Tag Archive | Wollombi

Téa Cooper and “Matilda’s Freedom” + GIVEAWAY!

Téa is giving away a digital copy of her other historical, Lily’s Leap, to one randomly-chosen commenter. Be sure to (1) answer the blog question, and (2) leave your email address in your comment. Good luck!

Hi Susana, Thanks for inviting me to your blog once more!

We’re back in Wollombi again for my second Australian historical romance and this time I thought I’d tell you a little about Wollombi’s Aboriginal history. (It used to be pronounced ‘Wu-lum-bee’, though today it is pronounced Wo, as in wok – lum, as in thumb and bi, as in buy).

Wollombi is an aboriginal word meaning meeting place or meeting place of the waters. Three brooks converge in Wollombi—Congewai Creek, Wollombi Creek and Yango Creek—and for thousands of years, the Awabakal, Darkinjung and Wanaruah people used the area as a ceremonial meeting place. The place is seeped in a history that goes far back far beyond European settlement.

Mt. Yengo

Mt. Yengo

Mount Yengo stands guard over the village. It is said to be the spot where Baiame, the Creator God and Sky Father jumped back up to the spirit world after he created all the rivers, mountains, and forests which is why it has a flat top.

The sandstone hills surrounding are littered with caves worn by the rising waters of the creeks and the winds that whistle through the valley. Many of them are on private property (mine included) and have the most wonderful aboriginal art.

There’s a rock that is said to be Tiddalik the frog and I couldn’t help but include it in Matilda’s Freedom.

Jem is an aboriginal stockman and he tells Matilda and Kit’s sisters the story of Tiddalik the Frog but there isn’t— to the best of my knowledge—a cave below him; that was little bit of poetic license, but nevertheless the story is well-known and told to children throughout Australia.

Here’s an excerpt from Matilda’s Freedom. Jem is quite a character and appears in Lily’s Leap as well. I hope you reading about him as much as I enjoyed writing him.

Tiddalik

Tiddalik

Matilda settled back to listen as Jem’s deep, dark voice filled the cave. ‘Tiddalik was a giant frog who lived in the Wollombi Valley back in the Dreaming. One day, he woke up and he was very, very thirsty.’ Jem’s eyes bulged as he licked his lips and clutched his parched throat.

Beth giggled and copied him.

‘He was so thirsty he began to drink from the brook, but instead of drinking only what he needed, he continued to gulp the water, not caring about anybody else. In the end, he took so much his tummy nearly burst.’ Cheeks protruding and eyes wide, Jem rolled from side-to-side. ‘He was so full he could hardly move away from the empty creek. All the other animals got really worried. With no water, they’d die. They knew they had to get Tiddalik to give some of the water back up. They got together and made a plan—if they could make Tiddalik laugh, he would bring all the water back up and everyone could share. In the end, the eel made him laugh, and all the animals could survive and enjoy life.’

Matilda glanced at the girls, waiting for their appreciation of the happy-ever-after ending. Jem, however, had more to tell. He lifted his index finger to the roof of the cave and raised his bushy eyebrows. ‘Tiddalik, though, he was punished for his greed. He turned into stone and sits just up there,’ he inclined his head to the roof of the cave, ‘punished for being greedy and not thinking about others.’

‘And so we call this Tiddalik’s cave,’ said Beth, breaking the ominous silence. ‘It’s not really, because he wouldn’t fit in here. Would he, Jem?’

‘You’re right, Beth. He wouldn’t fit; he’s way too big. But it’s a safe place to be when the water comes.’

Isn’t it fun to hear about folk tales like this? Tell us about one from your neck of the woods!

About Matilda’s Freedom

An unconventional woman clashes with colonial society in this spicy and sweet Australian-set historical romance.

Matilda'sFreedom 300 copyHis carefree bachelor days over, Christopher Matcham returns to Sydney to take responsibility for his mother, two stepsisters, and the family property. Fortune smiles on him when he is introduced to Matilda Sweet, a woman in need of work. Though unusual, Christopher senses that her fresh ideals and positive outlook can only benefit his sisters, so he hires her as a companion.

By the time they arrive at Christopher’s family home, the two are fast friends. But Matilda’s unorthodox ways and her convict heritage make her a second class citizen to the family. Christopher has responsibilities, and they include an advantageous match. A breeches-wearing, fish-pond-swimming, plain-talking convict’s daughter will never fit in. After all, romance is a luxury the upper classes cannot afford…

Digital Edition: AU$4.99 | ISBN: 9780857990600| Length: 59,000 words

Publication Date: July 1, 2013 | PDF – MOBI – EPUB | Historical Romance

 Harlequin Escape

Excerpt

Sydney, Autumn 1856

‘Paris is a city of contradictions—rich and poor, the glamorous and the debauched—and I loved every moment of it.’

Christopher Matcham turned his head as the girl’s breath caught, although he was uncertain whether the sound was from shock or delight. In another situation, he might have interpreted it as a sign of pleasure. Rocking back in his chair, he stared across the table at the delectable Miss Matilda Sweet.

Matilda radiated vitality and vivacity. In the flickering candlelight, her skin had an almost amber hue, highlighting her honeyed hair. Her wide eyes beckoned to him, and a tiny pulse flickered along her elegant neck. She might be a currency lass and of convict stock, but her looks were far from disappointing. She was so different from the women of Sydney society—and that of Paris.

‘Kit, I think you’re getting worse with age instead of better. Remember, there are ladies present.’

The delighted grin on Emily Bainbridge’s face belied her husband’s words. ‘Richard, don’t be such a stuffed shirt. I would love to hear about Paris. We get so little news from elsewhere, and I’m sure Matilda doesn’t mind.’

The girl smiled and lowered her eyes behind lashes that would have done a courtesan proud. Her hand fluttered to the column of her throat.

‘I am totally fascinated. I cannot imagine what Paris must be like. They say half the world visited the city for the Exhibition Universelle.’

Matilda’s low contralto rippled across his skin like a warm brandy, and the temptation to lean across the table and inhale her scent was almost overpowering. Clearing his throat, Christopher dragged his eyes away from her generous mouth and made an effort to pay due attention to his host and hostess.

‘Paris is certainly a fascinating city, full of intriguing layers. The upper classes cling to the skirts of the Emperor and Empress while on the seamier side, the commoners flex their muscles and enjoy life. The cafés are open day and night, and the entertainment is outrageous. La chahut dancers have claimed the streets as their own. Their acrobatic skills are phenomenal. The dancers kick their legs so high they can remove a man’s hat and then, of course, display delightful glimpses of their under—’

About the Author

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallTéa writes contemporary and historical romantic fiction featuring strong-minded women and sexy Australian men. Love and life Down Under isn’t always easy. Her heroes and heroines have to fight long and hard for what they believe in before they reach their happy ever after.

Matilda’s Freedom is Téa’s second Australian historical romance. Her first Lily’s Leap is available now and she is currently working on her third Face of an Angel set on a schooner somewhere between Hobart and Sydney.

Her three contemporary romances Tree Change, The Protea Boys and Passionfruit & Poetry are available on Amazon.

To keep up with all of Téa’s news, visit her website www.teacooperauthor.com where you will find links to her blog and social media pages.

Previous posts by Téa Cooper on Susana’s Morning Room

Tree Change, a contemporary Australian romance

The Protea Boysa contemporary Australian romance

Lily’s Leapa historical set in Australia

Passionfruit & Poetry, a contemporary Australian romance

Images Wikipaedia Commons and JohnLCoombesPhotography

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“Passionfruit & Poetry” by Téa Cooper

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallThanks for hosting me today Susana.

Everyone always asks where did you get the inspiration for your story. Sometimes that can be very hard to answer – a dream, an idea, an overheard conversation, a million snippets from you-can’t-remember-where

Passionfruit & Poetry is one of those stories where the answer is really easy but it has a bit of backstory so I thought I’d share!

I live just outside a tiny little village called Wollombi. I like to say it is a time-warp village. Nothing much has changed since the early nineteenth century and it is unashamedly the inspiration for my historical romances. However living in such a delightful place does have its disadvantages and one of them is shopping. You can get a great cappuccino, have a fantastic Italian meal, buy a newspaper and a bottle of milk but the ordinary everyday necessities of life are a bit harder to come by and require a 30km (twenty miles about) drive to the nearest supermarket. It’s not my favourite occupation so I have to be bribed.

Cessnock, the local ‘town’ has a great cake shop and my bribe, after I’ve hit the supermarket, is a ‘treat’ and a coffee. They make the most excellent cakes and pies and other naughtinesses. That is inspiration point number one.

Inspiration point number two is my passion for old black and white movies and I freely admit there is nothing even remotely original about my choice. Casablanca rates right up there, probably in first, second and even third place. I think I can probably quote the entire script.

If you add Rick’s line “of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world she walks into mine,” to the cake shop in Cessnock you can actually come up with the plot behind Passionfruit & Poetry.

So, with apologies to Murray Bennett and Joan Allison, who wrote the original play Everyone Comes to Rick’s on which the film is based, the blurb for Passionfruit & Poetry ought to read… “Of all the milk bars, in all the country towns, in all of Australia he walked into hers.”

And there you have it!

Inspiration strikes at the strangest time and in the strangest places.

About Passionfruit & Poetry

PassionfruitandPoetry_TeaCooper_200x300When Xander Fitzgerald, darling photographer of the Sydney fashion scene, takes a shot of Jeanie Baker his ISO settings hit red alert and no one’s life is ever the same again.

Jeanie believes she is content–a small town girl happy running the Café Cinématique with her grandmother but with Xander’s arrival her life takes an unexpected turn and she finds herself unwillingly thrown into the limelight.

For a girl with few ambitions Jeanie’s new life is at once both terrifying and strangely liberating and in Xander’s company she blossoms into a woman she hardly recognizes. But the sophisticated life of Sydney is full of smoke and mirrors and when her past comes back to haunt her all she wants is to head home, back to passionfruit pie and her grandmother’s warm hug.

Xander discovers he can’t have his cake and eat it too. He has to make some serious decisions but is he prepared to give away everything he has worked for to win the woman he first glimpsed through the lens of his camera?

Amazon

Excerpt

Copyright 2013, Téa Cooper

All rights reserved, Crimson Romance.

With a steadying breath, Jeanie walked up, hand outstretched and a tight smile plastered on her face. “Good morning, Mr. Fitzgerald.”

He turned and a gasp of surprise froze in her throat. Colored contacts. It had to be—his eyes were exactly the same navy as his shirt. Definitely contacts. Somehow her hand ended up in his—she glanced down at it and something jumped inside her, then she jerked her hand back as he started to speak.

“Good morning, you must be Jeanie. Your grandmother was just telling me about the lovely little business she’s been running here for longer than I can believe.”

Forcing her lips back into a smile Jeanie studied the navy-eyed smooth talker, trying to ignore the coy titters emanating from the direction of her grandmother. On closer inspection he wasn’t as young as she’d thought, which was probably why Gran was making such a fool of herself. Once a man turned thirty, he was fair game in Gran’s book—any younger and she deemed it cradle snatching.

Fine lines radiated out from the corners of his eyes and the non-designer stubble on his chin gave him an almost negligent air, as though he’d been in a bit of a hurry to leave the house, and the creased linen shirt only added to it.

She cleared her throat and beat down the flush on her cheeks. “We don’t get many complaints. Gran’s the talented one. I just make the coffee and clear the tables.”

His vivid gaze roamed backward and forward across her face and a shot of something as potent as the brandy Gran put in her Christmas cakes raced through her. Her toes tingled. She lifted her hand to her face and brushed her hair away from her forehead. Perhaps they’d need the fans on with all these extra people around. It was very warm in the café.

“Have we met before?” he asked.

Susana Says: So much more than a Cinderella story…5/5 stars

Jeanie and her grandmother Norma are barely managing to eke out a living from the café they run in a rural Australian village. It’s not much, but they have each other, and Jeanie feels safe and secure, out of the limelight.

SusanaSays3Until a famous photographer comes to town for a photography shoot…and suddenly Jeanie’s spirited away to the bright lights of Sydney, where she discovers depths she never knew she possessed. The new Jeanie emerges from her cocoon as a beautiful, desirable butterfly, and slowly but surely the fears of the past disappear with the ugly trappings of her former prison.

Inspired by Marilyn Monroe and Ms. Cooper’s passion for old movies, this is the story of a lovely young woman whose size-fourteen curves and unpleasant childhood memories have given her a feeling of unworthiness and a compulsion to huddle in the background so as not to call attention to herself. Xander is the photographer who manages to free her from her prison, but could he be playing some cruel game with her? Will Jeanie have the courage to face her fears and risk everything to win the love of her life?

Any book that has me laughing or crying all the way through it is bound to be a winner. With Passionfruit & Poetry it was tears, although they became happy tears as the book came to an end. This story will resonate with any reader who knows what it’s like to go through school chubbier than the other kids her age.

I loved the characters of Jeanie and her eccentric grandmother, and Xander, from what I knew of him, was a very special man as well. I only wish I knew more about Xander’s life and what made him such a perceptive, honorable, and worthy hero. Most of all, however, I wonder if there are any more around where he came from. (Seems to me there are too many guys around like Billy Westward, unfortunately.)

Passionfruit & Poetry is Ms. Cooper’s fourth romance novel, with a fifth, a historical, due in July. Based on this one and Tree Change, which I read earlier, I would not hesitate to designate her a great new talent on the romance horizon.

About the Author

Téa writes contemporary and historical romance featuring strong-minded women and irresistible Australian men.  She has written three contemporary Australia romances—Tree Change, The Protea Boys and Passionfruit & Poetry. Her love for old movies and all things ‘retro’ inspired Passionfruit & Poetry–and, in all honesty, the most disgustingly delicious passionfruit and lemon tarts made by her local patisserie.

To keep up with all of Téa’s news visit her website www.teacooperauthor.com where you will find links to her blog and social media pages.

Previous posts by Téa on Susana’s Morning Room:

Tree Change, a contemporary Australian romance

The Protea Boysa contemporary Australian romance

Lily’s Leapa historical romance set in Australia

Author Téa Cooper, Lily’s Leap, and a Quaint Australian Town Called Wollombi

Come and meet my muse!

I thought I was going to write contemporary romance but ‘the best laid plans’ and all that proved me wrong. I was seriously ambushed. And so my first historical romance, Lily’s Leap, was born. Let me explain!

I live in Australia in a tiny time-warp  village called Wollombi. It is very much a weekend escape kind of place. Escape to the Wollombi Valley, the B & Bs and local businesses proudly proclaim. Very little has changed in Wollombi since the nineteenth century and it is a picturesque spot with a fascinating early colonial history. This is the coffee spot today.

Wollombi©HarrisonPhotography

And this is what it used to look like! You can see not much has changed!

Wollombi©2013AClymo&WHS

In a fit of enthusiasm I volunteered to man the local museum a couple of days a month and that is how I was ambushed.

Wollombi Museum©2013AClymo

A day spent seeped in the nineteenth century enlivens the muse and after I had got over the ghosts breathing down my neck I was in business and Lily’s Leap jumped onto the page.

Come and meet one of the characters who haunts Wollombi Museum.

Bushranger©2013AClymo&WHS

This is Bushranger Patrick Bruin. He made the mistake of bailing up the local Justice of the Peace and was wounded in the arm, shoulder and chest. He ultimately died of his wounds in the lock up just outside. He had two guineas on him when he died and it was sent to the Colonial Treasurer.

The bushranger who bails up Lily in my story is nowhere near so unlucky; he gets his girl, but then it is a romance!

So now you’ve met my muse-eum and one of the fascinating characters who live there why not indulge in a romantic romp with Lily and her bushranger Tom Roscomon!

Lily’s Leap releases on May 3rd and is available from Amazon.com Amazon.uk Lyrical Press iTunes and B & N.

Follow the link if you’d like to find out more about Wollombi and don’t forget to let me know if you are passing through!

Lily’s Leap 267 x 400About Lily’s Leap

Born into privileged society, Lilibeth Dungarven finds herself married, widowed, and much to her distress, back under her father’s rule, all before her twenty-first birthday. But this spirited and independent young woman has a dream: she is determined to breed the perfect racehorse and restore the family’s flagging fortunes. An accomplished rider, she takes matters into her own hands and sets out to restore Dungarven horse stud to its former glory.

When the devastatingly attractive Captain Tom and his mismatched band of bushrangers stumble across a mob of the best horses they’ve ever seen, and the daughter of the famed Dungarven stud, they know their fortunes have changed. Their catch is worth a king’s ransom. Surely it can’t be too difficult to contain this beautiful young woman with violet eyes and skin-tight riding breeches for seven days?

Amazon Buy Link

Lyrical Press

Excerpt

Copyright 2013, Téa Cooper

All rights reserved, Lyrical Press, Inc.

Lily could see the pale ribbon of road below cutting through the trees and the bright blue expanse of sky wide-open in front of her. “Nero. You can do it,” she whispered into his sleek, shiny neck and he snorted in response. Her thigh muscles burned as she tightened her grasp on his flanks. His muscles tensed in response, attuned to her body. She gritted her teeth and willed her shaking hands to steady. “We can do this, Nero. We have to.” Her heart hammered so hard in her chest she thought it might leap right over the culvert and down the hill ahead of them.

With barely a moment’s hesitation she dug her heels into the stallion’s flanks and urged him down the hill. The last trees cleared and the sudden heat of the sun stung her face, then she crouched low over Nero’s neck. The clatter of his hooves on the sandstone surface told her they had reached the road. The blood raced through her veins, pulsing in her ears, a violent and excruciating pounding raged through her body.

“Stop.” Tom’s command echoed around her as the blocks of the convict hewn, sandstone walls reared ahead of her. Surely it wasn’t such a huge jump for a horse like Nero?

She leaned forward in the saddle and her cheek brushed the dampness of his neck. Time slowed. With her eyes squeezed tightly shut she sucked in a great gulp of air and clenched her teeth tightly together. Nero lifted into the air. His muscles bunched beneath her and he flew over the chiseled blocks and down the slope. Her knees gripped the saddle and she dragged the reins almost vertical as they plunged down. Tufts of wiry grass and small rocks littered the route. She flinched as Nero’s hooves crashed across them. Gasping in a quick breath, she prayed for the terrain to level off.

Her lungs contracted like bellows and what little air remained, whistled out through her pursed lips. Nero tensed and she shuddered as he stumbled and then regained his balance. Her heart leapt to her throat and her wrists twisted as she wrenched on the reins to slow him. He quivered to a halt. Silver spots danced in front of her eyes and she gulped in a breath to feed her starving lungs. Nero’s muscled body trembled and quaked beneath her and white froth flecked his muzzle.

“We did it, darling Nero. We did it.” The salty tang of his body filled her nostrils as she leaned over his neck murmuring endearments. She swayed with exertion and forced her rubbery muscles to respond as she squinted into the sunlight. Figures on horseback towered above her, stalled on the road. She had an overwhelming urge to wave her hand and shriek in triumph.

But she resisted; this was her opportunity and she had no time to waste. She cut away to the right praying her memory of the maps was correct as she searched for the track leading her to Laguna.

“Lil-eee. Lil-eee.” Tom’s call bounced off the sandstone walls. Shading her eyes with her hand she stared back toward the culvert wall. It was empty.

“Lil-eee. Lil-eee.” The sorrowful echo reached her, resounding somewhere deep in her gut. Her sweat-soaked curls clung to her face as she shook her head, raging at her ridiculous foolishness. After such an exhilarating and successful leap for freedom why did she suddenly feel so melancholy? Her heels bruised Nero’s flanks and she urged him away in a fast canter.

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallAbout the Author

Lily’s Leap is Téa’s first historical romance and Harlequin Escape will release her second, Matilda’s Freedom, on 1st July 2013.

She has also written three contemporary Australia romances—Tree Change, The Protea Boys and Passionfruit & Poetry. She is currently working on her third Australian historical romance set on a schooner somewhere between Sydney and Van Diemen’s Land.

To keep up with all of Téa’s news visit her website www.teacooperauthor.com where you will find links to her blog and social media pages.

Photographs courtesy of Wollombi Historical Association and Harrison Photography.

Check out Téa’s previous posta on Susana’s Morning Room about her contemporary romancea, Tree Change and The Protea Boys.