Sep 29, 2014

Meet Winston from Cover Story

As regular visitors to the LoveCats will remember, a while ago I introduced Rover, the cat from The Summer of Jake. And now, to be fair to my feline characters, I thought I should also introduce Winston from Cover Story. :)

Winston is also known in the book as Attackcat. He's named after my own beautiful Winston who lived with me for 12 years, and had, let us say... an aggressive streak. That's the real Winston in the photo below. 

Here's a snippet from the first time Cover Story's heroine, Tobi, meets Winston:

I’d turned to walk back to the front door to wait for Valentina when I saw the guardcat sitting in my way. He was quite large, with fluffy black fur and a white streak starting between his eyes and running down his nose. His eyes were fixed firmly on me and they held a warning.

I might not like cats much, but I knew their warning looks. My ex, Cameron, had five cats that were definitely on the list of animals with whom I didn’t get along—it was their rude attitude I took issue with. They would ignore my entry, even when I lived with them, and I know every species has some sort of greeting ritual. Not that I wanted them to act dog-like and slobber and jump on me—no, that would be beyond endurance. Maybe a polite nod of the head or an occasional rubbing on my leg on their way past . . . when I wore something that fur wouldn’t attach to. But nothing. Cameron, they thought, was the sun and the moon—purring when he stroked their chins, sitting on his lap watching TV, rubbing against his legs when he came home.

There were only two instances where they would deign to acknowledge my existence. The first was if they were hungry and Cameron wasn’t home. Then it was a shameless about-face, trying to convince me that I was their favorite human in the world—did they think I was stupid? The second was when it was cold, Cameron had left the bed and they needed my body heat. Then, they’d lie around me on top of the quilt—two either side and one on top. I’d be cat-locked. I rarely like that much body contact with another human, let alone five cats I actively disliked. I’d have to lie there, hoping they’d move. Their collective bodyweight on top of the quilt was enough to pull it taut over my body and pin me to the spot. Any attempts on my behalf to wriggle out would be met with a swift claw to the offending body part—and those claws could somehow break skin through the quilt. I eventually devised strategies to address the situation—gentle prodding with my pillow or throwing my bedside book to the floor to startle them into leaving—but still, I was annoyed that I’d have to resort to such tactics in my own bed.

In return for their disdain, I’d refused to learn their names and would only refer to them by physical characteristics. As in, “Hey, orange cat, get out of my briefcase,” or, “Cameron, the bow-legged cat’s coughing up on your shoes.”

I surveyed Winston’s face. How much damage could he do? There wasn’t a quilt in sight so I was confident I’d be safe.

I took a step toward him and he stood, tail raised, his eyes never leaving mine. Hmm, maybe it’d be better to go around him. I walked several paces to the right to bypass, but he also moved to the right and again took up his attack stance.

I stopped.

He sat.

I moved a leg forward, cleverly feigning a step.

His ears twitched.

I stopped.

I folded my arms and tried to stare him out.

He held my gaze and twitched his tail.

I’d read somewhere that the key in a stand-off was not to blink, and to make the other person . . . er, cat . . . look away first. So I stared back, ready to wait until he faltered.

His gaze was steady, the only movement in his body was the flicking of his tail—and I knew enough to know that was a warning. But I wasn’t scared. I was in this for the long haul, I wasn’t going to be outbluffed by a cat, I wouldn’t let myself be distracted for a second –

“Hey, babe, haven’t seen you around before.”

I turned to see a cocky-looking teenage boy with his thumbs in the belt loops of his low-slung jeans. It was a look I normally liked—but he didn’t even come close to pulling it off. I was about to tell him so when I realized my mistake.

I quickly looked back to Winston, but he’d turned away and had a back leg thrown around his neck, rhythmically licking his fur.

“Damn.” I’d been outwitted by a cat.

Winston momentarily looked up at me, eyes half closed, gloating, then returned to licking himself.




Winston and the rest of the cast of Cover Story will be out in late October with Momentum. In the meantime, tell me, have you ever had a standoff with a cat? Or a dog? Or any other animal? I'd love to hear about it! 

Also, if you want a bit more of a sneak peek into the world of Cover Story, you can check out my Pinterest page for this book.


Sep 28, 2014

Sunday Smooch With Jacquie Underdown.....

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a smooch from Jacquie Underdown ___ but first 


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


Can you please contact Anna Campbell on anna (at)  annacampbell (dot) info to receive your copy of What A Duke Dares .........


And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Beyond Coincidence by Jacquie Underdown ........



Mixing romance, history, and a touch of the unexplained in a new novel from Jacquie Underdown about love that needs to cross oceans and time before finding a place to come true.

In 2008, 250 Australian and British soldiers are uncovered in a mass grave in Fromelles, France, lost since the Great War. One soldier, bearing wounds of war so deep it scarred his soul, cannot be laid to rest just yet.

When Lucy bumps into the achingly sad soldier during a trip to France, she doesn’t, at first glance, realise what he is – a ghost who desperately needs her help. Lucy can’t turn away from someone who needs her, even someone non-corporeal, and they travel back together to Australia in search of answers and, hopefully, some peace.


This chance meeting and unexplainable relationship sets into motion a chain-reaction of delicate coincidences that affect the intertwined lives of family, friends, and lovers in unexpected, beautiful ways.


Scene set-up

[Lucy and Nate have had an emotional morning looking through sentimental memorabilia. They have taken a coffee break in the kitchen and Nate is confiding in Lucy about being the only surviving member in his family. But they get a little side-tracked.]

Smooch  -

           ‘I’m going to have at least three kids,’ Nate said. ‘Three’s a good number. I hated being an only child. I don’t want any child of mine to have to be alone in life, like I am now.’ His voice grew softer, words slower. ‘That was the hardest thing to come to grips with once Mum died — knowing that I’m the only one in the world. I’ve never felt such isolation and loneliness. It crippled me.’

            Lucy tried to imagine that — not having any of her family around, not one single person. Knowing there was no one who knew her, with all her faults, and still loved her unequivocally. She felt so hollow and, at the same time, petrified of ever experiencing such intense aloneness.

            A tingling heat started in her heart and spread across her chest. She slowly lifted to her feet and stood by Nate’s side. Her face drifted closer to his; she could feel his warm breath on her skin. Placing a hand against his cheek, she felt his rough stubble beneath her fingers. Affinity pulsed between them like a magnet. Desire tugged her closer until her chest and stomach pushed against his side and her lips pressed gently against his warm, soft lips. Just one kiss, but it lingered.

            Only inches from his mouth, his taste and warmth still loitering on her lips, she whispered, ‘You’re a good man, Nate Ormon. And you’re not alone in this world.’ Lucy shook her head, snapped her body back. ‘Oh, God, sorry,’ she said, a beautiful blush tinting her cheeks and neck.

            Nate smiled as she babbled explanations, but he ignored every utterance.

            ‘I honestly didn’t mind.’ He stroked her cheek down to her chin, lifted her face upwards to his, his mouth edging closer. Before another rambled word could pass from her lips, he kissed her. She stopped thinking, explaining, and opened her mouth, allowing his warm tongue and taste to slide across hers.

            She almost purred as his bold hands found her thighs, waist, delicious sensation rippling up her spine. Lucy gripped the silky hair at the back of his head, cupped his face with the other, morning stubble against her fingers. Lucy melded into his broad, hard body, sparks arcing between them.

            They transcended time for what felt like only a moment until Nate unlocked his lips, his body, from hers and gazed steadfastly at Lucy.


            ‘God, I’ve wanted to kiss you since you fell down the stairs and into my arms. I’m not going to apologise for that,’ he said.



To go into the draw to win a an E-copy of Beautiful Illusion and The Paler Shade of Autumn ...... leave a comment to this question.....

What celebrity (past or living) would you most like to kiss?

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


Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Sep 26, 2014

I've nailed it!

WARNING: this blog post is unashamedly girly and fluffy!


I blame it on 22 years of nursing. I absolutely loved the job but it came with a number of restrictions: minimal jewellery, starchy uniform and NO nail polish. Painting my nails was something I literally haven't done for so long it wasn't even on my radar.

Then, just before heading off on holiday this year a friend asked what colour nails I'd be wearing. Odd question, I thought (apparently she changes her nail colour every other day!). But...the more I thought about it, the more I wanted the same shiny bright nails that she had. So I booked a gel manicure.


Enter the new world of nail bars....so many colours. So pretty. So very, very pretty. Too much choice. I wanted them all. I wanted a different colour tomorrow. I wanted....oh, my goodness, I was overwhelmed. Eventually I chose a colour called purple purple- which I was told was a brave choice for a first timer! (LOL) I also opted for little pink hearts on my pinkies (which in hindsight was a mistake, because every time I glanced down I thought I had chipped them!)


...I then had another manicure before conference...then one when I got back..then another before my recent trip to UK...and WOW- what a lot of money!

So I thought I'd save money and have a play myself. I bought some colours...again, too many to choose from. And I tried. Splattered. Smudged. Chipped. Accidentally touched them before they dried, took the polish off and tried again. And repeat.
But now I'm hooked on my new little passion. I love having fun colours. I love the vibrancy and the happy brightness. Turns out, I love being a little bit girly!

What about you? Do you have any little indulgences that make you smile? Anyone an expert on nail varnishing and can give me some tips? Anyone ever tried nail art? (THAT looks AWESOME!)


Sep 24, 2014

Ahhh...weddings...

by Claire Baxter

Happy sighs. We all love weddings, don’t we?

When my son and his fiancĂ©e set their August wedding date in January this year, it seemed like ample time to prepare, but I have to say, those months sped by and the bride and I spent almost every waking moment working on the wedding (apart from edits for my May and July books). They wanted a vintage-themed wedding which was a new concept to me in the beginning, but once I’d researched it, I became very excited about it and, I would even say that I became a bit of a vintage wedding expert. Together, the bride and I collected all the items we needed to create the look, and many of them, we made by hand.

I thought I’d share with you some of the main elements of the wedding, starting with...the dress, of course! Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m biased, but I think she was a beautiful bride.



Secondly, the cake. I know all about the cake because I made it. To suit the vintage theme I decided that the cake should look like a stack of ‘vintage’ boxes. I wanted flowers to spill from the top box and cascade to the bottom of the cake. The top tier was traditional dark fruit cake, the middle tier white chocolate mud cake, and the bottom tier dark chocolate mud cake. Except for the string of pearls, all of the cake decorations were edible.

I devoted most of the last month before the wedding to the cake, but I was satisfied with the result, and the happy couple loved it.



The tables and decor. Every place setting was unique. We collected mismatched vintage china, made mismatched floral napkins and hessian cutlery holders, and our centrepieces were old books with vintage sewing paraphernalia because we had a vintage sewing machine that formed part of the decor.




It all came together perfectly and was a beautiful day. Happy sigh.



Have you been to a wedding recently? Or been involved in one?

Sep 22, 2014

Lists by Amy Andrews

I've got a couple of books either I'm working on or just about out at the moment that involve lists.
I like writing lists.  No, actually that's not true - I like *crossing things off lists* that I've already written :-)

So it's should come as no surprise that I like writing list books. I like them because they give the whole thing a ready made structure for both the reader and me, the writer. It kind of helps to keep me on track.


The first book - No More Mr Nice Guy - comes out next Monday (the 29th). There was a smooch from it a couple of weeks back if you want to check it out a little. NMMNG is a book that revolves around a sex list. Now, I'm not going to tell you what's on that list (although if you sign up to my newsletter here you'll be one of the first ones to find out on release day! ) suffice to say its detailed and just a little bit naughty :-)



The second book is the WIP I'm writing with my sister called Numbered. It's kind of a Bucket List meets Beaches story - yes tissues will be needed!! It revolves around the premise - what would you do if your days were numbered? It currently had interest from a publisher and we're hoping it'll be out on shelf next year (fingers crossed!!)






So....lists? Love them, loathe them?
What about list books? Love them, Loathe them?
And what would *you* do if your days were numbered?


Sep 21, 2014

Sunday Smooch: Anna Campbell's WHAT A DUKE DARES

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a smooch from  Anna Campbell but first 


... the two winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Christina R!


Can you please contact Annie West on annie (at) annie-west  (dot) com to receive your book giveaway! 


And now for today's Sunday Smooch from WHAT A DUKE DARES


A reputation at risk!
What woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that's who. She's known Camden Rothermere since they were children - and she also knows she'd bring nothing but scandal to his name.

Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can't stop her. Then her brother's dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he'd finally gotten over.

The only way they'll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they're married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed - until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins...


Scene set-up

Camden Rothermere, Duke of Sedgemoor, is escorting his childhood friend Penelope Thorne back from Italy where she’s been stranded after the death of her aunt. Gossip about Pen’s wild behavior on the Continent has entertained London society for years. If they’re discovered travelling together, there will be a massive scandal and a shotgun wedding which both want to avoid: Cam because he plans a glittering society marriage with a woman of spotless reputation, and Pen because she’s always loved Cam, but long ago recognized that he’ll never love her back. The final leg of the journey takes place on Cam’s yacht The Windhover. The kiss occurs in Penelope’s cabin during a violent storm just off the English coast.

Smooch  -

As the ship plunged like a wild thing, Cam’s mouth ravaged hers. Astonishment held Pen captive as a fierce mixture of sensations struck her harder than the waves against the hull.

Since she was a girl, she’d imagined Cam’s kisses. The reality was earthier, more intimate, more passionate, more…exciting than anything she’d conjured in fantasy, no matter how lurid. His mouth was hot and commanding. His hands were ruthless and inescapable. The storm beat around her until she wasn’t sure whether the chaos was outside or within her.

Pen was no longer the nineteen-year-old innocent who had turned down his proposal. She knew how a man behaved toward a woman he respected. In Cam’s kisses, there was neither caution nor care.

Some distant corner of her mind urged her to protest. He treated her the way he’d treat a strumpet from the docks. But how could she demur when she basked in endless heat? All her life, she’d felt so cold, so cold.

His tongue plunged between her lips, demanding a response. Helpless to resist, bewildered and giddy with arousal, she gave it to him. Her senses flooded with his rich flavor, his salty scent of storm and ocean and clean male sweat.

She moaned and arched into his damp clothes, frantically seeking the searing heat beneath. She’d set him alight and the flames of his desire lashed her. The breath scraped from her throat and she closed her eyes, reveling in incandescent sensation. Never had she felt like this.

Still his mouth explored hers as if he claimed a private kingdom. She could hardly breathe, sinking into untamed delight. She clung to his shoulders as her knees threatened to collapse. He was shaking, too. If he wasn’t braced so firmly against the window frame, they’d tumble to the floor.

Still he wasn’t tender. She was past caring. She’d permit him anything, as long as he kept kissing her, touching her, panting his appreciation into her neck. She burned to touch him. Return this bliss. Conquer him in turn.

“Damn it, Pen,” he groaned into her bare shoulder and nipped her sharply.
Shock sizzled through her with the sting.  His savagery appalled her, scared her, but spiked her excitement to a level where she threatened to combust. She tugged at his shirt until her lips skimmed hard pectorals, kissed the mat of soft hair.

With a stagger, he swung her from the window. Away from the embrasure, the ship’s pitching was dizzying. Or perhaps Pen was dizzy with passion. Cam tumbled her toward the luxurious bed where she’d slept alone for two weeks, tormented to know he lay just across the corridor.

Breathless with excitement, she toppled back onto the mattress. Then she was doubly breathless when Cam flung himself on top of her. His weight was unfamiliar, thrilling. The boat’s tossing rolled them together so they wrestled like puppies. Inside her, a great emptiness yearned. She grabbed his shirt and ripped it off, desperate to feel his bare skin. She was as fierce as he was. Even now when it was clear that he was mad for her, she still feared that this glory might end before she’d drunk it to the dregs.





Question:

Pen has had a crush on Cam since she was a little girl (a crush that ripens into a really excruciating case of unrequited love as she grows up). Who, real or fictional, was your first crush?
 

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


Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Sep 19, 2014

Back to The Bay


by Bronwyn Jameson

As kids our summer holiday “place” was Bateman’s Bay on the New South Wales south coast.  Mostly for expedience, since it was the closest piece of ocean to our inland home.  But this also meant it was the summer holiday place for many other country families and we’d see them on the beach, the fathers sporting the farmers' signature tan and towelling sun-hat.  Catching up with other regulars, most of whom we wouldn’t see between Januarys, was part of the summer holiday.  We loved that almost as much as we loved the beach and the easygoing caravan park lifestyle.

Then came the year of The Breakdown.  Heading home at the end of the holiday, along with every other end-of-school-holidays family, towing the caravan up Clyde Mountain, our car broke down.  It was stressful, harrowing – I imagine a thousand times more for the parents – stopped beside a long drop down the mountainside, in heavy traffic, waiting for roadside assistance.  Eventually we were towed to Braidwood where we waited days for the necessary parts to get us home.

The caravan was sold.  We spent the next six or seven summers at the local swimming pool, until eventually my parents built a holiday house.  By this time I was at university and The Bay lost its appeal for a decade, until I had a young family and we started the trek down the mountain each year along with my sisters and their kids.  Then that next generation grew up and found livelier places to spend their holidays and my parents sold the house and that was that.

Except we all still have such fond memories of the place, of the summers, of the family togetherness, and so earlier this month we – my three sisters, my mum and I – went back to The Bay.  We rented a house by the beach.  It was too cold to swim but we paddled and walked the sand, ate seafood by the truckload, talked and laughed and remembered.  And made new memories.








Bateman’s Bay will always be that special family place for us.  Do you have such a place, your special place packed to the gills with the best memories?