Dec 9, 2016

Another Year Nearly Done.

I can't believe how fast the months have gone by - and yes, I say that every year. You'd think I'd know by now to grab each and every day and make it count. but I think I did have a darn good crack at it. Here are some random photos of my year.

 Delicious scallops we dredged in the Sounds for last |January.
I love nothing more than to prepare a feast of these for family and friends when they come to visit.


Taking a ride out in our bay. I like to get out in the middle and lie back listening to the silence and thinking about nothing or everything.


One of my girls had an off day this day. Not sure what was going on. :)
My two most favourite littlies on the planet.
Bath time and Granny Sue ended as wet as they were.


                        

                       Flowers from HM&B London office on being a finalist in the RWNZ Koru award.



Travelling this road many times over the year between Christchurch and those grandies and our place in the Marlborough Sounds.
This road is now closed, gone in many places, due to the earthquake three weeks ago. A tragedy for many people living in the area.
                                                     A bad photo of dolphins in our bay in September. Need a new camera, one that focuses when I need it to, not three minutes later.

LoveCat in the Wild, Barbara DeLeo and I at the RWNZ conference in August.
 
 
Out Now: December
And finally, my 20th book is out now.
One of my favourites to write, this one is a step away from small town NZ and into a war zone with consequences that take some getting used to.
 
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone.

And the winner is....

The winner from my blog is Sudeshni Moonsamy. If you could email me on melaniemilburne@gmail.com and send me your postal details I will get the book to you. Thanks everyone for commenting.

Dec 7, 2016

I walk, therefore I think.

Do you find life increasingly busy and frenetic? Do you wonder how you will ever get through the list of tasks you must do, ought to do or want to do?

I find this time of year is particularly crazy as the festive season ramps up in the big build up to Christmas. In spite of all the labour saving devices, I think it is harder and harder for women to find time for themselves with the demands of work and family life. I don't know about you, but I crave time alone so I can walk and think. It doesn't mean I don't love my family and friends and want to spend time with them- I just need time alone every now and again to rebalance myself.

Time to think is so important for a writer but it is also important for lots of non-writers. When we are constantly bombarded with information and tasks and other people's demands it is almost impossible to think clearly and logically.

So here is what I do when I need some time to think. I take myself off to a beach or the bush for a walk where the combination of water, wind and fresh air seems to blow out the sticky cobwebs. I don't mind if it's windy or hot and sunny or freezing cold ( or a combination of all four since I live in Tasmania!) because it's being outdoors that really frees my mind. Although, as you can see from the photo below, I am rarely alone- I have three little walking companions that come with me!

I know not everyone lives near a beach or the bush, but even the act of closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a beautiful peaceful place can be enough. Or simply taking the time to watch the sunset or sunrise can be enormously calming. Here are two of my favourites from the east coast of Tasmania.


Pretty spectacular, huh?


What do you do to when you need thinking time? I would love to hear how you cope with this crazy time of year! I have a signed copy of my latest release Unwrapping His Convenient Fiancee ( all regions) for a reader who posts a comment.

Best wishes,
Melanie xx

Dec 5, 2016

Six Things: Christmases Past


by Bronwyn Jameson

Ever since I turned the calendar pages over to December I’ve been a touch nostalgic. Not for November, which flew by so swiftly, but for Christmases past. In years of yore the Christmas season started much earlier, being entwined with work parties and kids’ concerts and shopping and decorating and baking. It truly was a festive season, a month of events and preparations and lists.

On most days I enjoy the pared-down version of Christmas, the no-gift arrangement made with most of the family, and the abbreviated Christmas card list. That doesn’t stop me looking back, nostalgically, at my favourite bits of Christmases past...and to look forward to the possibility that these may become part of Christmases future if we happen, one day, to be blessed with grandkids.

1. The Santa photo. This was an annual event, the visit to Grace Bros, yet very little photographic evidence remains. Perhaps because ALL the boys were never on the same page in terms of Santa-love.  I did find this one though!

2. The Christmas party. Okay, there was always more than one, but my favourite was at the local country hall. All the local farm families came with a plate and a gift for each child, which had to be furtively placed under the tree for Santa to distribute. There was always a game of cricket, always the best cakes, always a perfect catch-up with neighbours.

3. Christmas lights. Nothing announces the start of the festive season more loudly than the “turning on of the lights.” Several streets are renowned for going all out with their decorations – I hope this is still so! – and we always took the boys to check them out. The households giving out bags of lollies were, obviously, their favourites.

4. Christmas Mass. I’m not Catholic but I married one and every Christmas I joined the family for this special service to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Plus I loved singing my fave carols, tunelessly but always with a ton of joy.

5. Christmas lunch. Always at my parents’, always a baked dinner with turkey and ham and at least six vegetables no matter how hot the summer day, always followed by home-made pudding, with secreted sixpences, and custard. I do miss, more than anything, seeing all my family on Christmas day. 

6. The Christmas play. Christmas night was, and still is, spent with my husband’s (large!) family. It’s all informal, rowdy, stress-free fun. When the kids were young there was always a little Christmasy presentation, with roles and singing and usually a baby Jesus (played by that year’s newest arrival.) The next generation is starting to arrive – 3 new babies this year! – so I’m looking forward to the rebirth of this family tradition.

Those are a few of my favourite things. 

What is your favourite memory of Christmases past?



Dec 4, 2016

Sunday Smooch with Annie West

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a smooch from but first 


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


Can you please contact to receive your copy of MILLIONAIRE UNDER THE MISTLETOE.


And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Annie West's THE DESERT KING'S SECRET HEIR.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D8H8YEA


The child she hid… 
Surrounded by society's glitterati, Arden Wills finds herself staring up into the eyes of her first and only love. But Sheikh Idris Baddour has a surprise title and heavy responsibilities…so she clings to her precious secret even tighter.  

Time has done nothing to dampen the intense ardor between them. And when their kiss is blasted across the world's front pages, Arden's truth comes to light—the sheikh has a secret son! To avoid further scandal, Idris must legitimize his heir and make English rose Arden his dutiful desert queen!




Scene set-up
Four years earlier Arden had a holiday affair with Shakil, a student on vacation. Circumstances tore them apart but, discovering she was pregnant, Arden tried unsuccessfully to trace her lover. Now, against all odds, she meets Shakil in London, except he's not Shakil, he's Sheikh Idris of Zahrat, wealthy, powerful and about to become engaged to a beautiful Middle Eastern princess. Now, the morning after their surprise meeting, Arden finds Idris outside the door of her London home, accusing her of having an affair with his cousin, who'd accompanied her the night before.

Smooch  -


‘Ridiculous?’ Idris’s eyes narrowed to ebony slits. Those carved cheekbones loomed threateningly high as his face drew taut. ‘You call me ridiculous?’
Fire branded her neck as hard fingers closed around her nape, moulding to skin turned feverish at his touch.
Arden swiped her suddenly arid mouth with her tongue, searching for words to stop the fury in that glittering gaze.
But his touch didn’t feel like anger. That was the problem. She could have withstood it if it did.
Arden trembled as the hand at her neck shifted and long fingers speared her hair, spreading over her scalp, massaging. Shivers of delight rippled through her and her eyelids hovered, weighted, at half mast. Tendrils of fire cascaded from her scalp down her spine and around to her breasts where her nipples peaked.
She swallowed convulsively and forced herself to straighten away from the door, even though it meant brushing against him.
‘I didn’t mean—’
‘Of course you did.’ His mouth twisted. ‘You’re right. It is ridiculous. Impossible and inconvenient…and inevitable.’
Then, while Arden was still absorbing his words, his head lowered.
His mouth on hers was just as she remembered. A huge, tearing fullness welled in her chest as his lips shaped hers, not hard and punishing as she’d expected from the glint in his eyes, but gentle, questing. As if seeking an answer to a question she hadn’t heard.
Shakil. The taste of him burst on her, rich and delicious. It was the one sense memory she hadn’t been able to recall in the years since he’d left her. Now it filled her, evocative, masculine and, she feared, potently addictive. For her head was lolling back, lips open to allow him access.
Somehow her hands had crept up to brace on his chest. The steady thrum of his heart was a reassuring counterpoint to her sense of disorientation.
His other hand slipped around her waist, pulling her against a body that was all hard power, making her feel soft and feminine in ways she’d almost forgotten.
And still that kiss. No longer quite as gentle. Arden heard a guttural sound of approval as her tongue met his in a foray into pure pleasure.
He shifted and delight filled her as her nipples grazed his torso. She pressed closer, absorbed in heady, oh-so-familiar delight, till a long hard ridge pressed against her belly.
Arden’s eyes snapped open and she saw his eyes had narrowed to slits of dark fire. Then, over his shoulder, high up at street level, came a burst of light, a glint of sunlight off something. It was enough, just, to bring her back to reality.
‘No.’ No-one heard her protest since their lips were locked.
She had to shove with all her might for him to lift his head, blinking as if unable to focus. That might have made her feel better but for the realisation just five minutes in this man’s company had obliterated every defence she’d spent years constructing. 
‘No,’ she gasped. That full feeling behind her breastbone turned to pain. ‘This is wrong. We can’t…’
She didn’t need to go on. Sheikh Idris of Zahrat agreed completely. It was there in the dawning horror sharpening his features and the unsteady hand that swiped his face. He shook his head as if wondering what he was doing.
Nor did Arden need to shove him again. One swift pace backwards on those long legs took him almost to the base of the area steps and left her feeling appallingly alone.
Chest pumping, Arden stared at the dark gold face of the man she’d once adored. The man who now looked at her as if she were his personal nightmare.
Desperate, she put her palms to the door behind her, needing its support.
Despite it all, the anger, hurt and betrayal that had shaped her life for four years, she’d harboured a hope that if they met again he’d admit he’d made a terrible mistake in leaving. That he’d missed her, wanted her, as she’d missed and wanted him.
In her dreams he’d never looked at her with horror.



Have you ever been tempted to kiss someone you knew you shouldn't? If you don't want to admit to that, maybe tell me what your current favourite temptation is to go in the draw to win a signed copy of THE DESERT KING'S SECRET HEIR.

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

Dec 2, 2016

If Music Be the Food of Love...

I’m an aural writer, meaning the silence that most writers crave drives me nuts.

I need noise.  White noise. Cafe noise.  TV noise.   I often joke that I could write at a Bon Jovi concert.

I wonder if that’s why my husband often complains that I don’t hear the lyrics the way he does. Because I experience sound differently.  More in a kind of diffused osmosis than any kind of purposeful way.

(I know!  Gasp!  For a writer of words to admit that!) 

But just like those singular, bittersweet, sigh-worthy moments in romantic movies that make your heart clutch, or beautiful phrases in books that put words together in such a unique and heartfelt way you literally swoon - for me, for a song to have a real impact, it’s more about a feeling.  It can be a few shiny lyrics that make me sing or move or smile or cry.  Or a clanging chord that makes my stomach sink.  Enough that it was able to break through the constant chatter inside my head and make a mark.

And I use that in my writing all the time.  For some books I’ve listened to the one song over and over to tap into the feeling it creates inside of me.

http://bit.ly/resistingtmI wrote a musician hero once; the aptly titled Resisting the Musician :).  A rocker type - bruised and battered emotionally - the hero could no longer pick up his instrument.  I listened to a lot of Bruce that year.  Some INXS. And even a little One Direction!  I got what I needed where I needed to get it.

Here are a few of the songs that always take me somewhere other, elevating me to a higher plane when they dance into my day.  Songs that take me to that wonderful magical place that makes it human to need art:

Kissing a Fool” by George Michael – I have listened to that song a zillion times while writing heart-clenching scenes in my books.  It takes me there so well.

We Are Young” by Fun – dark subject matter within the confines of a raging anthem that makes me want to stage dive (even when I’m in the car)

Viva la Vida” by Cold Play – this song feels like summer to me.  Like the car windows are down, my feet are on the dashboard and we’re going…wherever we want to go.

Bad Things” by Jace Everett.  The theme music to True Blood.  It’s dark, and sultry and red.  Just so much red.

 “Jolene” by Dolly Parton – oh the yearning and heartache of that song.  It makes me tear up every time I hear those first plaintive notes.

 
Do you have any songs that always make you cry, or dance, or suffer, or think, or wind down the car window and sing at the top of your lungs?

Nov 30, 2016

Spreading the Christmas Cheer


I like to do something for a charity at Christmas. One year a friend of a friend was organising a Christmas present for each child at a school in Cambodia she'd visited - the little packages were mainly stationery supplies and a few personal grooming things. We loved that one. Another year I took my niece to the shops and we bought toys and treats for the dogs at the local RSPCA then dropped them off. (The lovely staff let my niece give treats to a few of the dogs herself to say thank you. That was awesome.)

This year - and last year - I've been involved in Share the Dignity's It's in the Bag campaign. In case you haven't heard of it, here's a little intro:


My sister did a collection at her work and brought the goodies to me, and I was the assembly point. I went through all the donations, put the bags together and bought the things that we needed to fill out each bag. It was so much fun! The photo below is the day she dropped the donations off (the shelves at the back are full of things donated as well.)


I've been making the bags up and dropping them off in batches, ensuring each one is brimming with good stuff. My last drop off will be this Friday (just slipping under the wire of the cut off date: Saturday), and it will take us to our grand total of 30 bags. Here are a few in their batches:





Of the thirty bags, five were for teenage girls - who also need sanitary supplies (and who often miss out in the present drives because people tend to give more for younger kids). The bags for teens have yellow ribbons so they can be sent in the right direction. Here's the contents of one of our yellow ribbon bags:


Do you have a favourite charity at Christmas? Or do you find it too busy and prefer to give at other times of the year? Or, if things are tight, which charity would you give to if you could?