Miranda Neville and the Duke!

mir 1Someone who always makes me laugh at her wit, both in person and in print, is the wonderful Miranda Neville. I’m delighted today to host her for a return visit to the lair. She’s here to tell us about the fourth book in her wonderful Wild Quartet, THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES.

Just a quick alert – I’m travelling today so will only be able to pop in intermittently (hoping I can get onto the internet). In the meantime, I’ll leave you in Miranda’s capable hands.

Here’s the blurb:

Wanted: Governess able to keep all hours . . .

miranda 1Rebellious Julian Fortescue never expected to inherit a dukedom, nor to find himself guardian to three young half-sisters. Now in the market for a governess, he lays eyes on Jane Grey and knows immediately she is qualified–to become his mistress. Yet the alluring woman appears impervious to him. Somehow Julian must find a way to make her succumb to temptation . . . without losing his heart and revealing the haunting mistakes of his past.

Lady Jeanne de Falleron didn’t seek a position as a governess simply to fall into bed with the Duke of Denford. Under the alias of Jane Grey, she must learn which of the duke’s relatives is responsible for the death of her family–and take her revenge. She certainly can’t afford the distraction of her darkly irresistible employer, or the smoldering desire he ignites within her.

Miranda 6But as Jane discovers more clues about the villain she seeks, she’s faced with a possibility more disturbing than her growing feelings for Julian: What will she do if the man she loves is also the man she’s sworn to kill?

Ooh, doesn’t that sound intriguing? You can find out more about Miranda and her wonderful books at her website: www.mirandaneville.com

Miranda, a very warm welcome back to the Romance Bandits. It’s been a while between drinks. Lovely to have you back in the lair. Firstly, can you tell us about your new release from Avon, THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES? Fabulous cover, by the way.

Miranda 5The Cover Gods, to whom writers make regular obeisance, have mostly been good to me; in this case they earned a slew of extra votive candles. My shriek of delight when I saw this baby could probably be heard in Australia.

What were the inspirations behind this story?

Julian, Duke of Denford, has appeared in the previous three books of The Wild Quartet series. I always had a plan for him and I’ve dropped vague hints about his traumatic past, but the details didn’t come into focus until I started his book, THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES. All I knew is that he was haunted by the betrayal and execution of an aristocratic family during the French Revolution. His heroine would be a survivor of that family, out for revenge.

Miranda 4The back story of the French Revolutionary Terror is, of course, heavily influenced by Dickens’ A TALE OF TWO CITIES and the Scarlet Pimpernel stories. In researching the history I learned that there were many English in Paris when the Bastille fell in 1789 and they continued to visit for the next few years until it became too dangerous and France and Great Britain went to war. At that point Julian Fortescue was a mere mister and making his way in life as a dealer in paintings. Later he inherited the dukedom from a third cousin, as so often happens in historical romance! When the story starts he has also inherited the guardianship of three young half sisters. Enter our heroine Jeanne de Falleron, aka Jane Grey, the governess with murder on her mind. But she doesn’t know that the “Mr. Fortescue” she seeks is actually her employer the duke. She falls in love with him before she knows she wants to kill him. Awkward.

Miranda 3Jeanne/Jane’s family owned a fabulous collection of art that is now in Julian’s possession. When the collection is finally revealed I had a marvellous time ransacking the art galleries of the world to find paintings that were similar to the Falleron collection, including those illustrating this blog.

Love it when you talk art, my friend! What’s coming up next?

I’m working on a new historical series but I’m not ready to reveal any details. I have an “under-the-bed” book about an opera singer that’s a labor of love for me – you and I share a love of classical music, Anna. I hope to find time to revise and self-publish it this year. (I also planned to do it last year so don’t hold your breath, ladies.)

Miranda 7I notice you have a story “The Best Laid Planner” out in the recent anthology AT THE BILLIONAIRE’S WEDDING. I’d love to hear more about this! It seems to be a slight departure from your usual territory.

In 2013 Maya Rodale, Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe and I published an anthology of connected stories called AT THE DUKE’S WEDDING. We wanted to collaborate again and it turned out we all had a hankering to tackle something contemporary. That’s the beauty of self-publishing—you can do anything you want. Maya had written a series of novellas about a Bad Boy Billionaire Duke Austen and his historical romance writing girlfriend Jane. She kindly lent us her characters and we set the stories around their wedding—in an English stately home, naturally. My heroine Arwen (yay, I got to pick a LORD OF THE RINGS name instead of being limited to Regency appropriate monikers) is the New York wedding planner who has to pull together an event in a foreign country at very short notice. In this she is helped and sometimes hindered by Harry Compton, who seems to know everything about Brampton House. Is he merely the handyman or does he own the place? Either way he’s hot as hell and a distraction Arwen doesn’t need.

Miranda 2Writing contemporary was enormous fun and very challenging. Never say it doesn’t require research! If you read the anthology you’ll know why I never want to hear the words “internet connection” again. With an American heroine and an English hero I had to watch the language with every line of dialogue or point of view switch. And while it was relaxing not to have to police myself for modernisms, I had the opposite problem with my characters tending to lapse into Regency speak.

miranda 8That sounds like great fun. Seeing it’s so close to new year, what are your plans apart from your writing for 2015?

Funny you should ask that. My big plan for the year comes in October when I’m going to London with my writer friends Megan Mulry and Anne Calhoun to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet. A little bird told me that I might overlap with a certain Australian romance writer while I’m there!

I hear that Aussie romance writer is a real jet setter! 🙂 Do you have a question to get the conversation rolling, Miranda?

Do you have travel plans for 2015? London? Paris? Timbuktoo? Dayton, Ohio? What’s getting you into your car or onto a plane this year?

BanditBootyGet commenting, people! Miranda has very generously offered someone who responds to her post today a copy of THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES (international). Good luck!

Jennifer St George’s Tempting Billionaire!

jsg 2One 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.

jsg 1Despite 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:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-St-George/455449017930868

Twitter: @JenStGeorge

Blog: http://www.jenniferstgeorge.com/blog and http://lovecatsdownunder.blogspot.com.au/

JenWebsite: http://www.jenniferstgeorge.com/

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.

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?

jsg 3Great 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?

BanditBootyA 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!

Annie West and the Rebel

Annie researching at Chateau Chenonceau.

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.

Annie 9They 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!

Annie 7The 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.

Annie 3The 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.

Annie 8Chateau 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).

Annie 10

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.

Annie 11Great 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?

BanditBootyGet 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!

This Is Vanessa Barneveld!

v1I’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.

v2Keira’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?

v3Anna, 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!

V 5As 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.

V 6Oh, 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!

V 7THIS 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.

v 8Great 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?

BanditBootyGet 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!

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: http://sandraantonelli.com/

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 Claims an RT Book Reviews Top Pick!

Annie 6I’m delighted to welcome back to the lair one of our favorite guests, Australian author Annie West. Annie is here to tell us about her latest Harlequin Presents, the passionate and emotional DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR.

Damaso is making friends all over with some wonderful reviews, including a Top Pick and 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews. How’s this for a wrap? “West’s page-turner set in colorful Brazil is impressively perfect, starring her well-matched, rags-to-riches hero and her unjustly scandal-ridden royal heroine. Her illuminating, expert narrative brings the breathtaking story and the explosive lovemaking to life.”

Annie 2You can find out more about Annie and her books on her website: www.annie-west.com

Annie, congratulations on your Top Pick review from RT Book Reviews for DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR. Well deserved! Can you tell us about this story?

Hi Anna, and thanks for having me to visit again! I always feel warm and fuzzy opening the door into the Banditas’ lair. Or maybe it’s those cocktails!

Snickering here at the way you seamlessly lob in the reference to the RT top pick review. Thank you, dear. I do so love it when someone (other than me) enjoys my characters’ journey.

In DAMASO, a slumdog millionaire meets a society princess and sparks fly. Their passionate affair ends in pregnancy and a proposal. But Marisa won’t settle for less than love. The question is whether she can find it with a man who doesn’t know what love is.annie 3

It’s a great read. What were the inspirations behind this book?

I’m fascinated by the idea of people who put on one face to meet the world, hiding a wealth of emotion in private, especially those living in the public eye. I came up with an idea for stories about three royal sisters, variations on that theme of a hidden inner world. But it became obvious that one was a loner and her story would work better if, instead of having devoted sisters, poor Marisa was alone in the world.

Marisa is a twin, and in my imaginings she’s just lost her twin brother. Imagine how much harder it would be for Marisa if she’d only had one sibling, one true friend in a world where she didn’t fit. So the sisters had to go, though I’m hoping to write their stories separately.

So there was Marisa, lost and alone, disapproved of by her extended family and even the public. She hides her true self behind smiles and a penchant for extreme sports. Enter Damaso, who built his wealth and power after a childhood of deprivation. He sprang fully formed into my head some time ago after watching a program about street kids in South America.

Annie 7Damaso also hides his real self. He’s never learned to love and he’s not interested in it. But he is interested in Marisa. For one glorious night they let down their guards, till things go wrong. Damaso has his own demons that drive him away from anything that makes him feel too much. So of course they were going to have to find themselves in a situation where they couldn’t just turn their backs on each other. That’s when Marisa discovers she’s pregnant. The book is about how two almost-strangers, each hiding their vulnerabilities and hopes, each with problems trusting, deal with this most momentous change in their lives.

What’s coming up next for you?

In November REBEL’S BARGAIN hits the stores. It’s my first reunion novel and a scorching hot lovers-into-enemies-into-lovers story. It’s part of a continuity of linked stories about the Chatsfield siblings and their family hotel chain. Rebel isn’t set in a hotel though. It starts in the Himalayas where my hero has been badly wounded while ice climbing (it’s dangerous being an Annie West hero – I love doing nasty things to them) then most of the story is set in a chateau in France’s gorgeous Loire Valley. Le sigh.

Part of the booksigning queue in Berlin.

Part of the booksigning queue in Berlin.

My secret squirrel agents tell me you haven’t been to Brazil and yet I found the setting one of the most compelling parts of this story. Can you tell us how you got into a Brazilian frame of mind?

Anna, I’ve wanted to visit South America for years but still haven’t made it, so I made do with books, television documentaries and the web. I’ve been in love with the idea of Brazil since I watched a long running Brazilian TV show years ago and fell for the look of the place and the cadences of the language. On the latter, I was lucky enough to be able to check the little Portuguese I used with a native speaker who was wonderfully helpful. I’ve spoken to people who’ve lived or visited there and tried to use some of what I learned in the book. One day though I want to visit and do some in depth research.

Annie working hard – researching her current wip in Prague.

Annie working hard – researching her current wip in Prague.

Those secret squirrels have been busy! They also tell me that you’ve recently had a European trip, including an appearance at the big Love Letter convention in Berlin. Can you let us in on some of the highlights of your travel? Can we expect to see any of those glamorous places making an appearance in forthcoming books?

What is it with you and furry little animals, Anna? Obviously they’re a good source of information.

Yes, I made a quick trip to Europe earlier in the year. Considering that’s 24 hours of flight time from Australia you can tell I really wanted to be there. The Convention was terrific, having the chance to meet up with so many other romance readers.

Other highlights? Prague. Big smile. If you haven’t visited Prague you have a treat in store. I’m just writing a wedding set in the old town there and it’s wonderful reliving my visit.

Annie getting a taste of Italy, researching her next novella.

Annie getting a taste of Italy, researching her next novella.

Also the Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy. I got to drive the multiple hairpin bends over the high alpine passes, surrounded by luxury sports cars and still found time to admire the views. That setting is going into a Hot Italian Nights novella I’m currently plotting. And I even managed to fit in a night in an alpine castle. We had a spare night and no accommodation booked so I did an internet search on castle stays in Austria, as you do, and hey presto! More fodder for future stories. Sigh. I do love research.

Sounds like a fantastic trip, Annie. I look forward to reading those wonderful settings in future wonderful stories! Do you have a question for the Banditas to get conversation going? Or should we all just go and have ice-cream? 🙂

I want to visit Brazil one day, especially after writing Damaso and Marisa’s story. I want to taste the food, see the sights and get a feel for the place after all the research I did.

Is there somewhere you’ve read about and long to visit but haven’t yet made it? Have you ever looked forward to visiting a place (maybe after reading for writing a story set there) and then found the reality far different to what you’d imagined? Were you disappointed or intrigued?

1BanditBootyAnnie has very generously offered two commenters today signed copies of DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR (international). So good luck people! 

Crazy for Sandra Owens

Sandra 1

I’m delighted today to welcome new Montlake author Sandra Owens to the lair. Sandra’s new release is CRAZY FOR HER, the first in the K2 Special Services series:

When his best friend and fellow Navy SEAL, Evan Prescott, died in his arms on the battlefield, Logan Kincaid gave his word to watch over Evan’s widow. But for two years he kept his distance…torn between honoring his solemn vow and succumbing to his secret love for his fallen comrade’s wife. But when Dani Prescott desperately reaches out to Logan for the help only he can give, he rushes to her side—determined to fight for her safety as fiercely as he fights against his own buried desire.

Someone claiming to be her husband is stalking Dani and her infant daughter, making them virtually prisoners in their remote country home. Logan’s elite military training and high-risk security expertise have outmatched more dangerous enemies. But the real challenge will be the burning temptation that threatens to overcome Logan whenever Dani is near…especially when she reveals her own hidden passion.

Sandra 2You can find out more about Sandra on her website: http://www.sandra-owens.com/

You can also connect with Sandra on social media (I sure do!):

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SandraOwensAuthor

Twitter: @SandyOwens1

Sandra, welcome to the Bandita lair! Can you please tell us about your latest release CRAZY FOR HER?

I’m thrilled to be a guest on Romance Bandits! I’m excited about CRAZY FOR HER, a 2013 Golden Heart finalist. The official release date is September 1st. I say “official” as Montlake Romance, my new publisher, chose CRAZY FOR HER as one of four books for the August Kindle First, meaning the ebook version was released early, and it’s on sale until September 1st. The print and audio will be available 1st September.

CRAZY FOR HER is a contemporary romantic suspense, the first in a five book series of the men of K2 special services, all ex-SEALs. In CRAZY FOR HER, my hero, Logan, is secretly in love with the heroine, who was married to his best friend. He has another secret, one that shocks my heroine, Dani, when she learns of it.

Sandra 4What were the inspirations behind this book?

The seed for the story was planted when I watched a documentary about a SEAL team during their time in Afghanistan. I thought, these guys are tough, and honorable, and dedicated to their calling. They are true heroes. Then I started wondering what life for them was like then they left the military. It would have to be a hard adjustment as they are men used to living on the edge. Logan Kincaid took shape in my mind, a man with dark secrets who was a true hero for his country, but doesn’t believe he deserved happiness. A lot of “what ifs” followed, and it went from there.

CRAZY FOR HER is the first in the K2 Special Services series. Can you give us a peek at what’s coming next?

Next is SOMEONE LIKE HER, scheduled for an early 2015 release date. My hero, Jake, another ex-SEAL and known to his friends as Romeo, falls for the sister of his boss, Logan Kincaid. The last thing the boss wants is for his sister, Maria, to fall for a man the team nicknamed Romeo. Jake tries to stay away from her, he really does. I have to laugh here because we all know how well that’s going to work for him, right?

sandra 5What else is coming up for you?

The last three books of the series are next. The third one is back from my critique partners, and after this last revision, it will go to my agent. Saint, my hero in book three, doesn’t cuss or drink, and is very discriminating in his few affairs. He was interesting, yet strangely, the hardest to write. I’ve always written alpha males, and Saint was my first gamma, a type of hero between a beta and an alpha. I found it funny thatI had to work at not allowing him to have a potty mouth like his teammates.

I’m about five chapters into book four. The heroine in that one is a stunt plane pilot, so I’m having great fun with that. (And yes, I have flown upside down in a stunt plane, so know how thrilling it is.) Book five has a rough outline, and my hero will be a dog lover, the heroine will have cats. I do expect the fur to fly for those two!

After I finish this series, I have the next one in mind. I sent a series synopsis for it to my agent who emailed me back and said, “YOU HAVE TO WRITE THIS!!!” So, I guess I will.

Your first two books (THE LETTER and THE TRAINING OF A MARQUESS) were historicals. What differences did you find in writing the two genres? Are there more historicals on the way?

Oh, goodness, the contemporaries are so much easier to write! I’m not spending hours researching clothing, or checking to see if certain words were in use, or hundreds of other things one needs to research when writing historicals. Having said that, my favorite genre to read is historical, which is why I started out writing them. But I also love the freedom of writing contemporaries. Will I write more historicals? Probably. Hopefully. I recently finished a historical novella that will be a part of an anthology my Embracing Romance co-authors are planning. It was so much fun to write.

Sandra 3Can you tell us a bit about what you get up to when you’re not writing?

Writing is a full-time job for me, and the majority of my days are spent doing just that. I’m also a voracious reader of historical (especially Regencies) and contemporary romances, so if I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. My husband and I have an RV, and we like to take long trips and explore this beautiful country of ours. The great thing about that is, I can easily write on the road. My laptop goes everywhere with me. My favorite place to write is an RV park not far from home where we go for long weekends. I get myself set up by the creek, and I never want to leave!         

Sounds idyllic! Thanks for the great interview, Sandra. We wish you all the best with your new series. Do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita buddies to get the conversation rolling?

I love to read almost anything – romances (especially historical and contemporary), horror…it would actually be a shorter list to tell you what genres I don’t like to read. My question is one I know authors are always interested in hearing the answer. As a reader, what genres do you prefer? Are you devoted to just one, or do you cross genre lines?

BanditBootySandra has very generously offered one commenter today a signed copy of CRAZY FOR HER (international) so get commenting, people! Good luck!

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!

Sarah Morgan and Her Summer Place

Sarah 2I’m delighted to welcome back to the lair multi-award winning (including two RITAs!) and bestselling author Sarah Morgan who is here to tell us about SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, the next book in her wonderful O’Neil Brothers series.

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER recently received a Top Pick review from RT Book Reviews, who said, “Morgan’s romantic page-turner will thrill readers…The chemistry between the misunderstood hero and the victimized heroine is combustible. Morgan’s handling of social and environmental issues impresses, her storytelling rocks and her lovemaking sizzles. Brava!”

Sarah 1Here’s the blurb:

Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the opening day plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O’Neil is back in town, and looking more delectable than ever. Last summer, they shared an electrifying night together…and the memories have Élise really struggling to stick to her one-night-only rule! Her head knows that eventually Sean will be leaving, so all she can do is try to ignore her heart before she spontaneously combusts with lust.

Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O’Neil’s worst nightmare. For Sean, returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means being forced to confront the guilt he feels about rejecting his family’s rural lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise has settled in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Thinking he can persuade her into a replay of last summer is tempting, but remembering how good they are together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine….

SARAH 3You can find out more about Sarah and her fantabulous books on her website: http://sarahmorgan.com/

Sarah, I absolutely loved your 2013 Christmas book, SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW. And now we’ve got the sequel to delight us, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER. Can you tell us about this story?

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER is Sean O’Neil’s story. Sean is a talented surgeon, totally committed to his career. He is forging his own path and much as he loves his family, he doesn’t want to be involved in the family business at Snow Crystal, Vermont. But events conspire to bring him back home for a short time and he’s forced to confront his feelings about the place, as well as his feelings for Élise, the fiery French chef with whom he spent one steamy night the previous summer.

Sean and Élise are both strong, passionate people. They have great chemistry, but neither of them is looking for a relationship and they think they have their feelings under control. They are so wrong! These two were meant to be together, but it takes a whirlwind ride of passion and emotion before they realize it themselves. I had so much fun with this book!

sarah 9Ooh, sounds delicious! What were the inspirations behind this book?

I always enjoy writing about characters who have an intense relationship history. In Sean and Élise’s case it was brief, but it left a lasting impact on both of them. I wanted to explore how two guarded, very independent people manage to lower their barriers enough to embark on a relationship, but I also wanted to look at how family pressure had impacted on Sean.

The resort of Snow Crystal has been in the family for four generations and there has been a huge amount of pressure on all three brothers to play a role in the business.  Sean in particular carries a lot of guilt about rejecting the family lifestyle. I wanted to explore how someone with a different life goal, in Sean’s case to be a surgeon, might respond to that pressure and how he eventually reconciles his loyalty to his family with his own needs and ambitions.

SARAH 4In Élise’s case, she has history that has made her very wary of romantic relationships. She doesn’t trust her feelings and Sean has to work hard to help her overcome her understandable reluctance to expose her heart.

What’s coming up next for the O’Neil brothers?

The final book in the series, MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS, will be out in October.  Right from the start of this series I was excited about writing Tyler’s story, probably because he’s the bad boy and we all love a reformed bad boy. Since the injury that ended his career as a medal winning downhill skier, Tyler has been helping with the family business. He’s also a single father, raising his teenage daughter Jess, a situation that brings its own challenges for a man used to putting himself first. He’s had plenty of relationships but only one friendship, and that’s with Brenna who he has known since childhood. Brenna’s feelings go way beyond friendship but she doesn’t think Tyler sees her that way.

sarah 5Tyler’s story is a romance, but it also explores love in its widest sense and what it means to be a father, a son, a brother, a lover and a friend. I can’t wait to see this story on the shelves!

Hurry up, October! What were the challenges and/or pleasures of writing a trilogy of three single-title length romances? Do you know anything now that you wish you’d known before you started?

I’d wanted to write a single title contemporary romance series for a long time so being given that opportunity was very exciting for me. The pleasure was in having the extra space to enable me to explore the characters in greater depth. When I’m writing Harlequin Presents the focus is very much on the hero and heroine. It’s like taking a close up shot with a camera. You focus on the couple and no one else. With single title you have a wide-angle view, so you see the couple in the context of the world around them. You see how they relate not only to each other, but to other people. I enjoyed exploring those extra layers of complexity.

sarah 7One of the main challenges was to remember that I had the space of three books to tell the overall story and didn’t need to cram it all into the first chapter!  I wanted the focus to be three brothers, but I also wanted to explore the complexity of being part of a big, loving family. 

As you know, I’m a huge fan of your Harlequin Mills and Boon Presents stories. Do you have any plans to write more?

I do! In fact I’m working on one at the moment. It’s set in Greece and will be loosely linked to my next single title series, which will be out in 2015. I’m very excited about it. I love the emotional intensity of Presents, and of course it’s always fun to add in the glamour and sophistication that is part of that line.

You’ve written a couple of Cosmo Red-Hot Reads (RIPPED and BURNED). Was it a challenge writing short and super hot? Any plans to write more?

sarah 8Last year I had the opportunity to write single titles that were 100,000 words and novellas of 30,000 and I really enjoyed the challenge presented by the different length of story. The Cosmo Red Hot reads are a very intense, short read and, yes, they are super hot! My books are always quite sexy so I simply stepped it up a notch!

I don’t have plans to write more at the moment, but I wouldn’t rule it out because I had so much fun writing them. My next big focus is my new contemporary series for HQN. I’ll be revealing more about that over the summer. I do enjoy variety and I find it good for creativity to move between projects of different lengths. Learning to write short and tight is a good skill for any writer.

You’re so prolific and your books are of such a consistently high quality. Interested parties (well, me!) want to know your secrets. Do you have any time management techniques that really work for you?

sarah 10I put the writing first. There are so many distractions in this job. A writer could spend all day on different social networking sites. I do use Facebook and Twitter and I find them excellent ways of communicating with readers and also making professional connections, but I try and limit the time I spend. All writers struggle with the balance between promotion and writing, but I always try and remember that without the book I won’t have anything to promote so I make writing the book a priority. I do tend to write every day. If I take time off away from the story it’s harder to get back into the flow.

Sarah, thanks for such a great interview. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER is set in the beautiful lakes and mountains of Vermont. Where is your ideal summer destination?

I love mountains and water and my ideal summer destination would involve both those things, so Vermont would definitely be right at the top of my list. Last summer we had a family holiday in Crete, which is very mountainous and also has fabulous beaches. I have two sons and our happiest vacations involve plenty of outdoor activity because boys need to be kept busy!

BanditBootySarah is giving away a print copy of SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (international) to one lucky commenter today. So get commenting, people. Good luck!

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