Last Swim

Port Kembla PoolFrom spring until as long into autumn as I can manage, I try to go for a few swims a week at the wonderful Port Kembla pool. It’s a salt water pool, regularly flushed with fresh sea water.

On Monday this week I had what will most probably go down as my final swim of the season. Last week, things were still very nice. Despite the fact that we’re halfway through autumn, the air temperature on Friday was in the mid-twenties (Celsius, or about seventy seven degrees Fahrenheit) and the water temperature was a very comfortable twenty two degrees (sixty eight degreees Fahrenheit).

However, on Monday it was a very different story. The weather was overcast and a strong southerly whipped up the water. The air temperature was only twenty degrees Celsius (sixty eight degrees Fahrenheit) and the water temperature had dropped four degrees over the weekend.

Despite there being only one other swimmer in the pool, I psyched myself up, changed and jumped in. The cold water provided a massive shock to my system and, needless to say, I swam the first lap very quickly. The cold shower at the end of the swim did little to raise my body temperature. The experience was nothing if not invigorating.

I have work commitments which mean I won’t be able to get back again this week or next, and I fear that in two weeks time, the temperature will be too low for me to contemplate a swim (call me a softy if you will). This means my enjoyable summer pastime has come to an end, but I’m looking forward to getting back into the pool in September or October. 

Outdoor activity is important to me, both for the physical and mental benefits. As such, I’ll be aiming to hit a few golf balls at the driving range on my occasional lunch break until I can resume swimming in the spring.

Note: The photo above was of Port Kembla pool on a much nicer day than today, courtesy of Visit Wollongong. To see more images of our beautiful city, check out:

Cover Reveal: How To Have An Amicable Divorce

Genre: Fiction/Romance/Contemporary
Release Date: May 15, 2014
Digital ISBN-10: 1631120441 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-044-2
Print ISBN-10: 163112045X ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-045-9
How to Have an Amicable Divorce
Have you ever got yourself in so deep you feel like running away and starting a new life?
That’s exactly what wife and artist, Denizon Cartwright felt like doing. After deciding that she couldn’t put up with her unfaithful husband any longer, she leaves him for smooth-talking artist and professor, Damien   Johnson – but she soon learns she’s swapped one liar for another and beats a hasty retreat … only to become entangled with Jay, the ex-lover of her best friend, Robyn.
Could her life get any more complicated?
Yes! A surprise encounter leaves Denizon with an ever-growing list of men falling in love with her.
Her escape route is at hand in the shape of Escuela de Montana d’Armentera, an artistic retreat high up in the Spanish mountains. But her problems only follow, as she discovers.
Will she find true happiness in the Spanish sun or lose everyone she ever held dear?
And is the cost of finding herself too high a price to pay?

Cover Reveal: The Three Mrs Monroes

Amelia, Penelope, Vivian
The Three Mrs. Monroes
Bernadette Marie


Some men keep secrets…Adam Monroe kept


 Genre Contemporary Romance:

Amelia Book one of The Three Mrs. Monroes
Release Date: June 26, 2014
Digital ISBN-10: 1631120387 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-038-1
Print ISBN-10: 1631120395 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-039-8
From loss breeds new opportunity.
Amelia Monroe had felt the sharp pain from the loss of a soldier before—Adam Monroe’s death didn’t have that same affect.
Sam Jackson had one job—deliver Adam Monroe’s revised will. Even he couldn’t have anticipated that he’d be entangled in the web of lies his client had woven.
Doing what is right had been inbreed in Amelia. She’d planned to say her goodbyes and start fresh. Staying in Adam’s small town with his other lies, that wasn’t part of her plan.

Penelope Book two of The Three Mrs. Monroes
Release Date: July 31, 2014
Print ISBN-10: 1631120417 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-041-1
From loss breeds new life.
Penelope Monroe married on impulse and her heart had been broken by Adam Monroe’s lies. Pregnant she wonders how she will survive, alone, with her baby.
Brock Romero held Adam Monroe when he died in combat. Now released from the Army he makes it his priority to find Adam’s wife and share with her his last words.
On the verge of making the same mistake twice, Penelope must trust her heart—especially when new lies are uncovered.

Vivian Book three of The Three Mrs. Monroes
Release Date: August 28, 2014
Digital ISBN-10: 1631120425 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-042-8
Print ISBN-10: 1631120433 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-043-5
From loss breeds new beginnings
Vivian Monroe had been jaded. Her husband’s death only compounded the lies she’d only come to learn about.
Clayton North knows a thing or two about loss. He figured it was fate for him to meet Vivian Monroe. He’ll take on the challenge of helping her mend her heart.
Midst new friendships and new romance, Vivian must let go of her pain and face the woman who helped Adam Monroe weave his deceptive web.

My Favourite Suit

I delivered an important presentation at work today so I wore my favourite suit. I don’t wear it often. It’s the suit I was married in. It’s also the suit I wore to my grandfather’s funeral.

Although it’s a few years old now, it’s still a nice suit, and still fashionable enough to wear. The thing I like best about the suit is the two pieces of paper in the inner breast pocket. One contains the speech I delivered at my wedding reception. The other is the eulogy I delivered at my grandfather’s funeral.

I leave the speeches permanently in the pocket – apart from when the suit gets dry cleaned. When I put the jacket on, and feel the cards in my pocket, they’re a nice reminder of what’s important and special in my life. And when I do wear the suit at a high pressure event - such as a job interview or a major presentation – they help to remind me that I don’t need to treat the situation too seriously, because in the scheme of things, there are many more important aspects of life.

Sara Barnard’s Latest Release

Sara Barnard is a wonderful editor and is currently working with me on my soon to be published novella, A Painted Room. However, she is also a best-selling author in her own right. Her newest historical novel, A Heart Forever Wild has just been released.


Available from 5 Prince

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Historical
Release Date: April 3, 2014
Digital ISBN-10: 1631120298 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-029-9
Print ISBN-10: 1631120301 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-030-5
A Heart Forever Wild

Outlaws. Lies. Executions. Indians.
When all of their dreams come true, will Sanderson and Charlotte still have what started it all – their everlasting love?
In this final installment of the Everlasting Heart series, Sanderson and Charlotte must make a home for themselves in the Army town of Fort Bidwell, California. When the job as an Indian agent begs him to round up the peaceful area Indians for execution, Sanderson again runs afoul of the government. In answer to the broken promises of the Army, Sanderson and Jerry turn to a well-paying job with the railroad. However, they are warned to turn a blind eye to the treatment of their Chinese workers …  or else. But can money buy this formerly-happy Arkansas family the happiness they are so desperately searching for?
Meanwhile as Charlotte stands up for Cotton against the town bullies, she accidentally falls into favor with Johnny Tan, the handsome young outlaw who slowly transforms into both Sanderson’s nemesis and his saving grace. In a world where women are expected to be silent, can Charlotte be a parent Cotton, a wife to Sanderson who seems to have fallen more in love with money than with her, and friend to Minerva, who seems to be drifting farther and farther away?
About Sara Barnard
Sara Barnard, who was most likely born into the wrong century, is mother to four awesome children. In addition to Rebekah’s Quilt, she has authored the historical romance Everlasting Heart series, consisting of bestselling A Heart on Hold, which was also a 2012 RONE award finalist, A Heart Broken, A Heart at Home, and A Heart Forever Wild – all from 5 Prince Publishing. She also writes for the younger among us. Chunky Sugars is a picture book from 5 Prince Kids and her independently published children’s nonfiction titles, The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants and The Big Bad Wolf Really Isn’t so Big and Bad, have hit bestseller lists several times. She and her family make their home in the far reaches of the west Texas desert with the Javalina, mesquite trees, and of course, lots and lots of oil.
Where to find Sara:
Twitter: @TheSaraBarnard
Excerpt of A Heart Forever Wild:
The thundering hooves from both the stampede and the onslaught of soldiers vibrated the ground.
“Sanderson!” Charlotte had to shout to be heard over the growing din. The scene before her unfolded in slow motion as Jerry lifted Minerva, Jay Jay, and Cotton into the wagon with expert precision, one after the other.
Cotton’s normally musical voice tore from his throat in a hysterical shriek. “Mr. Sanderson!
Don’t forget Button and George!” Tears left wet trails down his bronze face while more still shimmered in his clear blue eyes. His arms trembled as they reached for his wolf pup.
George whimpered, scared and helpless, until Jerry plopped Button into the wagon beside him. At once, the gray pup ceased his cries and began to snarl and snap at his brother and friend, both of their fluffy tails wagging, oblivious to the mortal danger that careened toward them from seemingly all directions. Cotton folded his little body over the puppies as Minerva draped her arm over Cotton. Her emerald eyes, wide and staring, darted to and fro.
Sanderson’s strong
hands snapped Charlotte from her trance. “Come on!” Her grip tightened around tiny Charlie. “We gotta clear out!”
Nicolai flung his huge head as the herd of wild horses drew nearer and the shouts of the soldiers grew louder. He stomped his hooves as though he may take off with the mustangs at any moment. Achilles, hooked to pull the wagon alongside the younger stallion, glanced over his gray shoulder and whuffed.
Cocoa and Peanut zipped through Jerry’s legs as he pitched a few bags out of the birthing tipi that Charlotte had called her home — the warm, snug, safe place where precious Charlie had come into the world and she herself had almost exited it. Both buckskin and cloth bags landed at her feet in the thin layer of mud. Careful not to trip over them, Charlotte quick-stepped to Sanderson and shoved Charlie into his waiting arms.
Once Charlotte was safe in the wagon bed with her family, Jerry tossed in the rest of the bags as she reached for Charlie.
Sanderson’s eyes were as wild as she’d ever seen. As she accepted their child from him, he was looking everywhere but at her. “Hunker down, going to be a rough ride,” he called, disappearing around the side of the wagon. Nicolai stomped and reared, making the wagon lurch as snippets of conversation made its way back to the bed where Charlotte tried to remain brave. Sanderson’s voice was the clearest. “You drive and I’ll ride!”
Cries from the Indians drowned out Jerry’s reply.
The wagon jerked to life as a few words from Charlotte’s beloved met her ears again. “Turn in with the herd … kick for that river!”
Fear churned in Charlotte’s stomach as she grasped Charlie tighter. Her gaze, searching the faces of her loved ones who shared the wagon bed with her, met the wide one belonging to Minerva.
The words rolled off her tongue in choppy Romani-tinged syllables. “There is a river near?” Jay Jay screeched, prompting Charlie to join in, as the popping of gunshots peppered the air above the deafening roar of hoofbeats.
Careful to keep from looking out the front of the wagon, Charlotte hunkered down and tugged at the neck of her buckskin dress. Once her swollen breast was freed, she offered it to Charlie who quieted his whimpers and began to nurse.
Minerva busied herself with watching Jay Jay, following Charlotte’s lead not to look out the front of the wagon – or the back. “We’re with herd? Of wild horses?”
Cotton peeked up from his furry fort of wolf pups. “We’re riding with those stampedin’ horses?” His inky eyebrows arched skyward. “To get away from the soldiers?” He pushed himself up into a semi-sitting position. Had he ears like Button and George, they’d have no doubt been perked up, sitting at attention.
Charlotte laid her hand on his shoulder and nodded. “Please, stay low. Those shots are close.” No sooner had the words passed her lips than a crack sounded and a shot of hot lead tore through their canvas cover. Jerry roared from the driver’s box.
“No!” Minerva’s face contorted into a mishmash of planes as she tried to scramble toward the front of the wagon and conceal Jay Jay at the same time. “Jerry!”
Charlotte shoved Cotton back into the nest of puppies and slid down until she and Charlie were flat, as far from Army bullets as possible. “Minerva, get down!”
Tears leaked from Minerva’s flashing eyes as her mouth gaped, sobs roiling up from the depths of her being. “No, he’s dead! They’ve killed him!”
The wagon turned sharply to the right, sending Minerva and Jay Jay crashing over Cotton and into Charlotte’s legs. Hoofbeats thundered against the frozen earth in deafening thunks. Someone screamed, though Charlotte wasn’t sure if it was her or Minerva. Surely, her world was coming to an end.
Jerry’s voice rose above the din like a phoenix from the ashes. “I’m alright! You gals stay low — we’re running with the herd now!”
Thank you God. Charlotte reached with her free arm and patted Minerva’s ebony head. Shots from the Cavalry rifles sounded farther away as the wagon roared wildly toward the north, in the company of a thousand wild horses.
Cotton’s head poked up again. “We’re in the herd? With wild horses?” With the grace and stealth of a cat, Cotton rose and crept toward the driver’s box, somehow managing to keep his footing amid the mess of goods, people, dogs, and the rolling of the wagon.
Charlotte reached to snag the youngster, but missed. “Cotton, no!” Before she could adjust her seat and grab for one of his moccasined feet, Cotton slipped through the canvas arch and situated himself next to Jerry without a single misstep. Holding onto the roughhewn wooden bench, Cotton swiveled his head back toward Charlotte, a grin lighting his entire face. “Miss Charlotte! I ain’t never seen so many horses!”
As she held the youngster’s stare, Charlotte’s lips spread back farther and farther until her eyes crinkled at the sides and her cheeks ached, her body rocking in rhythm with the wagon. The sudden surge of happiness was so unexpected, it threatened to consume her right then and there. “Watch ‘em for all of us, alright?”
Nodding his ebony-tressed head, Cotton hollered back. “Alright!” Before the word was fully formed and free of his lips, he had already turned back to face the horses.
George and Button took turns nipping at Charlotte’s toes before being knocked off their paws by the jostling wagon, only to begin again as soon as they regained their footing. Silly puppies. She froze. Puppies. Her head snapped back and forth, searching the wagon for the animals she knew weren’t there. Finally, she found her voice. “Minerva!” Charlotte’s voice broke as though speaking the words brought a whole new level of pain with them. “We left Peanut and Cocoa!” Right on cue, baby Charlie began to shriek.


Cover Reveal – The Acceptance

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Digital ISBN-10: 1631120360 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-036-7
Print ISBN-10: 1631120379 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-037-4
The Acceptance:
Tyler Benson’s world was shaken with the news that he had a
sister—one he never knew he had. Though he loves his sister, and his family
remains a tightly woven unit, he simply can’t shake the feeling of betrayal
from his mother. After a sabbatical from his family to find himself it is time
to head back home and try to pick up the pieces of his life.
Courtney Fields has learned to deal with many tragedies.
Losing her sight at eight-years-old was only a challenge that gave her many
other skills. Now dealing with the loss of her brother in combat will no doubt
teach her new lessons in life.
When Tyler meets Courtney on a South bound flight to
Nashville he couldn’t possibly have expected that she’d be his lesson in
accepting the things he cannot change or control. But can he reciprocate in
helping her accept the loss of her brother when she learns the truth of his

Cover reveal – Indomitable Spirit

The cover has been revealed for “Indomitable Spirit” – a novel by one of my fellow 5 Prince Authors. Given my own martial arts background (I snapped my anterior cruciate ligament a week before my black belt test), it looks interesting.

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: April 24, 2014
Digital ISBN 13: 978-1-63112-034-3 ISBN: 10: 1631120344
Print ISBN-10: 1631120352 ISBN-13: 978-1-63112-035-0
Indomitable Spirit:

Caught between the traditional Korean culture of her mother and the fun-loving Irish heritage of her father, Kym O’Byrne has never felt truly at home … until she inherits the O’Byrne Karate School in the sleepy Colorado town of Aspen Creek. Staying focused and disciplined is her game, but something buried deep within the eyes of the grouchy handyman, John Larson—father of some of her most promising students—threatens to turn her strict world on its end …

I’m still planning my own Tae Kwon Do comeback!

Human Potential

I’ve always been inspired by examples of individuals overcoming obstacles to achieve greatness. One of the earliest examples I can remember is the story of Douglas Bader who overcame the loss of his legs to become a World War II flying ace and dynamic leader of men.

This week I was fortunate enough to see a video of Derek Paravicini, who was born more than three months premature. This left him blind and autistic. Through his own innate ability and determination, he became a piano virtuoso. You have to see him to believe it.

As one of my friends said after I forwarded a link, ‘the mind is a truly amazing thing. This goes to show you can do anything and never underestimate the human ability to accomplish anything. He has a very rare gift.’

i hope you enjoy watching Derek in action.

Small acts of kindness

William Wordsworth once said, “The best portion of a good man’s life are his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” I was privvy to a small episode last week which reinforced this for me.
I was chatting with a colleague – let’s call him Bart – when we were joined by Marie from HR. I prepared to introduce Bart to Marie, but she interrupted.

“We’ve already met,” she said.

“That’s right,” Bart agreed. “In fact, Marie helped me the first time I conducted a recruitment process. It was about fifteen years ago.”

“Do you remember that?” I asked Marie.

“I certainly do,” she replied. “Bart sent an email to my boss after the recruitment was over telling him that I was very helpful. I was on contract at the time and it helped me obtain permanent employment. I’ve never forgotten.”

Bart was surprised. “I don’t remember writing that note,” he confessed.

“It’s not often that someone goes out of their way to express thanks,” said Marie. “Small acts of kindness are never forgotten.”

This little incident has played on my mind ever since. It has helped me realise there are numerous opportunities every day when I can make a positive difference in someone’s life. I’m now challenging myself to recognise the opportunities and act on them.

Who knows, my actions may also be remembered with gratitude and fondness many years later.

Vale, Ernie Thompson

My grandfather, Ernie Thompson, passed away last week just shy of his 92nd birthday. In addition to being a beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he was also the inspiration behind the character of Walt in my novel, Wings. I was privileged to deliver the eulogy at his funeral today. I only hope I did him justice. This is what I said:

When I considered writing Grandad’s eulogy, the first things that came to mind were the events of Grandad’s long and interesting life. I thought about his adventures on the moors of Lancashire when he hunted with his father to provide food for the family during the Great Depression; his time as a fighter pilot during World War II; his marriage to the girl next door and the five children they raised; his emigration to Australia and the development of his skills as a master woodworker.

But I realised that although these things would tell you what Grandad did, they might not say much about who he was. So instead, I’ve decided to talk about three characteristics of Grandad which I believe sum him up as a person.

The first characteristic was his personal courage.  This was most obviously displayed during World War II when he gave up the safety of his job and hounded the Royal Air Force into accepting him as a fighter pilot. Due to his reserve occupation, he could have passed the war by the side of his sweet-heart in a risk-free manner. Not content with leaving the hazardous work to others, he spent the war flying in deadly combat with the Nazis.

Grandad displayed courage again when debilitated by polio in his forties. He refused the iron lung recommended by his doctors. He reasoned that if he let an artificial device do the breathing for him, he would never breathe on his own again. Despite risking his own early death, he backed himself to overcome the odds rather than be tied to a machine.

Grandad was also a positive supporter who advocated the belief that anything is possible. I know that my brother’s successful career as a pilot owes much to the support and inspiration provided by Grandad. Two of my great loves – cricket and reading – were fostered by Grandad. He was always interested in what I was doing, and would congratulate me on my achievements whilst encouraging me to stretch myself further.

The final endearing feature I’d like to touch upon was his sense of gratitude. Over the last twenty years of his life, Grandad had to deal with the loneliness that comes with being a widower, the loss of his sight due to macular degeneration, the loss of much of his hearing, and ultimately, the loss of many of the faculties of his mind due to Alzheimer’s.

Throughout this ordeal, his focus remained not on what he had lost, but rather, on what he still had. With many ingenious inventions, he continued wood turning despite his blindness. I never once heard him complain about the difficulties he endured. He was always top of the world, and he counted himself amongst the most fortunate of men. Even right at the very end, when all was seemingly lost, Grandad still had his faith and counted himself supremely blessed for this privilege.

Courage, being a provider of positive support to others, a sense of gratitude. They are three virtues which Grandad – in his own very quiet and humble way – used to construct a life of meaning and significance.