May 30, 2014

Do You Game?


I'd never been big on playing games on devices. My brother had a donkey kong little game when we were young, and I remember playing tennis on an Atari (with a little round ball and two straight bars going up and down on either side of the screen). Oh, and I loved solitaire on the computer (still do!).

But that all changed a couple of years ago when my nephew made me try Plants vs Zombies. I was addicted. I played a few other games - Bejeweled Blitz and the like - but Plants vs Zombies was my main love.

Then they updated the game by creating a whole new game: PvZ2, and I don't like it. I've tried playing the original, but without updates it's stagnated, and the gloss has worn off for me.

After that, I didn't have a favourite game for a long while, until I stumbled across Candy Crush Saga. I'd heard about it all last year when it was popular, but I hadn't dipped my toe in. Now I'm in the midst of another game addiction. 

Though, this one has a saving grace of only giving me 5 lives at a time (after that I have to wait half an hour for each one to refresh, or pay for more lives), so I play a couple of lives on my writing breaks then put it away again.

So what about you? Do you play games? Have any favourites? Prefer to play on your device, or computer, or on Facebook? Any recommendations for me? Any to stay away from? Tell me all! :)

May 28, 2014

Crazy About Crafts

I know I’m not alone here. Multitudes of people, women in particular, are mad about making things out of fabric, paper, wool and so on. I was keen on craft in my teens and early twenties, but as I became busier I lost touch with all the creative activities I’d enjoyed. Eventually, my only creative outlet was writing.

I’d been thinking for some time that I needed a hobby, something that would be therapeutic and take me away from the laptop computer - which sometimes almost needs to be surgically removed – but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I don’t know why I waiting so long, I should have just dived back in, because now that I’ve rediscovered craft I’m well and truly hooked, and happier for it.

Craft time is me time. It’s therapy. It stills my mind and satisfies my hands. I’m sure that many of you know exactly what I mean. I enjoy the time spent immersed in a project, and the satisfaction I get from crafting can’t be measured. The doing is as much fun as the having done.  But it’s more than enjoying the process, with craft I know that the finished product will have a purpose, sometimes a decorative purpose, but more often, functional. I think that’s what compels so many of us to plunge into new projects, spreading fabrics, felt and craft accessories all over the dining table.

Here are some mismatched floral table napkins I’ve just made. They’re simply a square of fabric with a coordinating edging, it’s true, but I’ve enjoyed making them so much. A large part of the fun is in selecting the fabrics, all of which I adore and many of which have been sitting in my fabric box for years, longer than I care to think about, but I saved them because I loved them and now they have a new lease of life.

I’m keeping all my floral fabric scraps because plan to do some crazy patchwork where irregular shaped pieces of fabric are sewn together to create a thing of beauty. Quilting is another craft I want to try. I can’t believe I’ve never done any quilting.

While searching through my old fabrics I came across this piece of embroidery that I must have started more than 20 years ago. I think it was going to be a cottage garden scene. I’m going to resurrect this project and I know I’ll have fun choosing the embroidery silks for the flowers. I can’t wait, but I have so many other projects under way and need to clear some space and time before I start on this one.

There are countless crafts to choose from – cross-stitch, appliqué, paper quilling, découpage, scrapbooking, basket-weaving, lace-making, tatting, to name a few. I’d love to hear your thoughts on why you craft and which is your favourite craft, if you can choose a favourite, or do you love them all?

May 26, 2014

2004 - The Year That Was by Amy Andrews

I’m looking back ten years ago today to 2004 and I hope you’ll indulge me while I do – trust me, there is a purpose :-)

When I was researching some of the events of the last decade I couldn’t believe some of them had been that long ago - some seemed like they'd happened only yesterday. But anyways…. Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights) of 2004.

2004 was a leap year. It was the international year of rice and the Olympics were in Athens. John Howard was the Prime Minister of Australia and George Bush was returned for his second term as President of the United States.

FB launched  - seems like its been around forever!


 The Mars rover, Opportunity, landed (on Mars, thankfully!)

The transit of Venus occurred. The first since 1882 (there was another in 2012)

The Beslan school hostage crisis ended after three days resulting in the deaths of 334,mainly children

Jetstar launched

Aussie girl, Mary Donaldson, married Crown Prince Fredrick of Denmark

Aussie girl, Jen Hawkins, won Miss Universe

Harvey Krumpet won an academy award

Casey Donovan won Australian Idol

Burke's Backyard aired for last time

Makybe Diva won Melburne Cup.


The Notebook hit the cinemas – yes, it’s been 10 years!!

A raft of famous people died – Sir Peter Ustinov,  Ronald Regan, Marlon Brando, Julia Childs, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (famous for identifying the five stages of grieving), Christopher Reeve, Yasser Arafat.

 One of my favourite songs came out that year, reminding us all that life is short and to live it. 

And last but not least, New South Wales won the State Of Origin. Which won’t mean much to people outside Australia but suffice to say it’s a huge state-against-state footy comp. It may be pertinent at this point to ask, why the hell I would even mention that given my fairly well documented dislike of all things sporty but football in particular.

Because it’s also the night I received *the call* from Emily Woodfield at Harlequin Mills and Boon telling me they were buying my book.  Twelve long years of submitting and being rejected and finally the news I’d be hoping for! 
I freaking loved football that night!

So yes, it’s my 10th anniversary of being a published author this year. In ten years I’ve written 30 medical romances (am just about to hit send on my 31st!) and 6 for the, now sadly defunct, KISS line. I’ve penned 2 single titles plus another that I co-wrote with my sister. I’ve written two books plus a novella for Entangled Publishing and have just finished my second The Bold And The Beautiful book (still can’t believe that!)  for Momentum publishing.

I’ve written many millions of words, sold almost two millions books and been translated into over a dozen languages. I’ve been honoured to have received some fabulous awards and been the recipient of some truly lovely fan mail. I’ve had some great reviews and I’m even rather fond now of the not-so-great one with the vomiting gif.

In short, the last ten years has been a freaking trip! I’ve made some amazing friends and met some amazing people. I’ve been crazy busy and I honestly felt like I didn’t know what the hell I was doing most of the time but I wouldn’t give it up for quids.

And I’d like to thank each and every one of you who made it possible! Anyone who’s ever bought one of my books, or written to me or penned a review or tweeted/FB’ed/blogged about my books. It’s been a helluva ride and having you all along for it has made it even more amazing!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

But anyway….enough about me…. Tell me where you were ten years ago and your high points from the last decade.

May 25, 2014

Sunday Smooch with Sue MacKay

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Sue MacKay but first 

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

Can you please contact ella@ellacarey  (dot) com to receive your copy of The Paris Time Capsule.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Midwife's Son

Juggling her career and her adorable little son Nicholas, midwife Jessica has no time for men! Yet when hot-shot international doctor Jackson Wilson sweeps her off her feet at a wedding Jess can't resist spending the night with the dishy doc! Jackson's only in Golden Bay temporarily, but Jess soon begins to dream of so much more.

Coming Soon: June

Scene set-up
At the wedding Jess has been drinking quite a lot of champagne and is joined at her table by the bride's brother, who produces another bottle of the delicious bubbles. They haven't seen each other for fourteen years and are happy to catch up on each other's news, but soon the champagne is working its magic and they have left for Jess's house and privacy.

Smooch  -

Jess didn’t bother with lights. ‘There’s enough light from the full moon to see what we need to see. The rest we can do by touch.’ Her laughter was soft and warm, touching him in a way none of the sophisticated women he’d bedded had. Was this shy Jessica? Or fun Jessica?

‘Where are the glasses?’ he asked as he popped the cork on the champagne.

‘Come with me.’ She reached for his hand. Being tugged through the small house by this gorgeous woman with only moonlight to see by was a breath-taking experience, heightening his senses—and his growing need for her.

Jess’s slim outline with those just-right curves was outlined by her gown. Her backside shaped the fabric to perfection, her hips flared the almost skin-tight skirt subtly. ‘How are you going to get out of that dress?’

They’d reached the kitchen, where she removed two champagne glasses from a cupboard and handed them to him. Her mouth curved into a delicious, cat-like smile. ‘That’s your job.’

Give me strength. He wouldn’t last the distance. ‘Right.’

Just then she turned, pressed up against him, her thighs pushing against his, her lush breasts squashed against the hard wall of his chest. Her hands slid around his neck and pulled his head down so her mouth covered his. His pulse went from normal to a thousand in a flash. Wrapping his free arm around her, he hauled her close.

‘Gawd, Jess. Keep this up and we’ll be over before we’ve started.’

Her mouth pulled back barely enough for her to reply, ‘And your problem is?’

‘Why did we stop to get glasses?’ His lips claimed hers again. She tasted sweet, exciting, sexy. She tasted of what he so badly needed right now. Of freedom and oblivion. Of recovery.

What is your favourite wine? Mine is definitely champagne, and not just at special occasions.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Amy Andrew's 200 Harley St: The Tortured Hero will be posted!

May 23, 2014

Louisa George's favorite things….

Hello!  It's my turn to talk about the things that make me smile…(obviously not including family and friends...)

My Nana's writing box. My lovely and slightly bonkers Nana lived with us until she died, when I was 17…this is the one thing of hers that I wanted when she was gone. She kept all her envelopes, pens, writing paper etc in here and it was a big event to watch her take it all out and write letters once a week. By the time it got to me it was very scratched and old, but my uncle polished it up and now it sits happily in my guest room.

COFFEE!!!  The first thing I reach for when I get up- I can't imagine a morning ritual without it. When we got the induction oven put in I wasn't sure I'd be able to find a stovetop pot that I could use- but I did and this little darling is used religiously every day infusing the house with its beautiful aroma.

Emma Hick Mott crockery. This was a wedding present from some friends. We don't use it often, so thankfully it has lasted over 20 years without a breakage! Emma Hick Mott used to have a studio in Portobello Market and I'm headed back that way in September, I think I'll look her up and see if she's still around, and has any more of this set left.

TRAVELLING.  Or just holidays! Luckily I married a similar minded man and we're always planning our next adventure. Obviously with finance, work and school commitments we can't go anywhere for long, but we do love to explore new places/cultures/cuisines. Next big adventure…New York and the US Eastern coast (2015, hopefully ;-) )

DANCING! Whether it's watching ballet, late night boogie-ing to Abba, or my thrice weekly zumba classes I absolutely love dancing. There is nothing that makes me feel better than turning the music up loud and shaking some moves! It brings an immediate smile to your face and it's good for you too!
My son has just joined his school Stage Challenge group and he seems to have got the dancing bug as much as I have (although I couldn't imagine him at the ballet somehow!)

GIRLFRIENDS. What would we do without them? They keep us sane, make us smile and take no crap! I've just returned from a weekend away in Queenstown with some great friends…we had a ball wine tasting, touring the amazing area and sampling some local fare. And we laughed and laughed and laughed.

So what are your favorite things to do or to look at or to use? Anyone else got the traveling bug? Anyone likely to join me on the dance floor?!?!?

May 21, 2014

Home away from Home

One of the things I love about my job is how portable it is. Mr Fix-it occasionally has to work overseas, and very occasionally I get the opportunity to travel with him. This is one of those times and we've spent the last six weeks a little north of Seattle, Washington, USA. This is our third stay up here over many years and it now feels so familiar it really has become our "home away from home."

This is a beautiful part of the world and we've been lucky to be able to trip about between Mr Fix-it's responsibilities here. I think one of my favourite parts of WA state is the Kitsap Peninsula, where the old buildings and homes are so well preserved and so lovely. Here's one (right) that really caught my eye while we were in Port Townsend.

And, of course, throughout the state, the scenery is breathtaking. Here's a shot of the Carbon River (below), near Mt Rainier. The air was very chilly and people were already camping in tents by the river. Little kids, dressed very warmly up top with beanies and ski jackets etc, had pulled up their pant legs and were paddling in the freezing cold water. They must breed 'em tough up here!

Of course, while we've been here, it hasn't all been sight seeing, I've been working on a new proposal for Harlequin Desire as well as a new project that I'm excited about and can hopefully share more info about with you all soon.

At the end of the week Mr Fix-it and I will be heading home. While we're very pleased to be homeward bound again, I will feel a little sad leaving my "home away from home" again. Is there a place in the world that feels that way for you?

May 19, 2014

Funday Monday - Lighter Side of Technology!

We're having a look at the lighter side of technology for our Funday, today!

We all know how important it is to do our best to conserve resources but perhaps there's one area we haven't quite got a viable alternative yet...

And then there's this gorgeous clip on the versatility of technology...

And then there's the language of technology...

Have you got any funny clips you'd like to share? 

May 18, 2014

Sunday Smooch With Ella Carey....

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Ella Carey ---- but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Give-away is Elsa Winckler.....

Can you please contact Annie West on annie (at) annie-west  (dot) com to receive your ecopy of Back In The Billionaire's Bed.........

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey........

In 2010, New York photographer Cat Jordan fights against her difficult past. But when a stranger dies in Paris, Cat finds herself the sole inheritor of an apartment in the ninth arrondissement that has been abandoned for seventy years since its mysterious owner, Madame de Florian, fled on the eve of the Nazi invasion in 1940.

A stash of love letters belonging to the owner’s grandmother, the infamous Belle Epoque courtesan Marthe de Florian, and the appearance of the beautiful and mysterious Isabelle de Florian’s grandson, Loic Archer, leads Cat in search of the reasons why Isabelle kept her Paris apartment a secret until her death, and why she left her entire estate to Cat.

As Cat unravels the story, she too embarks on her own journey, realizing that the secrets in the apartment may finally unlock the future…

Scene set-up- [Cat and Loic find themselves with a free day in the gorgeous market town of Sarlat, France. They are unable to locate their lead, and spend the day wandering around the charming markets. Afterwards, Loic insists on taking Cat out to one of the local restaurants. But Cat becomes swept away …]

Loic called for the bill, sat back in his chair. Didn’t say anything while they waited. When he had signed, and they had put on their jackets, he held the door open for Cat and she shivered, as the cold night air hit them. Loic took off his coat, laid it over her shoulders. Cat took it. It seemed churlish not to accept.

But as they walked down the street, he caught at her hand, stopped her, just on the edge of a pool of light, shimmering from the elegant street lamp onto the pavement.

‘Cat,’ he said, gently lifting her chin with his thumb and forefinger. Then he bent down, his lips resting on hers with the lightest of touches.

Cat shook her head, ‘No,’ she whispered, but as his lips touched hers, her entire being shot into life.  For a few moments, she gave into it, kissed him back, her hands wanting to run up and through his hair, to hold him, just as he was holding her around her waist.

It took every last reserve that she had to step back. ‘That’s unfair, Loic,’ she said, but her voice was husked, almost sounding like something that she had never heard before. Like someone else’s voice.

Loic was breathing hard. His eyes, intense, were on her. ‘Stay with me in France,’ he said. ‘Start up your own studio here. Sell those beautiful photographs of yours, take commissions that interest you, Cat. Collaborate with people who write coffee table books. Whatever it takes, I’d support you.’

Cat forced herself to take another step back, couldn’t look into his eyes. It was clear what she would see there. If she looked, she would never turn away again. 

To go into the draw to win a signed copy of ‘The Paris Time Capsule,’ please leave an answer to this question: What is the most romantic place that you have ever visited?

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

May 16, 2014

Breakfast At Tiffany's ......

By Helen Lacey, not at Tiffany' was breakfast at my house. For thirty people. Last Saturday my hubby took his mistress to a show.....I mean his UC Holden Torana to an Early Holden Car Show. On the Sunday we hosted a somewhat impromptu brekky for some of the club members before they took off on their respective long drives home.

This is what it looked like outside my house.....

So.....3kg's of bacon....45 sausages.....60 eggs....35 hash browns.....2kgs of fried tomatoes.....4 mega tins of baked beans.....3 loaves of toasted and buttered bread. All cooked in my kitchen between 6am and 7am for a seven thirty start. Phew!

Here's the conversation I had with hubby the afternoon before.....
Me -"How many people are coming?
H -"Ah...not sure...."
Me - "And what time?"
Hubby - "Ah....not sure...."

The trick, I discovered, was to over-cater....expect 20, cook for 30!

Most of the food was consumed and my puppies got any leftovers. The motor enthusiasts left for photos to be taken on the ocean front and I flaked out on the lounge.

It was a fun morning, despite the stress thinking I'd underdone the bacon and overdone the eggs :)

Ever had to cater for a large group? Any tips? I'm pretty sure I'll be doing it again next year, so any tips would be great.

May 14, 2014

Bend and Stretch (or should that be I'm Still Standing?) -- Michelle Douglas

In the still late-afternoon light I arrive at the yoga school, and taking a deep breath push through the doors. I stow my shoes and handbag on a shelf. I glance around and an overwhelming sense of relief hits me—there’s not a perky blonde eighteen-year-old wearing lycra in sight. Thank you, God!

I’m told to take a mat, a blanket, a bolster, a block and a belt. What??? There’s equipment? I find a vacant spot by the wall and stare at my equipment. The lady next to me, seeing me scratch my head, sets up my equipment precisely. She tells me in an offhand way that, “Iyengar yoga is OCD.” I swallow and nod and glance at the door with longing.

What am I doing here?

I lie on my mat in what I guess is some kind of opening out relaxation pose. My neighbour tells me, “Nothing in yoga should hurt.” I decide against telling her that the stretch in my left thigh is already starting to hurt. Quiet descends. A surreptitious peek around the room tells me everyone is now in this pose. I throw myself back into position. But…am I supposed to be relaxing? Or maybe I’m supposed to be breathing in some kind of energy to ready me for the class? Also, exactly when is the class going to start? It’s kinda cold in here, but I guess I’m not supposed to wrap myself in the blanket.

I stare at the ceiling pondering these imponderables when the instructor suddenly looms over me. He asks if I have any injuries he should be aware of. This gives him a big tick in my mental notebook even if he is looming. He then asks if I’m menstruating. Okay, so now he has a big black mark against his name and I’m thinking he’s a pervert.

What am I doing here?

The class starts and I’m ready to drop by the end of the warm up. He shows us poses. Holy crap! He wants me to do what? Look, I understand that yoga is a non-competitive sport, but this is a BEGINNERS class, people, and a woman has her pride. So I grit my teeth and push on. The poses are alien. The instructor moves about the room correcting alignments and giving instructions. He’s methodical and calm and I start to think he might not be a pervert after all. Especially when he moves across to me with a, “Michelle, that’s an advanced pose” and takes the block from my right hand and puts it in my left hand. Oh, that’s better. Then we start on a series of planks and yoga immediately becomes a form of torture.

I discover that there are lots of poses where one balances on the knees and elbows. The hardness of the floor through the mat pinches mercilessly. This isn’t something I’d considered. I also don’t think yoga is such a good idea when one has a full bladder. And another thing—I totally appreciate the concept of pacing oneself, but other than lie there like a landed fish (can’t do that—pride remember?) how exactly does one go about adjusting a pose so it’s not quite so challenging? If I had any oxygen to spare I’d consider asking.

Ninety minutes is a LONG time. We do lots of poses. We finish with a meditation. I’m supposed to relax after that? Ha! I start composing this blog in my mind instead.

Finally I’m allowed to leave. My knees and elbows are bright red. I’ll have bruises tomorrow. When I pay my money (I paid for this?), I need to lock my knees to prevent my thighs from shaking. I totter out on my jelly legs. I buy fish and chips on the way home as there’s no way on God’s green I’m cooking dinner tonight. I doubt I could stand that long.

It’s Monday night. I stop hurting come Friday.

Have I been back? Of course I have. I love it. :)

May 12, 2014

An Elopement to the City of Love

posted by Jennifer St George

As I mentioned in my last post, I was lucky enough to organise a very impromptu trip to France and the UK recently.  What I didn’t divulge, is that some stowaways joined us on our travels.

Daniel and Isabel eloped in my daughter's luggage intent on marrying in Paris. We discovered them on our first morning and they insisted on being taken straight to Notre Dame. We were thrilled to be witnesses to their nuptials.

As their little legs didn’t get them very far (you can see them here resting looking at the Seine), we ended up being their tour guides.  

They wanted to seal their love forever (as if being married in Notre Dame was not enough) by locking their love on The Pont des Arts. I had to write their names and my daughter selected the spot. Their love is now forever tightly locked.
As part of their honeymoon, Daniel and Isabel wanted to visit the Louvre. They enjoy Venus de Milo, The Napoleon III Apartments and lots more. They were knocked over in the crush at The Mona Lisa and ended up being overwhelmed by the over 600,000 square feet of exhibition space and we had to retire for un café et un croissant.
After a quick trip to the Pompidou, Daniel and Isabel gave us the slip and disappeared into the city of love to begin their lives together.
Have you ever had fun (or not?!?) helping someone with their wedding?