Apr 17, 2015

It's In His Kiss......

I'm ankle deep into writing my next book for Harlequin Special Edition and like always, fall a little in love with my hero. This one is extra special...cowboy, widowed single dad...you get the picture. So, I'm at the kissing part...their first kiss. The kiss that will never be had again. And there's the usual pressure to 'get it right'. The right place, the right moment, the right mood.

Which of course got me thinking about favourite kisses...that's 'screen' kisses.

Like the scene in The NoteBook where they're kissing in the rain

Or When Richard Gere and Julia Roberts kiss in Pretty Woman ......sigh.....


Or when Chris Hemsworth kisses Natalie Portman in Thor.....still sighing....

Here's an old favourite, but still relevant.....

Do you have a favourite screen kiss?

Apr 15, 2015

Small Pleasures with Annie West

We talk about the need to celebrate the good things that happen in our lives and over the last few years I've made a conscious effort to do just that. The celebration might not be large scale with bubbly and a big meal. It might be a coffee date with someone I care about or a walk in the sunshine or a morning reading. I was musing about the importance, not just of celebrating, but of appreciating the smaller things in life that make me feel good, when I went searching for a photo I'd taken on a trip. In the process I noticed this series of photos I'd taken on the same day. They weren't of anything big and impressive (like the photo I'd been searching for) but they made me smile. They took me straight back to the pleasure I felt when I took them, the delight I felt at what I saw. So here are a few of those small pleasures.
Just looking at this window makes me want to curl up on a window seat and pretend to read while actually just letting my mind drift. I like the light from the water (there's a moat outside) on the ceiling.

Speaking of ceilings, isn't this just lovely? I know it's not simple. It must have taken a whole lot of work to do this, but I suspect a lot of people didn't even bother to look up and see how marvellous it was.

And when I looked down I had to smile. Some dog had walked across the hand-made tiles before they were set. When I walk by the lake there's a cement path which has tracks made my a bird meandering along it, taking its time looking for tidbits. I love those prints!

And look at the way the light plays on the floor - I love it.

I also love curves, particularly in buildings. This has such a lovely sinuous shape.
I also love mythological creatures. At first I thought this was a dragon but maybe it's a salamander. I don't really care - he just caught my eye.
I've always been a sucker for feeding waterbirds. Aren't these gorgeous?

And who has a tower in their garden wall? I spent ages trying to work out what it was. An outdoor loo? A guardhouse? A garden shed? An impressive dog house?

I'm so glad I came across these photos. They made me remember not only what this place looked like, but also the quality of the light and the scents and the sheer delight of being there. It's reminded me to take stock of the small delights that make life so good, like the smell of freshly ground coffee, the feel of autumn in the air, the magpies warbling early in the morning, fresh-mown grass, laughing so much you have trouble stopping, or having a friend call you long distance just because they were thinking of you.
What are some of your small pleasures? What's making you smile right now?
In a shameless brag I have to add the fact I'm also smiling about these two - my April book 'The Sheikh's Princess Bride' which I adored writing, and my first ever anthology of three stories all by ME(!), called 'A Royal Scandal' out in May.

Apr 13, 2015

Living in a Pocket of Culture

I live in a beautiful, interesting place. Byron Bay is apparently the second most visited place in NSW. Visit NSW lists Byron as:

“Byron Bay is Australia's easternmost town and 'style capital' of the North Coast. It's a place of outstanding natural beauty, set against lush volcanic hills.
 Byron Bay's natural credentials are impeccable as humpback whales cruise past the headland, storms create rainbows on the mountains across the bay, hang-gliders ride the thermals above the lighthouse. Australia's most easterly point casts a spell over everyone who goes there.
 Over the past two decades, Byron Bay has become an escape for urban refugees, and especially those with artistic inclinations. Architects, designers, craftworkers and software engineers have set up shop, grafting their talents and energy on to this small, relaxed coastal village. Today Byron Bay is a chic seaside town with glorious beaches, a New Age tinge and loads of style.”

What I love most about Byron is that we attract some of the top names in music, literature and art.  Often you will see big name acts listing events in Sydney, Melbourne and Byron Bay.  For example, Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame, visited Sydney, Adelaide, Airley’s Inlet and Byron Bay.

We also have amazing music events like BluesFest.  Last weekend I stood just metres from The Waterboys, Hozier, Boy and Bear and lots more. This weekend I’m going to the French Film Festival.

Byron also is a wonderful place for writers. Not only can you sit and gaze at pristine beaches or lush mountains whilst brainstorming great ideas or sit in cafĂ©’s whilst drinking the world’s best coffee (sorry, no apologies for that grand statement, we have fantastic coffee), you can be a member of a fabulous Writer’s Centre, the Northern Rivers Writers Centre (NRWC).

NRWC runs arguably the most loved writers festival in Australia, the Byron Bay Writers Festival.  If you’ve never been, add it to your bucket list. It’s held in August by the beach amongst the gum trees in open-air marquees.  Absolutely magical.

I love being part of such a vibrant culture-focused community. I’d love to hear about where you live.  Does your community actively support the arts?

If you happen to be in Byron in May, I’m running an Introduction to Romance Writing workshop through NRWC.  It’s being held on Saturday, 23 May from 10am – 4pm. 

For more information, or to book, visit the NRWC website.

Apr 12, 2015

Sunday Smooch with Helen Lacey........

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Helen Lacey......but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is ..... Barb

Can you please contact michelle (at) michelle-douglas (dot) com to receive your copy of The Millionaire & The Maid.........

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The CEO's Baby Surprise by Helen Lacey........

Mary-Jayne Preston didn't do one-night stands—ever. Except for her one and only with devastatingly handsome tycoon Daniel Anderson, who swept her off her feet before she knew what was happening! The attraction was powerful…and seemingly mutual. But when she told him she was pregnant, all bets were off!

Daniel hadn't let his guard down since tragedy struck his own life four years earlier. Now he's drawn to the irresistible M.J., but cannot—will not—let himself fall in love with her. He insists on marriage to protect her and their twins, but M.J. will accept nothing less than true love from this lone wolf…forever.

Scene set-up
[ Mary-Jayne and Daniel are at the doctor having an ultrasound and they have just learned they are expecting twin boys!)

Someone could have told him that he was going to live on the moon for the next fifty years and he wouldn’t have been more shocked.

Twin boys…

“You’re sure?” he asked the doctor and noticed how Mary-Jayne hadn’t moved. He squeezed her hand reassuringly. “And they’re fine?”

The doctor nodded. “Fine. Big, strong and healthy. Would you like to listen to their heartbeats?”

Daniel didn’t recall saying yes. But within seconds he had small earphones on and heard the incredible sound of his son’s hearts. Emotion rose up and hit him directly in the solar plexus, polarizing him for a moment. He swallowed hard, fighting the heat in his eyes and throat. Nothing he ever heard again would match the sound of the two tiny heartbeats pounding almost in unison. Longing, absolute and raw, filled his chest with such force he grabbed the side of the chair for support.

The doctor said something about having a picture done for them but he barely heard. He took off the earphones and gently placed them over Mary-Jayne’s head. Watching her expression shift from shock to wonderment was incredible. Her face radiated with a joy so acute it was blinding in its intensity. She’d never looked more beautiful.

The doctor stood. “I’ll arrange for a picture and come back in a little while,” she said and quickly left the room.

Daniel tightened his grip on Mary-Jayne’s hand. “Are you okay?”

She dropped the earphone onto the bed. “Um…I think so.”

“Not what you were expecting, huh?”

She sighed. “Not exactly. But…” Her words trailed off for a moment. “I’m happy.” She glanced at the now blank screen. “I can’t quite believe it.”

“Are there many twins in your family?” he said and rubbed her fingertips.
She shrugged. "Not really. I know there are in yours, though."

He nodded and grinned. "Yes. My brothers are twins. My grandfather was a twin, and I have two sets of cousins who are twins. it's like an epidemic in my family."

"This is all your doing, then?" she said and smiled.

"I don't think there is actually a genetic link on the father's side, but I'll happily take the credit if you want,' he said softly. "Are you okay with this?" 

"I'm happy, like I said. And a little scared. I wasn't expecting two." She looked down at her naked stomach. “I wonder if the nurse will come back to get this goo off my belly.”

Daniel released her hand and got up. He found a box of tissues on the counter and came back to her side. “This should do it,” he said as he sat down and began wiping the gel off her skin.

It was the most intimate thing they’d done in months and even though he acted as perfunctory as he could, it didn’t stop a surge of desire from climbing up his spine. She lay still, perfectly composed. Until he met her gaze and saw that she was watching him with scorching intensity. When he was done her hand came up and she grabbed his fingertips and then gently laid his palm against her belly. She placed her hand on top of his, connecting them in a way that was mesmerizing. Feeling her, feeling their babies, Daniel had no answer for the sensation banging around in his head.

He’d never wanted to feel this again. Not after Simone.

But it was inevitable. They were his children. His sons. They were part of him. How could he not get drawn into feeling such acute and blinding love for them? He couldn’t. And he wanted them. He wanted to be part of their lives. Full-time. A real parent.

A real father.

He looked at Mary-Jayne. Her eyes were bright. Luminous. She chewed on her bottom lip and his gaze immediately went to her mouth. He touched her forehead with his other hand and felt the connection down deep. Soul-deep.

In that moment he could nothing else but kiss her.

And her lips, as new as they were familiar, softened beneath his instantly. Daniel’s pulse quickened as the kiss quickly deepened. Her breath was warm, her tongue accepting when he sought it with his own. She sighed deep in her throat and a powerful surge of desire wound through his blood. He touched her hair, twirling the glorious strands between his fingertips. Her hand came up to his chest and he felt the connection through to his bones. And he kissed her again. And again. With each kiss his need for her grew. As did the knowledge he had one option. One way to make things right.

“Mary-Jayne,” he said against her lips, trailing his mouth down her cheek to the sensitive spot by her ear lobe. A spot he knew made her quiver. “We should get married.”

Do you believe that opposites attract?

Leave a comment to go into the draw to win a copy of The CEO's Baby Surprise.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from  Amy Andrews will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Apr 11, 2015

It's Raining, It's Pouring and ...

... The tank's a filling.
Sorry I'm late with this blog everyone but it's been a hellish week. As I lay in bed last night with my head doing loop the loop over things that are going on I suddenly heard the rain - as in really heard it pounding down on the roof.

We've only had about four or five days rain since early November so this is gold from the heavens. This has been an absolutely superb summer in New Zealand, and even now in April I'm still wearing shorts and sleeveless tops, though snow is forecast for the coming week down south.

But the downside of no rain for lots of people in our area is no water in the tanks. There are many permanent homes and bachs (holiday homes) that don't have good water supplies so the water tankers have been a regular feature on our road for weeks now.
Luckily for our house, our supply comes from an underground spring way up in the hills and while it has got down to a trickle sometimes, it hasn't yet run dry. It can take a while to top up the tanks after lots of washing but I haven't had to ration water at all, unlike a lot of our neighbours. We have offered to do washing for others and anything else they might need water-wise.

The spring is in this far hill and there's nearly a kilometre of pipe from there to our property. We have to keep an eye on the pipe and the intake tank at the top as pigs like rooting in the area and can muddy the water. or sometimes the forestry workers will drop trees over the area and create problems. All part of the rural lifestyle.

Does a dry summer affect you in ways like this? I'm sure some of the Aussie Lovecats have stories to tell about water supplies.

Apr 8, 2015

Movie Mojo

I’ve been watching a lot of movies this past month and it’s started me thinking about what I want from a good story. It’s made me analyse the things that work…and some of the things that haven’t worked so well for me.

10 Things I Hate About You
This is one of those “I’ve been meaning to watch it for ages” movies. Part of my reluctance was that it’s based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, which isn’t my favourite Shakespeare play, but fellow LoveCat Rachel Bailey told me it was fab, so I decided to give it a whirl. I’m glad I did!

I love, love, love that they made the heroine vulnerable, and gave her good reason for her cranky, refusing-to-conform attitude. That made the movie for me. Kat was strong and gutsy and her learning-to-trust-again character arc was perfect. I also love that they made her little sister kick-ass too (especially when I thought she was going to be a wuss). Go them!

But the one thing I really, really wanted from the movie? I wanted the hero to have a really good reason for agreeing to a money bribe to get Kat to date him. I wanted him to want/need something so badly that he’d agree to the deception…and then have to sacrifice that want/need to win Kat back.

Strictly Ballroom
I saw this movie when it first came out—BACK IN 1993!!! I still loved the story premise of a character fighting society’s expectations and doing all he can to prove himself. I loved his passion and I loved that he had talent to back that passion up.

So I had no issue with Scott. I thought him a fully rounded character. I loved Fran’s awkwardness, sympathised with her lack of confidence and self-esteem, but I wanted to know more about her. I wanted more background. What gave her the chutzpah to ask the hero to dance with her? And I want that answer to be more than she’s in love with him and wanting him to notice her (though that can certainly be an element). Maybe wanting to live up to the memory of her mother…and wanting her father to be proud of her?

For both of the above movies, I filled in those blanks for myself. ;-)

I loved the big sweep and broad canvas of this story. I enjoyed the fact that this gave the relationship between the hero and heroine a chance to go through several different mutations—dislike to friendship to becoming lovers. Actually, what I really loved is that they were lovers for a long time…and then broke up. It took them a while to work out what was really important. Once they did, though, they fought for it tooth and nail.

There was one thing I could’ve done without, though, and that was the cute-meet between Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman’s characters. The horror of seeing your undergarments flung about the street? Really? Yawn. Also, why on earth did the hero have to use her suitcases as weapons anyway? Another yawn. That just did nothing for me. In fact, the writers had to work hard to overcome my dislike of that episode. Luckily they were up to the job. ;-)

Case Histories
This series is based on the Jackson Brodie books by Kate Atkinson (who I love…and true love lasts a lifetime). I’ve wanted to watch it for an age. The great delight of this series is that the private investigator Jackson Brodie is such a complicated character. For a start, he can be seriously bad-ass. This is a guy who knows how to protect himself—ex army, ex police—but he’s an utter marshmallow beneath all that when it comes to vulnerable women. He doesn’t even need to like said women—often he actively resists getting sucked into their troubles—which doesn’t work of course and he ends out doing all he can to help them feel safe. The thing is, though, making someone feel safe and sticking to the law can be two very different things, which means our hero sometimes crosses certain ethical lines. This stuff made me think. Hard.

Not all of Jackson’s cases end happily, though, and I’ve found myself absently rewriting a couple of the storylines in my mind to give the people who deserve it their happy ever after.

So…while I’ve loved my mini film festival, I’ve also enjoyed rewriting the scripts to suit myself here and there too. Do you ever do that? And have you been watching any good films lately?

Michelle's latest release - The Millionaire and the Maid - is on the shelves now. :-)


Apr 6, 2015

What I'm Loving Right Now

Apart from Easter chocolate, especially these lush handmade beauties from Winnow Chocolates, I'm loving the sync between Kindle and Audible versions of my reading. 

I read most often on Kindle but I hosted a family get-together for Easter -- a lazy lunch for 44 -- which involved considerable preparation. Much house-cleaning, gardening, cooking in advance, and some painting: a project low on my To-Do list until the influx of visitors. 

We all agree that the only way to clean is with an audiobook in your ears, am I right?  

So, over the past weeks I've heard a lot of hours of book narration BUT for my night reading I prefer the Kindle. I can read faster and I tire of wearing earphones which cut me off from other conversations. My dh tires of repeating questions/comments when, eyes glazed and mind deep in storyland, I lift an earphone and murmur "Were you talking to me?"

This is the beauty of whispersync between the 2 versions and I am a fan. I only wish this facility was more widely and consistently available. Even within popular series it is not always available. I've been binging on two series: CJ Box's Joe Pickett series (suspense/thrillers set in the Wyoming/Montana Rockies) and a re-read of JD Robb's In Death series (I'd missed too many over too long to pick up again without revisiting.) 

BUT not all books are whispersync for voice ready.  Annoying but since the Easter clean is over I can return to my Kindle knowing that next major clean will be made bearable thanks to the beauty of audible books which sync with my Kindle.

My Hot Cross Bun Pudding

Do you listen to audiobooks?  What are you reading/listening to this long weekend?