Posts tagged with: Australian Author

Sandra Antonelli Is a Driving Force!

sandra 2I’m always so happy to bring you guys a great Aussie author to add to your TBR piles. I’ve known Sandra Antonelli for many years now – she’s incredibly fun company, she’s brilliantly clever, and she has a razor-sharp wit, qualities that translate into her wonderful contemporary romances.

Today, Sandra is visiting to tell us about her latest release DRIVING IN NEUTRAL. Here’s the blurb:

Levelheaded Olivia Regen walks away from her career in car racing and wreckage of a bad marriage to take on a job that’s far removed from the twists of racetrack. The very first day at work steers her headlong into an elevator with a handsome claustrophobe who turns out to be her new boss. The anxious little incident leads Emerson Maxwell to develop a curiosity in the methods cool-under-pressure Olivia uses to restore his equilibrium—and an even greater interest in her. Despite the intense mutual attraction, Olivia tries to out-maneuver Emerson and keep her distance. While she cures his fear of small, enclosed spaces, can Emerson convince Olivia that fear of falling in love again is just another kind of claustrophobia?

sandra 1You can find out more about Sandra and her books at her website:

Sandra, I’m delighted to welcome you to the Romance Bandits and congratulations on the release of DRIVING IN NEUTRAL. Can you tell us something about this story?

Thank you, Anna and all the Banditas, so very much for having me here in the Lair! Well, gee, I guess I like to think of DRIVING IN NEUTRAL as a love story about claustrophobia. The fear of being closed in, of not having space or room to move can manifest itself in a number of ways, not simply when it comes to being stuck in a small space. In DRIVING IN NEUTRAL, the hero, Emerson Maxwell has a deep anxiety about elevators and other tiny spaces, while Olivia, the seemingly fearless heroine has a similar, closed-in anxiety she’s not aware she’s hidden from herself.

Love the name Emerson Maxwell. Makes me think of Daphne Du Maurier! What were the inspirations behind this story?

sandra 4The only inspiration was the fact I met my husband in an elevator. There was no fear involved and we did not get trapped in the elevator the way the leads do in DRIVING IN NEUTRAL. That being said, I like to write about fear, particularly when it comes to love because what is scary than love? Nothing makes a person feel more vulnerable, nothing is more painful, and nothing leaves a more lasting mark than love.

What’s coming up next?

I have three stories going at the same time. First is CLEANING HOUSE, a James Bond homage of sorts that is a blend of romantic comedy and romantic suspense. The next, is a contemporary romcom I’ve titled TAKE ME I’M YOURS. It’s the third book in my Los Alamos series (the first two are A BASIC RENOVATION and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY) and it questions the notions of family, responsibility, and love. The third book, NEXT TO YOU, is actually completed and I am in the process of polishing it before I send it to my editor. It’s a little darker than most of what I write. Essentially, it’s about making assumptions and how appearances are deceiving.

sandra 3Lots for us to look foward to! As this is your first visit, can you tell us about your writing journey?

I won a grade 7 writing contest for a short story I wrote. Then I wrote in high school because my best friend was an awesome storyteller and I wanted to keep up. So I wrote shockingly bad stories where there was always danger and some kissing. My friend is still an awesome storyteller and I still write about kissing.

Since high school, I wrote on and off until about 10 years ago, I finally churned out a massive doorstop of a novel that will never see the light of day. A local author/university lecturer had a look at the work for me, told me I had some talent, and encouraged me to keep writing. So I did. I wrote 2 more books, wound up joining the Romance Writers of Australia, met a university lecturer who had an interest in romance fiction, and was invited to do a Masters Degree in romance fiction. I had to write a novel as a portion of that degree. The result was A BASIC RENOVATION. I don’t know what possessed me, but I got it in my head—I suppose because I had a bee in my bonnet about female stereotypes and ageism in fiction—that I needed to do a PhD, which culminated in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and wearing an oversized robe and silly velvet bonnet on a stage.

sandra 7Congratulations on your doctorate! Could you share some of the surprising things you discovered as you researched the genre?

Thank you. I assure you that I am blushing madly.

What did I discover? I followed on research from my MA, which indicated that there was a gap in romance fiction that left out mature-aged women as romance heroines, or redirected the 40+ female lead to Women’s Fiction tales, where romance ceases to be vital to the story. My PhD examined the reasons for the redirection to Women’s Fiction, and highlighted that there are readers who want romance novels that feature mature-aged women as romantic leads, complete with wrinkles and life baggage.

The exquisite messiness of love isn’t just something young people experience.

Love “the exquisite messiness.” How true! The tagline on your website is “Quirky romance novels for grown ups…and smart asses.” Would you care to elaborate?

sandra 8The grown up bit is simple. I’ve always enjoyed reading about people who were older than me. I like that they’ve “been there, done that.” The characters in my romance novels are older than the norm. Most of them are middle-aged and are still trying to get “this thing called love” (Cue Cole Porter) right. The smartass part is because, well, I lean a little in that direction; I like snappy, quippy, rapid-fire dialogue. I like Rosalind Russell in HIS GIRL FRIDAY and Barbara Stanwyck in THE LADY EVE. Those two women epitomise smartass to me. Quirky, well, that’s probably because love can make people do bizarre things.

Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?

The women like Rosalind Russell and Barbara Stanwyck had an impact on me and influence the female characters I write, but mostly I have to credit my mother and her moxie as the biggest influence. No woman I know has ever had more gumption and sass than my tiny little 4’10” mother. What powerful, motivated, intelligent women had an impact on you? Were they someone famous or did you have a mama as ballsy and smartass as mine? Do you have a favourite smartass character from a book or movie?

BanditBootyGet commenting, people! Sandra has very generously offered up a copy of DRIVING IN NEUTRAL (international) for one visitor and a copy of FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (international) for another visitor to the blog today. Good luck!

Annie West in the Spotlight

Annie 5It’s always a treat to welcome my fabulously talented critique partner Annie West to the lair with a new release.

Today Annie’s going to talk to us about her spectacular new Harlequin Presents CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT that is being released concurrently this month in North America, Australia and the United Kingdom. So pretty much all our Bandita Buddies can rush out and buy this passionate story of enemies into lovers with a touch of forbidden love thrown in as well. Yum!

I’m not the only person to love CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT. RT Book Reviews said, “Readers will enjoy West’s passionate star-crossed romance, set in picturesque Italian splendor, with a couple facing almost insurmountable obstacles – except in the bedroom.”

Here’s the blurb:

Annie 3Out of the limelight… 
Domenico Volpe has been a paparazzi target for years with his rugged Roman looks, glamorous lifestyle and, most recently, a family tragedy. Now that the woman at the center of it all is released from prison, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her quiet.  
And into the fire! 
Domenico ensures that Lucy Knight “accepts” his offer of refuge on his well-guarded offshore estate. While the media furor abates on the mainland, things are heating up on the island! Domenico is beginning to doubt Lucy’s guilt as he uncovers the innocent, sensual woman behind the tough facade….

You can find out more about Annie and her books at her website:

By the way, don’t be misled by the photos. Annie and I don’t spend ALL our lives sitting in restaurants, whatever the pictorial evidence indicates!

Annie 2Welcome back, Annie! And huge congratulations on your latest book CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Can you tell us about this story?

Hi, Anna, and thanks so much for the invitation. It’s always a treat to be here in the realm of the Bandit girls and their minions. I have a secret fear that one day the Banditas won’t have me back to visit and I’d miss the drinks (make mine bubbly), the company and the chat.

CAPTIVE is about two people who shouldn’t fall in love. Their pasts should prevent it, his family loyalties scream out against having anything to do with her, and the world’s press is waiting, salivating for the opportunity to make scandal out of the pair of them.

Domenico is the sort of alpha hero I’ve got a huge weakness for: he’s sexy and strong and he gets things done his way but he’s driven by a sense of honor and the need to protect. Right now he aims to protect his brother’s widow and young son from the renewed media hype when the woman who killed his brother is released from prison. He’s determined to keep her from the press till he can persuade her to sign an agreement accepting payment (though he hates to do it) for her permanent silence about her affair with his brother.

Annie 1Guess which lucky woman he falls for? You guessed it! Lucy, the once young and innocent au pair who found herself embroiled in manslaughter and a legal nightmare where no-one believed her innocent. Imagine how she feels when she comes out of prison to find Domenico, waiting for her.

This is my ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ book, when for various reasons Lucy and Domenico hide away on his private island off the Amalfi Coast of Italy and things begin to steam…

What were the inspirations behind this story?

Inspiration came from my lovely editor. We were chatting about ideas for my next book and she suggested a story about a public scandal, something attracting media attention. Her idea resonated and I found my self thinking through and ejecting a lot of potential scandals. They’d have made a juicy story but for some reason didn’t seem quite right. As soon as I thought of a high profile (and deliciously charismatic) Italian aristocrat falling for the woman who’d been in prison for killing his brother, I knew I had to write it. Imagine the divided loyalties and conflicting emotions for both of them. Imagine the media frenzy. As anyone who’s read my books knows, I love making things difficult for my characters. I wasn’t sure how I’d rescue them from the tricky situation I’d put them in, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try.

annie 4American readers who pick up CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT will get a great bonus with the volume including your marvelous BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INNOCENT WIFE. Can you tell us about this story?  

BLACKMAILED BRIDE was a bestseller when it was first released several years ago. This is a chance for people who missed it then to get it free with CAPTIVE. It features another dark, sexy Italian hero and a marriage of inconvenience. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be ‘convenience’ but in this wedding is the last thing either Dario and Alissa want. One of my favorite reviews called it ‘a luscious read that should not be missed’ (CataRomance).

Annie Jonah'sWhat’s coming up next for you?

August brings IMPRISONED BY A VOW, a marriage of convenience story with a twist and a half. Leila marries Joss to escape an untenable situation but finds both marriage, and walking away from her convenient husband, far more difficult than she’d expected, and not just for the reasons most romance readers will suspect.

Hm, I’m wondering if I detect a theme here – a CAPTIVE followed by IMPRISONMENT. No, don’t tell me what you think that says about the way my mind works, Anna. Perhaps that I’ve been hanging around with you?

Hey, don’t blame me! I think you’re doing fine on your own! What other exciting things have been happening in Annie West world?

20s AnnExcitement? Well, there’s the fact that CAPTIVE is out in all English-speaking markets in the same month (March). Yay! That’s a first and makes it so much easier for readers. Then there was the recent Australian Romance Readers’ Convention just days ago in Brisbane which was enormous fun. Plus I’m counting down to the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August. It will be in Fremantle, Western Australia, a place I’ve never visited. One of the things about writing romance – it gives lots of excuses for travel!

This current edition contains two Italian-set books. Do you have a special fascination for Italy?

There are just some stories that cry out for an Italian hero, especially ones involving questions of family loyalty and honor or maybe revenge. Sometimes too, I just lock in on the idea of a volatile, flashing-eyed Italian hero – and who am I to ignore temptation? Plus of course the settings in Italy can be fabulous. This book is set in Rome and on island off the Amalfi Coast. Every time I worked on the book I could feel myself soaking up that lovely Mediterranean warmth.  

BanditBootyOne of my favorite scenes in CAPTIVE is when Lucy and Domenico watch the sun set from his speedboat, just off the Italian coast. It’s a balmy summer’s evening and a romantic scene. To be in the draw to win one of my two prizes, how about sharing what you’d like to be drinking if you were in Lucy’s shoes? What would be the perfect drink for a romantic Mediterranean assignation?

Get commenting people! Annie has very kindly offered us TWO giveaways today. One lucky person will win a signed copy of the marvelous CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT with its bonus book BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INNOCENT WIFE. Another lucky person will win a signed copy of their choice from Annie’s backlist (excluding CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT). You can check out her other books here:

Jennifer St. George’s Winner!

BanditBootyFirstly, HUGE, HUGE, HUGE apologies for all the problems with the site this week.

I’ve invited Jennifer back for her next release when hopefully the cyberuniverse will let us give her the usual big Bandita welcome.

Jennifer was a great trouper and kept coming back over the few days to respond to people. Thank you also to everyone who hung in there with us over the time.

The winner of the download of THE CONVENIENT BRIDE is:


Deelynn, congratulations. Please contact Jennifer on the contact page of her website: and she’ll organise your book for you. Happy reading!

Christina Ashcroft’s Winner!

Thanks so much to everyone who swung by yesterday to give my friend Christina Ashcroft/Christina Phillips such a fantastic welcome. The winner of the copy of her paranormal romance ARCHANGEL OF MERCY along with assorted fun swag is:


Connie, congratulations! Please email Christina on Christinashcroft @ (no spaces) with your snail mail details and she’ll get your book off to you. Happy reading!

Christina Ashcroft and the Archangel

I always love hosting a personal friend in the lair. Today’s guest Christina Ashcroft and I met way back in 2004, well before either of us was a published author, at the Romantic Novelists Association conference at Leicester in the U.K.

Christina, originally from England, now lives in beautiful Western Australia and we’ve been lucky enough to meet up since at various Romance Writers of Australia conferences (although not as often as I’d like! Perth is a long way from the east coast where most of the conferences are held).

I’ve long been a fan of Christina’s hot, dramatic, passionate books set in Roman Britain written under the Christina Phillips name. I’m delighted now to introduce her as Christina Ashcroft, a new star of paranormal romance, with her debut Archangel Of Mercy. Here’s the blurb:

When Aurora Robinson attempts to open a rift between dimensions to embrace her true heritage, an arrogant Archangel is the only one who can save her from the jaws of hell. And while she owes Gabriel her life, she’s determined not to fall at his feet-despite the desire she feels whenever they’re together.

After his wings were brutally destroyed millennia ago, Gabriel has no compassion for humans like those who ruined him and betrayed the ones he loved. But when he inexplicably finds himself defying ancient protocols to rescue a woman from a fate worse than death, he is shocked by the searing attraction he feels for a mortal.

As the ancient forces that seek to punish Aurora for her actions close in, Gabriel offers the tempting woman protection at his private sanctuary. But as they both succumb to their desires, they discover an even deeper connection-one that threatens to consume them.

You can find out more about Christina’s dual writing personalities at her websites:

Christina, absolutely lovely to have you in the lair! Congratulations on the release of the first book in the Archangel series, Archangel Of Mercy, which is out from Berkley Heat this month. Can you tell us about this story?

Hi Anna, thank you so much for having me back in the lair! It’s always so much fun in here!

I’d love to tell you about my gorgeous Archangel, Gabriel. He’s one of the Fallen, but not in quite the way you might expect. He and his fellow Archangels used Earth as their playground millennia ago, and of course some of them fell in love with mortals. But the consequences of what happened in the past haunt Gabe today and he protects his shattered heart and guilt riddled soul behind a tough façade.

Aurora is a typical girl-next-door—except she has a unique heritage, and by trying to discover her roots and help her mother she unleashes an ancient force who are determined to punish her for her actions. As a consequence of this she is the catalyst that causes an Archangel to fall from the heavens… and into her arms.

What were the inspirations behind this book?

Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by the Mayan prophecies that December 2012 marks the End of the World. The mathematical precision of their calendars are mind boggling and their ancient knowledge of the heavens phenomenal. As I got older I discovered the Mayans hadn’t discovered this knowledge themselves. It was handed down to them from a far more ancient civilization. And suppose this knowledge had been handed down previously from an even more ancient race of people?

I’ve also always loved the myths and legends that surround Atlantis. But what if that wasn’t merely a legend? What if a lost continent had once existed and been home to a technologically advanced civilization that rivals our own today?

It was only when I began to uncover the distant, mist shrouded past of the Archangel Gabriel that I began to understand the immortal he was today, and that was when he finally opened up enough to let me share his story.

Can you tell us about the Archangel series as a whole?

Each book is a stand alone romance between the Archangel and his heroine, so although it doesn’t matter if the books aren’t read as a series it would give a richer understanding of the world and background if the books are read in order. There is a thread that runs through the books that involve the ancient (and rather nasty) alien species, the Guardians.

What can we expect from the second book?

The second book, Archangel Of Death, is Azrael’s story. At the end of Archangel Of Mercy Azrael is horrified that Gabe has fallen again. He can’t understand why any Archangel would want to put themselves through that kind of torture because all too soon mortals die. And when they do, a part of the Archangel’s heart dies too.

Well, who could resist that kind of attitude? I knew straight away that Azrael was going to be my next unwilling hero! And who better for his heroine than someone from a race he has always despised and done everything within his power to eliminate?

Rowan is a dhampir and Azrael truly doesn’t stand a chance from the moment they meet. Because Rowan is nothing like the dhampirs Azrael fought nine hundred years ago when he saved the life of a legendary phoenix. In fact Rowan is nothing like any woman he has ever met. I loved writing this book and can’t wait until it hits the shelves!

As you know, I’m a huge fan of your sexy Christina Phillips historicals set in ancient Britain which involve forbidden love between the locals and the Roman invaders. You can imagine how thrilled I am to hear that books 3 and 4 in this series will soon be out. Can you tell us what’s going on with your Romans and Druids?

Thanks Anna, I was absolutely delighted when Ellora’s Cave picked up the next books in the series, Betrayed and Tainted.

Betrayed is Tacitus and Nimue’s story. Nimue, an acolyte of the moon goddess, appeared right at the very end of the second book, Captive, and she immediately fascinated me. While trying to protect the Briton queen she is captured by her bitterest enemy, but soon discovers the Roman tribune who’s enslaved her is far from the brutal barbarian she imagined. As for Tacitus, he’s never met a woman like Nimue before and has trouble accepting that this beautiful, ethereal woman could possibly be a warrior—let alone one of Rome’s deadliest enemies. I had a lot of fun tying these two up in knots!

In Tainted I mixed things up a bit, and have a Roman noblewoman, Antonia, who falls for tough Celt warrior, Gawain. Antonia’s had a hell of a life with her brutal former husband, and arrives in Britannia determined to make a new start without the complication of a man telling her what to do. Then she meets Gawain, and makes the decision to embark on a brief liaison. Gawain, of course, is more than happy to accommodate her since he doesn’t do commitment and is trying to stir rebellion against the Roman Legions. But as I’m an evil author and love torturing my hero and heroine, nothing goes according to their plans and they fall in love. Rome is not amused!

I also notice that we’ve got a novella called Bloodlust Denied coming up from you soon. Wow, I’ll be wallowing in delicious Christina Phillips/Ashcroft lusciousness. Can you tell us about this novella?

I’ve always wanted to write a lush Regency Romance and a few years ago an idea came to me of a tortured Regency duke who had lost the only woman he had ever loved many years before. Well, once I started thinking more about the story I realised this was no ordinary duke and he hadn’t lost his beloved a handful of years ago. No, my twisted imagination turned my sexy duke into a very bad ass vampire indeed, and any sense of morality he had once possessed had died along with his wife over two thousand years before. In Bloodlust Denied Alexius meets Morana and despite himself is fascinated by the way she shows no fear of him. Unfortunately for Alexius, Morana is no ordinary human either – she’s a Maiden of Death, pledged to rid the world of vampires.


Thanks, Christina! Wow, lots happening with you.


I have a copy of ARCHANGEL OF MERCY and some gorgeous swag to give away to one lucky commenter. The contest is open internationally to wherever The Book Depository delivers. Just leave a comment on the post or, since it’s nearly Christmas (or The End of Days if we’re going with the Mayans!) let me know who you would love to find stuffed in your stocking on 25th December (or, alternatively, who would you love to find brandishing awesome weapons in order to fight the Apocalypse!)


Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMASPrizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Dianna Love, Miranda Neville, Annie West, Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Deb Marlowe, Marquita Valentine, Addison Fox, Lydia Dare and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!

Kylie Scott in the Flesh!

Today I’m delighted to introduce a good friend and very talented writer Kylie Scott who is going to tell us all about her brilliant debut novel FLESH, from Momentum Books, the digital division of Pan MacMillan Australia. The book is available worldwide – here’s the Amazon link:

FLESH, described on Kylie’s website as a M/F/M post-apocalyptic erotic romance (hmm, seems we’re not in Kansas anymore, guys!) is selling its little socks off – even if the socks do occasionally contain rotted bits of feet. Yeah, it’s a zombie novel!

Reviews have been pretty nice too. To give you an example, Rosie at Fangtastic Books says, “FLESH is a fast paced thriller, a stunningly sensual feast and a funny, tragic, horrifying emotional journey in a world torn apart. It’s erotic, it’s got zombies, and it’s fun.”

I first encountered Kylie’s wonderful writing when she came to a workshop at my house on writing deep point of view. A critique was part of the training and I was immediately blown away by Kylie’s prose, not to mention her dab hand with a hot scene. These people fleeing the zombie apocalypse sure know how to keep warm! I wasn’t at all surprised when shortly after the workshop, Kylie contacted me to say she’d found a publisher.

You can find out more about Kylie on her website:
Kylie, welcome to the lair! Congratulations on the release of your debut, FLESH. Can you tell us about this story?
Thank you so much for letting me visit, ladies!

FLESH is the story of Ali, Daniel and Finn. Ali has been hiding in an attic since civilisation collapsed eight weeks ago. When the plague struck her neighbours turned into mindless, hungry, homicidal maniacs. Daniel has been a loner his entire life. Then the world empties and he realises that being alone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Finn is a former cop who is desperate for companionship, and willing to do anything it takes to protect the survivors around him.

When the three cross paths they band together; sparks fly, romance blooms in the wasteland and Ali, Daniel and Finn bend to their very human needs in the ruins of civilisation. Lust, love and trust all come under fire in Flesh as the three battle to survive, hunted through the suburban wastelands.

What were the inspirations behind this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by what life would be like if society went to pot. No more law and order. No more electricity. What on earth would we do without the internet? Scary times indeed. Also, I was keen to try my hand at writing a ménage but I felt I needed a situation where a loving, long-term relationship involving three people was a viable alternative. Creating a deficit of women fit my evil plans to perfection.

As for the Zombies…there’s a very real chance my big brother exposed me to too many B-grade films back in the 80’s. He worked in a video shop and was always bringing home crazy horror and action/adventure movies. Things like EVIL DEAD and Romero’s LIVING DEAD series, plus tons of futuristic titles starring Arnie or Van Damme or the like. It couldn’t have been healthy for an impressionable young mind.

Zombies seem to be a rising force in genre fiction. Any thoughts?

There’s certainly a lot of fans coming out of the closet (or dark, dank underground tombs, as it were). I’m not sure what the popularity of reducing people to slobbering, mindless creatures in pursuit of their next meal says about the collective unconscious. Writing wise, Zombies make a great threat. They’re always lurking out there, waiting for you to mess up so they can snack on your innards. They lack the grace and glamour of vampires, and they’re not as cool and sexy as werewolves. Zombies are grittier and nastier. They’re walking death and decay in all its gory glory. Maybe they’re a testament to our will to survive and to have hope for a better future. Or maybe it’s just time for body bits to start dropping off…

We love call stories in the lair. Can you give us yours?

Aah, Momentum. I love them so. I’d already had one offer and was still waiting on a response from New York when I decided to submit to them. Their energy and originality when it came to engaging with their audience on Twitter and FaceBook really appealed to me. I submitted as part of their regular Momentum Monday and the next morning Anne Treasure asked for the full. A week later Joel Naoum offered me a contract. It was hugely exciting. Their enthusiasm for my story was wonderful. It was wildly exciting. 

What’s next for you?

I have a short story coming out 1st November also with Momentum. It’s called ROOM WITH A VIEW and is set in the same Post-Zombie-Apocalypse world as FLESH but features different characters. The story is part of the HOT DOWN UNDER short story series. 14 Australian romance writers publishing erotic short stories with Australia’s first ever digital imprint. How neat is that?

Very neat! Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write about what you love. Be brave!

Great advice. Do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita Buddies to get conversation going?

 My Post-Zombie-Apocalypse plan involves boarding up the house and hunkering down with the collected works of Jane Austen and tins of home brand spaghetti until everything calms down. Got a plan? Share it with me in the comments for a chance to win a copy of FLESH…

You heard it hear first, folks! Comment today to be in the draw for a digital copy of FLESH! Good luck!

Bec McMaster’s Winner!

Thanks to everyone who swung by to welcome debut author Bec McMaster on Tuesday. I’m delighted to announce the winner of the signed copy of KISS OF STEEL:


Mozette, could you please email Bec on rskrabl7 @ (no spaces) and she’ll get your book out to you. Congratulations!

Reaching Out to Sarah Mayberry

by Anna Campbell

Squee! Squee! Squee!

No, there’s not a mouse in the lair, although sometimes Paolo does a pretty good impersonation of a mouse when there are doings afoot in the lair and he’s SCARED! Hmm, Paolo, are you a man or a mouse? SQUEAK to me!

One of my all-time favorite writers is here with us today and she’s giving away THREE packs of her fabulous books to commenters. Note to visitors today – COMMENT!!! By the way, this lovely shot is from the recent Romance Writers of Australia conference at the Gold Coast and Sarah is at the Australian Romance Readers Association signing with fellow Aussie superstar Ally Blake.

For most of you, Sarah Mayberry needs no introduction. She writes some of the best books out there, contemporary romance that’s funny, sexy, heartfelt and packs an emotional punch that always has me crying somewhere in one of her marvelous stories.  Today, she’s in the lair to talk about her latest masterpiece, WITHIN REACH.

Here’s the blurb:

Being a single dad was never on Michael Young’s agenda. Yet with the sudden loss of his wife, that’s exactly the role he has. On his best days, he thinks he can handle it. On his worst… Luckily, family friend Angie Bartlett has his back, easily stepping in to help out.

Lately, though, something has changed.

Michael is noticing exactly how gorgeous Angie is, and how single she is. She’s constantly in his thoughts and he feels an attraction he never expected. Does he dare disrupt the very good thing they have going? If they have a fling that goes nowhere, he stands to lose everything—including her. But if they make it work, he stands to gain everything!

You can read more about Sarah and her books on her website:

Sarah, welcome to the lair! I’m so excited to have one of my all-time favorite authors visiting. Congratulations on the release of your latest Harlequin SuperRomance WITHIN REACH. Can you tell us about this story? 

This is a story about three people, really. Billie, Angela and Michael. Billie and Angela are best friends,  like sisters, really, and Michael is Billie’s husband. Tragically, Billie dies in the prologue (I don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing this!) and Michael and Angie are bereft without her. Fast forward eight months, and Angie realises that Michael is in a real slump, doing the bare minimum to look after his two children, Eva and baby Charlie. So Angie gives him some tough love and a kick in the pants and Michael starts to claw his way back into the land of the living. What neither of them bargain for as they work through their grief and get on with life  in the ensuing months is that their friendship will become something more. They both fight the attraction, but eventually they give in. I won’t give away any more, but it was a very emotional book to write and I so wanted these two people to find their happy ever after.

Sounds fantastic. What were the inspirations behind this book?

I was inspired by something I read after 9/11, about how some of the firefighters who had lost colleagues in the tragedy “adopted” the family of a fallen mate and helped the widow to pick up the slack left by the missing husband. I’m not sure if this is accurate or not, but apparently some of these firefighters fell in love with their adopted families. Not a necessarily happy story for some people in this picture, but it got me thinking about people who reluctantly fall in love. And then Billie and Angie and Michael popped into my head and I was off and running.

As you know, I adored HER BEST WORST MISTAKE,  your  first venture into self-publishing. I think it’s one of the best romances I’ve read this year. (Here’s a link to a review I did for the Romance Dish: For any of our visitors who don’t already know about this story, do you want to tell us about it? I love to spread the good oil about a great read.

I’m so thrilled you enjoyed HER BEST WORST MISTAKE. I had sooo much fun writing it. It’s a classic enemies to lovers story, basically. At the beginning of the book, Martin is engaged to Elizabeth, who just happens to be Violet’s best friend. Martin and Violet dislike each other and always have – he thinks she’s too loud and out there and party-girlish, and she thinks he’s got a stick up his bottom, he’s so conservative and old before his time. Then Elizabeth bails on her marriage to Martin just 8 weeks before the big day and Violet finds herself feeling sorry for him, even though she knows she should be happy that she never needs to see him again. She visits him to let him know she’s thinking of him, and he doesn’t appreciate her pity, and things explode from there. As I said, I had so much fun exploring these two stubborn, smart people. And because it was self-published, I got to work with the cover designer myself and do lots of other cool (and sometimes confusing!) things to get my book out there.  So far, it’s been a great experience. The book is paired to my last Blaze novel, HOT ISLAND NIGHTS, which tells what happens to Elizabeth when she takes off from London and travels to Australia to discover herself.

I loved HOT ISLAND NIGHTS too. What’s next for you?

I have another Super Romance out in November, SUDDENLY YOU. This one is a sequel, of sorts, to ALL THEY NEED, a book I had out last year. This one tells the story of Harry, the brother of the heroine, Mel, from ALL THEY NEED. Harry was a lot of fun to write, a bit of a Peter Pan who falls in love with a woman who comes with lots of baggage. It’s a bit lighter than WITHIN REACH, but hopefully emotional in its own way.

I’m also about to start writing my next self-publishing venture. This one will be a tomboy story and part of a linked series of books, but I don’t know much more than that at the moment because I need to sit down and think about my characters before I start writing any further forward.

I love the emotional depth of your stories. Is that something that comes easily to you or do you have to work on it? Do you have any hints for writers wanting to add that extra zing of emotional punch to their work?

I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters before I start writing. I’m a plotter, so I usually have a plan for each chapter – not that I don’t sometimes go off the map, you understand, and get horribly lost or discover some gem, but basically there’s a plan. In order to create that plan, I like to know what makes my hero and heroine tick. I particularly want to know what they are afraid of. I tend to write about characters in their thirties, and I always ask myself why these two people are unattached at this point in their lives. Why haven’t they fallen in love with someone already? What’s stopping them? Or did they fall in love and it all went horribly wrong? How has that scarred them? What do they want out of life? And so on. I do find this stuff comes to me relatively easily. I guess I’m an emotional person – I cry at Kleenex ads sometimes! – and like all writers I’m nosy and curious about people, and I like to delve into the why behind people’s reactions and decisions. If I could offer one bit of advice to writers, I think it would be to try to think beyond “device” in your story to what might really happen between real people. Keeping things small and real makes it easier for readers to walk in the heroine or hero’s shoes, I think. At least in contemporary romance, anyway!

What fantastic advice. Madly taking notes here! A little bird tells me (a very besotted little bird) that you’ve got a new member of the family. Can you tell us about the delightful Max and perhaps share a photo? We do like to look at handsome men in the lair, you know!

Max is our new and delightful Cavoodle – a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a miniature Poodle. He is, in fact, curled up beside me on the couch as I write this, proving that he is, indeed, woman’s best friend. He is exactly the sort of dog I didn’t want – small and very cute and fluffy. I figured a romance writer with a small fluffy dog was waaaay too much of a cliche. But somehow we ended up in a pet shop holding him and he looked into my eyes and that was it – instant love. He has us firmly wrapped around his furry little paw, but he is so awesome we barely notice. He hardly ever barks, is incredibly loving and affectionate and playful, and everyone who meets him wants to smuggle him out in their luggage, which we figure is the highest compliment possible. And yes, more than happy to share pictures. Let the deluge begin!

You’re just besotted with that pooch, my friend! And I can see why. Do you have a question to get the Banditas chatting?

My question for readers today is about love. Feel free to answer both or just one of them. Do you believe in love at first sight, eyes meeting across a crowded room and all that? Do you believe we only truly love once in a lifetime, or that if we’re lucky, we have several chances to fall in love? I’d love to give away some books today – three sets of WITHIN REACH and HER BEST WORST MISTAKE (which is e-book only). Fire away, can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

Sarah has VERY generously offered commenters today the chance to win one of three (3) packs of her books comprising WITHIN REACH and the fabulous HER BEST WORST MISTAKE (ebook only). International! If you know Sarah’s books, you’ll want this prize. And if you don’t, you’ve got such a treat ahead of you. Good luck!

Kylie Griffin’s Superhero Alliance!

by Anna Campbell

I’m delighted to welcome back my very talented Aussie pal, Kylie Griffin. Kylie’s first book VENGEANCE BORN received great buzz in Romancelandia and her second book ALLIANCE FORGED looks like it’s going to continue the magic (pun intended). To give you an example, RT Book Reviews said of ALLIANCE FORGED that, “Griffin does a stellar job envisioning her world and its compelling protagonists. Well worth your time!”

You can read an excerpt of ALLIANCE FORGED here:

Kylie, welcome back to the lair! Congratulations on the success of VENGEANCE BORN, the first book of your Light Blade series. Now the second book ALLIANCE FORGED has been released.  Can you tell us about this story?

Anna, it’s wonderful to be back in the lair. I received such a warm welcome last time from everyone that I’m really looking forward to this visit!

Thanks for the congrats on VENGEANCE BORN, it’s been such an amazing ride so far (hard to believe that was back in February) and it’s all due to the readers who have been so supportive! And here we are, on my second bog tour, celebrating the release of ALLIANCE FORGED, and I’m so excited to be sharing more about the story with your readers.

Let’s start with the blurb.

There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a blind priestess lays claim to a half-breed warrior, body and soul…

Hunted and marked for death by Na’Reish demons for their half-blood heritage, the Na’Chi are searching for a new home—something an alliance offered by the human leader could provide. With both races divided by prejudice, when Light Blade rebels brutally attack the Na’Chi, the alliance seems doomed to fail.

Varian, leader of the Na’Chi, a hybrid race of gifted warriors, is cursed with the darker impulses of his demon heritage. Controlling the part of himself that craves the high of the battle is a struggle he’s afraid he’ll lose—until he meets Kymora Tayn, a priestess driven to serve her deity. While he’s unwilling to trust anyone outside his people, he finds himself drawn to Kymora’s strength and passionate nature, and discovers she has the power to calm the darkness inside him.

When the Na’Reish raid human territory for blood-slaves and kickstart a war, the key to the survival of both races—Na’Chi and human— is an alliance. However, when Kymora is kidnapped, pitting human against human, Varian realizes he must embrace his darker half, not only to save the alliance…but also the woman he loves.

ALLIANCE FORGED picks up just a few short months after VENGEANCE BORN finishes. The humans and Na’Chi (half-bloods) have formed a tentative alliance but there’s still a lot of uncertainty from both sides as to whether this partnership will work.

Prejudice and acceptance of those with differences were themes explored in VENGEANCE BORN, and they weave their way through ALLIANCE FORGED, but the theme of journeys and the significant lessons they teach us is also explored.

Kymora’s spent most of her life committed to the Temple in the service of her deity. From acolyte to high priestess and spiritual leader of her people, it’s a role she expects to spend her life fulfilling.

Varian, the warrior-leader of the Na’Chi, a half-human half-demon race, fights to protect his people from those who consider them abominations because of their mixed blood heritage. He seeks a safe haven for them.

As you can see both Varian and Kymora start on very distinct paths, ones well defined, but it isn’t long before they discover how quickly events can change and their journeys twist in a direction they least expect.

Whether Varian and Kymora end up at the same destination…well, that’s something readers will have to discover for themselves! 

Sounds great! What were the inspirations behind this book?

Much of my fantasy writing up until the Light Blade series were stories based around human characters, human relationships, human conflicts and I wanted to try something that involved a non-human element.

At the time I was writing VENGEANCE BORN vampires, werewolves, and shifters dominated the market, and the stories were set in a contemporary world or very urban fantasy based. Creating a fantasy world with different races (al la LORD OF THE RINGS style) really appealed to me. It’s as simple as that.

But why demons? No idea. All I can tell you is they’re not styled or based on any familiar mythology. In the Light Blade world my demons are known as the Na’Reish and they’re all-powerful, dominating the humans physically as well as in numbers. They’re taller, built larger, have enhanced senses and strength and the balance of power lies in their favor.

In VENGEANCE BORN, it’s revealed that humans and demons once coexisted peacefully and that with the pairings of human and demon couples hybrid children could be produced. The revelation that anyone who possessed a Gift (as these special abilities are known) – Na’Chi or human – came from a mixed bloodline, something that shocked and appalled many.

Annika, the heroine from VENGEANCE BORN, has remarkable healing abilities that can also be used to kill. In ALLIANCE FORGED readers will get to see some of the different abilities of the Na’Chi (the hero Varian), as well as those humans who possess Gifts (the heroine Kymora). 🙂

I notice that book 3 in the series, ALLEGIANCE SWORN, is available next April. Can you give us any hints about this story and where it takes the series?

I’d love to share the blurb for ALLEGIANCE SWORN but it contains information that will spoil a secondary plot twist from ALLIANCE FORGED, so I won’t post it here. All I can say is that one of the characters in this story has already appeared in VENGEANCE BORN and ALLIANCE FORGED. The hero and heroine are an unlikely pairing, and one of them must overcome a tormented past in order to move forward. Readers will see the plot move from human territory to deep within Na’Riesh territory. They’ll learn more about the demon’s caste-based lifestyle and brutal culture of slavery. And the war between the humans and Na’Reish concludes in ALLEGIANCE SWORN and finishes off an over-arcing storyline that I began in VENGEANCE BORN.

As I said, I won’t include the blurb here, but if readers are interested, it’s up on my website.

Your first book VENGEANCE BORN came out in February, 2012. What have your first few months as a published author been like? Any surprises?

Phew, where to start! A little background would probably be helpful before summing up the last few months in one word.

After taking a two-year sabbatical, I returned to teaching. The school term began just as VENGEANCE BORN was released, and I began my February blog tour. On top of that I was juggling line edits for ALLIANCE FORGED and writing the first draft of ALLEGIANCE SWORN.

So the term I’d use is manic. It’s been a lot of work, but honestly, I wouldn’t swap it for anything!

The biggest surprise has been the emails from readers. I’ve loved receiving them, and most have been so positive, with messages of how much they enjoyed reading VENGEANCE BORN.

The real kicker were the men who’ve read VENGEANCE BORN, enjoyed it, and let me know! One fellow said, and I quote, “You could have cut back on the mushy stuff but the rest was pretty good.” High praise considering I hadn’t expected a lot of men to read a fantasy romance!

I’ve always been so impressed that you’re not just a brilliant writer, but a superhero! Can you tell us about your work with the Rural Fire Service and the NSW State Emergency Service? I bet you’ve got some great stories!

I don’t know about the superhero bit, Anna! LOL

I enjoy volunteering and helping others, so joining the Rural Fire Service and NSW State Emergency Service was something I just did when I moved here. And I apologise in advance for the lengthy response but this is a huge part of my life and something I feel passionate about.

Our little rural village has a local pub, a one person police station, a one teacher school with 10 children, two churches, a general store that doubles as a post office and an agricultural supply business. Being so isolated where we are, it can take emergency services up to an hour to respond to emergency calls from the nearest towns.  Our volunteer fire brigade consists of five members – I’m the deputy captain and only female in the unit and we respond to both bushfires and structural fires. 

The SES unit helps out in floods and storms and because of our isolation, we’re also tasked with the responsibilities of search and rescue, road crash, and community first response (aka ambulance calls). With only six members (and two of us are in both organizations) I’ve been Controller, deputy controller and grunt in this organization.

Our RFS unit trains once a month and the SES unit trains once a week, while our CFR team (aka ambulance response team) has an extra night of training per month. The skills are part of what I love about the organizations – they’re so different from my day to day job (teaching). I’ve learned how to back-burn, black out (the perimeter of a fire). I’ve operated a chainsaw, communications equipment, cut up vehicles to free trapped casualties, monitored floods, helped people stranded by flood waters, been on line searches for the missing, and learned how to use a defibrillator, an oxy-viva machine, and administered drugs.

And yes, some of our call outs are quite memorable.

One of the most heartbreaking emergencies involved attending an incident with two infants. A team member and I had to perform CPR on both of them until the ambulance arrived. One child survived, the other was declared DOA at the hospital. In such a small community as ours, this had a devastating effect, not only on the family but many of the locals who knew them. Myself included because I taught their children.

 A more light-hearted and amusing call out involved us heading out to assist a woman who’d gone into labor. She lived on a property in the middle of the bush and to get to their place we had to traverse a goat track, in torrential rain (which had been coming down for hours) which made driving the dirt track hazardous. There were three of us on the call out. When we got there we made the decision to evacuate the family of five as we knew we’d never make it back in there a second time. With two of us in the front of our 4WD vehicle, the pregnant woman and her family piled in the back seat and me in the canopied back sitting on top of all our medical supplies, we only just made it out of there. 

Then we discovered the driver of the ambulance who had responded from the nearest town had managed to bog their vehicle twelve feet inside the front gate. So we transferred the family into the ambulance then used our road crash gear to pull the ambulance out of the bog and tow them back onto the tar road. We didn’t get to see the woman’s child born but then, I think the “rescue” of her and the ambulance was adventure enough for one night!

 I’ve been to catastrophic bushfires, house-fires, motor vehicle fatalities, searches for missing people (whom we’ve found alive and deceased), ambulance call outs involving amputated limbs, heart attack casualties and emergencies where I’ve used CPR to sustain life.

Every call out gives me an adrenaline rush, but it’s the camaraderie of working within a tight knit team (members I trust with my life, and have done on some occasions) and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped someone that keeps me going back week after week to train and responding to my pager when it goes off. I wouldn’t swap that for anything.

Wow, Kylie, I’m not joking with the superhero moniker! Is there anything you’d like to ask the Banditas and Bandita Buddies?

Anna, thank you so much for hosting me here in the lair again. I’ve had a great time sharing a little bit about ALLIANCE FORGED (and a lot about my volunteer work! ).

I’d love to ask you readers if they have any interesting tales about emergencies they’ve experienced. Are there any fellow fire fighters or rescue workers out there? Or volunteers of any sort, who help out their communities? I’d enjoy hearing your stories.

Kylie has very generously offered a commenter today a copy of her latest book ALLIANCE FORGED (international giveaway). So get commenting people! Good luck!


Emmie Dark’s Grand Winner!

Thank you to everyone who swung by to make Emmie Dark’s visit such a party – and don’t forget to keep an eye out for her debut SuperRomance CASSIE’S GRAND PLAN. The winner of the signed copy of CASSIE’S GRAND PLAN is:


Kallie, please contact Emmie on emmie @ (no spaces) with your snail mail details and Emmie will get your book off to you. Congratulations!