Tag Archives: The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story

Criterion Hotel – this is where all the trouble started for Julia Belleville

It isn’t fiction – the Criterion Hotel, Rockhampton – owners: Megan and Ryan Turnbull (Image courtesy The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin)

Readers of my two books The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story and To Love, Honour & Betray – will know this hotel – The Criterion Hotel in Rockhampton – because it featured prominently in both books.

Yes, that’s right. It wasn’t a figment of my imagination although it’s internal layout might have been fictionalised.


American troops did commandeer the hotel as an officer billet in WWII and it was the location for many social events – my elder sister Deidre Hofmann​’s engagement party was held here (probably late 1962).

If you’re ever visiting Rockhampton, you should check it out. It’s well located overlooking the Fitzroy River – and there’s another name from my books.

Other local landmarks that were mentioned include the Rockhampton General Hospital (up on the hill). The city name was fictionalised.

While all the characters are purely fictional, I chose to set my books in a setting I knew well – even though I left the area as a teenager.

Check out the book details at this link – http://www.jmarymasters.com


Talking about ‘To Love, Honour & Betray’


I always find there is a slight problem in talking about a new book that no one has yet read …. because I don’t want to give away the key dramatic moments in the book, so I am left talking about the characters (those who share some characteristics with some of my late family members) and the things I’ve learned along the way that have influenced some of the small details in the book.

Small intimate groups are best. Here is a group I met with a week or so ago. All these women are very keen readers and appreciated the opportunity to ask me some questions about writing and how I go about it.

For every writer, writing is such an individual activity that no two people will ever do it quite the same way or plan their books in quite the same manner.

My trick is to really place myself in the scene, to imagine it as if it was a TV show. I imagine the characters, their discussions and their body language.

Now the next decision is about book 3. How far further along do I take the Belleville family? Stay tuned.

The new book is ‘To Love, Honour & Betray’, ISBN 9780994327611 (paperback) on Amazon or via local book stores or online and available in ebook format from the usual sources.



Did you miss a bargain?

I haven’t been very active on my blog of recent times …. my excuse: busy with the day job and then trying to find time to write Book 2 of the Belleville family saga. Plus getting a bad virus that knocked me down for a while.


I attended the recent pop up bookshop in Caloundra organised by the Tamarind Book Club on Sunday 6 November – a successful day for authors, I believe.

I wanted to sell down the remainder of Book 1 stock – and I did pretty well at that – the stack was much smaller when I left than when I began.

I’ll soon have the first chapter of Book 2 up on the site for you to read FOR FREE. Watch this space.

For those who weren’t at the Caloundra event and who would like to buy the first book for themselves or a friend at a reduced price, the price on the PMA Books website is now $14.95 + postage – LINK HERE

I must admit I’m taking inspiration from the Poldark series on TV at the moment. It’s always been a favourite of mine.

Excuse me, but wasn’t I meant to spend the day writing?

It is a giant mistake to think you can give your website an update in half an hour. I tell you now that is impossible, so the several Sunday hours I should have spent with my characters, progressing their lives and loves, I instead spent updating my website and learning more about the capabilities of the CMS (content management system, for the uninitiated).

I did achieve something though (I think).

For anyone interested in my writing, you can get, for free, the first four chapters of The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story (book 1 of the Belleville family saga) at this link.


You can also get a short story which will form part of my ‘The Women we are’ collection from the same link.

Screenshot 2016-06-12 16.29.25

I sincerely hope there is a glass of wine with my name on it downstairs.

For anyone reading this blog who is waiting on Book 2 of the Bellevilles, don’t fret. It’s well under way. I promise I’ll write some more after dinner tonight …..


Thanks for the welcome, Laidley and Gatton


So it’s Sunday and I’m back in Brisbane and reflecting on my author talks at Laidley and Gatton on Friday. Click on the links to find out where these towns are. Gatton is best known for its agricultural college. As we drove through the area we were impressed by the neat rows and rows of beautiful healthy vegetables.

First of all a big ‘thank you’ to Nic in Laidley and Sue in Gatton – who made me feel very welcome. I was so impressed by the service these women and their colleagues provide their communities through their work in the public libraries, and by their friendliness and professionalism. Outstanding!

Having been to quite a few author events over the years – some well-known names with very big audiences – I had some idea what I should say – I found the best way was to have a few dot points that reminded me of what I should say, if I got off the track.

That seemed to work well but inevitably, afterwards, I thought about one or two other important points that I should have spoken about, but didn’t.

I can’t yet pack out a big auditorium but from my perspective the people who came along to hear me were warm, friendly and engaged, and asked some really good questions about writing, plot development, and the whole business of publishing.

My day job makes me much more qualified to talk about magazine publishing than book publishing so occasionally I did get off the track and wandered away from the topic.

The big thrill for me, as a first time author, was that readers liked my book and are waiting impatiently for the second one in the series. I resisted the temptation to give too many hints about where I am headed with the Belleville family ….. the fun of fiction writing is that they are my characters and I can decide how the story unfolds. (The arrogance of the author? Not really, but it’s fun to be in control.)

Thank you, Laidley and Gatton, for such a warm welcome …. and since I was widely expected to the have the draft of my second novel in my handbag, I’d better get on with it and stop writing this blog instead of writing my book!!



What I did today instead of writing

So, today I received this very nice email from a reader who is looking forward in anticipation to reading books 2 & 3 of my Belleville family saga.

The email came completely out of the blue, so to speak, praising The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story.

So I had great plans to settle down and get some words under my belt today.

Now, there are many distractions on the road to completing a novel, not the least of which is deciding to

  • give my website an overhaul
  • organise the disorganised files on my computer relating to the first book
  • think about all the social media I should continue to do

and of course finally

  • what will we have for dinner tonight!

Is that enough excuses to be going on with?

The next book in the series is all in my head, of course, and just has to be committed to the screen (that’s my story anyway).

But, hey, I’ve promised book 2 for 2016 and just four days in, I’m not backing away from that. It will be done.

How nice to get an email praising my fine quality writing. I just hope the next book lives up to expectations.





Another tiny step in my author life

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Well, as expected, Rocky turned on the heat for the author day at the local library: 33 degrees C = 91.4 degrees F. Bright, hot and sunny.

What was the best thing about the event? Catching up with my cousins whom I hadn’t seen in a while and relieving them of a bit of cash – they bought some copies of my book.

Cousin Christine has even read it and sent me a Facebook message saying she really enjoyed it and where’s the next instalment? Hey, guys, I’m too busy trying to get the first one out there!

Next best thing was meeting a romance author Alyssa J Montgomery who does a mixture of self publishing and traditional publishing …. and seems very successful at it. (Envy, envy!) Lovely person. She’s a speech therapist by day.

Unlikely conversation:

Me: Hello, and what are your reading interests?

Other person: Oh, I don’t read. I’m just here to support a friend.

My thought bubble: Who doesn’t read? Seriously? It’s the one thing I hate about travel and being away from home …. I don’t have access to my books.

So, an interesting experience. Others were much better prepared than me, but many were writing about local or family history.

I’ve included some pictures I took on the day, including one of where I used to live as a teenager with my parents, who owned a cattle (beef) property. So as not to intrude on the current owners I pulled up on the side of the road and just took a shot from afar. All you can glimpse is the roof of the house which was a typical Queensland timber home.

I also talked to the local newspaper reporter – the local newspaper is The Morning Bulletin so hopefully they will, out of local interest, publish a story about my new career.