Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dairy Free Sultana and Cornflake Cookies

A while ago I posted about living dairy free, and through a lot of experimentation, have started compiling some every day kind of recipes with dairy alternatives. Today I thought I'd share one of my favorites, which are also a hit with the kids -- Sultana and Cornflake Cookies

125gm (or half a cup) of *Nuttlex
2/3 cup of caster sugar
1 tea spoon of vanilla essence
1 & 1/4 cups self raising flour
1 tablespoon of **Vitasoy Oat Milk
1 & 1/2 cups of cornflakes
1/2 cup of sultanas

Method:
1)  Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
2) Cream Nuttlex and sugar until light and fluffy, and then add vanilla essence
3) Add sifted flour, mix until just combined
4) Add milk and stir to form dough
5) Lightly fold in cornflakes and sultanas
6) Line a tray with baking paper. Measure out teaspoon-sized portions of the mixture. Roll into balls and then press down lightly onto tray.
7) Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown.
8) Enjoy! ...Personally I like mine along side a cup of tea :)

* I use Original Nuttlex, but they have many different varieties, so go with whichever you like
** I've tried a lot of milk alternatives; soy (which I ended up intolerant to) rice milk, almond milk, etc. My own personal preference is Oat Milk. Its thicker than rice milk, and has a nicer taste I think, plus I've found if you use it in cooking, it tends to act like real milk, thickening up in dishes and adding a nice creaminess.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thespian Tuesday With Louisa Mack



Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are.      
Hi, I'm Louisa Mack and I live in Brisbane in northern Australia. For the most part I write contemporary romance with a distinct Australian flavour but I also write historical romance because I can't resist history.

Please tell us a bit about your book.  
My book is called Cooking Up Trouble and, you guessed it, there's a lot of food involved. Ally French is an award-winning chef and the lawyer handling her godfather's will is Edward McGrogan, the unnervingly attractive lawyer who represented her ex in the break-up of their business. Ally has to try to resist him and work with him if she is to keep the pub she has inherited in the middle of the outback because somebody wants her gone.

What was the motivation/idea behind this book/these characters?  
I drove past the pub at Betoota in the Diamantina region of far western Queensland and did a double take. Yes, there is a pub smack bang in the middle of nowhere and the owner had not long died when I came across it. I thought, what if you inherited this place? What if you were female and single and inherited a pub in the middle of nowhere? And because I'm not completely heartless with my characters I invented a small village nearby so Ally wasn't alone.

Did you enjoy writing this book, or did you have some tough times with it?  
There were parts of the process that I loved but I was doing my Masters by Research into writing methods at the time and this poor story was the lab rat and there were days when we crossed swords severely. Actually, it was me with the sword, hacking out huge chunks of the story that went nowhere.

When / Where / How do you write? 
 I write during the day for the most part and I have an office where I closet myself away but I also like to take notes in longhand from time to time and that can happen anywhere, often in bed at night. This year I'm going to experiment with cafe writing. As for how I write, I like to make a collage and a soundtrack for each story before I begin. They help immerse me in the story when I'm writing and re-immerse me when the outside world interrupts the process. Next I do some exploratory writing about the main characters to get a feel for their backstory and inner feelings. That helps to establish what motivates them and what will drive them into conflict. For example Ally from Cooking Up Trouble has trust issues after what happened with her ex and their deli/cafe so it takes something for her to trust Edward. I've also learnt that if the story is fun to write then it will be fun to read so I'm using that as a guide these days. 

Do you have some other qualification/interest/something else you do besides being a writer? 
Before I studied writing I was a potter for many years. I still teach pottery four evenings a week. When I'm not writing or up to my elbows in clay I love to cook or poke about in the garden. I especially love to cook things I've grown in my patch and this year I'm very proud of the ginger, tumeric and galangel I've grown so we'll be eating Asian food for the next little while.

What book/s are you reading at the moment?  
I've just finished reading The Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe and I loved it, didn't want it to end. Currently I'm reading Cracking Creativity by Michael Mihalko and oh my gosh it is interesting.

Do you have any authors who were your inspiration/hero?  
There are so many fantastic romance writers and the published authors in RWAustralia are a wonderful support to those of us who aspire to follow in their footsteps so I'm finding it hard to narrow it down. I have done several online courses with Lania Diane Rich whose books I also love and she has been a great inspiration to me. I've also done workshops with Anne Gracie and Alexandra Sokoloff who both inspired me. I love the humour in Jenny Crusie's and Kelly Hunter's books and I love the way Joanna Bourne, Anne Gracie and Jo Beverley write history. I'm inspired by the way Laura Kinsale, Melissa Marr and Fiona Lowe build character and the way Nora Roberts and Lisa Gardner build suspense is a revelation. For plotting I'm awed by Melissa Marr, Rick Riordan and Laura Kinsale and the way Stephen King came back to writing after that catastrophic accident is pure inspiration.

What are you working on right now?  
Well, they say you should write what you know so I'm working on a story about a Brisbane potter who gets herself into difficulty with a loan and a couple of sociopathic property developers who want her land. When the re-writes for that are done the historical novel I wrote last year will be ready for a go over. And right now I'm listening to Welcome to My Nightmare by Alice Cooper which is the lead song in the soundtrack for the my story. It's going to be an exciting year.

And now to buy the book...
 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Muse with Annick Weilche

In today's Monday' Muse, we have author Annick Weilche visiting, who has a short story out in the Autumn edition of That's Life! Fast Fiction compilation. So let's get the story behind the story...

I've always wanted to write Romantic Suspense. Love watching a good 'flick' on tv and mostly read Romantic thrillers. My favourite authors are Elizabeth Lowell and Amanda Quick. All my stories have an element of suspense and "A Second Chance" (which will appear in the Autumn issue of that's life! Fast Fiction on 25 February)is set in a coastal village similar to my favourite holiday destination. I'm a Piscean and come from a tropical island, therefore, I know the beach, the sun, the ocean and holidays and what a fabulous setting they make for romance to be born and thrive in.
 
I am currently working on a novel, set on a tropical island and my hero is a detective. (surprise, surprise!)
 
 Thanks for sharing Annick, and everyone, look out for a copy of That's Life! Fast Fiction at your newsagents to read A Second Chance.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Sojourn with Suzi Love

Hi, I'm Suzi Love and the year is 1843. I'm thrilled to be taking you on a train journey through the English countryside with the heroine of my new book, Embracing Scandal. 

Lady Rebecca Jamison is travelling with her sisters to the country estate of Lord and Lady Hetherington, and though Becca doesn't know it yet, she is about to place herself within the grasp of her enemy. But for now, Becca and her family are enjoying the novelty of traveling to the country by train, in contrast with past years when the only way to travel was by carriage over dreadful roads.

The family departs from one of the new and bustling rail stations in London.

Then the steam train cuts across large tracts of country that Becca had never travelled before, because this land has always been private and many of the landowners are angry that the new railways dissect their estates.

Along the way, Becca sees crowds of onlookers who come to watch every train pass as it is still such a novelty. But often the people stand too close to the tracks and Becca and her sisters are terrified that one of them will be knocked over when the steam blasts out of the train's furnaces.

 The engine driver pulls hard on his whistle to warn them to stand back and the train chugs out of the country station.  

Becca's train passes slowly over one of the new high viaducts and she can look down on the river they are crossing. All these new railway bridges make the trip to the country much shorter than it used to be.

Along the way, there is plenty of room on the train to move about and talk to the other passengers that Becca knows, including the Duke of Sherwyn, who Becca has coerced into helping her find enough proof about the illegal investment syndicate so she can go to Scotland Yard and demand justice be done. 

Becca and her family are pleased to finally arrive at Lord Hetherington's estate for a weekend of country pleasures, including horse riding and archery.   

Hope you've enjoyed this small journey with my heroine and hero. 



Embracing Scandal 
The first in my scandal series with heroines whose scientific knowledge and intellect are an affront to increasingly prudish early Victorian society. A lady, a mathematical genius, saves her family from financial ruin by dabbling in the London stock exchange. When a greedy syndicate threatens them, she begs help from her nemesis the duke, her lifelong friend before a scandal involving her cousin. As the duke and his lady rekindle old passions, he uses old skills as a spy to protect her. After beating the illegal consortium, he faces the even greater challenge of convincing this self-sufficient spinster of the benefits of becoming his duchess.

Author Bio 
Suzi Love now lives in a sunny part of Australia after spending many years in developing countries in the South Pacific. Her greatest loves are traveling, anywhere and everywhere, meeting crazy characters, and visiting the Australian outback. She adores history, especially the many-layered society of the late Regency to early Victorian eras. In and around London, her titled heroes and heroines may live a privileged and gay life but Suzi also likes to dig deeper into the grittier and seamier levels of British life and writes about the heroes and heroines who challenge traditional manners, morals, and occupations, either through necessity or desire.

Social Media Places 
Web/ Blog - http://www.suzilove.com
Suzi's Magazine -  https://www.rebelmouse.com/suzilove/
Suzi's Daily Gossip Newspaper - http://paper.li/f-1350000229
Face Book Page - http://on.fb.me/NGeZcp
Twitter - http://twitter.com/suzilove


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Snippet Sunday - Second Chance by Carla Caruso



Welcome to Snippet Sunday! Today we have Destiny Romance author Carlo Caruso with us to share an excerpt from her latest realease:


Second Chance is a romantic comedy, out February 10, involving time-travel back to the summer of 1998! After a disastrous 36th birthday, Flora wishes she could be 20 again and delete all her romantic mistakes. She wakes to find she has gone back in time, but things don’t go to plan. Here’s an excerpt…

‘I thought I said no questions.’ I sigh, fluffing up the feather boa I’ve stolen from the makeup room, currently draped over my semi-naked front in an attempt at modesty. This is where the Old Me’s tendency to throw caution to the wind got me: Major Humiliation Land.
Lance shakes his head, next to me in his Capri, parked in the shadowy side street alongside Xavier’s studio. TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ wafts from his radio. ‘You can’t turn up looking like that and expect me not to wonder what the hell is going on. You could be caught up in something terrible for all I know, like, I don’t know…a prostitution ring or something.’
I roll my eyes. ‘Thank you very much, but I’m not. Trust me, this,’ I gesture at my poor excuse for an outfit, including a pale blue hand towel masquerading as a skirt and, of course, my black bra, ‘looks worse than it is.’
Lance bangs a hand on the steering wheel, looking anywhere but at me. ‘Do you need more shifts at the newsagency? Is that what this is?’
Oh, man. He really thinks I’m moonlighting as an exotic dancer. He has me pegged for that sort of girl. I’m mildly offended. A sigh escapes through my gritted teeth.
‘Look.’ I turn around, readjusting the towel on my lap so I don’t reveal quite so much thigh. Unfortunately, the fabric has a suspect-looking stain in one corner. Ew. ‘I’ll tell you what happened only if you swear not to tell Ruben or Clementine or, okay, anyone for that matter. Promise?’
Lance glances at me, then, flushing, looks ahead again, his jaw clenched. ‘Fine.’
I suck in a breath, watching a fly tiptoe across the dashboard. Right. Speeding up my explanation might make it less painful, like ripping off a Band-Aid. ‘Okay, I responded to an ad in the paper about posing for a semi-nude portrait for an artist – a respected artist – but I got cold feet. Bad. I realised what a stupid impulsive idea it was and suddenly wanted to get the hell out of there. So I called you, then escaped out of the bathroom mid-shoot. Hence,’ I look down, ‘my lack of proper clothing.’
Thank goodness phones with cameras weren’t ubiquitous in the nineties. It would have been a money shot to catch me wiggling through the window in next to nothing. My arms and legs bear the scratches. Lance remains stony-faced as though processing the information.

Available from:

And don't forget to visit Carla's website:

Thanks for sharing  your snippet, Carla, its been wonderful having you as a guest!

Friday, February 15, 2013

SFR Brigade Presents... Sanctuary

"Oh, come now. We're not so bad, are we?"

The voice behind her sent a jolt of surprise through her system. Tori glanced over her shoulder and took a swift breath as she pushed to her feet, away from the chair. She backed up until she bumped into the desk and then skirted around it. Not that she wanted to be any closer to Tio, but he seemed the lesser of two evils when put up against the angel who'd manifested into the room. Like all angels, he stood over six feet tall, with broad shoulders, a trim waist and totally gorgeous. His black hair was cut short, almost military, while his blue eyes were crystalline in clarity. He wore a loose, dark shirt over dark leather pants, a luxury in this day and age. No doubt about it. If he'd been human, she'd be trying to work out the quickest way to get him naked. So much hotness wasted on scuzbag.

Tio pushed the security alert, causing the angel's lips to curl into a sardonic grin. "Intership security, you really think I can't block that?"

"What do you want?" she demanded. A sickening chill swept through her, far worse than the apprehension she'd felt this morning. He didn't need to respond to her question, because she already knew the answer.

"I want you, Toriane." His sharp, blue gaze settled on her with disconcerting intensity.



Sanctuary 
For four hundred years, angels have been at war with demons while humans fight both, trying to survive. As the conflict destroys world after world, there is a race to terra-form planets for colonization before humankind is wiped out altogether.

Toriane Cresol is part of a team leading the terra-forming charge. On assignment, she stumbles across a scribe and six warrior angels hiding sacred relics. Within a few hours, she comes face to face with A'albiel, an angel sent by Archangel Michael to protect her from the demons, who want to know what she saw.
 
A'albiel rips Tori from her life and takes her on a flight across the galaxy. Their destination is Sanctuary, a planet protected by ancient pacts, and the only place the demons can't get her. Although hate for angels and demons alike is ingrained deeply within her, Tori can't fight the growing spark of attraction between her and A'albiel. Bit by bit, everything she once thought or believed is eroded away, replaced by the knowledge that if she and A'albiel don't make it to Sanctuary, the fate of the entire universe could be in peril.
Buy from...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thespian Tuesday with Cassanda Dean



Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are.
Thanks for having me on your blog, Jess! Hi peeps, I’m Cassandra Dean and I mostly write historical romances. I seem to jump around a bit, with stories set in Ancient Rome, Early Victorian England, Old American West and even a few contemporaries. To top it off, I have plans to write a Steampunk series as well.

I’m from Adelaide, South Australia, and I’m gearing up for the Festival and the Fringe. Such a wonderful time of year, when thousands of people pour into Adelaide to celebrate arts and culture and super fun times… Can’t wait!

Please tell us a bit about your book.
FOOL’S GOLD is second in The Diamond Series and part of Decadent Publishing’s Western Escape. All Western Escape books are set in the fictional town of Freewill, Wyoming, and I was lucky enough to be able to do a sub-series set in the Old West. Here’s the blurb:

Christmas in Freewill
Christmas Eve, the Diamond Saloon is empty of its people, and Pearl la Monte has a hankering to retire early. A pounding at the Diamond’s door rids her of such a fool notion. Her irritation rises when she sees the prissy, polite-like Garrett standing outside.
Ethan Garrett has a powerful need to gain succor. When the saloon’s voluptuous redheaded singer scowls at him from the threshold of the Diamond, he doesn’t stop to think on how his ire at her has disappeared. Or how he just wants to spend some time in her company.
When a blizzard storms in, trapping them, will they spend their time arguing or find their irritation for each other disguises something more?

What was the motivation/idea behind this book/these characters?
I think with this book I was going with a theme of acceptance – Pearl and Ethan both need someone to accept them as they are. Actually, that theme runs through a lot of my work. Huh. Well, there you go.

In regards to this, I saw Joss Whedon speak at the Sydney Opera House about writing from your ‘dark place’, from an issue you possess deep inside that you’re trying to work through (more about Joss below). It was such an eye-opening talk, and really resonated with me. I think it’s very true that authors write from this place inside them, a place that is small and scared. So, in a way, we’re all performing self-therapy when we write…Puts a different slant on things, doesn’t it? J

Did you enjoy writing this book, or did you have some tough times with it?
This one wasn’t too bad at all. I had struggled with the previous book in the series, ROUGH DIAMOND. I couldn’t get the feel of the Western voice right, and I just about tore my hair out before it finally clicked for me. Luckily, all of that pain and suffering was over and done with by the time it came to write FOOL’S GOLD.

When / Where / How do you write?
Whenever I get the opportunity! However, I seem to work problems out while I’m driving. I guess when my brain’s concentrating on the driving, it frees up my subconscious to make connections I couldn’t find when I’m focusing on the problem. Tis always the way, isn’t it??  I also do a lot of plotting when I’m having a massage… Good excuse to have one, methinks!

Do you have some other qualification/interest/something else you do besides being a writer?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Arts (Communication Studies), which is a very pretty decoration on my wall ;) In my other life, I work in a financial institution, which is great as my brain is taken up with financial matters during the day and then at night, I can be all creative and stuff.

What book/s are you reading at the moment?
I just finished re-reading Meljean Brook’s Guardian series, in preparation for the last one to be released in September (come on, September!). I’m currently re-reading Richelle Mead’s The Golden Lily, second in her Bloodlines series, in preparation for the release of the third book, The Indigo Spell. Hmm. I seem to do a lot of re-reading!

Do you have any authors who were your inspiration/hero?
My F4E and critique partner, Lucy Clark, has been invaluable in this caper. She’s encouraged me, supported me and taught me so much about the writing. Yay for Lucy!

I’m also a MASSIVE FAN of Joss Whedon. MASSIVE. There are no words to convey the depth of my adulation of this man. If you would like a masterclass on what’s important in writing, watch any of his commentaries on Buffy, Firefly, Cabin in the Woods or anything else. I’m HANGING for his commentary of The Avengers – there’s bound to be some gold there.

What are you working on right now?
The second in The Silk Series, SILK & SCORN. I’m in the process of working out who the characters are as people, what their goals, motivations and conflicts are…and I’m having a blast! I’m really enjoying writing this series, and I’m really glad my editor suggested I turn SILK & SCANDAL, the first book, into a series.

 Do you have any other books out you'd like to mention?
I have several ;)
SILK & SCANDAL – Book 1 in The Silk Series, coming soon. A reputation-conscious barrister and a scandal-riddled lady – what could possibly go wrong?
FOOL’S GOLD – well, you peeps already know about that one!
ROUGH DIAMOND – Book 1 in The Diamond Series. A lady saloon owner and a seemingly empty-headed Englishman. When he wants to buy her saloon, tension – and passion – flares.
TEACH ME – A curious widow and a dissolute earl. Let the lessons begin.
ENSLAVED – A daughter of Rome and a rebellious slave. He is forced to be a gladiator and she must teach him of Rome’s legends…and try not to fall in love.


Thanks for having me, Jess!
Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Tumblr ~ Pintrest ~ Amazon.com



Christmas in Freewill
Christmas Eve, the Diamond Saloon is empty of its people, and Pearl la Monte has a hankering to retire early. A pounding at the Diamond’s door rids her of such a fool notion. Her irritation rises when she sees the prissy, polite-like Garrett standing outside.
Ethan Garrett has a powerful need to gain succor. When the saloon’s voluptuous redheaded singer scowls at him from the threshold of the Diamond, he doesn’t stop to think on how his ire at her has disappeared. Or how he just wants to spend some time in her company.
When a blizzard storms in, trapping them, will they spend their time arguing or find their irritation for each other disguises something more?

Available from Decadent Publishing

Excerpt:

Turning on her heel, Pearl marched off toward the stairs.

A weird kind of panic jolted through Ethan, one he’d never felt before in all his days. It was…he didn’t…. She couldn’t leave him. “Where are you going?”

She whirled to face him, her irritation plain. “I was seeking my bed before your arrival, and now I’m seeking it again. Help yourself to whiskey this one time. I got better things to do.”

Shoving to his feet, he strode to her. “Don’t just walk away when we’re discussing things.”

“We ain’t discussing nothing. You’ll be down here, waiting out the blizzard. I’ll be in my bed, doing what I was gonna before you arrived. That’s the end of it.”

Taking a step, she made to leave him. Again.

He grabbed her arm. “Don’t leave me.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.” Glaring at him, she stood before the bar, her magnificent hair slipping from its pins, her breasts rising and falling.

Abruptly, his mouth went dry. Clearing his throat some, he said, “You’re supposed to offer succor to those in need.”

“We’re closed, remember?” Paint-less lips pressed tight together, she glared up at him.

They were so close he could see the faint marks of freckles on her skin.

Pearl La Monte had freckles.

A kind of haze came over him, tightening his skin and bringing with it something all-fired powerful and completely unstoppable. All the years he’d known her crashed through him, all the times she’d flirted with him and meant something else, all the times he’d seen her perform on stage and wished he could have held such fire.

Grabbing her upper arms, he hauled her against him and, ignoring her shocked gasp, he covered her mouth with his.


Bio:
Cassandra grew up daydreaming, inventing fantastical worlds and marvelous adventures. Once she learned to read (First phrase – To the Beach. True story), she was never without a book, reading of other people’s fantastical worlds and marvelous adventures.

Fairy tales, Famous Fives, fantasies and fancies; horror stories, gumshoe detectives, science fiction; Cassandra read it all. Then she discovered Romance and a true passion was born.
So, once upon a time, after making a slight detour into the world of finance, Cassandra tried her hand at writing. After a brief foray into horror, she couldn’t discount her true passion. She started to write Romance and fell head over heels.

The love affair exists to this very day.

Cassandra lives in Adelaide, South Australia.



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Sojourn - The (Italian) Road Less Travelled with Susanne Bellamy



Buon Giorno.

When we started planning our trip to Italy several years back, expectations of what we would do and see included the standard list:     Rome – Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Colosseum, Vatican; Florence – ‘David’, the Duomo, Boboli Gardens; Amalfi Coast – Blue/Emerald Grottoes, Capri, coastal towns etc

Add in the usual sites and sights and we probably visited them. “Veni, vidi, vinci” and all that. However…travelling with hubby (who regularly climbs in Nepal), there was no chance we’d just do the usual tourist thing. We walked, and stumbled into the best parts of our holiday. They were the impossible to plan bits that made our trip unique. If we hadn’t ‘misplaced’ the entrance to the Boboli Gardens in Florence, we’d have missed a wonderful little family restaurant and a very different view of the Gardens from above as well as the Leonardo machines exhibition.

In Amalfi, we escaped the lower town where tourists milled around shops and waterfront and found a path that led into the hills above. Past grove after grove of lemons (Limoncello, remember?) we climbed stone steps, met a bare-chested man leading his horse, discovered an abandoned farm house, and shared a rustic meal beneath ancient trees. It was peaceful and cool so high above the coast and so rural, a slice of real life. We climbed until boulders and my sandals barred our way but if I’d thought to change my shoes that morning, I swear we’d be climbing still.

On Capri, while most everyone hung around the shops and cafes of the upper terraces by the funicular station, hubby and I meandered past lovely villas set in sub-tropical gardens of bougainvillea and hibiscus on the way to Tiberius’s Villa Jovus. We even spotted a set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarf gnomes, the only Italian gnomes on our entire trip. We and three other people made the trek to the ruins of the high set pleasure palace. At the lookout we paused to appreciate the stunningly beautiful setting before realising this was the spot where Tiberius, one of the nastier Roman emperors, amused himself by pushing those who displeased him off the leap. So few people, so much history and chills down my spine. I loved it.

On our last night in Amalfi, we attended “Amalfi”, a light opera sung in Italian and sur-titled for those of us unlucky enough not to speak the language. Stone walls soared into arched ceilings of the former ship yard now maritime museum. Lights dimmed and wonderful young singers recreated a slice of Amalfi’s history plus a love story with an HEA – what more could you want. It was magical. Yet the audience totalled maybe forty people for this unique experience.

There were many ‘moments’ in our trip. We enjoyed the ‘high end’ experience of being the sole travellers in the Club Car with our own personal attendant on the 300 km/hour train trip from Naples to Rome; and we appreciated the grounding experience of being alerted to the pickpocket trailing us by a young African man we’d shared a doorway with during a Palermo downpour. Humbling, and it shattered a stereotype in the best possible way.

Frost’s poem, “The Road Less Travelled”, could be our travel mantra. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the Colosseum and the Pantheon and Pompeii and the gazillion places I’ve waited so long to visit. But getting off the beaten track offered us our most memorable experiences. One day, some of them may reappear in a story, disguised of course. Even my racing into the men’s toilets by mistake in Florence. Then again…

Ciao.
Susanne 

Susanne's debut book is available now from Lyrical, download from Amazon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Random Wednesday with Kate Belle



Random Chance on Romance
Thanks Jess for having me on your blog. It’s great to have the opportunity to meet new romance readers in the cybersphere – hello to you all!
I’m Kate Belle and I write literary and erotic fiction. I’m in an extremely fortunate position for a new author as I have not one but two novellas recently released (Breaking the Rules and Bloom – see below for blurbs) and a novel, The Yearning, due out in April/May.
How did this gift happen? Bribery? Coincidence? Hard work? Magic? The answer is a little bit of all of those things (except the bribery – that’s definitely not in my repertoir).
The phenomena that was 50 Shades was a boon for writers like myself. Suddenly our unseemly, lurid prose was being sought after as publishers, large and small, recognised the demand for sexy romances. While I’ve always written about sex and relationships, I never pictured myself as a romance writer – you know, pink fluffy skirts and lipstick, blonde beehive do and heavy mascara just weren’t my thing. I didn’t do ‘the-pale-girl-with-hand-flung-over-her-forehead-being-possessed-by-the-testosterone-fuelled-he-man-hero’. That was, until I realised that my view of romance and romance writing was a tad narrow (yeah – alright – stereotyped) and that as a genre, romance is as wild and unpredictable and diverse as the good folk who write it. What a revelation.
It was this revelation that made me realise that my slightly quircky brand of erotic fiction might actually pass muster as romance. With a shift in mindset, the encouragement of my agent and the guidance a very good romance author friend, I took a chance and submitted a proposal to Random House’s new line of e-books, Random Romance. I was aiming for something different. Something that hasn’t been done before (as far as I’m aware anyway). I came up with an idea for a series of novellas about a modern day Don Juan, a man who is handsome, intelligent, and a masterful lover schooled in ancient sexual practices of Tantra, Taoism and Karma Sutra. Ramon Mendez was born.
Each book features a different heroine who varies in age, background, career and marital status, but all of them have one thing in common – they have hit a romantic trouble spot in their lives. In Breaking the Rules Grace has shut love and men out of her life completely, in Bloom Emma feels unloved and invisible to her husband and family. In different ways both of them need to reclaim a sense of being loved and cherished, and Ramon is just the antidote they need to work out what it is they really want and how to get it.
Ramon is almost the perfect man (if there is such a thing). Of Spanish extraction, he is gorgeous (in a Antonio Banderas kind of way), wise, gentle, caring and really knows his way around a woman’s body. But there’s a mystery about him? He adores the women in his life but prefers being single. One can’t help but wonder who will be the one who finally captures Ramon’s elusive heart.
I’m so glad I took a chance on romance because now I can share my gorgeous Ramon and his outstanding bedroom skills with all of you. I hope you get as much pleasure from reading him as I did writing him.


Breaking the Rules: Grace is a beautiful woman in complete control of her world. A long time ago she chose a career over children and marriage, and has never regretted it. Then Ramon Mendez walks into her office. Ramon is about to commence his PhD, a work on erotic literature, and from the outset there is something about him that makes Grace’s blood run hot. Aware of the need to maintain her professional reputation, she rejects his advances, but he persists. And during their intimate supervision sessions, her defences start to crumble, for Ramon’s work is exposing desires within Grace she never knew existed.

Breaking the Rules:


Bloom: Thirty-six-year-old Emma’s life looks as perfect as could be. She loves her solid, straight-laced husband Gary, who has given her three beautiful, if spoilt, children and a secure life. But something is missing. Gary hardly notices her anymore and she feels frumpy and invisible. Her friend, Lisa, talks her into joining a social boot camp class at the local gym. Emma immediately recognises their instructor as the gorgeous runner she sees each evening while walking her dog in the park. He introduces himself as Ramon Mendez. In spite of herself Emma is besotted.
Before long her mind is filled with guilty fantasies of him. One evening, when things at home have become too much to bear, she bumps into him alone in the park. An opportunity presents itself and no one need ever know. Ramon promises and delivers everything that’s missing from her marriage – passion, romance and excitement – but Emma must discover if they are the things she really wants.
Bloom: 


Author Bio
Kate is a passionate author with many strings to her bow. She holds a tertiary qualification in applied chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. She has worked in a video library, a travel agent, cleaned hire campervans, as a Victorian public servant, in a disability organisation and a university sports centre.

Under a different pseudonym Kate has won literary awards and had numerous non-fiction articles published. She believes in living a passionate life and in her time has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Kate lives in Melbourne and juggles her pens with her high-maintenance partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets.
Find out more about Kate’s work through her blog/website: http://www.ecstasyfiles.com
Twitter @ecstasyfiles, 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thespian Tuesday -- Guest Author Nicole Flockton



Today we have joining us contemporary romance author Nicole Flockton. So, let's jump right in and find out all about her...

Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are.
Thanks for having me Jess!  My Name is Nicole Flockton and I’m a born and bred Perth, Western Australia girl, who currently lives in Houston Texas. Talk about going from one extreme to another, but I’m enjoying my time here and have met some great people.

Please tell us a bit about your book.
Bound by Her Ring is essentially a reunion story. Luciano believes his wife has wronged him and wants revenge. Only problem is, Jasmine is suffering from amnesia from a car accident and can’t remember him. The passion between them is far from over and together they learn to trust one another again.

What was the motivation/idea behind this book/these characters?
I love reunion stories so that was the main motivation behind this story. Jasmine’s character came to me first. She was the woman at a very fancy event surrounded by people, but essentially alone. After that, Luciano’s character turned up and their story unfolded.

Did you enjoy writing this book, or did you have some tough times with it?
Well let me just say the very, very first draft of this story is safely hidden on my computer. This was the first manuscript I’d ever written so it evolved A LOT over the years from starting it to actually getting it published. But I have to say after I got a request for the full from another publisher I actually re-wrote about half the book. That was a shock when that happened, but the words poured out of me so I knew I’d got it right.

When / Where / How do you write?
Well I write in our family/living area. My desk is setup in against one wall and on the opposite wall is the television. I’ve been known to write while hubby is watching an action flick – I surprised myself by not writing gunshots or bombs exploding in the book!  If I have to go somewhere where I’ll be sitting for a couple of hours, I’ll take the IPad and work on the manuscript while waiting.

Do you have some other qualification/interest/something else you do besides being a writer?
Well when I moved to Houston in 2009 the people I worked for said they still wanted me to do part of my job remotely. So for the last 3 and half years I’ve been doing that. It’s great I loved my job so having to leave it was heart breaking. I’ve got the best of both worlds.

What book/s are you reading at the moment?
Currently I’m reading “Girl in a Vintage Dress” by Nicola Marsh.

Do you have any authors who were your inspiration/hero?
I can’t say anyone author inspired me per se. But I have a whole heap of favourite authors. Plus I’ve got a lot of help and advice from both Australian authors and the authors I’ve met at my Local RWA Chapters here in Houston.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a book that is linked to my first book Masquerade. But I have a lot of ideas going on in my head but no time to get them down.

Do you have any other books out you'd like to mention?
Well my first book was released in October 2012 and it’s called “Masquerade” published by Crimson Romance. It’s about two people who meet at a New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball and spend the night together. They thought that was it, until they find themselves working in the same hospital and closely together. 




Luciano Morelli has perfected a plan to get revenge on his runaway wife; confronting her at the opening gala for her father’s hotel. What he didn’t plan on was the flaring of emotions the moment he sees her again.
Jasmine Anderson has no memories of her husband. Her only link to him are the wedding rings she wears. Luciano storms back into her life announcing he is her husband, demanding she join him on a business trip or see her father’s livelihood crumble.
Passion reignites as they rediscover what first drew them together. But more than just memories are lost. Can their bond be rebuilt or will secrets infect their already shattered trust? 






Buy the book!


On her very first school report her teacher said ‘Nicole likes to tell her own stories’.
It wasn’t until after the birth of her daughter and after having fun on the community board of eharlequin.com that she finally decided to take the plunge and write a book.
The stories she writes are contemporary romances with either a medical setting or in the boardrooms of high powered business. Nicole enjoys taking two characters and creating unique situations for them.
Apart from writing Nicole is busy looking after her very own hero – her wonderfully supportive husband, and her two fabulous kids. 

Find Nicole:
Twitter
Facebook

And now read an excerpt...



“The deal’s done, Luc.”
A sense of satisfaction filled Luciano Morelli. “Excellent, I’ll speak to you soon.”
“Wait, Luc.”
Luc tamped down the impatience filling him. “What is it, Nick?”
He could hear his business partner and friend take a deep breath. Whatever Nick was about to say, Luc knew he probably wouldn’t appreciate it.
“Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
Luc knew what he was referring to but decided to pretend ignorance, he didn’t need to answer to anyone.
“Of course I want to proceed with the deal, it makes good business sense.”
“Luc, this is me you’re talking to, don’t try and fob me off. You know exactly what I’m talking about.” Luc could almost hear Nick running his fingers through his hair. “Are you sure this is what you want. She’s your wife. You must have lov…”
“She won’t be my wife for much longer and I’d appreciate you not interfering with my personal life.”
A laugh filtered down the line. “I’ve known you too long to be intimidated by that tone, Luc. I won’t mention it again, you obviously know what you’re doing, but just be careful.”
Luc chuckled as well, he and Nick went a long way back, he knew Nick would always have his back. “I’m always careful. Start planning our next takeover.”
Luc ended the call and slipped the phone into the inside pocket of his tuxedo jacket. Everything had fallen into place as he’d planned. As it always did. He didn’t do ‘possibilities’ he did ‘guarantees’.

As he surveyed the sumptuous grand ballroom, taking in the sparkle and glitter of the dresses and jewels surrounding him, he saw her. A beautiful woman appearing to be alone amongst a crowd of people, looking like an angel with the light reflecting off her long blonde hair. Her aubergine dress was the most striking dress in the room. It’s simple design and lack of adornment surprised him. It hugged her every curve. Curves he knew intimately. Curves that still haunted his dreams even though he tried to banish them each night. He clenched his fists against the bolt of desire that fired through his blood. He had to remember what lay behind that angelic persona—a heart of stone.
He remembered what she’d callously done and rage killed the desire that had threatened to take over his body. He wanted to grab her arms, force her to look into his eyes, and ask why. Why had she shattered their dreams? Had she really thought he would let her go? He’d walked out of that hospital all those weeks ago wounded. Once he’d hardened himself from feeling anything emotional again, he knew what he had to do. Tonight was the start of his plan.
He moved out of her range of vision, not wanting her to notice him. He wanted to see how she acted before he played his cards. He glanced quickly to his left hand, to the gold ring that still encircled his finger. He should’ve taken it off when he’d walked out of the hospital all those weeks ago. He wondered if she still considered herself to be married. Not that she would be married for much longer. As if the few days they’d spent together could be called a marriage. Never again would he get caught up in the ‘romance’ of a tropical island. He never let his emotions rule him. The one time he had, had led to where he stood tonight. In a room full of people he didn’t know. At a celebration that, with a quick phone call, he could bring it all crashing down on his wife and her father’s heads.
His hand itched to reach inside his jacket pocket, pull out his cell-phone again and dial the numbers necessary to bring this party to an abrupt end.
No, that would be too easy. He had a plan he’d carefully constructed. One he intended to play out as it should be. Soon Jasmine Anderson would wish she’d never attempted to betray him. He had returned and he would make her pay.

Jasmine stood at the side of the room, paying little attention to her surroundings as she sipped her mineral water, the bubbles tickling as they slithered down her throat. Opening nights held little appeal. Most of the people attending them were fake. One minute they were air kissing, the next they were gossiping about each other behind their hands. Wanting to be seen at every event as if they were important.
She longed for her couch, her comfy pajamas and watching trashy reality shows on her television. Unfortunately she had no choice but to be in this ballroom tonight. Her father had achieved his lifelong business dream and, as his daughter, his only family, it was her duty to stand by his side. Just as he had been by her bedside after her car accident. The only time he’d ever helped her. He had been like a bear protecting her, rushing her to a very private hospital where no visitors were allowed so she could recover. At the time she had enjoyed his caring actions, now she wondered if there was more to it.
Yes, obligation sucked, especially when her father had done nothing but ridicule her, her whole life. Perhaps it had taken almost dying in her car accident for him to realise he loved his daughter.
Jasmine shuddered, trying to dispel all thoughts of the aftermath of her accident. Lifting her glass, the rings glittering on her left hand mocked her feeble attempt. Instead of forgetting, the gold and diamond bands were a constant reminder of that black time.
If the gorgeous rings on her finger suggested anything, it was that she was married. But who was he, and where was he? He was the invisible man. Her accident had erased a year of her life. No matter how hard she tried, searched or questioned people, no one had any answers. Oh people had said they’d seen her with a man, but they didn’t know who he was. She’d always been a private person; her father had made sure of that. Screening her friends so much as a teenager, that eventually the girls stopped coming around. Jasmine wondered what it would’ve been like if her mother hadn’t died. It was really no surprise that no one could categorically say if they knew she was in a relationship or not. Let alone married.
She clenched the glass harder as she thought about the man—the phantom—who had pledged his life with hers.
“And where are you now?” she murmured out loud. “Why aren’t you here tonight with me? Why didn’t you search for me after the accident? Why desert me when I needed you the most? Not that father gave you much opportunity to find me.”
A sharp pain above her left eyebrow reminded her why she’d tried to stop herself thinking about her marriage and her father and how her life was pretty sucky at present. She reached up, touching the scarred flesh, pressing it gently in an attempt to soothe the pain. It was another reminder of that black time.
Enough. The past could not be changed. She had to move forward.
Scanning the room again her eyes lit upon a tall, dark headed guest. At that moment he turned and she caught his strong profile. An unexpected rush of awareness zapped through her veins. His jacket moulded his broad shoulders and her hands burned to reach out and touch them, feel the strength hidden beneath the superbly cut jacket. Trace her fingers over his face; follow the contours of his strong jaw.
She wanted him.
She blinked twice, why was she feeling this way? She’d never met him and yet she wanted him? Could he be the one?
As if sensing her scrutiny, he swivelled abruptly. Jasmine tried to avert her gaze. Even though it was impossible, it seemed as if his hands were able to reach out and capture her face. Holding it so he could study her features. She shivered with desire.
The background noise faded as her whole being focused solely on him. His eyes roamed over her body. It could have been his hands touching her, drinking in her body with every touch. Finding her curves and learning her unique shape. Her breath quickened, shallowing as the desire she initially felt for him started a consuming fire within her. Her nipples tightened and puckered against the fabric of her strapless bra.
Jasmine went to take a step forward. Let herself be enfolded in his embrace. Feel his hands as they caressed her. Her skin felt alive, burning under his gaze.
I’ve found you again.
The words whispered through her mind, so subtle yet so clear. She wanted to look around to see who had spoken them, so sure they had been spoken out loud. But she couldn’t. A man she didn’t know, with one look, was consuming her entire being.