I cannot believe we are staring down the barrel of Christmas yet again. The days have flown by this year, which is why I have been tardy with updating my site. My humble apologies. For those of you who are still talking to me, I have a novella out at the moment in The Christmas Wedding Quilt anthology. Emilie Richards and Janice Kay Johnson (I know, I really lucked out there) wrote the first two stories, and I wrapped things up in this great set of stories centred around a quilt that a dying mother didn't quite finish and four cousins who have lost contact over the years. My story, Nine Ladies Dancing, is about Rachel, a librarian in the small bayside town of Sorrento, and Leo, a fire fighter who is recovering from an injury and mourning the death of a close friend and colleague. I loved writing this story, especially researching quilting techniques, and I adored working with Emilie and Janice. If you're wondering, my novella sits at the sweet end of the steamy spectrum, but there's plenty of romance and tension (well, I hope there is, anyway!) and the anthology is getting strong reviews from readers.
My other news for you is that I am almost ready to hit the "go" button for my next self-published digital book. Satisfaction has a cover, but I am holding off on sharing it because I want to make a splash. I will say, however, that my cover designer has thanked me several times for giving her such good material to work with! In case you hadn't worked it out from the title, Satisfaction is a very steamy read. Very. Steamy. The story follows Georgie, a small independent bookstore owner, and her quest to resolve an intimate problem that has cast a shadow over her personal life for years. In short, Georgie can't get there, not with a man, not by herself, and she's pretty much at the end of her tether and ready to seek the help of modern medicine when she learns about the incredibly sexy Brazilian-Australian tattooist working just up the road. According to reliable word, he is The Business in the bedroom, and in a moment of slightly drunken desperation Georgie forms the plan to seduce him and let him work his magic on her. If he can't make the earth move, she will hand herself over to people in white coats and a raft of tests. As we all know, women plan and God laughs, and of course Georgie's not-very-well-thought-out plan goes astray - but in a very delicious way. What follows is a frustrating, compelling seduction that becomes the centre of Georgie's world. It's not until she's knee deep in the best sex of her life that Georgie realises that the man responsible for her satisfaction has become far more than a cure for her frustration. But she's not convinced that Rafele has ever seen her as more than a challenge, or that their lives will mesh outside of the bedroom. Plus there's the very real chance that he's still in love with his ex-girlfriend...
I don't want to ruin all the surprises, so I will stop typing now, but I am hoping to get this out to readers in mid January. In the meantime, any book bloggers or readers who would like to receive early copies for review, please contact me via the contact me button on my website and I will pop your name down and hook you up when the manuscript is ready to rock and roll.
I am thrilled to announce that my e-only novella Her Favorite Temptation is FREE right now on Kindle, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, ibookstore, Harlequin, etc, etc. It's available to Australian and New Zealand readers, as well as Canadian and US readers. I'm not sure about UK and Europe, but my best guess until I hear from readers up that way is that Harlequin might be the best source for the freebie as they tend to sell e-books to anyone from anywhere. Fingers crossed, and if you know any differently, I'd love to hear from you.
So, here are the buy links for Australia. Unfortunately, I cannot get the buy links for the US from Down Under - ah, technology, isn't it awesome? - but there is a list of them over at Dear Author, so here's a link to that post.
It's worth noting that the Australian and New Zealand version of the title reflects Australian spelling, and therefore "Favorite" has become "Favourite". If, for whatever reason my links don't work, Australian and New Zealand readers need to search for "Her Favourite Temptation", while US and Canadian readers should search for "Her Favorite Temptation". Make sense? I hope so.
Now, onto the links for Australian and New Zealand readers:
I hope everyone enjoys this book. It's a long novella - 65000 words, about the length of one of my Blazes - and it's a prequel/parallel story to my September Super Romance, Her Favorite Rival. To find out more books, scroll down to my previous blog post, where I posted quite a bit of info about each book.
First up, I have a digital-only short coming out in August that will be FREE on Kindle, Kobo, ibookstore, etc, etc. Called Her Favorite Temptation, this 65000 word not-really-a-novella links to my September Super Romance, Her Favorite Rival. I am very excited about both these stories. They were emotional books to write, and I found myself getting very invested in finding a happy-every-after for Leah and Audrey and their men, Will and Zach.
A little about each of the books:
Her Favorite Temptation is Leah's story. She's the younger sister, and the golden-haired child of the family. She can do no wrong - as long as what she wants to do coincides with what her domineering mother wants her to do. When the book opens, Leah is making a stand for the first time in her life and not particularly enjoying the resulting heat she gets from her parents. Their conflict makes her question many things about her life, including her distant relationship with her older sister, Audrey. As she grapples with these family issues, she also battles a growing attraction to the sexy, scruffy musician who has moved in next door. Will Jones is one half of the Grammy-award winning duo Galahad Jones, and he finds it both amusing and refreshing that Leah has no idea who he is. He's in town because he's been diagnosed with a potentially devastating condition, something he withholds from Leah until the last possible moment. Their journey toward love and recovery challenges Will's pride and Leah's sense of worth, but it's worth it (I think!).
Her Favorite Rival is Audrey's story. Unlike her younger sister, Audrey was never smart enough or good enough, and after acting out in her teen years she's been labelled the black sheep of the family and treated accordingly. She is extremely tough on herself, holding herself to a high standard, and part of that is excelling - exceeding - at work. She's determined to nail the next promotion that comes up, but she's painfully aware that her greatest rival for the position, Zach Black, is charming, qualified and a real contender. He's also very hot, and even though she tells herself she hates him, it's a position that dissolves pretty quickly when they're forced to work with one another on a project. A new cut-throat CEO, intense work pressure and undeniable desire combine to put both Audrey and Zach through the wringer. The question is, will their burgeoning feelings survive the test?
As a Super Romance, Her Favorite Rival will be available in both print and e-book, while Temptation will only be available in e-book. My apologies to those of you who are still reading paper-only. If it helps lure you to the "darkside" at all, I was once adamantly anti-e-book, but I am now a passionate e-book convert because I ADORE having all my books with me at once. Getting stuck on the train or being forced to wait for an appointment is a joy when I have so many books to choose from - I may even be guilty of arriving early sometimes just so I have an excuse to squeeze in some more reading time.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these books if you get a chance to read them. It was a joy writing them - not every second, you understand, because every book has its dark, pesky, crazy moments - but I am very attached to Audrey and Leah after going on their journeys with them, and I hope the same will happen to you!
One of the most common questions we writers get is "where do you get your ideas from?" I know some writers roll their eyes at this question, but I find it very flattering! It reminds me that while having my brain teeming with fictional people, places and conflicts seems extraordinarily normal and dullsville to me, it's not the typical experience of most people. In the same way that I am absolutely crap at numbers, some people couldn't come up with a sustained narrative to save their lives. And that is totally cool, because the world needs accountants AND writers, right? At least I hope they do!
I wanted to offer some insight into the inspiration behind my most recent Super Romance, The Other Side of Us. Which, incidentally, is FREE right now at Amazon, Apple i-store, and Barnes and Noble Nook, I believe. Get your free copy while you can, I say! And I hope you enjoy.
The narrative backbone for The Other Side of Us formed out of a couple of different inspirations. One was a conversation I had with my awesome writing buddy, Joan Kilby. She's a fellow Super Romance author (you should check her books out, she writes the most adorable, sexy, down to earth real men - men who make mistakes and have holes in their socks but who have huge, huge hearts) and I am lucky enough to live in the same part of Melbourne as her. We catch up for walks and talks and lunches, and one day when we were having lunch she told me how her dog, Toby, used to be an escape artist at their former property, always weaseling his way through the fence so he could go next door and play with the dog there. Immediately I thought "wow, what a cute meet. Imagine two people who are forced to interact because their dogs have the hots for each other." I went home, stewed on it a little, than rang Joan and asked if she would mind me using her anecdote as a story starter. She very generously gifted it to me, and I had the first part of my story.
I then started to think about why two people would need to be forced together by their dogs. Obviously, they would have to be neighbors, and they would have to be new neighbors, because otherwise there was no reason for the story to start NOW. I wondered if maybe one of them was a bit of a recluse, a younger version of a curmudgeon. At that point, I was thinking of the hero. And I wondered if the woman who moved in next door might have been burned, badly, by her marriage. I'm not sure why, but I couldn't stop thinking about Charles and Diana and Camilla. I don't know the real details about what went on between them, but one of the popular versions is that Charles never really got over the relationship he had with Camilla prior to marrying Diana, and that he never really gave it up once he was married, either. The idea of a long-standing affair that almost pre-dates the marriage took a hold in my mind. It's such a betrayal, one of those revelations that would really shake the world for a person. The trick, of course, was to make my heroine not look like an idiot for not realising what was going on.
So, I was all ready to go with this scenario, my outline was approved by my editor, all lights were green. Then I finished Suddenly You, the Super Romance I wrote prior to The Other Side of Us, and as I wrote the final chapters it occurred to me that I'd created two commitment-shy, once-burned heroines in a row. I did not want to get to the end of The Other Side of Us and find myself flailing around looking for ways to make Mackenzie's inner conflict different from Pippa's. And then it occurred to me that that would not be a problem at all if I made Mackenzie the curmudgeonly loner, and Oliver the once-burned-twice-shy betrayed person. Instantly my brain lit up like Guy Fawkes night and I knew I was on to something.
Then the rain came. Bucket loads of it, along with dire warnings from the weather bureau to clear out our gutters and drains because even more rain was on the way. They called it a catastrophic weather event, actually, and it was enough to get me up on the ladder cleaning the gunk out of our gutters. A pleasant task, not! That night, the catastrophe darkened our skies, but my husband and I were smugly confident that our drains and gutters were clear and clean. My brother called just before dusk, as the first flood of water streaked down from the sky. "Good luck," he said cheerfully."I'm looking at the weather radar at work and it's showing black above your place. Nice knowing you." I was talking on the cordless handset, and I walked to the front window as I assured my brother that we were fine, thank you very much, and the weather bureau had got us all panicking for nothing. Then I opened the blind and glanced out at the front driveway and realised that there was a RIVER of water pouring down it toward our house. "%&*$#!!! I gotta go!" I said to him. My husband was in his boxers and a tank top. I was in knickers and a tank top. We were both barefoot. I pulled on some pajama pants, shoved my feet into gumboots and went out to see if we could save our house from being flooded. We worked out quickly that the gravel from our slightly-sloping driveway had been washed down by the enormous flow of water and was blocking the grates on the drain across the foot of the driveway. Because the grate was blocked, water was simply flowing over it and pooling around our house. Creeping higher every second. We both tried to scoop gravel away from the grate but it was impossible to keep up with the amount being washed down by the river in our driveway. We settled for grabbing brooms and trying to channel the water either side of our house so it wouldn't creep any higher.
We worked like wet dogs for half an hour before lightning forced us to take shelter. It was scary and cold, but somehow my husband and I wound up laughing each time we looked at each other, soaked in our underwear and gumboots. I think we must have known at that point that we were going to be okay. Just. And sure enough, we were. The rain subsided, the flow from the street lessened. I walked up through the river-that-had-become-a-creek and saw that the road was completely flooded, the gutters in the street completely blocked or simply overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of the water.
The picture above is the aftermath of our exciting night - all the gravel in the middle ground used to be on our driveway. It doesn't look like much spread out like that, but it took me a whole day of shoveling and moving stuff in the wheelbarrow to clean it up. Fun and games.
It was a scary, crazy night, but the craziest thing of all is that as I was pushing water down the side of my house with a broom, I was thinking "Hey, this would be a great way for Mackenzie and Oliver to get past their initial bad impressions of each other and start to become friends. If her place was flooding and Oliver came over in the middle of the night to help and they were both wet and it was dark... Yeah. That could definitely work."
I'm not sure what it says about me that one of the first things I think about when something happens in my life is "how can I turn this into story?" Probably not something healthy, anyway! But this real-life event became a fictionalised flood in The Other Side of Us, just as Joan's dog story did. Next time someone asks me where I get my ideas from, I'm going to direct them to this blog post. Or maybe I won't, because the other place I get stories from is from listening to the people around me.... and I wouldn't want them to bite their tongues on my account!
PS. I have upgraded the security on my blog and comments are once again enabled. I would LOVE to hear from you, so don't hold back. Unless, of course, you're a spam bot, selling something horrible.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!And if you celebrate your festive occasions in another way at another time of the year, happy holiday season!
It was a big day down here in Australia - there was much cooking and baking in the lead up since the pudding had to be boiled (6 hours!) in advance and I needed a dessert to take to my sister's in the evening. Plus I helped my MIL out by roasting the veggies etc and taking them to her place for the midday meal. As usual, by the time the evening wore around Iwas looking less than pristine, with various food stains from helping out in the kitchen, no shoes, smeary make-up and a too-full stomach. Ah, Christmas, you've done it again! But it was a lovely day, and especially fun was watching our dog play with my husband's brother's dog, who was visiting from Sydney. They are both poodle crosses, and they seemed to "get" each other every nicely, indeed.
Today I am resisting the primal urge to visit the local shopping centre to see what the post-Christmas sales have to offer. I have more than enough of everything, lucky girl that I am. But I do love a bargain, too! I'm not sure how long I can hold out....
I hope that you and yours are happy and healthy, and that you have exciting plans for the new year ahead.
Suddenly You is officially out there, steaming up the streets. So far, readers seem to be enjoying Pippa and Harry's journey together, which is more than wonderful. It's always a huge relief when readers respond to a book.
There have been a few reader/reviewer comments about names in this book, so I feel as though I should maybe offer an explanation regarding them. Firstly, when I wrote All They Need, I had no idea I was going to fall in love with Mel's brother as I was writing him. Otherwise I would have thought a little more carefully about the fact that her name is Mel Porter, which makes him Harry Porter...which is just too damn close to a certain wizard we all know so well. Once I realised what I'd done - which, believe it or not, didn't happen until I was writing the first chapter - I couldn't think of a realistic way of undoing it. I mean, Harry and Mel's parents are happily married, so there was no reason for Harry to have a different last name from the rest of his siblings. And I couldn't change his first name, because that was well established. I decided I was simply going to have to draw attention to the elephant in the room as quickly as possible, which is why I had Pippa make a Harry Potter reference early on in the book. I hoped that by owning it, we could all move on. I hope it worked!
The other name issue is the fact that I've written a romance about a man called Harry and a woman called Pippa. With the royal wedding still pretty fresh in everyone's minds, I know there are probably quite a few readers wondering if this was wish fulfillment on my behalf. The answer is no, not at all. At least, not consciously! My editor was the one who picked up on the names and suggested I should maybe change them. But by that time I was so wedded (excuse the pun!) to Pippa being Pippa that I couldn't imagine her any other way. I tried a bunch of other names, even considered writing the book with her as Pippa to keep my writer self happy, then doing a "replace all" at the end... But then I couldn't even make myself do that.
Ask any writer - character names are IMPORTANT! It takes me quite a while to decide on mine, and I have a running list of names I collect from all over that inspire me and get my imagination rolling. The hero and heroine's names have to sound good together (to my ear, anyway) and they have to not be someone I know in real life - very hard to write hawt scenes when you have an image of a real person butting in on the movie playing in your mind! One of the many reasons I have still not used the name Tom as a hero's name. I love it in theory, but in practice I keep seeing a man jumping up and down on Oprah's couch. Enough said, I'm sure.
Anyway. That's probably more than enough on names! For those of you hungry for more from me, I have The Other Side of Us out in January, which really isn't that far away according to the Christmas decorations that have popped up in my local stores. If you review on your own blog, I believe you can even get an advance copy from Net Galley at present, so you can get a sneak preview if you're keen.
I'm also working on the first book in a self-published series I plan to write based around a family-run winery on the Mornington Peninsula, which isn't a thousand miles from where I live. The series will be called Fitzgerald's Run, after the vineyard, and so far I have plans for 6 books, which is pretty damn exciting. I just have to find time to write them now! Stay tuned!
Happy reading until next time!
PS. I am having a ton of trouble with spam comments at the moment. As in, 50+ a day. Until I work out a way to stop it, I am disabling comments. It's taking up precious time to screen all the spam, and I really don't want to miss a genuine comment from readers. If you'd like to chat, please drop me an email via the link on my site. My humble apologies for the inconvenience - I aim to have this sorted ASAP.
Okay, so after years of planning and plotting and dreaming, we have finally launched into home renovations. Two bathrooms and a kitchen, in case you were wondering, all of which has required that we move out for the duration. So, me, The Man and Max the Cavoodle have packed up our bags and shoe-horned ourselves into my mother's spare room.
As you can imagine, it's cosy. But we all get along very nicely, indeed, and Max has charmed my mother within an inch of her life. That's what he does. We have yet to introduce him to anyone who didn't want to smuggle him out of the house in their luggage and make him their own.
Back at the house, walls have been smashed, ugly 70s tile uprooted, floors pulled up. It's carnage, but it's also incredibly exciting. Tomorrow, I will be picking up the sample doors for the kitchen. I hope we still like the charcoal color we chose for the base units. We're going for a classic look - white cabinets on the wall, charcoal cabinets on the floor, white marble bench tops. Hopefully - fingers crossed - it's going to look lovely. I'm not even going to consider the alternative, and given the low benchmark set by our previous kitchen, it can't fail to please, really.
So, life has been a bit confused and distracting, but I am getting stuck into my next book, the release date of which is still a mystery to me. Sometime in 2013, I'm imagining. I've also been working on the outline for an anthology that I will be doing with Emilie Richards and Janice Kay Johnson. It's a lovely, exciting concept, and I can't wait to write my part of the story.
If you're wondering what's next, release wise, from me there's Suddenly You out in November (available in ePub format and paperback at Harlequin a whole month earlier - ie October - for those of you who can't wait!), then January sees the release of The Other Side of Us.
I'll detail Suddenly You more in my next post, but for now it's probably enough to let you know that this is Harry's story - in case you have forgotten, he's the brother of Mel, the heroine in All They Need. Harry's a bit of a party boy, staunchly refusing to grow up and give up his care-free bachelor existence. Until he meets Pippa, of course...
So as well as having a new book out - Within Reach - I’m involved with a fabulous e-reader and e-book giveaway this week, along with three talented, lovely writers who also write contemporary romance - Ruthie Knox, Molly O’Keefe and Shannon Stacey.
Basically, we are giving away four e-readers ( a Kobo, a Nook, and two x Kindles) via four of the big romance blogs (Dear Author, Smart Bitches, Smexy Books and The Season). All you have to do to be in the running is to comment at one of the blogs. Each blog is offering a different e-reader - for example, I’m offering a Kindle Touch at Smexybooks - and you can enter at all four blogs if you so choose. We’re aiming to convert people who are on the fence about e-books or to give converts the chance to gift an e-reader to a loved one. The comp runs from July 16 - 22 on all four blogs, so do a bit of blog hopping and give yourself four shots at winning. I dare ya!
A word about my fellow authors before I leave you to get on with your lives. I heart these three ladies and their books so much, I’m going to sing their praises a little, just in case you haven’t had a chance to pick up one of their books yet.
Molly O’Keefe is a fellow Super Romance writer, and Can’t Buy Me Love is her first foray into single title. This book is smart, challenging, funny and sexy. It’ s got a pro hockey player hero, a white-trash heroine who’s determined to look out for herself this time around, and a great conflict. Molly is a gorgeous writer and I have been reading her books since my editor put me onto her years ago. If you like sexy stories with great characters and smart writing, this book is a must.
Ruthie Knox’s debut book, Ride With Me, landed in my in-box earlier in the year when her editor asked me to read it and provide a cover quote. This always makes me a little nervous - what if I say yes but hate it? Well, there was absolutely no chance of that happening with Ruthie’s book. By the time I’d read the first page I was hooked, and I gobbled up the rest of the book in short order. Ruthie’s characters are real, funny, smart and human, and she’s writes the sexy, oh yes she does! Her latest release, About Last Night, is earning rave reviews all over and features a straight-laced Englishman and a reformed bad-girl. It’s emotional, steamy and funny - Ruthie’s hallmarks, I am coming to learn.
Shannon Stacey hit it out of the park with her series of books about the Kowalski family and she continues to do so with each subsequent release. She writes great family, great emotio
n and great sexy. Fabulous banter and strong conflicts are a given in every Stacey book. She’s funny, she’s human and she writes lovely, warm-hearted, hilarious romances.
You can see why I as so chuffed to be rubbing elbows with these ladies. I hope you put your hand up for an e-reader (and wouldn’t it be great if you won?!) and I hope you get a chance to read these talented writers if you haven’t already.
Harlequin have let me in on a secret and I'm allowed to tell you. It's pretty cool - they've made a video promoting my August Super Romance, Within Reach. It's going to premiere soon on Harlequin's Facebook page (toward the end of June, apparently). I haven't seen it myself yet, so I'm excited to see what they've done. I'll Tweet and blog and FB the link when it goes live.
Within Reach was one of those books that pretty much wrote itself. I'm not saying there weren't difficult patches - there were, and there always are, with every book - but I had a very strong grasp on the story arc for Michael and Angie so I just kept moving forward and eventually everything fell into place. I'm really looking forward to hearing what readers think of this one. I've had a little early feedback (apparently a box of Kleenex might come in handy....) but we're still a few weeks away from it being available for early release at Harlequin.
Stay tune for the link when the video goes live!
In the meantime, Her Best Worst Mistake has become my most reviewed book ever over at Good Reads. It's also got the highest rating out of all my books, with the majority of readers giving Martin and Violet's story four or five stars. Over at Kindle, it's holding steady in the rankings, too - not quite as high as the heady days when the book first came out, but it's averaging a very respectable spot most days. I am, of course, thrilled to bits that people are enjoying this story. The whole process of self publishing has been incredibly rewarding and my head is full of ideas for more books. When time allows, I will start in on my next self-project.
I had some truly lovely news this month - The Best Laid Plans(or the red umbrella book, as I call it, thanks to an awesome cover) is a finalist in the Romantic Book of the Year Awards down here in Australia. This award (known as the RuBY for short) is judged by readers, which makes it especially meaningful for me.
I am so thrilled that this book has found a home in readers' hearts. It was a bit of an unusual story - not that much sex, and the romance was very subtle, two people circling each other with a larger agenda allowing them to ignore their own feelings. To know that it's struck a chord with readers is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I will be going to the Gold Coast in sunny Queensland to attend the conference and the award ceremony, and I will be walking on air because of this nomination. I will also be amongst excellent company - the peerless and hugely popular Anna Campbell, Fiona Lowe, who has been nominated for just about everything with Boomerang Bride. There's also a moving love story set during World War II by Mardi McConnochie. As I have said to many of my friends, just being nominated is an honor.
I'm able to share the cover of my August release, Within Reach, now. Isn't it pretty? The art department have out done themselves. This is Angie and Michael's book, and I loved writing it. I can't wait to hear what readers think of it.
Here's the blurb:
Something more than friendship
Being a single dad was never on Michael Young's agenda. Yet with the sudden loss of his wife, that's exactly the role he has. On his best days, he thinks he can handle it. On his worst... Luckily, family friend Angie Bartlett has his back, easily stepping in to help out.
Lately, though. something has changed.
Michael is noticing exactly how gorgeous Angie is, and how single she is. She's constantly in his thoughts and he feels an attraction he never expected. Does he dare disrupt the very good thing they have going? If they have a fling that goes nowhere, he stands to lose everything - including her. But if they make it work, he stands to gain everything!
It will probably not surprise you to learn that I sooked a little while writing this book. Thinking about Billie, Michael's dead wife, and all that she's left behind, and the sadness that we all have to deal with when we lose someone we love... Well, it was pretty emotional. But I had a lot of fun with Michael and Angie's chemistry, and once they got past their guilt they definitely steamed up the sheets. The two children in this book are based on my neighbor's children. Lisa and Shane are kind enough to share Beth and Charlie with us on occasion, and they are charming, funny and lovely kids. It was a pleasure to "borrow" them for this book.
If you're visiting because you've heard about my self-published book, Her Best Worst Mistake, here's a link to the book page where you can find links to all the various places selling it on-line, as well as some quotes from readers and background information about the book. I've been fortunate enough to enjoy some wonderful reviews of this book, and I'm working on more books to self publish later in the year. Exciting times!