Aug 30, 2017

Interview with Andrea Bolter

Today we're chatting with debut author, Andrea Bolter.

A big LoveCat welcome to you Andrea, it’s fabulous to have you join us here today. Grab a glass of something lovely and bubbly, help yourself to a delicious cyber snack, and pull up a banana lounge. We’re always so excited to chat to a brand new author. Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication with Harlequin Mills & Boon?

Hi Michelle and LoveCats! I’m so happy to be joining you. And so excited for my debut with Harlequin Mills & Boon. To tell you about me, my background is in journalism. After about 250 articles and a couple of awards, I decided the time was now or never to fulfil my lifelong dream of publishing fiction. Back in my 20s, I had written an “artsy” literary novel that agents and publishers loved, yet no one bought! I wrote a screenplay that “we enjoyed but have no interest in pursuing.” I did publish a couple of short romance stories in a women’s magazine. When I firmly decided that I wanted to write series romance novels, I read at least 100 Mills & Boons in a row, and then felt ready to try my hand at one. I got very lucky because HER NEW YORK BILLIONAIRE was my first manuscript, and it sold on my first submission.

With all of that "homework" behind you, I doubt luck had anything to do with it! So...Her New York Billionaire is your debut romance. It’s no secret that I love the Romance line (Forever in Australia/New Zealand, Cherish in the UK), but can you tell us what drew you to write for this particular line, and what it is that you love about it?

Although I’d read Mills & Boon along with other romances for years, when I did that concentrated reading of all those books in a row, those in the Romance series were always the ones that I enjoyed the most. So it was only natural to write one. I think what I love is the zoomed-in lens on the hero and heroine. They are together on almost every page, and all of my attention is focused on their journey to each other. Their need for one another is so obvious it’s almost desperate, and I get swept up in that emotional intensity.

Is there a particular incident or inspiration that led to the writing of Her New York Billionaire? And what’s your favourite scene in the book? Would you like to share a (shortish) snippet?

There’s a phrase I had in my head, “There are eight million stories in the naked city tonight. This has been one of them.” (I looked it up and it’s from a 1950s television show called Naked City.) That made me think about how you can walk down a street in Manhattan and point up to any apartment window, and wonder what drama is taking place within those walls. That inspired me to create a story that begins when two strangers both think they have use of the same apartment for the night. I live in Los Angeles, also a populated place, but for some reason the image of peering into a New York apartment window sparked this tale (maybe because I’m nosy)! Here’s a snoop into Holly and Ethan’s first evening together:
     Surely Ethan wouldn’t mind if she took one shiny red apple.
     Holly hoisted herself up to sit on the countertop. Let her legs and bare feet dangle. She smiled remembering the apple’s symbolism here in New York. Like so many others, she was here to take her bite.
     With one satisfying chomp after the next, her mind wandered about what might be.
     “Miss Motta!” Ethan looked startled to find her sitting on the kitchen counter after he finished his call. “Must you always make yourself comfortable?”
     Holly shrugged her shoulders and slid off the countertop. Whatever. If her sitting on the counter was a big deal to him, she wouldn’t do it.
     She jutted out her chin. “I bet you haven’t eaten.”
     “Not since early this afternoon on the flight,” he confessed. “Is there food?”
     “Looks like there’s eggs and some things for breakfast.”
     “We will have something delivered.”
     “Sounds good to me.”
     “What would you like?”
     “You know what? I haven’t been to New York in years. Want to get some famous New York pizza?”
     “Pizza it is.” He swiped on his tablet. “Yes, Giuseppe’s. I ordered from there quite a bit when I was last in New York, working on a project. What type of pizza do you like?”
     It was nice of him to let her choose. This man was a bundle of contradictions. Scolding one minute, courteous in the next.
     “Everything,” she answered, without having to think twice.
     “You know—pepperoni, sausage, salami, mushrooms, onions, peppers, olives. The whole shebang.”
     “Everything...” he repeated. “Why not?”
     “I’ll pay for my half.”
     His mouth twitched.
     “Twenty minutes,” he read out the online confirmation.
     She eyed the kitchen clock.
     “I guess I’m staying tonight.” She crunched on her big apple.
     A bolt of lightning struck, flashing bright light through the window.

Who are your favourite contemporary romance writers (we’re all devout romance readers here so I’m just going to take it for granted that like the majority of us you love Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Georgette Heyer :))?

Well, I’m going to break romance ranks and tell you that it was actually the Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich that changed my life. Something about the experience of those books…so fun and funny and fast and vivid, with crazy secondary characters and wild situations and two yummy men all in the mix. I’ll admit that I eventually moved on, but I found the first dozen or so in that series so entertaining, they are what inspired me to write a so-called “genre” novel. Also, I feel that I’ve been deeply influenced by romantic comedy movies. Is there a more exquisitely drawn romance than “When Harry Met Sally” or “Four Weddings and a Funeral” or “It Happened One Night?” And I’ll just say two more words on the topic of favourite writers. Nora. Roberts.

And finally, we love pets of all shapes and sizes here at the LoveCats. Do any furred or feathered friends share your life…or maybe you have plans for one to grace the pages of an upcoming book?

I don’t know if this is true where all of you readers are, but it’s great to be a dog in L.A. at this particular moment in time. It’s really only in the past couple of years that I’ve started to notice dogs EVERYWHERE. Inside restaurants, markets, hospitals and even offices, no longer left in a hot car while the driver is off having all the fun. I don’t know if something “officially” changed, but lately bow wows have just about the same rights as all citizens in my wonderful melting pot of a city. As to including animals in future romances, much like a man with a baby, a hero who is good to his pet is hard to resist!

Andrea is giving away a signed copy of Her New York Billionaire to one lucky reader (winner's choice of either the North American edition or the 2-in-1 UK edition that also features The Waitress's Secret by Kathy Douglass). To go into the draw just tell us if, given the chance, you'd like to spend a week in New York.

Andrea's debut Romance is a September release! But it's on the shelves now in Australia (so you can go and grab the two-in-one with me! :-) ).

Amazon Australia
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Aug 28, 2017

Island love

I recently spent a week on Keswick Island which is a private residential island population 20 - yes 20!! I had to get there by a really tiny plane (12 minute flight) which is so not my thing but let me tell you - it was worth it!

And here's why.....
The house.

The beach.

The Island

But mostly because I was so freaking chilled not even the prospect of rays in the water freaked me out!

See - this is my chilled AF face!

It was supposed to be a "working" holiday but, to be honest, I didn't get anywhere near as much done as I wanted but I read a bit and it was sooooo nice to just relax in a place where there is sunshine and nature and beauty and hardly any people.

And champagne, of coure.

What about you? How do you chill?

Aug 27, 2017

Retro Smooch with Stefanie London

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a retro smooch Stefanie London from but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Katrina Whittaker.

Can you please contact to receive your prize by emailing Amy Andrews at amy(at)amyandrews(dot)com(dot)au

And now for today's Retro Sunday Smooch from Only The Brave Try Ballet. This book was Stefanie London's first ever novel, and it celebrated it's third anniversary this past July.

Step up, Grant Farley…not your typical ballet student! 

Football pro Grant Farley is nursing an injury and needs to get back into shape fast. Ballet wouldn't be his first or even his last choice, but he's desperate. Enter tantalizingly prim teacher Jasmine Bell one disapproving arch of her eyebrow and Grant knows he'll enjoy getting her tutu in a flutter!

But it's not only Grant's flexibility that Jasmine's pushing to the limit! He knows she feels the heat between them, so why won't she give in to it? Time to convince Jasmine that if she's brave enough to dance en pointe she can certainly handle a fling with him!

Scene set-up
Our hero, Grant, is an Australian Rules Footy player who is currently suffering with a recurring hamstring injury. Much to his horror, his physio has ordered him to take ballet lessons as part of his rehabilitation. Jasmine was a professional ballerina until a car accident ended her career in the Corps de Ballet for one of Australia's biggest ballet companies. Sparks fly when the charming professional athlete and the guarded ballerina go head-to-head in the dance studio.


‘Are you ready to do it on your own?’ Jasmine dropped down from the position so she was an inch or two below eye level with Grant. She tried to unscramble her senses, to focus on the lesson.

‘I can.’ His voice was low, predatory. ‘But don’t you think it’s much more fun when we do it together?’

The air between them was thick with electricity, its gravitation pull unravelling her sensibilities. She so desperately wanted to touch him. Her mouth was dry, anticipation making her pulse race.

He placed his hands over hers and Jasmine jumped at the way her blood pulsed harder and harder.

‘Why so jumpy? Are you uncomfortable being alone with me?’

‘No,’ she whispered.

The problem was she was far too comfortable as he stood close to her. All she wanted to do was melt against him. She envisaged herself pressing against his broad chest and sturdy thighs. Her entire body crackled with excitement as they stood, merely inches apart, in the empty ballet studio.

Why was she feeling like this? He was out of her league—in a league she never wanted to be a part of again. Ever, ever again.

He reached his hands up to her face, cupping the sides of her cheeks in his palms. It was the wrong thing to do; she shouldn’t be going down this path. But desire raced through her veins and filled her with irresistible warmth, overpowering logic. He was intoxicating.

Up close, she felt the pull of his hypnotic stare. The endless blue of his eyes made the rest of the world fall away. It made sense and reason evaporate. Her lips parted.

Grant drew Jasmine’s face to his in a swift and practised movement. Her eyes fluttered closed as his mouth came down. The soft fullness of his lips pressed hungrily against hers, his tongue hot and probing. Jasmine sighed into him. It had been so long since she’d been kissed, and a lifetime since she’d been kissed in a way that made her weak in the knees.

Grant moved one hand from her face, down the length of her arm, and snaked it around her waist, drawing her closer to him. Every inch of her burned as their bodies fused together, the thinness of their workout clothes mimicking the deliciousness of skin on skin. Her hands found their way into the wavy depths of his golden blond hair. It was thick and silken against her palms. Her fingers gripped tightly as he dipped her, demanding deeper access to her mouth.

His breath was hot on her face as his lips moved down her jawline to the slender column of her neck, each kiss searing her skin. He backed her up until she pressed against the wall of the studio, crushed between plaster and the hardness of him.

Stefanie is giving away a signed copy of 'Only the Brave Try Ballet.' To enter the giveaway, answer the following question:

Which sport do you think has the sexiest players?

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

Aug 23, 2017

Tropical bliss — Kandy Shepherd

I just returned from a few days break in tropical north Queensland—the Australian state to the north of New South Wales where I live. I went in search of warmth and relaxation and found both. The winter in my part of DownUnder has been decidedly chilly. Not so in Port Douglas! It was perfect with just-right hot sunny days and water the right temperature to swim in. Bliss!

Note, however that I swam only in the pool. Walking along the lovely Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas I asked a local who was walking her cute dog why no one was swimming.

“Because there could be crocodiles in the water,” she replied somewhat reluctantly, perhaps not wanting to scare the tourists.

EEEK! Sharks I know about, but crocodiles in the surf? Apparently they sneak in from the mangrove swamps that bracket the beach. So no swimming on a beach what wasn’t netted.

The hotel where we stayed has beautiful tropical gardens. What says vacation and sun more than palm trees?

 I realised as I wandered around that the grounds that so much of the beauty of a tropical garden is in its leaves—as colourful as any flower. In fact some of the tropical plants have tiny, insignificant flowers. I just loved those leaves. But sadly tropical plants wouldn’t thrive in my farm garden where frosts are frequent.

Was there something significant I could learn from my trip to enhance my writing? Maybe something about hidden dangers or hidden beauty? Who knows what might sneak out of my subconscious and onto the page! One thing for sure is that the next romance I write will be set somewhere in the tropics!

 What says “vacation” to you? Have you ever been surprised by something unexpected where you’ve visited? Is there something about your home town you think visitors should know? I’d love to read your comments!

PS. I stayed at the QT Resort in Port Douglas. 

Aug 21, 2017

Conference Hopping with Stefanie London

My Romance Writers of America badge
This year I'm attending more conferences than ever. As you're reading this, I would have just finished up at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Brisbane. I also attended the Romance Writers of America Conference in Orlando, Florida back in July. Then I'm off to speak at both Fiction Fest in Connecticut and the Put Your Heart in a Book conference in New Jersey in September and October.

Phew! That's a lot of travel.

Conferences are a great part of being a writer, in my opinion. Yes, they're often expensive to attend and for introverts (including me) they can be challenging. But the pros far outweigh the cons.

So what are the best bits about attending a writers conference?

  • Getting to spend time with my friends that live in other locations. Sometimes conference is the only time I get to see them face to face!
  • Meeting readers. Many of the big conferences, like the Romance Writers of America one, have signings where I get to people who read my books. This is always a surreal moment.
  • Free books. I try to restrain myself from not filling up my suitcase, but it's tough!
  • Meeting editors/agents/publishers and other people whom I often communicate with via email. It's great to speak to the people who help make bring my stories to readers, and to build those relationships.
  • Education. These days I don't always make it to a ton of sessions, so I choose wisely. There's so much information to be gleaned from conferences - both from the presentations and from chatting to other authors.
  • Being around like-minded people. Being an author is a very unique experience, so chatting with other authors always makes me feel better about the ups and downs this career has to offer.
Me and the lovely Alison Stuart

If you're an aspiring author then I definitely recommend that you attend a conference at least once to see what it's like. If you're a reader, there are plenty of reader-focused events in the writing community such as the RT Booklovers Convention.

Attending a writers conference for the first time and not sure what to expect? Here are my tips:
  • If the conference has an app, download it! This will make navigating the schedule so much easier.
  • Leave some space in your luggage for books and other goodies that you will inevitably pick up.
  • Find some cute and comfy shoes to wear, conference involves a lot more walking that you'd think. Especially if the hotel is big and the events are very spread out.
  • Take the opportunity to talk to people. Even if you're shy (don't worry, I am too!) try to say hello to people next to you in the elevator/line/workshop. You're all there for the same reason, so you have inbuilt conversation.
  • Keep all your receipts. In many places you can record such activities as deductions from your taxable income even if you are not yet published. For more information, speak to a tax expert in your area.
Have you ever attended a conference before, whether for writing or something else? What's your best tip for new conference goers? 

Aug 20, 2017

Sunday Smooch with Amy Andrews

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from but first....... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Lyn Williams...

Can you please contact hjlacey (at) bigpond (dot) com to receive your prize. And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Troy........

The first time local Doc Joss Garrity meets Troy, she’s brandishing a lug wrench. The second time, he’s dragging her delinquent teen son home. The third time, he’s in her ER. How he ends up convalescing at her house she’s not quite sure. But it does make it hard to ignore him and their simmering attraction.

Cocky, young Aussie bull rider Troy Jensen has been busted down to the pro-circuit. He needs wins and points to get him back into the big league and a shot at being crowned champ but an injury forces him off the circuit and into the arms of the woman fate keeps putting in his path.

As Troy gets to know Joss, he starts to see a life after bull riding for the first time. But can Joss risk her heart on another man who may not come home one day?Blurb and Cover

Scene set-up

Somehow, injured cowboy Troy Jensen has wangled his way onto Joss's couch and then into the spare room above her garage. Thinking him out, she's ducked up to the room to give it a bit of a spring clean only to discover that Troy is still at home. Very much at home in nothing but a towel and a bunch of fascinating water droplets! 

           She didn’t notice the partially fogged vanity mirror as she walked toward the bathroom, either—two thick fluffy towels in hand. Not until she was inside anyway and a pair of jeans and fringed leather chaps tossed carelessly over the edge of the vanity came into view.
She almost dropped the towels as she spun around.
The Dixie Chicks crooning, there’s your trouble, straight into her ear was a particularly ironic twist.
Joss yanked the earbuds out as she gaped at the man standing in the open doorway of the shower cubicle. Thankfully he was wearing a towel—even if it was positioned sinfully low on his hips.
But that still left an awful lot to look at. An awful lot. Like the scattered droplets of water on his shoulders and chest and abs. And his nipples. Flat and brown and so evenly spaced she wanted to get out a ruler and measure them.
Or possibly use her tongue.
He cocked an eyebrow, the tiny white scar stupid sexy in the daylight. “Finished?”
She swallowed but it was no good, the ability to talk seemed to have deserted her. He took a step toward her and Joss took a hasty step back, bringing her right up against the vanity. Her heart beat a frantic tattoo in her chest.
Sweet baby cheeses. He was big and it was a very, very small bathroom.
The aroma of soap and shampoo had replaced leather and rope and her stomach clenched. She’d always been a sucker for that man-just-out-of-the-shower smell. She clutched the towels to her chest as if they might protect her from it.
“I thought you’d gone with Gus?”
“He had to leave in a hurry and I really needed a shower.” He took another step toward her. One more and they’d be hip to hip. “I was really dirty.”
The way he was crowding her back, his provocative choice of words should be horrifying and intimidating. She should be mad as hell, demanding he stop. Demanding he take a step back. But with his long, lean body looming, her body was melting down.
She didn’t want him to stop or step back. She wanted him to come closer. To press his body along hers. To feel all his heat and hardness right up in her face.
And parts much lower.
She shouldn’t want it. It was…pure madness. But she did. Her hands trembled with the effort not to touch him.
“If I’d known you’d be along,” he said, his voice low and lazy, “I would have waited for assistance. It’s not easy showering one-handed.”
A slew of images all involving him wet and naked and soapy and the things he could do one-handed, cluttered up her brainpower. “And yet you managed.” Her voice was nothing more than a raspy whisper.
“Sure. I’m a self-sufficient kinda guy. But…” He took the last step, an inch of air separating his thighs from hers. “It’s much more fun with two.”
Joss’s heart was pounding so furiously she was sure he must be able to feel the vibrations hitting him in the chest. “I just came to give the loft a bit of a spring-clean. Bring some sheets and towels.”
She clung to the last bit of sanity she had and hoped like hell he’d do the right thing and back the hell up.
He didn’t.
Instead he spread his arms out—his injured elbow hampering the movement on the left. “I found one. As you can see.”
Which automatically dragged her gaze down.
Down. Down. Down.
Over his neck and his chest and his abs. Oh yes he had. And didn’t he wear the hell out of it.
He reached for the towels she was using as a shield and prized them gently from her grasp, shoving them on top of his jeans and chaps.
“You smell great,” he murmured, his good hand sliding onto the vanity near her hip, his injured arm bent and skewed awkwardly out as his lips dropped to the side of her neck.
She smelled great? This from the man who smelled like a deodorant commercial.
Joss shut her eyes as his lips buzzed her skin. For a ridiculously light touch she felt it everywhere. In her breasts and thighs and deep behind her belly button.
“Like candy canes.”
Part of Joss recognized it was probably just her mouthwash he could smell but the other part—the part that was already tipping her head to the side to give him better access—was thinking maybe she should start bathing in the stuff.
His hand left the vanity and crept up her side and around to her back as his thighs pressed against hers, lean and hard. His fingertips grabbed the end of her ponytail and gently tugged, angling her head back even further.
“I love candy canes,” he muttered, his breath warm as his tongue stroked the sensitive skin at the angle of her jaw. “I love sucking on them.” His lips closed over her earlobe and tugged.
A sound came from the back of her throat. Something quite unholy—half wanton, half feral. It joined the jungle beat in her head and the rising urge to submit. Joss was powerless to do anything other than turn her face and seek the heat and oblivion of his mouth.
“What, Joss?” His hand grabbed more of her ponytail, elongating her throat, his mouth taking full advantage as his body settled against hers, the hard jut of his erection pushing urgently against her belly. “What do you want?” he whispered against the thick thud of her carotid pulse. “Tell me what you want, baby.”
No one had ever called her baby. The fact that it had come from a guy seven years her junior should have been ridiculous. But it wasn’t. It curled her toes.
“Kiss me.”
Before even the next beat of her heart, his mouth was on hers. Not slow and sweet but fast and urgent. Joss moaned, her body flooding with the wild sexual thrill of it, her hands circling his waist to pull him closer.
Oh yes. She remembered this. The soft and the hard of a man’s mouth, the frenzy of tangling tongues, the pulse-fluttering excitement of a big, firm body unapologetically violating personal space.
The kiss deepened. Joss slid her hands to Troy’s butt, stroking him through the towel. His glutes tightened. Her nipples hardened. His hand fell to her upper thigh, slipping behind to where leg met ass. He squeezed and lifted, opening up her hips, stepping boldly into the gap, notching himself between her thighs, his hand urging her up onto the vanity before sliding to the base of her spine.
He held her there tight as he ground his erection into her, a bolt of pure pleasure striking her core. Joss moaned, tightening her thighs around his hips, locking her ankles around his ass, silently demanding more.
He gave it, grinding slow and deliberate against her center as his tongue slid down her windpipe. She shivered as his lips made their way to the spot just below her ear. “You’ve made me so hard, Joss,” he whispered.
She whimpered deep in her throat at the dizzying compliment. She wanted to see that. Feel it. Even the thought of it tripped a switch inside, her lips seeking his in reckless abandon. He took them, groaning into her mouth, his head twisting, his lips hunting, owning her and the kiss within seconds.
If anyone had told Joss last week that she’d be dry humping a twenty-seven-year-old she’d met only five days prior in the bathroom of the loft above her garage, she’d have committed them for psychiatric evaluation. But here she was and she could not get enough.
Her body throbbed with need. Maybe she needed committing?

Joss's music of choice to do a spot of housework to, is the Dixie Chicks. For a chance to win a digital copy (must have an Amazon account) of Troy, tell me what's your go to music when you're toiling away at whatever it is you'd rather not be doing?

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver