Posted by Anna Campbell Nov 4 2014, 12:01 am in Anna Campbell, Australian Authors, contemporary romance, Destiny Romance, e-books, interviews, Jennifer St. George, Penguin Australia, Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, travel
One of the fun things about being a Romance Bandit (and believe me, there are LOTS of fun things about being a Bandita!) is that I get to host some of my favorite people on the blog. Aussie author Jennifer St George fits the bill admirably. She’s always fun and smart and ready to support another writer so I’m delighted today to have her as my guest in the lair.
Jen’s latest release is the sparkling and sexy contemporary romance TEMPTED BY THE BILLIONAIRE TYCOON. Here’s the blurb:
Three strikes and you’re out…
A series of strange accidents are occurring at Sirona, a luxury spa resort in the picturesque English countryside. Billionaire owner Nic Capitini wants the person responsible, the resort’s GM Poppy Bradford, sacked. But the law requires he give three official warnings. Nic checks in undercover to gather the evidence he needs.
Despite first impressions, it isn’t long before Nic realises that not only is Poppy beautiful, she’s a brilliant manager who runs the resort superbly. And the chemistry between them is undeniable. When Poppy herself is threatened, it seems clear the incidents are part of a systematic campaign of sabotage. Even though he believes she’s innocent, Nic knows Poppy is hiding something. But will learning her secret mean losing her forever?
Hmm, a resort in the English countryside? I’m there!
You can find Jen on social media:
Blog: http://www.jenniferstgeorge.com/blog and http://lovecatsdownunder.blogspot.com.au/
Jen, I’m delighted to welcome you back to the Romance Bandits and congratulations on the release of TEMPTED BY THE BILLIONAIRE TYCOON. Can you tell us something about this story?
TEMPTED BY THE BILLIONAIRE TYCOON is the second book my Billionaire Romance series with Destiny Romance.
What were the inspirations behind this story?
TEMPTED BY THE BILLIONAIRE TYCOON was inspired by two recent trips. One to a health retreat which gave me my heroine’s profession and one to France and the UK which was the inspiration for the luxury locations in which the book is set. Each time I visit Paris (and during a trip to Versailles for the first time) I’m in awe of the beauty and romance of France. My heroine, Poppy feels this too as it is her first trip to this amazing country. My hero of course has seen it all before, being an international entrepreneur, but it all feels that little bit different now he is with Poppy!
Me with Aussie authors Helene Young and Jennifer St. George at the Gold Coast Libraries Literati Event in 2012.
What’s coming up next?
I’m currently working on the third book in my Billionaire Romance series. I’m currently playing with lots of different characters and settings waiting for it all to come together.
We’re very nosy here in the lair. We’d love a peek at your writing day. Was there anything you learned during your time as a corporate wonder that has helped you in settling down to life as a writer?
What did I learn from my corporate career that has helped me with writing? Discipline. Discipline. Discipline. Getting my head down and getting the job done. I get up early every day (and I’m a night owl…definitely not a morning person) and get 1000 words done before the rest of the house wakes. That way, no matter what the day throws at me, I’ve got words down on the page. Also, you can never stop learning, improving, refining your skills. I continually find ways to learn and I know I can always do better.
Contemporary romance is taking the world by storm. Have you any theories as to why this genre is the flavour du jour right now?
Great question and I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because people can relate to the stories as they are written with contemporary themes and situations. Although, my stories do have a lot of ‘escapism’ elements. I mean, it’s not everyday you stumble into the glamorous world of a billionaire and he sweeps you off your feet into the world of luxury only accessed by the mega-rich.
Oh, if only I would! Is there another genre you’d like to try?
I love reading crime. I love a good thriller – Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell, David Baldacci. I’d love more time to read crime and I’d like to one day have at go at writing it. I have a story in my head that won’t leave me alone (it’s based on a dream I had when I was twenty, so it’s been tapping on my brain for a long time), so I hope one day to get that story down on paper and out into the world.
Ooh, sounds intriguing. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita buddies to get conversation going?
So I love featuring glamorous locations (Paris, Barbados, Brunei) and having my characters engage in luxurious activities such as slipping over to Paris on a private jet for dinner, cruising on a super yacht or dining on a Caribbean beach. If you could have a billionaire lifestyle and money was a non-issue, what would you like to do?
A bit of a twist in today’s prize. Jen has offered a download of TEMPTED BY THE BILLIONAIRE TYCOON but for people in Australia only – so if you’re an Aussie, please tell us so in the comments so we know you’re in the draw. Jen’s book is available internationally from all good e-book retailers!
Posted by Anna Campbell Nov 3 2014, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Annie West, Australian Authors, Bought by the Italian, contemporary romance, Continuities, Harlequin Presents, interviews, Rebel's Bargain, Reunion Stories, the Chatsfield, The Sheikh's Princess Bride, The Sultan's Harem Bride
Annie researching at Chateau Chenonceau.
It’s always a pleasure to host Annie West and hear about her latest release. This month, she’s put out a doozy of a contemporary romance with REBEL’S BARGAIN, a tempestuous, emotional and very sexy reunion story set in a glamorous French Chateau.
Um, I’ll have what she’s having, thanks!
Here’s the blurb:
When the thrill–seeker strikes a deal!
Five years ago, Poppy Graham married Orsino Chatsfield beneath a confetti of paparazzi flashbulbs. But Orsino spent more time chasing the rush of adrenaline than with his wife and, in her darkest hour, he let her down. Their split was bitter and Poppy’s striven for independence ever since. But now her arrogant husband is back…
Injured in a climbing accident, there’s only one person Orsino can turn to…his deceitful wife! They have unfinished business and he’ll face it before he walks away for ever. But the blazing passion between them reignites in an instant, leaving Orsino to wonder whether it will kill or cure!
You can read an excerpt on Annie’s website here: http://www.annie-west.com/books/rebels-bargain/
I’m not the only person raving about how good REBEL’S BARGAIN is. RT Book Reviews gave it 4.5 stars and called it “imaginative and intensely thrilling.” Coffee Time Romance called it a “delicious concoction of sultry passion and angsty second chance romance.”
Annie, congratulations on the release of REBEL’S BARGAIN, your addition to the steamy Chatsfield continuity for Harlequin. Can you tell us about this story?
Thanks so much for the invitation back to the lair, Anna. You know how I love visiting!
Rebel is my first full-length reunion story and I discovered the situation was rife with emotion and passion. Poppy and Orsino met and married quickly, falling headlong into instant attraction. But when things got tough between them neither had what it took to keep the relationship together. Orsino even believed his wife had betrayed him.
They parted on bitter terms and have spent the intervening years burying themselves in activities that keep them from dwelling on the past. Orsino dives into more and more reckless adventure and Poppy concentrates on building the career she thinks will give her security.
But when Orsino is buried in an avalanche (yes, I DO torture my heroes) then spends time in hospital, he realises he still has unfinished business with his wife since he can’t get her out of his head. He ‘persuades’ her into looking after him while he recovers. He thinks a couple of weeks’ proximity will cure him of his lingering feelings.
How wrong he is!
The pair are stuck together at a French chateau while Poppy finishes a modelling assignment. Sounds hard to take, doesn’t it? But close proximity (and there’s a lot of that) leads to all sorts of fireworks. They’re forced to face all the problems and the feelings they’ve tried to hide from.
I can attest to the fireworks. I think this is one of your most sensual books ever. How does REBEL’S BARGAIN fit into the Chatsfield series?
It’s fascinating seeing how the stories relate to each other. One thing I enjoy is that, while the stories do link, each can be read as a totally stand-alone book, so if you pick one up out of sequence it’s still a whole complete and hopefully satisfying story.
The series centres on the Chatsfield family and their international chain of luxury hotels. Gene Chatsfield has quite a few children and none of them had an easy family life. Now they, and he, are paying for that.
Orsino Chatsfield (yes, it’s an Italian Christian name, because of his Italian mother) is notorious to the world’s press for rebelling, risking his neck again and again in perilous adventures, almost as if he doesn’t care if he lives or dies. My story is about what happens when his devil-may-care attitude finally catches up with him.
There’s a terrific section on the Harlequin website devoted to the series. Here’s the link if you want to check it out. http://www.harlequin.com/store.html?cid=622516
What were the inspirations behind this story?
Well, Anna, I don’t think I need to say much. These photos show you some of the places that inspired the story.
Chateau Chenonceau is a gem of a palace that spans the Loire River in France. I knew I wanted to write about it and then along came this story. I found myself putting Orsino and Poppy in that gorgeous Rapunzel tower near the Chateau. Other scenes take place along the riverbank and inside the Chateau itself though in the book the place is never named as I took a few liberties with it.
Another inspiration was the gorgeous antique jewellery I saw in European museums. Poppy is modelling jewellery for an ad campaign for a fabulous design house that has made jewellery for royalty for centuries (think Faberge and Cartier). In my book I got to put her in all sorts of period settings with matching clothes and jewels from the 18th century to the roaring twenties to ultra modern. It was delicious fun.
What’s coming up next for you?
I’m thrilled to have a duet out early in the new year with Harlequin – two linked stories (which can be read as stand alones) called THE SULTAN’S HAREM BRIDE (Jan/Feb) and THE SHEIKH’S PRINCESS BRIDE (Mar/April).
Watch out too for a novella I hope to bring out very soon – the second in ‘Hot Italian Nights’ novella series, called BOUGHT BY THE ITALIAN. I’ll leave you to ponder what that’s about.
Ooh, lots coming up for your fans. I know, like many writers, that you’re a voracious reader. Do you have any recommendations for us on books that you’ve recently read and loved?
Some recent fabbo reads have been Christina Brooke’s THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE (what a story, Christina!), Cathryn Hein’s romantic adventure quest THE FRENCH PRIZE (sadly not yet available in the U.S.) and among the a non-romance titles, Julia Spencer Fleming’s marvellous THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS. In shorter stories, I’m currently reading and enjoying Caitlin Crews’s sexy UNDONE BY THE SULTAN’S TOUCH. Plus of course there’s your new Regency novella, Anna, HER CHRISTMAS EARL, which hit the spot beautifully! Just right for a lush, pre-Christmas escape.
Great recommendations. I’m chuffed you enjoyed my novella! Thank you. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita buddies to get the conversation going?
Poppy gets to wear some glamorous jewellery in this story (from cabochon rubies in old gold to gem-encrusted armbands straight from a flapper’s wardrobe). I find it impossible to choose a favorite.
But how about you? Do you have a favorite piece of jewellery? Maybe something special because of its sentimental value? Alternatively, is there a piece you’d buy for yourself if money were no object?
Get commenting, people! Annie has very generously offered two signed copies of REBEL’S BARGAIN (international) as prizes to people who visit the blog today. Good luck!
Posted by Anna Campbell Oct 22 2014, 10:49 pm in Anna Campbell, Australian Authors, Bandita Booty, Bloomsbury Spark, Debut authors, ebooks, This Is Your Afterlife, Vanessa Barneveld, young adult
Thanks to everyone who swung by yesterday to turn my friend Vanessa Barneveld’s launch of her debut YA THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE into such a party. I’m delighted now to announce the winner:
Donna, please email Vanessa on ness @ vanessabarneveld.com (no spaces) with your preferred ebook format and the address where you’d like Vanessa to send both your Amazon $20 gift card and your download of THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE. Happy reading!
Posted by Anna Campbell Oct 21 2014, 12:01 am in Afterlife Goes On, Anna Campbell, Australian Authors, Bloomsbury Spark, Debut authors, Ghosts, interviews, This Is Your Afterlife, Vanessa Barneveld, young adult
I’m delighted to host for the very first time in the lair, my very dear friend Vanessa Barneveld, a triple Golden Heart finalist. Vanessa’s debut young adult romance THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE comes out from Bloomsbury Spark today!
Vanessa and I met some years ago, working as captioners on television programs for the Deaf. We bonded over a mutual love for romance and a shared dream to be published romance writers. I’m so happy for Vanessa that her dream has come true in such style!
Here’s the blurb for THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE:
When the one boy you crushed on in life can’t seem to stay away in death, it’s hard to be a normal teen when you’re a teen paranormal.
Sixteen-year-old Keira Nolan has finally got what she wanted—the captain of the football team in her bedroom. Problem is he’s not in the flesh. He’s a ghost and she’s the only one who can see him.
Keira’s determined to do anything to find Jimmy’s killer. Even it if means teaming up with his prickly-yet-dangerously-attractive brother, Dan, also Keira’s ex-best-friend. Keira finds that her childish crush is fading, but her feelings for Dan are just starting to heat up, and as the story of Jimmy’s murder unfolds, anyone could be a suspect.
You can find out more about Vanessa and her books on her website: http://www.vanessabarneveld.com/
By the way, I love the ‘ghostly’ pics Vanessa sent to accompany this article. The cemetery ones are from Camperdown in Sydney – and of course every paranormal writer needs cats, especially black ones!
Check out the great trailer Vanessa made for her book. That Dan’s a bit of all right, isn’t he?
Vanessa, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to host you at the Romance Bandits to celebrate the release of your first book THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE. Can you tell us something about this story?
Anna, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be in the Lair as a debut author! You and the Banditas have been so good to me over the years. (Waving to the Golden Rooster and the trusty cabana boys!) THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE was a finalist in this year’s Golden Heart YA category. It’s a paranormal that brings new meaning to “teen spirit.”
Sounds great! What were the inspirations behind this story?
The idea of ghosts is endlessly fascinating to me. As a child, I fed my imagination with a UK series of magazines called THE UNEXPLAINED, which was chock-full of paranormal phenomena. So it’s no surprise that this led me to writing ghost stories!
As with most of my books, it was the title that came first. I don’t remember the exact moment it hit me, but from then on, characters started “talking” to me. Jimmy, the dead guy, had looks, talent and his own fan club. The world was at his feet, but it was ripped from under him in one terrible moment. My heroine, Keira, is clairvoyant. That means she sees dead people. Her character is loosely based on a member of my husband’s family who was psychic and helped police with investigations many years ago. Keira was a card-carrying member of Jimmy’s fan club. “What bugs me is that I’ve been invisible to Jimmy for years. Now that he’s dead, he finally sees me. There is no justice in the world,” she says.
Oh, no wonder Keira’s a bit annoyed! What’s coming up next?
I’m partying for the next week – literally! I’ve got a stellar line-up of YA authors sharing spooky stories on my blog. Once the paranormal party’s over, it’s back to work on my follow-up book, AFTERLIFE GOES ON. I may or may not be traveling to Amsterdam to research that story. I’m partway through a UFO abduction book. It’s a ton of fun! I may or may not be traveling to another galaxy to research that story. Next year, I hope to continue my master’s degree in writing.
We love, love, love call stories in the lair. Can you please tell us yours?
With pleasure! I’ve been writing with the aim of publication since 1997 and have written eight or nine paranormal and contemporary YA manuscripts since then. In 2007, after facing more than 100 agent rejections on three different books, I signed with Writers House. (Third time lucky!) Then we proceeded to rack up so many rejections I was sure I’d make the GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS. The rejections were rarely about the writing—that was comforting!
THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE was the fourth of my books to be shopped. Rejections galore, which I had come to expect. My agent submitted to Bloomsbury’s New York office in July 2013. A few days later, my sister and I went to London and we kept drifting toward the Bloomsbury area. Just by accident, but I thought it was a nice omen.
In March this year, my agent emailed me when I was at the day job and said she wanted to call me. I immediately thought, “Maybe she wants to drop me!” I quickly emailed a very wise and trusted friend who told me I was a total loon. (Not in so many words.)
As it turns out, my agent had the best news of all — an offer from Bloomsbury Spark! My workmates managed to find a bottle of champagne at 10 o’clock in the morning and we had a little celebration. The book received a Golden Heart nomination a few weeks after that.
Great story! Young adult books are huge in the market right now, with all ages. What do you think is the appeal of the genre for the general reader?
I can speak for myself in that teen fiction allows me to see the world through a younger person’s filter. I like seeing how teen characters react against the problems they face and choices they have to make. It brings back great (and not-so-great!) memories of firsts – first kisses, first dates, first time you felt like you were growing into your identity.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Simplest advice? Read! Study the masters of your genre. I recommend reading out of your genre for a fresh perspective, too. If there’s one thing I know about writing it’s that I don’t know enough about writing! So whatever level you’re at, keep learning through workshops or craft books and blogs. Join an organisation for writers (e.g. RWA) where you can find a critique group, learn from others, and importantly, share what you’ve learned. And one last thing—just write. It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer Prize-winning prose, not in the first draft, anyway! Good luck!
Great advice, Vanessa. Do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita Buddies to get conversation going?
If you could have a paranormal power, what would it be and why?
Get commenting, people! Vanessa has very generously offered a download of THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE along with a $20 Amazon giftcard for someone who leaves us a message today. Good luck!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 7 2014, 12:03 am in Anna Campbell, Australian Authors, Breaking the Bro Code, contemporary romance, Debut authors, Entangled Publishing, Harlequin Mills and Boon, interviews, Kiss, Mills and Boon, Only the Brave Try Ballet, Stefanie London, The Rules According to Gracie
Oh, we do love a debut author in the lair!
I first met the delightful Stefanie London at a Melbourne Romance Writers Guild retreat in May 2013 on the coast just outside Melbourne. Annie West and I ran a half-day workshop on characterization. I was immediately impressed with Stef’s talent and professional approach to a writing career. At that stage, she’d received encouraging responses to her submissions to Harlequin Mills and Boon and I wasn’t at all surprised when shortly afterwards, Stef went public with the news that she’d had a book accepted in the KISS line.
Here’s the blurb for her first book, ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET:
Step up, Grant Farley…not your typical ballet student!
Football pro Grant Farley is nursing an injury and needs to get back into shape—fast. Ballet wouldn’t be his first or even his last choice, but he’s desperate. Enter tantalizingly prim teacher Jasmine Bell—one disapproving arch of her eyebrow and Grant knows he’ll enjoy getting her tutu in a flutter!
But it’s not only Grant’s flexibility that Jasmine’s pushing to the limit! He knows she feels the heat between them, so why won’t she give in to it? Time to convince Jasmine that if she’s brave enough to dance en pointe she can certainly handle a fling with him!
ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET is a July release in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia.
You can find out more about Stefanie and her sparkling romances at her website: http://stefanie-london.com/
Stef, welcome to the lair! Firstly, can you please tell us about your debut for Harlequin Mills and Boon, ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET?
ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET is a story about two people who’ve worked hard at their dream, only to have it crumble around them. Jasmine Bell is a former professional ballerina who can no longer dance en pointe and Grant Farley is an AFL player trying to shake off his wild-child past. On the surface they seem like complete opposites, but deep down they’re both passionate, hard-working people who find it difficult to trust. They have to learn what it means to be brave in order to regain passion in their lives.
Sounds yummy! What were the inspirations behind this book?
Well, I always wanted to be a ballerina when I was growing up and I studied it for over ten years. But the idea actually sparked when I read an article about football players who took ballet lessons to improve flexibility and prevent injuries. I wondered how they would feel (as professional athletes used to being at the top of their game) being plunged into a completely foreign activity. Would they fight against it? Would they grow from the experience and learn to appreciate what an art ballet is? Our hero, Grant, experiences the frustrations of many new ballet students: sore calves, steps that seem impossible, a lack of balance. Luckily for Grant, his ballet teacher is right there to help him every step of the way.
What is coming up for Stefanie London?
In October my second book with Harlequin Mills & Boon will be out. BREAKING THE BRO CODE is linked to my debut. This time it’s Elise Johnson, the owner of the ballet studio, who’s mixing business and pleasure.
I’m also making an exciting personal move. My husband and I are setting off to live in Canada, which is a long way from home in Melbourne! But we’re very excited at the prospect of being able to travel and explore what looks to be an absolutely beautiful country.
Good luck with the move! By the way, Stef is centre front in the picture from the retreat to the left. Stef, we love call stories in the lair. Can you please give us yours?
Absolutely! ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET is the first book I’ve ever written, so I really had no idea how to submit a manuscript or get published. Luckily, I found a competition online which was being run by the wonderful editors of Harlequin KISS. They wanted entrants to pitch their story in a single paragraph, no easy task!
While my pitch wasn’t selected as a winner, the editors were interested in the premise and wanted to see my manuscript. I was so excited that I accidentally deleted the email and had to trawl through my trash file to find it again! I sent my manuscript off, not thinking it would go anywhere, and after three rounds of revisions (and about eight months) I got a call from the Mills & Boon office in London with an offer of a two book contract. I actually cried when I got off the phone, I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited in my whole life.
Congratulations! Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
There’s so many wonderful pieces of advice that I’ve come across, but these are my top three:
- Get a support network – writing is tough, it takes a lot of time and sometimes it makes you crazy. You need people around you who will help when things aren’t going well and who will cheer when you do something great.
– Read, read, read – it seems obvious, but it’s so true. Read far and wide, devour your genre like you’ve discovered it for the first time, read outside your genre, read non-fiction. Reading helps to refill the ‘creative well’ and I always write better when I’m reading regularly.
– Look for opportunities – I owe my success to a writing competition, these are a great way to get your work discovered. Getting a request from an editor means skipping the slush pile. Also, look out for editors on Twitter and Facebook, they often write about the things they’re looking for in submission.
That’s great advice, Stef. Do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita Buddies to get conversation rolling?
Part of writing ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET was fulfilling my childhood dream of being a ballerina. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Stef has very generously offered a print copy of ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET (international) for a commenter today. So good luck, people!