Monday, July 24, 2017

Life Lessons #OpenBook Blog Hop



Life Lessons In IT

People have interesting misconceptions about folks who work in IT. They think we spend our days in nerf gun battles or discussing the latest sci-fi movie release. And like many stereotypes, there is some truth to the stories.



What people don't see is the behind-the-scenes teamwork. Sure, I work with a bunch of geniuses, but we are better in resolving problems as a group than as a bunch of individuals. They (thankfully) are not Sheldon Cooper type narcissists and know how to work together in a crisis. In fact, I'd say that they are actually fairly humble.

A major system goes down in the middle of the night? All hands on deck. That doesn't mean we actually have to get dressed thanks to the joys of being able to remote in and a dedicated conference line to have a group conversation. But if the network is down, there won't be any need for the boss to order people to come in. They'll already be there.

Another thing people don't understand is that IT is not just one area of knowledge. it's a whole conglomerate of specialties. There's networking and servers and help desk and operating systems and security and programs and ...okay, I'll stop now. Everyone in IT has to be part of the effort to keep things running smoothly for the end users.

IT can look like this:


Or, with good teamwork, like this:



Both get the job done, but one with more success than the other.


So what can people learn from what I do? The answer is simple. Teamwork.

To check in with the other authors, follow the links below.





July 24, 2017 – What Kind Of Lessons Could Anyone Learn From What You Do In Your Career?
Are there life lessons that people who aren’t in your career could learn from? You might be amazed.
Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.
Wordpress:



Custom Blog:



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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Where the Fun Started- The Marquesa's Necklace #MFRWHooks





This week I'm joining in MFRW's Book Hooks. I've decided to highlight The Marquesa's Necklace, the first book in the Oak Grove Mysteries.This is from the scene where the reader is introduced to Detective Thomason.

 Thankfully, it was only moments until Detective Thomason appeared. I gave him the once over—brown hair still cut short—check. Glasses hiding those dark brown eyes—check. His shirt rumpled and in need of an iron—check. No wedding band in his finger—check. Yep, nothing had changed.
As I stood, his eyes wandered from my face down to my shoes. The corners of his lips curled upward, but I wouldn’t say that he smiled. A smile would have looked odd on his normally grim face.
“If you would come with me, please?” he said.

He even put the please in there, unlike our previous encounters. Of course, those times, I had been either in booking or in one of the interrogation chambers. I know, I know, they’re interview rooms. Whatever. I followed him through a maze of desks and hallways and into a small but comfortable office, my heels clicking on the tile floor. I’d never noticed before what a nice behind he had. I wondered if it was just the pants he was wearing, or if I’d just not looked before, having other things on my mind. Like calling a lawyer.



Blurb: 

Harmony Duprie enjoyed her well-ordered life in the quiet little town of Oak Grove—until her arrest for drug trafficking. Cleared of all charges, she wants nothing more than to return to the uneventful lifestyle of a historical researcher she once savored.

But when her beloved old car “George” is stolen and explodes into a ball of flames, it sets off a series of events that throws her plans into turmoil. Toss in a police detective that may or may not be interested in her, an attractive but mysterious stranger on her trail, and an ex-boyfriend doing time, and Harmony’s life freefalls into a downward spiral of chaos.

Now she has to use her research skills to figure out who is behind the sinister incidents plaguing her, and why. And she better take it seriously, like her life depends upon finding the right answers.


Because it might.

The Marquesa's Necklace is on sale for only 99¢






http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-marquesa-s-necklace







Monday, July 10, 2017

A Day in the Life #Open book Blog Hop



It's boring folks. I have a standard 9-5 job. Well, it's 8:00 to 4:30, but you get the drift. So I spend my day in front of a computer screen and on conference calls. Thrilling, right?

Only I'd be lying. See, I work in IT. And I have one little word in my job title that changes everything. "Security." That means there's a lot about my job I can't tell you.

What I can tell you is that we pray for those boring moments in IT, because the excitement happens when something breaks. We don't like it when something doesn't work right. Neither do all the people who depend on the systems we operate, because that means they can't do their job in the normal fashion. We like it even less when it's a problem we can't fix within a few minutes.


And no, that's not me. I use enough programs on a daily basis that I have three screens. They take up a lot of territory on my desk. I don't drink coffee either. I never learned to like it. I keep a water bottle within reach all day and my coffee mugs are filled with pens.

But I have a great bunch of co-workers. On the days when everything is going smoothly, we sneak in a bit of fun to our normal routine. Things like Nerf gun battles (we are geeks!) and putt-putt golf in the hallways.Those are only short breaks, because there are systems to monitor and maintain and work to be done.

I'm always glad to head home to spend time with my dear hubby and the rest of my family. Of course, I have to take time to catch up on social media and write, so some of my time is spent by myself. I look forward to weekends when I can unwind and hopefully spend some extra time on writing.

So that's my day. Pretty normal these days, not like when I traveled for a living. That's a different day's post.

Now let's jump over and see what everyone else's day is like!












July 10, 2017 – What Is A Day In The Life Of A _________ (Insert Your Career) Like?
Walk your readers through the hour-by-hour day in the life of (your title). Also, don’t forget to share pictures. It’s always a lot of fun for people to peak into others’ lives.
Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.
Wordpress:



Custom Blog:



An InLinkz Link-up

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InLinkz | view linkup

Monday, July 3, 2017

Dream Vacation- #OpenBook Blog Hop



This week we're talking about our dream vacations. And you know where I'm going right?

I'd start off with a drive to a small town somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. That leaves a lot of choices. Walden, Estes Park, Nederland—I don't have to be picky in my dreams.

There, I'd meet up with an experienced guide. I'd probably spend one night in a lodge, meeting fellow adventurers, getting acclimated to the altitude and having a beer or two. I'd go to bed early (if I was smart) because we'd be leaving early in the morning.

Breakfast the next day would be quick and easy. Cold cereal and fruit maybe, because there's a long ride ahead. First, a short drive to the alpine pasture where the horses wait for us—I get an older, gentle horse who's experienced enough to help a novice rider—and then we take off. There's no rush, and the horses meander along a well-worn path without urging. Most of them know the way as well as our guides.




We make frequent stops, admiring the scenery and getting off the horses long enough to stretch our legs. Lunch is sandwiches and (no chips- we don't need the salt) and more fruit, eaten beside a mountain stream. Oh, and we drink lots of water and re-apply our suntan lotion. Wrens and jays chatter happily as they flit from aspen branch to aspen branch. A few people take off their shoes and socks to go wading, but I refrain. I already know how cold a creek fed by snow melt is, and I grin at their cries of surprise.

Although the spot would be perfect (in my mind) for a place to camp, it wouldn't accommodate the whole group, so we mount up and take off again. Our destination is still a couple of hours ahead. I'm already feeling a story coming on, but I can't put words on paper just yet.

Although the clouds overhead seem to threaten us with a shower, the guides appear unperturbed. The trail we followed was steeper now, but the horses didn't seem to mind. Around each bend there is new and marvelous scenery, and we are accompanied by a string of "oohs" and "ahs" as well as the clicks of cameras. I'm starting to feel the ache in my legs and mu back, but I know there isn't too much farther to go.

Then we reach it. The high mountain lake that will be our home for the next few days. I breathe in the fresh air for several minutes before I set up my tent and roll out my sleeping bag, but there is still plenty of time before dark. Some of the other guests already have their fishing poles out, but I have other fish to fry.



But first there is supper, a simple meal of home-made chili and and fresh veggies to munch on. We sit on stools made out of old logs and talk about the the day as we sip on out drink of choice. For me, more beer. There will be the obligatory campfire once it gets dark, along with a few brave souls singing to the rising of the moon.

Some of the more enthusiastic fisherman will rise with the sun but chances are I'll sleep in. After breakfast, I'll finally have a chance to grab a notepad and pen and wander off to find a tree to sit under. Hopefully, the words will pour out. I'll stop long enough for lunch then go for a long walk in the afternoon. Take pictures of mountain wildflowers and mull over where the story is going. Head back to camp eventually, and do some more writing before supper.



Several days later, when it's time to leave, I'll have a solid start on a new story. Or two or three of them. When we roll up our sleeping bags and take down the tents, I'll be sad and happy at the same time. The return to civilization and the chance to take a shower will be welcome, as well as seeing my loved ones again.

And that's it. My dream vacation. What's yours?






I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else dreams about. Let's follow the links below.





July 3, 2017 – What Is The Next Vacation You’d Love To Take?
Dream away. Share the fun. Or if your blog or business is made up of a team, you could always share where each of the team wants to go on vacation next. This is another one of those blog ideas that really help an audience get to know you better.
Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.
Wordpress:



Custom Blog:



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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

J.J. Montgomery- Gun for Hire

Gun For Hire

The Maui Heat Series

by J.J. Montgomery

J.J. will be awarding 5 ebook of Gun For Hire to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here

BLURB:

The job should have been easy—patrol a swank beach that serves as a backyard for Maui’s rich, kick out the riffraff, and get a tan in the process. But rent-a-cop Samantha Winters didn’t anticipate a deliciously grumpy cop, Sergeant Grady Roark, who comes down to the beach to bust her chops and instead leaves her breathless…and wondering why the one man who could help her seems determined to thwart her at every turn.

Grady is keeping secrets from Sam that have him walking the line between attraction and duty. But when Sam becomes the target of a shadowy organization, Grady will have to choose between the law and the temptation of a woman who has him breaking every rule he’s ever known.

The job should have been easy, but when the bullets start flying, Sam learns nothing is as easy as it seems when you’re a Gun for Hire.

Buy Links:
Amazon | The Wild Rose Press

Excerpt: 


“The sunlight was intense after a half hour in that gloomy space, but I squinted hard and kept moving toward a narrow set of steps down to the parking lot. Grady walked a few paces behind me, and if he heard the crinkle of paper as I moved, he elected not to say anything.
Grady hit the remote to his truck and grabbed for the passenger side door, his hand light on my elbow as he helped me up. Paper crackled as my butt hit the seat and Grady’s eyes narrowed. Without a word, he slammed my door and went around to the driver’s side, climbing up into the cab and stabbing the keys into the ignition.
“So, I—” I hesitated as I shifted in my seat and my movement was accompanied by the distinct sound of cardboard bending.
“No,” Grady muttered, and clicked on the radio. “No talking.”
“But—”
“Shh.” Grady put a finger to his lips, his eyes still on the road. “Any minute you’re going to tell me about the felony crime you just committed. And then I’m going to have to deal with the fact that I was an accessory to a felony crime." 
“Umm, yeah.” I reached around to the back of my pants and eased the file folder up from my waistband, working it out slowly so as to not lose anything as Grady headed up the hillside toward his house. As I brought it around to look at it, the red block letters damning me to years of incarceration should I get caught, a muscle ticked in Grady’s jaw.
“You stole classified documents.” He shook his head from side to side.
I looked up at Grady and then down at the mangled file with the red Top Secret heading. I took a corner of the front sheet and ripped across the width of the page, separating the words “Top Secret” from the rest of the paper.
“They’re declassified now.” I crumpled up the classification and shoved it in my pocket.
Grady sighed.
I shrugged and opened the file.”


Author Bio: 

J.J. MONTGOMERY writes romantic suspense novels with a sense of humor. Her heroines are as smart as they are smart mouthed and the men in their lives are just trying to keep up. Gun for Hire is the first book in J.J.’s Maui Heat Series. 

If you'd like to know more, including info on her newest book, where she gets her ideas, and how it’s possible she can’t use Facebook, please visit her:



Social Links: 
Website | Facebook |  Twitter  | Instagram 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sage Advice #OpenBook Blog Hop




As many of you know, I'm an IT geek (information technology)  by day and a writer by night. But unlike most people in the IT field, I didn't touch my first computer until I was over thirty. Yes, I remember the days BEFORE Windows.




But along the way, I was in a job where they were just beginning to convert to computers. We all got some basic computer training and sent along our merry where to put the magic to work—with varying levels of success.

But lo and behold, I found out I was actually GOOD at this stuff. Pretty soon I was helping my coworkers figure out how to make things work. When circumstances decreed that it was time for me to change fields, I decided computers were the way to go. And off to school I went, to learn the ins and outs of personal computers, servers, and networking.

I was lucky enough to get some very talented professors along the way. And they were tickled to have a "mature" student in their classes, who was genuinely interested in learning and didn't think she knew it all already. Many of the classes I'd be one of two or three females in a class of twenty-five and that made me stand out even more.

It was one of those wonderful teachers who gave—not just me but the entire class—the words I remember and pass along whenever I can. "A bad day in IT is better than a good day at McDonalds."*


How right he was. That emergency call at midnight when something breaks? Better than smelling french fries all day. Dealing with that user who just doesn't get it no matter how many times and how many ways you try to tell them how to fix their problem? Better than standing on your feet for an eight hour shift. Having to learn new technologies to stay ahead of the game? Way better than having to learn how to put together the newest sandwich on the market.

Thankfully I ended up in a job that I really love, working for a boss that really cares about the employees he manages. Still. there are days when nothing seems to go right and no matter how hard I try, the computers don't want to cooperate. And that's when I have to remind myself ... better than McDonalds! *

Now on to follow the links below and see what the rest of the authors have to say!

* No offense to those of you who work at McDonalds and love it. I did a stint in fast food and it's just not my thing.




June 26, 2017 – What Advice Has Stuck With You For A Long Time? And Who Gave You That Advice?
Did someone give you some great advice at a certain time in your life? Think back to that time and write down the advice as you remember it.
Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.
Wordpress:



Custom Blog:



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Monday, June 19, 2017

Events that Shaped My Life— #OpenBook Blog Hop






This week we're talking about the events that shaped our lives.

In one of the reviews for The Marquesa's Necklace, a reader wrote " the narrator mainly had too many situations." Well, if I ever wrote out my life story, I'm sure an editor would take a red pain to it and claim I had too many "situations", that all those coincidences couldn't possibly be real.


Let me tell you about the incredible string of situations that led me to meeting my beloved husband.


I had a plan for my life after I graduated from high school, all so many years ago. I happily went off to college, my major decided and the perfect school chosen. I was going to be a librarian. But after one semester, (that's four months) I changed my mind. I was in the wrong school for my vision for my future.


I decided to take some time away from college and reevaluate my goals. I returned home, got a job, and avoided thinking about what else I wanted to do. But my mother, in  her wisdom, didn't let me off the hook for too long. She encouraged me to come to a decision about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.


So I did, with the help of a book listing colleges and universities in the United States. I'd already figured out a mew course of study, forestry, all I needed was the school to go to. And I found it. A little community college in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, near Yellowstone. Inspired by the music of John Denver, I applied and was accepted. (Hey, it wasn't Colorado, but it was close! Still Rocky Mountain High!)  When August rolled around, I piled all my clothes and a few other belongings into a small trunk and a backpack and got a ride on a cross-country Greyhound bus. Yes, I took a 1500 mile bus trip without ever having seen my destination. Remember, this was pre-internet, so I couldn't even research what the area looked like.






Where does my future husband come into this? Hold on, there's more in this string of incidents.


So I get settled into my dorm, and start classes, and everything is marvelous. One of my next-door neighbors is a local girl, who lived about 30 miles away in a small town. She decided to live in the dorm instead of dealing with driving daily and fighting the winter snows. Her boyfriend would come to visit her on a regular basis. Once day he brought along a friend, who fell for the next-door-neighbor's roommate.


Confused yet? The next night, the boyfriend's friend wanted to come back but his car was in need of repairs, so he asked yet another friend to bring him to the school. That friend agreed. The friend's friend and I met, and the rest is history. What editor is going to allow that chain of coincidences into a book?


That's just one of the many events in my life that has shaped me to be who I am. Let's find out what stories the other authors have to tell.







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Monday, June 12, 2017

Scheduling My Work Week— #OpenBook Blog Hop



This week we're talking about scheduling our work weeks.

I work a regular 9-5 type job, although how busy I am runs in cycles.That means I have to plan certain tasks for those times for those down times. Monthly reports, cleaning out my "sent" box—the non-critical parts of my job. I do them in bits and pieces when I have free moments. You'd be surprised at how much you can get done in short sprints of five or ten minutes.

But my "real" job isn't the challenge. It's finding the time and energy to write and work on publicity. After all, I have a loving family that wants to see me occasionally.



So I apply the same methods to my writing as I do to my day job. I do things in bits and pieces.

This blog post? Spread out over two evenings. Facebook? A few minutes in the morning and a few more in the evening. Twitter? A couple of times a week.

Actually writing? I can manage a few paragraphs in five minutes spurts, but it drives me crazy. That's the one thing I actually claim a block of time for. At night, when everyone else is in bed, I write. Maybe I only get five hundred words on paper, but it's progress.On the weekends, with any luck, I can do more.

So now you know why it takes me so long to write my stories.

If you have any tips to share with me, I'd love to hear them. You can share them in the comments. In the meantime, I'm going to head over to the other authors and see what they have to share.



June 5, 2017 – How Do You Schedule Your Work Week?
Walk your audience through how to schedule their work week productively. As humans, we always want to know how to get more done in a week. If you have anything that has helped you schedule your time throughout the week, put that into the post.
Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.
Wordpress:



Custom Blog:



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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Presenting "It Takes a Cat Burgler" by Cailin Briste



99¢ Sale - It Takes a Cat Burglar, Sci-fi Suspense Romance
The first novella in the A Thief in Love Suspense Romance series is now on sale through
June 13 for 99 cents. Perfect summer reading.

“After reading this author’s other novels, I had very high expectations. My expectations
were surpassed.” Wendie Nordgren
“The chemistry between Darcelle and Sebastian was hot; I didn’t want those sex scenes
to end!” D.C.
“full of intrigue and kept me guessing” Amanda N.
“I liked Darcelle Lebeau for her rebel instincts and enjoyed the story for its originality”
The TBR Pile


It Takes a Cat Burglar: A Thief in Love Suspense Romance
https://www.amazon.com/Cailin-Briste/e/B00GSX9QVW/
By Cailin Briste


Blurb:
When Darcelle Lebeau throws off the invisible chains that keep her bound to her family,
she discovers a new vocation. Tempted to enter the illegal playground of a man she
nicknames Matou, she becomes a cat burglar in training. Deeply ensnared with each
task he entices her to fulfill, she fails to discover his identity and true intentions.
Sebastian St. Croix, a wealthy businessman, has a dark side. He’s a thief, a cat burglar
who steals art and historical objects. For one year, he trains Darcelle to become his
assistant, remaining incognito, observing her from afar. His admiration grows along
with his desire for her with every phase-one challenge she completes. Phase two will
test the limits of his control. Hands-on personal training? Yes. Sex? No. With his sister’s
happiness at stake, nothing, not even the tempting Darcelle Lebeau, can interfere with
accomplishing the biggest break-in of his career.



Excerpt:
Four words. That’s all that was written on the paper in the same ornate handwriting
used on every preceding communication.
Congratulations. I’m behind you.
She froze.
How could she have missed it? The same dark, prickling tension that had inched along
her spine every time she’d sensed Matou observing her in the past was now knitting her
muscles and bones together, turning her to stone. It was him. He’d never let her see or
hear him, but her body reacted when he was near, as though when he gazed at her, a
furnace ignited inside her. It was damn spooky.
She jumped when his fingers closed on her shoulder.
“Don’t turn.”
Like a low, throbbing bass note, his voice resonated through her to the ends of her
fingers. Hell. She couldn’t move, much less turn. He trailed his hand along her
collarbone. Despite the thick layer of duracloth between her and his fingertips, Darcelle
was certain warmth penetrated the fabric.
His sudden yank startled her. Shock pulsed through her. He was undoing the seal on
the hood of her skin suit.
“No!” She batted at him, twisting to escape his grasp. He clamped her in a bruising
hold, immobilizing her.
“I said don’t turn. Stop struggling.”
Rapid inhalations of the sour combination of aged body odor and fear inside her skin
suit made her nasal passages burn. She continued to writhe, fighting to free herself.
He’s going to kill me!
“Fuck it. Stop. The air is pure. Look.”
Several moments passed before she registered the sun-darkened arm and hand waving
in front of her. Long elegant fingers twiddled. Her breathing hitched. No gloves. He
wasn’t wearing a skin suit. She stilled, allowing him to remove her hood.
“Do exactly as I say, and all will be well.”
With gentler hands he turned her toward him. She gasped. He was gorgeous. Only a
master sculptor could have formed a face of such perfect symmetry. The masculinity of
his high cheekbones, angled jaw, and straight brows was softened by his exquisite lips.
Heat flushed through her body.
From beneath black locks slanting over his forehead, pale green eyes stared at her. Was
he waiting for a response?
“Ummm.”
A smile flashed across his lips. “Are you ready to trust me?”
Darcelle pursed her lips. “I’ll try.”

About Cailin:
Cailin has been writing fiction for six years and non-fiction for two decades. Her nonfiction
work has been published in magazines and in a non-fiction anthology. She’s a
member of Romance Writers of America, the RWA Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal
Chapter, and the RWA Passionate Ink Chapter.
Cailin loves science fiction and romance, so combing the two came naturally. She is
currently writing the third book in her Sons of Tallav sci-fi erotic romance series. Shane:
Marshal of Tallav and Maon: Marshal of Tallav were released in 2016 by Loose Id. She’s
also working on a novella for an SFR Shooting Stars anthology tentatively title Educated
by the Master.

Social Media Links:
Website http://cailinbriste.com/
Blog http://cailinbriste.com/category/all-posts/
Street Team http://cailinbriste.com/cailins-street-team/
Twitter http://twitter.com/CailinBriste
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cailinbriste/
Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/102592935378667862505
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/cailinbriste/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7413817.Cailin_Briste
Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cailin-briste
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Cailin-Briste/e/B00GSX9QVW
Newsletter http://cailinbriste.com/cailins-newsletter-sign-up/

Thursday, June 1, 2017

AnneMarie Brear & Where the Rainbows End




My latest novel is titled, Where Rainbows End, and is set in 1850s Australia. 
I set the novel in an area of the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, where I used to live.
Pippa, the main character of the story, creates a home in a valley in the middle of the wilderness, or as Australians call it 'The Bush'.
The inspiration to place her in this area was easy for me to do as several villages of the Southern Highlands still have a lot of historical buildings still standing. 
One village, used a lot in the book, is Berrima. This town was once a bustling place in the 19th century, but unfortunately it was overlooked when the railways came to the district. Without the railway, the industry fell away and so did the population. 
What remains is a quaint snapshot of a bygone era, and the perfect place to set my book.
I did a lot of research at the local historical society to help with getting the information I needed and poured over many old photos.

Berrima 1912


19th century Berrima

A slab hut - something similar to what Pippa would have lived in when first building the stud in the valley.



The White Horse Inn - still standing since Victorian times, and the same inn Pippa visited.

To learn more about Berrima visit this link; http://berrimavillage.com.au/historic-berrima/

Where Rainbows End:
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:
Miss Noble!’
She whipped around at the urgency in Robson’s voice and blanched at the strain on his face. He skidded to a stop in front of her and pointed to the ridge. ‘Bushfire. From the west. I’ve sent Colin to saddle a horse and ride up to the road to see how far away it is. But we must prepare.’
Pippa’s mouth went dry. ‘Bush … Bushfire?’
Esther hurried back to them, her hand clasped against her chest. ‘Oh, my dear lord. What will we do?’
Robson took off his hat and scratched his head, his expression revealing his concern. ‘We must fill every bucket and wet down the buildings, starting with the grain store. I’ve already got Peter and Barney digging a hole to bury feed and harnesses. The water in the creek is too low to last for long. We’ll need to put valuables in the sawpit and cover it with wet sacking.’
Pippa’s mind went blank. He talked too fast for her to absorb his meaning. ‘Robson, please, what are you saying?’
He took a deep breath and then glanced away sharply as Colin galloped across the valley floor, the hoof beats thundering. ‘Miss, try to understand. If the fire gets into the valley, it’ll wipe out everything in its path. We must bury what we can. Once the fire reaches, if it reaches the valley ridge, we’ll all have to escape from the other side, and there’s no track there, so we can’t take the wagon. I’ll get the horses saddled. The ladies must pack only lightly.’
Escape?’ Esther swayed just as Hilary and Davy joined them.
Running his hands through his hair, Robson’s eyes implored Pippa to take action.
But she couldn’t move or think clearly. Bushfire. Escape. ‘It  it may not even come this way, Robson.’
I hope to God it doesn’t, miss.’
She swallowed, but her throat was suddenly dry. ‘But you think it will?’
He looked up at the large gum trees, their top branches swaying in the warm breeze. ‘If the wind doesn’t change, the fire will sweep over that ridge and head straight for us.’
But it’s not summer yet. You said bushfires came in January or February.’
Miss, we’ve had very little rain, and dead grass will burn whether it be the middle of winter or summer. We were spared fires last year, but all it takes is one spark to set the bush alight, and this wind will not help us.’ He shifted from foot to foot. ‘Please, miss, we cannot waste time talking. We must prepare—’
What of the horses? The mares are due to foal within weeks, they mustn’t be scared into bolting.’
I’ll get Peter to take them to the far side of the valley. If the fire breaks the ridge, he’ll take them out and head towards Mittagong.’ He gave another nervous glance at the widening plume of smoke on the horizon. ‘Please, Miss Noble, we need to act now.’
Yes, go. Do what must be done.’ Pippa waved him away and turned to her family. On seeing their scared and worried expressions, she hid her fear and straightened her shoulders. ‘Come, we must do as Robson says. Pack lightly or bury what you cannot carry. Quickly, now!’
As the others turned and ran back to the house, her mother stepped forward and gripped Pippa’s arm. ‘This valley, the stud, is all we have, Pippa.’
Yes, Mother.’ Distracted, Pippa nodded, looking beyond her towards the scurrying men.
Esther’s hand clenched Pippa’s arm like a vice. ‘No, listen to me!’
Pippa stared at her, shocked.
You must not let all that we have slip from our grasp. Not now we are finally finding our way out of the depths of despair. I’d not survive another disappointment.’
I promise I won’t let that happen.’
Her mother’s gaze remained fixed on hers. ‘If we lose the stud, that will be the end of us. The Nobles will be finished forever.’
I know. I’ll do everything I can to prevent it. Trust me.’ She kissed her mother’s cheek and gently pushed her in towards the house. ‘Go help pack. Take only the most important things and hurry!’
Robson, bless him, sprang into action. He ran about issuing orders that everyone instantly obeyed; even her mother showed extreme courage and did as she was told without complaint.
Pippa knew all kinds of fear. The fear of being turned out of their house when her father squandered their money, the fear of being unloved and rejected by Grant, the fear of being in the middle of a vast ocean on an insignificant ship. Yet nothing eclipsed the fear she was experiencing now.
The terror seemed tangible, as though she could taste it, reach out and touch it. She wasn’t one to panic and hated being vulnerable, but as the wind carried the smell of smoke and the sound of crackling wood, her throat closed up through pure dread.
Astounded by the enormity of losing everything she’d worked for and dreamed of, Pippa stood trance-like, unable to move or think. The noise and confusion around her dimmed.
Pip.’ Davy tugged at her skirts, his face pale.
For a long moment she stared at him. She didn’t realise she was frightening him until his bottom lip quivered.
Will we die, Pip?’
Wrenched out of her daze, she blinked as his words sank in. ‘No … No, darling.’ His hand inched into hers and she squeezed it tight. ‘We’ll be fine. I’ll take care of you.’
A shout made her jump. Colin rode like the devil towards them, waving his hat in the air. Everyone stilled and then quickly joined Pippa and Davy near the creek as Colin pulled up his horse to a skittering halt before them.
Well?’ Robson demanded, his body tense as he ran towards them.
Colin winced as he swallowed, his lips dry and face coated with dust. ‘It’s heading this way about four or five miles from here, maybe a mile more, but that’s all.’ He sagged in the saddle. ‘It’s coming from the direction of the Merediths’ property.’
Time froze for a second and then everyone started talking at once.
Millie stared in horror at Pippa. ‘Oh, no. Amelia and the baby, and Douglas.’
They might be safe. Don’t worry.’ Pippa patted her arm and then looked to Robson for direction.
It’s closer than I thought.’ He frowned, rubbing his fingertips across his forehead. ‘Right, we’ve got to leave the valley now. Colin, bring the work horses here for the ladies to ride.’
Can we not fight the fire, Robson?’ Pippa felt her heart would explode from the pain of losing it all. ‘I mean, we’ve got water at our feet. Can we not—’
Miss, a few buckets of water will not stand up to a bushfire. You’ve never seen one before. It’s a wild beast feasting and growing in front of your very eyes. There’s no stopping it.’
Her frustration burst into anger. ‘I will not lose this place! I will stay and fight.’
Don’t be silly, Pippa,’ Millie scoffed, returning to her side with a large canvas bag bulging with clothes. She took Davy’s hand. ‘We’ll do as Robson says. We must get out of harm’s way. Nothing is worth putting yourself in danger.’
A rifle shot echoed across the valley, sending birds screeching from the trees.
Pippa wheeled around to stare at their entrance into the valley, but no vehicle or horseman came dashing out of the trees at the base.
Robson scanned the slopes, shading his eyes with his hand as the sun burnt down relentlessly. ‘Someone needs help. It’s a signal.’
A shiver of trepidation ran down Pippa’s back. ‘Father,’ she whispered.
No!’ Esther jerked. ‘He’s in Berrima.’

Hilary, eyes wide, stepped closer to her mother. ‘But what if he had started to journey home?’

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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.
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