About Me

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Queensland, Australia
I'm an Australian author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Action/Adventure, and Historical fiction. I live in Queensland, Australia. www.noelleclark.net

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The magic of cuisine

When I think of Capri, I think of many things, but being a lover of food I often think of the cuisine first and foremost.

In Rosamanti, my hero Pietro is a chef. He never set out to be a chef, but life’s twists and turns have landed him in the kitchen at Zia Maria’s restaurant, where he works daily to prepare delicious local meals for the hordes of tourists and day-trippers to the Italian island. But as the story unfolds, it’s clear that food is his passion. But not just any food. Pietro has a deep love for traditional, local dishes, made with fresh produce sourced from local producers.

I’m not saying anymore – you’ll have to wait until November 29th, when Rosamanti is released through Etopia Press to find out more. But just to whet your appetite, here are a few of mine – and Pietro’s – favourite Caprese dishes. Buon appetito!

Insalata Caprese is a simple salad usually served as an antipasto (starter) made of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil, and seasoned with salt and olive oil. See the recipe here.

Ravioli Caprese is the island’s signature dish. Fresh, hand-made pasta ravioli pillows are filled with locally made caciotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and marjoram, and served with  fresh tomato sauce and tossed in melted butter and sage. For an extra taste bud extravaganza, fry them. Recipe from http://www.capri.net/en/recipes
RavioliRavioli, filled with caciotta and Parmesan cheese and marjoram, is the Island of Capri's signature dish. Prepared in all of the kitchens of Capri, according to age-old recipes handed down from generation to generation. Much loved by both adults and children, the ravioli are served with a fresh tomato sauce or tossed in melted butter and sage. When fried, they provide a delicious starter.
To make the ravioli place the flour in a mound on a flat surface. Make a crater in the middle and pour the olive oil and hot water into it. Work together to obtain a compact dough. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the caciotta, parmesan cheese and the marjoram. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out a quarter of the mixture into a thin sheet. On half of the sheet, place teaspoonfuls of the cheese mixture, positioning the balls about 6cms apart. Take the other half of the sheet and cover the first half. Proceed to separate the ravioli, cutting around each ball with either a ravioli cutter or a glass, with a diameter of roughly 4 to 5cms. Repeat the procedure with each of the remaining quarters of the dough.
Once you have finished making the ravioli, place them to one side (taking care not to put them one on top of the other), on a flat surface, which has been dusted with flour or on clean teacloths. Cook the ravioli in boiling water for five minutes and serve with a fresh tomato sauce (see recipe for Chiummenzana), Parmesan cheese, and a few leaves of basil. Alternatively, the ravioli can be fried in hot oil until the pasta turns a light golden color. Serve hot.

Ingredients for 4 people
  • For the pasta: 500 gr. flour, 2 table spoons of olive oil, half litre of boiling water
  • For the filling: 300 gr. Caciotta di Sorrento cheese (grated), 2 eggs, 200 gr. grated Parmesan cheese, marjoram
  • For the sauce:: Fresh tomato sauce, grated parmesan cheese, fresh basil, olive oil

Totani ripieni (stuffed cuttlefish) – the cuttlefish have a similar taste and texture to calamari but have a stronger flavour. Cuttlefish form part of the staple diet of local Caprese, and are caught at night in the sea around Capri. On summer evenings, it is easy to spot the flickering lights of the boats heading out for the night’s catch. The stuffing consists of local caciotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and tomatoes. Recipe from http://www.capri.net/en/recipes
Totani ripieni (stuffed cuttlefish)This dish is perfect as either first or second course. Clean the cuttlefish and remove tentacles, making sure not to break the cuttlefish's body, which will be stuffed. In a pan, lightly fry the garlic in olive oil and cook the tentacles (cut into little pieces). In a bowl mix the eggs, Parmesan, caciotta, chopped parsley and cuttlefish tentacles. Use this mixture to fill the cuttlefish body and seal together with a cocktail stick. In a saucepan prepare some tomato sauce and then add the stuffed cuttlefish. Cook for 20 minutes. The sauce can also be used with pasta.

Ingredients for 4 people
  • 1 kg. of cuttlefish
  • 500 gr. tomatoes
  • 1 small grated Caciotta cheese
  • 100 gr. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley

Come along and spend some time with Pietro and Sarah at Villa Rosamanti. You’ll get to sample homemade goats cheese from the milk of Geraldina; eat the eggs from the Rosamanti chickens; and sample the home-made wine. No reservations necessary.

Rosamanti – out on November 29th


Monday, October 21, 2013

Meet Carlo

I'd like to introduce you to Carlo, one of the characters in Rosamanti.

Eleven-year-old Carlo lives with his mother, Teresa, in an old cottage near Villa Rosamanti. Carlo and Teresa struggle to make ends meet. They have no modern conveniences in their small home, but what they have they share with friends and neighbours. Carlo and Sarah take an instant liking to each other, and when Sarah is in grave danger, it is Carlo who responds.

Not having a father of his own, Carlo hero-worships Pietro, and brings to the story a refreshing perspective on life and love.

Rosamanti  -  out on November 29th

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Little Red Gem ... and a song from the heart. Meet author D.L. Richardson

I’d like to extend a very warm welcome to fellow Australian author, D.L. Richardson. Deb’s next book, Little Red Gem, is set for release on October 25th, and I can tell you that this will be one book that will capture the hearts of many readers. Deborah’s previous books are The Bird With the Broken Wing, and Feedback – both out through Etopia Press. Deb’s YA books are proving very popular, and have recently achieved #1 and #2 in Teen Novels in OmniLit’s Best Sellers list. Very impressive!

So, I’ll hand over to you now Deb. It’s such a pleasure to have you here on my blog.

D.L. Richardson
Thanks for having me on your blog, Noelle. For those who don’t know me, I write speculative fiction. This is my third YA novel and my first paranormal romance. Little Red Gem was so much fun to write. It began many years ago as a story about two girls named Ruby and Audrey who swapped bodies when they died, and along the way it evolved into a teenage paranormal love story. I wanted to write the ultimate romance, so for me that meant I had to include one of my passions - music. I loved the character names and retained them, though nothing else of the original story ended up in Little Red Gem.

Why was this so much fun to write? Well, I made the main character, Ruby, a singer in an all-girl band and the love of her life, Leo, is also a musician. As a teenager I sang in the school choir and rock band and I performed in school plays. My boyfriend at the time was also a guitarist. I had an acoustic guitar but I wasn’t great on it and I loved piano but again, not that great. I was a singer, not a musician but I play for enjoyment so it never bothered me. Anyway, when I left school my boyfriend and I started a band where I was the vocalist, but after a few rehearsals I decided to buy a bass guitar, because every band needs a bass guitarist. Suzi Quatro was an icon of mine. I was pleased when I realized I was actually good on the bass guitar, though I sold all my equipment after 10 years when I decided I wanted to write novels. I wish I hadn’t been so impulsive that I just sold everything. But I’m an impulsive kind of person, sometimes.

Back to the story. To be able to delve back into the world of music was a real treat for me as an author. Usually I’m researching worlds or creating them instead of re-living them. Here is an extract featuring one of the songs from the book. It’s called Side Of The Road. And as a special treat, I have recorded this song and included it on the trailer. Be sure to check it out, though it isn’t professionally recorded so I apologize in advance for the less than excellent quality. I hope you like it.

Extract from Little Red Gem

I shook off the gloom, and forced cheerfulness into my voice, telling myself I should stay positive for Anne’s and William’s sake. After all, I was merely dead – they were dead and cursed.

“Okay, you’ve convinced me a song from this century is in order. I’ll sing for you, on the condition you continue with the story of how you and William met your fate.”

I closed my eyes as if sorting through my mental library and all I saw was the image of Mom’s Jeep careening over the embankment. I choose to sing a tragic ballad:

“I am a cross
At the side of the road
Covered in flowers
Sweet roses of gold
No more can I see them
How that makes me cry
At the side of the road
Is forever where I lie
I am a memory
Too painful for some
Now others bring flowers
I don’t know who they’re from
Would I could I’d say thank you
How that makes me weep
At the side of the road
Is forever where I sleep
I am with angels
In sweet heaven above
There are those who don’t know this
But I once found true love
And always I’ll be waiting
To again touch his face
At the side of the road
I found my resting place.”

After I’d finished, my cheeks felt warm and I figured, throughout the night I’d swiped at the tears, now I should let them cascade like a river. If they ran for long enough maybe they’d wear down through my flesh and bone to form a crater-like dam, which would come in handy; I doubted the tears would ever stop and I’d need somewhere to store them.

The wind outside rattled the shutters and I opened my eyes, hoping to view a different day and feeling horrendously let down when I didn’t.

“Such a sad song,” Anne whispered. “Yet…beautiful at the same time.”

 “Thanks,” I said. “I got an A+ in music. Teacher said I must be a reincarnation of John Lennon.”

Anne tilted her head. “Oh. You did not write that song about your own demise?”

“No. Leo and I were driving into Prospect, and on our way home the car hit an oily patch on the road. We skidded. The car did a complete three-sixty. Thankfully we didn’t crash into the oncoming cars, but we did end up off the side of the road. We pulled over to let our heartbeats return to normal, and there, staked into the ground was a wooden cross with a bunch of flowers tied to it.”

Anne’s eyes lit up. “How intriguing.”

“It gets more so. There was a newspaper clipping pinned to the cross. A young woman’s car had run off the run and crashed into a tree. She’d died. The flowers were from her lover.”

“This is turning into a tragedy.”

“Agreed. But in a way it’s also a very romantic story. The crash happened ten years ago and the newspaper clipping said the lover vowed to return every year on the anniversary of her death to replace the flowers. And every year he’s returned, not only has he replaced the floral arrangement he’s also carved the date into the cross. How’s that for true love?”

No sooner had the words left my mouth than an agonizing grief rammed into my chest. My throat unlatched and a sob escaped. “Oh Leo, I’m sorry I died.”

Anne rushed over to my side and embraced me. We curled up on the couch, pressed up against each other, and throughout the night my tears flowed. They continued until light seeped in through the cracks.

I had survived my first twenty-four hours as a ghost.

About the songs in this book

With the exception of Amazing Grace, all the words to the songs in this book are written by the author. Side Of The Road, the song Ruby sings to the ghosts when she first meets them, is the only song not written specifically for this book. It was written in 1991 and was inspired in a similar way to which Ruby was inspired to write the song. A Million Miles, the song Ruby performs at the Reach For The Stars audition was written for this book and has musical accompaniment, unlike the rest of the songs which are just lyrics and have yet to have music put to the words.

Book Description:
Love can make you do crazy things as Ruby Parker discovers when she dies and returns from the grave to unearth how much Leo Culver loved her. With the aid of bad advice from a ghost who is trapped by a curse, a little bit of magic courtesy of her unsuspecting half-sister, and a televised music talent show coming to town to hold auditions, Ruby Parker makes more of a mess in death than she ever did in life. Can she fix everything before it’s too late? Or will she spend eternity as a ghost, haunted by the unknown depths of love? Either way, one thing Ruby learns is that while love can make you do crazy things, it can make you do amazing things too. But at what cost?
Little Red Gem – out now on Amazon!

Available at all good online retailers such as:
Buy eBook
Buy Print

More online retailers to come…
Other links:
Goodreads    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18525150-little-red-gem
Bonus material!!!
Here is a unique book trailer. Listen to D L Richardson as she performs one of the songs featured in the novel. I apologize in advance for the quality. I haven’t performed live in over 10 years. I’m a little rusty. 

Coming soon from D.L. Richardson - Listen to D L Richardson as she performs a second song featured in the novel.
Coming for Christmas - Bonus novellas. What happened to Audrey while she was trapped in the underworld? More of the story behind the two ghosts, Anne and William
"One lucky reader who comments on my blog post will be randomly selected to win an ebook copy of Little Red Gem. Good luck!"

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mother Nature’s gifts – my love affair with Capri

The island of Capri, Italy, is small. It measures only 4 miles long by 2 miles wide, which equates to roughly 4 square miles, or 10 square km. There are two main towns, Anacapri and Capri. Both towns sit atop a rugged spur which stretches lengthwise along the island with a dip in the middle, like a saddle. On my last visit to Capri, I discovered the Natural Arch, or Arco Naturale.

Capri town is a thriving, bustling place made of white washed buildings, cobblestones,
narrow alleyways. It’s also home to designer shops, to-be-seen-in cafes, bars, and restaurants. No cars are allowed in the town, and the cobblestones are well worn by the feet of millions of visitors. Capri is a mecca for the rich and famous, and indeed many celebrities make this their summer vacation town, including the likes of Elton John who is a regular visitor.

My companions and I wanted to see beyond the tourist things, and hopefully get a taste of the history of this place.

Way back in 29 BC, Caesar Augustus visited this island. He loved it so much that he bought it. Well, actually he traded it for the island of Ischia which he owned. His successor, Tiberius, lived on Capri and was responsible for building twelve villas between the years 27 and 37 AD, and the ruins of many are still standing.

So, instead of following the glitterati and well-trodden tourist paths, we followed a steep and winding stone path upwards through the town, passing villas and homes, stopping to look at breathtakingly beautiful scenery overlooking the island and the Bay of Naples. We had no map, we just wanted to explore. It was hot and sunny, making us feel homesick, as the weather was reminiscent of our gorgeous Queensland.

Armed with bottles of water, we walked for hours. Bougainvillea, majestic in its purple, draped over high white walls, wrought iron gates, and archways. Flowering oleanders in pink and white added to the colour. Combined with the blue of the sky and the intense cobalt of the sea beyond, our walk was an intense photo-shoot to try and capture the beauty of the day and the place.

Stumbling upon a sign saying Arco Naturale, we decided to follow it. We passed no one, it was quiet apart from the hum of bees and the occasional squark from a seabird overhead. Passing firstly through the outer ring of homes, it wasn't long before we were in fairly dense bush. We passed many little devotional grottoes with statues of the Virgin Mary. The Italians are very devoted to her and they leave flowers at these little memorials along the roadsides.

A peaceful walk, no traffic, the hot sun beating down. How wonderful to be in this place. Out of the blue, we came upon a cafĂ© carved into a rock cliff along our track. It had little tables with white cloths. I stopped a waiter. “Si si, Arco Naturale” and he pointed for us to keep on walking.
Eventually we found it.
A magnificent arch of rock, suspended over a drop of several
 hundred metres, right down to the blue water below. We spotted some tourist boats bobbing way, way down, so tiny they were mere dots. We stayed in this glorious place for hours, soaking in the view and the peace. A little kitten came to talk to us. Other than that, we were alone.

As we finally began to make our way home, Mother Nature was to leave us with one last parting gift. A magical sunset.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Etopia Press - Cookbook Launch Day

Throughout the month of October my publisher Etopia Press is holding a promotion where books are paired with a special day of significance. To win a copy of the books, just go to the Etopia Press Facebook page and leave a comment in the special promo posts.

My book, Let Angels Fly, is up for Cookbook Launch Day! You may have seen a post I did on here recently regarding cooking authentic Cambodian food. As you know, in Let Angels Fly, my heroine Abby cooks genuine Khmer food, and so I'm going to share another of the fabulous recipes from Green Gecko Project's Nyum Bai! Cookbook.

I urge you to support this wonderful childrens charity in Cambodia. Copies of this full colour book are just US$20 and can be purchased at www.greengeckoproject.org and they'll ship it to your door. The Green Gecko Project...encouraging kids to be kids and dreams to come true.

Fish Amok (Amok Trey)

Nothing characterises Cambodian cuisine like fish amok! The popularity of this fish curry, which is typically wrapped in a banana leaf, can be adapted to include chicken, tofu and other meats. Serves 4.

4 large fish fillets (firm, white, non bony fillets recommended)
2 cups coconut cream
2 cups cabbage or spinach
1 tablespoon lemongrass, minced
1 tablespoon galangal, (or ginger) minced
1 teaspoon turmeric (fresh or powdered)
4 large kaffir lime leaves (extra for garnish)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
2 teaspoons dry red pepper paste (or red curry paste)

How to prepare
1. Mix the lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, garlic, salt, sugar, fish sauce, shrimp paste and red pepper paste together and set to one side.
2. Chop the fish into bite sized pieces and cover in above mixture. Add eggs to fish and stir until covered.
3. Line bowl with cabbage or spinach and add fish mixture. Place bowl in pan covered in water and cook in hot oven for about 10 minutes (until fish is firm and cooked). The bowl can also be placed in a large steamer to cook.
4. Top with coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves and steam for another 10 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A day in the life of: Author EE Carter

My travels around the world speaking to author pals, has been one of the most extraordinary experiences. There’s nothing like a quiet chat between like-minded people to forge friendships. As you can see by the map below, I’ve made friends all over the world – yet today I get to introduce you to an author friend from just down the road.

Elizabeth Ellen Carter (EE Carter) hails from the Gold Coast, Queensland, not far from where I live. Elizabeth writes full-bodied historical romance, wrapping secrets, lies and scandals around the rich landscapes and stories of England and Paris, and exposing the oft-hidden lives of the aristocracy.

I’m very excited to say that her very much anticipated first novel, Moonstone Obsession will be released by Etopia Press on October 18. The book has already received high acclaim, having been shortlisted for the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Awards for unpublished manuscripts. Elizabeth is currently working on her second historical romance, Warrior’s Surrender, set in England in the years after the Conquest of England by William in 1066.

Noelle: Elizabeth, welcome to my blog, and thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your books.

Elizabeth: Thank you very much for having me. It’s wonderful to see so many authors from our part of the world doing very well. I can’t wait to see your next title on the shelves.

Noelle: Thanks. :-) Moonstone Obsession is set in England in 1790, and centres around Sir James Mitchell, and his unexpected love affair with Selina Rosewall, daughter of an untitled seafaring family. What inspired you to write this book?

Elizabeth: I had one scene in my head for years that centres on the witty and flirtatious banter between a Regency lady and gentleman and it wouldn’t let go until I wrote it down. From there I became fascinated with the Georgian and Regency era, not only because of the gorgeous clothes, but also the incredible industrial and philosophical ideas emerging at that time which have had a profound effect on how we see the world today.

Noelle: It seems to have been a big year for you so far. Being a finalist in the Emeralds, then a publishing contract, and now you’re on the threshold of release day for Moonstone Obsession. I bet you are thrilled that your stories will be read by people from all around the world?

Elizabeth: Oh yes, absolutely. This is the wonderful thing about being involved in publishing right now. We’re not limited by borders or by being filtered through major publishing houses. And more titles and a greater choice is also great news for readers.
It’s been a rollercoaster year. I started writing Moonstone Obsession in June of 2012 and by October it was polished enough (pardon the pun) to send it off for consideration in the Emeralds

Noelle: How long did you spend on solid research for Moonstone Obsession?

Elizabeth: I’ve always loved history and philosophy, so a lot of the basics of the era I already knew. I tend to have a framework for the story and then research along the way to make sure the story is authentic.

Noelle: Did you happen to uncover any real secrets, or unknown stories about noted characters in that period of time?

Elizabeth: Ah, Chevalier D’eon a transgender spy who lived out his later years in London. He had retired by the time Moonstone Obsession was set and I had already written a couple of scenes for him, but sadly he ended on the cutting room floor (or whatever the literary equivalent is).
There’s also the Earl of Sackville who was the original cricket tragic who was all set to set sail from for the world’s first international Test match between England and France when news broke that Louis had been overthrown.

Noelle: How do you manage to juggle all your commitments, yet still find time for writing and marketing? Are you good at routines?

Elizabeth: I work full time, so any writing I do is in the evenings and weekends. Thankfully I have a wonderfully supportive husband.

Noelle: Are you able to share with us your favourite ‘writing room’?

This is Miss Coco who sits next to me while I work.

Claude keeps one eye on Duncan while Coco sleeps on my chair.
Elizabeth: As you can see I have to share my writing room with Claude and Coco, who are the epitome of the classic story of two abandoned kittens found on the doorstep. We’ve had them since January. BTW I have tidied my desk since this picture was taken… honest!

Noelle: I see you’re second book - Warrior’s Surrender – is well under way. It’s another historical romance novel. This is clearly your chosen genre, but do you ever see yourself writing contemporary romance?

Elizabeth: I love writing historicals for the same reason why other people like science-fiction, it’s a way of exploring the human condition (especially romance) in a way that is different from the modern world. I have another four two page historical synopses.
I did say once that I couldn’t see myself writing contemporary, but I’ve changed my mind.
After Warrior’s Surrender I have a contemporary novella called Miss Midnight that I’m going to dive straight into – the heroine becomes an accidental radio star and finds her true love.
And speaking of scenes which won’t let go, I have another idea for a contemporary romantic thriller based on two scenes which came to me while daydreaming.

Noelle: You’ve been a professional writer for some years. How well did this background prepare you for writing historical novels?

Elizabeth: In terms of the craft – nothing at all. Writing novels is a completely different discipline to any other writing I’ve done (and I think I’ve done the lot – journalism news and feature stories, radio and TV advertisement scripting, web site copy, brochure writing, technical papers…)

Noelle: When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your time?

Elizabeth: I love browsing antiques and op shops. Then there is reading, of course! Fortunately I’m married to the perfect man who enjoys the same things I do!

Noelle:Elizabeth, thanks for visiting today. I can’t wait for Moonstone Obsession to be released! In
the meantime, where can readers connect with you?

Elizabeth: Thank you once again for having me.

Web: www.eecarter.com
Facebook: facebook.com/ElizabethEllenCarter

MOONSTONE OBSESSION  out on October 18th!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The good, the bad, and the ugly of mouldy cheese and its effect on Lady Fury

In the olden days when ships were powered by sail and at the mercy of the winds, travel was a long and arduous affair. A brisk mistral, a terrifying typhoon, or the dreary doldrums, all dictated how long it would take to get from Port A to Port B.

Fresh food only lasted a few days at best, and so most ship larders stocked crudely preserved goods. Weevilly biscuits; maggoty vegetables; salted meat which required soaking to bring it back to anything that looked like meat; and cheese covered with a grey-green fur. Yes, mouldy cheese!

Our good friend, Lady Fury, would have had to endure these culinary horrors. No wonder she is an ill-tempered and – difficult – woman! Today – Moldy Cheese Day - The Unraveling of Lady Fury is showcased on the Etopia Press Facebook page. To win a copy of Shehanne Moore’s fabulous book, just click here and leave a comment on Etopia’s page. Simple.

As for Lady Fury’s long sea voyages with Captain Flint I have some advice her ladyship. At great expense to the management and in honour of Moldy Cheese Day, I have come to dear Milady Fury’s aid and, with the people over at Curd Nerd, have a solution to the problem of mouldy cheese.
The Curd Nerd gurus agree that in the wonderful world of mixing together milk, cultures and bacteria you can end up with some pretty funky looking new friends living on your cheese. So visit their site to find out about all the different varieties of mould, and what you should do about them.
Bon appetit!

Readers Candy 3000 giveaway

Congratulations to Readers Candy on reaching 3,000 likes on their fantastic blog. And congratulations also to the two winners of ebook copies of my book, Let Angels Fly, who entered the competition.