Share this...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

17th Century is the New Regency...

That's right, you heard it from me first! Forget your tons and your silly frilly fripperies, the seventeenth century in general and me in particular can give you REAL men... with long hair, high heels, powder and patches and... NO wait... that's the Restoration.

I am talking about the English Civil War... 

Can we even imagine what it must have been like to find yourself at war with your brother, your father, your best friend, the neighbours you have known all your life? Of course there has been civil wars throughout history and the American Civil War is still close in the memory, but that was a war fought more along geographic boundaries: north vs south. The English Civil War divided England on political, religious, moral and social divides.

And I love writing about it. Yes, I do... I don't just love writing about it, I have a PASSION for it.

That is why I am beyond excited that my Escape Publishing has picked up my two very first books:  BY THE SWORD (which won the 2008 Epic Award for best historical romance) and THE KING'S MAN (Runner up in the 2006 Emerald Award for unpublished manuscripts). These books have been sitting in my "back list" effectively since they were first published by a small US epublisher in 2007. This was after they had done the rounds of mainstream publishers... even to the point of acceptance by one major publisher, only to have it dashed by the marketing department who sneeringly declared that they could never market the English Civil War.

Hooray for the Ebook revolution... and that little ebook publisher. Unfortunately back in 2007 the ebook revolution was still at slings and arrows. No one had ebook readers, distribution was extremely limited and my books slid into oblivion. The rights reverted to me and yay... self publishing had been born... ebook readers were the norm and I was able to self publish these books.

But readers of both books will know that while they are stand alones (although loosely connected), there is something unfinished about them. Stories of two loyal adherants to the King in the dark years of the "Interregnum" while complete in themselves, always needed the Restoration to complete the story arc - the third book.

I have to confess to losing heart and so the third book remained unwritten... is the fabulous news. Not only is Escape Publishing reprinting my first two books but they have also commissioned the third book, tentatively titled EXILES' RETURN which will close the loop on the stories of the Thornton and Lovell families. All three books will come out in 2015 under the banner of the "Guardians" series. Yes that's right... I have a series!

The first two books have been completely revised and brought up to date... I have learned a thing or two about writing in the intervening years and I had great pleasure expunging all those unnecessary adverbs! 

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR MORE EXCITING NEWS ABOUT "The Guardians".... and mark these dates in your diary (subject to the publisher of course!)

March 2015:  BY THE SWORD
August 2015:  THE KING'S MAN
December 2015:  EXILES' RETURN

For more information click HERE

And in the meantime if you are curious about why the 17th century will be the new Regency, explore CLAIMING THE REBEL'S HEART (my January release which is currently available from all good ebook retailers)

For more information visit my WEBSITE or just the form on the right hand bar of this page.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Formula One and Anxiety - the research world of Sandra Antonelli

Like my guest, SANDRA ANTONELLI, maths was never my friend and I distinguished myself by managing to fail it in Year 9. My husband, an Engineer (how did that happen?) is mystified how I get through life without the frequent application of a good dose of quadratic equations. Strangely I do...

Sandra and her wonderful husband are well known to those of us in the romance writing tribe in Australia and I am absolutely delighted she can be my guest today. I am in awe of the sacrifices she has had to make in the name of research! Physics related language?... Oh My!!!

On MATHS, F1 RACING and how to manage Anxiety...

I totally suck at maths. This means I didn’t do as much research for Driving in Neutral, my love story about claustrophobia, as I did for my previous book For Your Eyes Only, which has a lot physics-related language. Thankfully, Olivia, the heroine of Driving in Neutral, has a past related to Formula 1 Racing, while Emerson Maxwell has a tiny problem with being claustrophobic. This meant my maths-free research focused on Formula 1 Racing terms and events, as well as phobias and anxiety attacks.

Sadly, no coffee and cookies were involved in my research into F1 racing. I watched F1 as a child in Europe. I knew names like Emerson Fittipaldi (did you catch what I did there, kids?) Niki Lauda, James Hunt, and Mario Andretti. To refresh my memory and bring my work into this century, I watched races on TV with my race-mad friends, Lisa and Sean. I learned about the length of the race season (it begins in Australia, runs from March to November, and finishes in Abu Dhabi), and the lingo, which was pretty easy to pick up and use as a way levelheaded Olivia views her life.

The phobia and anxiety attack research was easy and even more fun. My husband is a psychologist and is probably analyzing you right now. He lapped (no race pun intended there) up my asking him to describe the physiological and psychological manifestations of an individual in the throes of a panic attack. Oh, I enjoyed writing about a big, strong man unraveling in front of stranger. I loved writing the scene where Emerson faces his greatest fear, and fails so miserably. But I also loved writing where Olivia finally loses it and ‘spins out of control.’

I wonder how my psychologist husband would analyse that.

Maxwell couldn’t breathe. Well, he could, but it felt as if the air was being squashed back out of his chest as soon as it went in.
“You’re going to take me down with you, aren’t you? When you pass out, and you’re going to if you keep hyperventilating, you’re going to fall on top of me.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he wheezed, bending forward at the waist to snatch his breath back as if he’d just sprinted 800 meters. Shit, he was hyperventilating.
No, he was hyper-hyperventilating.
This was ludicrous. He was nearly forty-eight years old and terrified of being in a very small room simply because it had no window and…his mind suddenly zeroed in on that important point.
There was no window.
What if the emergency light died?
What if the storm outside made the Chicago River flood into the basement of the building like it did back in “92?
What if the rubber-coated elevator cables, the cables suspending them in mid-air above nothingness, snapped?
Any way he looked at it they were locked in this box…trapped in this vault…enclosed in this coffin…sealed in this tomb.
Instantly, his rapid, shallow breathing picked up speed and he began to twitch involuntarily. His shaking fingers started to curl in towards his wrists, and he sank to the floor heavily. His head slumped towards his bent knee. Camera flash splotches of bluish-white appeared to mar his sight, his peripheral vision compressing into tunneled lines of black. His body capitulated to the oncoming blackout with an incremental steadiness, his hands and feet fizzing into numbness, and he moaned.


Levelheaded Olivia Regen walks away from her car-racing career and the wreckage of a bad marriage to take on new work that’s far removed from the twists of racetrack. Her new life is about control, calm, and the good friends that she adores. But her first day on the job involves getting up close and too personal with her claustrophobic boss — alone in a broken elevator. Her unconventional solution for restoring his equilibrium shocks them both and leaves Olivia shaken. 

Determined to stick to her plan, Olivia drives headlong into work and planning her best friend’s wedding, leaving no room for kissing, elevators, or workplace relationships. But Emerson is not one to be out-maneuvered. Can he convince Olivia that her fear of falling in love again is just another kind of claustrophobia – one that is destined to leave them both lonely?

About Sandra Antonelli

I come from the land Down Under, but I do not eat Vegemite nor do I drink beer. I drive a little Italian car, live in a little house with a little, peanut butter-loving dog who thinks he’s my husband. However, as much as I adore my dog, I am married to a big, bearded Sicilian, who is the moon and stars above my head and earth beneath my feet.

Twitter: @sandrAntonelli
Buy: (includes links to all buy sites)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Agricultural Show... and memories of Kewpie Dolls: with Amy Andrews

My next guest and I were so head down in our latest books, that Friday completely passed us by, so apologies for the late posting of a Friday Fun Fact - on Tuesday!

Amy's post is timely because here in Melbourne (a long way south of Amy's home town) it is Royal Show Time. I don't know whether the concept of the Agricultural Show is a uniquely Australian thing but As Amy says, every small town has them and for us citysiders, it is a few days in the year when the country comes to the city. As a kid you got to get up close and personal with sheep, cows, pigs, goats. There were contests for cakes and preserves and my mother used to enter her needlework. The Country Women's Association plys you with tea and scones. There was the added bonus of "Show bags" and rides and fairy floss. 

Amy is an award-winning, best-selling Aussie author who has written forty contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. She has written for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Entangled, Harper Collins, Momentum and Escape.

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO is a reunion of old school friends, Ella the sensible school teacher and Jake the quintessential bad boy on a motor bike (and don't you just love the cover?). And the best thing is it is FREE on Kindle so get in QUICK!  Click HERE

OVER TO AMY ANDREWS and the joys of the "Show"

When I was little, I used to love going to “the show”. The annual agricultural exhibition that was the highlight of any small town - or big city for that matter.  Of course, these were there to showcase agricultural produce and wares. Things like the prize bull and the biggest pumpkin and who was the best cake icer in the district.

But there was also side show alley. With the show bags and a dozen different rides that whizzed you around until you were throwing up your Dagwood Dog and fairy floss in a spectacular rainbow.

But for me, as a little girl, I always looked forward to getting my kewpie doll on a stick. I simply adored these things and it was always the highlight of the day!

So when it came to writing Ella in Holding Out For A Hero and teaming her up with her best friend Rosie and Rosie’s two crazy ex-carnie aunts I knew immediately that Ella was going to have the same fascination with these dolls that I had. And because of Rosie and her carnie connections, Ella has quite the collection.

So, as part of my research, I had to go and buy myself one – of course! That’s her in the picture. She sits in my office and watches over me. And I spent a lot of time online looking at images and checking out the long and rich history of these perennial favourites.

It was like being a little girl all over again!

Anyone remember the kewpies?


In the dawn hours he hadn’t paid any heed to her room. Only her and her naked skin and the mattress behind her had entered into his tunnel-visioned world. And it had been too dark. But the mid-morning sun pushed its bright fingers around the drawn blinds illuminating the space. He looked from side to side. Ella’s room was very girly.
Purple ceiling, pale pink walls, a purple-and-pink striped quilt. A large framed print featuring van Gogh’s Starry Night was pride of place on the wall opposite her bed. Then he noticed the little dolls stuck on bamboo sticks adorning the frame and anchored at other points around the room. They were everywhere. He’d seen them before of course, at the Ekka. Every little girl in Brisbane walked around the annual show carrying one of the damn things with their glittered hair and bodices, tulle skirts, netting wings and too-wide eyes—no doubt from the stick being jammed so firmly up their backsides. But it was kind of freaky to have so many wide kewpie doll eyes staring down at him like he’d been sullying their owner all night.

When sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she's just buried her mother.

Two years later, back in the city, their paths cross again but this time Jake is in the process of destroying her favourite dive bar. With her home facing a wrecker's ball, her school being closed down and her 15-year-old brother hell bent on self-destruction, it's the last straw. Throw in a dominatrix best friend who is dating a blue ribbon guy so straight he still lives at home with his mother, it's no wonder the sanest person in Ella's life is a dog.

With all this to contend with, the last thing Ella needs is Jake back in her life. But, as fate would have it, Jake is the only chance she has to save her school.

As the school football season heats up, old secrets threaten to surface and Ella takes on greedy developers, school boards and national tabloids. But can she save not just her home, her school and her brother, but also the reputation of the man she's never been able to forget? And, more importantly, does she want to?

Holding Out for a Hero is a quirky, heartwarming tale of unlikely romance, friendship and family.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


River # 1
Fiona Lowe
Releasing January 6th, 2015

Berkeley / Penguin

A big-city doctor in a small-town Montana practice....A former nurse who has sworn off doctors forever....The scene is set for passions to ignite in Big Sky Country. For readers of Robyn Carr and Sherryl Woods.

City doctor Josh Stanton and his sports car don’t suit the country, but with his medical school debt about to bury him, Josh has to make the best out of a bad situation. Adjusting to his new job and life in the middle of nowhere isn’t easy, but at least the views of the mountains—and one distractingly attractive local—are stunning...

After eight years away, Katrina McCade is back in Bear Paw for a break from her life, bad choices—and men. But when a broad-shouldered stranger bursts into town, she finds herself unexpectedly saddled with the town’s sexy new doctor as a tenant. Katrina doesn’t need a man to make her happy, especially a disgruntled physician. But try telling her body that…

Fiona Lowe is a RITA® and R*BY award-winning, multi-published author with Harlequin , Carina Press and, Berkley USA. Whether her books are set in outback Australia or the USA, they feature small towns with big hearts, and warm, likeable characters that make you fall in love. When she's not writing stories, she's a weekend wife, mother of two 'ginger' teenage boys, guardian of 80 rose bushes, slave to a cat and often found collapsed on the couch with wine.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Fun Facts: Coffee and Cafes with Susanne Bellamy

There is one thing my husband has learned in 30 years of marriage...DO NOT under any circumstances attempt to converse or interact with me in any way until I have had my breakfast. I was reflecting on this as we trailed across town to get to the market early this morning... before breakfast. Apart from the glorious light over the bay, the one thing that put a lift in my step was the thought of a Victoria Market coffee (and almond croissant).

My guest today is not a Melbourne girl but she has chosen to set her latest story in my home town making good use of the "coffee culture" for which we are well known. If you want good coffee... forget Paris and Italy - come to Melbourne.


Coffee and Café Culture and Giveaway*

Ah, the places our research takes us.

My newly released Engaging the Enemy absolutely demanded I check out coffee shops in Melbourne’s CBD. Andrea de Villiers runs a shelter in the CBD so when she and Matt Mahoney step out for coffee and a chat, they have an abundance of great choices.

My research opened up a fascinating world of caffeine-lovers (cakes, optional) as I checked cafés where Matt and Andie could have deep-and-meaningfuls. Places where shouted conversations are the norm didn’t work for the story and did I really want them to be distracted by the foodie displays of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms or Acland Street?

Flipboard Cafe
By combining two cafés, Patricia and Flipboard, you get the idea of what I had in mind for their ‘local’. I love the three-metre wide cubby-house style of Flipboard. After all, you don’t need much room to sit and enjoy a coffee. Or to propose!

Here’s their first visit to a nearby café:
 “I don’t want it.” She folded her arms tightly across her chest and sat back in the club chair. The clatter of china and hiss of the espresso machine echoed her annoyance.

Mahoney’s smile didn’t quite reach his eyes as he picked up the discarded ring box.

“Don’t you like it? I thought the emerald complimented your eyes rather well. Of course, if you prefer a big, sparkly diamond…”

“I won’t wear your ring. Any ring.”

“Don’t women love jewellery? I thought that was a universal given. Jewellery plus proposal equals happy.”


One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems.

 Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.
 But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.
 But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer? 

**Giveaway: One Kindle copy of Engaging the Enemy to a lucky commenter.

What is your favourite coffee haunt???


My heroes have to be pretty special to live up to the real life one I married. He saved my life then married me. We live on the edge of bush land on a mountain in beautiful sunny Queensland, Australia with our two children and our dog. I write contemporary romance and historical suspense novels set in exciting and often exotic locations.

Paris will always be one of my top spots, and I fell in love with Scotland when we visited the west coast (nothing to do with fine single malts!), and recently had my first real trip to Italy--tick off one of my Bucket List items!  I’ve enjoyed New Year in Kathmandu and trekked in the Annapurnas, sailed in Ha Long Bay on a junk, and stayed on a floating hotel beside a tethered elephant in Thailand. I love the Peak in Hong Kong and the cable car ride in Singapore. I also love travelling to new places and exploring the culture and history, and meeting new people. These experiences are gradually being incorporated into my stories, along with my love of music and musicals.

Susanne's Books: White Ginger,  One Night in Sorrento, Engaging the Enemy (Escape Publishing)
Coming 28 November 2014 – A Season to Remember (FREE Christmas anthology)
Coming 2015 – Emerald Quest: Winning the Heiress’s Heart (Entangled Publishing)

Check out my story boards on Pinterest or visit me on my  website, Facebook or Twitter.

BUY LINKS for ENGAGING THE ENEMY are on the Escape Publishing Website

Monday, September 1, 2014

5 Means to an End!

It has been quite some time since I posted to my own blog page about the vicissitudes (and pleasures) of the writing life.

This is probably because LIFE has been rather overwhelming and I now find myself with a bad dose of “Be Careful What You Wish For”…

My writing to date has been done to my own schedule... a bit of writing punctuated by procrastination on many fronts but suddenly I find myself with two very different projects on hand - one a result of asking and the other result of pitching - and I can’t tell you much about either of them except...
·                An agent request to see the Singapore set cosy mystery (I've mentioned it before). In fact I also had a very keen publisher request for the same book… (the pitch)
·                A contracted book (with my very first contractual deadline) that has to be researched, written and submitted by the end of April 2015. (The thing I asked for...I am so excited about this project I could burst but I have to sit on my hands a bit longer!)

So here I am poised on the brink of something that may or may not be exciting… (I love this business) and I am in panic. 

However panic is a great motivator. My historical stories take a long time to write, massage, tweak, smooth and in fact I have come to the conclusion they are never ever really finished.

So this is it, folks, time to take this gig SERIOUSLY.

Firstly my goals:
1. Finish this draft of Harriet (the Singapore story) by the end of September and submit to agent.
2. Rough draft of Exiles’ Return (working title) by end of November. (I’ve done Nanowrimo so I know this is possible). This gives me 5 months for the rewrite and 2 revisions... I can do this!

Here are the 5 things I am doing to meet my goals.
1. Set project targets in Scrivener (Have I mentioned how much I love that program?). By setting a daily target the total word count suddenly seems achievable. Viewing the work in small bite size chunks rather than a huge table!
2. Print off a calendar for October 14 to May 15 and cross of all “red flag days” - work days, Christmas, Weddings (yes I have two weddings - both my sons are getting married within 6 months of each other.
3. Joined a “Work In Progress” Sprint Group on Facebook. I’ve done sprints on Twitter but this is so much better and I have to say it is brilliant - it has really upped the output. I have also joined a group run by Cherry Adair which requires a weekly check in on progress.
4. Revisited my external priorities (blogging being one and a couple of committees I sit on). Yes, there are commitments I am going to be giving up. Why? Because this is really, really important to me… this is what I have dreamed of since I was a little girl sitting in a willow tree scribbling stories in a shorthand notebook. This is MY dream.
5. Given in to pride and enlisted the help of my currently “differently employed” spouse. He is my harshest critic and a savage beast with a red pen. As I edit chapters of Harriet I am printing them off and giving them to him. The steadily growing pile of paper by my desk covered in red ink will be draft #4. Then and only then will it be ready to be submitted.

BUT there are a couple of things in my life which are important - exercise and needlework. These will be scheduled into the calendar.

And it is not to say that procrastination won’t take over… but finally after all these years, the dream is becoming a reality. 

Thanks, Benedict... a deep breath and a stiff gin!

Of course I am always open to further suggestions...