Mar 31, 2014

Rachel's Favourite Things

So, as the song says, these are a few of my favourite things. Though, in fact, I've stolen this idea from other LoveCats who've posted recently about their favourite things. :)

1. Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream
We're coming into the colder months now, so this is the very last batch of ice cream until next summer. Made with very special chocolate powder that was a gift from Cate Ellink (who is another of my favourite things!).

2. Lunch with Friends
I love catching up with friends. This is a recent lunch with the gorgeous Dana Mitchell. Note that we even had pens and paper to talk writing!

3. Wildlife in my Back Yard
We have wallabies, brush turkeys, snakes, spiders, possums, and all sorts of critters and I love them all visiting (except maybe the poisonous varieties of the snakes and spiders). I'm not sure if you'll be able to see this python in the tree - it was quite high up. He was beautiful!

4. A tie between Movies and Jane Austen's Books
So a movie *about* Jane Austen's books? Yes, please. This movie had such a fun premise and was played so over the top that I smiled and giggled all the way through.

5. Finding a New Favourite Author
Amanda Ashby gave me An Accidental Goddess when she was clearing out her bookcase (don't you love it when friends do that?). I'd never read a Linnea Sinclair book before, but I can promise you this won't be the last! In fact, I feel a good glom coming on...

So tell me, have you found a new favourite author lately who you want to glom? Or do you have a favourite person to go out to lunch with? Or tell me some of your favourite things - I'd love to hear!

Mar 28, 2014

Do opposites really attract? (And Her Client From Hell Giveaway!)

UK/US cover
It's a well used romance trope, and one that's justifiably well loved. But is it true to life? Can two very different people find love? Or is it just a great idea for a story?

I was reading about Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's 'shock split' yesterday (okay, don't judge me- I'm a celebaholic!)- and came across an article that said "they've proved the 'opposites attract but don't last' rule " (article here)- questioning whether an A list serial dater like Gwyneth could have possibly gone the distance with a shy, late developer like Chris- but digging deeper there is more to the opposites trope than meets the eye.

Cue shameful marketing…

In my new release, Her Client From Hell the hero and heroine are, on the surface, poles apart. Cassie is bright and fun and bubbly and very, very scatty. Hero Jack is not. He's fussy and organized and quite a grump. He won't tolerate her casual lateness, or her clumsiness and doesn't believe for a moment that she's the right fit as caterer for his sister's wedding.

Aussie/NZ cover
And so begins a battle of wills- she needs this contract- he's very doubtful… and sparks fly as they learn to get along with each other. It's often believed that this trope works out for people because the differences 'balance each other out'- e.g. he organizes her/ she teaches him how to live in the moment…it's also exciting when you can't predict how the other person is going to act...these ideas work for me!!

But one thing that Cassie and Jack do learn along the way is that their personas have developed in particular ways because they are dealing with some pretty damaging stuff that happened to them in earlier years. Underneath that mask that we all wear- aren't we all pretty much the same? Don't we all ultimately want the same thing in the end?

Oh and do you like the covers? Pretty different, but I reckon both definitely reflect the story.

What do you think? Do opposites attract? Any examples in your life? There's a copy of Her Client From Hell for one commenter!

Her customer satisfaction guarantee…!
Cassie Sweet has a new mantra in her life- failure is not an option! Her good-for-nothing ex might have run off with all her money, but she's determined to make her new catering business a success. So no distractions. Nothing.Nada. Zero. Which means her infuriatingly rude- and exasperatingly handsome!- new client, filmmaker Jack Brennan, is definitely off the menu…
After all, while the customer might always be right, Jack's clearly every shade of wrong! So when his clothes end up on her bedroom floor why do they look so right? And the biggest question of all: is this a recipe for disaster-or the best mistake of her life…?

Mar 26, 2014

March is a Mad, Mad Month

There’s all the talk about March Madness in basketball/NBL. There’s the Mad March Hare in Alice in Wonderland. And then there’s Mad March in Adelaide, South Australia, where I live.

How to explain the concept of Mad March to people who don’t live here without sounding like a tourism commercial?

How can one city have so much happening all at the same time?

Things are going on all year round, of course, but in March there’s such a conglomeration of events and the diversity is astounding, it’s almost too difficult to explain. Massive arts festivals running in parallel with major sporting events. Black tie and black t-shirt events side-by-side, and everyone enjoying the perfect autumn weather. It’s four weeks of over-the top partying in a city that doesn’t sleep.

Starting at the end of February and continuing well into March we have the world-renowned Adelaide Fringe Festival, second in the world only to Edinburgh, with over 4,000 performers and 1.5 million audience members. It’s an open-access arts festival with a 53-year history. Musicians, acrobats, dancers, actors and comedians in every corner of the city. There are film, theatre, puppetry, music, and visual art shows in pop-up venues in parks, warehouses, lane-ways and empty buildings as well as theatres, hotels, art galleries, cafes and town halls.

At the beginning of March Adelaide hosts the Clipsal 500, the four-day celebration of supercar racing that kicks off the V8 season. I admit that I love the noise, the RAAF jet fighter flying low over the city-street track, the support races and the V8s themselves which can be heard from the suburbs. After-race concerts on three nights feature some big names in entertainment.

Into the mix we then add the Adelaide Festival, Australia’s largest multi-arts festival which attracts world-class productions from around the globe. There are music, theatre, visual art, film, and dance shows throughout the city. 150 performances across 50 events and around 1,000 visiting artists.

I can’t forget Writers' Week, the oldest literary festival in Australia. For an avid reader or a writer, this is one of the best free events around and lets the public get up close to well-known authors in a beautiful garden setting. This year there was a panel of romance authors. Yay!

The Garden of Unearthly Delights began with just one Spiegeltent in March 2000. Over the past 14 years it has evolved into a cultural experience like no other, including multiple performance venues, bars, carnival rides, circus events, world foods, market stalls, and sideshows. Last year more than 800,000 people entered The Garden’s gates. 

The name WOMADelaide was coined when it has become part of the local language. In mid-March WOMADelaide brings us performances by artists from around the  well as street theatre.
Two other music events which travel from state to state, but just happen to arrive in Adelaide during March are Soundwave and the Future Music Festival.
Can we fit anything else in? Well, yes, we can. 
There’s the Adelaide Cup. More than a horse race, this is one of the biggest events of the year for many South Australians and it comes with a state-wide holiday. Racegoers dress in their best outfits, take part in fashion shows, listen to live music, socialise with celebrity guests, and indulge in gourmet food and drink.
As if that’s not enough, at the end of March the Showdown, the state’s biggest football game of the year between local AFL teams, Adelaide Crows and Port Power, will be played at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval which was also due this month to hold the largest concert of The Rolling Stones’ Australian tour (now postponed).

So that’s Mad March. It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, it’s exhausting. A month of eclectic, diverse fun and fantastic action. Yes, it’s mad, but it’s also magnificent, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

(Photos of the jet at the Clipsal 500 and The Garden of Unearthly Delights courtesy of
Anne Oliver, romance author and Adelaide resident.)

Mar 24, 2014

Putting on the Glitz!

There are a lot of pros and cons to being a writer. One of the pros is I don’t have to get out of my pajamas to go to work! That can also, by the way, be a con  :-)

But occasionally, I do get to frock up and go out and this weekend just gone in Sydney was such an occasion. ARRA (the Australian Romance Readers Association) held their annual awards and as I was up for a few - as were some other Love Cats - I decided to make a bit of a weekend of it.

You can just see the arch of the Syd Harbour Bridge in the distance
Firstly Shannon Curtis and I visited the Momentum offices and chatted with the lovely Joel Noaum and the gorgeous Tara Goedgjen who had worked on our Bold and Beautiful books. The lovely Patrick got us coffees. And then I insulted him by asking him how long he’d been the intern for. Ooops!  But now it’s a bit of a running joke which we all think is hilarious and he’s humouring us :-) He took this pic. 

Note to self - never piss off the guy who takes the pic! :-)

Then, in the evening, Shannon Curtis, Ainslie Paton and I were on a panel at Parramatta Library. I think a good time was had by all and we had a great Thai meal afterwards and were joined by the lovely Ingrid (a reader) who helped us brainstorm titles!

Shannon put me up at her house that night and, after a rather late night, I was treated to her sexy dish washing display in the morning.

And then we left for the hotel and had a sneak peak at the stunning room we’d all be partying in later – isn’t it gorgeous?

Then I bumped into fellow Love Cats – Annie West and Michelle Douglas, who were also up for awards and we did lunch.

In the evening, in keeping with 2014 being my Year Of Purple, I frocked up in a purple gown and wore my new purple earrings made for me by fab new medical author Amalie Berlin. They’re tatted and absolutely gorgeous! So many people complimented me on them, so thanks, Amalie!

Doncha just love soft focus? :-)

And then it was time to wine and dine and catch up with old friends and fabulous readers

Tina Clark

Rachael Johns and Cathryn Hein
Mel Scott and Kelly Hunter
Barbara and Lynne - two lovely readers. 
Dakota Harrison

Anna Valdinger from Harper Collins

And to cap it all off,  I won the best contemporary romance category for Holding Out For A Hero which was so exciting and thrilling and I even remembered to thank Patrick the intern :-) 
I’m still on a high! 

Joel Noaum from Momentum

In fact there were 3 winners at our table - Kelly Hunter and Kylie Griffin being the others.
Aren't they all pretty?

 Then there was a lot of posing with the gong ;-)

Shannon looking tres glam without her pink gloves!

Cathryn Hein

The oh so lovely and supportive Helen Sibbritt

Fab blogger Kaetrin
Joel from Momentum (who had a fabulous night with another of their authors the amazing Kylie Scott winning 2 awards as well!) took us out for celebratory drinks after so, consequently, it was a very late before Shannon and I got to bed but we couldn’t resist one last pic with my baby. 

I’d like to thank everyone in ARRA who made the night so amazing and to all the members who voted in the awards.  Am looking forward to frocking up again next year!

Mar 23, 2014

Sunday Smooch with Robyn Rychards

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Robyn Richards  ---- but first 

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

Congratulations Cindy, can you please contact Helen Lacey  on mail (at) helenlacey  (dot) com to receive your eCopy of A Lot Like Love.........

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from her Knight In Shining Armour by Robyn Rychards ........

 She may not need a knight in shining armour to save her, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to look a gift knight in the visor...

Paisley doesn’t need a knight in shining armour to rescue her from her high-powered, abusive ex-husband. She’s got it covered on her own: she's changed her name, liquidated her assets, and has a plan to disappearin the Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Psychiatrist Sterling James has absolutely no intention of being anyone’s saviour. The only woman he has any time for is his sister. But circumstances change when Sterling finds Paisley in an unexpected and life-threatening situation. Brought in to the drama of her escape, Sterling finds himself invested, and he can't move on until he knows Paisley is going to be safe.

It should be a simple enough exercise to get Paisley out of the park and into her new life. But nothing is ever as simple as it should be, and Sterling soon discovers that even if her ex-husband buys the set-up, he might not be able to watch Paisley go... 

Kiss Scene.....

Paisley stiffened at the unexpected action. She didn’t want to get sucked into their physical attraction again. It made everything much more difficult. Complicated. What she really wanted was to pretend it didn’t exist. Which worked for about a millisecond. Until he planted another. And then another. Over and over, nibbling, caressing, licking, shifting her head to different positions as he did so, as though he wanted to savor every angle and corner of her mouth.

With a sense of desperation, Paisley grabbed at the waistband of his pants with her good hand. The back of her fingers felt like they were touching a flame as they rested against his hard abdomen. She held on tight, her nails biting into the denim, afraid her knees were going to buckle and she’d end up in a puddle at his feet. And no doubt that would draw the attention they were trying to avoid. It was very disorienting to have their mouths the only parts of their bodies that were pressed together. Disorienting and unbelievably sensual. It felt like through his mouth he touched every other part of her in ways she’d never known she could be touched.

Eventually, ending the contact with obvious reluctance, he rested his forehead on hers, their breathing labored. The park rangers were long gone and her pounding heart had nothing to do with the fear of being discovered.

‘Hot damn!’ he whispered before adding after a pause, ‘As much as I’m enjoying it, you’re going to have to take your hand out of my pants…’ Drawing away from her as soon as she quickly released him, he picked up the walking stick she had once again dropped. Handing it to her, his eyes burning with frustrated desire, he ran a tongue over his bottom lip and said, ‘Unbelievable.’ He gave his head a slight shake. ‘You sure are having a hard time holding on to that stick.’

Taking it from him, she bit back the suggestive remark that sprang to her lips. No sense adding fuel to a fire that needed to be put out. They had more important things to take care of right now. Though she couldn’t resist looking at him with raised brows and saying, ‘You do have a knack for making me feel that “f” word, Sterling.’  

Leave a comment to this question and go in the draw to win a copy of Her Knight In Shining Armour....

For those of you that hate camping, what is your worst experience and for those of you that love it, what is your best?

Visit Robyn at 

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

Mar 21, 2014

My Favourite Things......

By Helen Lacey

I was talking to a friend the other day about things we cherished – things that made us smile, laugh or simply feel good. Like family and friends, our pets, that holiday of a lifetime, the sound of rain on a tin roof. So I had a thought about what were my five favourite things and came up with this list (I’ve left family off this list since that’s a given)

1/ Friends …. This is my writing group and we've been together for 23 years. We don’t get together as much as we used to since we all in different places at the moment, but we catch up as often as we can and have become firm friends. From left - Lesley Millar, Laura O'Connell, Me, Helen Bianchin, CC Coburn & Louise Cusack. 

2/ My horse Zeb…..we’ve been together for six years and I love him to pieces.

3/ The shoreline where I live…..I live on the east coast of Australia at the most southern point of the Great Barrier Reef and it’s a beautiful spot. I never tire of walking my dogs along the beach.

4/ My collectibles….. I love fine china and I collect pink glass. I just love scouring antique stores and yard sales for pink pieces. Here's a pic of some of my little treasures. 

5/ Books....I love books! Particularly category romance books. I read my first Mills & Boon novel when I was eleven...there were two I read and I was hooked - Bride At Whangatapu by Robyn Donald and Winds Of Enchantment by Rosalind Brett. Since then I've read hundreds and here is a picture of a some of my all time favourites. 

So, what’s on your list? 

Mar 19, 2014


I'm excited to share that I have a new release out next month! It's book five in my The Master Vintners series and features yummy but very emotionally wounded winemaker, Raoul Benoit, together with the woman he'd always hoped he'd never see again--his late wife's best friend, Alexis Fabrini.

I really battled with this story and, more than once, wondered if I'd bitten off more than I could chew when I dreamed up the storyline. There were tears for more than one reason while I wrote this, that's for sure. All of that said, I'm very happy with the finished product. I hope my readers will be too and that they'll relish the strength of purpose Alexis brings to reuniting Raoul with his baby girl, when Alexis arrives to settle a debt she owes to her dead best friend.

You can read the opening scene of the book HERE.

The setting for this Master Vintner story is near Akaroa, on the Banks Peninsula in New Zealand's stunning South Island. When my husband and I married, we were given a painting of French Bay, near Akaroa, and the area has always intrigued me. With a little more research, it became quite clear that the beauty of this area made this setting a must for this particular story. Akaroa, which in Maori means "long harbour", is a delightfully picturesque historic French and British settlement, nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. At some stage in time, the sea breached the volcanic wall, thereby creating the Akaroa Harbour, which is currently a very popular stop for cruise ships and tourists.

It's an interesting thing, don't you think--wanting what you can't have? Most of the time, I think it makes us want something more and go to great lengths to get it. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes not so much. Have you ever had something that you wanted with all your might and couldn't have? And what happened after? Did you get it and love/hate it, or is it still something your heart desires?



Mar 17, 2014

Would you like to write a Medical Romance...

24 HOURS in M&B

1 chapter in 1 day!

Love medical drama and sizzling romances? Why not write your own Medical Romance!

Here at Harlequin Mills & Boon, we’re looking for fresh, new voices and exciting stories! From March 24th, we’re offering a lightning fast assessment of your manuscript – get a response in just 24 hours! 

Send us your first chapter and a synopsis between Monday 24th March and Thursday 24th April 2014 and the Medical Romance team will send you a response in 1 day! (Sadly we don’t work weekends, so if you submit on Friday, you’ll receive an answer on Monday).

Medical Romance is all about drop-dead gorgeous heroes and feisty heroines! Set in the Medical world, where sensual tension and emotionally-charged conflict runs high, your medical professionals are placed under pressure to save the day – leading to life-changing encounters.

So if you love strong and sexy medical heroes and heroines (see guidelines for more details), send your first chapter and a synopsis to 24hoursinM& and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

The Medical Romance team is looking for fresh, new, innovative voices, and at the end of the month, will choose their favourite 3 chapters to go through to a public vote and the chance to win guaranteed mentoring with a Medical series editor*! 

Want to know more details? Visit our website for more submission information:

Send us your Medical Romance – Sheila, Laurie and Charlotte can’t wait to triage your chapter!

*Mentorship will be through one submission for a period of up to 6 consecutive months.

Tweet the team: @SheilaHodgsonMR, @lauriecprescott, @Charlo_Murs

Mar 16, 2014

Sunday Smooch with Helen Lacey

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Helen Lacey ---- but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Marcy Schuler. Please contact Victoria James on victoria (at) victoriajames (dot) ca to collect your prize .........

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from A Lot Like Love by Helen Lacey........

Mark Dennison will do anything to save his daughters life…even if that means reconnecting with the one person he never wants to see again. The woman who killed his wife.

After her twin sister’s death, Catherine McLeod gave up all hope of seeing her young niece ever again. But when Mark rocks up on her doorstep and announces she’s the only one who can save Sophie, she’s prepared to do whatever she can to help. Which doesn’t include falling for the one man she can never have. A man who can never discover her secret promise.

Scene set up [Mark has taken Catherine to see the old theater his company is renovating and although they are both fighting it, the attraction between them quickly escalates]

Half an hour later Mark was unlocking the doors to an old, abandoned looking playhouse down near The Rocks. There were ‘No Trespassing’ signs plastered across high scaffolding and the windows were boarded up from inside. The reddish bricks were clearly crafted by skilled masons from the day. She stood by the door and admired the frontage.
“Wow,” she said as the doors creaked and they crossed the threshold. “Fabulous.”
“Wait until you see the dome.”
Anticipation uncurled in her belly and she followed him. He flicked on lights and they crossed the foyer. A huge staircase loomed ahead and curled skywards. The carpet was old, the walls faded and old chairs were strewn in every corner. But Catherine could see the beauty in the big building.
“Watch your step,” Mark warned and kicked some debris aside so she had a clear path. He headed for another set of doors and they swung back with a groan. “Stay here. I’ll be back in a second.”
He walked down a short corridor and seconds later the entire theatre illuminated with light. The huge dome window overhead was a kaleidoscope of colored glass in shades of red, green and blue. It was, in a word, breathtaking.
When Mark returned to her side she was staring upwards, taking in every curve and angle, every shimmer of beveled glass as it hit the lights.
“It’s amazing,” she said on a husky breath. “So beautiful.”
“Yes, so very beautiful.”
But when she glanced at him he wasn’t looking at the dome. He was looking at her, observing her upturned face with such blistering intensity that any air she had in her lungs caught spectacularly in her throat.
 He reached out and touched her cheek and Catherine sighed. Suddenly, like a force of will that she couldn’t control, she stepped closer. And then, like a dream she’d long forgotten he dipped his head and kissed her. Catherine’s lips moved beneath his mouth as he pressed closer, deepening the kiss and angling her comfortably in his arms, as though he intended to keep her there for a long time. She rested her hands on his chest, felt the thunderous beat of his heart and sighed deeply. In all her life…in all her dreams…she’d imagined and longed for a kiss that would rock her to the foundation of her core. And this, she thought as he held her gently and traced his tongue against her lower lip, was it. She ran her hands around his back and felt the hard muscles bunching beneath her fingertips. Every ounce of self control or will power she possessed disappeared. She didn’t want it to end even though she knew it had to. She knew reality would come back with a vengeance once she allowed it.
When he finally pulled back Catherine could hardly stand. He kept her steady in his arms and looked down into her face.
“Catherine,” he said and touched her cheek. “We should stop.”
“Yes,” she said and pulled away a little, willing the blood to return to her legs. “Good idea.”
Mark lingered, holding her in his arms. “I didn’t bring you here for this.”
Catherine stepped back and he released her. Of course he didn’t. She knew that. But they’d kissed and in doing so she’d betrayed Jess…something she’d vowed she would never do.
“Take me home,” she said quietly, then turned on her heel and walked out.

Have you ever started reading a romance novel and wondered how the hero and heroine will overcome their differences and get their happy-ever-after?

Leave a comment to go into the draw to win an eCopy of A Lot Like Love.

A Lot Like Love is available here from Amazon.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Her Knight In Shining Armour by Robyn Richards will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Mar 14, 2014

Sensory Overload by Sue MacKay

As I sit here wondering what to blog about I can hear the bellbirds, thrushes, finches, tuis and sparrows chirping away in the trees. Occasionally a weka or quail adds it's call to the cacophony.

Hearing. It is one of the five senses we as authors are extolled to use in our stories. It is my most sensitive one. It is what I first use on waking, listening for the wind or rain, for vehicles on the road that give me an idea of the time - there goes the builder, the stock truck - and for the birds. Many of my memories of places I've visited are encased in sound. Like the crows on the roof in Vancouver, the horns on the streets in Hanoi, waves crashing on the beach of the West Coast. In romance we listen for the quickening breath, the softened voice, the innuendo.

My second strongest sense is smell. Although having just set off the smoke alarms for burning the toast I wish my nose had acted a little quicker. My chooks have my nose twitching in a bad way but I love the smell of freshly dug carrots or the scent of flowers in a vase on the table. I drive the family crazy with comments like "something stinks in here" and then going on a forage, often coming up empty handed. I blame my mother. I swear she could smell a hidden bag of lollies from a hundred metres. Then there was the night she came home and immediately said, "Good, did someone make fudge?' I "found" it in the laundry cupboard where I'd hidden it from my brother. Perfume. Can't go without it. And heroes always get a whiff of apples, or citrus or some exotic scent.

Taste is great. All those wonderful flavours of so many different foods. Yum. I love cooking and especially love eating, and yet this isn't how I remember places or events as much as by sound and smell. Isn't it fun to have characters falling further in love over a delicious feast?

The eyes. I could not go without seeing the sky, the sun or even the rain. Sight is also the way to read people, their body language, the clothes they wear, their facial expressions. It's the same for our heroes and heroines. People often fall for someone at that first glance. Something about a face, an expression, the eyes. Then there are those who see that sexy body and then they feel it.

The fifth sense - touch. Soft, hard. Smooth, rippled. I'm talking muscles of course.

Imagine walking along the beach without being able to smell the salt, hear the waves, feel the sand in your toes, taste the freshest air, and see the hunky males strutting their stuff. Nah, I can't.

Which senses are you aware of the most?

Mar 12, 2014

Random thoughts...

by Michelle Douglas

#1 Most of you will know that I have a book out this month, but I had an uneasy thought in relation to it the other day. There’s a scene in the book where the heroine and her two boys sing along to a play list of novelty songs. I went to post the You Tube link to one of these songs on Facebook the other day—a song I’d loved as a child. The moment I clapped eyes on the film clip (which I’d never seen before in my life) I gulped and realised that the song was seriously politically incorrect. The thing is, whenever I think about this song it’s not the words I remember, but the fun I had with my dad and sister singing it at the tops of our lungs and our sense of camaraderie. Fingers crossed the mention of it in my book won’t offend anyone. I feel I should apologise.

#2 Thought and word associations fascinate me. I was going to call this post Hodge-Podge and then I wondered if that term was correct and if it wasn’t Hotch-Potch instead, which started me considering other funny little terms like odds and sods, bits and bobs, and flotsam and jetsam. Now, as I’ve been considering getting a dog or two (or fostering a dog or two), it occurred to me that Flotsam and Jetsam could be good puppy names. This in turn had me remembering an Enid Blyton book about a puppy and a kitten called Bimbo and Topsy. Anyone else remember that one?

#3 I’ve just started reading a book called The Soul of Money. The author says we live with an attitude of scarcity—we wake in the morning and think “I need more sleep”; we glance at our To-Do list and think “I need more time”; we look at the repairs that are needed on our houses and cars, the new shoes we’d like for an awards dinner, and the holidays we’d love to take and think “I don’t have enough money.” I’d never thought about this attitude of scarcity before. I’ll be interested to see what my thoughts and theories are once I’ve finished the book.

#4 I recently wrote a couple of entries for The Encyclopedia of Romance that an academic in America is busy compiling. Writing these intimidated me. A lot. I froze every time I sat down to work on them. That in itself was confronting as I have an automatic routine for my fiction writing. Want to know what helped me over the hurdle? The idea of “good enough.” I didn’t need to write something that would set the world on fire. I just had to write something that was good enough. I don’t know why this was so freeing, but it took a sledgehammer to perfectionism and for that I’m grateful.

#5 We’re into the third month of the year and I have yet to start the Yoga class I promised myself at the beginning of the year. I really want to do Yoga. I’ve found a reasonably priced class at a nearby Yoga school and a spot has been saved for me, but… It’s a 90-minute class. I’m not sure I can manage any form of exercise—other than walking—for 90 minutes. Is it crazy of me to want to get a bit fitter before I start the class?

#6 My favourite song at the moment is Hold Me Tight by Johnny Nash. No reason except that it’s catchy and makes me smile.

So…do you have a random thought or two to share?

Michelle's Road Trip With the Eligible Bachelor is on the shelves now.

Mar 10, 2014

The Times Short Romance Saved Me!

Today we have Destiny Romance author Leisl Leighton visiting LoveCats. She's dropped by to chat about her love of category romance (and we love her for it). Take it away Leisl...

I was writing a blog the other day about what I love about paranormal romance and romantic suspense (the 2 genres I write in). It was titled ‘When Romance Isn’t Enough’ and was about my need for that third character in a romance book – the world building or the evil mastermind or killer who gets a look in. However, within that blog, I mentioned there were times when the romance alone was very much enough and it made me think there was a blog in that. So, here I am at the Lovecats where romance is front and centre.

You hear all the time the put-downs people have about romance books, most especially short romance in what has been traditionally known as the category variety – what all the lovely and talented ladies here on Lovecats write. They often say those books are filled with predictable tropes, you already know the ending – they’re going to end up together – and the fact they are centred on two people falling in love sets unrealistic ideals for women.


Those people are talking out of their you-know-whats. They fail to understand that the people who write, read and love those novels (people like me and you and the Lovecats) actually want those things. We want to know the hero and heroine are going to get together at the end – the suspense is in how the author will get them there when there’s so many obstacles in the way. In regards to the tropes, it’s said there are only 7 true story types, so how can you write anything but a trope if this is true? But even if it isn’t, we still want the tropes. They are comforting and fun and not predictable at all in the hands of a clever writer who can twist and bend them into a pretzel and then say to their characters, ‘Get out of that one! Ha!’

And the fact that the books are centred on two people falling in love is not setting unrealistic ideals for women. Women aren’t stupid. We know they are the fantastical end of reality. But we want that fantastical end for just a little while in amongst the chaos that is the modern woman’s life. Those romances, the tropes, the predictable endings, they all saved my sanity time and again throughout my life.

I first really started to get into reading category romance when I was in VCE. I like to read before going to bed – it’s part of my ‘go to sleep’ routine. When my eyes were practically popping out of my head from the study grind and I was feeling more stressed than VCE alone was culpable for (my VCE year was filled with personal stresses I won’t go into here suffice to say, it was amazing I even turned up at times and got through the year). My Nanna gave me some of her favourite Nora Roberts category novels and a bunch of others too, because she thought they’d be good to read at the end of a hard day when my mind was too busy for my usual diet of fantasy books. Boy, was she right.

I inhaled those books like they were lollies – a special candy made up of whizz fizz and popping candy put together with a dollop of strawberry chuppa-chups and chocolate on the side. They were bright and sparkly and always made me feel special and cheery at the end (but kind of sad, in a good way, because I didn’t want to leave those characters there.) Those books got me through some very hard times during that year. They were the bright in the dark, and to this day, Nora Roberts is one of my favourite authors.

This trend continued throughout university when I was doing a double major in English and Drama and was reading great thick books from Chaucer, Thackery, Austen and Shakespeare through to Alice Munro and Margaret Attwood, not to mention plays like Hedder Gabler, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Waiting for Godot – heavy stuff. I would put down the heavy at the end of the day and sink into the delights of a romance, full of its twisty-turny pretzel-shaped tropes and delight in the triumph of both author and characters when they finally got their happy ever after. I continued with this trend after I finished uni – whenever the stresses of life were getting to me, I picked up a new category and off I went; an instant sanity refresher!

Years later when I began to write after giving up the theatre world to have a family, I tried my hand at these ‘simple’ romances I loved, only to find that they are not so simple to write. I failed at writing them (had some great ideas, but I just couldn’t manage to keep that third character out of the room!) and had to wave my career as a famous category writer good-bye. L

I turned instead to the other genres I love to read – paranormal and fantasy and romantic suspense – and have succeeded in starting to carve a little career for myself in these. But I tip my cap in awe to the authors who manage to wrestle their story into the pages of a category romance and manage to come up with an enticing, sparkly read with that ‘aahh’ feeling at the end. You ladies saved my sanity (you’re still doing it) and I thank you from the bottom of my filled-with-romance heart.

Dark Moon - Available 15 March
Lately, Skye Collins has been unable to shake the feeling that she's being watched. After a lifetime spent hiding her true nature, she knows that any unusual attention is something to be wary of.  And the only attention she's been receiving lately is from the intense and attractive Jason McVale. 
Jason claims to know things about Skye that can't be true, and it's obvious he's hiding secrets of his own. Yet despite herself, Skye can't resist the attraction between them, and her surrender will set in motion a chain of events that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.

Gradually, Jason convinces Skye that she has to trust him if she is to solve the riddle of her past and learn the truth about her power.  But believing Jason means that her entire life has been based on a lie.

As her enemies gather strength and the danger increases, Skye is forced to accept who she really is. Will she risk everything and fight for those she loves? Or save herself and let them be destroyed by the forces of darkness? 

Leisl is giving away an ecopy (Amazon only) of Dark Moon. Leave a comment to go into the draw. She'd love to know what books 'saved' you at a difficult time in your life? 

Leisl writes paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense. Her romantic suspense, Killing Me Softly is out now:

You can follow Leisl and find out more about her and her books on her website: www.leislleighton.comFacebookGoodreadsFollow her on Twitter @LeislLeighton.