Feed Your Reader: A vineyard, three brothers, and the magic of cupcakes.

32702

A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

Amy Jenkins, a talented and ambitious chef, is left humiliated and debt-ridden, after her city restaurant fails. When her best friend calls asking for help in her small town cupcake shop, Amy jumps at the chance to hide out in the small town of Alpine Ridge while her shattered ego mends.

The youngest Mathews brother, Tom feels over-looked and under-appreciated. His brothers remember every mistake, but never give him the responsibility or opportunity to take his place in the family business. So, he spends three weeks out of every month working at a mine in the back-end of nowhere. But then Amy moves to town to help run his pregnant sister-in-law’s bakery, and suddenly home seems to be where his heart is.

Amy’s move was only ever meant to be temporary, but when tragedy strikes the Mathews family, Amy finds herself unable to move on. As she and Tom get closer, Amy finds every excuse to stay: first, she claims it’s for the family, then she claims it’s for the shop. But maybe, it’s for her own heart…

” I loved the way the story was woven and all its twists and turns. A box of tissues is a must!”  – Jeanne, NetGalley

“a lovely story of love, healing, and new beginnings.” – NetGalley Reviewer

“just gives you a huge happy sigh” – Becky, NetGalley

iBooksBooktopiaNookKoboGoogleAmazon AUAmazon USAmazon UK

Advertisements

Where Love & Cupcakes Meet

by Jacquie Underdown

Food is almost a dirty word these days. It is wrapped up in so much confusion. It can be prescriptive, healthy, poisonous, toxic, or super.

Eat this. Eat that. Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that.

My latest contemporary small town romance, Bittersweet, is a book primarily about finding love amidst the turmoil of grief, but food, specifically cupcakes and sweet desserts, is featured heavily.

But the story doesn’t focus on anything restrictive. It doesn’t mention weight or calories or shame.

Cupcake decorated with a heart shaped cake pick

One cannot live well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

~ Virginia Woolf

This book only speaks of the pleasure food can bring in both the eating and the cooking.

The pleasure of sharing food with the people you love—family and friends.

The emotional balm a red velvet cupcake with sweet cream-cheese frosting can provide.

Eating is so intimate. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you are inviting a person into your life.

~Maya Angelou

Bittersweet demonstrates how food and love are a powerful partnership.

How sharing of food can bring people closer together, can forge friendships, and foster deep relationships.

Mother And Small Child In The Kitchen At Home Beautiful And Happ

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

~ J. R. R. Tolkien

Bittersweet is a celebration of love and cupcakes and the undeniable joy the combination these two items can bring to a person’s soul.


32702A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

Amy Jenkins, a talented and ambitious chef, is left humiliated and debt-ridden, after her city restaurant fails. When her best friend calls asking for help in her small town cupcake shop, Amy jumps at the chance to hide out in the small town of Alpine Ridge while her shattered ego mends.

The youngest Mathews brother, Tom feels over-looked and under-appreciated. His brothers remember every mistake, but never give him the responsibility or opportunity to take his place in the family business. So, he spends three weeks out of every month working at a mine in the back-end of nowhere. But then Amy moves to town to help run his pregnant sister-in-law’s bakery, and suddenly home seems to be where his heart is.

Amy’s move was only ever meant to be temporary, but when tragedy strikes the Mathews family, Amy finds herself unable to move on. As she and Tom get closer, Amy finds every excuse to stay: first, she claims it’s for the family, then she claims it’s for the shop. But maybe, it’s for her own heart…

“I couldn’t put this book down from the first pages. Even when I had to get up to find some Kleenex, I didn’t want to stop reading. I can’t wait to read the stories of Tom’s older brothers.”  –  Betsy N., Reviewer

iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Kobo, Nook, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Exclusive Excerpt: Bittersweet

32702

A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

The two old timber doors of the cellar, which sat under the high point of the curved overpass, were painted with the same green paint Dad had chosen when he first bought this place. Though it was flaking with age.

Amy narrowed her eyes at Tom, then peered back at the doors. ‘Is that a cellar in there?’

Yep.’

Does it go underground?’

He nodded. ‘Best way to achieve the perfect temperatures, which is essential to storing wine for long periods. How good a cellar is, determines the quality of a winery.’

Tom unlocked the big metal padlocks, pushed the heavy doors open, and they went inside. The familiar scent of earth and must, a little like mushrooms, hit him.

The cellar was darker than black. He felt along the cold wall for the switch and turned the lights on. They flickered to life, dimly illuminating the giant space, which possessed more qualities of a cave than a room, though the floor and the walls were made of stone.

Amy followed closely by Tom’s side as he led her through the short maze of rooms connected by archways, passing rows of barrels and a tasting room.

Deep into the cellar, where the air grew still and cool, their surroundings dim, was an enormous room lined with big wire racks filled with bottle after bottle of wine, all sitting on their side. Black cellar mould coated the layers of bottles and walls. A wet-rock smell was thick in the air.

Amy narrowed her eyes at Tom, grinning sceptically. ‘What the …?’

Tom laughed. ‘That’s most peoples’ first reaction.’ He went to a rather thick mound of fungus and smelled it. Best scent in the world, like a bag of mushrooms. ‘Touch it,’ he said.

Amy pressed her finger to the spongy substance.

This cellar has its own climate. Eleven degrees in the summer or winter. The bottles of wine let out vapours and this mould forms keeping the air clean. We are so proud of it.’

Amy giggled. ‘I never could have believed this would be a source of pride.’

Tom chuckled. ‘I know. But it’s so very important. And it changes depending on the time of year. Sometimes it’s white like a cotton ball. If you’ve got a cellar with this,’ he said touching the black mould again, ‘you’ve got perfect conditions for storing wine.’

He went to a stack of bottles and pulled out a dusty one from on top, turning it upright and rubbing the muck from the label. A long slender mushroom grew out from the cork. ‘This was from the very first year at the vineyard. The year Mitch was born.’

And it tastes good?’

His grin was smug. ‘Unbelievable flavour profile. But this wine was intended to be aged. A dream my dad had over thirty years ago.’

This is all so incredible.’ She gestured to the rows of bottles. ‘Magical almost.’

Magical was the perfect description. When he was a child, he always volunteered to come here with Dad, and they’d spend hours turning each bottle a quarter of a turn. He’d never known why he’d loved it so much, but Amy was right.

He peered around at all the years of hard work. ‘Dad was so proud of this cellar. I am too. This is Dad’s legacy. This is where it all began. And it’s his gift to my brothers and me …’ he trailed off and stared at his feet as an unexpected lump of emotion formed in his throat.

What?’ she asked.

He shook his head, but sadness was brimming in his eyes. He could not believe how emotional this was making him. But the sentimentality in this place was overflowing, especially after a day like today.

What is it?’ she persisted.

Why would I ever want to distance myself from this legacy?’

Amy shook her head, almost imperceptibly.

What an idiot I’ve been. I was given the biggest gift, a gift people would kill for, and I’m throwing it away. God, how egotistical … selfish …’

Emotions brewed in his heart—for the decisions he’d made, for the time he wasted, and for being so damn complacent—painful as it worked through him and exposed him for the fool he’d been.

Just because he hadn’t birthed this dream, instead inherited it, didn’t make it any less special. It didn’t mean he couldn’t make this dream his own.

Bittersweet is coming in January 2018. Pre-order your copy now!

iBooks, Booktopia, Nook, Kobo, Google, Amazon AU, Amazon US, Amazon UK

That’s a Wrap! GenreCon 2017

by Jacquie Underdown

As the attendees streamed from the State Library of Queensland at the close of the 2017 GenreCon held from Friday to Sunday last week in Brisbane, the overarching take-home message was that in Australia, there is a thriving, supportive community of genre writers who are passionate about writing, live and breathe inclusivity, and really know their craft.

In not-so typical Brisvegas fashion, the weather welcomed this numerous cohort of genre-fiction writers and readers by lowering the average temperature seven degrees. This made the simple act of wearing clothes and participating in activities like standing and sitting possible.

But the agreeable weather can’t take home all the accolades. Many of the weekend’s big moments were associated with the attending big names like best-selling Australian author Garth Nix who, during Friday night’s opening address, gave his writing advice ‘tell a story’ to an eager audience in a manner expected from a prolific writer, which was by telling a bloody good story.

garth

Garth Nix – Opening Night speech

The teary-eyed crowd may have, at first, felt shocked when after hearing Nix’s heartfelt story about meeting his 95-year-old writing hero days before he died, he then admitted that this story was, in fact, fictional. But who better to give a masterclass on the art of ‘show don’t tell’ than one of Australia’s top genre authors.

Nix continued with his stellar advice to attendees throughout the weekend.

tweet 1

And provided his blanket solution to nearly every problem a writer will encounter no matter where they are in their career.

tweet 2

International guest author Delilah S. Dawson took the floor among an audience dressed to the mods and monster’s costume theme at the Saturday night Speakeasy to give a rousing speech on how to ‘not give up’.

delilah

Delilah S. Dawson – Speakeasy speech

Dawson spoke about the trajectory of her career from her unsellable first story—which had all the rookie mistakes including an opening line from hell (that mentioned white Capri pants, Greek street food and the unmentionable side effect of said street food while wearing white Capri pants)—to her eventual, hard-earned successes.

But where the real gems of wisdom were uncovered was during the weekend’s workshops, panels and morning plenary sessions that took place in packed auditoriums and rooms throughout the State Library of Queensland.

Claire G. Coleman, black&write 2016 Indigenous writing fellow, gave an inspirational speech on how she wrote through her fear.

tweet 3

Anne Gracie, Australian romance writing royalty, thrilled her workshop audience with tried and true writing advice along with practical methods on how to dig deeper into character.

tweet 4

Fellow Escape Publishing multi-award-winning author Amy Andrews gave a truthful account of author earnings by providing her writing income from her last fifteen tax returns. And, on top of this, read a sex scene from her novel Numbered in front of a large audience at the Author Salon on opening night. One word that could describe Andrews: COURAGEOUS!

AA

Amy Andrews talks author earnings

In one panel, attendees were able to pull back the curtain and look into the world of the publishing houses. Escape Publishing’s Managing Editor, Kate Cuthbert, joined a panel of industry experts who offered insight into the process at their end once they received an author’s submission.

industry

Panel of industry professionals

To accept or reject an author’s work for publication isn’t a simple case of ‘this book isn’t good enough’. Meetings are had, discussions are entered into, and many factors are taken into account before the final decision is made.

And those writers in the audience dealing with idea-hopping were able to hear international best-selling author Nalini Singh not only give permission to pursue those ‘squirrel’ ideas but also a practical way to manage those ‘squirrels’.

tweet 5

So many fabulous panellists appeared at this year’s GenreCon. They wrestled with messy questions on the writing craft, spoke about the real-world implications of writing imaginary worlds and characters, and offered advice on how to deal with introversion, failure, fear, success, and many of the gritty nuances of being an author.

Over the course of the weekend, the attendees were schooled, reassured and inspired. GenreCon was a celebration of genre fiction but not once did it ask its audience to believe that being an author is easy or that a writing career should be perfect, and that’s what made the event an enjoyable, relatable success.

Top 3 highlights

  1. GenreCon convenor Peter Ball’s T-Shirt

pete

Peter Ball – 2017 GenreCon Convenor

  1. So many incredible authors and industry experts in the one place, unafraid to drop the F* bomb, unapologetic about what they write and who they are, and willing to share their expertise.

all panelists

Last chance Q & A panel of authors

  1. So many amazing authors and readers in the one place, each unashamedly in love with writing, reading and talking about genre fiction.

attendees

2017 GenreCon attendees

Top 3 take-away messages

  1. Readers, your reading future is in incredibly safe hands. Australia has many dedicated, helpful, and passionate writers producing fantastic titles each and every year.
  1. Writers, no one writing career is the same. You don’t know the bigger picture yet or what the future holds, so you may be exactly where you need to be in your career, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
  1. Persistence is key. Write the next book. And as Emma Viskic, award-winning Australian crime writer would say, fill those blank pages with ‘words of liquid gold’ even if it takes many redrafts to achieve it.

Final note

Don’t underestimate the cathartic consequences of stepping away from the keyboard, talking with fellow authors, readers and editors, and donning a good costume.

jacquie

Liz McKewin, Jacquie Underdown (me), and Meg Vann


32702A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

Amy Jenkins, a talented and ambitious chef, is left humiliated and debt-ridden, after her city restaurant fails. When her best friend calls asking for help in her small town cupcake shop, Amy jumps at the chance to hide out in the small town of Alpine Ridge while her shattered ego mends.

The youngest Mathews brother, Tom feels over-looked and under-appreciated. His brothers remember every mistake, but never give him the responsibility or opportunity to take his place in the family business. So, he spends three weeks out of every month working at a mine in the back-end of nowhere. But then Amy moves to town to help run his pregnant sister-in-law’s bakery, and suddenly home seems to be where his heart is.

Amy’s move was only ever meant to be temporary, but when tragedy strikes the Mathews family, Amy finds herself unable to move on. As she and Tom get closer, Amy finds every excuse to stay: first, she claims it’s for the family, then she claims it’s for the shop. But maybe, it’s for her own heart…

Bittersweet, the first book in the Brothers of the Vine trilogy, is available for pre-order now!