|The city of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, from the beach|
At the age of six Australian author Helen Ellis composed poetry for her school magazine. She’s been writing ever since. Her work includes contemporary women’s fiction, romantic drama, cozy fiction, urban fantasy, mystery, humorous chick-lit, historical drama, linked short stories, and novellas, all with a romantic element. Learn more about Helen and her books at her website.
Hello from Australia – or Oz, as we Aussies call it!
I live on the Gold Coast, in the southeast corner of the state of Queensland. The Gold Coast is the sixth largest city in Oz, (the others are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth), and it’s a subtropical area with a mild, dry winter and a hot, humid, wet summer. My city is a destination for tourists from everywhere. It’s here that the mighty Pacific Ocean rolls onto great stretches of sandy beaches, bringing surf that’s the envy of the rest of the world! Some tourists have likened the Gold Coast to Miami – we even have a suburb called Miami – others to Hawaii, but, even though we have our skyscrapers and serious shopping precincts, I think we are rather unique in that laid-back “it’ll be right, mate” kind of Australian way.
I think we Aussies tend to underestimate the beauty of our country. It’s such a large place. There’s a bit of a poem I was taught at school – “I love a sunburnt country, a wilful, lavish land, all ye who do not know her, you will not understand” – and this rather sums up Oz, I think. We have terrible droughts, floods, bushfires, storms and cyclones, but beautiful springs, amazing summers, gorgeous flowers, stunning scenery, and very friendly people.
70% of the Australian mainland is classified as semi-arid, arid or desert, making it the driest inhabited continent on Earth. Consequently all the major settlement is around the coastal areas, and on the east the Great Dividing Range separates the coast from the remarkable inland pastures. However don’t think we are without mountains, for in the south of New South Wales and northern Victoria are the Australian Alps, snow-capped in winter.
And of course everyone knows about our kangaroos (we have a small group of them living on the hill behind our home) – fascinating animals. But it’s the birds that I love. Oz has some of the most colourful birds in the world – lorikeets, parrots and galahs – and also the famous laughing kookaburra. Kookas sit on the light pole outside my home, eye me off, and laugh at me.
This is my world. I sit at my desk and write, happy to live in Oz. Come visit.
Escape to Santorini
Afraid for her life, Mary Illingford abandons her home in Sydney and her abusive and violent husband, Paul. With her daughter, Jenni, she embarks on a journey to a place where she thinks he will never find her – the island of Santorini, Greece, where her friends Eleni and Julia await her.
Jenni and Marios, Eleni's son, fall in love and are challenged by the differences in their cultures. The three women, and Eleni’s friend John, learn about each other and share their problems in the beautiful surroundings of the Greek island. Mary discovers real friendship and support, Julia puts old issues behind her and extends her horizons, Eleni gains comfort beyond her family, and John shakes off the paranoia of his ex-wife.
But Paul, in trouble with the law, resolves to find Mary and Jenni. His chase inevitably leads him to Santorini…Love will prevail, however. Always.