Oct 17, 2018

Gardening as Procrastination - Annie West

If you're like me you probably know that procrastination can be hard to resist. For some reason I find it particularly difficult when I have lots of things I really, really need to do. When I'm feeling swamped I do get in and work hard, but I also find myself procrastinating over the tasks that are just a little bit more complex or take extra thought.

Take this week. I'm trying to finish the draft of a book. Trying, very slowly with lots of interruptions. In addition to that my to do list included:
writing a newsletter to send out tomorrow for the launch of my new book,
updating my website with review quotes for said book (still not done - baaad Annie),
writing this blog,
reading (and paying close attention to) a copy edited version of a book to be published next year and marking necessary changes,
completing detailed art fact sheets on the book I'm currently writing (including plot detail on how the book finishes when I don't know yet),
doing an online interview,
updating my bio,
investigating how to organise print copies of my self-published ebooks (and DOING it),
learning the behind-the-scenes of a new website which hopefully won't look different to you but is to me,
plotting my next book,

That's on the writing side. Let's not mention other things. I know you understand what it's like. We're all busy, right? There always seems to be so much to think about and plan and actually do.

I can report that I'm slowly getting through my list of jobs but along the way I've diverted for some serious procrastination. I give you exhibit A:

Spring is here and everything, especially the weeds, are growing well Chez West.
And exhibit B:

More proof of spring, this time in the form of orchids which came through my family from my Great Aunt Ethel. As an aside, I love being able to say that Auntie Ethel's orchids are flowering.

So, of course, when I started to feel snowed under by what I had to do over the weekend and into this week, I found myself away from the computer, contemplating exhibit C: a newly denuded and fertilised vege garden, just waiting for some plants.

Which meant I really did need to go to the market to get some seedlings. Did you know you can get black cherry tomatoes? I love cherry tomatoes, partly for the flavour and partly because they ripen quickly so I've a chance of getting to them before the birds and possums. So here is exhibit D, all ready for the vege garden.

But not wanting to stop there, I went for E - roses,

and E, pelargoniums to put in hanging pots.

The only difficulty is that, despite my hard work in between gardening procrastination my other deadlines became really urgent. So now I'm finishing my writing work and my exciting gardening projects will have to wait. Now I fear I might be accused of procrastinating over the gardening too! :)

What's your favourite form of procrastination? Or don't you delay? Do you get in straight away and finish all your tasks before you play?

Oct 14, 2018

Sunday Smooch - Annie West's 'Her Forgotten Lover's Heir'

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Annie West but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is MARY PRESTON

Can you please contact Amy Andrews at amy@amyandrews.com.au
 to receive your copy of 'Tempted by Mr Off Limits'.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from HER FORGOTTEN LOVER'S HEIR.

She’s carrying the billionaire’s child…

But he seems like a stranger!

Brooding Pietro Agosti was stunned when his sizzling fling with vibrant teacher Molly Armstrong resulted in her pregnancy. Finally, the merciless Italian would be able to continue his legacy—but then an accident left Molly with no memory of him! Pietro must help Molly remember the fierce attraction that drove them together, and the fact that the baby she’s carrying is the Agosti heir…

Scene set-up

Molly wakes in a Roman hospital and remembers nothing, not her name or how she came to be in Rome. She doesn't even speak the language! Then doctors break the news that she's pregnant... When a sexy stranger, Pietro Acardi, says he's Molly's husband, she's released into his care. Yet even after several days sharing his apartment and she still has no concrete memories of them together, despite her increasing awareness of him. The way he keeps his distance, never even touching her, is disturbing, especially when she longs for some hint, some memory of a connection between them.
Smooch  -

She drew a fortifying breath and linked her hands before her. ‘I can’t shake the feeling there’s something wrong between us.’
Did he stiffen?
‘You don’t open up about what’s on your mind. And you don’t—’
‘Don’t what?’ His brow furrowed.
‘You don’t touch me.’ She didn’t mean for it to emerge like a challenge.
His eyes rounded in genuine shock. ‘That bothers you? I thought, since you didn’t remember me…’ He lifted his shoulders in an expressive shrug.
Pietro was right. Logic said she wouldn’t welcome the touch of a man she barely knew. Except she did know him. Something within her yearned for him. Whenever he smiled at her she lit up inside.
Molly refused to feel embarrassed about being attracted to her own husband. He should be pleased she wanted him.
‘It would be nice if you didn’t treat me like a house guest.’ She sucked in a lungful of air. ‘For instance, I’d like you to kiss me.’
For a second he was utterly still, as if she’d shocked him. Then gold flared in his hooded eyes.
That’s what’s bothering you? That I haven’t kissed you?’
Molly’s chin rose and her hands slid to her hips. Pietro didn’t smile but she just knew he was laughing inside. She’d never been more certain of anything.
‘I don’t see the humour.’ This wasn’t funny! She was tempted to turn away and leave him to his amusement. Except she’d be back exactly where she was before.
‘It’s not just about kisses. It’s about the state of our relationship. Are you holding something back from me? There’s something not quite right. You…’
Her words ended as Pietro’s big hands wrapped round her elbows and pulled her against him. Her breath expelled in a tiny puff of air. Not from the physical force of the action, but from raw shock.
Molly had told herself she was prepared. Didn’t she crave intimacy with him? Yet the sensation of Pietro against her, of that wall of hot muscle making every nerve receptor in her body twang into overdrive, was so much more than she’d imagined.
Stunned, she looked at that firm mouth just inches away. It was intriguingly sculpted, strong yet sensual, and it curled up in a delicious invitation that made every atom of her needy body sit up and beg.
Molly swallowed hard, all her bravado swamped by the certainty that, as far as kisses went, Pietro was a consummate expert and she…
Thought atrophied as his head lowered and his mouth opened over hers. Electricity jolted through her. That was the only way she could explain the sizzle that drew her skin tight and puckered her nipples against her bra.
Pietro’s lips were softer than she expected, gentle, moving with aching slowness over hers as if taking time to relearn what must surely be familiar territory. Familiar to him. To her this caress felt shockingly new and unfamiliar. His mouth moved again, his tongue licking the seam of her lips and something drove hard and fast down through her belly straight to that achingly hollow place between her legs.
Molly trembled and grabbed Pietro’s arms. She felt the power of them, taut with restraint. He held himself utterly still but for the tantalising slide of lips and tongue.
Another caress, this time more insistent, and something inside her gave way, yielded yet at the same time blossomed into life.
Molly’s lips opened and Pietro’s tongue swept deep.
Her knees caved so abruptly it was only his hold that stopped her crashing to the floor. The effect of that deep, searching kiss was instant and overwhelming. Her blood fizzed as every neuron in her brain ignited.
This was what she wanted. What she knew and craved.
Her hands slid high, over hard shoulders and a strong neck, fingers threading through Pietro’s thick hair to clamp his skull and hold him to her.
She’d wanted memory and now she had it. Not a recollection as such but a sense memory. Her body sparked with excitement and recognition at the taste of him, the heady power of his possession, the familiarity of his hard body pressed against hers.
A sob of relief and arousal rose at the back of her throat as she pushed closer.
That’s when the kiss changed, from slow and searching, as if Pietro believed he needed to entice her into a response, to something more potent and urgent.
One large hand anchored on her buttock, drawing her up to his groin. The other cupped her waist, the splay of his fingers hot as a brand through the thin fabric of her dress. It made her wonder how his touch would feel on bare skin.
The notion notched her need higher. Molly opened her mouth wider, stroking his tongue with hers, inviting him to devour her. 
Pietro’s hand slid up from her waist, his long fingers slipping over first one rib then another till his thumb brushed the underside of her breast and she sucked in a raw gasp.
That felt so good. On tiptoe now, she tried to merge her body with his, desperate to meld with him.
When his hand closed fully over her breast a jolt of energy zapped from her nipple to her toes, setting off explosions along the way.
Molly held on tight as Pietro and her own needy body led her into a sensual world of give and take, of building ecstasy.
A tiny part of her brain screamed that she needed to be careful, to think before she gave herself so unstintingly. But she couldn’t stop or pull back. She didn’t want to. This was a rainbow of colour after a world of grey, delicious food after nothing but ashes in her mouth. It was life and sex and love after fear and pain and loneliness.

Forgetting things can be a real problem, even without amnesia! I'm more likely to forget things when I'm stressed and trying to keep on top of too many things. How about you? Do you have a habit of forgetting important things, or remembering them just in the nick of time? How do you jog your memory?

I'll giveaway a signed copy of HER FORGOTTEN LOVER'S HEIR to someone who leaves a comment to this post here or on the LoveCats FaceBook page. Come back next Sunday to find out who the winner is! Oh, and it doesn't matter where you live, the giveaway is international.

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

UK cover

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Oct 10, 2018

Sand in my thesis

I recently travelled seven hours north to the gorgeous beachside town of Lennox Head. For a fortnight, I stayed in a little townhouse with a balcony that looked out over the sea. There were breaching humpback whales. There was beer and books.

And there was my thesis.

This trip was planned MUCH earlier in the year, and I thought my thesis would be completed, submitted, done-and-dusted. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men. ;-) Alas it wasn’t, which meant I had to work while I was away. But I think all of that sea air has improved the health of my thesis—the Vitamin D has given it stronger bones, and the bracing sea breezes have blown all the cobwebs away. Hey, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. :-)

After all, there was a strategically placed bench just meant for mulling and musing. 

Swimming was had. And in the immortal words of Mrs Bennet: “A bit of sea bathing would set me up for life.”

Besides, beaches and rainbows can provide a writer with oodles of inspiration, right? :-)

The beach had a face for every mood too.




“But Michelle,” I hear you say, “you live in Newcastle and you have lots of beaches nearby. What’s the big deal?” We’ll ignore the fact that I can’t see the sea from my front veranda, and do's a little comparison of today’s temperatures:
  • Newcastle’s forecast is for a top of 19C with wind and rain increasing. Water temperature is a bracing 18C.
  • Lennox Head’s forecast is for a top of 27C and the chance of a late shower. Water temperature is a glorious 22C.
What's more I caught up with fellow LoveCat, Jennifer St George, for coffee and gossip! We chatted non-stop for over an hour about writing, study, and life. Which was fab -- missing you, Jen!

So today I’m pining for all of that warm white-sand goodness. And, seriously, can you blame me? :-)

Oct 8, 2018

Which Genre Do You Read?

As some of you know I teach at a Queensland university. This term I’m teaching a course that involves looking at lots of difference genres of books such as crime, romance, historical, sci-fi and more. I’ve been interviewing authors within the different genres to give students insight into what it is like to write in each of these genres.

I’ve learned some fascinating things along the way and it has highlighted some things I hadn’t thought about before. For example, what responsibilities do you have if you write for a younger audience? If you write historicals that are based on real people, what facts do you include in the story and what can you fictionalise? How do you go about researching these peoples’ lives? Each author I’ve interviewed has been so generous with their time and their advice.

I read across lots of genres with favourites being romance (obviously), crime (I’m a massive Jane Harper and Michael Connelly fan), women’s fiction (I want to be Liane Moriarty), literary, some historical, some fantasy, the occasional YA and more.

Do you read across genres? I’d love to know what your favourites are?

Oct 5, 2018

Diary of a Netflix Tragic #notanad

I avoided Netflix for a very long time.  Mostly because I know myself too well - access to that many quality TV shows and movies and I'd never leave the couch!

But we recently gave in and gave it a go and as expected I'm an instant Netflix Tragic.

I LOVE that you can watch a series or even an episode and if stopped part way you can simply pick up exactly where you left off the next time you turn it on.

I LOVE that there is a great mix of new and old so I don't have to head to my DVD shelves to dive into Pride and Prejudice anytime I wish.

I LOVE that I can catch up on a show on my phone at the airport.  Seriously cool, that.

So here are some of my faves:


"Suits" - came into this one years late, seduced by seeing Meghan Markle act. Donna is my bliss.  Super fun, easy watching show!

"The Crown" - what class!  A brilliant, engaging, entertaining, believable glimpse into the life of the British Royal family. And some of the best acting I have ever witnessed.  Jonathon Lithgow as Winston Churchill is superb. The man gives me chills every time he's on screen.

"Orphan Black" is a study in character acting. Tatiana Maslany, who plays several parts, is phenomenal.


"Crashing" - hilarious Brit twentysomething rom com. Only 1 season but I hope they do more!

"Offspring" - glorious Aussie show, so cool to be able to catch up on the final two seaosns that I'd missed when it was on free to air TV!

Hannah Gadsby's "Nanette" is a MUST WATCH stand up show. Funny, moving, and a kick in the pants.


The Netflix Original movies are fantastic!!!  I adored "Set It Up". "Ibiza" was totally fun with some serious sexual tension. As for "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" - le sigh!!!

So, are you a Netflix Tragic too?  Or yet to join the cult?  What are your must watch shows?

Oct 3, 2018

Londinium by Clare Connelly

When I was twenty two, my now-husband and I set off on an adventure to London. The plan was to go for a year, work our way around, travel, enjoy, and then get back to our real life. But London has a strange way of taking hold of you, doesn't it? No sooner had we landed at Heathrow and made our way into the cheap hostel we'd booked in Vauxhall before we knew we weren't going to be in a rush to leave again. 

We stayed four years. Four blissful, growing-up years, where we made lifelong friends, found jobs we loved, ate our way around Europe and got engaged on the banks of the Thames. 

Leaving was a wrench, but the time came for us to step into a new adventure: marriage and babies, and that felt like something we wanted to do here, in Australia. It took a long time before I didn't wake up worrying that we'd made a mistake - I still miss London hugely, and I've come to acceptthat longing is a part of me now. 

Recently, I had occasion to travel back to the UK and it was such fun! It was also utterly surreal to peel back the lid of time and walk streets that are completely familiar to me, but from a different time of my life. Sort of like looking through a foggy window. 

Pictures of my trip below - just a few of the highlights! 

Do you have a special place that you can't wait to get back to? Somewhere you once spent time that will always be a part of you? 

Pret a Manger coffee at South Ken - my old stamping ground

Out the front of our old digs - Sydney Street, Chelsea

Food, glorious food!

South Bank

Fortnums - a favourite then and now

With my beautiful London besties!

The amazing team at Mills & Boon

Getting ready to record a Facebook live with the
fabulous Laurie Johnson 

Covent Garden

So beautiful

Regents Park

Star struck moment - meeting Sharon Kendrick AND
cuddling Amanda Cinelli's gorgeous little bub!

With the beautiful Amanda Cinelli and bubs

Love this so much!

The view from the M&B offices!

With my gorgeous South Australian Romance Association
friends, and fellow M&B writers: Trish Morey and Elizabeth Rolls 

Oct 1, 2018

Graveyards and Ghouls

- Shannon Curtis

 Buy Witch Hunter
This month I'm celebrating the release of Witch Hunter, the last of the Shadow Breeds series, and it's made me just a little nostalgic.

We're coming up to that time of year again where our North American friends are breaking out the candy and carved pumpkins, and our Aussie friends are trying to figure out what all the fuss is about.
In the last few years, I've noticed Halloween is growing as a festival in Australia, but alas, we don't have the canon that goes with it, the spooky legends about the house down the street or the headless horseman riding through the town...

I will confess, though, that I'm quite partial to a graveyard. When I was very young, my father took a second job as a handyman at a retirement village. The weekends of my tender years were spent strolling through the village, and visiting the lovely elders there (and being fed biscuits, cakes, slices, jams, etc. that made my belly full so that it became a waddle more than a stroll). We got to know the residents quite well, and it wasn't unusual for us to call them Uncle or Auntie.

As is the cycle of life, though, there comes a time when those uncles and aunties must take the next journey on their own, and we went to quite a lot of funerals. Like, sooooo many funerals, and graveside services as we waved goodbye to our dear adopted uncles and aunts.

Then my mother started to investigate our family history, and we learned one of the best sources of information was ... the cemetery. On those gravestones you'll find the correctly spelled surnames, the names of parents,grandparents and children and beloved siblings, and DATES. Suffice it to say, we had a fairly large family and my mother was determined to track down every last branch, which meant LOTS of weekends tramping through graveyards.

As kids, you make the best of what you have, so graveyards became the playground of my childhood. I would play tag with my brother and sisters, hide-and-seek, cops and robbers, and then we'd start the more ghoulish games - but that's a whole other blog post. So I became very comfortable around cemeteries and graveyards, and every time I go overseas, I visit ... a graveyard. It never fails to fascinate me how different cultures honor their dead, and how atmospheric a graveyard can be. It's been my inspiration for many a story.

I get inspiration from a lot of different places, though. For example, the photo above is from one of the plantation homes in Louisiana, and it's also inspired daydreams and plot bunnies. I'm wondering, though, what these images make you think of? What spooky stuff comes to mind? Who knows, your comment might spark a plot bunny of its own, and you could see it in an upcoming story!