Chasing The Sun by Katy Colins extract

CHAPTER 15

Machinate (v.) – Engage in plots or intrigues; to scheme

 The journey to Adelaide was our quietest one yet. I wasn’t sure if it was because we’d been in each other’s company for too long‚ were slightly hungover‚ or just wanting to be back in civilisation‚ but it felt like something had changed. We’d left‚ thankfully not bumping into Sarah-Jane as we checked out‚ and made sure to fill up a little at each petrol station we passed. Fool us once and all that.

 It was strange returning to civilisation. Swapping dusty barren plains for sprawling motorways‚ wide pavements‚ busy roads‚ and lush green parks plonked between it all. Adelaide is the fifth biggest city in Australia; everything appeared to be stretched out. It felt as though you had the whole street to yourself but also needed to walk the length of it just to get to the next tall and wide building.

‘Shell‚ is the sample sale‚ like‚ an evening late-night shopping thing?’ I asked‚ glancing at the setting sun highlighting the dust motes and sticky fingerprints on the dusty dashboard.

‘No‚’ she replied‚ shifting in the driving seat.

 ‘Are we staying in another hostel tonight then‚ to be there for first thing tomorrow morning?’ Cara asked‚ trying with all her might not to let out a moan at the thought of another hostel.

‘No.’ Shelley fixed her eyes on the road signs.

‘A hotel?’ Cara’s voice lifted three decibels in anticipation. This was clearly a woman in desperate need of room service‚ feathery soft duvets and tasteful soft furnishings. 

‘Not quite‚’ Shelley wouldn’t give any more away and told us to look out for the Serenity Bridal

Store. Cara and I passed looks of confusion between ourselves.

‘Ah‚ there it is!’ Shelley shouted‚ and veered The Beast into a parking space.

‘I don’t see any hotels.’ Cara peered outside the window at the quiet street; the sky was darkening with every second. ‘I don’t see this shop either. You sure we’re in the right place? Where’s the hotel you’ve booked?’

‘You can’t see one because we’re not staying in one‚’ Shelley said‚ cutting the engine and turning to face both of us. ‘We’re staying here.’

‘Here?’ Cara and I said in confused unison.

‘Like‚ in the truck?’

‘No!’ Shelley laughed as if we were idiots‚ ‘Out there …’ Opposite us was a large‚ red-brick shop with two enormous flouncy bridal dresses in the window. Signs announcing the sample sale of the year were hung haphazardly in the softly lit glass‚ but the most worrying part about all of this was that trailing off‚ just to the left of the wide double doors‚ were rows of tents pitched up for the night.

 ‘You cannot be serious!’ Cara quickly caught up to speed with what Shelley had planned for us. ‘I thought you were joking when you said you were packing a tent!’ The colour had drained from her face‚ even in the bright street lamp that had just flickered on outside.

 ‘If we expect to stand any chance with finding the dress I want‚ then we have to get the best spot in the queue‚ and that means spending the night in line. It’ll be fun!’ Shelley dismissed our open mouths and flung her door open. 

‘It’s official. She’s lost the plot‚’ Cara gasped.

 I just stared in disbelief at the impromptu campsite‚ unable to string a sentence together.

Shelley poked her head in the door as she began heaving our things out of the boot. ‘Come on‚ hurry up. The queue is already building!’

She raced off with bags under her arms‚ leaving Cara and me to shake our heads in disbelief.

This was surely taking bridesmaid duties to the extreme?

BUY YOUR COPY OF CHASING THE SUN NOW!

 

Advertisements

Excerpt: Where Rainbows End 


Blurb
“I’m not a man, but that won’t stop me. Just you wait and see.”

It’s 1850 and the Noble family have arrived in Australia to start a new life after scandal drove them from their native England. Headstrong Pippa Noble is determined to reclaim their honour by making her father’s plans for a successful stud farm a reality.

Pippa is immediately spellbound by the untamed outback landscape, although she learns the hard way about the unforgiving nature of the bush – sometimes with devastating consequences. When circumstance leads to Pippa tending the new farm alone, it is the steadfast friendship of neighbouring country estate owner Gil Ashford-Smith that helps her through.

Then an unexpected visitor from England arrives, putting Pippa’s dreams in jeopardy. But she refuses to let go. She will hold onto her family’s land and make her mark, even if it means losing everything else …

Excerpt:

Pippa rode until she coughed and her eyes smarted. The roar of the fire drowned all other sound. Smokey baulked at every movement as his terror mounted.

Pippa called for her father again and again. She waited for a few minutes, willing him to burst through the dense smoke. When it became so thick she couldn’t breathe, she wheeled Smokey back the way they’d come. With every yard they took, her sense of unease grew. Then she saw it. A torn scrap of material caught on a branch. Wrenching it free, she studied it. It was the same brown colour as her father’s tweed jacket.

Scrambling off Smokey, Pippa screamed for her father to answer her. She ran into the scrub, stumbling in haste, pulling Smokey by the reins behind her. The horse, frightened, pulled back, throwing up his head and trying to pull the reins free from her grasp. ‘No, no! Smokey. Calm down!’ But the horse half reared, snatching the reins from her hands and once free bolted away.

Distraught at losing the horse, she turned in a circle, looking through the white gloom. ‘Father! Can you hear me? Where are you?’

She darted to the right, peering around large boulders and tree trunks before running to the left where the ground steeply sloped away. She skidded down a few yards, searching the landscape for any sign of him. Her foot dislodged a rock and she tripped, landing on her knees.

‘Father!’ For a moment she knelt on the ground, exhausted. Despair waited to claim her, but she refused to give up. With a frustrated sigh, she stood and wearily wiped a hand over her eyes. Where was he?

A flock of white cockatoos screeched above the trees. The sound of what seemed like thunder came again. Abruptly, a kangaroo bounded down the slope, nearly crashing into her before it jumped to the right and away. Then another came thumping over the top and down beside her, and then another. It hadn’t been thunder at all, but hundreds of kangaroos fleeing. An opossum scuttled by, followed by a large fat wombat and smaller kangaroos and wallabies. Lizards of varying sizes and the odd snake slithered past and Pippa stared in fear as a huge goanna charged its way over a boulder and skimmed past her skirts.

Pippa stared at the exodus of animals and birds all headed east. From the west she heard the splintering of wood, followed by a loud whooshing sound. The fine hair on the back of her neck rose.

The fire was close.

Rushing back to the track, she caught her skirts on a bush and paused to unhook them. The snap and crackle grew louder. Straightening, she tore her skirts free and reached the top only to stop and stare at the small circle of orange flames licking the dry grass a few feet from her. Ash and embers floated in the air like snow; where they landed, they started spot fires.

She looked for Smokey, only he had gone. Fear closed her throat.

Lifting her skirts high, she ran down the track, heading for the entrance down into the valley. Thick smoke blanketed the countryside and crept into her lungs, slowing her down and making her cough. The roar of the fire urged her to keep going. A stiff, hot wind thrashed at the treetops, swirling the ash and embers about her head. The air seemed sucked dry and, apart from the crackle of flames, the bush was eerily quiet.

Pippa ran, the sound of her laboured breathing noisy in her ears. Her eyes smarted and streamed, while her lungs felt as though every breath would be her last. She tried to ignore the encroaching danger and concentrate on getting into the valley. She had to outrun it.

Buy links:

Kindle UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Where-Rainbows-End-compelling-inspiring-ebook/dp/B071P7KBH6

Kindle US: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Rainbows-End-compelling-inspiring-ebook/dp/B071P7KBH6

Author Bio:


Australian born AnneMarie Brear writes historical novels and modern romances. Her passions, apart from writing, are reading, researching, genealogy, roaming historical sites, buying books and gardening. She is an author of historical women’s fiction, contemporary romance and several short stories and is currently living in England.

AnneMarie Brear on the web:

http://www.annemariebrear.com 

http://annemariebrear.blogspot.co.uk 

https://www.facebook.com/annemariebrear  

Twitter @annemariebrear.

 

Blog Tour: The Ones That Didn’t Quite Make it by GJ Minett

Today I am delighted to welcome author GJ Minett to The Love of a Good Book.

I’ve mentioned quite a few times recently that I’m now well into book 3 and hope to finish it in mid-April. It would actually be more accurate to describe it as the third novel destined for publication because it is in fact the ninth I’ll have completed. In fact, if we throw in for good measure the dozen or so that I’ve started and then abandoned after a few pages and the fifty or so others that have come to me as abstract ideas at different times over the years but never found their way onto the page, we’re looking at quite a substantial body of work, albeit one of highly questionable quality.

​When The Hidden Legacy was published as my debut novel, it was the culmination of a lengthy and largely frustrating apprenticeship that started years and years ago with a novel called Lobello, which owed a great deal to Tom Sharpe and became my first near miss. The next attempt was called (and I kid you not) Breaking Wint – all I can say in my own defence is that scatological humour was very much in vogue at the time and it did at least interest an agent who has gone onto much greater things, but I can’t even bring myself to dip into it now. I don’t need to be reminded how bad it was.

​Having got Tom Sharpe out of my system, I tried my hand at my first psychological suspense novel, Losing It, which also had supernatural overtones. I still quite like this and wonder occasionally if I might be able to do something with it now that I am more experienced but its central failing was that it left things too vague and open for the reader at the end.

​So on from there to crime and A Dish Served Cold which was as generic and derivative as its title suggests, not to mention more than a little pervy. I didn’t even make much of an effort to interest publishers with it because by then I had a pretty good idea of what they did NOT want and was sure it was very much in that category.

​The Tree House however was better. It was a first person narrative by an embittered old school teacher who was having difficulties in coming to terms with the way the world was leaving him behind . . . and before you even go there, it was not based on yours truly. The opening chapters of this got me onto the MA in Creative Writing at Chichester which was really the springboard for everything that followed, so I suppose it can be said to have served its purpose.

​You may be surprised however to know that my most recent ‘no go’ actually came after The Hidden Legacy. While my agent was seeking a two-book deal, he urged me to make sure I actually had a second book to offer, so I started writing Benefit of the Doubt and finished it in six months. I sent it to my agent, quite happy that he would love it as he had its predecessor and received an email soon after suggesting I put it in a drawer and chalk it up to experience. At the time I was as surprised as I was disappointed but agents always know best and Lie In Wait, over which I took a great deal of care and which was very much fuelled by my anxieties that I might turn out to be a one-book author, was a much better product as a result.

​I may go back to Benefit of the Doubt someday and see if it can be salvaged. The others however can stay where they are, hidden away in ring binders that are gathering dust. They may never have made it but they were stepping stones to better things and I’ll always remember them with a certain amount of fondness.

​Well . . . maybe not Breaking Wint.

G.J. Minett studied at Cambridge and then spent many years as a teacher of foreign languages. He studied for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, and won the 2010 Chapter One Prize for unpublished novels with the opening chapter of The Hidden Legacy. You can follow him on Twitter @gjminett and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/grahamminettauthor.

 A man is dead. A woman is missing. And the police have already found their prime suspect… 

 Owen Hall drives into a petrol station to let his passenger use the facilities. She never comes back – and what’s more, it seems she never even made it inside.

When Owen raises a fuss, the police are called – and soon identify Owen himself as a possible culprit – not least because they already have him in the frame for another more sinister crime.

 Owen’s always been a little different, and before long others in the community are baying for his blood. But this is a case where nothing is as it seems – least of all Owen Hall…

 A dark, addictive thriller, ingeniously plotted with a twist that will make you gasp, LIE IN WAIT is perfect for readers of Angela Marsons or Rachel Abbott.