May 29, 2015

Friday Funday! Dear Kitten...

We have a very "cat" Funday today!  I found this gorgeous set of advertisements by Purina Friskies!  

Wise Cat in Residence is educating the new kitty.  

So clever!

Anyway, over to Wise Cat in Residence!

  • Welcoming the new kitten...

  • And introducing Dear Kitten to the dog...

  • And how about mirrors...


Hope you're having an excellent Friday!  Join us again on Sunday for the Smooch!

May 26, 2015

Do You Travel?

I'm off to Melbourne soon to spend a few days with fellow writers at the Melbourne Romance Writer's Guild's annual retreat. And along the way, I'll catch up for a night with fellow LoveCat, Sharon Archer. It will be a social whirlwind and I can't wait!

Interestingly, it's had me thinking about when I last traveled for the pure fun of it, or went somewhere brand new. Off the top of my head, I can't remember, and I think that should change.

I'm not talking about a great, big, expensive trip - just somewhere new to explore. There are some towns within an hour's drive of me that I've never visited - perhaps a day trip is in order.

What about you? Are you a traveler at heart, or do you rarely venture out of the places you know? Where was the last fabulous place you visited? Or do you have dreams to travel to certain destination one day? 

May 25, 2015

Unlikely Heroines

The romance hero is a very big part of what appeals to readers of romance and I think a lot of us have very specific qualities in mind by which we judge all heroes. An author really has to get that right, IMHO, if she (or he) wants readers to keep coming back for more.

But ultimately, it's the heroine that readers (female readers anyway) identify with and I find most critical reviews I read - of anyones books - tend to be so because the reader didn't like the heroine or couldn't relate to her. Victoria Dahl gave a great speech at ARRC this year about how she writes flawed often "unlikeable" heroines and isn't going to apologise for it. Given I've written some unlikeable heroines, I loved the hell out of that speech!

But today I want to talk about unlikely (as opposed to unlikeable!) heroines because two out of my last four releases have had unlikely heroines.

Billie in It Happened One Night Shift is an emergency doctor who can't stand the sight of blood.

I did that deliberately because I read (and write) so many capable heroines kicking butt in what is often still a very patriarchial world that I wanted to write a heroine who was a bit of a mess, who was doing something she didn't really want to do out of misplaced loyatly and obligation. I also liked the dichotomy of a squeamish doctor. It made her very unlikely as a heroine granted but it gave her such room to grow and arc and become fierce and mighty and take charge over the course of the book.

I freaking loved Billie :-)

My second unlikely heroine is Joy from Limbo.

 Joy is an ex hillbilly punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist. She's short and petite with a pixie cut, a pink fringe and black fingernails. She eats like a horse and prefers comfortable boots to kitten heels. She grew up in a funeral home and might just possibly be psychic but doesn't think that seeing the odd ghost from time to time warrants such a label. Joy is not your typical heroine....In fact, she's probably the character least likely to be a heroine. Sure, she's more proactive in her life than Billie but she still prefers to live her day-to-day life completely unnoticed and, well, she packs putty into holes in dead people's heads...not very glamorous, right? 

But Joy was a joy to write :-)

Have you read any good books or seen TV/movies with unlikely heroines? Do you prefer heroines who you an identify with as opposed to those who dont fit any pre-conceived mould?

May 24, 2015

Sunday Smooch With Louisa George

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Louisa George, but first ...

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

Grandma Cootie, can you please email amy (at) amyandrews (dot) com (dot) au to receive your copy of Limbo!

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Louisa George's new novella, 

A Deal With The Devil

 Back cover blurb:
When the only thing worth fighting for is love …

There are two things ex-boxer and casino tycoon Rey Doyle is an expert in: fighting and gambling. He trusts no-one, but he needs a fiancé to help seal a business deal and part-time casino waitress Kate Wilkinson agrees to the pretence.

Kate is on a mission to expose Rey Doyle for the pitiless criminal he is, but the more she learns about Rey and his past, the more she begins to admire the man. When the chance to bring him down arrives will she take it? Or will this bad boy claim her heart instead?

Kiss Scene:-  Set up: Rey has caught a snooping Kate red-handed in his office…one thing leads to another and suddenly he’s lost his shirt and they are talking tattoos and his difficult childhood…

She thought about her own mother and how much she’d given up for her children, but had endlessly said they’d been the light of her life. Kate knew that there’d been sacrifices but a lot of happiness too. Love had enriched all their lives. “There is a give and take thing that happens in proper love.”
            “I wouldn’t know.”
Kate wanted to ask him more about his mother, but sensed he’d given enough. For a second Rey closed his eyes, but when he opened them again he smiled, made a pretense of checking her over, turning her round and round, pushing up her sleeves. “No tattoos?”
            “That’s for me to know and for you to find out.” She smiled. He was back.
            “You do know that’s an offer I’m not going to refuse?” His palm was on her neck now, sending heat shimmering through her, reaching to her core and stroking. “You’re not going to run away again?”
            Oh, she knew she should. Run fast away from here and never look back. But it was as if some mysterious magnetic force pulled her towards him. She couldn’t have staggered let alone run, her feet seemed determined to stay exactly where they were. She also knew that this was her call, that he would not take without consent. And if she didn’t say those words out loud she would regret it forever.
“No. I’m not going to run.”    
            “In that case…” He cupped her face in both his hands and slid his mouth over hers. Gently at first, as if he sensed the tension coiling through her. Crazy thoughts buzzed through her head, that she should not be here, that he would use her. That this was wild and foolish. And yes, it was all those things, but it was so much more. As his tongue ran over her bottom lip she opened to him, her belly tightening in response to his heat. To his taste of liquor, and man, and an exciting impossible risk.
            Snaking her hands over his bare skin she traced the delineated curves of his biceps, the bunched taut pectoral muscles punctuated with scars that made him more, so much more. When he dragged his mouth from hers and pressed it against her neck she curled into him, surprised at the moan in her throat.
She wanted this enthralling man. Wanted all of him.

You can find Louisa’s book at Amazon and in all ebook stores from May 29th (Friday!)!

Louisa is giving away an e-book copy of her book to one lucky commenter!  So her question to you is:

If you were going to get a tattoo what would it be of? (Do you have one already and care to share the details?)

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

May 22, 2015

5 Reasons to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone (p.s. Number 5 is the best ;-))

As many of you know I have two sons. One is happy to try his hand at anything, is resilient if things go wrong and can easily laugh at himself. He's done many a fun thing and moves easily in and out of his comfort zone. My younger one, on the other hand, is a perfectionist, is generally less confident and happy to excel in things he is good at but not keen to branch out. Over the last few years we have encouraged Young Son to try a few new things, and this year, his last year at school and his last chance to enjoy such freedom - he has. I'm immensely proud of what he's doing (Peer support, dancing in Stage Challenge...etc). But it got me to realising how easy it is for me to luxuriate in my own comfort zone and keep on plodding down the same road- I know what I'm doing, I'm okay at it, if it ain't broke, don't fix it right?

But thinking I should practice what I preach I looked at my working practice and decided I'd try something different too. After all, stepping out of your comfort zone is good for you- isn't it?

Oh yes!

1) Healthy Stress is good for us; it is a great motivator and can push us to achieve things we didn't know we were capable of, forces us to think in new ways. It gives us challenges that question the way we normally do things and look to alternatives, it helps us grow

2) Helps to reframe who you are; If you start to take a few risks in life you begin to see yourself in a different light, as someone who is open to new ideas and things. You are more likely to put your hand up for something, to volunteer, to become more active (as opposed to passive) in your life. You get to meet new people, make new friends.

3) Find your 'inner child' - I know it sounds gobbledegook, but basically, it means we start to see fun in things again, to learn how to play with a childlike curiosity, an increased sense of fun. (Believe me, when I abseiled for the first time, I thought it was the best thing ever! I was so pumped, so excited about what I'd achieved I was like a kid in a lolly shop!)

4) You stop fearing failure and embrace opportunity- Say yes to some new things! Give them a go. If they don't work, don't worry. (Start small and get used to the way it feels, first). Remember, the quicker you fail the quicker you learn and grow.

5) You may get a picture like this to call your own!

So, I decided to challenge myself and write something different. Yes, I was scared, yes I needed to do a whole lot of growing and yes I was deeply concerned about what others would think of my attempts. But now I have a novella (1st one)...I have an alpha male (1st one)...I have a new publisher (tick)...I didn't know if I could achieve any of those 3 goals but I put myself out there and lucked out. I hope it's okay, but if it isn't- well, at least I gave it a go!

What have you done recently that made you step out of your comfort zone?

May 20, 2015

Idea Factories and Real Estate

People often ask me where I get my ideas for my books and I get some odd looks when I tell them that often I get my ideas from houses.

I'm not sure why, but I love browsing real estate listings--especially large older homes--imagining the lives of the people who live there and making lives, loves and memories up for them along the way. I'll often print out house plans and photos and pop them into an ideas folder and browse through them at a later date.

Maybe it's because I'm hopelessly sentimental but, to me, houses have a soul--a "feel", if you like--that's usually immediately apparent when you set foot in one. Lately we've been helping one of our kids as she and her partner have begun hunting for their first home. It's been an interesting exercise and, oh boy, have we seen some "interesting" properties but, if anything, it's heightened my belief that echoes of previous owners are so often left behind in a home. Of course, very many of the homes we've been looking at have been bought by investors, keen to make a profit on a swiftly (and not always well-) renovated property, and for most of these a lot of that "echo" has been obliterated, leaving new owners with a clean slate to move into and a new soul to set. But others, like a house we saw on the weekend, had been in the same family for over 50 years and you can "feel" the family vibe that new carpet and window dressings can't quite erase. So far we've only been to one house that gave all of us a cold sick feeling as we entered--coupled with a sense of relief when we left it--and we've seen one that would have been better demolished than lived in, but overall we've really enjoyed the experience.

When I started thinking about the story behind THE WIFE HE COULDN'T FORGET (out June 2015) it was only natural that I hit the real estate websites to find the right home for my characters. It didn't take long to find. An 1880s two storey dwelling in Devonport, one of the older parts of Auckland, New Zealand, was absolutely perfect. As soon as I found the house I could visualise scenes for Xander and Olivia Jackson with no effort whatsoever.

The story idea itself had rattled around in my head for many years--initially with my heroine suffering from amnesia. But then I got to wondering (as you do when you're a writer and daydreamer by profession), what if I turned the story around? What if my hero was the one with amnesia, and what if my heroine was prepared to do just about anything to win her husband back after tragedy tore them apart? Can they have a second chance at love or will Olivia's deception force them apart forever?

So, how about you? Do you like house-browsing? Old ones, new ones? Apartments? What's your favourite dwelling place? And do you have any fun stories to share?