Oct 30, 2013

Sailing Songs, Anyone?

My October release, Countering His Claim, is finally on the shelves in Australia (Desires hit the shops mid-month Downunder), so to celebrate I feel like a song.

What sort of song, you ask? Why, a sailing song, of course! ;)

I played a lot of songs while writing this book (regular blog visitors will know I compile a playlist for each book) and many had a water / sea / sailing theme.

And now, for your listening and viewing pleasure, I've compiled a list of the top 5 songs about sailing and water.

5. The Beach Boys, Sloop John B 
(Though their video budget clearly didn't extend to an actual ship.)

4. Elvis, Bridge Over Troubled Water
(Because, well, it's Elvis.)

3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Ship Song
(This is a more mellow version than the one I have on my iPod. I love both.)

2. Robert Plant, Sea of Love
(There are lots of versions of this song, but this is the one I remember from my teenage years. Plus, it had a video.)

1. Rod Stewart, Sailing
(Look at how young he is. And that hair! I also really like David Campbell's version of this song -- it's the one I play on my iPod -- but I couldn't find a video of it.)

So, what do you think of my selection? Do you have another song about the sea or sailing to add to the list? I'd love to hear your suggestions!


Due to some stellar suggestions from commenters so far, I'm adding in a couple of bonus songs:

First up, courtesy of Valerie Parv, is John Denver's Calypso. I can't believe I forgot this one - I have about four versions of it on my iPod - just love it!

Next is Bobby Darin's Beyond The Sea - thanks to Helen Lacey for the suggestion. Such a classic!

And for a little light fun, we have ABBA's Tropical Loveland, suggested by Michelle Douglas. Apparently the footage in the clip was filmed while they were in Australia.

And your final bonus song is Rock The Boat by The Hues Corporation. It's time to get your disco on! Thanks to Louisa George for the suggestion.

Oct 28, 2013


So I was going to do this whole blog today on "what is a hero" so I could tie it all up in a nice neat bow for my new release Holding Out For A Hero

I was going to be witty and wise and have you all so impressed you’d rush out and download the book -I mean, come on, it’s only a lousy $3.99 :-) I even have this fab pic of  a hunky fireman rescuing a kitten from a tree and I was going to end it by saying you should buy this book cos it’s really, really good. 

And you should because it is ;-)

BUT. Then I saw this YouTube clip and realised how easily we bandy that word around when true heroism is something much much more.

So I’m going to let it speak for itself. Then go and hug my kids.

Oct 27, 2013

Sunday Smooch with Kelly Steel......

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have an (almost) smooch from Kelly Steel, but first ...

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

Can you please contact Michelle Douglas at michelle(at) michelle-douglas (dot) com to receive your copy of The Redemption Of Rico D'Angelo.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from One Bite Leads To Another by Kelly Steel ........

After a spate of violence on his home island, Leonardo D’Silva returns home to find chaos on Lenuka Island.
Who is responsible for this? And is the intriguing schoolteacher, Evelyn Hathaway connected to any of it? Face to face with Eve, Leo is taken back to the memory of his first love. Who was Eve? Was she a witch?

And when Leo turns to his real vampire self after a night with Eve, will she still accept him? Evelyn Hathaway is intrigued by the handsome Leonardo D'Silva, the benefactor of her school, whom she's met for the very first time. Handsome, sophisticated and oh, so gentlemanly, she can't get him out of her mind. She's never met him before, yet she senses a strong connection, a feeling that they've met somewhere before, in another time and place.  Who is this Leonardo D'Silva, with the hint of a demonic glint in his eye? Can it be possible...?

Scene set-up: [Leo had come back to his home island to help keep peace as he had heard rumours that there were some vampires running riot. He meets Eve, who was the exact lookalike of his long-dead beloved Evelyn. He is uncontrollably drawn toward her]

    He tried to hurry Eve along with a hand on her elbow. She stumbled and turned towards him with unease.
    Did she also feel that jolting of senses he felt whenever he touched her? When he tried to delve in her mind, he could feel her blocking him out.
    This was an added dilemma. He was very much fascinated with Evelyn Hathaway. He also noticed her desire for him in her eyes. Gazing deep into those green eyes, he felt the demon in him rising. He turned and took her in his arms.
    All of a sudden, she seemed flustered.
    “I…” She threw her head back, baring her neck.
     Her pulse beat wildly under the skin. He could see the rapid twitch at her collarbone, could smell the blood now. The need to taste it, fed by the adrenaline ripping through him, almost overwhelmed him.
    Leo froze. Her throat was long and pale.
    He lowered his head.
    She jerked again.
    Leo’s lip rose, and his fangs descended unseen in the dark. He had never wanted anything as much as he wanted to taste Eve’s blood. He dipped his mouth toward her neck.

    My God, what was happening? Eve found herself clinging to him. Her heart beat as if it might fly from her chest. Her instinct shrieked danger, but her body defied all the warning. Her knees bent, pushing her even closer, until she could feel his breath dance over her skin and her breasts flatten against him.
    “What…what are you doing?” The words were no more than a whisper. She stared up at Leo, thinking it was strange that she’d met him for the first time today and he was making her body react in an even stranger manner.
    His eyes were dark…dilated to the point she couldn’t tell their real color. His black hair was, tousled, falling over his forehead and brushing one cheek. She wanted to push the strands back and run her hands in his hair.
    He stared back at her and something clicked in his eyes. A circle of gray appeared, telling her their color.       Then with a curse, he shoved her to the side.

    Leo spun towards her. “Get inside the house,” he ordered.   With those words, little more than a growl, he raced toward the woods. 

Have you ever had an experience like this? A near miss kiss? 

Kelly has a kindle copy of One Bite Leads To Another for one commenter. 

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Oct 25, 2013

Right here, right NOW...

I don’t suppose my life is any busier than anyone else’s but sometimes I feel like my head is so full of a never ending to-do list that I don’t know where to start. I spend a lot of time doing one thing while thinking about what needs doing next and next and next. I never seem to focus on one task when there are fifty spinning in my head. Sound familiar?

About a year ago I came across an article about meditation. Okay, well, I admit, I read an article in Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter, goop, about meditation and how it can help clear your head and give you thinking space. Wow, I thought, I need to get me some of that. Trouble was, the only meditation I’d heard of before was done by monks with shaved heads wearing orange robes and sitting in a trance repeating ‘om’ for hours on end. I guess I've always thought it was a bit too happy clappy.

Still, what’s good for Gwyneth is good for me so I ventured to the website she’d recommended and tried ten minutes of sitting quietly listening to a guy who talked a lot of sense about clear thinking and mindfulness. After I’d finished I definitely felt calmer, and when I started my next item on the to-do list I focused entirely on it. Seemed the meditation had worked- or was it just a fluke?

I tried it again the next day, and then the next and soon became hooked on my 10 minutes of total peace and quiet a day. With this particular website there is a meditation programme that extends to 15 minutes, then 20, but there are plenty of other websites that have free downloads too- just google mindfulness meditation and you'll see the internet is full of people out there grabbing a few minute’s peace every day.

image courtesy of adamr freedigitalphotos.net.
The more I meditated the more I wanted to learn what was actually happening inside my head and whether I was wasting my time and energy when I could have been worrying about all those things on my list instead- and I discovered there are a zillion books out there about the process. Two I found helpful were ‘get some headspace’ by Andy Puddicombe and ‘Sane New World’ by Ruby Wax (yes, the zany comedienne- who has studied mindfulness at Oxford University). Both these books talked about how it works in a way that is easy to understand and steers clear from the happy clappy stuff.

It seems that the more mindful we are the happier we become, more brain connections grow (thus making our brains healthier and stronger), the more focused we become… numerous research papers have found that meditation protects the brain, allows us to distance ourselves from negative emotions and can even strengthen our immune functions.

So far so sciencey- but how do we actually do it? You don’t need an app or someone to tell you what to do- but I definitely found benefit in listening to someone when I first started. But if you don’t want to take a chance on a download here’s how it’s done:

Mindfulness meditation is about connecting to ourselves in the moment- the now.

Set a kitchen timer for ten minutes (5 if you can’t manage 10).  Find a place to sit quietly, sit upright, but relaxed. Take 5 long deep breaths and close your eyes. 

Now, be aware of your back against the chair, your bottom on the cushion, feet on the floor. Listen to the sounds outside- close ones, then those further away. When you feel ready focus on your breathing- don’t try to change it in anyway, just be aware of it… of how different each breath is. Now start to count the breaths- 1 on the in breath and 2 on the out breath. When you reach ten, start again. If you find your mind wondering (and it will!), as soon as you realize you’ve lost focus on the breath, refocus again. Don’t get frustrated or angry, losing focus is natural and normal particularly at the beginning- just bring your mind back to the breath and start counting again. When your mind wanders again- bring it back again. On and on until the time is up.

When the alarm beeps, don’t jump up immediately, just allow your mind to wander where it likes for a few seconds, then be aware of your bottom on the cushion, your back against the chair, your feet on the floor…. Then slowly open your eyes, listening to the sounds around you. Be in the moment.

Then go back to your to-do list and carry on the day- this time with a slice of peace in your heart.

Give it a go! I promise you’ll feel better for it, and if you do- try it again tomorrow.
Has any one else tried meditation? If so, how did you get on? What prompts do you use? If you don't use meditation what works to clear your head?

Oct 23, 2013

International culinary adventures!

Building on Sharon's post last week about culinary adventures, today I wanted to chat about international culinary adventures! Have you had any amazing food experiences while travelling?

Food market in Mexico
I'm definitely all about the food and wine when I visit somewhere new, so I'm blessed to have been able to sample some wonderful meals.

One of my "lifetime" highlights was a meal in the Rainbow Room at the top of the Rockfeller Centre in New York. It was a corporate function, and served buffet style, so my expectations were not high. And then I saw the sushi display... The colours, the variety... I wasn't sure if it was art, or food. And then I moved on to the carvery -- a very rare roast beef, served in thin slices with rye bread and mustard.

I'm drooling just thinking about it!

I also got a laugh, because as I was diving head first into the sashimi platter (not quite literally) I overheard a couple say to each other, "This food is awful! Why isn't any of it cooked?" I'm sure it's terribly rude that I just chuckled and thought to myself, More for me!

But not all culinary adventures turn out to be positive ones. The photo above is from a trip I did a few years ago to Mexico and Guatemala. It was a fantastic trip and so much of the food was wonderful. In almost every place we went to, as soon as you sit down a plate of sliced limes would be put in front of you.
There were more avocados available and served up than I've ever seen in my life. And mostly, the food was wonderful and all about fresh, zingy, delicious flavours.

BUT, then there was the dodgy tamale. I think it was from the food market that's pictured at the top of this post. You know how you kind of know something isn't right, even while you're eating it? Yeah. That.

It was a chicken tamale and really, I should have known better than to order chicken from a place that's probably not really taking care of that 'danger zone temperature' food handling practice. The dodgy tamale made my next few days in Mexico quiet ones, because I needed to stay pretty close to a bathroom. Luckily for me, once the nasty bugs had cleared my system I was able to get on with my trip and enjoy all that was on offer.

And, even better, that dodgy tamale (and my trip in its entirety) inspired my latest release, "Dance With Me", which starts off with Polly -- an Australian tourist -- running afoul of a Guatemalan market stall holder and having her own (albeit slightly more serious) experience with food poisoning.

Dance With Me is available now from Amazon. Tell me one of your travel-related food adventures (good or bad!) and I'll chose one lucky commenter to receive a free copy of Dance With Me.

Oct 21, 2013

Monday Funday!

Hello there... here's a little video that made me smile, hope it makes you smile too!

As a cat slave I totally understand this... who is the master in your house?

Oct 20, 2013

Sunday Smooch with Michelle Douglas

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Michelle Douglas, but first ...

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

Can you please contact louisageorgeauthor (at) gmail (dot) com to receive your copy of Backstage With Her Ex

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Redemption of Rico D'Angelo

The man behind the Italian good looks…

Gorgeous Rico D’Angelo is single-handedly saving the world, one disadvantaged teen at a time. The opening of his charity café should be enough for him to finally put the regrets of his childhood behind him…but even as the ribbon is cut on opening day it’s not enough.

Until new hire Neen Cuthbert walks through the door and offers an unexpected blast of sunshine. She’s had her fill of misguided do-gooders, but something tells her Rico is different. Neen won’t let him push her away—especially now she’s discovering that Rico might just need her most of all…

Scene set-up: [You know? I don’t think you need one ;-)]

Rico stared at her, his jaw slack. Then a light blazed in his eyes. It stole her breath. Before she could gather her wits he reached across, took her face in his hands and kissed her.

If Neen had thought Rico’s lips would be cool—like him—she’d have been seriously mistaken. They were hot. Searingly hot. Heat jolted through her all the way down to the soles of her feet, electrifying her. Telling her what she needed and how.

She gasped, but she didn’t pull away.

His grip tightened. And then his tongue stroked her inner lips, teasing and tempting, creating an aching space of need and desire inside her that grew and grew and threatened every shred of her composure until she thought she might die if she didn’t respond.

Her tongue touched his. She felt rather than heard his moan. He smelled of cologne, but tasted smooth, like a buttery Chardonnay. She pressed herself as close as she could and drank him in.

Beyond the sheer unexpected magic of the kiss the table bit into her ribs and the clatter of cups and saucers tried to break her concentration. She did what she could to block it out, wanting to savour this one unexpected moment. A moment filled with energy and hope, and a lightness of being that was utterly foreign to her but utterly right at the same time.

More china rattled and clinked.


Chatter. Laughter.

Kissing her.

The sound of a coffee machine. 

So right…


The word screamed through her and Neen planted a hand in his chest and shoved him away. She wiped the back of her hand across her mouth, trying to rid herself of the taste of him in an effort to settle the clamouring need that hurtled through her. Her body’s betraying hum and thrum, its pounding and pulsing, made her grip the wooden tabletop in an effort to stay upright.

Rico stared at her, his chest rising and falling, his eyes dark and dazed.

Much of the action of The Redemption of Rico D'Angelo takes place in a cafe and Rico is a sucker for Neen's apple sour cake. To go into the draw to win a copy of the book just leave a comment telling me what your your favourite cake is --  and the more mouthwatering the better!
The Redemption of Rico D'Angelo is on the shelves now.

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Oct 18, 2013

Guest Author.....Zana Bell

Please welcome the fabulous Zana Bell to Lovecats today. Zana is here to talk about her latest release, Close To The Wind ....

Tell us about your latest release Close to the Wind
It's an 1860s swashbuckling romantic adventure - a sort of Georgette Heyer meets Romancing the Stone where the heroine, Georgiana, must race across the world to save her brother on the NZ goldfields from an unknown assassin. To do so, she disguises herself as a boy and escapes England on board the ship of the dashing
Captain Harry Trent - a man on his own secret life-or-death mission. It's all masquerades, lies and deception -  and that's just on the heroine's part! 
You're known for your contemporary romances, have you always had a interest in writing historicals?
Actually, it's a return to my first love. My first book was a YA time-travel back to the 1860s and a few years ago Mira published my historical, Forbidden Frontier, based on the life and times of Charlotte Badger - Australia's real-life convict and pirate and NZ's first woman immigrant. 

I love the histories of NZ and Australia and I think the 1860s gold rushes were particularly heady times. Not only did they attract the most colourful, daring men from around the world, ready to risk all for a crazy dream and adventure, they also gave women unique opportunities to escape the crippling class system of Victorian England. In Close to the Wind I was trying to capture some of the energy, the exuberance of those times. 
What kind of stories can your readers expect in the future?
I have another NZ 1860s historical coming out next year - where Lady Guinevere Stanhope arrives alone in Hokitika armed with little more than her passion for photography and a driving determination to save her family home. She is plunged into adventures which include crossing paths with Finn, an Irish doctor turned miner who has his own goals - none of which included young women from the English aristrocracy. 

1860's Hokitika is where the NZ Man Booker prize-winner The Luminaries is set! (Yay, Eleanur Catton) My book is, however, a little different. It's shorter for a start :)

When is your latest book available?
It's on sale on 11 November in Australia and NZ 

To help celebrate the release of Close To The Wind, Zana is giving away a copy to one lucky commenter! 

To learn more about Zana and her books, visit her website http://www.zanabell.com/