Nov 14, 2018

Retro post...

 I was going through some of my old things the other day, and came across the very first blog I ever posted her -- back in July 2010.

2010!

It made me smile, so I thought I'd re-post it...for old time's sake. :-)

I'm a Writer Because...

I've spent a lot of time wondering what I should post about in my inaugural blog for the LoveCats. What would be the best way to introduce myself? Should I list my top 10 fave things... or unfave things? That's always a good way to get to know somebody. Should I post pictures of my workspace and detail the items there that are necessary to me for an ideal working day (revealing in a totally different way)? What about discussing my five favourite romances of all time? That could lead to a lively debate.

But then it hit me - know me by my literary influences. That sounds rather grand, doesn't it? But what it boils down to is this...

I am a writer because of Anne of Green Gables.

Notice I said Anne of Green Gables and not Lucy Maud Montgomery whose creation she is (and who is also responsible for a book called Blue Castles which is one of my all-time favourite romances). Lucy Maud may have created 'Anne with an e', but it was her character that gripped my imagination and turned me into a writer.

Now before we go any further I best mention that Anne and I have several points of connection - all superficial mind, but seriously important when I was seven. First, she had carrot red hair and so did I. Her name ended in an e and so did mine. She had freckles and she loved to read - tick and tick. As you can see, we were bosom buddies from the first.


This is the cover of the copy I won as a Sunday School prize

That's not why I became a writer.

Anne Shirley had a vivid imagination. She could turn the mundane into a thing of beauty and awe. With that imagination of hers she transformed her commonplace life into a series of adventures. She wasn't afraid to dream. Whenever I grew bored or restless with my far-from-beautiful country town I'd play the Anne game. I did what she did. I'd search out places of beauty or interest or quirkiness in my town and, like her, give them new names to reflect their aura -The Lake of Shining Waters, Willomere, Dryad's Bubble, the White Way of Delight, Idlewild and Lover's Lane. And then I created histories and on-going sagas for these places - talking trees, birds that became human at night, wars between flowers and bees. My inner life grew so rich that it more than compensated for the humdrum of my outer world.

And that's why I'm a writer. Because imagining better worlds became second nature to me. Lots of writers have influenced me as a writer, but it's Anne who made me a writer. She gave me different eyes with which to view my world.


The much cherished copy I inherited from my grandmother
 
So my question to you is this: has a fictional character ever changed the way you see the world? Or have you ever found inspiration in an unusual place?

Nov 12, 2018

When you are a writer, you spend so much time sitting. I haven’t invested yet in a walking desk like Bronwyn Jameson (must look into it properly), but I do know that I have to pay attention to my health with all this sitting.

So, I run. People often ask, “Do you enjoy running?” Answer – only occasionally, but I do enjoy having run. It’s such an efficient way to get exercise done. Straight out my front door, down our undulating country lane past the cows and the farms, past the view to Lennox Head and back. Today I ran eight kilometers (each week I try for longer run on the weekends). I woke up late after a school trivia night (we came second and won a case of wine!) and it was so hot. I sooooooo wanted to walk instead but made myself hit my goal.

Image courtsey pixabay.com
It is the same with writing. When people find out I’m a writer, they often say, ‘I’m planning to write a book’. My university students too, have big dreams of writing novels. But dreams need plans. Need goals. And writing a book is hard work.  I find I’m so much more productive with a plan. Short-term daily plans and those longer term plans. I haven’t been so good with the longer term plans lately and it makes me feel a little lost, so I’m determined when this semester of teaching and marking is over, I plan to really take the time to plan. Should I do a PhD, for example, not a decision to take flippantly.
 
What about you? Are you a planner or just see where the day and life take you, or something else? I’d love to hear.


Nov 11, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Clare Connelly

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a smooch from Clare Connelly but first 


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


Can you please contact Barbara Wallace to receive your copy of Their Christmas Miracle.


And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Bound by their Christmas Baby (yes! more festive reading, lovecats, merry meow!). 

From under the mistletoe... 

...to down the aisle!

When brooding bachelor Gabe Aranmtini learns the innocent beauty he shared a steamy festive night with is the daughter of his business rival, he's furious. The following Christmas, Abby returns with shocking news--she's had his child! Gave knows he must marry Abby to legitimise his son. But can this be a marriage in name only, or will their red-hot chemistry take over?

Feel the heat in this festive secret baby romance!

Hi Lovecats!

Bound By Their Christmas Baby is one of my most angsty novels yet - and that's saying something! Gabe Arantini is a seriously troubled, self-made billionaire tycoon who - having been betrayed by my heroine Abby once before isn't likely to fall under her spell again! But a three month old baby is reason to bring her into his life - as his wife! Set in the stunning Italian alps castle he calls home, this scene happens shortly after Gabe, gloriously brooding Gabe, has spotted Abbie traipsing through the pine plantation, with his gardener Hughie. They're on the hunt for a perfect Christmas tree - it's all completely innocent - but jealousy makes no distinction and Gabe finds himself more jealous than the fires of hades are hot.

In this scene, we see him grappling with what he wants and, having kept Abby at arm's length for half of the book, and told himself he can control this desire, he's finally being burned alive by its intensity...


‘You actually think sleeping with a member of our household staff is appropriate?’
‘He’s not “our” household staff, he’s yours,’ she snapped.
‘An unimportant distinction.’
‘And I’m not sleeping with him,’ she denied hotly. ‘I like him, okay? He’s nice to me and we speak the same language. He’s the only other person I’ve actually been able to talk to since I moved to Italy. He’s nice to me, unlike a certain other someone I could mention and, newsflash, Gabe, it’s refreshing to spend time with someone who doesn’t look at me like I’m dirt on the sole of their shoe.’
He glared at her, his expression darker, if possible. ‘I don’t care that he’s nice to you,’ Gabe snapped. ‘He’s off-limits. I don’t want to see you talking to him again.’
She made a scoffing sound. ‘You can’t click your fingers and just forbid me from having a friend.’
‘No? But I can fire him,’ Gabe responded, taking another step towards her, his expression mutinous.
‘Don’t you dare.’ Abby pushed at his chest but he caught her hands, holding them in place, and when her eyes met his now, sparks of another variety flew, like their own localised fireworks display, erupting between their chests.
‘Don’t you tell me what I can and can’t do. I’m not going to have you carrying on with whoever you decide you want…’
‘Oh, grow up,’ she said, pushing at his chest again. He pulled her hands down, holding them by her side, his breath heavy. ‘I’m not sleeping with your gardener. I’m not sleeping with anyone! I haven’t slept with anyone since you, so you can just go to hell with all your stupid accusations.’
Gabe’s expression shifted momentarily and then it was fiercely intense and, before Abby knew what was happening, he was kissing her.
No, it wasn’t a kiss, it was so much more. It was a mark of utter, unquestionable possession. It was a raging, desperate connection. His lips mashed to hers, his tongue slid inside her mouth and she made a noise of surprise and then surrender, low in her throat, her hands pulling free of his grip and reaching under his shirt, connecting with his bare chest, skin she remembered so intimately.
It had been over a year since they’d done this and yet it felt as if no time had passed. Or was it that they—this—existed outside the bounds of time and space?
‘You won’t be with anyone else,’ he grunted, ripping his shirt over his head so she could marvel at his naked chest. He crushed her to him, kissing her desperately once more, his hands lifting to her hair and tangling in its length. It was still cold from her time in the snow and perhaps that reminded him of what they’d been fighting about, because he made another darkly guttural noise before stepping out of his trousers and pants so that he was completely naked.
‘You are mine,’ he said, pushing her shirt off, his expression deadly serious.
‘I’m not yours,’ she snapped. ‘How can I be? You don’t even speak to me. You don’t look at me. I’m not yours.’
‘I’m looking at you now.’ 


Oh, yes, he's looking at her alright! I have three Christmas books out this December - I'll be popping giveaways up from the others as we get closer to Christmas. I am a die-hard Christmas lover (speaking of Die Hard, I watched it tonight...). Our tree went up today, carols played, birds chirped, happiness is! I'm BIG on Christmas traditions - are you?? What are your favourites? I want the off-beat ones... I'll start. Every year my kids and I make around a dozen gingerbread houses! A DOZEN. We're like an edible dwelling production line... it's yummy work, I'll tell you. What about you?

Clare Connelly writes romance that will set your soul on fire. She is the best-selling author of more than fifty indie romance novels and in August 2017 published her debut novel for Harlequin Presents, and also writes for Harlequin Dare. She reads and writes romance voraciously, and lives in a small bungalow by the sea with her lovely husband, two small children and a hard-working team of MacBooks.

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


Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Nov 7, 2018

The Reading Hour


It's Clare Connelly here, and I have a confession to make. I've become a terrible reader. Terrible. I wasn't always like this! Go back a few years and you'd rarely find me without a book (or kindle) in hand. I read while I cooked, while I cleaned, while I nursed my babies, at the park, and on the front seat of the car for whenever I had to park and wait for someone or something. I was always, always reading. I used to read a Mills & Boon in a night. Not every night, but often enough to count Harlequin romances as much a part of my diet as air, water and chocolate.

I completely agree with all the quotes you've ever heard about reading and writing going hand in hand. When people ask me how you become a writer, I say, firstly, you read. A lot. And it's true - I think the best skills you ever learn as a writer are developed by a process of osmosis. You read, and the words begin to form tracks in your brain, ways to pull a train of narrative to fruition, to drive a story from idea to manuscript. You learn how to structure dialogue, pace drama, lay clues for a mystery, all because you've read so many books that the knowledge of how to write begins to form a part of your DNA.

I used to be an excellent reader, but friends, I've slipped.


So, in an effort to tackle that, this year I've started The Reading Hour. At 2pm every day (with the rare exception of when a deadline is so tight it's about to eat me all up) I down tools and take my position on the sofa. Cup of tea, book, writing mind switched off and reading mind in gear. And I lose myself in the pages of someone else's words and world, and time ceases to have meaning (Pro tip: set an alarm. Mine goes off at 245pm every day to remind me to collect the kids from school...)

I'm guessing if you're here, you're an avid reader, but I'm curious. When do you read? And where? Do you have the same time every day or do you go with the reading flow?



Nov 5, 2018

My Top 5 Romantic Hallmark Movies

If you and I have had a face-to-face conversation in the last, say, 2 years, at some point I will bring up my recently discovered fangirl obsession for Hallmark movies.

Like, I'm crushing sooooo hard. I can't get enough of them (and in Australia, it's actually hard to feed this craving). We (and by we, I mean my family, not Aussies in general) didn't have Pay TV (have since been exposed to Netflix), and catching a Hallmark movie on Aussie free-to-air television is pretty near impossible.

I discovered them in January 2016 when my husband and kids were away for Christmas school holidays, and I was home writing, and rewarding myself after a hard slog at words during the day with some wine and various Ben & Jerry tubs of ice cream (and I wish I could say they were the small tubs, but, well, they weren't) in the evening, and a fuzzy feel-good romantic movie. Double feature. Marathon. Whatever.

I stumbled across them by accident on Youtube, and then I tried to see if I could purchase/download online (couldn't), and then purchased via Amazon (and still can't figure out how to get multi-zoning on my DVD player!) - but, well, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I LOVE Hallmark movies so much/hard/badly, that I'll pretty much hunt down one at any opportunity, no matter how impossible, because I'm not afraid to earn my Hallmark HEA - they're all the sweeter for the effort.

There. I've said it. I 💖 Hallmark Movies. So much so, that I will research the bejeebus out of a movie I've enjoyed, and if it's adapted from a novel, I will track that sucker down and consume the crap out of it. And yes, those books are thoroughly enjoyable, too! And I've been introduced to a few new love-to-read authors as a result. The Hallmark Movies and Mysteries - oh, boy, think of how much I 💖 the romance movies, and multiply it by a zillion for how much I crush those mystery series (and yep, I'm purchasing DVDs wherever I can for those, too, and the associated books).

It's an addiction - but I'm not sure I can/want to do something about it. I feel like a leprechaun drowning in a vat of whisky, and determined to fight off any rescue efforts.

I think the appeal is that they're just soooo super ... NICE. Sweet. Positive. Heartwarming. Cute. Dreamy - and any other superlative you can think of that would also describe those Ben & Jerry flavours.

From what I've seen, the commonalities in these movies and books are that people are actually nice and respectful toward each other. That even a villain is basically a person with a hurt heart and bad experience/s, and can be redeemed, and that all characters - whether it's the small town setting or the city apartments, farms, etc. contribute to the community/family feel.

Some may call them schmaltzy. To tell you the truth, with what we see happening in the news, with politics, religion and crime, sometimes you need schmaltzy, and I can't see any occasion where excessive sentimentality is a negative, particularly in these times.

So, if you're interested, check your cynicism at the door, grab yourself your favourite comfort snacks and drinks, and settle in for a date with heart-melting romance. Here are my (to-date, but can change because I'm trying to watch as many as I can) Romantic Hallmark Movies Top 5 (Mysteries, Christmas and other holidays, and Series Movies, love-crush heroes, heroines-to-adore, etc. will be other posts!):

Romantic Hallmark Movies Top 5 

5.

Unleashing Mr. Darcy



4.

Bridal Wave


3.

A Country Wedding


2.

All of My Heart


1.

Harvest Love


So, if you have a favourite that isn't listed here, please let me know what it is in the comments below, and I'll add it to my to-be-watched list!

Nov 4, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Barbara Wallace

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a smooch from Their Christmas Miracle by Barbara Wallace.



Merry Early Christmas Lovecats!

I’m so excited to share with you my latest romance: Their Christmas Miracle. Writing a Christmas romance has become a bit of a tradition for me. This marks the third year in a row I’ve decked the halls for Mills & Boon.

THEIR CHRISTMAS MIRACLE was especially fun to write because it’s an amnesia story.  Amnesia is one of my favorite romance tropes because it opens the door for a reunion romance.  There’s so much you can pack into a missing memory!  And believe me, I packed in as much as I could.




Lost: One wife and mother.

Found: Their forever family?

Finding the wife he'd believed lost to him forever in a remote Scottish village seems like a miracle to wealthy CEO Thomas Collier. Rosalind is suffering from amnesia - she can't remember anything from before her accident, including her husband and their daughter! As Christmas draws near, back in their London penthouse, can Thomas help Rosalind regain her past and embrace the loving future they all deserve?



THE FIRST KISS:

“Because...” He angled his body so that, instead of standing side by side, he held her in a semi-embrace. “I’m not ready to share you with the rest of the world.”

Whether from his hips close to hers or the mistletoe hanging above them or the gentle whiff of aftershave on his neck, awareness washed over her. She looked up through her lashes. “Then you shouldn’t have left me alone in the crowd.”

“Ah, but then I couldn’t have bought you this.” His lifted his free arm to reveal a brown bag. “Merry early Christmas.”

It was a geode. Broken open to reveal the pink crystal formations inside. “You told me once you like the pink ones best. That the color’s created by—”

“Magnesium.” The whispered answer came to her without having to think. “And it’s beautiful. Thank you.”

“You’re most welcome.” She looked up to find his eyes had grown hooded and dark.
Her insides started to pulse.

“You know, we are under the mistletoe,” he told her.

“I know.”

“Be almost sacrilegious if we didn’t...”

“Sacrilegious indeed.”

His lips brushed against hers. The kiss was soft and sweet, full of the kind of promise that made Rosalind’s knees want to buckle.

And then it ended, as a public kiss should. Leaving her tingling and wishing they were alone.

“Let’s go home,” Thomas said. “We have a tree to decorate.”





Because I’m in a Christmasy-mood, I’m giving away a copy of THEIR CHRISTMAS MIRACLE to one lucky Lovecat Visitor.  For a chance win, leave a comment below and tell me if you’ve been naughty or nice!



 

 By the way – if you’re not in a Christmas mood, you can always check out my limited edition Bachelorette anthology featuring Ali, Ivan and Danny on the cover!




Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced!


Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Nov 2, 2018

Blank Pages. Fresh starts. New Beginnings. Bliss...

How can it be November already?  Seriously!  But here we are.

I can feel it in my bones.  Not merely in the itch of summer's nearness.  Or the final school concerts and plays and shows filling up my calendar.

It's that funny time of the year where I find myself wanting to put on the breaks as the final onslaught of family birthdays drag us all too quickly towards Christmas and the End of yet Another Year.

But I also start to get tingly about the Brand Spanking New Year ahead.

For isn't the thought of a New Year something truly special?

I know a lot of people don't like Mondays. So much so hating Mondays has its own anthem. 

But I adore Mondays. So much so I have a dedicated I Heart Mondays Pinterest Page ;). For me every single Monday feels like a fresh start. A new beginning. A clean slate.  Anything can happen!

The same way my very favourite part of writing is the very beginning. A blank page with nothing but Chapter One written atop. For at that moment the story sparkling so brightly at the edges of my mind is perfect. Unblemished by my effort to translate it from magical fairy dust into words tapped into a keyboard.

I feel the same way about reading too.  A brand new book - spine-uncracked, pages a little stuck together from the splicing of the paper at the printers - bliss! At the point at which you open the book you are hovering on the verge of so much possibility - this might be the best book you have ever read.

So while I begin in earnest to choose the perfect calendar for 2019, to decide which colour next year's Bullet Journal will be, I must make sure to savour every moment of the one that is barreling towards its final breaths.

What's your favourite time of year?  Day of the week? Do you love starting a new book or burning your way to the end?