Mar 31, 2016

What's your favourite song of the moment?

I'm writing a new book and a new book means a new writing playlist. But over the years I've used up all my favourite songs for various books and I'm in desperate need of some new songs. So, please, hit me with some recommendations!

To give you an idea of the sorts of songs I'm looking for - generally, ones that are filled with emotion work the best, and not too fast. Actually, how about I show you some that have worked well...

So, I have an iTunes card and my clicking finger is ready - hit me with your recommendations!

Mar 28, 2016

Easter, road trips and things making me happy about long lazy weekends by Amy Andrews

Firstly - Happy Easter from me!

I'm on a road trip this weekend to visit my daughter who's moved almost 1000kms from home to mid western NSW - that's about 5 hours west of Sydney. It's a long drive but hey, I spent most of it in Scotland (well France, actually) with Jaime and Clare and other times I've just marvelled at my beautiful country. It made me feel happy and very very lucky!

I love the way the light falls on the land during different stages of the day in the vastness of the outback.

From early morning light -

To the bright light of full day.

I love windmills.

And grain silos. And road signs.

My hubby loves to snack on road trips while I try not to.... It took me 4 days to succumb to the bright napalm orange of the humble Twistie. But it didn't really feel like a road trip until I had been seduced by the intoxicating carbohydratic (yes, not a word) goodness.

We visited the zoo. These monkeys made me happy.

And this Galapogus tortoise made the romance writer in me thrill. Looks like we all love a little bit of petting, right?

And if that wasn't enough, this was my lunch view yesterday, lazing around under lovely shady trees listening to the drowsy hum of bees, eating cheese and drinking wine.

And my two travelling companions always make me happy. Tink and Wonder Woman - the soft and the hard of me.

How did you spend your Easter weekend? Was it lazy and indulgent like mine or was it a busy family affair?

Got anything making you happy at the moment?

Mar 25, 2016

A Walk In The Park Part 2

In my last blog on here I told you about the adventure we were about to undertake; walking the 53.5km of the Milford Track (in Fiordland, New Zealand).

Well, we did it! Our legs were tired and our feet were aching, but we managed the three days of hiking and had a lot of fun along the way!

We started the trip with a two hour coach journey from Queenstown to Te Anau where we took a boat across to the start of the walk....but, as this part of New Zealand has the nation's highest rainfall (it rains 200 days a year!!), we had to negotiate our first hurdle- disembarking onto a jetty that was underwater.
First step on the track and we got wet feet!

The excitement begins!

The group! Me and hubby on the far left in grey.

Glade House- our first home on the track
The accommodation was comfortable without being luxurious- best of all we had hot water and an ensuite! YAY! And WINE!!!!!!

We did three full days of walking; The Easy Day (16km), The Hard Day (15km plus another optional 6km) and The Long Day (21km) ...I think we were lulled into a false sense of security on the first day! The weather was amazing and the path was undulating without being too steep. We walked through wetlands and then up a little into stunning alpine scenery. Oh, and unfortunately one of our group got sick and had to be airlifted out, so we also had a visit from the air ambulance. Luckily we had 8 nurses, 2 doctors and 1 paramedic walking on our trip (purely coincidental!), so the lady was well cared for until the helicopter arrived.

Those pilots are amazing, they can land on a postage stamp!

We saw some truly beautiful sights and met some unusual friends...
One of 9 swing bridges we had to negotiate...very wobbly!
A Weka

Middle Earth, moss covered plants...eery, I kept expecting a hobbit to appear!

Once ensconced in our second night's accommodation we decided to do some laundry (we'd been told to pack light and wash our clothes every day!)....and we had to encounter an old fashioned mangle to squeeze the water out of our clothes. It was the cause of much hilarity.... especially trying to explain the instructions to our Japanese friends...

The Hard Day involved a  walk (15km) mostly UPHILL!!! to the McKinnon Pass, across the pass and then a steep descent to our accommodation. We were lucky (!) enough to feel up to the added 6km walk to Sutherland Falls, the 5th highest waterfall in the world. Thankfully the weather wasn't too hot!!

View from the top!
The top! McKinnon's Pass

Sutherland Falls
McKinnon Commemorative stone

The Walk was originally hewn through the landscape by Mr McKinnon in the late 1800s- he'd heard about a waterfall and wanted to find a route through to it from the bay. It became very popular with the Victorian/Edwardian immigrants...I could not imagine walking it in thick heavy long skirts like the women back then did!!
The best way to soothe aching feet- in ice-cold glacial water! Ahhhhhhh.....

The third day was an early start (6am!) and a long walk in drizzle....we managed to keep our spirits up and the extra rain meant the many waterfalls we passed were plentiful and stunning. It felt as if we'd been walking forever and I began to feel like my sons when they were young- 'are we there yet' went round and round in my head. And then...yes we were there! The end!!!!! For some reason this walk is counted in miles...hence the 33.5mile sign, and the smiles!

The stars of our trip, 80 year old Kimmi and her little sister (78!)- they walked the whole way with huge infectious smiles

After a good meal and a great sleep we then headed off down Milford Sound for a cruise on a wet day, but nothing could dampen our spirits! We'd done it....and now we're planning our next long hike.
What adventures do you have planned?

Mar 23, 2016

CATWALK - Adventures of Crystal and the Baby Possum!

Picture No. 1

I'm so delighted to bring a very unusual rescue story to the CATWALK today!

Towards the end of spring last year, we had a severe windstorm that affected many areas of Victoria.  This is the experience our friend, Norm, shared with us after the gales...
"I was out for a walk around 7:30am with our miniature poodles, Crystal & Pearl.  They were sniffing everything as usual when a baby ringtail possum peeked out from under a bush - then tentatively approached.
Crystal leaned forward to gently sniff the arrival.  That presented her ear tresses as an excellent ladder and the little possum climbed to the top of her head then onto her back.  Poor Crystal was initially concerned but I settled her down and she decided her unexpected passenger was acceptable.  The possum bub seemed much happier riding around than on the ground and I suspect Crystal's litters of pups predisposed her to accepting something small hanging on. 
Mother Possum was nowhere to be seen.  I guess the little possum fell off his transport during the night in the high winds.  He appeared to be unhurt and in excellent health and was collected by a Wildlife Rescue person later in the day."
Anyone got a caption they'd like to share for any of these gorgeous pics?

Picture No. 2

Picture No.3

Picture No. 4

Mar 21, 2016

Healthy Dessert...made out of beans??

I’m the chief cook in our house, but not because I’m trying to uphold a gender stereotype. My husband is actually a fantastic cook, but nutrition/health is not something that really factors into his decision making process. While I love creamy risottos, rich sauces and cheesy polenta (oh, how I love it) it’s not something that I feel I should be eating all the time.

So, in order to keep us healthy, I do the majority of the cooking. However, there was a slight hiccup in that plan…my intense LOVE for sweet treats.

I’m a total sweet tooth at heart and that means we’ve had to find sweet recipes that have been ‘healthified’ so I don’t go absolutely crazy. The upside is, over time my sugar cravings have lessened and I still feel like I’m indulging in yummy desserts without having all the excess sugar that comes in conventional dessert recipes.
Bean brownies with choc chips and pecans - yum!

On that note, I recently made a funny discovery. It is possible to turn beans into brownies.
Yes, beans. Like the kind you would normally find in savory dishes.

This is the recipe that I used with a few, small tweaks.

How are they healthier than regular brownies?

Well, for starters there’s no flour. Which makes it an excellent option for those with gluten intolerance, but also I feel like the brownies themselves aren’t as processed because there’s no flour or refined sugar. I’ve made the recipe using black beans and red kidney beans.

I also use coconut sugar (which is an unrefined sugar) and there’s only 1/3 cup in the whole recipe. I do add a few semi-sweet dark choc chips to my version and so I sometimes use less than the 1/3 cup sugar to balance it out.

And, instead of regular cocoa, I use a raw cacao which is really rich in taste but is a processed without roasting the cocoa beans first. This means it retains the nutrients that are lost during the roasting process.

Try adding walnuts, pecans or cacao nibs for extra crunch.

Trust me, they super tasty. They even got the thumbs up from J who is probably the biggest critic of ‘healthy food’. That’s saying something.

Have you ever tried a healthified version of your favourite dessert? How did it turn out?

Mar 20, 2016

The prince and the party planner

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Kandy Shepherd but first 

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

Can you please contact  stefanie (at) stefanie-london (dot) com to receive your copy of Loving the Odds

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from CROWN PRINCE'S CHOSEN BRIDE Kandy's March 2016 release from Harlequin Romance.

The people's princess! 
Chef Gemma Harper is on a dating break, so the last thing she needs is gorgeous stranger Tristan tempting her into a fling…especially when he's revealed as the crown prince of Montavia! 
Gemma knows forever isn't possible with duty-bound Tristan, but swept off her feet by this charismatic prince, she's determined to make every moment count. And when Tristan throws out the royal rule book, a happy-ever-after could be within Gemma's grasp…if only she's brave enough to say "I do!"

Set-up Tristan, Crown Prince of Montovia, is incognito in Sydney, enjoying his freedom before he has to return to take up his responsibilities as heir to the throne of his small European principality. He is smitten with lovely party planner Gemma Harper, fresh from a dating sabbatical and determined not to give in to her attraction to a handsome tourist—especially when she finds out the truth of his identity.

The attraction between them sizzles—but the obstacles between prince and party planner seem insurmountable, written in decrees that are centuries old. Gemma knows it is impossible for her to be anything more than a fling to Tristan—but she decides to take whatever time she can with him. They give his bodyguards the slip to escape to a mountain hideaway for a secret two days together—before they must say goodbye for ever.

Smooch “He pulled her into his arms. ‘You’re an amazing woman, Gemma Harper. One of many talents.’

‘Thank you, Your Highness. And to think we’re only just getting to know each other... I have many hidden talents you have yet to discover.’

‘I’ve been keeping my talents hidden, too,’ he said. ‘But for no longer.’

He traced the outline of her mouth with his finger, the light pressure tantalising in its unexpected sensuality. Her mouth swelled under his touch, and she ached for him to kiss her there. Instead he pressed kisses along the line of her jaw and down to the sensitive hollows of her throat. She closed her eyes, the better to appreciate the sensation. How could something so simple ignite such pleasure?
She tilted back her head for more, but he teased her by planting feather-light kisses on her eyelids, one by one, and then her nose.

‘Kiss me properly,’ she begged, pressing her aching mouth to his.

He laughed deep in his throat, then deepened the kiss into something harder and infinitely more demanding. She wound her arms around his neck to pull him closer, craving more. Her antennae thrummed softly—not in warning but in approval. She wanted him. She needed him. He was hers. Not forever, she knew that. But for now.

This was the first time she had walked into a less-than-ideal relationship with her eyes wide open. It was her choice. With Tristan she had not been coerced or tricked. She just hoped that when the time came she would be able to summon the inner strength to let him go without damage to her heart and soul—and not spend a lifetime in futile longing for him.

But she would not think of that now. Her mind was better occupied with the pleasure of Tristan’s mouth, his tongue, his hands skimming her breasts, her hips.

He broke away from the kiss so he could undo the buttons of her shirt. She trembled with pleasure when his fingers touched bare skin. He knew exactly what he was doing, and she thrilled to it.

‘I haven’t shown you around outside,’ she said breathlessly.

Oh! He’d pulled her shirt open with his teeth. Desire, fierce and insistent, throbbed through her. She slid his T-shirt over his head, gasped her appreciation of his hard, muscular chest.

He tilted her head back to meet his blue eyes, now dark with passion. ‘How many times do I have to tell you? The only sight I’m interested in is you. All of you.”

Are you good at keeping secrets? Have you ever let slip a secret that you shouldn't have? We'd love to hear! Leave a comment to be in the running for a paperback copy of CROWN PRINCE'S CHOSEN BRIDE.

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Mar 18, 2016

Friday Funday!

Top of the morning to you!

And a Happy St Patrick's Day for yesterday!  Just for fun we're posting a jigsaw and a couple of You-Tube clips!

Do you do anything special for St Patrick's Day?  

Click to Mix and Solve

And a lovely Irish quote to finish:

"May the roof above you never fall in and the friends beneath it never fall out!"

Mar 16, 2016


Okay, so it's not Brideshead Revisited but I'm thrilled to bits to show you the covers for my Master Vintner series which is being rereleased by Harlequin Australia in two volumes with beautiful  covers!



They're available for order through Harlequin Australia HERE.

If you missed any of the series the first time around, this is a great opportunity to pick them all up together. I absolutely loved writing this series and linking all my characters together and I hope you'll love reading them--either for the first time or the second :-).

Mar 14, 2016

Holiday Madness


Okay, I have a dilemma. My son is spending the next year in a Victorian bush school. He is engaged in a brilliant program of hiking, running and learning lots of bush skills as well as the usual school curriculum. Just fantastic.

My daughter is still with us in NSW. So what’s the dilemma I hear you ask.

School holidays!

The kids now have different school holidays. The Easter school holidays are usually two weeks, so I only have to find fun and entertaining things to do for fourteen days (in an effort to keep them off computer games and away from the TV). Now, while one is home, the other is still at school and the collective school holidays span…four weeks!  And, this is going to continue in the same vein all year.

So, please help me. I need lots and lots of ideas for what to do with the children. So far I have planned:
  • lots of bush walks (eg walk up Mount Warning – a 4-5 hour round trip)
  • Byron cinema is closed for renovation (for a year!), so we will have to travel to other cities to watch movies which will be more of an adventure
  •  I will book a few days away at North or South Stradbroke Island
  • I will organise for some cousins to visit and will go to visit some cousins
  • Going up to the Gold Coast to Laser Skirmish (sadly we love playing this game as a family – it’s hilarious)
  • will take the kids to Byron Bay Blues Festival
  • go to the beach (although we do have a Great White Shark problem at the moment, so I’m not too keen on this option)
  •  let the kids get bored so they use their imaginations and come up with good things to do

But, that’s not nearly enough. So, I’m begging for ideas. What are some activities that I can I organise to keep the tribe entertained and me sane whilst still getting all my work done?

Mar 13, 2016

Sunday Smooch - Loving the Odds

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Stefanie London but first 

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

Can you please contact
annie (at) annie-west (dot) com to receive your copy of A VOW TO SECURE HIS LEGACY.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from LOVING THE ODDS.

Risk analyst Bailey Reuben might be in Las Vegas, but the last thing on her mind is sin. She’s there to find her jerk of an ex and get her grandfather’s watch back. Instead, she finds a smoking hot stranger. A stranger with a crazy plan to help her retrieve her family heirloom and get revenge. It’s a bad idea—she calculates risks for a living, after all—but she can’t say no.

Bad boy PR guru Lance Fulton is all about helping the gorgeous, quirky Bailey. She’s in desperate need of some fun, and pretending to be her new boyfriend is the perfect way to help her see how sexy she is, get the watch, and show her ex what he’s missing. But the more they get to know each other—and the hotter their attraction burns—the higher the probability one of them will end up with a broken heart…

Set up: Bailey and Lance are sharing a hotel room after her spontaneous decision to stay in Las Vegas for the weekend. There’s a lot of instant attraction between then, but Bailey’s been burned before and she’s unsure how to deal with her attraction to Lance. Luckily for her, Lance isn’t to shy about going after what he wants.

“I’m not one of those people who uses literally when they mean figuratively,” she said.

“I’m sure you use the correct word at all times.” His lip twitched but he managed to keep a straight face.

“Oh, I try to. Grammar is very important and not enough people take care with it.” She paused. “Hang on; you’re teasing me, aren’t you?”

“Me, never.” He put a hand to his chest in mock sincerity. “I’m a total gentleman.”

The fine arch of her brows said it all. “Riiiight.”

“You wound me.”

She laughed. “Want me to kiss it better?”

It was a saying, a colloquialism…he knew that. But those six little words managed to suck all the air out of his lungs and disconnect his body from his brain. He stepped forward and her breath hitched. The blacks of her pupils ate away at the electric rim of blue around them.

“What did you say, Bailey?” His voice came out roughhewn. Edgy.

“I just meant…” She sucked in a breath and mashed her lips together.

Desperate desire rushed through him. He wanted to press his lips to her throat and see if her pulse was racing the same as his. What would it be like to drag his lips across her skin? Would she taste as clean and fresh as she smelled?

“It was a joke,” she whispered. Her tongue darted out to touch the corner of her mouth and that flash of pink totally undid him. “I think.”

The space shrunk between them as he closed in. “You think?”

“I don’t know.” She stood rooted to the ground. “What if it wasn’t?”

“Are you saying you want to kiss me, Bailey?”

Her lips parted as if in invitation and her hands came up to his chest automatically. The soft, feathery touch of her fingers through his T-shirt stoked the fire inside him. She moved her hands over his pecs and up to his shoulders. The movement was gentle, but passion flickered across her face like a flame.

“I’m still deciding.” She pressed her sweet little body against him, her bare thighs lining up with his.

The delicate swirl of her hips forced his blood south. He was hard as f**king steel. “You’re still deciding?”

“Well, I don’t usually kiss random men. Actually, I’ve never been one to kiss much and there’s a chance I may not be good at it.” Her brows creased but her hands fisted into the cotton of his T-shirt. 

“At least that’s what I’ve been told.”

“You’re giving me some very mixed signals right now.” His face hovered inches from hers, their breath mingling in the air between them.

“I want to kiss you, but…” Her lips quivered. “I’m scared.”

“Why don’t we take it slow?” Lance brushed his mouth over hers. It was more a whisper than a kiss. 

“Glacial, even.”

“Glacial,” she sighed as he slid his hands up the back of her neck to cradle her head. “I like that.”

His thumbs stroked her ears as he kissed one corner of her mouth and then the other. Slow.  Soft. Her fresh scent curled around him.

“That feels good,” she murmured, her eyes fluttering shut.

He traced his tongue along the seam of her mouth and she opened for him, her lips glistening and shiny like ripe fruit. When he leaned in again, her tongue came out to meet his and he moaned into her mouth.

I love the idea of having a crazy story about how people met their significant other. Lance and Bailey will certainly have quite the tale for their grandkids one day!

How did you meet your significant other (or anyone else important in your life, like a best friend)? Leave a comment below to be in a running to win an ebook copy of Loving the Odds.

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

Mar 11, 2016


Yip, I have just sold book number twenty and I couldn't be prouder.
Or happier.
Or more thrilled.
My man said this morning he can remember me saying around the time I sold my first book that twenty seemed so far out there it was nigh on impossible. Well, I've made it.

Funny thing, in our house we seem to have trouble with celebrating with the bubbles at these milestones.
Maybe we need practise. Nah, kidding. Not at all.
But when I was sending in the third set of revisions on book number one my man bought and hid in a fridge in the shed a bottle of good bubbles for when I got "the phone call" as it used to be six years ago. The phone call came, I was offered a contract and Lindsay popped the cork.The bubbles was off. So on to a very cheap bottle which actually was in far better shape than the expensive variety.

Book one:

This time I had got prepared - living so far from shops tends to do that to me, and not wanting to miss out on any opportunity of a good glass of wine - and so I bought  a bottle days ago. It has been lying in wait in the fridge for the day I was told the current book had been accepted.

Today I learned that my latest book had been accepted. Cool. The champagne's cold, the glasses ready, and .... My man's working night shifts on the log boats and does not drink while this is going on.
Now I could drink the bottle by myself, but seems a little bit of a let down, though I would get a bigger share, :) or I could wait for five nights to crack it open.
I'm waiting. Impatiently.

But I do have the email that says I've sold this book to read again and again. No idea what the title will be yet.
And I do have the next story to get written - something to keep me out of mischief while I wait for the logs to be loaded and the ship to get the heck out of here.

Have you ever had to wait for a special celebration? Any tips on being patient? (They probably won't work but tell me anyway.)