By Erin Moira O’Hara


20151111_114916Recently I spent a week at Eden Health Retreat in the Currumbin Valley, which is up in the Hinterland of Queensland’s Gold Coast. This was my second visit to Eden and I must admit I was concerned it might not be as good second time round. It was even better. Over the last year I have practiced Qigong, (pronounced chee gung), which I learned at Eden. It is an ancient Chinese health system that integrates physical postures, breathing and focused intention.


This time I took a lot more in. We had cooking lessons on nutrition and healthy eating. We did yoga every day, as well as fitness classes. They introduced us to Zoomba, Hula dancing, martial arts, back care, canoeing, relaxation techniques and walking in the rainforest. We ate delicious organically grown food and I had a couple of mud baths. Great fun.


20151108_140845There is no Internet or phone reception. No alcohol, tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar or smoking. At first most of the guests have their masks firmly in place. They are polite but reserved. Around day three everything changes. Everyone is talking and smiling. Laughter is very common, especially around the dining tables at lunch and dinner. By day five, we are a close-knit group, encouraging and supportive of each other. There are a few challenges over the week that take you out of your comfort zone, although once achieved you feel like can do anything.


The staff is made up of professional trainers, nutritionists, dietitians, masseuses etc. There are a huge variety of herbal teas and a delicious concoction is made up every day of water, citrus fruits, strawberries and mint. The days are structured, although if you don’t wish to participate, you can do your own thing. Guests are free to take time out and read by the pool or work out in the well-equipped gym.


Now it may not be for everyone, but I have to say the change in people’s personas from the beginning of the week to the end is remarkable. You feel so well and bright and happy. The trick is to continue the healthy life style once you come home. The break from technology is confronting for some to start with, but soon disappears as guests interact with each other.


20151111_114947For something different I did a meditation class in Mandalas colouring. There is no talking as you sit in a beanbag, colouring intricate designs as soft music plays in the background. The mind drifts from thing to thing and I found myself plotting a whole new story.

So the whole point of Eden is to nourish the mind, body and spirit. We all get caught up in our busy lives. Be it work, our families, or our interests, there is never enough time in the day. Our stress levels rise and a lot of people don’t have time to prepare healthy meals or have a half hour walk each morning, which would cut their heart attack rate by 50%.

We all love our chocolate, lollies, biscuits and coffee. Yet a peach, banana or cup of mixed nuts would be so much healthier, and plain old water is great for the brain. Cook with cold pressed coconut oil, give up sugar, and add a little exercise to your daily routine. It’s an old cliché but you are responsible for your own health and happiness. We all need to take care of our minds, bodies and spirits.


Here is a simple refreshing drink that takes two minutes to prepare.

Fill a jug with water then add a sliced orange, lemon and lime. Add some mint leaves then refrigerate.


Or, a daily drink full of electrolytes, potassium, chlorophyll and vitamins. In a blender add 2 handfuls of baby spinach, 2 bananas, 1 litre of coconut water, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 tablespoon of raw honey and 2 tablespoons of cacao. Blend together and have one glass a day. No need for pills.


More about Qigong.


The word Qigong is made up of two Chinese words. Qi means the life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe. Gong means skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together Qigong means cultivating energy. It is practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality. Qigong can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles involve posture, breathing techniques, and mental focus.


The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions. Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong find that it helps retain vitality, maintain health into old age and helps speed recovery from illness. One of the more important long-term effects is that Qigong reestablishes the body/mind/soul connection. People do Qigong to maintain health, heal their bodies, calm their minds, and reconnect with their spirit. When these three aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviors. It also creates a balanced life style, which brings greater harmony, stability, and enjoyment.


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New Release – The CEO Mechanic by Sandie James (A Bindarra Creek Romance)

A huge congratulations to our joint co-founder of Hunter Romance Writers, enthusiastic member and fab friend, Sandie James for her debut release, The CEO Mechanic.

This is also Sandie’s first foray into the world of self-publishing – well done, Sandie. May this be the first of many more books to come.

The CEO Mechanic is the fourth stand-alone book in the contemporary, rural series, A Bindarra Creek Romance and was published on 20th October 2015.

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BLURB: THE CEO MECHANIC © Sandie James 2015

Can the small town of Bindarra Creek erase the demons from his past and help him find love and forgiveness?

Struggling to come to terms with the guilt of his younger brother’s death and the resultant media attention, Mac Stafford heads to the country for solitude. Hopefully, the small town of Bindarra Creek will offer the peace he craves. He takes on the job of mechanic at the local garage as a challenge to get the struggling business back on its feet.

However, nothing keeps the demons away at night.

After being summoned home by her father, Brooke Fairfax arrives in Bindarra Creek and finds herself instantly attracted to the town’s new mechanic. Her feelings deepen when Mac shows a kindness to Brooke’s younger brother who is a Down syndrome child.

She has little faith in men after discovering her ex-boyfriend only dated her to better his position in her family’s business. And let’s face it her father and older brother do little to improve her view. But, surely a man who demonstrates such compassion to Davey has the honesty they lack?

When she discovers Mac has lied and not confided in her with the truth, her trust in him is shattered.

Working together for the good of the town gives Mac an opportunity to demonstrate his integrity to Brooke; but can she let go her prejudice and believe in his love?

The CEO Mechanic is available from all Amazon platforms. Amazon AU, Amazon US, Amazon UK. And will soon be available as a paperback through Createspace.


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Overcoming distractions

squirrelI’m very good at getting distracted. In fact even while writing this I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone off on another tangent. I went to open up WordPress to start drafting my article and discovered I didn’t have access to the admin section with my author profile, just my personal one. So I flicked over to Outlook to send an email requesting access. While I was there a work email caught my eye that I had to answer – but before I could reply I had to quickly make a change for them to their website. That done, I’ve opened up Word and finally started typing.

But the new mail notification in my task bar is showing up, tempting me to flick back and see what the mail is. There’s a 99% chance it will be junk or spam – but hey, it might be a publisher offering me a multi-million dollar deal.

And I’m sure I just heard the ding of a Facebook notification.

I’m telling you, Doug the dog from Up has got nothing on me.


But I have to figure out how to stop, because constant distractions mean I never get anything done. Especially when I’m writing, distractions take me out of the scene and it takes me forever to get back in – if I don’t completely side-tracked in the meantime.

Over school holidays, I took myself off to the library a couple of times for the afternoon to write. I purposely didn’t connect up to their WiFi, put my headphones in to block out noise and was able to concentrate on writing. That seemed to work well but isn’t practical for me every day.

Some things I’ve tried which work well – when I remember to use them – are:

  • Internet killers. I have Freedom, the software app that kills your internet for a specified amount of time, and there is no way to get it back before that without rebooting your machine.
  • Timers. I have a Pomodoro app on my phone – it ticks away for 25 mins and then rings an alarm to tell me the time is up. Strangely the ticking seems to help focus me.
  • Turn off Facebook and Outlook. These are my biggest distractions. Just knowing that there is something happening “out there” that will give my brain a boost is very alluring. I suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out)!
  • Going somewhere without internet. I have my little lightweight netbook that I can take with me to write. It gives me a change of scenery and no internet distractions.
  • Pause before switching. One of my favourite blogs, Zen Habits, suggests making yourself pause when you get the urge to switch to something new. Take a breath and ask yourself if you really want to fritter your life away checking Facebook / Outlook / Pinterest etc.

Most of these focus more on internal distractions rather than external. Having my son at home means I’m constantly open to external distractions – which require a whole new set of strategies. And honestly, other than saying “I’m not going to be available for the next x minutes” and sticking to it and then not getting distracted by myself, I’ve got no ideas!

So I’m asking for help – what are your best tips for not getting distracted (internal and external)? Or does it simply come down to willpower? (In which case, I’m sunk!)


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The Writing Process by Lee Christine

For the past twelve days I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the company of my adult son who lives overseas. Many hours were spent catching up as once again the family gathered under the same roof, relaxing, laughing and sharing meals like old times.

On a flying visit home to obtain his work visa, he was required to complete some part time work for his employer. Within an hour, the dining room table was turned into a make-shift music studio as he unpacked his gear in anticipation of his instructions being emailed.

For me, this was an unexpected bonus as over the next 12 days I spent hours observing his creative process. As I watched, I became aware of the many parallels in creating a piece of work for the enjoyment of others despite two very different mediums.

As a writer, I begin with an idea. I ponder the plot and mood of the novel, for example, will the story be a light-hearted romantic comedy or a tense romantic thriller? I choose a premise, develop my two main characters and think long and hard about the beginning and end. After deciding on a few main turning points, I know I have the ‘bones’ of a novel. During the writing process many layers are added. Characters are given a goal, mannerisms and a voice unique to them. A sense of time and place is described. Internal ponderings are added so the reader is aware of what’s going on in the character’s head. Backstory is inserted sparingly to avoid the dreaded ‘information dump’. Pacing is addressed and emotion layered in. Ideally, every chapter ends on a hook to entice the reader to keep turning the pages until the end of the book.

Similarly, a composer can begin with the ‘bones’ being a drum beat or piano chord progression which sets the tone of the piece. In this particular instance, the music was being composed to accompany animated film.  Strings were added, then horns, followed by more piano. A choir was introduced. A glockenspiel. Sound effects were chosen to hit points in the video. Over the ensuing hours the notes that made up the melody were shortened, lengthened, deleted and manipulated. They were made louder, softer, some were faded out. Key changes were made. Like the layering process the author uses to create a novel, the chosen instruments built the melody to a final, rousing crescendo.

Like the author who submits the completed novel to an editor for approval and publication, the composer exports the music file. If approved by the hierarchy, an orchestra is hired so a live recording can be made.

Similar writing processes.

A very different end product.

The public left to enjoy and judge.


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New Release from Stacey Nash ~ Never Forgotten

NeverForgotten_Cover (2)Continuing on from Forget Me Not and Remember Me, this is the thrilling third novel in Stacey Nash’s unforgettable series.

Since the strike on Collective territory during Anamae’s rescue, things have taken a turn for the worse. Unprovoked attacks on innocent people have Anamae and her friends fighting day and night to minimize the damage. With hundreds of lives lost, morale amongst the resistance fighters has plummeted. But that’s the least of her worries.

Manvyke still has Anamae’s mom, Annie, secreted away somewhere and after the way they parted, Anamae worries it’s not at her mother’s bidding. Maybe Annie’s disappearance all those years ago wasn’t her choice. But with Manvyke scouring the world, there’s something far more pressing than the need to find Anamae’s mother …

It’s a fight against time to find the other keys before Manvyke. In his hands, the three relics could unlock enough power to reek a much worse havoc than the current issues at hand. If the councillor gets his hands on those keys, civilization will bow down.


Buy from:

Amazon US, Amazon AU, iBooks, Googleplay, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

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New Release ~ SHADOWS OF THE HEART by Lee Christine

I must apologize to Lee as I am late posting this new release. This is book 2 in our exciting Bindarra Creek anthology.

SHADOWS OF THEshadows-of-the-heart_low-res HEART

How far can you run before it’s time to turn and fight?

When Cameron Reid returns home from Iraq his sole intention is to help his ailing father restore the family cattle station, Bindarra Downs, to its former glory. But when Rhiannon Scott, a girl he hasn’t seen in fifteen years comes knocking at his father’s door, Cameron’s wish for a return to the quiet, country life is turned upside down.

Rhiannon has a secret. A city girl lying low in the country town she first visited as a billet, she’s yearning to take back the life she’s been forced to put on hold. Getting involved with the irresistible, former army commander, a pillar of the community, would only invite the kind of unwanted attention she’d been advised to avoid.

Can the power of their attraction compel Rhiannon to sacrifice everything she’s trying to achieve? Or will Cameron be forced to choose between the girl he’s come to love and the family he vowed never to leave again?


Buy from Amazon

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Market that Book – Cover & Blurb

Market that Book – Cover & Blurb

You’ve just typed…‘The End’… to the story you’ve laboured over for countless hours. Its been critiqued, edited, proof-read and you’ve decided to self-publish.

So what’s next?

How do you make your story stand out from the thousands of e-books available? An impossible task, you sigh to yourself. But there are a few things you can do to give your book the best possible chance of sales. The rest really is in the lap of the gods or in this case, the hands of the readers.

Well first off, your book needs to be the best story you can write at that time and you need to be happy with it. You need to have had to professionally edited and proofread and be satisfied that there is no niggly little question mark digging into your sub consciousness.

Assuming all these boxes have been ticked, its time to consider your market. Research has revealed that readers are attracted to a particular book by the following:

  1. Cover
  2. Blurb
  3. Price
  4. Sample pages (and somewhere on this list is of course, author name)

You will need a professional-looking cover. There are quite a number of professional book cover designers out there with pre-made covers that may suit your story or custom made services. This again will depend on your budget. You can also make a cover yourself but remember, it must not scream ‘amateur’ or readers will be turned away. Consider the genre of your book – your cover needs to portray the genre (including time such as historical or contemporary), the heat level (sexy, sweet, erotic) and if for younger readers, an indication of the age of the protagonists.

Then there is the blurb – for me this is one of the hardest things to write. How to hook a potential reader? What do I include? What do I ignore?

Remember – the blurb is NOT a synopsis. The reader does not need to know everything that will happen in your story. Or even the ending.

Ensure you include ‘keywords’ and ’emotional power’ and ‘punchy’ words (evoke the same emotions in the blurb that will be in the book). Some examples of emotion power words are: trapped, tormented, frantic, desperate, terrified, escape, primitive, mad, crazed, revenge, betrayal, obsession, passion, explode, explosive, quest, hunt etc. Give an indication also of the genre and setting – ie romantic suspense set in a rural town for example.

Keep the blurb around one hundred to one hundred and fifty words. Write it in third person present tense. Do not include any sub-plots – keep focused on the main plot and the main theme of your story. Don’t litter your blurb with lots of names either of people or places – keep that to the two main characters. Too much detail is confusing and will muddy the water. Tease the reader – ask yourself, what will make the reader purchase this book?

Do multiple drafts of your blurb (and keep each one – sometimes the best blurbs end up being a combination of the first ones and part of the last one). Ask for critiques by others who aren’t so ’emotionally’ tied to your book.

Also go on-line and read lots of blurbs of books especially those that are in the same genre as your story. Get a feel for what the writer includes, leaves out and analyse the blurbs you liked the most as to HOW the writer hooked you (or even if he/she didn’t!). Look at what you think worked for you and try to replicate the same technique for your own blurb. Please note I’m NOT advocating you copy anything – that’s a BIG NO NO!

Here’s an example of the blurb I wrote for my latest story: Bindarra Creek Makeover. Take a look and ask yourself – Does it work for you? What doesn’t work for you? I wanted to portray: contemporary, rural, romance, quirky characters and a hint of suspense or danger.

Bindarra Creek Makeover © S. E. Gilchrist

When Tessa Gibson reluctantly embarks on a desperate plan to secure her daughter’s safety, she never dared dream of falling in love – especially with a cop and a town that makes her feel like one of their own. The moment Constable Dylan (aka Dodge) Myers meets Tessa, more than his internal cop radar is activated. With his career on shaky ground, he doesn’t need additional complications in his life.

But neither Tessa nor Dodge are a match for his grandmother and her CWA cronies and their own ideas on revitalising the struggling rural township of Bindarra Creek.

And not even the monster from Tessa’s past will stop them.

Good luck – and remember, the best thing about e-books is that you can change your blurb, update it, make it ‘punchier’ more ‘evocative’ any time you like.

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Small Town Charm


Afternoon Glow

I’ve always enjoyed long trips to the country. I’ve camped, motel-ed & caravanned my way through many small & not so small, Australian outback towns. And more times than I can count I’ve said, “Lets sell up and move here, I can see myself living here”. And of course that hasn’t happened…

So what is it with small towns? What’s the lure that makes you want to leave the busy suburban sprawl, the plethora of choice in cafe, restaurants, shows & movie nights, the joy of running up or down the station stairs hoping to make the 4.15pm train, or those down-town smells and shopping galore. Why leave all that excitement?

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Country street

All the clear Fresh air I suppose, or maybe the fact that everyone says it’s quiet, lay-back, less stressful – but is it? Taking the opportunity to speak with many people living in the towns we visit, I find they are just as busy as those of us living in medium populated towns or in the bustling cities. When you take the time to stop and spend a day or two you do see a different lifestyle, but it’s not any less than than their city cousins, it’s just different. Most of them have as much going on in their busy lives as the rest of us.

To be fair, the balance of population in the smaller towns goes with there being more senior, long-term or retired folk, so for many, their lives may operate at a less hectic pace – that’s what I’m looking forward to. And in hectic, for me (short of unforeseen issues), it’s being able to choose what you do for the day when you no longer have to rise with the alarm in your ear.   :)

Glen Innes (7)

Saturday avo at the local

So I started wondering if it had more to do with the atmosphere – after all country towns are set – well – in the country! And straight away we think of mountains, fields and hillsides, dotted with livestock or fenced off  for horses or crops. We imagine a river or creek running nearby or more often than not, they run right through the town. Driving into the town the first thing you usually notice are the  streets are much wider (and quieter) than built up suburbia, I especially love the main streets, enough room to support the through traffic and lots of angle parking on the side. I mean, it’s not the issue with, “Gee, is my car going to fit in that spot,and will those 20 cars behind me mind waiting while I give it a go, ’cause my reverse parking is a little rusty.” Often you have plenty of time to pull up and check out if that’s where you want to park or should you move slowly along the road, checking out the other 10 free spots ahead? I live in a ‘growing population’ Tourist town on the coast, so we try to head out of town in holiday season so I am very familiar with the saying “Bloody Tourists”


Huge find on a bush track

Of course I have to be fair, there’s less population in the average country town, and much of the residential area is close to the town centre and in walking distance, so it makes sense there would be less traffic, less constriction on the roads. For me, strolling the town, window shopping, being able to stop here and there to check out the local wares, is a welcome change. Just being able to move easily on the footpath is great.


Doesn’t this view make you want to escape to the country?

There’s usually great walking or sightseeing tracks around too! And these are normally not far out of town. Wide open spaces of parks, woodlands, dirt tracks that meander off the beaten track, taking you to unexpected treasures,  a cave, a rocky outcrop majestically sitting high above the landscape below, or a babbling stream flowing under wooden walk bridge on it’s way past the township.

I’ll never miss an Art Show or Exhibit if I’m in town. Some of Australia’s most famous Artists come from country beginnings – Two that come instantly to mind are Pro Hart &  Albert Namatjira. Often there is a museum. Some are nice new buildings, but most are refurbished homesteads or shops manned by volunteers.  I like that I can browse for ages in them – small towns get you in like that.

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New Release – BINDARRA CREEK MAKEOVER by S. E. Gilchrist

The first of an exciting anthology – A Bindarra Creek Romance

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On a collision course with the nightmare from her past, she never dared dream she’d find love.


Tessa Gibson reluctantly embarks on an elaborate plan to fund her escape from a dangerous collision with her past. With the help of an isolated country town and the government grant meant to rebuild it, she’ll secure new identities for her sickly daughter and herself. Desperate to escape the nightmare stalking them, it never enters her head she’ll fall in love – not only with a cop but an entire community that makes her feel like one of their own. With his career on shaky ground after his ex-partner is charged with fraud, Constable Dylan Myers (aka Dodge) returns to his hometown of Bindarra Creek. What he finds is a community struggling to survive. When an attractive young woman presents a proposal to the town council, his internal cop radar is activated. Something isn’t adding up about Tessa Gibson. No matter how much she makes his pulse race, Dodge doesn’t need or want any complications  – especially in his love-life, which is just fine as it is. But neither Tessa nor Dodge are a match for his grandmother and her CWA cronies. They’ve got their own ideas on how to draw new life to Bindarra Creek…and not even the monster from Tessa’s past will stop them.

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New Release by S. E Gilchrist

The latest release in S. E Gilchrist Darkon Series.


The first longTouringTheStars (534x800)-range star voyager will soon depart the Seven Galaxies on its quest to find Earth. Desperately in love with a Darkon warrior who appears oblivious to her existence, Elise has reserved a cabin. But before she leaves, she has one more thing she wants to do: bring some fun and light into the countless lives that have known only war. And if it gives her one last chance to try and win her warrior’s heart? Well, so much the better.

Commander Magar understands duty, and that the world might not be as safe as everyone hopes. Under the cover of providing security for the new rock band, Magar has orders to search for a renegade Elite captain – one who has no intention of coming quietly. But the close quarters with Elise, the woman who holds his heart – and the hearts of his daughters, makes keeping his mind on work increasingly difficult.

He may not be worthy of her heart, but that doesn’t stop him from craving it, along with her body and soul.

Escape Publishing, Amazon AU, iBooks, Nook, Amazon US, Amazon UK

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