Posts tagged with: Australian Authors

Stefanie London’s Winner!

1BanditBootyThank you so much for the lovely warm welcome you gave debut Aussie author Stefanie London yesterday. We wish her all the best with her first book ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET.

The winner of the signed copy of OTBTB is:

LOUISA CORNELL!

Congratulations, Louisa. Please email Stef on stefanie @ stefanie-london.com(no spaces) with your snail mail details and she’ll get your book off to you. Happy reading!

 

Meet Debut Author Stefanie London!

stef 1

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!

stef 2Football 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/

stefStef, 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.

stef 3What 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.

mrwg retreatGood 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!

stef 4While 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:

stef 5- 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?

1BanditBootyStef has very generously offered a print copy of ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET (international) for a commenter today. So good luck, people!

Susanne Bellamy’s Winners!

BanditBootyThank you to everyone who swung by Susanne Bellamy’s post yesterday. We all had a wonderful time talking about our fantasy holidays!

I’m delighted now to announce the winners of Susanne’s prizes:

JANE!

PEARL!

Jane and Pearl, congratulations! You’ve won your choice of either WHITE GINGER or ONE NIGHT IN SORRENTO. Can you please email Susanne on susannebellamy @ gmail.com (no spaces) and let her know your email address and the format you prefer (Kindle or whatever)? Happy reading!

Susanne Bellamy Is Going Places!

Sue 1Today, I’m delighted to introduce to the lair one of the nicest people I know, bubbly Aussie contemporary romance author Susanne Bellamy. Sue and I met at a workshop Bandita Christina Brooke and I ran for the Brisbane Writers Festival some years ago and it’s always such a pleasure to meet up with her and catch up on her doings. So I thought you guys should share in the fun!

You can find out more about Sue and her books on her website: http://www.susannebellamy.com/

And Sue is a Facebook maven! You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Susanne-Bellamy-Author/165832666817825

Susanne, welcome to the Bandita lair!  I’m so excited to introduce our Bandita Buddies to a great new Aussie author. Firstly, can you please tell us about your latest release ONE NIGHT IN SORRENTO?

Delighted to visit your lair, Anna! I’ve been in my writing cave recently and needed to venture out!

Sue 2Italy has fascinated me for a long time. As a young teenager, I went to Italian language classes with an older sister and fell in love with the language; it’s not called a ‘romance’ language for nothing! Films such as “Roman Holiday” and “Only You” fed my addiction, and Italian dishes are my favourite foods. When I decided to try the novella form, I was on the Amalfi Coast and the story sprang almost fully formed into my mind.

Rhiannon Butler is on a business trip to Sorrento in place of her ill stepfather when an accident throws her in the path of Luca d’Alberghi, leather-clad and riding a monster motorbike. Serious chemistry sparks between them when they take a ride along this glorious coastline. What will one night in Sorrento bring?

Yummy! What were the inspirations behind this book?

Would you believe—the Amalfi Coast road! My husband and I spent a week there. The road has to be experienced but honestly—it was the inspiration for Luca and Rhiannon’s story. They meet on this road and Luca in his leathers takes Rhiannon up on his modern version of the ‘white charger’, a very big silver and black motorbike! There is something magical about this stretch of coast with its myriad bends and narrow passages. Brilliant driving and common sense negotiations keep it flowing and the views are stunning. It’s one of the top ten coastal drives in the world.

Sue 3Your debut release was WHITE GINGER. Can you tell us about that story?

While the cat’s away! My husband was on his fourth or fifth trip to Nepal and, to fill in the evenings while he was gone, I wrote WHITE GINGER. We chatted over incredibly slow internet connections and he would tell me about the cold and the snow; I transposed that to heat and sand. What better place than Kauai, one of the Hawaiian Islands!

Amelie Mackenzie needs an escape from her ex-fiancé and her boss offers her the chance to continue her fabric designs in Hawaii in preparation for a major trade show. Arne (Keanu) Keloki is a marine biologist fighting a desperate battle to protect the reef from a wealthy developer. Being with Arne is exciting and sparks become sizzling attraction as he challenges Amelie to overcome her deepest phobia. But danger and sabotage threaten not only their relationship but also their lives. Will their efforts to save the reef tear them apart?

Sue 6What is coming up for Susanne Bellamy?

On August 1, ENGAGING THE ENEMY releases with Harlequin’s Escape Publishing (digital). This story came into being on my first tram ride in Melbourne when I sighted an abandoned red brick building. The protagonists jumped into my head and my heart.

One building, two would-be owners. He needs it to avenge his past, she needs it for her future. When Matt Mahoney buys back the old home turned pub turned shelter for abused women and children, he buys into a fight he never expected. Wanting to restore his mother’s family home, he is challenged on every front by Andie de Villiers as she fights to keep the only shelter many of her clients have. His proposition is to become his fake fiancée in return for a brief reprieve. But what of the family feud neither knew existed?

Sue 7I’m currently in the middle of revisions for EMERALD QUEST: WINNING THE HEIRESS’S HEART for Entangled Publishing. It is the fourth of five books by five authors in a series that spans two centuries and releases in early 2015. My part of the story is set in — HAWAII! It’s 1960 and Hawaii has just joined the US as the 50th state. This romantic suspense will continue the search for a fabulous emerald and diamond necklace when English ‘heiress’, Eva Abbott, takes her nephew to a new life on a plantation in Hawaii. Her handsome neighbour, Luc Martineau, provides both help and hindrance. Who can Eva trust when bad things start happening?

Three other author friends and I are working on a Christmas anthology—our Christmas gift to our readers so keep an eye out for A SEASON TO REMEMBER come December!

I notice that you love to use exotic destinations as the settings for your books. Have you been to all these wonderful places? What’s your favorite travel destination?

Sue 4Tough question, Anna! I enjoy wherever I am though I recently realised I have a thing for high places. I love the cable car ride in Singapore, the funicular to Hong Kong’s Peak, the Eiffel Tower, Hitler’s Eyrie, Villa Jovus on Capri; if you can go up high to look out, I’ll probably be there. Places and atmosphere often stimulate a story idea for me. I love to people a place like the stretch of coast road in Atrani (next door to Amalfi) and see what happens when characters are taken out of their familiar environments. Rhiannon (ONIS) speaks not a word of Italian which leads to her dilemma in the first place! I also love to travel and have either visited, or plan to visit the places I write about. I have a story set in Nepal simmering away; I travelled there years ago with my husband who keeps going back to do harder climbing and trekking than I can manage. If I can evoke the feel of a new place for readers and give them a fun escape and vicarious travel, then I’m happy.

Sue 5If I have to pick just one place though, I’ll go with Tuscany. We lived in a vineyard villa for a while and took lots of day trips into the surrounding towns. Siena is stunning and Montepulciano is lovely (and high up!). The views are unbelievable.

As this is your first visit, we’d love to hear about your writing journey.

Like other writers, I’ve always been a voracious reader; I don’t remember a time when I haven’t read, including under the sheets with a torch after ‘lights out’. I won a writing competition at high school but didn’t write for many years while I worked and raised my family.

WHITE GINGER was my first full length book and it won third place in the RWA (Oz) Emerald Award. I have to thank you for encouraging me at the Brisbane Writers Festival to join the RWA and enter competitions! Unbelievable as it still seems, that first book was picked up by a small publisher. Wonderful writer friends have continued to encourage me along the way and I find myself with two works published, three more scheduled and a thousand and one stories calling to me to write them. I’m drawn to write romantic suspense but my reading tends to be historical romance; however, the Emerald Quest will allow me to combine both loves. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy WHITE GINGER and ONE NIGHT IN SORRENTO.

If you want to see some of my visual inspiration, check out my boards on Pinterest. I’m a visual person and these help me to construct character and place. http://www.pinterest.com/susannebellamy/

BanditBootyINTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY

I’m offering one copy of either book to two commenters but you need to leave your email address in your comment to be in the running. If you’d like to be in with a chance, please tell me what you would like to do or see on a trip to either the Amalfi Coast or to Hawaii.  Easy!

Ooh, right now the thing I’d like to see is a ticket to either place! Thanks so much, Susanne. Get commenting, people! We could all do with some extra international glamour and romance in our lives!  

Alison Stuart Reflects on Old Friends

AB6I’m delighted to welcome back to the lair my friend, Aussie historical romance writer Alison Stuart. Alison’s here to tell us about her latest release, the Regency mystery-romance LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR. Here’s the blurb: 

Can the love of an honourable man save her from the memory of a desolate marriage?

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams, only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.

AB4Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. But, her dreams are shattered, as she is taunted from the grave, discovering not only has she been left penniless, but she is once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?

To find out more about Alison and her books, please visit her website: www.alisonstuart.com

LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is available from AMAZON, Barnes & Noble and all good ebook stores.

For the month of May, Alison is offering a Rafflecopter contest with the prize of an author goody bag. You can enter HERE.

Here’s Alison!

I was very sad to hear of the death this month of Mary Stewart (although to be honest, I didn’t know she was still alive so I shouldn’t have been taken aback by the announcement of her death). Anyway, it got me thinking about the authors who have most influenced me in my writing.

AB3I actually haven’t read many of Stewart’s mystery stories for which she was best known in the early part of her career. The books that grabbed me by the throat and which sit on my ‘keeper’ shelf battered and thumbed and reread are her three Merlin stories beginning with THE CRYSTAL CAVE. What set them apart for me from the hundreds and hundreds of Arthurian reinterpretations (MISTS OF AVALON is another fave), was the humanity she invested in Merlin. Instead of a mystical being in a tall pointy hat, Merlin starts out as a boy in a Romano British household and comes to his position of power and influence in a thoroughly human way. Along the way he loves, he loses, he is betrayed… It is not, as has been described in some reports, a “romance”… there’s not a happy ever after for Merlin but there is a satisfactory conclusion and when you close THE  LAST ENCHANTMENT you have the feeling of a life well lived. I had great pleasure in introducing my teenage son to these books and watching him devour them as I had done. 

AB5Like most writers, I was a voracious reader from an early age.  However my taste was for action and adventure and although I cut my teeth on Enid Blyton, it was not the namby pamby FAR AWAY TREE, I was straight into the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, the shenanigans of Mallory Towers.  Other childhood favourites included:

  • Horsey stories such as the MY FRIEND FLICKA stories by O’Hara
  • The fantasy stories of Alan Garner such as ELIDOR
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder stories which I read and reread until I could practically repeat them and were probably the most “girly” books I read.

But my overwhelming favourites were the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff and Ronald Welch and the English Civil War stories of Barbara Softly – strong historicals written for young adults with plenty of action and adventure and a good dose of romance but not necessarily romance stories. I devoured these books and there is no doubt that they had the strongest influence on the stories I write. I think I damaged my eyesight reading EAGLE OF THE NINTH under the covers by torchlight after my light was supposed to be out.

Has anyone out there read Ronald Welch? They were boys own adventures revolving around the “Carey” family – wherever there was a war or an interesting period of history, there you would find a Carey.  Of course my favourite was FOR THE KING  – the English Civil War story.  I graduated to the stories of Jean Plaidy and Robert Neill by the time I was fifteen I had pretty much exhausted every historical book that the Parkdale Library had to offer.

My passion for all things English Civil War began with THE KING’S GENERAL by Daphne DuMaurier. On Sunday afternoons my father would read to my brother and I but he loathed reading “children’s books” so the choice of book tended to be his and he, of course, chose the books he liked which is how I came to have THE KING’S GENERAL read aloud to me when I was only eight. The love affair between Honor and Richard Grenville and the derring do of the period really struck a cord with me and inspired a life long interest in both the period and books that encompassed a strong relationship between a man and a woman within the context of a historical period.

AB1My other great love was Agatha Christie. Every year my family holidayed at a guest house in Marysville (sadly destroyed in the 2009 bushfires) and my overwhelming association with that guest house are the books of Agatha Christie which I would purchase from the one shop in the town and read either curled up in front of the fire or in one of the chairs on the wide, wooden verandah. 

On the other hand, I was a Georgette Heyer fail. I think I might have read THE BLACK MOTH and I know I read THE ROYAL ESCAPE (because it was about the English Civil War) but her regency romances held no interest for me whatsoever. However, I hasten to add, I have come to Georgette in more recent years and as an adult (and a writer) I love her books (although am I the only who find THESE OLD SHADES just a bit creepy?). While I am making my confession, I wasn’t all that fond of Jane Austen either. As for Harlequin Mills and Boon, I read my first one on the plane home from my very first Romance Writers of Australia conference (a gorgeous Marion Lennox story which I still have on my keeper shelf). To be honest I didn’t even know the first book I wrote (later published as BY THE SWORD) was a romance. I was, in short, a romance fail.

AB2So I suppose it is little wonder that my own writing cuts across all these influences – romantic action adventures with action, mystery, murder, ghosts, time travel – sometimes all in the same book.  Even with my latest story LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR, which is my first venture into the world of the Regency, the romance is bounded by a murder mystery that must be solved before the hero and heroine approach anything like a happy ever after.  I think I can quite safely describe my style of writing as cross genre!

Just recently I started trawling Ebay looking for copies of my childhood favourites. Having them back on my bookshelf with the familiar covers, is like being reunited with old friends. 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD BOOKS?

Thanks, Alison, that was fascinating. And yeah, I get you on THESE OLD SHADES, although as a pre-teen when I first read it, the age difference didn’t strike me the way it does now. Good luck with Lord Somerton. I loved GATHER THE BONES and this looks like another winner!

Annie West’s Winners!

BanditBootyThanks so much to everyone who swung by to say hello to Annie West yesterday, not to mention Annie herself. We launched BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED in style!

Two commenters have won their choice (print) from Annie’s backlist. Annie’s lucky winners are:

CECILIA

SHANNON

Congratulations, girls. Please check out Annie’s current books at: http://www.annie-west.com/books.html Then please email her on annie @ annie-west.com (no spaces) with your choice. Happy reading!

Annie West’s New Novella

Annie et moiLet’s give a lovely warm welcome to Aussie author Annie West who is such a favorite here in the lair.

Annie’s here to tell us all about her brilliant new novella, BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED, featuring a hero called Fabuloso, oh, sorry, that’s FABRIZIO. But he is pretty fabuloso!

This is Annie’s first indie effort and having read it, I can guarantee that it has all the passion and emotion and heat of her award-winning books for Harlequin Mills and Boon. Don’t miss it. Even better, it’s the first of a series called Hot Italian Nights. So there’s more fabulosoness to come!

annieHere’s the blurb:

No woman walks away from billionaire Fabrizio Armati’s bed. No woman except Jenna MacDonald. Now he’ll stop at nothing to get her back, and keep her there.

It’s love at first sight for Jenna when charismatic hotelier Fabrizio Armati sweeps her off her feet in Venice. That chance encounter sparks a sizzling affair that lasts until she discovers Fabrizio sees her as no more than a convenient, expendable mistress. Then her world falls apart.

Six months later Jenna tells herself she’s moved on. Until Fabrizio walks into a meeting to find her working for his greatest rival. She’s about to discover just how far he’ll go to get her back in his bed.

When revenge turns to passion, will surrender be on his terms, or hers?

AWN 4BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED is available at the bargain price of 99 cents! If you’ve got a Kindle, just click on the blue cover above and it will take you right there (we make life easy for you in the lair – cabana boys and Kindle click-throughs!). If you’ve got a Nook, here’s the link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/back-in-the-italians-bed-annie-west/1119378950?ean=2940149175154&itm=1&usri=2940149175154

You can find out more about Annie and her wonderful books at her website: www.annie-west.com

And mark your diaries for a special release toward the end of the year when Annie’s entry in the fabulous Chatsfield series hits the shelves. I’ve read REBEL’S BARGAIN and it’s a corker! Here’s some more info: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebels-Bargain-Mills-Special-Releases/dp/0263246272/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395650778&sr=1-1&keywords=Annie+West+romance

Here’s Annie!

Annie 1FINDING HIDDEN TREASURE

Hi Banditas and especially the divine Ms Anna C for allowing me to visit again. It’s such a warm and welcoming place and it’s great to be amongst fellow romance lovers.

I don’t know about you, but as a child I used to love the idea of hidden treasure. I devoured stories about buried gold or lost heirlooms, secret passages and locked doors leading to neglected gardens or ancient mysteries or, of course, wonderful libraries. The idea of sparkling gems and bullion was fantastic, but I learned that sometimes the best hidden treasures didn’t necessarily have a huge dollar value. Take these:

When I get ideas for stories and when I write them, I make notes in these books. They’re full of cryptic scrawls, reminders of plot points I mustn’t forget, jottings on names for future stories, ramblings about how scenes fit together, even notes for workshops. I use one daily as I write but their value is such that I don’t dare discard even one of them.

Annie 5Recently I needed to find a reference in an old notebook. It took me a little while to find (see note above about cryptic and rambling jottings) but in the process I found a hidden gem. A couple of lines scrawled at the bottom of a page that was otherwise devoted to an earlier story. It said (I’m translating here from my jottings) ‘What if a powerful businessman walked into a meeting to discover, on the other side of the conference table, his ex-lover, who’d walked out on him six months before with no explanation? What if she was working for his rival?’ Then there were the words ‘Italian, ruthless, can’t let her go.’

Wow! I sat back and stared.  I couldn’t even remember writing the note but I knew in an instant I’d discovered hidden treasure. For in that moment I saw the scene in my head, I felt his emotions at the unexpected reunion. I even sensed her fear and dismay in the air, for I knew meeting him again was the last thing she wanted.

Here was the elusive idea I’d wanted for the novella I’d been meaning to write but kept putting off. The timing was perfect too. If I worked really hard I could just about find time to write it between other deadlines. Then too, I had a visit from my crit partner (take a bow, Ms Campbell) coming up so I could nut out any plot problems with her. After all, I’d never written a novella and didn’t know how I’d go with the shorter length.

AWN 3I’d found hidden treasure, right when I wasn’t looking for it. And I did write the novella – BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED is out now.

I’ve discovered that being a bit of a hoarder means that discovering hidden treasure is one of the ongoing joys of my life. Whenever I do one of my sporadic clean ups I find something marvellous. Take these – not lost but hidden by a plethora of boring beverages bought by other members of the family. I’d been given the teabags as a gift from my husband. He knows I got a kick out of an earlier collection of tea bags featuring famous writers.

Imagine my glee! I’d put them aside, thinking to save them for a special occasion (like when I’m having a particularly difficult day with the writing) and now it’s like the thrill of receiving them all over again. Guess what I’ll be drinking? As for the lovely Klimt mug – it’s one of my favourites but got put in a cupboard I rarely use by a helpful guest a while ago. So now I’ve got something special to drink my tea from too.

AWN 2Then, the other morning, when I woke far too early to work and the rain was pounding down and really, there was nothing else to do but read, I grabbed at the pile of books I’d rescued from a cupboard in the spare room (my tbr pile spills over several rooms) to discover a book I’ve had for a couple of years but never got to. I was just in the mood for a sweet romance about a put upon Cinderella in a lovely bygone European world. What a find! I love discovering treasures just when you need them.

And let’s not get to the joy of discovering something at the bottom of the ironing pile that you forgot you had! Yes, that’s happened to me too.

How about you? Have you found any hidden treasure lately? An object or a special place perhaps? Or if not, have you found any in your reading?

BanditBootyAnnie has very generously offered two people (international) who comment their choice of a signed book from her backlist. So get commenting people. And make sure you pick up BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED. You won’t be sorry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kandy Shepherd’s Unforgettable Summer

Kandy 4I’m so delighted today to bring to the lair my good friend, the lovely Kandy Shepherd.

Kandy and I have shared a long writing journey together. When I plucked up the courage to join my very first writing group, Kandy was a member. I was immediately impressed both with the wonderful stories she wrote and also with her great work ethic. I still am!

Way back in the late 1990s when we met (yes, we ARE going back that far), Kandy was targeting Harlequin Mills and Boon as her preferred publishers. Many years and much writing success later, she’s now released her very first Harlequin Romance THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT.

THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT is gaining some wonderful reviews, including a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews, who said, “Shepherd’s love story is heartfelt and has the potential to reach the hearts of lovers across the globe. The main characters are perfect as a pair and the setting of New South Wales is described so beautifully, readers will almost feel the sand between their toes.”

 Here’s the blurb:

It started with a summer kiss… 

Kandy 3Sandy Adams is on her way to an interview, but when she sees a signpost for Dolphin Bay she decides to take a detour down memory lane…. 

Ben Morgan has had his share of heartache. But when a ghost from his youth catches his eye memories of their last summer together come flooding back. 

Everything has changed in the past twelve years, and still they’re right back where they started, facing a second chance they deserve…together.

You can find out more about Kandy and her books on her website: http://kandyshepherd.com/

Kandy, welcome to the Bandita lair! Congratulations on the release of THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT, your first romance with Harlequin. I’m so excited about this book. Can you tell us about this story?

Thank you, Anna, it’s wonderful to be back in the lair with the wonderful Banditas! I’m particularly excited to be talking about this story with you because you were there (when we both lived in the same city!) when I first thought of the story and wrote the initial chapters. It got put aside while I worked on other books but the characters of Sandy Adam and Ben Morgan in THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT never let go and I always wanted to finish their story.

Kandy 1THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT is a very emotional, deeply romantic story of rekindled love between Sandy and Ben who first fell in love as teenagers. Twelve years go by between their first youthful kiss and the first time they kiss when they meet again. A lot has happened in the interim and Ben, in particular, is scarred—both physically and emotionally. Old hurts, betrayals, misunderstandings and deeply-entrenched barriers guarding their hearts mean these two really have to work for their happy-ever-after ending! I thoroughly enjoyed getting them there. In Romance shorthand, I call it my Beauty and the Beast Reunion Story!

Lovely! I always wanted to see how that story panned out. What were the inspirations behind this book?

Have you ever found yourself wondering about your first love—your lost love—maybe from many years ago? What would it be like to meet him or her again? Would you do things differently if you got a second chance? Would the old spark still be there?

I give Sandy and Ben just that opportunity when they meet up again in the coastal town of Dolphin Bay—the place where they first fell in love on summer vacation. Dolphin Bay is a fictional town but it is inspired by one of my favourite parts of Australia, the south coast of New South Wales about four hours drive from Sydney. There you’ll find quaint towns, beautiful pristine beaches and unspoiled bushland. I have spent many idyllic holidays there and hope to spend more in the future. Sun, surf, white sand, blue skies, freedom—it’s the perfect setting for both Sandy and Ben’s fleeting, youthful romance—and perhaps a more mature love that can last a lifetime.

Kandy 2(Little did I know as I was writing the setting I loved that it fell into the new genre of “coastal romance”!)

What is coming up for Kandy Shepherd?

I’m delighted there will be a return to Dolphin Bay in July 2014 with the release of my second book for Harlequin Mills & Boon, THE TYCOON AND THE WEDDING PLANNER. We meet Kate Parker as a secondary character in THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT and the second book is her story of finding love when she least expects it. It’s another emotional, romantic story that I really loved writing.

You’ve had such an interesting writing career. I’d love you to share your writing journey with us.

Like you, Anna, I always wanted to be a writer—and I was always attracted to romance. I had my first short stories published in women’s magazines when I was age twenty-one. Then I got distracted by a wonderful career in magazines, in both Australia and the UK. But the dream to write fiction never went away and I kept on writing in the time I could squeeze in between work and family commitments. Eventually I was published by Berkley Sensation with my two award-winning romantic comedies LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. Then I got intrigued by the brave new world of self-publishing and, to my surprise and delight, my sensual romance THE CASTAWAY BRIDE became an Amazon best seller.

kandy 5Way back when I was very first trying to get published, I targeted Harlequin Mills & Boon in London—as many aspiring Australian romance writers did. That dream never went away and I was thrilled when THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT was accepted for the Harlequin Romance line.

Right now I’m concentrating on writing for Harlequin, which I am really enjoying. But I see myself as a “hybrid” writer balancing a career with traditionally published stories and self-published ones.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Persevere, persevere, persevere! Writing with the aim of publication isn’t for the faint-hearted or thin-skinned. Find critique partners you respect and trust—that has been very important for me. That said, you also need to have faith in your own voice and unique ideas. Keep alive the joy of writing—we write because we love it and should never lose sight of that!

Feel-good contemporary romance is definitely the soupe du jour with readers. Have you any thoughts on the rise and rise of this particular element of the romance genre?

I think readers being able to easily recognise and identify with characters, situations and settings has a lot to do with the appeal of contemporary romance. The people seem real, are relevant to everyday life and the settings are familiar.

BanditBootyKandy, do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?

I love reunion romances and the idea of second chance at love. I also enjoy books set near the water, there’s something so appealing about a coastal or harbor setting. What about you—do you enjoy reunion romance? Do you ever wonder what would happen if you met up with someone from your past? Do you enjoy coastal settings? I have three signed copies of THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT (international) to give away to people leaving a comment.

Wow, that’s very generous, Kandy. Thank you. Get commenting, people!

 

Annie West’s Winners!

BanditBootyThanks to everyone who swung by to give Annie West such a great welcome yesterday. I’m delighted now to announce the winners of the signed copies of AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY. Congratulations to:

SHANNON!

LUCY!

You’ll love this story. Can you please send your snail mail details to Annie at annie @ annie-west.com (no spaces) and she’ll get your book off to you pronto. Happy reading!

And thanks to Annie for her generosity!

 

Annie West Entices Us to Romance!

AnnWhat fun it always is to host USA Today bestselling author Annie West in the lair.

She’s had a busy year! Today, she’s here to talk about her latest release, AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY. This is her third new book in 2013, following the sublime IMPRISONED BY A VOW and the dramatic and passionate CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT.

Whew! I get tired even thinking about writing that many new books!

AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY is already creating a very nice buzz. RT Book Reviews said, “This is a terrific hate-into-love story, set in a dilapidated old manor that’s a character itself.”

You can find out more about Annie West and her marvelous books on her website: www.annie-west.com

Annie, huge congratulations on your new release from Harlequin, AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY. Can you tell us about your story?

Hi, Anna, and a huge wave to all the Banditas and hangers on! I feel I’m sneaking in under the radar to visit again so soon and am so chuffed to be here.

AnnENTICING is an emotionally intense revenge and redemption story that also uses the housekeeper/boss theme.

Ravenna grew up as the daughter of a professional housekeeper and vowed never to follow in her mother’s footsteps for all sorts of deeply emotional reasons. Jonas is determined to put Ravenna in her place, partly because he believes she stole from him, but deep down because he feels let down by the woman he believes she’s become.

The power struggle in this one really is pivotal, though of course, as with any of my books, there’s a whole lot more to it.

Here’s the back cover copy:

Dial R for Revenge…

Forgiveness is a foreign concept to wealthy investment trader Jonas Deveson. Someone has been stealing from him. He’s got a good idea who it is and she’s going to pay….

Seeing the harsh lines that bitterness has carved into Jonas’s handsome features, Ravenna Ruggiero knows he’ll never see the shades of gray in her actions.

AW 4Jonas blackmails Ravenna into working as his housekeeper to pay off her debt, but living under the same roof leads to unexpected yet forbidden temptation, and Jonas is no longer sure who is being punished!

Sounds delicious. I do love an enemies into lovers story. What were the inspirations behind this book?

Ooh, I had such fun with this one and there were so many things that inspired it: those gothic romances I read in my teens featuring a dark, brooding boss in a rambling old mansion, renovations (I’ve been watching lots of home renovation TV shows!), ‘Country House Rescue’ – another TV program about saving stately British homes, Paris (in particular a wonderful day visiting the gorgeous Place des Vosges and surrounds inspired the opening setting) and food (Ravenna is a pastry chef by profession and that provided a lot of inspiration and excuses for hands on research). Sigh: food, old houses, someone else working hard to renovate as well as brooding, charismatic heroes – I had a ball!

AW 2What’s coming up next for Annie West?

I’m just wrapping up a story and crossing fingers my editor enjoys it as much as I do. My working title is “His Reckless Princess” (which will undoubtedly change). It’s about a high-profile royal with a party-girl reputation who isn’t all she seems and a self-made man who’s dragged himself up from the gutter and refuses to look back. He believes he has no interest in emotion, sentiment or family, until he discovers he’s going to be a father and has to conquer all sorts of demons to win the woman he’s fallen in love with. I think it will be out in July.

Later next year comes “Rebel’s Bargain”, a book I’ve already finished, which will be released as part of a continuity. It’s my first reunion story and it was such a treat to write!

AW 1Wow, you’ve been busy! Readers love housekeeper/governess/nanny stories, reaching right back to PAMELA and JANE EYRE, and probably to when Mrs. Shakespeare was a pup. What do you think is the perennial appeal of this theme in romance novels?

Hm, Anna, they’ve got so much going for them. First there’s proximity. I love romances where hero and heroine are under the same roof. So many reasons for their paths to cross at all times of the day or night!

Plus I’m sure a big part of it is the unequal power and status between them. The heroine is always (in my experience) the underdog, up against someone who has power and usually wealth on their side. I think that feeds into our desire to barrack for the underdog and, in romance, to see the heroine who’s initially vulnerable and possibly downtrodden, fight back and gain equality and power. So satisfying!

Haddon 2Quite a few of these stories have a touch of mystery thrown in, a hint that not everything is as it seems and that’s a delicious aspect I thoroughly enjoy. Finally, there’s a good dollop of the Cinderella in this sort of story. She might start out in rags sweeping up the cinders but Prince Charming sees her true worth despite her circumstances and gives her a lovely happy ending, and one where she’s no longer a domestic drudge. That fantasy works for me, every time.

You’re recently back from the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Perth. Sadly, this year, I couldn’t make it. I’m sure our Banditas and Bandita Buddies would love to hear your impressions of the conference. I know I would!

AW 3Anna, it’s such a shame you couldn’t attend this year. It has to have been one of the friendliest, most relaxed conferences I’ve been to. A really great vibe, lots of new members who were just soaking everything up and smiling a lot, old friends to catch up with and some great workshops and stimulating panel discussions. I ran a workshop myself for beginners on how to edit your first chapter. I have to say the participants took to the task of editing my work for me with vigor! It’s always so much easier than improving your own words, isn’t it?

This was our first RWAustralia Conference in Western Australia and we had a range of US and UK authors attending as well as editors from the US and Australia. I’ve included a photo of gorgeous Hamelin Bay, further down the coast from Fremantle. One of the joys of travelling across the country for the conference was the chance to see some of the countryside before and after. It’s a gorgeous part of the world.

IMG_0014I know, like most writers, that you’re a voracious reader. I wonder if you could share some of your recent reads with us. We all like to extend our TBR piles, even if they’re as high as the Empire State Building.

I’ve just begun the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and am reading with a grin on my face. Another recent discovery is the wonderful mystery series by Julia Spencer Fleming featuring the inimitable priest Clare Fergusson and long suffering (in such an appealing way) local sheriff, Russ Van Alstyne. I can’t wait for the next one to be released. On the romance front in the last few weeks I’ve read some brilliant Harlequin romances by Sarah Morgan, Michelle Douglas and Trish Morey in particular. Christina Brooke’s latest left me hanging out for more and I coincidentally (batting lashes at you, Anna) just read Anna Campbell’s latest foray into short romance. My TBR pile is definitely in danger of toppling.

AW 5Oh, what excellent taste you have (bats eyelashes back!). Annie, do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation rolling along?

Since Deveson Hall in this book is undergoing renovations, maybe you could share a renovation experience of your own.

What’s the biggest/best/worst/most memorable makeover you’ve ever attempted? Maybe it was a room in a house, or a garden, a personal makeover or for a friend. If you haven’t tried one yet, what sort of makeover would you love to try (especially if you could snap your fingers and have it all magically done!)?

BanditBootyGet commenting, people! Annie has very generously offered two people who leave comments today a signed copy of her latest AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY! Good luck!

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