Jul 31, 2011

Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a tantalising smooch from A Kiss To Seal The Deal by Nikki Logan, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Helen!

Congratulations, Helen! Can you please contact Mel at

melteshco (at) yahoo (dot) com (dot) au

and she'll send you a copy of Stone-Cold Lover or a book of your choice from her Ellora's Cave back-list.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from A Kiss To Seal The Deal by Nikki Logan ...

Is it true love is an endangered species?

When city lawyer Grand McMurtrie is forced to return to his coastal hometown, he discovers that conservationists plan to carve up the family farm! He furiously confronts the woman in charge—seal researcher Kate Dickson.

Used to half-truths after years of making empty city deals, he finds Kate’s passion for her precious seals mystifying, but slowly begins to trust this courageous, determined woman. For the first time, Grant’s heart is touched and he wants to make a wholly personal contract.

Will cautious Kate agree to his final clause—to be together forever?

[Set-up: After a confrontational and difficult meeting in town, Kate discovers the devastating truth about the death of her friend, Grant’s father. For the first time she lets down her barriers in front of him and cries for the man she had grown quite attached to.  Kate’s tears wiggle under Grant’s carefully erected barriers and he finds himself comforting her in the crowded front seat of his jeep. Fuelled by frustrating weeks of emotional strain, comforting turns to something entirely else…]

Kate’s head spun a lurching figure eight at Grant’s closeness. His strong, distinctive cologne which seemed to shimmy around her like scent released from the heat of a candle. She held herself suspended—lips gently parted against his first touch, assessing—and then leaned infinitesimally toward him, gently increasing the pressure of their kiss. Heat burst through her and crackled out to lick at the place their lips joined. Her mouth slid across his; tasting, breathing his air, melding perfectly.

He nipped and nibbled, sucking her bottom lip between his then releasing it to slide across the neglected top lip. His big hands forked up through the waves of her hair, messing it around her face until it hung wild and natural like it sometimes did at the end of a long day on the rock-shelf. 

She pulled back to gaze into eyes darkened with green heat. His thumbs learned the delicate line of her cheekbones and rubbed the last of the tears from her damp lashes.

She sucked in a breath to speak. But he slid one thumb down to silence her lips, closing the gap between them and taking her mouth with his again. It blazed against hers, his tongue hot and confident and branding its possession. Her skin burned wherever it rubbed against his which, squeezed as they were in the front of his car, was just about everywhere. 

Her breath grew thin and desperate deep in her chest but freeing herself for air was the last thing on her mind. Grant’s hands slid down over her shoulders and found their way to the sides of her ribs and under her arms. Then he pulled her more comfortably against him, sliding himself sideways to give her more room. Freeing her to climb that masculine chest and latch on more firmly to his talented lips.

Heavy eyes simmered into hers and Kate suddenly grew shy, uncertain. His large, work-roughed hand stroked up her throat to rest under her chin and encourage her gaze back to his.

‘You will always look like this to me,’ he murmured thickly, kissing her brow, her jaw, her lips. Making her lashes fall to her cheeks. ‘Wild. Hot.’

Kate let her head fall back and Grant mouthed his way up her throat. Just as well she was lying half across him because there was no way she could have kept standing as feelings she’d began to think she’d forfeited for life came surging forth in sharp, exquisite lances deep in her body. Her fists clenched high on his open-necked sweater, giving her strength, but letting her fingers spread to tangle in the scattered hair there, against the furnace that was his flesh. The forbidden feeling of the skin she’d tried not to ogle that first day made her smile and Grant’s lips moved instantly to the deep dimple that formed on her left cheek.

His tongue dipped in and out, his smooth teeth sliding against her cheek as he matched her smile. ‘I’ve wanted to touch those since I first saw you.’

Not that she wasn’t unexpectedly thrilled to hear such sentiments, but, while she was busy making sense of words, she wasn’t drowning in the pleasure sensations of his body moving against hers. His mouth feasting on hers. She speared her fingers up into his short hair and forced his head back so she could glare into his eyes meaningfully. ‘That’s lovely, but do you want to talk or do you want to kiss?’

His answer was practically a growl. 

Nikki has a signed copy of A Kiss To Seal The Deal to giveaway. To be in the draw, simply answer her question!

"In A Kiss to Seal the Deal, Kate Dickson is super-passionate about her seals and can get one-eyed at times. What do you get worked up about? How do you express your passion?"

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from The Cattleman, The Baby And Me by Michelle Douglas will be posted!

Jul 29, 2011

Special Guest Star: Fiona Lowe!

Today, I have a special guest - the ever-fabulous Fiona Lowe!

You might know Fiona from her Medical romances, but she has a new book out in August (though available for presale now in some places) and she's here to give us a sneak peek. So, first, a bit about our guest:

Fiona Lowe is an award-winning, multi-published author of romance fiction with Harlequin Mills & Boon and Carina Press. Whether her books are set in outback Australia or the USA, they all 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, a mother of two boys and she’s trying really hard to instill in them heroic characteristics like cooking and ironing. A previous Romantic Book of the Year finalist, Fiona is an avid reader, a guardian of 80 rose bushes, attempts to stay fit and is often seen collapsed on the couch with a glass of wine.

Welcome, Fiona! Firstly, here at the LoveCats, we're always interested in the number of cats in your house. Or dogs, or horses or chickens. So tell us about the non-humans in your life.

Sadly, we are cat-less at the moment but the boys are keen to get a kitten soon and recently they spent an entire day coming up with crazy names for the ‘yet-to-be-seen’ cat. We’ve always had black and white cats, you know the Bustopher Jones type cat with white spats. We’ve also had pet rats. Now before you faint, I must tell you that children take you to places you never expected to go and I cheerfully admit they turned out to be the BEST pets and I was quite fond of them.

You usually write Medical romances for Mills and Boon, but Boomerang Bride is different. How did this book evolve?

When I sold my first Mills & Boon Medical romance someone *kindly* said, ‘when are you going to write a big book?’ In 2005, I couldn’t imagine writing any other type of book and the thought brought me out in a cold sweat. In 2008, sitting on a ski-lift at Mt Hotham and an image popped into my head that wouldn’t go away. It was the image of a bride in a wedding dress holding a cake and staring into a vacant storefront. There was no story attached to it, and I found myself asking, “Why is she doing that?” “How did she get there?” A month later I heard The Waif’s song, ‘Bridal Train’ and suddenly I had the perfect reason for why Matilda was standing where she was, a very long way from home.

Tell us something about your hero Marc that he wouldn’t want us to know.

Marc is a very successful New York City architect and he’s won awards for his designs. His current project should be making his brain pop with possibilities. Only it isn’t. He’s not ready to call it a career slump, but it’s got him worried. There’s no way he’d ever admit that though, not in a million years.

Your heroine is an Australian who travels to the US. How did you find writing about the town she lives in?

I used to live in Wisconsin so creating Hobin wasn’t hard. I drew on all the things I loved about small town USA and put them into the town. By the end, I wished it was a real town so I could live there!

So what’s Boomerang Bride about?

Matilda Geoffrey risked it all for love. She left Australia to be with Barry—the man who had swept her off her virtual feet. Now, wearing a wedding dress, she's alone on Main Street in small-town Wisconsin, and things aren't working out exactly as planned...

In town for his annual family visit, Marc Olsen had never seen a bride quite like Matilda—staring into a storefront window, holding a tottering wedding cake, and looking desperately in need of a groom. He may not have any warm feelings for his hometown, but meeting Matilda just as she discovers she's been scammed by her online "fiancé" stirs something in him.

Matilda is not the kind of woman Marc imagined himself with, and Marc is anything but the romantic hero that Matilda has always dreamed of. But as unlikely circumstances throw them together, can they let go of their misconceptions and risk their hearts for love?

What was the last fabulous book you read? (We're always looking for the names of new books!)

The last romance I read was Yours To Keep by Shannon Stacey and I smiled all the way through it. I’m currently reading The Hare with the Amber Eyes which is a family biography about the Ephrussi art collection. It’s fascinating!

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I listen to French lessons on my ipod at the gym. I desperately want to be fluent in another language but the perfectionist in me makes it impossible to for me to open my mouth. Sadly, I think I will go to my grave able to read the language but not speak it.

Thanks, Fiona! Boomerang Bride is published by Carina Press and is available for pre-order right now and will be released on August 8th. It’s an electronic book and can be purchased at Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and lots of other online book stores! New to eBooks? Click here for more information.You can find her at her website, her blog, confused on Twitter and a bit more together on Facebook.

To help celebrate Boomerang Bride's release, tell us the last time you got lost. And if it involves a shopfront window and a wedding cake, I'll be very impressed!

Jul 27, 2011

Inspirational Quotes

WHAT I AM READING: The Lost Continent (again!) Bill Bryson
WHAT IS MAKING ME SMILE: Reunions coming up at the conference

I was standing beside the microwave at work last week and there, pinned to the wall was a small piece of paper. On it was written
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding about ourselves" Carl Jung.

As I waited for the two minute ting of the microwave, I rapidly re-interpreted the day’s annoyances. Go Carl – a timely bit of self-awareness.

I love inspirational quotes. The one that struck a chord and first got me writing was "If you aim for the stars, you might get to the top of the tree. If you aim for the top of the tree, you might never get off the ground".

The absence of promises, of unrealistic expectations was liberating, as was the kick to the pants to just get going.

Sometimes, it’s the mental picture that helps. When facing a daunting task, I remember one friend who would always say, “How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time.”

Or there’s “A ship in the harbour is safe. But that is not what ships are built for.”

Sometimes it’s nifty wordplay. “The difference between theory and practice is not much in theory but an awful lot in practice.”

Which segues nicely into “Experience is knowledge. Everything else is just information.”

I like quotes which are uplifting but realistic. "Happiness is not getting what you want but wanting what you have".

A good quote never dates which is why Desiderata is timeless. Every line is quotable but it provides some of the best exit lines.

"With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy".

Please share a favourite quote and why it speaks particularly to you.

Jul 25, 2011

Nikki’s Top 6 New York Moments

by Nikki Logan

So...I survived a 35 hour journey, a 2000+ delegate conference, a hotel that perpetually sways for those sensitive enough to feel it, a nasty virus, Times Square crowds, the mystery that is tipping, the infamous (but entirely unpresent) New York attitude and a sweltering Manhattan summer.

New York was nothing like I expected and so much more. Things I was prepared to be impressed by failed to and the smallest things blew me away.

I could write for hours on this subject but instead I wanted to give you my top six New York moments - keeping in mind I didn't leave Manhattan which of course is only 1/5th of New York and of which I only saw about 2%.

In reverse order…. (any images not credited are my own, thanks to Wiki Commons for most of the others)

Number 6: 
Wiki Commons (top two)

Visited the New York offices of Harlequin to catch up with Exec Editor Mary-Therese Hussy for a tour. The offices are in the much lauded Woolworth Building, a gorgeous old-school New York establishment that takes itself (and its position just two blocks from Ground Zero) so seriously that tourists are banned and even invited guests are prohibited from looking around or taking photographs.

For all it’s amazing grandeur, unfortunately the Woolworth building will remain in my mind forevermore as the only place in New York where I was treated rudely.  By its security. And I was there on invited business. Reeeaaally, hope Harlequin doesn’t pay too much for that privilege.

I didn’t take pics inside Harlequin’s offices either (cos that just felt wrong) but I did grab a snap as I waited for my lift back to the real world. Love the way the bright, friendly Harlequin colours welcome you in an otherwise austere building.

 Number 5:
 The Waldorf Astoria was having repairs to its façade when we arrived so here’s a pic of it thanks to WikiCommons (below) but once inside what a glamorous, fabulous hotel! Harlequin’s Black & White ball must have cost them a bomb because nothing was overlooked. From what appeared to be a specially shipped in white carpet, to the chocolate fountain desert stations, to the open bars with liquors I didn’t even know existed, to the red carpet photo arrival, to the free Harlequin ‘dancing’ socks, to the gorgeous Harlequin chocolates, and the rocking DJ.  Amazing attention to detail. Someone in the upper ranks of Harlequin really knows how to throw a party.


Number 4:
Central Park was busy and green and filled with great recreational and artistic things but it really wasn’t my favourite NY green space. It was flat and kind of predictable (I like some topography in my outdoor spaces), but I can totally see why NYers love it. It’s their hub. Their heart. All the good stuff is clustered around it.

My favourite part of CP was bumping into a bunch of birders who were watching the two just-fledged young of a Red-tailed Hawk called ‘Pale Male’ (famous in birding circles!) and his new woman ‘Ginger/Lima’ in their nest at 927 Fifth Ave.  My photo is super-poor of their nest, but the birdos had a high-powered telescope which afforded magnificent close-up views of the new babies who are getting ready to leave their nest.

Spent a good bit of time chatting to them and getting the history of the site and the family. The nest was demolished by the building’s owners a while back but there was a popular outcry and they had to reinstate it (including with some safety measures) to stem the negative PR.  Love people power.

Number 3:

The HighLine was a metro rail line built about two storeys off the ground in the early 1930s to get the freight trucks off NY’s streets. It ceased functioning in the 1960s and has lain fallow and covered in self-sown weeds until 2002 when a group of residents got together with local govt to turn it into New Yorks biggest ‘rooftop garden’. It runs 20+ blocks and gets you high up off the bustle and crowds of the streets of Manhattan’s lower west side. A fantastic and interesting way to move through NY’s streets.  The HighLine is planted out with species reminiscent of the self-sown ones that took their chance when the HighLine trains first stopped running.  Such a fantastic example of what can be done with some thought, dedication and …ahem…funding.

Number 2

Fort Tryon/The Cloisters Topography! And stunning parklands! And a Medieval cloister. This day, all by itself, SAVED my New York experience. I’d been so let down until now by everything that New York wasn’t. But oh my goodness who knew that Manhattan had something like this on it. I can only imagine how many other gems like it I missed by using the bog standard tourist books as my guide.

History. Nature. Stunning views and… best of all… cool.

We stepped out of the previously sauna-like subway into the cool, dark and quiet of the 190th Street station which is cut hundreds of feet below the granite on which Fort Tryon park was established.  Big, old-school elevators take you up though the rock to the entrance of the park which is quiet and rambling and beautifully positioned to offer so much more than just views of big buildings.  The northern tip of Manhattan was truly extraordinary.

Until that moment I couldn’t find a single square inch on which I’d be prepared to live. But I found it there. 

We lunched in a stunning restaurant called ‘New Leaf’ which looked out over the Hudson River and then made our way via ye old stone paved terraces, bridges, stairways (and via heaps of wildlife, finally!) to The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art built by the Rockerfellas in 1938, representing an homage to the many different styles and eras of European monastaries and filled with artefacts pillaged from…erm…celebrating the 11th - 15th centuries.

 Number 1

Production Photo: Simon Annand
The biggest highlight… the Broadway production of “War Horse”.

I'm a theatre girl from way back so staying in the theatre district was pretty cool but, despite being just one elevator-ride away from the discounted TKTS office in Times Square, I paid full price for this show bc I’d heard such fabulous things about it.  A real ‘boys own’ adventure story with a heart-wringing animal theme (hundreds of thousands of regular farm horses were conscripted into WW1 and forced to become horses of war—a task for which they were physically and emotionally unprepared). I knew it would be harrowing but I hoped it would be a bit uplifting.

I didn’t expect my tears to be from the beauty and poetry of the puppetry.

The plot in twenty seconds? Boy loves horse. Bastard father sells horse to war effort. 16yo boy enlists to go to France and bring horse home, he succeeds: a shattered man and his shattered horse. Ugh. Tears almost before it began! 

But OMG. The horses. There were actors inside (and outside) those horses but they become invisible almost immediately. The way they captured every nuance, every ear flick and tail swish and footstamp in a way that was so very real and true of every horse I’ve ever known. Those horses were REAL as far as my brain was concerned.

I had fourth row seat (in the middle) so this photo might have been mine (it isn’t). But all that smoke triggered my asthma so I watched the rest of it from right up in the gods...but I didn’t care. That just made it easier for me to leap to my feet and cheer when the actors had finished taking their bows and the two horsey leads galloped triumphantly onto stage. I’m tearing up now. It was that kind of moment. I’ve never seen 500 fur-wearing, toffy theatre-types leap to their feet and roar quite like it.

The kind of story that cuts straight to your heart.  Like all good romances really. :)

It well deserves its number one spot.


So what have I missed? Have you been to NYC? Do you live there? What are your favourite New York places? Not sure I’ll ever make it back but I’m already finding things that I wish I’d done.

Maybe I’ll have to return one day…


Jul 24, 2011

Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a hot paranormal smooch from Stone-Cold Lover by Ellora's Cave author Mel Teshcho, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Joanne!

Congratulations, Joanne! Can you please contact Wendy Marcus at

wendy (at) wendysmarcus (dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of When One Night Isn't Enough.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Stone-Cold Lover by Mel Teshco ...

Book 1 in the Winged and Dangerous series.

Heiress Loretta Shaw is notorious for her loose morals and sexual needs. Trouble is, it’s taken her one too many one-night stands to realize that no man can extinguish the sexual fire she feels toward her guardian, Cray Diamond.

A long-ago curse made Cray immortal—a gargoyle, a guardian, who is impelled to protect a human chosen by the curse. He is imprisoned in stone during daylight hours but dusk returns him to flesh and bone, to carry out his immortal duty.

That Cray can shift between human and living gargoyle at night bothers Loretta not one bit. She’s seen him naked many times and her desire for him—in any shape or form—knows no bounds. She’s tired of his resistance. He’s her gargoyle and she wants him in her bed.

[Set-up: Loretta has had a not-so-secret crush on Cray, the only man--gargoyle-- she's set her sights on and been unable to seduce. As he slumbers the daylight hours away in his gargoyle stone form, she tells him where he can find her once darkness awakens him. This time she'll do whatever it takes to have him notice her...want her.]

He paused on the first veranda step and looked up. The rain eased to a heavy mist as their gazes locked. His eyes glittered. “I can’t give you what you want. I’m under oath to protect you.”

Her lips compressed. One hand clasped the rail beside her. “I don’t want your protection.”

I want you.

“Nevertheless, you need it. And I made a vow if I had to guard someone…had to become close to them, it would never be on an intimate level.”

Her throat went tight. It hurt. But it was his honor as a gargoyle, which he protected, not her own. “And if I release you from that role?”

“Only your father can retract the oath.”

“Then…I’ll convince him.”

He raised a dark brow, a half-smile pulling at his lips. “Even if Lincoln released me, the curse would compel me to find someone else to safeguard.” At her horrified silence he added, “Besides, your dad is more worried than ever about your indiscretions.”

She went down a step, now eye-level to him. The light rain clung to her hair and moistened her skin, glazing droplets of silver over her sleeveless, jade dress. Head high, she forced a serene expression while unclipping the diamond studs holding it together at the front.

“Better to have this one night, than nothing at all,” she whispered. Slipping the dress from her shoulders, she tossed it aside. She wore no underwear beneath. She’d planned her attack. The trick was all in the execution.

Cray stood stock-still. His shadowed expression did little to conceal the flare in his eyes, the tic of a muscle along his tight jaw. But he’d seen her naked plenty of times, and had resisted her even when hunger had scorched his gaze.

Not this time. Please, not this time.

She leaned forward, cradling his face with outspread hands. Her lips merged with his, and she closed her eyes, savoring the bitter-sweet taste.

Emotion swelled as she sunk against him, and she hazily wondered if he could taste her passion, her need, the burning for him that seared her very soul.

Time seemed to slow, to hold its breath. Then everything quickened, double-speed as he groaned and his set mouth softened and opened beneath hers.

Desire hit her like a shock wave, an electric current that sizzled the nerve-endings along her lips and raced through her veins. She gasped, opening her eyes and jerking back her head. 

Surely he felt it too?

His veiled stare of frostbitten indifference was no more. His eyes glowed like a flame heated blue, snapping with fierce desire and longing. 

To be in the draw to win an e-copy of Stone-Cold Lover or your choice of one of Mel's back-list Ellora's Cave books, please share your favourite reluctant hero story with us!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from A Kiss To Seal The Deal by Nikki Logan will be posted!

Jul 22, 2011

A passion for paper...

by Natalie Anderson.

Photo from

Every writer I know has a stationery addiction. Actually, many people I know who aren't 'writers' as such, have a stationery addiction. And there are all those gorgeous shops there to meet those addictions - with a range for all budgets - from those 5 cent notebooks, to the $50 dollar or more notebooks that are hand-bound. And of course, some shops exist purely to get us hooked early (my kids all adore Smiggle). There's nothing better than the start of the school year and all the stationery ships with their massive sales. I always buy far too many notebooks and not enough highlighters.

Anyway, it's the school holidays at the moment and yesterday the kids and I went to a place called 'creative junk' - you pay a few dollars, get given a bag and then go round this giant warehouse filled with recycled/reusable stuff - cardboard, bottles, fabric, foam - just so much stuff that you can reuse to create something new - with a touch of glue and some imagination. Two of the kids did picture frames, one made a diorama from an old suitcase and then there was the eldest who couldn't decide what to do...

Now, this was out of my comfort zone because I am not a crafty kind of person. I can't knit, can't sew, can't even iron... yes, I'm the only mother who superglued her fingers together and her rings on when making an asteroid costume for the school operetta the other week. I am a total fail on the crafts front!

So, desperate for help, the eldest and I talked to one of the people who worked there and she showed us a gorgeous handmade notebook - WELL, talk about excitement! You didn't even need superglue - just an ordinary gluestick that even I can handle!!!

Photo from
I had forgotten, that several moons ago when I was about eleven (okay, so it's MANY moons ago) I went to a young authors conference (I had the passion early) and a guy there showed us how to bind our own books - using any old cardboard and any old paper and some string. You can then cover the book with whatever you want - a few yards of pretty ribbon, old fabric scraps, glitter - whatever is to hand.

So we had a blissful afternoon making pretty notebooks with recycled card and textured paper. I think it's the one craft thing I can actually manage! We're working on tweaking the design, making smaller ones, concertina ones... I tell you, I think the notebook buying days might be over!!! And then there's the fun of filling them with cute poems or stories or messages - oh yes, that's the best bit... happy days!!!!

Since our initial attempts I looked up several how-tos on the internet - from the simple 'just a bit of glue' numbers like ours, to the full on 'bind separate folios with impossible patterns on the spine' notebooks - something for everyone then!

So, do you love notebooks? Ever tried making one yourself? If you want to know how to make the world's easiest, let me know!!!

Jul 20, 2011


Reading: Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh (actually I've finished reading it & it was fantastic!!)

Watching: Dear John ... love that movie!!

Listening to: My usual writing soundtrack of about 6 songs on repeat

I don’t believe authors when they claim never to read reviews. I mean seriously? How can you not?? Maybe I have fellow author Natalie Anderson to blame, I mean she introduced me to google alerts, sales rankings on Amazon, review websites to stalk … are you starting to get a mental image of me frantically jumping on the internet each morning??

I write because I love to, and because I couldn’t not, but I also want others to enjoy the stories that I produce. It’s human nature to want to please, or if it’s not, it’s certainly my nature. So when I read a good review, it makes me feel fantastic, as does an email from a reader. The first time I opened my emails to find a letter from a happy reader, I almost cried. It was so special for someone to take the time to write to me, to say how much she loved the book of mine she’d read.

So far, I haven’t had any bad reviews. A few average ones, sure, but nothing bad. I’m realistic enough to know that it won’t be long before I do get a bad one, but right now I’m enjoying stalking review sites and blogs. I’m desperate to know what those in the industry think of my work, and I want to please.

I’m not sure if it’s just part of being an author, but the desire to bring happiness into the lives of others certainly appeals to me. I know that for me personally, books can mean so much. Whether it’s people like me in earthquake devastated Christchurch wanting to escape into fiction, or someone sitting in the sun one afternoon looking for a little entertainment, it’s great to know that your book has fulfilled its promise. That it was as enjoyable to read as the blurb on the back cover made it out to be!

So how about you? Do you cover your eyes or desperately search out reviews? Or if you’re not published yet, can you imagine the terror of waiting for the verdict from review websites such as Romantic Times or CataRomance? And do you aim to please?

I’d love to give away a copy of my current AUS/NZ release, Soldier on Her Doorstep, so leave a comment for a chance to win!

Jul 18, 2011

Of bottoms and things

Reading: Kiss Me, Kill Me by Allison Brennan

Listening to: Meatloaf (showing my age)

Watching: The Tour De France. And the fog swirling past the window causing me to hope it doesn't make an appearance when I head off to the RWA conference in Melbourne next month.

A strange phenomenon has been taking place in my life. My derriere started growing. Like the weeds in the vegetable garden it spread with absolutely no input from me. And looking back I'd say this bad behaviour started around the time I sold my first book and had to take sitting down and writing another book for a contract seriously. It was insidious. Who knows? Maybe some spreading went on while I slept at night. But I really think it was all to do with sitting at my computer. Perhaps I should invest in another office chair, one that will not allow such bad behaviour and will keep my rearend in line.

Then there's the shoulder slump. I wondered if they were trying to reach down and make contact with my derriere. Could be that I needed a straitjacket to keep me upright while I work.

Finally, after loads of procrastination, I took action. Usually very fit and active I confess to having been slack (really lazy) over the last year or so. So out came the bike, up went the tyres, and then it stayed leaning against the wall for weeks. Okay, next the kayak appeared on the front lawn, taunting me every day until finally I succumbed and took it for a paddle. Great. Loved being on the briny. Three days later the wind picked up and the kayak returned to its place under the house.

In the meantime my DB was going for walks every day. Walks around here involve lots of hills, flat roads being almost non existent. Finally one day I decided to join him. Just to keep him company, you understand. I've always been able to outwalk him so this would be a doddle. Wrong. I huffed and puffed and couldn't speak a whole sentence without coughing.

My pride stepped up to the mark. I'd never been so unfit. Now every day after lunch and four hours writing I'm off like a robber's dog, charging around the corners, up and down the hills walking anything from seven to ten kms. Talk about kicking the backside into shape. And there's a bonus. Usually after a morning's writing I have a heap of questions regarding the story buzzing around in my head. Out walking I manage to resolve most of these and that gives me a head start when I next sit down at the keyboard.

When the ice and mud have completely disappeared from the road I'll take the bike out again. The only problem with that is I have to concentrate on staying upright and thinking for all the traffic that loves to cut the corners so I won't have as much story resolving time.

So what does everyone else do to keep their rearend in shape? Or are you lucky not to have to worry about these things?


Jul 17, 2011

Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a sweet doctor-and-nurse kiss from When One Night Isn't Enough by our guest, debut Medical Romance author Wendy S. Marcus, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Virginia!

Congratulations, Virginia! Can you please contact Michelle at

michelle (at) michelle-douglas (dot) com

and she'll send you a signed copy of Christmas at Candlebark Farm.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from When One Night Isn't Enough by Wendy S. Marcus ...

Confessions of an E.R. nurse…

Nurse Ali Forshay has swapped dating disasters for nights out with the girls. But after spending more time than is strictly necessary discussing the man she loves to hate—the notoriously delicious Dr. Jared Padget—Ali's horrifying realization is that she's one hundred percent crazy in lust with him! Her conclusion: spend a feverish night together. After all, it would just be a onetime thing and it would cure her obsession…wouldn't it? 

[Set up: Nurse Ali Forshay breaks out in a full-body flush of embarrassment when Dr. Jared Padget shows up at the hospital’s New Year’s Eve party. Five weeks earlier, a few hours before his departure from town, in an unfortunate drunken encounter, Ali had done things she’d rather not remember. But she’d put that night behind her and had no desire to re-visit it. Or him.
In her effort to escape his notice, she gets her dress caught on a filing cabinet and requires assistance from the very man she’d hoped to never see again. And when Jared takes his sweet time releasing her, then tries to shield her from view when they’re discovered alone in a dark office, Ali’s co-workers jump to their own conclusions about what the two of them were doing there. 
He’d planned to leave and never return to Madrin Falls. But for Jared, one night with Ali just wasn’t enough.]

Jared watched Ali try to hold the sides of her ruined dress together, while she glanced nervously at the door. The urge to help her, care for her and protect her surged within him.  

He shrugged out of his tux jacket and placed it on her shoulders. “Here. Wear this.”  

She looked up, her eyes so big and blue he wanted to dive in and swim around. “Thank you, Dr. P.” 

“Dr. P? After everything we’ve been through together you won’t call me by my name?” 

Her lips curved into a hint of a grin. “Nope.”

It amazed him how many people ‘just happened’ to be standing in the hallway leading from Mr. Crenshaw’s office back to the lobby. Men, some colleagues he recognized from the hospital, others Jared had never seen before, smiled and nodded in approval at what they thought he’d done. Some had the nerve to give him a thumbs-up. 

Allison walked with her head high, looking straight ahead as if no one else existed. To an observer it would have seemed like she was unaffected by the incident. Only he could feel the slight trembling in the ice-cold hand she had clamped around his upper arm with a grip he would have expected from a person twice her size.  

They were almost to the doors at the main entrance when the countdown began. Allison stopped short. “Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!” The crowd cheered in the distance. Paper horns sounded and noisemakers buzzed. The DJ played “Auld Lang Syne.” The two of them stood alone in the lobby, away from the celebration. Allison looked up at him; vulnerable, her spirit depleted. A tear trickled down her left cheek. He wiped it away with his thumb. 

“My new year is off to a terrible start,” she said sadly. 

 “That’s funny,” he replied, lifting her chin with his bent knuckle, lowering his lips to meet hers. “I was just thinking my new year is off to a great start.” 

 She tried to say something. He silenced her with a kiss.

Wendy S. Marcus’s debut Harlequin Medical Romance, When One Night Isn't Enough, is currently available in bookstores and online.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy, tell us about one of your special New Year’s Eve kisses. Where did it take place? And who was it with? Can’t think of one? Then describe a medical romance hero who you’d like to be kissed by on New Year’s Eve!

Currently Wendy is running a contest on her website -- www.wendysmarcus.com -- where you can win signed books and an amazon gift card. For details visit her website!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Stone-Cold Lover by Mel Teshco will be posted!

Jul 14, 2011

Places of Mystery...Places with a Past

Reading: The Iron Witch: Karen Mahoney

Watching: The Block (reality tv..again)

Listening to: My bubbling home brew

Making me Smile: My daughter turning 4 (gone so quick!)

As a writer I think it’s normal to play the ‘what if’ game. Have you ever walked past an old, run down or abandoned house and wondered who lived there, what happened to the family to allow their ‘home’ to get that way?

I don’t write historical fiction, but something like this really stirs my interest and I really want to know the history attached.

There is a really old house (pictured) just visible through the trees alongside a road where my daughters and I go horse riding. It’s ramshackle with the walls crumbling down, a sink at the back and an old sofa turned on its side on what’s left of the floorboards. There’s a tiny, twisted looking old iron tank, and a little bit of garden along its front near the track of a driveway.

All this begs the question: who built the house in what would have been quite some way out of town once-upon-a-time? What family lived and (hopefully) loved in this house, and who made it their home?

Right away I imagined it being the home to gold prospectors, one of many people who flocked to the area wanting to make it rich. I also imagined ghosts even now hanging around the house (I don’t suppose I write paranormals without reason!), clinging to their memories.

What do you think when seeing the picture?

Have you too seen a house/place that stirs your interest?

Jul 12, 2011

A Song a Day

by Michelle Douglas

Reading: Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Philips
Watching: Martin Chuzzlewit
Listening to: Dido
Making me smile: The songs on my IPod

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away then a song a day might just help keep the smile on your face.

Recent studies have shown that singing can make you feel happier. Some of the reasons are physical. For a start, belting out a tune releases endorphins, and we all know how good they can be. I'll confess to now wondering what kind of jogger's high one could achieve by combining singing with chocolate, but I digress...

Singing is an aerobic activity, which means it increases the oxygen levels in your blood, which in turn improves circulation, which in its turn promotes a good mood. Furthermore, singing requires deep breathing. What else requires deep breathing? Yes, exactly, meditation. So, singing can make you happy AND relaxed. Win-win.

And guess what else? Because you are gently exercising your facial muscles while you sing, one of the great benefits of singing regularly is that it can keep you looking younger (man, I wish I'd known about that twenty years ago!).

Given the above, is it any wonder that an Australian study revealed that choral singers rated their satisfaction with life higher than other members of the community?

Other than the physical effects of tra-la-laaing, there are some pretty hefty psychological ones too. It is very hard to worry and sing at the same time--go ahead, try it. Therefore, while you are singing, work stresses, family issues, and money troubles are momentarily on hold. That has to be good news for our stress levels, don't you think? And I can't help feeling that singing out loud and proud with gusto is an awful lot like play-a fabulous way to rediscover one's inner child.

Professor Grenville Hancox, director of the Sidney de Haan Research centre for Arts and Health in Kent, has been working to persuade the medical profession to prescribe singing instead of Prozac. "If we could engage more and more people in singing, I'm sure we would have a healthier nation."

Seriously, though, can singing really have that much of an effect?

Okay, the challenge is on. I want to find out if singing can increase my happiness. For the next seven days I am going to sing out loud (loud being the operative word) to at least one song a day. I'm going to keep a record of the songs I sing and how I'm feeling afterwards. Who's going to join me? We can report back in a month and compare notes.

Jul 11, 2011

The Love of Books

Reading: Vampire Instinct by Joey W Hill
Watching: Falling Skies
Listening to: Aladdin Soundtrack
Making me smile: My little boy rolled over!

Since the birth of my son three months ago, most of the books I’ve been reading lately are children’s books. They say you can never start reading to your little ones too soon…needless to say my little man has been having books read to him since he was two days old!! Now he’s old enough to look intently…even if he doesn’t quite understand what’s going on yet.

Image: Irina Ponomarenko | Dreamstime.com

I’ve had the joy of discovering new books and new authors as I look for books that will stimulate my son (and keep mum and dad relatively entertained at the same time). It is just as exciting as discovering new authors in the genres that I read for myself!

Here are a few of our current favourites:

~ The “That’s not my…” books by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells. These touch and feel books have lots of different textures and colours. We went a little overboard and have That’s not my…teddy, puppy, car, dinosaur, monkey and aeroplane.

~ Time for Bed by Mem Fox. Ms. Fox seems to be a fav of many kids and we love to read this book right before bed.

~ The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton. This is another fav right before bed. A cute little rhyming book with great little animal characters.

~ Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni. A sweet story of two little friends that teaches about colours.

~ We also love the revamp of favourite nursery rhymes by Kate Tom including Twinkle, twinkle little star, Old Macdonald and the wheels on the bus. Ms. Tom has changed the words to these well known rhymes and given them a new twist.

I’ve just ordered a bunch more books for my little man and I hope I’m instilling in him a love for reading that will carry on as he gets older (I’m also wondering when he’ll be old enough for his very own ereader!) I look forward to the day he’s dragging some of these books around as his favourites (even if I have to read them over and over again).

So, what was your favourite book when you were a child? And if anyone has any children’s book recommendations, please pass them along!