May 23, 2018

Never on my own - Kandy Shepherd

Writing is a solitary occupation. While we authors come out to play at conferences and book launches and library talks, much of our time is spent sitting behind a computer. For hours and hours and hours we sit there, lost in creating the imaginary worlds and the imaginary people of our stories. On our own.

I’m not the kind of writer who can work in the midst of chaos. I’m also very easily distracted by other people. As deadline approaches—and I always seem to be on a frantic last-minute rush to meet it as I’m a procrastinator, but that’s a different story—my family know I need my space. Luckily, I have a room where I can close the door. I don’t want noise either. No music, just quiet. Which is why I am so often writing late at night and into the early hours of the morning.

Alfie in his favourite box - right near my desk

However, while I’m locked away in my writing cave, I’m not really alone.

Sweet Ivy always likes to be nearby

Always, with four cats, I have feline company of some kind. I haven’t shared photos of my pets for a while so here are my companions who keep me company of the quiet, uncritical kind. 

Our darling Tabitha is 18 now, and has kept me company through lots of books

That is, unless one is hungry or wants to play, or wants to go in and out the door. No need for me to set an alarm to make sure I get up and walk around at regular intervals. There is always a cat who wants in or out of a door!

Darling Cindy, my other old girl probably about 17

P.S. While I’m outside gardening at my little farm, I have not only cats but chickens for company and usually horses hanging around nearby too. But I really had to laugh at the sight of my husband weeding with one of our two pet steers, Squirt and Thimble, keeping him company. 

Thimble helping out with the gardening

The bullies are a miniature breed called Dexters but they’re not exactly tiny! This is Thimble.

Do you have an animal companion of some kind that keeps you company while you work? I’d love to read about it in the comments!

May 20, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Clare Connelly

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch  from Clare Connelly but first we have the winner from Avril Tremayne's steamy smooch last week to announce!

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Fedora. Please contact Avril Tremayne to receive your e-copy of Kiss Don't Tell.

And now for this week's Smooch, from Clare Connelly's latest release, BURN ME ONCE.  

The story…
Ally Douglas has made a deal with Ethan Ash: just sex, no strings, no forever. All she knows about him is that he’s a world-famous rock star and he’s absolutely gorgeous. Their sexual chemistry is instant and magnetic, and this arrangement satisfies their needs. Only now that Ethan has started to break the rules, will Ally be able to stop herself from getting burned?

The setup... 

Ally and Ethan have been involved in a super-sexy affair for a little while now, but Ally is doing her best to keep Ethan at arm's length. She's already been burned in love and is looking for some no-strings attached fun. So when Ethan (who's a world-famous rockstar) has a concert to perform at, Ally elects to stay in his luxurious hotel room, proving that she's independent and not at all swept up in his superstar lifestyle! Only she spends much of the evening checking twitter for the #EthanAsh hashtag...

And finally the concert is over.
It can’t be long now, right?
How long?
I stare at my phone, contemplate messaging him but decide not to. Iknow that I’m desperate to see him; hedoesn’t need to.
It’s almost an hour later when I hear noises outside the hotel room. And with the moment upon me I am nervous suddenly! I stand up uneasily, running my hands down the front of my lingerie, my eyes fixed to the door. I fan my hair from my face quickly, just to give it body, and then I wait.
Just seconds.
But long enough for my heart to flutter and my stomach to twist and my brow to sweat and my mouth to dry out.
I wait, and I stare, and finally he pushes the door inwards.
I’m not sure what I’m expecting. For him to step inside, shut the door, and look around?
He doesn’t. He opens the door and looks right at me. As though he knew exactly where I’d be, exactly how I’d be standing, waiting. Our eyes lock and time ceases to exist. There is a void. A black hole with just us at its cosmic heart.
Who moves first? I can’t say. I know only that we are both moving, and we are both urgent, our arms wrapping around one another, our mouths seeking, our bodies melding. His shirt is wet with perspiration. I wrap my arms around him and seek his mouth. I kiss him and he kisses me, pushing me through the room while his hands roam my back.
I grip his shirt, lifting it, finding his beautiful flesh, his chest, and I drop kisses along the ridge of his neck, down to his pecs. I taste his salty perfection and he laughs, lifting his hands to my wrists and holding me still, holding me back.
My eyes fly to his; hunger must be visible in them. It is almost burning me alive.
‘Not like this.’
‘Like what?’
‘I need to shower. I’m all sweaty.’
I laugh. ‘I don’t care.’ I push his pants down, finding his ass and cupping it in the palms of my hands.
He swears, fisting my hair and pressing his forehead to mine. His eyes are shut, his face scrunched up.
Christ, Alicia.’
‘Shower later.’
I tilt my head, chasing his lips with mine, kissing him, inviting him. Begging him... 

To win a paperback copy of BURN ME ONCE, tell me about your most life-changing concert experience? For me, it was seeing Paul McCartney live in London back in 2006 - he was *amazing*. How about you?

May 18, 2018

To Prince or Not to Prince......

So, the Royal Wedding is planned for tomorrow and not doubt there will be millions of eyes glued to the TV or phone or some other electronic device as it is streamed live...

There appears to be two camps...lovers and loathers.

I'm probably somewhere in the middle. I've never really cared one way or another, since I'm something of a horse enthusiast and a tom-boy, more interested in jeans and T-shirt that dresses and tiaras. I've never quite understood the reverence given to royalty or celebrities, and have never gone ga-ga over movie stars. So not loathing. just a kind of indifference I'm sure is shared by others. Which means I won't be switching the TV onto Megs & Harry's big day tomorrow, although I'm sure I will spot snippets through various media forms.

However, it occurred to me that I do like the occasional royal romance movie.

Of course, the Princess Diaries.....
I love the nerdy Ann Hathaway and of course, Julie Andrews (who will always be Maria Von Trapp to me)

Ever After....
Once of my favorite tellings of Cinderella.....

The Princess Bride....
No royal movie list would be complete without this classic tale.....

And my favorite!
Roman Holiday.....
I love the chemistry between Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck....

Do you have a favorite royal movie?

And will you be watching tomorrow's big event?

May 16, 2018

Anyone for a Picnic?

by Bronwyn Jameson

I’ve been trying to not get TOO diverted by the upcoming royal wedding.  I’m skimming the news feeds, noting the headlines, while avoiding the scuttlebutt on who’s invited, who’s not coming and why, who is likely to embarrass whom, who designed The Dress, etc etc.  

(a)  because I am easily distracted and could spend hour after hour following every detail
(b)  because I get all kinds of irate with the tabloid take on such details.  I’m sure I’m not alone here.

However, one headline earlier this week did entice me to read on. Harry and Meghan have invited some 2,500 ordinary folk to the grounds of Windsor Castle on Saturday so the public will feel part of the celebrations.  The crowd will include members of the royal households, favoured charities, local schools and 1,200 members of the public "from every corner" of the UK and "from a broad range of backgrounds and ages".  

They will watch the arrivals and the departure procession and in between times…well, they’ve been encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful surrounds.  Apparently there have been some complaints about the lack of catering but let’s not go there. I do not want to imagine a line of fast-food trucks setting up on the castle lawns.  No, I want to imagine proper picnicking in the grounds of Windsor Castle. 

I do love a picnic.  Whether that be a simple sandwich in the sunshine or fish and chips by the beach or a properly planned and prepared, multi-course picnic basket matched for the location and special occasion.  If that location/occasion happened to be a royal wedding in castle gardens then I would go all out with an exceedingly posh picnic basket … or, let’s assume money is no object, why not order one fully prepared?  

This, from Fortnum and Mason, would hit the spot.

The Ultimate Banquet Picnic

What about you?  Do you love a picnic?  What would you pack for a royal wedding picnic?

May 14, 2018

Mother’s Day Daughter Style

Ah Mother’s Day. I’m not a big fan of the obviously commercialised days, but hey, I’m very happy to celebrate Mother’s Day.

My husband was away for the day, so my daughter took charge. First, a lovely Sea Mist and Coco Flower candle was presented to me in bed. Then I was rustled up for a walk up to the Byron Lighthouse in the gorgeous sunshine. The water was so clear, we could see around 50 dolphins riding the waves from our perch on the cliff above.

Breakfast next at one of our favourite cafés. I have been craving pancakes forever, so I indulged, as there are no calories on Mother’s Day.

Unfortunately I had to throw down a couple of hours work marking university papers, but then back to Mother’s Day schedule with a walk down our road to ‘our view’ as the sun was slipping. We collected pinecones on the way home and lit a roaring fire – the first of the season.

As I write this I’m digesting the most lovely meal. Pan-seared salmon accompanied by Asian salad and rice – all cooked by my little one who is now cleaning up the kitchen so I can write this.

Have to say, it’s been lovely. Shame we don’t celebrate Mother’s Day once a month. I could get used to this.

Anyone else have a great day yesterday?

May 13, 2018

Sunday Smooch with guest-cat Avril Tremayne

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

But first, we wanted to wish everyone a special Mother's Day. It can be a tough day for those who've lost their beautiful mothers, and you're in our thoughts, as is everyone who's marking this day. We hope you fill it with loved ones, and make some great new memories - or look back on old ones that warm your heart.

Today we have a smooch  from a guest LoveCat - the awesome, RuBy winning, Rita-nominated Avril Tremayne but first we have two smooch winners to announce!

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Laney4. Can you please contact Helen Lacey to receive your Kindle copy of THE CHILD BETWEEN THEM. 

And the winner of Clare Connelly's last Sunday Smooch (a signed paperback of HER WEDDING NIGHT SURRENDER) is Mary Preston! Mary, can you please email Clare with your postal address?

And now, here's Avril! *round of applause* *much excitement*...
Authors generally don’t like identifying their favourite book…but I’m not one of them! I knew The Dating Game was special the moment I started writing it, because the story immediately flew out of my head and onto the page. I laughed, cried, sighed, gasped and shivered all the way through, and at the end I knew it was the best thing I’d ever written. I’ve never been more desperate to have a book published – and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy because it was book 2 in a series, and the first book, Kiss Don’t Tell, had already had twotraditional outings. (Let me tell you, it’s not easy to sell a previously published book to a publishing house, but I prevailed!) Vindication came when The Dating Gamebecame a 2018 RITA finalist.
The story…
Swoon-worthy artist David takes one look at pixie-sized PR manager Sarah and knows he needs to paint her. Problem is, Sarah’s best friend Lane has already called dibs on him and Sarah’s brother Adam (who’s in love with Lane) sees him as the enemy. A tricky situation, but Sarah figures if anyone can tell her why her dating life is so abysmal it’s him, so she does a business-only deal with him: a portrait in exchange for dating advice. Alas, things go off the rails from her first ‘test date’ with a colleague of David’s when the post-date critique session leads to a kiss comparison …

As David stared down into Sarah’s big blue eyes, common sense nudged at his frontal lobe, telling him he was making a mistake. But it was no match for the roar of blood in his veins urging him to prove he was nothing like that anaemic fedora-wearing fucker Craig.
David had the moves, he had the technique, and he had the control to employ both with clinical accuracy. He could get a woman halfway to orgasm from one kiss if he chose to. And at that moment, he chose to, goddammit.
He wrapped his hands around Sarah’s upper arms, and the frailty of her, the ease with which he could circle her arms with a hand apiece, sent the warning whispering through his head again: mistake. For a split-second he hesitated—but then Sarah swayed towards him, her eyelids fluttered closed … and taking her mouth became his sole focus. Her breath hitched, and he fucking lovedthat sound, the vulnerable anticipation of it. When her teeth bit and released her bottom lip, it was the final trigger; he might slow things down, but he wasn’t going to stop.
He drew her in so their chests were just touching, just—God, the torture—and put his mouth on hers for a long, long moment as he absorbed the feeling of having her there. Half of him wanted to slam her against his body and go for broke—the crazy half. The other half, the part of him that was still sane, was scared he’d hurt her if he let himself lose it; she was so damn small.
So he reined himself in hard, comforting himself with the knowledge that there was no need to rush, that it would go further when the time was right, that he could take the time to savour this first real taste of her. He rubbed his mouth softly, inexorably, against hers, waiting for a sign that she was ready for him to go deeper.
It came, the sign, almost immediately. A soft hum that had her lips puffing open. David sucked her top lip into his mouth, using lips and teeth and tongue to explore and taste. She moved impatiently against him, trying to get closer than he would allow, nudging her mouth against his, urging him on, urging him … in? Yes, in. Ahhh, God, yes. He wanted in. In the next second, his tongue was inside her mouth, licking deep and sure, and she was curling her own tongue around his, and it was thrilling the hell out of him. Harsh breaths mingling, bodies twisting, her hands gripping the sides of his T-shirt in greedy fistfuls.
In the midst of it all, he became aware of her thigh sliding up his own, like she was climbing him. Climbing, Jesus God! Well, he could help her with that. He pulled her closer, plastering her against him at last, keeping her right there as he battled to control himself … But it was a lost cause; he was going to explode if he didn’t get her edged into a more strategic position. He slid his arms around her, held her closer still, closer dammit, for a red-hot minute, then slid his hands down to grip her bottom. He lifted her against him until the juncture of her thighs was right there, where he needed it, where he was aching, throbbing for her.
Her hands were in his hair now. He wanted to rip the dress off her, tumble her to the couch, shove himself so deep inside her she’d never forget it. He hitched her again, rubbed against her to the point of lunacy, took a hurried step towards the couch. He was going to have her, take her, right now.

Avril is giving away an e-book copy of Kiss Don't Tell, the first book in this captivating series. To be in the draw to win, answer this question: Have you ever had dating advice from a friend? Did it steer you right or wrong? 

May 11, 2018

Making the Most of Time

Have you ever found yourself stuck unable to just do the things you usually do?
Six weeks ago I had a hip upgrade- I call it that because the new one's a darned sight better than the old sucker. Everything went well and I did some research in hospital for future books. I mean, what else was I supposed to do when I only had exercises and learning to navigate on crutches to do? And read and do crosswords.

Then I went home. And that's where the fun started.

I read. Thank goodness for the tablet.

I watched my favourite crime investigation channel - for hours and hours.

I cross stitched, finally finishing Santa after more than two years and 71,100 stitches.

I walked and exercised.

I navigated the kitchen and baked chocolate zucchini cakes to use up the excess zucs. And overcooked some of them.

And I worked on my new book. I also sold the latest one - ER Doctor's Forever Gift.

But it all drove me nuts. I'm not good at being confined. Which means I drove my DB crazy too. Probably why he insist (not very hard) we celebrate with champagne last night since I got the all clear yesterday - life has returned to normal.
My family and friends. Love 'em to bits but I've learned they can be so bossy. Don't walk on the gravel, don't dry the dishes, don't go so fast. Grrrr. Actually, don't dry the dishes was okay.
And I have never met so many doctors as I have in the past six weeks, and I worked in the medical world. Someone would tell me what I could do and we'd have a darn good laugh and I'd carry on as my consultant told me to.
But seriously, I appreciate how special these people are and they can tell me what to do as much as they like. I will continue to ignore them and we'll still always be close.

How have you coped when confined to barracks? Or what do you think you'd do if this happened?