Jul 30, 2013

Special Guest: Claire Baxter

Today I'm thrilled to introduce our special guest, Claire Baxter. Claire has written for Random Romance and Mills & Boon, is self-publishing a series of novellas, and has a book with Entangled coming out in September. She's busy as well as lovely!

Welcome, Claire!

Your first book for Random Romance, Anybody But Him, has been getting lots of buzz. Can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s an enemies to lovers story with some laughs along the way. I’d always wanted to write comedy, but I’d had to rein it in while writing earlier books. Nicola had been living in my head for a long time, as had her eccentric parents and her mum’s rich buttery shortbread (excuse me while I drool over rich buttery shortbread...), and Blair, of course. He was her high-school crush and he’s the last person she wants to run into. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to let them all out. 

Sounds sizzling! Regular blog readers will know that I love romantic comedy, so I'm really looking forward to reading this one. Is it your first rom-com?

Yes, it is. I admit that I was surprised when someone other than me found it funny. Humour is so subjective, isn’t it? I’ll be happy if it raises a smile when you read it. :)

It's set in Redgum Valley, a country town in New South Wales. Did you base Redgum Valley on a particular town?

Originally I based it on Coonamble, a small town north of Dubbo, for no reason other than it felt right when I came across it in my research. Redgum Valley took on a life of its own in my imagination, though, so I doubt that any of Coonamble remains. 

You're incredibly busy! You have this release with Random Romance, you have another book coming soon with Entangled, and another self-published novella. Plus you're vice president of the Romance Writers of Australia. How do you fit it all in?
Um...next question? Seriously, I don’t know, but we’re all busy, aren’t we? Look at some of the Lovecats! There are some amazing people amongst this group.

I’ve recently discovered the program Freedom which helps me to focus on the task at hand. I really needed it, so I was thrilled to see how well it worked.  It blocks my access to the internet for the period of time I specify. But I once selected 300 minutes instead of 30 minutes which was very frustrating because once you’ve switched it on, you can’t switch it off again! I’m more careful with my numbers now. :)

I still need more hours in the day, though. Don’t we all?

I loved your novella, More Than Just One Night, and I see that you've just released your next novella and it's the next Selwood sister's story. Can you give us a hint about what will happen for her?
Gwen is the middle sister. In More Than Just Pretend she’s been through a bitter divorce and desperately wants to create a stable home for her teenage daughter Becky who’s in the final, difficult years of school. Returning to live near her sisters in their parents’ old house, Gwen finds that the house needs fixing up, and Spencer the sexy builder is just the man to do it. He wears a tool belt...need I say more?

We here at the LoveCats are always looking for book recommendations. What's the last great category romance you read, and the last great non-category book?
The last great category...Sarah Morgan’s A Night of Scandal. First book I’d read by Sarah Morgan and I enjoyed it very much.

The last great non-category...Jill Mansell’s Don’t Want to Miss a Thing. I’m a big fan of Jill Mansell and read every book as soon as it comes out.

And finally, since you're visiting the LoveCats we need to know: are you a cat person or a dog person?
I’m a dog person. Categorically.

Thanks for visiting us, Claire! And for those who'd like to know a little more about Anybody But Him, here's the blurb:

A deliciously funny rom com from Random Romance. What happens when you fall in love with the man you hate?

Nicola Doyle's dating record is a disaster, and it doesn't improve when she returns to Redgum Valley, after an absence of twelve years, to look after her increasingly eccentric parents. There, she's thrown into regular contact with Blair Morrissey – the very reason she couldn't wait to leave town in the first place. 

The decade-old scars are still raw from that humiliating day in high school – when Blair went from the boy she loved to the boy she hated.

Except Blair doesn't seem to be a ‘bad boy' any more – in fact, he's charming, infuriatingly helpful and extremely attractive. 

If only Nicola could forgive and forget . . .

You can pick up a copy of Anybody But Him from iTunes, Amazon or Kobo.

Jul 29, 2013

Sue Mackay on Writing the Perfectly Correct Story

Are writers overly precious about grammar, spelling and punctuation? What do our readers expect when they pick up our books?

I got to thinking about this the other day after reading an email from some Russian friends who have a moderate grasp of English - written and spoken. In this email they commented that they were very concerned about getting the grammar and punctuation correct. I have to say it was the most correctly written email, letter, even book, I've read in a long time, probably ever since high school English classes.

But I guess that when anyone learns a foreign language they are taught the purest form. I remember my French teacher arguing with a pupil from French Tahiti about his apparently incorrect use of his own language.

Texting gets a lot of blame for incorrect use of language. Teachers talk about papers handed in that are written in text language. But I've received letters from my lawyer, accountant, and doctor, all containing errors. These are people I, rightly or wrongly, expect to understand English. Is language as we "older" people know it changing, or are people getting lazy? And does it matter?
Sometimes it is just as simple as countries using the same language differently. Take the proofs I receive for my books. The story is first proofed in America before coming to me for a final once over. Americans use loads more commas than we do and so my proof reader pops them in as she believes the story needs them. I take them out as I believe the commas have changed my meaning of the sentence involved. Then the proofs go back to my English editor who, sometimes, has another crack at making the grammatical presentation perfect.
But does any of this matter? It is the story people are wanting. Isn't it? Or have I got it all wrong? There are plenty of books out there to help us. The Elements of Style being my favourite. Strunk and White are definitely not responsible for the many mistakes I still make. 

What do you think? Do we need perfect grammar and punctuation, or have we moved on from that?

Jul 28, 2013

Sunday Smooch with Annie West

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Imprisoned by a Vow,by Annie West, but first ...

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

Can you please contact amy(at)amyandrews(dot)com(dot)au to receive your copy of Girl Least Likely to Marry.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Annie West.

Signed, Sealed...Forever!
Being sold into marriage by her stepfather is Leila's one chance to escape. But instead of freedom, Leila finds herself bound by deep passions ignited by her inscrutable new husband.

Australian billionaire Joss Carmody knows the rules of this game-he'll shower his new wife with diamonds and in return he'll use her land to expand his business. That's all he ever wanted from this exchange, but he hadn't banked on the attraction Leila awakens.

Then the one night that was supposed to slake their desire binds them beyond the signatures on their marriage contract.…

Joss and Leila have recently entered into a marriage of convenience.  They are in the private lift from Joss's London penthouse on their way out to a formal dinner. Leila's sudden change in behaviour on entering the lift, coupled with her reaction the last time they were there together, makes Joss suspect she's frozen with fear. He's determined to coax her out of her shocked stasis.

‘Kiss me, Leila.’ His voice was husky as he bent to meet her lips.
She jerked back, swaying till he caught her in a gentle grip. This was for her own good, he assured himself.
‘No.’ But her voice had lost its strength. Where were her sassy come backs? That, more than anything, convinced him this was real, not a product of his imagination.
Joss threaded his fingers through her perfectly coiffed hair, tugging it loose. The fact she didn’t stop him added to his alarm. He massaged her scalp and brushed his lips across hers as she stood perfectly still. Back again, feeling the soft swell of her bottom lip, the infinitesimal caress of warm air in his mouth as a sigh escaped her parted lips.
A thread of sensation unravelled in his belly as if in response to the most erotic lover’s touch. The power of it took him by surprise.
And still she didn’t move.
His lips firmed, slanting to cover hers as his tongue slid along those sultry lips. He reminded himself this wasn’t about sex. It was about…what? Saving her from fear? That wasn’t the whole truth.
His interest was personal.
Her mouth moved against his and a jolt of sensation speared him. Relief or pleasure?
Joss didn’t analyse. He drew her closer, one arm wrapped around her, his palm pressed to her bare spine, capturing the pearl that had swayed so tantalisingly against her flawless skin as she sashayed in front of him to the lift.
Her skin was cool but it warmed to his touch, as her mouth moved carefully under his, mirroring each gentle caress.
The sensation of her lips accommodating his, opening with a sigh at the lunge of his exploring tongue, was deliciously provocative. She tasted like desire and honeyed promise. Like the most luscious exotic fruit.
Dimly he heard the lift ping and the slide of the doors. Instead of moving, Joss gathered her in, wanting to prolong the almost innocent pleasure of her tentative response.
There was nothing innocent about the surge of possessive hunger that urged him to haul her back to the penthouse and into bed. Fire shot to Joss’s groin and his embrace hardened. Her bare back was silken beneath his palm. Her mouth sweet distraction.
Even the touch of her palms, pressed flat to his jacket, heightened his carnal senses. He wanted those gentle fingers on his bare body, all over him.
Would she mark him with her nails in the throes of ecstasy? He’d wager she was as passionate in bed as she was when she fought him. Joss’s skin tightened in a shiver of pure lust as he imagined Leila naked beneath him.
Joss’s hold tightened convulsively and suddenly Leila wasn’t kissing him back.
With a wrench she broke free.
Disbelieving, Joss watched the rapid rise and fall of her breasts with dazed fascination.
‘Don’t look at me like that!’
He jerked his head up.
Huge eyes of cloudy emerald held his beneath heavy lids, as if she too had difficulty shaking off the erotic force of that kiss. Her hair was a mass of rich, dark waves around her shoulders, framing a face now flushed instead of pale. Her mouth was bare of lipstick and her lips looked plump and poutingly kissable.
Joss shoved his hands in his pockets before he could reach for her again.
‘I’m not on tap for your pleasure.’ Her eyes narrowed to slits of sizzling fire. Challenge vibrated in every taut line of her body.
Someone should warn her that he thrived on challenge. He had only one way of dealing with it: facing it head on and winning. Every time.

For a chance to win a copy of IMPRISONED BY A VOW, just share something you're scared of. Or if you're fearless (!) maybe something you used to fear and managed to overcome.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from 'Dishing Up Desire' by Barbara DeLeo will be posted! 

Jul 26, 2013

Oh Baby... what's in a name?

So the baby we've all been waiting for has made his first appearance! Baby Cambridge weighed in at 8lbs 6 oz a few days ago...leaving the media breathless with anticipation at the choice of his name- a huge decision for his parents as he will be, at some point in his future, the King of England.

The name they eventually chose, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, is certainly befitting a monarch... but only because of tradition (there have been 6 King Georges in England since 1714). Odds that they would call him Kanye or North or Justin were pretty long.

Samuel Charles
Choosing a name for baby, and indeed for a character in a book, is a weighty responsibility. When my boys were born I was very aware that I was saddling them with a name they would have to live with for the rest of their lives. We also went the traditional route - my husband's surname is difficult to spell, so we wanted to give our boys a reasonable chance with a good solid recognisable first name, so Samuel Charles and James Alexander were chosen.

In a world that seems to be having a run of whacky names, such as Apple (Martin/Paltrow) and North (West/Kardashian), Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson (Uma Thurman's daughter), I realise I'm becoming a bit of a fuddy-duddy traditionalist - sure, we all want our kids to stand out, but a name that may get them bullied/laughed at isn't going to help them in those topsy-turvy teenage years.

It seems, however, that you aren't free to choose any name for your child particularly here in New Zealand where there are 77 banned names: anything that could also be used as title- such as, Duke, Royal, Major, Justice (co-incidentally I'm reading an american book currently with a character named Justice), Christ or Messiah... then some just plain nasty names that parents have actually tried to use: Lucifer, Mafia No Fear, 4Real and Anal (WTH?), anything with roman numerals and no single letters or symbols, backslashes or brackets: apparently someone tried to call their child  *.

What do you think about the royal baby name? Any strange names you love or hate? 

Jul 24, 2013

Deadlines are a girl's best friend

by Emmie Dark

Right now I'm working on my fifth published book, but I still feel (probably rightly so!) like a total newbie. Each day as a published author seems to bring a new piece of information, or challenge, or discovery that I need to take in.

My newest discovery is what it's like to write a book while a deadline is hanging over my head. Don't get me wrong -- I've absolutely had to meet deadlines for a long time. In my working life in PR and communication, deadlines are a daily fact of life. So I understand deadlines. I get them.

But I've been fortunate enough that up until this book, I've been well along the way to being finished writing the book (or, indeed, already finished) by the time it's been picked up by a publisher. This book is the first time I've had a deadline before I've had "The End" (or even a good idea of what "The End" might look like).

It's actually kind of fun. I know, you were expecting me to talk about stress and tearing my hair out, but it hasn't really been like that. Instead I've just been very disciplined. I'm pretty disciplined to start with (I think all authors have to be, really) but having a deadline means I know exactly what I have to have done, by when, in order to get there.

Perhaps I'm just a structure-loving person? Another discovery I've made on this published author journey!

And on that note, I'd better get on and get some writing done today. That deadline is breathing down my neck!

Jul 23, 2013

Winner...... Date With Destiny!

The winner of a copy of Date With Destiny by Helen Lacey
is Catherine!

Congratulations Catherine! Please email me at mail (at) helenlacey (dot) com with your details and I shall send you your signed copy

Thanks everyone for stopping by!

Helen :)

Jul 22, 2013

Pinch Me!

You ever had one of those moments where something amazing has happened to you that you'd never thought in a millions years would?

I had one of those last week when I received this great pic from fellow Cat, Louisa George, and has since been sent to me by quite a few people. It's a lift in the Marriott in Atalanta - USA - where the RWAm conference has just wrapped up and it has my book cover on it. Yes - MY book cover!! It's the cover for The Girl Least Likely To Marry and if you read yesterday's smooch you'll be able to get a sneak peak of the book which is out "officially" in the next few days.

Okay, granted, its not a bus but if someone had told me 9 years ago I was going to have my book cover on a lift on the other side of the world I would have laughed at them!

But, here I am. And there it is!

Which goes to show you should always dream big because you just never know, right?

That bears repeating I think - 


What are your big dreams? Ever had a "pinch me" moment?

Jul 21, 2013

Sunday Smooch with Amy Andrews

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Amy Andrews, but first
the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Jo B

Can you please contact sue (dot) mackay56 (at) yahoo (dot) com to receive your copy of  The Gift Of A Child

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Girl least Likely to Marry.......

Talk nerdy to me

Samuel Tucker is absolutely the last person scientist Cassie Barclay would ever date. Yes, he's gorgeous, but he's also far too cocky for his own good and thinks that Pi is a tasty afternoon treat. So when he asks her to dance at her friend Reese's non-wedding she's wondering why on earth she says yes!

Tuck is used to people assuming he's all brawn and no brain, and amuses himself by winding Cassie up. But when he finally takes her to bed, suddenly it's Tuck who can show Cassie a thing or two! Can he convince her that love and sex have nothing to do with logic and everything to do with chemistry?Cover & blurb

Scene set-up: Brainiac Cassie has had a very disconcerting reaction to ex quarterback, Tuck. Yes, the geek girl has the hots for the jock. She's horrified but her libido is being demanding and, after talking with her gal pals, she's decided there's only one logical way to fix the problem.....

Kiss Scene 

  “...Well, I don’t know if you know this or not, but you do smell pretty amazing."

  Tuck smiled. “I have been told that a time or two before.”

  Cassie absorbed that information, missing the nuance in her bid to get to the point. “Anyway...I find myself unable to concentrate on my work, and Gina suggested that being a female in my sexual prime, my libido is demanding to be...serviced... and that a spot of...copulation...might be the solution to my problem.”

  Tuck felt his erection swell further. He should not be turned on by a woman in shapeless clothes talking about servicing and copulation. Pretty, perky women with enhanced assets and bold use of four-letter words were his staple turn-ons.

  And yet he was very turned on. “Copulation?”

  She nodded. “It’s all very logical, really.”

  Tuck made his way towards her, keeping his pace slow and lazy. “So this is you seducing me?”
  Cassie took a step back as his masculine scent drew her into his wild pheromone cloud. “I...guess.”
  Tuck stopped when he was an arm’s length from her. He dropped his gaze and took a slow tour of her body. It didn’t take long – there wasn’t a lot he could make out. Her breasts, which he remembered very well from her criss-cross dress last night, were vaguely discernible beneath a voluminous t-shirt that proclaimed, Come to the nerd side, we have Pi.
  He smiled at the logo as he lifted a hand and fingered the sleeve. “This is what you wear to a seduction?”
  Cassie looked down. It hadn’t even occurred to her to change her clothes. She’d got into her pajamas an hour ago, after her second cold shower. Gina would have a fit if she knew. 
  “Oh. Yes. Guess it’s not very –” she swallowed “sexy.”
  Tuck shrugged. “Funny can be sexy.”
  “It’s a tradition,” she explained, as his gaze roved all over her shirt. It suddenly felt like it was on fire. “Gina, Reese and Marnie send me geek t-shirts as a...it’s a joke...”
  She petered out as she realised she was babbling. “Sorry. Like I say, I’m not very good at this.”
  Tuck disagreed. Cassie’s unique approach was being very much appreciated by one particular part of his body. “So,” he murmured, his fingers dropping from Cassie’s sleeve to stroke up and down her arm, “would you like the standard copulation package or one of the many variations I offer?”
  Cassie pulled her arm away as an army of goose bumps marched across her skin and a seductive waft of Tuck flared her nostrils.  “Oh, I think the standard will be fine.” Her voice was husky again and she cleared it. “I still have a paper to get back to. No time for variations.”
  Tuck smiled. A man with a less robust ego may have been intimidated by her haste to be done with it. But he was not one to go for copulation by the clock. And she’d given him a goal now – wipe that research paper from her head for the rest of the night.
  Or die trying.
  “Okay,” he said, stepping in closer to her, until her body a hand-touch away, “long, sweet, slow loving it is.”
  Cassie swayed as her senses were engulfed in a wave of him, drenching every cell in a primal urge. She felt his hand warm on her waist, steadying her, and her eyes pinged open, her gaze snared in the brilliant blue of his.
  “That’s your standard?” she asked, her voice squeaky.
  Tuck shrugged. “I have high standards.”
  He brought his free hand up to cradle her jaw. Her pupils were large and dilated, the sound of her breath was rough in his ears, her nostrils were flaring, her mouth was parted. Tuck knew all the signs of an aroused woman. And any other woman would be plastered all over him by now, eager to fulfill his every whim.
The fact that she wasn’t was sweet and quaint and endearing. And vaguely thrilling. 
  Not that he had any issues with sexually aggressive women. He loved confidence and strength in and out of bed. But this - having a woman waiting for his move for a change - was, strangely, a real turn-on.
  Cassie swore she could hear the sluggish grind of gears as time seemed to slow right down. Her head spun with the smell of him and she wanted him to kiss her so badly she didn’t even recognise the woman she’d suddenly become.
  “Tuck...” The word spilled from her lips on a desperate whisper she had no conscious control over.
  Tuck sucked in a breath. The volume of want in her voice was lashing him with an identical desire. His fingers speared into her hair, his thumb brushing her temple. “What do you want, Cassie?” he asked, his lips slowly descending towards hers.
  Cassie was reeling. She could barely think through the fog of pheromones addling her senses, intoxicating her. “I want you to kiss me,” she whispered, the words flowing thick and heavy like syrup from her throat. 
  Tuck didn’t need it repeated. He swooped the last few centimetres and crushed his mouth against hers. Her lips opened on a whimper that speared straight to his groin, and when her tongue tentatively touched his, heat traced its way there too. He groaned as her mouth opened more and her arms slid around his neck. He pulled her closer, until not even his platinum credit card could have been slipped between them. His hand dropped to her shoulder, skimmed her breast, moulded her hip, and then both his hands moved in unison to the cheeks of her butt hidden beneath layers of fabric.
  He pulled her hips in hard, grinding his erection against her. She broke away, gasping, but his lips refused to let her retreat, following and claiming hers again in another hot lashing of lust which she opened to on a tiny little whimper that lit fires in all his erogenous zones. 
  His hand slid under her shirt, his palm fitting into the small of her back then moving up the contour of her spine. Up, up, up. Her skin was hot and smooth to touch. The arch of her back, the dip of her ribs, the absence of bra strap fueled the fever thrumming in his blood. Lust jabbed him in the solar plexus and he jerked her harder against him.
  He needed her naked. 
  He needed her laid out on his bed. 
  He needed her calling his name and scratching her nails down his back.

Have you ever had a crush on someone you never thought you would? Someone the complete opposite of who you'd usually go for or someone you didn't even particularly like? I'm giving away a copy (international) of The Girl Least Likely to someone who leaves a comment. 
Let's talk crushes!

Girl Least Likely to Marry is the #2 in The Wedding Season Trilogy. For more info about all of the books and more giveaways check out the Wedding Season FB page!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Imprisoned By A Vow by Annie West will be posted!

Jul 19, 2013

Welcome to Crystal Point.....

By Helen Lacey

Next month my latest book for Harlequin Special Edition, Date With Destiny, hits the shelves in the US and Australia/NZ.

I’m ultra excited about this book because I get to take readers back to the small town of Crystal Point. This town is very special to me because it’s where I live. 

Of course my home town is not called Crystal Point…but everything else is pretty much exactly as described in my books. It’s a neat little place with about eight hundred people…one small shop, a caravan park and a bowling/country club that serves food only on the weekend.There's a surf club and kiosk that sells a rainbow of ice-creams flavours and a beach. A fabulous, pristine beach with clear water that meets the river-mouth. Since the town sits at the most southern point of The Great Barrier Reef, we see whales, dolphins and turtles. There’s a long walking track which runs parallel with the shoreline and the entire length of the town. The surrounding area is spotted with cattle farms and other farms producing sugar cane, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and the best strawberries in the region. Do I feel lucky? Absolutely.  

When my first book came out last year I had many emails from readers asking about the town of Crystal Point so I wanted to share a few photographs of the place that gave me the inspiration, including the foreshore and a picture of my beautiful horses.


So, do you have a special place? Do you live there? Or is it somewhere you like to visit? Are you more a beach person, or do you like the rolling hills of a country landscape?

Leave a comment and go into the draw to win a copy of Date With Destiny..... 

You can visit me at www.helenlacey.com 

Jul 17, 2013

Midweek Funday!

Oops!  We got caught Cat-napping so this post is a bit late!

Today we have a puzzle to play with! 

Click to Mix and Solve 

Isn't he a gorgeous feline!

Jul 15, 2013

Legends On LoveCats with Kate Walker........

We welcome the fabulous Kate Walker to our Legends on LoveCats today......  

1/ Please tell us a little about your journey to first getting published?
I always loved telling stories even before I could write I was making up stories. My mother  told me that I was making up  the tale of the Three Little Raindrops — Drippy, Droppy and Droopy  for  my two younger sisters when I was four. I can't remember a time when I wasn't scribbling away at something, and I wrote my first 'book' when I was eleven, an adventure story, most of it in secret in lessons at school.  I kept on writing stories all through my school years.  A friend of my mother wrote romance for Mills and Boon and I so admired her and wanted to do what she did but my mother and teachers always said that being a writer was just a dream and I would never succeed at it.  When I  married and worked as a Children's Librarian, writing  took a back seat but when I left work to have my son  I decided that if ever I was going to achieve my dream the time was now.  I remembered my mother's friend who wrote from home when her children were small and so I determined to see if I could do the same. I set aside the two mornings a  week when my son was at Nursery  and I loved the whole experience of telling stories all over again.  The first two novels I sent in were rejected, but  for the second one I received a detailed comment letter. That said ‘please read some of the recently published books and try again.’ When I read that I was determined to try again  and I wrote a third story and sent it in. That was the very first book that Mills & Boon accepted  and it became The Chalk Line my first published novel. And even better I showed everyone who  said I would never make a success of writing that in fact I did – and I've continued to do so for almost 30 years now!
 2/ How many books have you had published so far in your career?
The latest romance I had published – A Throne for The Taking – was my 61st novel for Harlequin/Mills & Boon. That was published in June this year. I've also written  the 12 Point Guide to Writing  Romance  so that
makes 62.
 3/ The world of publishing is ever evolving, how have you stayed on top of trends and continued to give your readers what they want?
Sometimes I ask myself that and I can’t really give a definite answer. I have been writing and been published – as I said - for  almost 30 years now ( The Chalk Line was published in 1984) so there have been plenty of changed in that time. For example, when I started no one used the hero’s point of view – now it’s in almost every novel. I have always tried to keep up with what is being published – in romances and in the larger genre of popular fiction.   Reading what is current is the best way to see what is currently popular, but you have to be careful not to jump on a bandwagon too late – and the saying goes, if you can see the bandwagon then it’s probably going past you!  As well as fiction, I read a lot of magazines, watch TV, particularly  things like  soaps which develop over time too,  see films – again, what is poplar gives me the ideas of what I could write about.  As you say, publishing is ever evolving and romance writing doesn’t stand still. Themes and ideas that were popular 5 – 10  years ago are no longer so popular or even acceptable so I need to keep alert to what is happening.
4/ What has been the highlight of your publishing career so far?
There have been several – obviously the acceptance of my very first book. And I had a special and really enjoyable celebration  for the publication of my 50th title.    But really the great thing about having a long lasting career like this is that each new book accepted brings a great sense of achievement  and  then the day it’s published and I first see in in the shops is another great pleasure. It’s wonderful knowing that I have achieved this dream that everyone said would never happen.
5/ Which of your books is your favourite, and why?
 Oh that’s impossible to answer! As I’m sure everyone says it’s like choosing which of your children is your favourite.  There’s The Chalk Line which was my first ever book. Or Game of Hazard which was the first to go to America (they didn't all do that automatically then.) There’s The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge which was my 50th  title -  and then The Konstantos Marriage Demand which won the Romantic Times Best Presents Extra award. And I loved writing Return of the Stranger which gave me a chance to revisit one of my personal favourite books  - Wuthering Heights – and rework it as a Modern Romance.
6/ Are you a plotter or a panster?
I’m largely a pantser. I tend to start with a small idea and then nurture it to make it grow – usually by asking the question why?  Why did that happen? Why would he do this . . .’ I then ‘set off hopefully into the mist.’  But as I’m working I always have a pen and notepad beside me so that I can write down ideas for the way ahead and scenes that will be coming up. I work so much through my characters – they are what I start with and I need to make them work so the story develops through them and the way they would behave.
7/ What’s the one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
I’m often asked this and the main  piece of advice is always the same – read, read, read.  If you look at the answer to question 3, you’ll see why. Read what the publishers are publishing now, the sort of stories they are  buying.  No matter what genre you want to write – read widely in that genre (and others) to get an idea of the wide range of stories that are published in it. The other thing is to  write from the heart – to be true to yourself and not try to copy other authors, other voices.  In romance writing it’s very difficult – almost impossible to be amazingly original, there are so many tried and tested themes, but your individual voice, your individual ‘spin’ on a story can make the tried and tested seem new again. As I always say at the writing courses that I teach, ‘ It will be really difficult to be truly original – but you can be truly authentic – true to yourself.’ The published don’t want another Penny Jordan or Emma Darcy, they already have books in those voices – they want you.
8/ What do you love most about being a romance author?
What’s not to love (oh well-  ok there’s the waiting times and the revisions, always revisions!) but what other
job can you do  still in your pyjamas if you want to - or trackie pants and a tee shirt and bare feet, I can plan my own hours, work in the middle of the night if I want to. I get to watch films/TV dramas with the most gorgeous
men in them – and call it research. Ditto  with a travel and visiting new places.  When I teach I meet enthusiastic and involved people  and have some great conversations  about writing. I get to spend my days with (imaginary) gorgeous tycoons or sheikhs and feisty heroines , deal with passionate and intense emotions, – and I get to write down all that those ‘voices’ in my head are telling me and not get called mad!  Oh, and I get paid for it as well!!

Thank you Kate for being our guest today!  And Kate has a copy of A Throne For The Taking to give away to one lucky commenter.

Visit Kate at her website ......


Jul 14, 2013

Sunday Smooch with Sue Mackay.....

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  The Gift Of A Child by Sue MacKay........, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Laney4

Congratulations Laney4, can you please contact Michelle Douglas on ....... michelle(at)michelle-douglas (dot) com to receive your copy of The Cattleman's Ready-Made Family ....

Also, the winner of Leisl Leighton's Killing Me Softly was Tina! Please contact Leisl at ....leisl (at) leightonromanisfamily (dot) com ...... 

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Gift Of A Child by Sue MacKay........

The Gift Of A Child.....

Jodi Hawke will do anything to save her desperately ill toddler. Including facing the only man she's ever loved, the only man she had to walk away from — her son's father, Dr Mitchell Maitland.

Mitchell never thought he would see the one woman to haunt his dreams ever again. But the return of his beautiful Jodi comes with another bombshell — he's a dad, and his little son is sick. He's the boy's only hope. Finally, Mitchell has his chance to prove to Jodi that he can be the man she needs and the father Jamie deserves…

Scene set-up: [Last night the one woman Mitch never thought he’d see again after she dumped him has turned up, looking very different to the classy Jodi he used to know three years ago. What’s more the Jodi lookalike dropped a bomb - he’s a dad, and his son is gravely ill.]

Kiss Scene  

At the park Mitch pulls up beside Jodi’s vehicle and climbs out.

‘Mitch?’ Jodi tilted her head back, blinking as the autumn sunlight caught her eyes.

‘I need to find you.’ He tapped her sternum with a finger. ‘Somewhere in there is the Jodi I once knew.’
And then he took her shoulders and pulled her close. His lips covered hers as she gasped. Hot air spilled into his mouth. But he didn’t pull away. Instead, he eased into her, hauling her up close against his chest, his stomach, his thighs. And tasted her, recognized her. This was his Jodi. Not that worried woman holding him to ransom. This warm, responsive woman not pushing him away but sliding her hands around his neck – this was the real Jodi.

He breathed her in. She still used lavender-scented shampoo. His hands splayed over her waist. His tongue danced across hers. Finally everything was beginning to make sense. This was the real deal.

Which meant so were the problems she’d brought to town.

The Gift of a Child is the first in a duet about the infamous Maitland brothers.
How to Resist a Heartbreaker by Louisa George is the follow on story

Do you like reading duets, and why? Let me know and you’ll go in the draw for a copy of The Gift of a Child.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from The Girl Least Likely To Marry ....... by Amy Andrews will be posted!

Jul 12, 2013

Sue Mackay has fallen in love - again.

Yes, I've fallen in love - again. This time with Italy and France. My DB and I have just spent more than six weeks in these countries having the most amazing time, walking hundreds of kilometres up and down innumerable steps, along cobbled pavements, hills and through stunning buildings. We charged down a mountain on bikes at Lake Maggiore, saw the inside of many tunnels from our train seats, and snapped thousands of photos. Our friends are now fully booked for the rest of the year getting their hair done in case they're invited for a photo night. Not even the thought of great food and wine will budge them. Oh well, there's always the blog to showcase the pictures.
Another great past time was sampling all the wonderful food. Pasta and pizza, Duck L'Orange, delicious seafood paella, (which I'm about to replicate - hopefully), and cheese. I've never tasted cheese as wonderful as what is available in these two countries. The Brie was to die for and we had many evenings eating cheese and fresh bread for dinner, along with a bottle of local wine, of course. The wines were good when I could read the label, which was only half the time.
Since I was kneehigh to my dad I've wanted to visit Paris because of photos of him under the Eiffel Tower. I also took French at school which had me hankering to walk along the Seine River, and here I am with DB, on a bridge on the Seine. Paris was our last stop on this trip and I thought I'd seen it all until we got there. This city is a whole different level to the places we'd already seen. Six days were only enough to tease and tantalise.

Another dream since school days was to see the Chateaux in the Loire Valley. We spent a long day visiting four of these and I had to be dragged away at the end. These castles are overwhelmingly beautiful and took my breath. Another thing from school days didn't live up to expectations. Speaking the language. My accent was obviously atrocious at times. I was easily understood at times, got the what-is-this-woman-on? stare at other instances. Did it matter? Yes, in that I hated wrecking a lovely language, no, in that we never missed out on anything because someone always came to our rescue and talked slowly and clearly until I got it. In Italy I had twenty words in my vocabulary which could've meant we starved, went thirsty and saw nothing, but most Italians were keen to try out their English so "No problemo".
A big excitement for me was finding my books in shops in Tours and Paris. I was so excited I left my suticase in one shop, fortunately at a safe train station. Louisa George's book was also on the shelf in Paris.
This whole trip started when DB asked me where I'd like to go for my next big birthday. He wasn't really expecting me to say Paris, had been hoping for a day trip out of the Sounds. But every moment was special, mind boggling and well worth the distance we travelled to get there.
If you had the choice of anywhere in the world to go for your birthday,where would you choose?

Jul 10, 2013

New Release - Dishing up Desire

by Barbara DeLeo

There's nothing like holding your first published book in your hands—the knowledge that a dream has finally come true, that the characters you've known and loved for so long will be shared with readers. I expected those feelings the first time around with Contract for Marriage, but I wasn't expecting all that and more for book number two.

Dishing up Desire is my brand new release this week and I couldn't be more excited about seeing it on the virtual shelves. Here's the blurb:

The book is available on AmazonBarnes and NobleKobo and all major book E-taliers!

Image consultant Blake Matthews is facing his toughest PR challenge yet: salvage the image of celebrity chef Kirin Hart. Once he does, he’ll be able to acquire LA’s most successful PR firm. But Kirin’s no easy fix. She’s stubborn about changing her comfortable homemaker image, and is being sued for sexual harassment by a junior staffer. She needs a PR lifeline fast. Only problem is Blake wants more than to make her over...

Kirin doesn’t need a makeover—her fans love her as she is. But she could lose everything if the sex scandal and reputation that has followed doesn’t get quashed right away. Kirin agrees to let model-perfect Blake work his magic for two weeks, but things get complicated when she can’t deny the way her body flares to life whenever he’s near.

I think the thing this time around is that since my first book came out I’ve had readers asking for the next book, and if my new story would be similar to the last. Knowing those readers were anticipating this story being out as much as I was makes the excitement of launch week all the greater.

To celebrate book number two, I'd love to hear what you're looking forward to the most. AND I have a different sort of prize to give away to two commenters - something to give your eReader a makeover - an exclusive Barbara DeLeo screen cleaner. Aren't they cute?