My Secret Life with Victoria Purman

I’m delighted to have my shelf buddy for October and Harlequin sister (sounds nicer than stable mate) on the blog today!! Victoria has a new contemporary BEACH-SET romance out and I have it on my Kindle and am desperate to start it. I ‘met’ Victoria on Twitter and then we met properly at this year’s Romance Writers of Australia conference in August, so I know her book is going to be fabulous because SHE is!! 

Anyway, I’ll stop yakking and hand over to the star herself. Welcome Victoria…

VictoriaPurman-190

My Non-Writing Life

By Victoria Purman, author of “Nobody But Him” Thank you Rachael for having me on your blog! Our lovely host has asked me to talk about what I do when I’m not writing.

The first thing that springs to mind is: sleeping, of course!

Because, you see, I’ve succumbed to the Dreaded Writers’ Disease. Although definitely not fatal, it means that if I’m not pounding the keyboard, I’m thinking, plotting and obsessing about my characters and how I can throw every obstacle in their way before they reach their happy-ever-after!

I have a very busy life outside words. The husband and I have three teenage sons, so obviously shopping and cooking are important in our household. I quite like to try new things for The Hungry Horde to eat. Jamie Oliver is a big favourite in my house at the moment because I like his concept of 15 minute meals!

I continue to work part-time and I volunteer on a few organizations: the SA Writers Centre, South Australia’s youth arts body Carclew, and my kids’ high school council.

I love music and can even have it playing in the background when I write. Now the kids are older, the husband and I are able to get out more and see bands again – something we did a lot when we first met.

My top three best live shows during the past five years are:

  • British band Elbow (lead singer Guy Garvey actually looked right at me and we sang together!)
  • Lyle Lovett (brilliant songwriter, brilliant singer, brilliant band)
  • and Carole King and James Taylor together on a double-bill. They must have played a million shows between them but they convinced us they were having a ball (and singing along to “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” with my friends is something I’ll never forget).

I could go on: Foo Fighters rocked; k.d.lang was sublime; Keith Urban was incredible and… I’m running out of adjectives.

When I’m driving, I’m ALWAYS singing along in the car, to artists like those I’ve mentioned above, plus country artists like Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum. Years ago, I gave up worrying what it would look like – now I just sing proudly!

Although I don’t get as much time as I used to (now that I’ve got The Writer’s Disease), I do like watching TV series like Hart of Dixie, Castle, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Miranda and A Place To Call Home.  It goes without saying that the BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice gets a heavy workout while I’m cooking – I love to have it playing on my iPad while I’m working in the kitchen.

And did I mention reading? How could I forget! I’ll just drop some names: THE Nora, Rachael (of course!), Bronwyn Parry, Helene Young, Sarah Mayberry, Tricia Stringer, Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis and Pamela Clare (if you don’t know her, you should definitely check her out, especially her I-Team series which I adore). The best part of being involved in the romance writing community is that there are always new books to read. The worst part is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to ready everything, right?

When regular life gets too crazy, there’s one place our family escapes to, and that’s the Fleurieu Peninsula on South Australia’s south coast. It’s the place that inspired “Nobody But Him” and it’s beautiful. It’s the perfect place for walks on the beach, whale watching in the winter, body boarding in the summer, beach cricket and champagne on the beach at sunset with awesome friends.

Thanks for having me Rachael! I hope your readers will all join me for a trip to the beach and a little romance this summer.

Victoria

Thanks so much for sharing Victoria – I’m so glad to know that other writers are just as busy as I am 🙂 Now, readers… Victoria has generously offered to do a giveaway of her GORGEOUS book (see the blurb below). To go in the draw to win, simply comment on the blog with your answer to this question:

Q) Describe you best childhood memory of a summer at the beach.

Contest closes midnight Sunday (West Australian time) and I’ll announce the winner next week on my Facebook page and in the comments section of this blog post.

Nobody But Him by Victoria Purman

NBH email cover

She didn’t expect to run into her first love… or to fall back in love with him!

At eighteen, Julia Jones left for the city with a head full of grand plans for an exciting life that certainly didn’t include her hometown of Middle Point – a main street with a pub – or Ryan Blackburn.

But fifteen years – and a lifetime later – she’s forced to put her big city life on hold when she heads home to finalise her mother’s estate. Which is where she runs smack bang into the town’s new champion… the same Ryan Blackburn.

The sensible thing to do? Stay the hell away from him and head back to Melbourne as fast as her stilettos can carry her. But Julia finds his offer of a helping hand and a hot body too delicious to refuse and dives into a reckless, one-time fling.

What she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up, and that saying goodbye to her home town – and to Ryan – is much harder the second time around.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic!! You can grab a copy on Kindle, Google Play, iBooks, Kobo, from Booktopia, Harlequin Books, Dymocks or any of the major chain stores 🙂

And you can find Victoria online at her website, on Facebook and Twitter.

 

My Secret Life with Rachel Brimble

Am very excited today to have another Rachel (although she spells it wrong but don’t hold that against her) on the blog! I met the lovely Rachel on Twitter and can’t wait to get my hands on one of her books!! Rachel lives in the UK and writes for Harlequin Superromance and also writes Victorian romances for Kensignton. Busy lady!! I asked Rachel what she gets up to when she’s not sitting down at the computer and penning delicious prose. Here’s what she said…

R Brimble

(Rachel and her spunky Mr Brimble)

What I do when I’m not writing…

So happy to be here with Rachael today – we met online through our mutual love of procrastinating on Twitter rather than writing, and I’m so glad we did! Rachael has asked to know a little about what I do when I’m not writing. This was a struggle because writing takes up pretty much every minute of my time, lol!

I have been married to my wonderful husband for fifteen years and we’re mum and dad to two daughters (14 & 12), as well as our beloved black Lab, Max. I am lucky enough to stay at home so I treat my writing as a job and when the kids are at school, I have a very disciplined schedule of writing from 8.30am to 3.30pm…with a break for a dog walk in between.

Once the kids are home, it’s a case of grabbing moments when I can until 7pm – then it’s strictly ‘family time’ – which also translates to slumping on the couch in front of the TV, with or without the kids. LOL!

My most favorite thing to do in my free time is walk – I live in South West England with the famous Georgian city of Bath just thirty miles drive in one direction. and the gorgeous array of Cotswold villages about an hour in the other. In between, I have access to acres and acres of woodland, fields and famous historic sites like Avebury and the White Horse at Cherhill where dogs are welcome. I could walk for miles!

Other than walking, I am either happy at home knitting or reading – OR I like nothing more than getting together with family or a big group of friends at a local pub and eating and drinking until they throw us out. I don’t seem to have the grasped the idea of living in moderation. It’s home bird or party peacock!!

In a nutshell, I work and play hard – my writing is pretty much my life and I would love to work 24/7 but if I were to do that I’d likely have a breakdown or my family would abandon me, lol! So there you go, that’s me. I’d love to know more about you!

I’m a big walker too Rachel and I so relate to wanting to be able to write 24/7! Or read!!

Rachel’s latest release, the second in her ongoing Templeton Cove series, is available now from Harlequin Superromance. Here are the blurb and buy links for A Man Like Him…

man like him

Changing her life…again

After two years in hiding, Angela Taylor knows her independence is worth it. As long as she can escape her past, she has everything under control. Until a flash flood hits the park where she works, and hot Chris Forrester shows up the exact moment she needs a hero.

Chris proves he can save lives-and weaken a girl’s knees. But how can she make him understand that she’s off-limits, that getting close to her will endanger his life? Her happiness or his safety: it shouldn’t even be a choice.

Because when you love someone, you protect them, no matter the cost. At least, that’s what Angela keeps telling herself….

That sounds fab Rachel and what a GORGEOUS cover. I’m off to buy it in just a moment. And if you’d like to do so as well people, the links are below: 

*Amazon

*Barnes and Noble

*Amazon UK

You can find Rachel on the web in the following places – her Website, her Blog, on Twitter and on Facebook!

 

 

 

My Secret Life with Emmie Dark

I’m delighted to have fabulous Superromance author, Emmie Dark on my blog today. I’m currently reading Emmie’s latest book JUST FOR TODAY and it is totally delicious! It kicks off with a very sexy one night stand and I’m desperate to finish my edits so I can get back to it. But more about the book at the end of this blog, but right now, I’m going to hand over to Emmie who has a juicy secret to share with you all!! 

Take it away Emmie:

IMG_8485v3crop low res

Like a few of the writers who’ve visited here to confess their secret life, when Rachael asked me to talk about “what I do when I’m not writing” at first I drew a blank. I’m on deadline right now, so my life seems to consist of writing, cups of tea, writing, sleep, writing and a re-watch of Season 5 of True Blood so I can really enjoy the first few episodes of Season 6. (Because some things are too important to miss out on.)

But I did think of some strange, and kinda secret, thing that I did many years ago.

I was in a movie. This movie, to be precise:

Queen of the Damned poster

Queen of the Damned was a version of the Anne Rice book, starring the vampire Lestat (arguably made famous—or infamous—by Tom Cruise in “Interview With A Vampire”).

But there was no Tom Cruise in this movie. In fact the movie kind of disappeared without a trace, and its stars have never really risen into the A-ranks. (Sadly, the female lead, a singer making her movie debut, Aaliyah, was killed in a plane crash before the movie was released.)

But it was an amazing experience, being on the very bare outskirts of movie-making magic.

I was just an extra. (And a pretty ordinary extra, as I recall.) A friend of mine had seen the notice calling for participants and convinced me  that it’s be an awesome idea to sign up. So we did.

Before heading to the meeting point we’d been provided with, we had to get dressed. No makeup artists or costume designers were provided, just instructions to “goth ourselves”. Black clothes (I have no shortage of those), white face paint, black eye shadow, messy hair, lots of eyeliner, a few crucifixes around our necks. Done!

The scene I was involved in was a rock concert, filmed at an abandoned quarry in Bacchus Marsh. We were to meet at 7pm, be bussed out to the location, work movie magic, and returned back to the city around 6am. (Yes, AM. Filming went all night.)

There were three or four bus loads of people who turned up. I seem to recall a kind of vetting process as we boarded the buses, a quick once-over from a someone wearing a headset and you were sent to one bus or another. It quickly became clear that those people with the most outlandish and elaborate costumes were being sent to one particular bus.

We were not sent to that bus.

At the location, on first sight, it was pretty amazing. Smaller than I imagined. But still pretty cool – a fully formed rock concert stage all set up and ready to go, with flame-shooting columns along the sides. The organisers seemed to think the crowd would be pretty excited by the fact that there was a brand new, never-before heard Korn song played, but that didn’t do much for me.

There was a circus tent set up as our “trailer”. No fish tanks, masseurs and chilled bubbly for us, instead we had hot dogs and popcorn and Coke cans.

Meanwhile out on set, we had to listen to the brand new Korn song about 453,876 times – approximately. Over and over and over. God, how BORING it is to make movies! They don’t tell you that in the weekly gossip magazines.

After a long time of chanting and waving our hands above our heads making devil fingers, my friends and I basically got sick of the whole thing and retired to our “trailer”. We ate hot dogs and drank Coke and talked about the ridiculous and inane things you talk about at 4am when you’re dressed as a goth and stuck in a freezing cold quarry in Bacchus Marsh.

Tragically, you can’t see me in the final film. All that effort with white make up base and black eyeliner was for naught. One of our friends even had a broken arm, and I thought for sure we’d see him waving his cast around. But no – I’ve watched it closely.

And now, thanks to the magic of the internet, you can too.

I honestly have no idea how they pulled together that scene from the disjointed and hectic filming I witnessed. It just makes me all the more impressed by the skills of actors, directors and movie-makers today. And quite happy to remain a popcorn-chomping audience member!

WOW Emmie – that was really interesting. You so have to put that in a book someday. The closest I have been to a movie set is being an extra in a St George’s Bank add. Sadly, I never saw the add, although I did get paid something like $100 for it 🙂

Blog readers, I’d love to know – what’s the closest you’ve got to a movie set?

Emmie’s latest SuperRomance release “Just For Today…” came out in June and is available now at Amazon, Booktopia, Kobo, iBooks and any good book store. Check out the blurb below:

JUST FOR TODAY cover

Veterinarian Jess Alexander doesn’t have one-night stands with the best man at a coworker’s wedding. But thirtysomething divorcée Jess is definitely in a rut that a night of reckless passion with a younger man just might break. And what better candidate than criminally good-looking Sean Paterson?

Being with Sean is exhilarating. But where could this relationship possibly go? Expecting anything more than a good time from Sean is a one-way ticket to heartbreak. Against her better judgment, Jess can’t walk away from whatever this is…not yet.

You can find Emmie on the web:

Website:  http://www.emmiedark.com

Blog:  http://emmiedark.blogspot.com.au/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/EmmieDarkFanPage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/EmmieDark

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My Secret Life with Jennifer St George

A massive welcome to the hugely talented, all round fabulous author Jennifer St George!! I’m lucky enough to have met Jennifer and done a brilliant media workshop with her. All her books are in my leaning tower of to be read !! Cannot wait, because if they’re only half exciting as her secret life and hold a fraction of her effervescent personality, I know I’m in for a treat. Jennifer is published by Destiny Romance and her latest release is The Love Deception (what an awesome title)!!

Without further ado.. take it away Jen:

jen

Before I moved to Byron Bay and began writing romance I worked in marketing and management consulting for twenty years. That life is so different to the one I have now, it feels like it’s a secret even to me.  That life involved lots of international travel, hotels, exhaustion, elation and some incredible memories. Fortunately that life has given me lots of inspiration for my stories and is the reason why I set them in exotic international locations. As they say, write what you know.

In that secret life, there are lots of highlights. Here are a couple of memorable moments:

Being picked up by the KGB

I’d flown to Moscow to launch Guinness beer in Russia. When I walked off the plane I was taken by security through a side door and my passport taken away.  To say I was a little nervous was an understatement. But I was quickly ushered through a VIP exit and into the hands of the KGB. Well in reality I was picked up by the head of a Russian drinks distribution company. He’d formerly been a KGB submarine officer. The stories he told! Still it all felt very exciting and a bit risky.

After the launch we walked out into the snowy night through Red Square, past Saint Basil’s Cathedral and to some local vodka bars. I’ve never seen so much vodka in my life. I keep tipping my drinks into a nearby pot plant or I would have been face down under the table.

I’ve never been back to Russia but often think of that exciting time surrounded by Russians, vodka and snow.

I gave away a pub in Ireland

Well I did the publicity anyway.  This was another Guinness promotion and the company organised a competition in the US to give away a pub in County Cork.  Ten Americans were flown to Ireland to compete in pub games to win the pub.  As we were in a tiny little village by the sea, I couldn’t convince many media to attend the event, so I produced a VNR (video news release) and brought down a satellite truck and beamed the story out from there. The story went wild. I fielded calls from all over the world. Jay Leno’s people even rang.  The resulting coverage reached over 40 million people. A bit of a career highlight.

Presenting to financial gurus in New York

I ran some analysis on a major US oil company and discovered something very interesting about their share price. The firm I worked for felt I had to present these results to the financial team in New York. I was terrified. These were US financial gurus. One guy had written the major financial textbooks used in the ivy-league MBA programs. I travelled to NY with the partner of the firm who worked on my presentation all the way from Sydney to NY. I had four hours sleep and then was up at the podium. I was so tired, I don’t really remember giving that presentation or the questions they asked. Afterwards, I had enough time for a walk down Fifth Avenue, have a meal and it was back on the plane. It was insane. I decided then management consulting wasn’t really for me!

I have some amazing experiences in my career, but at the other end of the spectrum, I spent a long time promoting toilet paper and fork-lift trucks, nearly crash-landed in both Geneva and Edinburgh and worked way too many 14-hour days. But all the ups and downs have provided an endless supply of settings and scenarios for my stories.  In fact, all that waking up in different hotels in different countries was the inspiration for my latest release, The Love Deception. I’d often wake up and not know where I was. This is my heroine, Felicity Carter’s experience at the beginning of The Love Deception. From that point on, her life is a rollercoaster ride in the search for truth, understanding and ultimately…love.

What a great concept Jen, I might have to move The Love Deception up my tower 🙂 And I must say I really do hope you put giving away a pub in a book one day!  You can find Jen online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook!

The Love Deception is available now from iBooks, Amazon and Destiny romance, check out the blurb below:

130528 The Love Deception cover

When Felicity Carter wakes up naked in a strange bed, she has no idea how she got there. And  no recollection of meeting the gorgeous man calmly offering her breakfast. Shocked and embarrassed, Felicity flees – hoping that their paths never cross again.

The last thing she expects is to discover that her mystery man is Damon Fullbright, partner at the law firm where Felicity has just started work – and her new boss! Damon is appalled to find the young woman he rescued has been hired to work on his team. Apart from anything else, he doesn’t need the distraction.

Despite their early misconceptions, their appreciation for each other  – both personally and professionally – begins to grow. But when Damon discovers what Felicity’s been hiding, how will he ever trust her again?

A gripping romance that combines courtroom intrigue with a dash of Barbados, The Love Deception is the latest book from Jennifer St George.

My Secret Life with Whitney K-E

My guest today is quite amazing!! I met her while she was doing her HSC (New South Wales year 12 exams for those not in Australia) at last year’s Romance Writers of Australia conference. She must be one of the youngest and most enthusiastic members of RWAus and her passion and dedication to writing means she’s definitely a writer to watch. I wasn’t at all surprised when I heard she’d sold her book earlier this year.

Welcome Whitney K-E!!

whitney

What Really Happened in Ireland

Whitney K-E was shocked when she visited Ireland only to find out that the characters in her novel, What Happens in Ireland weren’t so fictional after all!

Now, it’s strange, but I wrote What Happens in Ireland before I actually landed on Irish soil! I’d been planning my trip to Ireland and the UK for two years and so overcome with excitement (not to mention frequently daydreaming), I put pen to paper. And that’s how What Happens in Ireland was born!

Planning my trip and checking out all the sights was great research. And more than a little fun. What I didn’t expect to encounter in Ireland when I finally go there however, were the characters I had dreamed up!

Now, I wish I could say I met my Irishman, Jack O’Reilly in a Dublin bar, but unfortunately, I didn’t. No Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome for me. Not yet, anyway hehe. But, I did meet many of my other favourite characters.

Whilst on a tour to Bru na Boine, I met my mate, Jen Tully in the form of my tour guide for the Neolithic tomb, Mary. Mary was exactly how I imagined Jen; Chirpy, enthusiastic and brimming with a sarcastic sense of humour. In fact, I was so convince she was my beloved fictional character that I almost changed Jen’s description just to suit Mary’s! And to top it all off, Mary knew two of my other characters. If you’ve read What Happens in Ireland you’ll be aware that Jack’s parents were engaged on the Carrick-a-Rede bridge. Well, it turns out, so was Mary’s cousin! To be honest, I was so excited and more than a little jealous. Such a beautiful place to propose to the person you love and to find out that it was actually something that happened… I was beginning to suspect I was psyhic!

My next encounter was in Killarney, the hometown of my hero, Jack O’Reilly. Whilst in Killarney, I put on my riding boots and went on a trail ride through Killarney National Park with one of the local stables. And it was here that I met four of my beloved characters, three of which were of the animal variety 🙂

And here is one of my furry friends:

whitney horse

Clyde and Pascal, the gorgeous Irish cob crosses we rode were the real life embodiment of my equine dreams, Hero and Archie. Such beautiful horses and despite their giant frames, the comfiest horses my twin sister and I had ever ridden. Admittedly, we were wondering how much we would have to offer to take them home with us haha! Unfortunately, we could not afford the excess luggage :P.

And then there was the beloved barn cat and the queen of O’Reilly Stud, H.A.M.!

Whilst waiting for my toes to defrost after my ride, up jumps a purring shadow to keep me company on the bench. I wish I had a picture of my face when I saw the cat. I guess a picture of me with H.A.M. will just have to do.

whitney cat

And then there was my tour guide Emma. She was Kate. She travelled to Ireland to work with horses and not only did she fall in love with the country, but with a local Irishman as well.

I was a little disheartened to leave Killarney. It seemed like any second now I would run into Jack O’Rielly. But we had to move and on we went to Galway. Whilst in Galway, I met a couple whose relationship with each other reminded me so much of the love I tried to create between the two stablehands, Jen and Tom. It was amazing to see that love like that did exist.

And I suppose last but not least, I guess…I sort of did meet Jack. Whilst travelling through the Burren Valley, we stopped for a tour of a traditional farm. The countryside was beautiful and the owners of the farm reminded me so much of Jack, his brother William and their parents. Sadly, I don’t have names for these two men, but their larrikin nature, family respect and devotion to the farm had me thinking that these men were the O’Rielly boys.

Though, I’m not sure Jack would be caught dead wearing an apron hehe.

IMG_1730(note from Rach: These two look adorable. I’d love to read about them in a book)

And there you have it! What really happened in Ireland 🙂 I always knew Ireland would be magical. I just didn’t think it would bring to life the characters I had conjured in my head.

Thanks so much for coming Whitney and sharing your fabulous holiday. Isn’t it amazing, how much it was like your book 🙂 That must have made it extra special. Whitney is running a fabulous giveaway during her release period, details below. Be sure to check out her awesome book – to-buy links also below!

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this blog post or any of the other blog posts celebrating the release of Whitney’s debut to go in the draw to win one of two prize packs including a PDF of What Happens in Ireland, a handmade ribbon bookmark designed by Swagmaster Designs and a coffee mug. You can join in the fun on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/events/491411070916233/

Whitney’s Novel:

Ever wondered what happens in Ireland?

When Australian, Kate Barrow, meets a handsome Irishman in a Dublin bar, she has no idea that he’s about to turn her world upside-down and inside-out.

In Ireland to take on a position on a thoroughbred stud, Kate is shocked when her manager-in-co reveals himself to be the same man she’d met in Dublin.

Jack is drawn to Kate. The problem is, she won’t have him. But Jack has always loved a challenge and the intriguing woman from Oz is one he cannot resist.

Harbouring the sting of another man’s betrayal, Kate is certain she wants nothing to do with love and nothing to do with Jack O’Reilly. But when naked torsos, Mother Nature and dysfunctional umbrellas start plotting against her resolve, she realizes the charms of an Irishman are going to be hard to resist.

If you’d like to read excerpts or buy Whitney’s novel, you can find it at the following:

Amazon

Secret Cravings

All Romance Ebooks

Smashwords

You can connect with Whitney on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and on her blog. Whitney also blogs regularly on group blog Romanctic Muse.

 

My Secret Life with Maggie Mundy

As I introduce today’s lovely guest the gorgeous Maggie Mundy, I too have a confession to make – I want to do what she’s doing! And I’m not talking about writing speculative fiction (I admire those who do but I’ll stick to my contemporary romance thank you very much)! Anyway, please give a warm welcome to Maggie and her secret life outside of writing…

maggiemundy

Rejections are like falling off your motorbike

I wasn’t one of those people who thought they would always write a novel, and equally I wasn’t someone who thought about being a bikie chick either.  My daughter had mentioned wanting to learn to ride and I said I would too. I didn’t think it would actually happen, after all you know what eighteen year olds are like. So when she said she was going to get her learners and you’re coming too mum, I didn’t have a leg to stand on. All I had ever done in the past was ride a moped back in the UK and been pillion on my husband’s bike so this was a huge step for me.

So I turn up at the learner’s course and don’t do too bad until the test where I freeze. Maybe the thought of having a licence that says I can go on the road was freaking me out. Second attempt and I thought I was doing okay until the test day when I had an instructor who was a male chauvinist pig to say the least. So I was not surprised when he didn’t pass me. Third time same guy failed me again. I was in tears and decided I would never do it again, and why was I putting myself through this.

Unbeknownst to me my husband and friend phoned up and complained about the instructor (they were not the first complaint about him) and I was given another chance. I passed with flying colours without Mr Grumpy around.

Over the next two years I practiced and decided to go for my full test. In the meantime the test centre had moved to the other side of town and I had to ride through a thunderstorm in during peak hour traffic and unfortunately didn’t pass.

I had another month before I could retake my test and there was a motorbike club get together in Mildura so I decided to ride the 400km. My husband and friends were saying are you sure you can do it, but I had to prove to myself that I was serious about wanting this. Now I’m not usually fearless and on the freeway I would get freaked out by the big trucks passing and the wind gusts blowing me around. My solution was to sing Akuna Mutate very loudly. It worked even if I probably looked demented.

Eventually did my test and past. That was last year and now I look back and have to say the experience taught me something about myself. When you fall off or get a rejection you should get back up and keep writing or get back on the bike no matter how bruised you are.

Be determined and persevere until you get there. I’m still not super brave but when I ride through a busy city now I break it up into small pieces so that I don’t get overwhelmed by what I am doing, and I can do the same with writing. Before I know it I’ve got there.

Years ago I did a fortune telling game and asked the question of whether I would get published. The answer that came back from the cards was to enjoy the journey. Now I do with the wind blowing in my hair.

As for my publication journey I have a novella called Blood Scent coming out with Rogue Phoenix Press in July and a book with Soul Mate Publishing called Hidden Mortality in 2014. I have been writing for ten years and have had more rejections than you could poke a stick at, but like with my bike I got up brushed myself off and tried again.

The top picture is me practising my tight u turns. It’s a killer at a slow pace but I mastered it eventually. The second picture was me riding in the Pink Ribbon Ride for breast cancer, hence the pink bras on our bikes. I am on the middle bike. Even my hubby put a bra on his big cruiser.

maggie bike

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Thanks Maggie for that inspirational and encouraging story! And I’m sure we all can’t wait for your novella. In the meantime, you can checkout Maggie at her website and on Facebook and Twitter!! 

And I’d like to know – what thing have YOU done, where you’ve had to keep trying and trying again until you succeed?

My Secret Life with Fiona Lowe

Today I’m thrilled to welcome my good friend Fiona Lowe to my blog. I met Fiona online on the RWAus loop and then later at a conference. We immediately clicked and she’s been a huge support to my writing over the last few years. Not only is she a lovely person but she writes exactly my type of books. I was lucky enough to read her RITA Award winning BOOMERANG BRIDE before it sold to Carina Press and I’m so stoked she has a brand new bride series out now. I’m yet to read SAVED BY THE BRIDE  but it is very near the top of my ridiculous TBR pile and I can hardly wait! 

So, thanks for coming today Fiona to give readers a little insight into what you get up to when you’re not writing. Welcome!

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When I asked my 14 year-old what I should blog about outside of writing, he said, ‘there’s nothing’ to which I said, ‘Go clean your room.’  Recently, with a short deadline, it seems that my life is all work but that’s not strictly true. We, as a family, like to cycle.

Last year, I took this cycling caper to an extreme and went on the Great Victorian Bike Ride where not only did I ride 590 kilometres over nine days, I also did with a group of 14 year-olds. That made it even more of a challenge but we got every kid up every hill…and there were a LOT of hills. We also got through every type of weather from hail and sleet to scorching heat. Were there times when I asked myself, ‘Why?’ Hell, yes! Am I glad I did it? Absolutely? Would I do it again? Yes, but not with the school. I would do it with my husband or friends.

Later this year I’m off to France on a cycling trip with my husband. We’re cycling along the Canal du Midi where I believe there is a scarcity of hills 😉 although if after a couple of days of flattish riding and I am pining for hills, I can cycle up behind the glorious fortified French town of Carcassonne.   Apparently, we will be riding through an area filled with vineyards so that will involve some wine tasting and of course in France, one is never far from a patisserie with amazing coffee, bread and cakes. Hmm, maybe I better ride up those hills behind Carcassonne after all!

Do you have any cycling stories to share?

In my not so secret life, I write books and I’m thrilled to say that Saved By The Bride, the first book in my Wedding Fever trilogy is out now!

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Welcome to Whitetail, Wisconsin, future home of Weddings that WOW!

As acting mayor, Annika will do anything to revive the economy of the town that’s been her refuge ever since her art career imploded and her fiancé walked out. Even if it means crashing an engagement party to talk business with the bride’s billionaire father. But the evening starts with a kiss from a gorgeous stranger—and ends with a night in jail.

Finn Callahan can’t believe his sister is getting married, not after their parents’ disastrous track record. And he’d rather be anywhere than working from his family’s vacation home. Until he catches a leggy blonde sneaking in the window, and suddenly telecommuting for the season is very appealing.

Unable to resist their mutual attraction, Annika and Finn are soon mixing business and pleasure—just for the summer. Too bad Annika’s heart missed the memo about not falling in love…

Book one of Wedding Fever. 99,000 words

Check out the fabulous Saved By The Bride trailer.

Saved By the Bride is available from Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Carina Press, Kobo  iBooks, and all other eBook retailers.

You can find Fiona on Facebook and Twitter as well as at her home on the web.

Thanks so much for stopping by Fiona! I must admit I RARELY ride my bike – last time was during a family holiday to Rottnest Island in 2010 but I also admit that when I DO get around to it, I really enjoy it! 

My Secret Life with Suzi Love

Today you are in for a treat! Don’t tell but this is one of my favourite secret life posts yet!!! Maybe because I LOVE old buildings! A huge welcome to Crimson Romance author Suzi Love who writes historical romance from Regency to Victoria and even has a romantic name 🙂

Welcome Suzi!

Oooh, do I really have to spill my secrets? I’m really rather boring. Shy, retiring, and quiet as I tell my friends.

*I have to butt in here and say from romance conferences I really don’t think any of you should believe that*

But in my secret life, I have an addiction. I’m obsessed with museums, big, small, and especially the obscure ones. And I love photographing all the weird and wonderful things I discover in museums. My obsession is so well known to my family that they run for the hills at the first hint of a photo viewing session.

After I went to a Romance Writers USA conference in New York, I decided a quick hop across the ocean to London and Bath and a hundred or so museums needed to be squeezed into the agenda. I came home with 10,000 photos. So I guess I can’t blame my family for running. Grin!

Do you want a taste of the best places I’ve visited in my secret life?

Pierpont Morgan Library.

No. 1 The Pierpont Morgan Library/Museum in New York. In the early 1900s, Pierpont Morgan used the multi-tiered library as his personal office. The library holds his priceless collections of rare books, gold leafed medieval works, literary and music manuscripts, including the ‘First’ works of practically every historical celebrity in the world. Visitors, especially me, stand in the middle, rotate slowly, and stare upwards, awe-struck at level upon level of priceless books.

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No.2. The Ragged Children Museum London. A rambling multistory old house that helped feed, clothe, and educate tens of thousands of poor children under Thomas Barnardo’s scheme. After a cholera epidemic swept through the East End, Barnado gave up his medical training to open his first “ragged school” in 1867 and for the next thirty-one years educated children. Now school groups dress in Victorian clothes and live a ragged school day.

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No.3   We can’t forget Australia, can we? How about a squatter’s house in outback Queensland?

My second secret life?

Is a fascination with Keanu Reeves and…..his secret life!

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Interviewers are always stunned by his intelligence, charm, and air of mystery. Yet he’s well known for having high-brow reading tastes despite having dyslexia, has written a book of poems, directs as well as acts, owns his own production company, and is extremely generous to his coworkers and charities. Apart from the fact that I’ve met him twice and he’s ten times sexier close up and his sultry voice and hand holding made me go weak at the knees.

Thanks so much for stopping by Suzi and sharing some of your passions! I’m curious readers – have you got a museum that Suzi needs to put on her must-see list?

You can find Suzi at her Web, on  FacebookTwitter and Pinterest!

Her two novels The Viscount’s Pleasure House and Embracing Scandal have both done well in RWAustralia contests and are now published with Crimson Romance.  

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The Viscount’s Pleasure House – An erotic story set in England in the risqué early Victorian era. In exchange for information about his mother and sisters, London’s most notorious Viscount is coerced into allowing three respectable women to visit his Pleasure Houses. The goal of the ladies is to learn how to hold men’s attention by giving them exquisite pleasure. Each lady comes to the pleasure gardens a little naïve, but leaves as knowledgeable as a well schooled courtesan. Though the world-weary viscount falls in head over heels in love with one of the ladies, he struggles to find reasons to convince her to trust him, and to marry him, after their visit to the country Pleasure House is over.

Buy links –  Amazon  Barnes and Noble  iTunes  All Romance

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Embracing Scandal – Lady Rebecca Jamison, a mathematical genius, saves her siblings from financial ruin by dabbling in the London stock exchange. When a greedy syndicate kills her friend and threatens her family, Becca begs assistance from Cayle, Duke of Sherwyn, her nemesis and previous friend. As Cayle and Becca rekindle old passions, the duke uses old skills as a spy to protect his lady. He successfully defeats the illegal consortium, but can Cayle persuade a self-sufficient spinster to become his duchess?

Buy Links – Amazon  Barnes and Noble  iTunes

My Secret Life with Maggie Gilbert

Today I’m BEYOND excited to welcome debut author Maggie Gilbert to my blog. Maggie has written what I have been thinking about writing for a while but she’s actually done it! Well, I haven’t actually been thinking about writing Maggie’s particular book but rather the genre. Her debut novel RIDING ON AIR is a Young Adult Rural Romance from Escape publisher. For a while I have thought about how great it would be if someone combined the hugely popular rural romance with the hugely popular YA! 

I for one can’t wait to read RIDING ON AIR and I’d like to offer a HUGE welcome to Maggie today, sharing with us what she does when she’s not writing:

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I’d love to be able to say that my life when I’m not writing is something exotic or amazing. Neuroscientist. Drummer in a rock band. Olympic ice skater.

But it isn’t any of those things. It’s just a life, totally ordinary – at least until my childhood dream of being a published author came true. 🙂  Now it’s a bit more exciting!

My not-writing life is largely taken up with my full time job – I’m an administration officer for an Agricultural Society, where I administer the horse events for a Royal Agricultural Show. The Society also runs a bunch of other events so essentially I’m in event management with an agricultural focus. The job has a lot of variety so it’s always interesting and one of my little secrets is that I actually like admin work. Shh, don’t tell anyone – it’s way too geeky to admit to that!

It is awesome though that the horse-mad obsession I was pretty much born with has paid off with a job that is so satisfying. I got my first pony when I was 10 and I had horses for many years, doing a bit of riding club, a bit of showing and jumping and eventing. I’d come in from putting my horse away and then stay up late reading or writing stories of my own. And of course horses feature in my debut book!

Now here’s a secret – horses are actually only my third-favourite animal. I like dogs the best. Here are our two dogs, Aeryn and Hannah. Aren’t they cute?

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The number two animal: giraffes. I collect giraffes, but I haven’t managed to get a real one. Yet.

I also like to read whenever I can, although carving the time out can be tricky; my ‘to be read’ pile is enormous and growing. Being able to download eBooks has made it even worse; I just got a Galaxy Note II, which is awesome to read on. I have a bit of a library addiction, too – I brought 8 books home with me yesterday when I was meant to be collecting 3! 🙂 Until a few years ago I never had books in the house waiting to be read, I would buy or borrow something, and read it immediately. It’s a nice feeling though, to have all those books squirrelled away, waiting for a rainy day – or a week’s holiday.

Another thing I like to do is garden but I am a sporadic and therefore terrible gardener. Here’s a picture of my Wild Iris, which has finally flowered after 7 years of neglect.

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I like to run, too. I did cross country at school but I’m older now and (ahem) less fit. I’m just about to start some pre-running fitness training, so I can ease back into running and hopefully avoid the calf muscle issues that keep interrupting my running program. My calves are full of scar tissue, so they are like blocks of concrete with steel bars running through them. Healthy calf muscle is meant to be kind of squishy – who knew?

So there you have it, the life of Maggie Gilbert when not-writing – a day job, cute dogs, neglected gardens, a bad library habit, cranky calf muscles and a sneaky plan to acquire a giraffe.

Hmm – the bit about the giraffe? That should probably stay a secret.

 NO Maggie – I LOVE that you love giraffes! I am imagining all kinds of them all over your house. Maybe one day you’ll be rich enough to buy a zoo and fulfil the dream of owning a giraffe! 

Maggies book RIDING ON AIR officially releases April 1st but it’s already available on pre-order all over the place – Amazon and iBooks to name but a few. You can also order from Escape Publishing direct. 

Here’s the fabulous blurb:

What can you do when your own hands are the enemy? Hold on tight, for as long as it takes.

Melissa has secrets. Sure it’s pretty obvious she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, but no one knows how bad it is or how many pills she takes for the pain. She’s determined to make her horse Jinx into a champion and she dreams that her childhood friend William will one day see her, rather than her condition. 

So when William asks her out and Jinx is shortlisted for selection in an elite training program, it seems Melissa’s dreams have come true. But when her secrets are exposed, all those dreams come crashing down around her. Can William ever forgive her? And can she learn about letting go in time to truly ride on air when it matters most?

Maggie can be found on the web at her website, Twitter and Facebook! Go on over and make friends 🙂

 QUESTION for blog visitors – If you’re a reader what genre to you think has yet to be written

My Secret Life With… Cari Kamm

I think I “met” the lovely ‘Cari Kamm‘ through the gorgeous Jen Tucker or was it the fabulous ladies over at Chick Lit Central? Either way, I’m pleased to have the very talented Cari visit my blog today. I asked her the question, I’ve been asking lots of guests on the blog lately – What does Cari do with her time when she’s not writing? And she came up with a very MOUTH-WATERING answer!!! 

Welcome Cari:

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When I’m not writing . . .  I’m eating. Well, I’m thinking of eating or where I want to be eating.

I’m a self-proclaimed foodie and seriously enjoy every bite. My rule is “don’t pick before pics.”  I love to look at food. Take pictures of food. Dissect food. And of course eat food. A chef is an artist and unlike admiring a painting or absorbing words, you get to literally bite into their work and digest it.

Growing up in a small town, I wasn’t exposed to a wide range of delectable bites or cuisines. When I moved to New York City, in my early twenties, the foodie within me was unleashed. Honestly, I never knew it existed.

Whether it’s booking a reservation in the latest hot spot or participating in a food walking tour in an afternoon, I enjoy every part of the experience. The recipes. The architecture of the food presented on the plate. The quality of ingredients. I adore the entire process and how it transforms me in that moment.

So… when I met my boyfriend several years ago and realized he was a foodie too . . . It was magical! From our very first date, over juicy, medium-rare beef on buttery toasted buns, (minus the onions as who knew where the night would lead) gave birth to our fairy tale. The restaurant was a burger joint in New York City that had survived the Depression, Prohibition, two World Wars, and an ambush of high-rises and office buildings. Now, several years after, we often return to our designated spot at the bar and reminisce over dripping beef. Looking back, the strength of our relationship resembles the very history of the restaurant where we shared our first meal together.

Our experiences range from $ to $$$$ spots, big cities to small towns, the U.S. and beyond. Any place where we can create a new experience, try a new chef and avoid cooking at all costs. With this, we launched he8she8.com.

Fast-forward four years later and the symbolism and history of the food and restaurants we share are still writing our story.

On January 27, 2013, my boyfriend and I walked to a special area in Central Park called Literary Walk. It’s the only straight line in the park, lined with American elm trees and decorated with statues of prominent writers such as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. I had no idea I would be a writer one day and that this landmark would mean more to me today than it did twelve years ago when I moved to NYC. There, proudly with my new novel in hand, ‘For Internal Use Only,’ and my boyfriend to take a picture with my book. I walked into the park as a proud author and walked out as his fiancé. It was a sparkling moment with all things love.

With a celebration in order, an intimate dining experience was next on the list! A restaurant called Dovetail was just steps away from the park. Dovetail is defined as, “To connect or combine precisely or harmoniously.” We did just that.

When I’m not writing, I’m a focused foodie with my partner in crime. Well, I should say my fiance.

 Congrats on your upcoming nuptials Cari! We’re all about romance here, so weddings are VERY exciting.

You can grab a copy of Cari’s new book FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. But in the mean time, check out the fabulous excerpt below 🙂 

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My love for photography had led me down an unimaginable career path. Most currently, it led me to anxiously sitting on a stoop outside the New York City mid-rise building that contained my overpriced one-room apartment. I closed my eyes, allowing the morning light to calm me while I took in the delightful bird chirps and excruciating taxi beeps of the East Village, ignoring the slight smell of urine that accosted my senses.

I started my afternoon again with stalking. I eagerly awaited the mailman’s arrival between 1:06 and 1:13 p.m., while he transported paper fate, sporting his pale blue polyester trousers, tucked in long-sleeve shirt pressed, and Converse sneakers.

We lived and loved through technology, so I was frustrated that my fate was arriving via snail mail and the timing matched every part of the description. Technology was the trusted source of banking transactions, meeting your husband, ordering your groceries, making restaurant reservations and even spying on your pets through a kennel cam while sunburning on a beach. But today, this life-altering letter crawled its way to me by a government official, a man I rarely saw, and never exchanged words with. I was waiting to hear if my dream would come true, and dreading it would never be.

“Good afternoon,” I said, with a smile, merely able to stare at the navy stripe that lined his pant leg. The clock showed that it was 1:11 p.m. I made a wish.

“What a surprise,” he muttered, while he manhandled the heavy stack wrapped with a thick, green rubber band and passed by me. I studied him meticulously stocking the empty boxes, one by one, approaching my slot.

“Do you mind if I just grab the mail for three-C, please?” I interrupted.

“If that’s what it’ll take,” he moaned.

Between my J. Crew catalogue and my electric bill was a fancy rectangle of heavy stock ivory paper with gold trim. I squeezed the four-by-six response card. Contained in this saliva-sealed envelope were the words that would inevitably change my life. The weight of those words was heavy in my fingers and I was hesitant to open it. Without the answer the card contained, I still was able to hold onto hope.

My destiny was in my lap with the warmth of the sun counteracting the fresh chill October presented while I flipped from sweating to freezing like an on/off switch. I reassured myself it was only rejection. I had my health and photography. Whether it was amateur or professional, it was still my first love. Even if it was a two-letter response, I would remember my love for art, and how every time I shot I searched for the immense beauty that existed within the balance, tone, and temperature of my tiny frame. Having an image worth a thousand words was never my intention. I wanted to capture one word to describe each photograph. One word can define everything, love being a true example. There is something compelling about visualizing a picture and capturing it. There is nothing compelling about the words, We regret to inform you.

My fingers trembled and taking a couple photographs would be soothing. Photography to me was the perfect cocktail: one part heart, one part head, a dose of imagination, with a splash of patience.

The tearing of the envelope felt like scratches on my heart. I proceeded with caution, hoping this document wouldn’t be only a keepsake to remind me what if.

Inch by inch, I slid out the card to reveal the twelve-point Apple Chancery font and held it to the light, observing the maker’s name in the watermark. Rubbing my index finger over the engraved symbol, I was impressed. The brand, Smythson of Bond Street stationery, supplied paper to the British royal family. I was holding the same stationery as the Queen.

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Dear Miss Kassidy,

We write to inform you of your acceptance into the exclusive Bruce Smith Gallery as part of our exhibit for emerging artists, hosted by curator Grayson Gates. You will be receiving your review and luncheon date via e-mail. Please be prepared to present your theme for the Love Through Light exhibit within the deadline. You will be required to exhibit three pieces.

Opening Night & Reception

Friday, February 7, 8:00 p.m.

Bruce Smith Gallery

504 West 22nd Street