Jan 30, 2017

Special Guest: Michelle Somers

I'm thrilled to be hosting a special guest today - the lovely Michelle Somers. Michelle is one of those smiling faces I always look forward to seeing, and she's truly one of the nicest people you'll meet. And yet, her books are a tad... suspenseful. I decided to ask some hard-hitting questions to get to the bottom of who she really is and what's going on in her stories..

1.    Welcome to the LoveCats, Michelle! First up, the important stuff – cat or dog person?
LOL! I’m one of those strange people that loves both for very different reasons – cats for their cuddlability and character, and dogs for their company and companionship.

Currently, we have a furry bundle of fun called Emerald. Emmie for short. And up until a couple of years ago, we had a gorgeous retriever called Charley. 

2. Oh, they are *gorgeous*! Now, tell us: what was the first category book you read? 
Wow, that’s going back a while! I can’t remember the absolute first book, but I have a few that were early introductions to the genre for me. Two that spring to mind, that still form part of my collection, are The Passionate Winter by Carole Mortimer and Wild and Wonderful by Janet Dailey.

3.    What’s the last category book you read?
Melanie Milburne’s His Mistress for a Week.

4.    That one's on my TBR pile! Next, I'm curious - who are three of your all-time favourite (romance novel) heroes?
Just three? That’s almost too impossible to choose. Here’s three of my favourite heroes from books I’ve read over the past couple of years.
Chase Kelly in Christie Craig’s Divorced, Desperate and Delicious.
Greg in Penny Reid’s Ninja at First Sight.
Lake Benson in Janet Elizabeth Henderson’s Lingerie Wars.

5.    What's something we wouldn't know about you?
Many years ago I did a course in cake decorating with my mum. In fact, mum and I designed and made my wedding cake. And, how do you cut a cake that’s taken hours of love and hard work to create? With style. 

6.    That's priceless! Speaking of celebrations, at last year’s Romance Writers of Australia conference, Lethal in Love was awarded the Ruby (Romantic Book of the Year - long), which was fabulous! Did you do anything special to celebrate?
Does a whole trail of mental cartwheels and pirouettes across the floor to the stage count as celebration?
That was an amazing night. There were so many highlights over the course of that conference weekend, but I have to say awards’ night was among the top of them.
I attended with a group of friends from my writing group, the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild (MRWG). Before, during and after the awards ceremony was one evening-long party spent with people who have witnessed my journey from newbie writer to published author. And it was ultra-special to share that evening, and the award-winning experience, with them.
And in terms of celebration? Well, after the ceremony, the group of us, RuBY included, danced, drank cocktails, and partied until all-hours of the morning.

7.    Your latest book Murder Most Unusual has a fascinating premise. Can you tell us about it?
I’d love to!
This is a story about two of the most unlikely people; Stacey, a romantic suspense novelist whose job it is to create the perfect murder – in the pages of her books; and Chase, a homicide detective who’s sworn to keep his city streets safe from killers such as those she creates. Her life is fiction, his is real and gritty and each day might just be his last.
Stacey believes the best way to write a murder is to step inside the mind of a killer and enact it. So she enlists the help of a mannequin called Renaldo, a bevy of synthetic weapons and her imagination. Unfortunately her quirky activities inspire a killer to follow her lead – but instead of fibreglass, his victims are made of real flesh, skin and bones.
As the bodies pile up, the two are thrown together in a gruesome game of murder and lies, and a race to catch the killer before they fall prey to his sick plan.

8.    A romance writer and a detective? That is super-cool. What was your inspiration for Murder Most Unusual?
Great question! To answer, I’ll have to give you some insight into how I write. I’m a ‘plantser’ – a weird and wonderful mix of plotter and pantser. But that’s not all – there are parts of my writing process that could be described as ‘scener’ as well. This is a person who writes in scenes.
Every book, every story I’ve ever written, has come to me first as a single scene. An event. An action. Something intriguing that made me want to explore further.
So, back to your original question – what was my inspiration for Murder Most Unusual?
A single, solitary image: a woman wrestling, very unsuccessfully, with a large, unwieldy object in the middle of a cow paddock. For some reason, I know this is the first dry night after two weeks of solid rain. And I know it’s sometime after midnight. The air is cold and damp, and the ground is very, very muddy. And no matter how hard she tries, that great big lump of a ‘thing’ just won’t budge.
The image was so very clear to me, yet still it left questions that begged to be answered. Who was she? Why was she there? What was she wrestling with? What events led to that moment in the field, and what events would follow?
It didn’t take long for me to discover that the image I’d seen was Stacey enacting a murder under the surreptitious watch of a sadistic killer. And from this opening scene my story unfolded.
A story where she writes. He watches. He waits. He kills…

9.    What are you reading?
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule – a chilling insight into serial killer Ted Bundy through the eyes of someone who once called him a friend.
And following that, I’ll be delving into something a little lighter – The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.

10.    What are you watching?
So many things! Lately I’ve been waiting for a lot of my favourite shows to start up again after the summer break. While that happens, I’ve been getting my fix of cop shows such as Criminal Minds and Luther. Hubby tends to shy away from the more cop-based shows, so when we watch together, the picks are a little different, including series like Grimm, The Blacklist, Lethal Weapon, and just tonight we started a new series on Netflix called Stranger Things. Not sure how I’ll go – the supernatural has a tendency to scare the crap out of me!

11.    What are you listening to?
The sound of my kids running rampant on the second-to-last day of the holidays. LOL!
But I imagine you’re talking music. I listen to a whole range of music genres, depending on my mood. But something I listened to just recently – on a road trip with the family – was the soundtrack to Jeff Waynes’ War of the Worlds. Too many years ago to mention, I loved listening to this musical rendition of Orson Welles’ classic tale, and it was such a joy to share my enjoyment with my three boys.

12.    What’s making you smile?
The release of Murder Most Unusual.

13.    Well, of course it is! It sounds awesome. So, what’s next on the horizon for you?
Two fabulous projects.
The first is the beginning of a series of ‘how to’ books for writers called The Simply Writing Series. With this series, I intend to break down the different elements a writer needs for both creating and promoting a great story. The first in this series is due for release in March this year. The title? Simply Synopsis. 

With special focus on romance, Simply Synopsis will demonstrate how to simply construct an engaging and fresh synopsis that contains all vital information while hooking the reader, and maintaining tension and emotion. 

I can’t wait to share it with you, and the methods in this book form the basis of the online workshop (OWL) I’ll be presenting through Romance Writers of Australia in September this year. 

And the second project? An exciting new romantic suspense set in Chicago. A kind of James Bond meets Stephanie Plum. It’s full of suspense and tension, some weird, wacky and wonderful characters. And more than a few Sound intriguing? I hope so.

Absolutely, that sounds intriguing! Thanks for visiting us, Michelle.

Michelle is kindly giving away a copy of Murder Most Unusual to one commenter. Given that this book has a romance author and a homicide detective, Michelle is curious about what characters you'd most like to see pitted against each other in a rom-sus. Perhaps a couple that you've not seen before. I'm looking forward to reading your ideas!

Michelle Somers is a bookworm from way back. An ex-Kiwi who now calls Australia home, she’s a professional killer and matchmaker, a storyteller and a romantic. Words are her power and her passion. Her heroes and heroines always get their happy ever after, but she’ll put them through one hell of a journey to get there. Michelle lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her real life hero and three little heroes in the making. She loves hearing from her readers, so if you’ve enjoyed this insight into her mind and her writing, visit her website www.michelle-somers.com and sign up to her newsletter for more of the same. 

Murder Most Unusual buy links:

Jan 29, 2017

Sunday Smooch with Michelle Douglas

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a retro smooch from  Michelle Douglas but first 

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

Therese, can you please contact Amy on: amy (at) amyandrews (dot) com (dot) au to receive your copy of Playing the Player.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Michelle Douglas...

Road Trip With the Eligible Bachelor has been repackaged in a gorgeous new duet with fellow LoveCat Ally Blake's The Magnate's Indecent Proposal. It hits the shelves in Australia and New Zealand next month. :-)

The beginning of a very long journey…together?

Quinn Laverty and her young sons are planning to start a new life on the other side of the country! With her family abandoning her, and her ex choosing wealth and privilege over fatherhood, her boys are all she's got.

But when an airline strike interferes with her plans, Quinn finds herself taking the car and up-and-coming politician Aidan Fairhall to Sydney. And trapped together on a weeklong road trip, opposites Quinn and Aidan begin the most unexpected and life-changing journey of their lives.

Scene set-up: Quinn and Aidan are at a remote campsite in the middle of nowhere and the boys are safely in bed. They've all been planning what they'll do when they finally cross the Nullabor Plain and hit the big city. However, Quinn and Aidan's playful flirting takes a serious turn...

  One side of his mouth hooked up in a slow, wicked smile. He still held her hand. ‘I’m looking forward to hitting the town with you.’

  She should pull her hand free. ‘Why?’

  He tugged her a little closer. ‘Do you dance?’

  Her breath caught in her chest, making her heart thud. ‘Like you wouldn’t believe.’

  ‘I’m better,’ he promised.

  ‘We’ll see about that.’

  ‘What’s your favourite cocktail?’

  ‘A Margarita. Yours?’

  ‘A whiskey sour.’

  His thumb caressed the soft skin at her wrist. ‘Can you play blackjack?’

  ‘With the best of them.’ The nearest she’d come to gambling was the odd flutter on the Melbourne Cup. ‘Although I prefer roulette.’

  ‘I’m going to take you out dancing and gambling and drinking.’

  He was?

  ‘And I’m going to kiss you.’

  And then his mouth came down on hers in the dark of the night, hot and demanding, and it stole her breath. His kiss wasn’t polite or quiet. It was dark and thrilling and she threw all sense of caution to the wind, winding her arms about his neck and kissing him back.

  He pulled her in closer, trapping her between lean, powerful thighs, and deepened the kiss. She didn’t resist. His hands curved about her hips and explored them completely, boldly and oh-so-impolitely. She moved against him restlessly as the thrill became a dark throb in her blood. Thrusting her hands into his hair, she held him still to thoroughly explore a mouth that set her on fire, inciting him to further bold explorations of her body with hands that seemed to know exactly what she craved.

  Aidan’s kiss made her feel impulsive and young.

  It made her feel beautiful.

  It made her feel all woman.

  She broke off to gulp air into starved lungs. His lips found her throat—no butterfly whispers here, just hot, wet grazes and suckles that built the inferno growing inside her. His hands were beneath her dress, cupping her buttocks, kneading and pleasing and building that inferno. Her hands went to the waistband of his shorts—


  No, no, she didn’t want to wait. She wanted to lose herself in sheer sensation. She wanted to forget her troubles and soar away in mindless and delirious pleasure. Oh, please let her…

  Ask the question.

  She froze. Aidan’s clever, heat-inducing, pleasure-seeking fingers started to move and she knew that in a moment she would be lost. Totally and completely.

  With a groan of pure frustration, she slapped her hands over the top of his, the fabric of her dress between them. ‘I have to ask a question.’

Are you a fan of the humble road trip? Do you have any funny road trip stories? Or maybe you have a dream destination you'd like to road trip to. Leave a comment to go into the draw to win a signed copy of Road Trip With the Eligible Bachelor. :-)

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Stefanie London's Mr Dangerously Sexy will be posted!

Jan 27, 2017

You never stop learning... part two

This time last year I wrote a post about things I'd learnt in 2015, so I thought I'd follow it up with things I learnt in 2016

1. That 'empty nest' doesn't just mean your babies fly away, but that you get to choose what the next chapter is. And that can be as exciting and challenging as you feel ready for! (And maybe pushing yourself is good for you)

My baby on his first day at uni, 1 16hr drive or 2hr flight away

2. That I still really, really need to get the hell off Facebook

3. That you can teach an old dog new tricks! I taught myself how to knit because...OMG so much lovely yarn! Starting with a load of You Tube videos...making a scarf, a beanie and an almost completed shawl.

almost doubled in size now!

4. That middle age spread doesn't shift no matter how hard you try.

5. That you and only you are in charge of your career. (That was a hard lesson to learn.)

6. To acknowledge my fear and do it anyway! Only I am standing in the way of adventure and growth.
swimming with rays and tiger SHARKS!!!!!

7. That shocking people still makes me feel like a rebel!!!
dressing as a punk for a fancy dress party was hilarious and even though  I'd known most of the people at the party for over 10 years their reactions to me was interesting...some of them steered well away...!!

8.  That nature is AMAZING and powerful and beautiful

Where boiling lava meets the ocean

9. Did I mention I need to get off Facebook?

10. That there still isn't much that can't be made better with a good cry, a belly laugh, a hug and a glass of cold pinot gris.

What did you learn last year? Do you have anything to stretch yourself planned for this year?
Here's to a fabulous learning-filled and exciting 2017 xxx

Jan 25, 2017

Just read... Kandy Shepherd

We’re having a long, hot January summer in my part of DownUnder—too hot really. So hot all I could do some days was sit near an air conditioner or fan and read. Turning the pages and lifting a cool drink to my lips was all the effort I could make!

Looking at what I read over the holiday break, I realised it was all romance and thrillers. I do read broadly across all genres as well as literary novels and non-fiction but recent reads, both print and e-books did not include those. Just romance and thrillers.

My family can’t understand why I enjoy thrillers and police procedurals, not shying away from the sometimes gruesome. (Or watch television programs where there is often a deal of screaming involved!) I say it’s because of the suspense of the whodunnit, the way characters react under pressure and danger, and because justice inevitably prevails.

And then there’s romance. Like many romance authors, I’ve often asked why I write romance. The implication is, why don’t I write something “better” than romance. Apart from the perhaps unintentional insult the question implies, I get a little cranky sometimes at having to “justify” what I write. The simple answer is that I love reading romance and decided to write what I enjoy reading!

Looking back (a looong time ago) I realise I always enjoyed stories with even a hint of romance in them—even in children’s books. My introduction to romance novels started with first my grandmother’s collection of Mills & Boon and Women’s Weekly Library that were considered “safe” for a young person’s eyes.

I don’t know that they realised how sensual some of the M&Bs were and how I combed them for the “sexy bits”!

When my mother brought home These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer from the library and told me she thought I would enjoy it, I got hooked on historicals. Then I really got into the “bodice rippers” of the eighties!

What I love about romance? That wonderful feeling of falling in love and that gorgeous, guaranteed happy ending. I love that about chick flicks too (but not when someone dies in the end!)

I still adore category romance, one of the reasons I love being a LoveCat alongside my favourite authors of the genre.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself that my bookshelves at home now include rows of my own books, not only in English but also translations!

Did you fit some reading time over the holiday? What is it you love most about romance? I’d love to see your comments!

Jan 23, 2017

How I met the LoveCats by Amy Andrews

The other day I was looking at the LoveCat’s blog header and remembering how I met each of the cats. It’s weird because I probably met most of them “online” before I actually ever met them in real life! But for sure we all eventually met through various Romance Writer’s of Australia functions over the years and I'm honoured and humbled to be in their tribe. The funny thing is I can really only remember clearly (or semi-clearly anyway) how I met three out of the thirteen. But I thought it might be fun to share a little snippet of what I do remember of each of the cats because, I don’t know about you, but I love hearing about how people met and not just men and women! I've even managed to dig up photos of almost all of us.

It will be interesting to see which of the cats has a differing memory because honestly, all these recollections could be wrong. I have a memory like a seive….

Rachael Bailey – I actually don’t remember which conference was the precise one in which we met, all I do know is that in about half an hour of meeting her, I’d agreed to be on the RWA committee… She’s sneaky like that, you gotta watch her!

Awww, aren't we sweet?

Bronwyn Jameson – it was actually at a Harlequin dinner during one of the conferences where I first met Bron. I remember chatting to her at one point, crouched down beside her chair. At some stage during that evening I lost one of my earrings, it was a dangly thing, not expensive but my favourite at the time. I looked for it but couldn’t find it. The next morning Bron tracked me down and gave it back to me – it had fallen into her coat pocket while we were talking.

I know I must have a pic with just Bron and I but I couldn't find one but Jen always makes a picture better!

Ally Blake – Ally and I were picked up by Harlequin at about the same time. She was registering at the conference desk the same time I was at our first conference since being signed. She had these amazing red-gold ringlets and, I cannot tell a lie, I developed a huge girl crush on her. Imagine my surprise to find the next day that she actually had straight hair!

See? Ringlets! Girl crusssssh!

Now for some memories with the others……

Michelle and Annie – you know, I don’t remember formally meeting either of these women but I feel like they’ve just always been in my circle. Michelle and I are scarily alike in many ways it’s almost like we were separated at birth and for sure, after every conference there’s going to be a 2am pic of us that is not very flattering…..I remember attending a couple of early Harlequin functions with Annie where I met her lovely hubby but the moment of introduction….I’m just not sure. 

Annie and I at one of those early Harlequin functions with Robbie Grady and Lisa Chaplin

This was breakfast at the Windsor, the morning after the last Melbourne conference. Because why not?

The most recent Harlequin do - haven't aged a bit.....

One of those 2 am shots.....

Sue and Louisa – my fellow medical authors. You know, I’m not sure which conference we met at, but I know it was in the bar 😊 I think it was Sydney but there have been many bar meetings since then!  And then they took me under their wing at the Auckland 2011 conference which will be forever seared into my brain because of the tragic loss of Harlequin author Sandra Hyatt who fell ill during the event. I've also hooked up with Louisa in New York in 2015!

Louisa and I with some other medical authors in NYC!

Melanie – I think we first met at a Harlequin author dinner too but again, I don’t remember where or when. Or maybe it was a medical author dinner…I do remember being utterly impressed by Melanie’s dedication to her craft and remember hoping that I could grow up to be like her 😍

Not a great shot of either of us I'm afraid.....we weren't drunk, I promise.

Helen and Kandy – again, I think I’ve known these two via osmosis for such a long time. Always at the same conferences together, hell, last year Kandy and I were on the same flight home from NY together in 2015 😎 Have looked high and low for pics but alas.....

Jen – she’s probably going to kill me for not remembering our exact meeting…it seems like I’ve always know her too. I think she introduced herself to me at a conference….I do know that Rach and I tag teamed to recruit her onto the RWA executive. I told you, you had to watch out for that Rachel Bailey 😊

Okay, I think we were probably a little tipsy in this pic...

Stef – I think Stef and I have only physically met once. Correct me if I’m wrong Stef…and that was in New York! I think most of our correspondence has been online but I think she’s coming to the Brisbane conference this year so we’re going to have to get a drink or two together Ms London for makeup tips if nothing else!

Stef and I with some fellow authors in NYC!
Another Love Cat pic with a ring in!

Five out of the six of us LoveCats at a conference somewhere...the lovely Sharon Archer one of our cats in the wild!

So there you have it. My recollections – patchy and imperfect as they are! I’m sure the cats are going to come on and completely correct me 💗

What about you? I’d love to hear about how you met one of your really good friends.