton Senior made his fortune during those days, as did his friend, Aquilino Bassetti. Giacomo Rigoni remained a dirt miner before he worked for Thomas Thornton Senior.
By 1928, when the Thorntons visit Wombat Hill Manor, their holiday home, tucked into the side of Wombat Hill, Daylesford’s new ‘rush’ is spring water. Mount Franklin, which most Australians know for its spring/mineral water, is close by.
The Thorntons have kept their gold mines in operation, but others, like the Bassettis, have gone into the hotel business. Hungry miners have to eat and drink. In 1928, the Bassettis still own an hotel, cheese factory and mineral springs. The Rigonis remain at Wombat Hill Manor as caretakers and staff.
Through the years, the Inca’s curse has insidiously filtered through the generations, killing with its touch, until at the end, it nearly tears three families apart.
BLURB: Inca’s Curse – Book 2 is set at the Thornton’s holiday home in Daylesford, country Victoria. Alexandra and Benedict are no sooner there, than Alexandra’s pearls are stolen. Two murders follow. A girl’s body thrown into a lake. The second body is found at the bottom of a collapsed gold mine tunnel.
What do these have to do with the drowning of Thornton Antique’s acting manager in Melbourne?
Then, Alexandra discovers an old love letter written by her grandfather, along with a necklace that is missing a large diamond.
Are the rumours about a cursed necklace true? Can a curse cling to an object and unleash its power through the decades?
Alexandra must discover the truth before more people are killed.
When I first thought of writing The Dragon Sleeps and needed a grand house for the Thornton’s family home, Werribee Park and mansion in Victoria came to mind. I’d first visited it years earlier and always intended to include a house like it into a story.
I thought you might like to read something about the house behind my Thornton Park.
Werribee Park is approximately 10 hectares of manicured gardens and native woodland. There is Werribee Mansion, which is next to the Victorian State Rose Garden, and also Werribee Open Range Zoo.
Many people think that Australia’s history is not as rich as England’s or Europe‘s and that we don’t have grand houses and gardens. They haven’t seen Werribee Park.
Scottish brothers Thomas and Andrew Chirnside, built the Italianate styled mansion over three years, from 1874 to 1877. They had made their fortune in Australia’s developing agricultural industry, so had the wealth to construct such an elaborate residence.
It’s intriguing to note that there was a romantic triangle here. Some years earlier, Thomas had proposed marriage to Andrew’s wife Mary, who was also their first cousin. The mansion was built by the brothers for Mary, who held both their hearts.
It is sad that Thomas committed suicide in 1887 from depression. Andrew died in 1890. Werribee Park was left to Andrew and Mary’s children, with Mary residing in it for the remainder of her life.
In 1923 the property was sold to the Roman Catholic Bishops of Australia, where it became a seminary, a place of reflection and spiritual development, named Corpus Christi College.
Today, the mansion is open to the public. It also has an adjoining hotel and spa. Visitors can experience the grandeur of Werribee Mansion, discover Victoria’s unique pastoral history down at the farm and homestead, or have a picnic on the Great lawn surrounded by stunning formal gardens.
When writing a book set in the 1920s, the first thing you realise is there is a lot of research to do. The Dragon Sleeps is a murder mystery. The family home, Thornton Park, is a lavish mansion. There are servants and a definite upstairs downstairs scenario. Fashions, music and cars aside, I found the need to research food. What would the family eat in 1927? What did the servants eat?
Mrs Preston is the cook at Thornton Park. Not a chef, but she’s as meticulous and proud of her culinary achievements, as any chef in a restaurant would be. She manages the menus and the kitchen staff to perfection. She does discuss the family menus with Alexandra Thornton, who is mistress of the house.
On an average day, the family is served breakfast in the morning room. This usually entails dishes such as Kedgeree served with softly scrambled eggs. This is a British recipe, as much of Australian food was at that time. Kedgeree originated in India, during the British Colonial days. At a time before refrigeration, it allowed cooks to use leftovers from the night before to make into appetising breakfast dishes. Essentially the ingredients are boiled rice, chopped hard-boiled egg, cold minced fish, fried in one pan and flavoured with herbs.
Sausages are also a much-loved breakfast fare, along with English muffins and toast, served with marmalade and strawberry jam. All served with tea or coffee. At Thornton Park, morning tea is also served in the morning room or on the veranda. The Thorntons find Scones and Lemon Pound cake delicious. Served with tea – Earl Grey, Darjeeling or Ceylon teas. Black teas are preferred. Luncheon, usually served on the wide veranda, weather permitting, often comprises dishes such as Asparagus Salad with Saffron Vinaigrette or Smoked Salmon. Often cold meats left from the night before are used. Mrs Preston always has her eye on the costs and her budget. A soufflé is a regular dessert. A light wine accompanies the meal, followed by tea and an assortment of cheeses.
Afternoon tea at Thornton Park is what we know as High Tea. Plates of scones with strawberry jam and cream are served, along with cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches. Egg and lettuce sandwiches, all on white bread with crusts removed, is another favourite. Gougères (cheese puffs) are added as a savoury accompaniment, along with Stilton cheese and Fig Tarts. Cakes such as Madeira and Lemon Loaf share the serving plates with Éclairs, Macaroons and Banbury cakes.
A Banbury cake is a spiced, currant-filled, flat pastry cake, although the filling often includes mixed peel, brown sugar, rose water, rum, and nutmeg. Dinner is a formal meal, even when the family is alone. A dinner party is a totally different and more elaborate menu. The family always dresses for dinner. They have sherry in the drawing room before they move into the dining room. Hor d’oeuvres comprise Canapés à l’Amiral and Oysters a la Russe served with champagne. The Main course is often Chicken Lyonnaise or Stuffed Pork Tenderloin. Served with white wine. For Desserts, Mrs Preston excels at Charlotte Russe, a dessert invented in France by chef Marie Antoine Carême in the early 1800s. He named it in honour of his Russian employer Alexander I (russe is the French word for “Russian”). It’s a cold dessert of Bavarian cream set in a mould lined with sponge fingers. Lemon Soufflé is also favoured. A sweet dessert wine is served.
Coffee is served in the drawing room with a selection of cheeses. The men, in particular, enjoy brandy at this time. The ladies usually prefer port or liquor.
In many cases, Mrs Preston serves the same dishes in the servants’ dining room, albeit after the family has finished their meal. However, the servants, whose tastes are less refined, don’t enjoy Hor d’oeuvres and prefer a hearty Beef and Barley Soup. For the main course, Mrs Preston often prepares a Cottage Pie or Roast Beef with gravy and dumplings. The servants love Apple Crumble with custard for dessert, or pudding, as they call it. They enjoy a good strong cup of tea to finish the meal.
Mrs Preston is undoubtedly a remarkable cook, an equal of any chef in a five star restaurant of today. She has help in the persons of a kitchen maid and a scullery maid. The latter is the less desired job that entails going into the scullery and washing and drying all the dishes from the family dining room and the servants’ dining room. The family use crystal glasses, silver cutlery and fine bone china crockery, so the utmost care has to be taken. Nevertheless, it is Mrs Preston who shines. Alexandra Thornton frequently takes the time to go to the kitchen and compliment this remarkable woman.
Ellen Read is the author of The Dragon Sleeps – an historical murder mystery novel, and Love The Gift – an eBook Novella, a time slip romance, a story to heal grief.
Ellen was born in Queensland, Australia.
She loves to read fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She particularly loves history and stories of ancient myths and legends. Authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, and Victoria Holt, the latter of whom wrote gothic mystery/romances, have influenced her own work.
Other interests include photography, music and musical theatre, and dance. Ellen was a ballroom dancing teacher for many years and has also worked in Performing Arts administration.