07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Down Under

Hello everyone,

I’m thrilled to join Romancing the Genres and such a fabulous, diverse group of authors. Thanks to everyone who has made me feel so welcome. I look forward to getting to know you all better.

I’ll be blogging from Melbourne, Australia where I live with my rescue greyhound, Daisy—AKA ‘the goofball’. This fabulous bundle of fur has brightened my world for eighteen months and I can’t imagine life without her crazy ears, constant snoozing and ‘roaching’ on her sofa, or the adorable way her teeth chatter while getting a doggy massage or a delicious treat. Do I spoil her? Guilty as charged. After years of cages and racetracks, she deserves pampered pet status.

Writing is a fairly recent adventure and became a true passion approximately four years ago. Since I decided to embark on this bumpy, beautiful journey, I’ve read countless craft books, attended writing courses and received support and encouragement from the fabulous women of the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild. My first novel, Animal Instincts, is almost complete and ready for submission—exciting but scary.

The idea for this story grew from my love of animals and an obsession with the US TV show 'Animal Cops'—a  focus on animal cruelty investigators in various US cities. These men and women are my heroes, so how could I not bring one to life on the page? My hero cruelty investigator is also my ideal man—kind, tough and a champion for abused, exploited and neglected animals. Oh, and did I mention he’s hot as Hades?

And just in case I haven’t intrigued you enough, here’s the blurb for Animal Instincts:

For animal shelter owner, Charlie McQueen, family comes first. Always. With her adoptive parent’s money invested in her struggling business, and her father’s medical bills piling up, their family home is at risk of foreclosure. Funding from the pilot program for an animal cruelty investigation unit will save her business and her family. Failure is not an option.

When divorced animal cruelty investigator, Brad Phillips, arrives on assignment in Oregon’s Shadow Bay, he’s all about the job. Having given up on the dream of love and family, his philosophy on relationships is no mess, no drama, definitely no strings. To secure a coveted promotion back in Portland, his pilot program must run without a hitch or else he’ll be taking orders from the man who destroyed his marriage.

Sparks fly from the moment Brad and Charlie meet. But danger heats up when dogs are stolen from the shelter and the two must team up to investigate an illegal dog fighting ring. Charlie tempts Brad to want more than 'no-strings' with her big heart and selfless nature. But can Brad open up his battered heart to love again? And when Charlie's brother becomes the main suspect, will she choose to protect her family or follow her heart?

Brad and Charlie take up a lot of energy and focus, but a writer must have other passions to help refill the creative well. When I’m not sitting at a computer, you’ll find me chilling with my dog, knitting (or attempting to!), playing board games with friends, listening to true crime podcasts and reading books. Growing up on a very small property with no friends close by, I had to occupy myself. Life was filled with animals, movies and books. Over time my taste in books changed from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and the Babysitters Club series, to Sweet Valley High and then Stephen King novels—they scared me silly, but the adrenalin rush was addictive. In my twenties I discovered romance, consuming anything I could get my hands on ranging from historical, paranormal and contemporary romance to chick lit and women’s fiction. Romance is still my go-to for a satisfying read.

Another passion is Christmas—the best time of year! The magic of the ‘silly season’ stayed with me long after my belief in Santa disappeared (oh, man that was heartbreaking). I love the time spent with family, decorating the tree, wrapping gifts, the way people rally to help with donations for charity and the way a simple, thoughtful gift can light up a face. It’s also a time to take a holiday break, unwind and recharge my batteries for the new year ahead. In the lead up to the big day, Christmas tunes tinkle throughout my home and it’s not Christmas without my favorite holiday movies—Home Alone, Elf, Love Actually, Santa Clause - The Movie (1985), The Holiday and an assortment of Hallmark Christmas movies. The sappier, the better!  

Many people love Christmas for its universal themes of family and giving. Santa probably gets a look-in, and of course the famous, well romanticized white Christmas with blankets of fresh snow.

Christmas ’Down Under’ falls in the middle of summer. Instead of snow, we have blistering heat. Some swelter in the kitchen, cooking a traditional roast dinner, while others sit down to refreshingly cool salads and seafood. Rather than gathering around a fire with eggnog or hot chocolate, we’ll relax by the pool, or for those on our vast coastlines, it’s a cool dip at the beach.

Wherever you are this Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or other holiday, I hope you’re able to share the special day with family and friends. Before I go, here’s a clip that tickled my funny-bone. Our neighbors in New Zealand have very similar weather over Christmas and I adore this Air New Zealand ad with the gorgeous Ronan Keating trying to create a summer version of Winter Wonderland.

And just so you can make sense of how we Aussies and Kiwis do things, here’s a quick glossary of terms for those who may not be familiar with some of the lyrics used in the song:

Jandals = flip flops
Togs = swimsuit
Barbies = BBQ/grill
Mozzies = mosquitos    
Rellies = relatives
Arvo = afternoon

What comes to mind when you think of Christmas?  I’d love to know what makes the holidays magical for you :)

Lauren James is a country girl at heart. Raised on a small property surrounded by animals, it's no surprise she writes small town romance with lots of love for creatures great and small.

Having failed fabulously at painting, sewing and playing guitar, she finally found her creative outlet in writing strong, quirky heroines, and tough, handsome heroes with gooey animal-loving centers.

Her first short story will be released as part of a romance anthology in February 2017.

You can contact Lauren via her website, Facebook or Twitter.


Michelle somers said...

Hi Lauren
Great blog!
Christmas for me is all about spending time with family - i love relaxing and not having to rush around with school and aftrr-school activities. Plus, going camping with the kids and hubby is fun ��
I hope you have a fab Christmas with your gorgeous greyhound.

Dora said...

You're so right about Aussie Christmas. We always have turkey but it's roasted in the Webber outside. There's another Aussie eord for you. Mrrry Christmas Lauren.

Cassandra O’Leary said...

Hi Lauren, great to read your first blog post here! As a fellow Aussie I love our laid back Christmas. Our family has a barbie with burgers and sausages as well as fancy food like prawns and lobster. The kids love to jump on the trampoline and squirt water pistols! Happy holidays. I'll look forward to reading more from you next year.

Shannon said...

That was such a funny video. Thank you for sharing! Loved that kid-boss on there. :-)

Jess Devine said...

Hi Lauren, Merry Christmas to you too! My favourite Christmas memories will always be piling in to my nan and pa's house with all my cousins and aunts and uncles, and my cheeky cousins trying to steal roast potatoes before they were served! Although we can't celebrate with my grandparents an longer, it's still all about family and fun :)

Rita H. Azar said...

Great post Lauren!
Christmas is always about family and catch ups. This year is extra special for me because my little one is so excited about the gifts, the Christmas tree and the decorations. Its so lovely to watch being amazed by all what's happening around her. Merry Christmas! I

Sarah Raplee said...

Welcome to RTG, Lauren! Can't wait to read your stories! I live in Oregon with two rescue pups and a rescue kitty. "Illegal dog-fighting ring" certainly rings true. Investigators here are working to bust a gang now that operates along the I-5 Interstate freeway that runs north and south through Oregon.

Christmas for us is about family as well. We live on an acreage near Portland, so we hiked out and cut our own tree this year. Three generations are contributing to decorating and Christmas dinner, which will be non-traditional lasagna and chili. We are blessed to have so many relatives living nearby!

Jennifer Lynne said...

Lovely post, Lauren. For me, Christmas means family. Forget the frenzy of shopping and stress, I just love catching up with all the people I care about, together under one roof. Happy holidays to you, and good luck with Animal Instincts :)

Samara Parish said...

Fantastic post Lauren! Looking forward to many more. Enjoy your Christmas with its seafood and (hopefully) air con since I think it's sweltering down south at the moment!

Judith Ashley said...

Lauren, Welcome to Romancing The Genres! I loved the video and Ronan Keating is certainly Hot!!! And thanks for the glossary!

I celebrate Winter Solstice. This year I spent a few hours with two friends and over cups of tea we talked about what we thought we'd accomplished in 2016 and what we want to manifest in 2017. We also exchanged small gifts.

Because my youngest granddaughter and great granddaughter are coming to town (they live 5 hours away) the weekend of 01/06, concentrated family time is postponed until then.

"Animal Instincts" sounds like an intense story. I admire your ability to tackle such a difficult subject.

Lauren James said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. I'm happy to be a part of Romancing the Genres and so pleased you enjoyed my first post.

I apologize it's taken me so long to respond. Unfortunately, I was down and out with a sinus and chest infection for Christmas and New Year, so I've only just rejoined the land of the living.

Happy New Year to you all. I hope 2017 brings you health, happiness and peace.