Thursday, May 14, 2015

Author Interview - Sue Searles

I'm really emotional about the author I'm interviewing as she is VERY special to me. I'm going to interview my very own step-sister, Sue Searles. She's going to talk about her book, Lucia's Web. We spent many of our growing up years together and strangely ended up being passionate about the same thing - writing.

Sue Searles has written some amazing books, and I've helped put them on Amazon for her. She's had some real success with some of them. Anyway, she finally sent off her latest book to Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press) and got her first contract! Well overdue! She really is a talented writer! Her book is in the editing stage and will be released in a couple of months. There isn't a cover to boast about yet, and when it comes, we'll be doing a cover reveal.

Some of my favourite types of books to read besides romance are cozy mysteries or women's fiction. And Sue has written one containing both elements. Wow, this book kept me so gripped. I can't wait for it to come out.

The Blurb:

Creepy characters and shadowy scenes are woven through this suspense-filled story, steeped in mystery with splashes of humor. When Ali Duncan advertises for two tenants to share an upmarket apartment with her, she has no way of knowing the series of cryptic events that is about to unravel. When one housemate turns out to be a quirky nonconformist, the other a Gothic misfit, she has to rely on her own defective judgment to find her way. With circumstances stacked against her, whom can she trust when she finds herself alone in her quest for normality when nothing in the house is as it seems?

Author Bio:

Sue Searles has written several books, ranging from women's fiction and short stories, to poetry and children's books. Having worked on various forms of storytelling since her childhood, writing has been a lifelong passion. Now somewhat older and wiser, she is passionate about thinking outside the conventional box, and conveys messages that are thought-provoking and life-changing. Her inspiration comes mainly from studying people, reading, and daily life. Sue is happily married and living in sunny South Africa with her husband and son.

The interview:

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?

For me, writing is a deeply fulfilling creative outlet; it's what I was born to do. Anybody who's written a book knows what a challenging journey it can be with its various elements (building interesting characters, believable plot with twists and turns, numerous rounds of edits, etc), but there's little else that's more fulfilling than reaching the end, and the contentment of having done a great job.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?

Marketing. Definitely marketing.

Mention something unique about your genre and writing style:

In a nutshell, I write various forms of women's fiction. My first attempt was a story about human trafficking; my second attempt was a trilogy about three generations of women whose lives were turned upside down by the family patriarch. I've always felt strongly about writing stories that are different in some way, and that if I'm going to go to the trouble of writing a book, it must be memorable and life-changing to the reader. There's still a touch of romance in the sub-plot (what girl doesn't like a bit of romance?), but that isn't the focus of my stories. Having said that... While I loved working on these earlier books, I kind of came alive as a writer when I started Lucia's Web.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?

After several earlier attempts, I believe I've found my niche this past year, with the writing of Lucia's Web. I'm so excited about this story and can hardly wait to start getting reviews. I can't say what triggered the concept; it literally popped into my head one day while I was staring blankly out the window, and I thought, "What a great idea for a story!" Where the writing of my other books required a great deal of effort, Lucia's Web flowed onto the page like a fresh water stream. Even the title gelled with me after one day of writing (previously the title took months to form). I didn't think it was possible to have so much fun writing a book. Hopefully that carries through to my readers.

Tell us a few quirky things about yourself.

In my new book, Lucia's Web, I'm a good blend of Ali and Sam. While I can be a bit pedantic in some ways, and I'm told I can come across stiff - ugh! (I'm not really like that), in reality, I'm fairly free-spirited and love to have fun. I often tell my husband, "I might be 44 but still feel 18!"

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page, e.g. music or a snack?

I need dead silence in order to write. I must also be in the right frame of mind - if there's anything bothering me, I won't even attempt to put a word on the page because I know I won't be able to concentrate. (And a good cup of coffee always helps.)

What book would you like to work on next?

I'm mulling over a light-hearted whodunit.

Here is a pic of Sue in her more serious, pedantic mode :) She is a grammar nerd after all and a great beta reader of my books!

You can find some of Sue's other books here: Finding Freedom and Encounters

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cover Reveal - Summer Hearts Anthology

With summer taking over the Northern Hemisphere, many people are flocking to the beaches, browning their skin, soaking up rays and taking out their strappy tops and shorts. What better added joy than to have a romantic book to read while relaxing in the sun?

I joined a group of US writers who wanted to publish an anthology of summer stories. I feel so privileged to be accepted into this group even though I live across the world. Anyway, our book is coming out on the 20 May! We have a cover and it's available for pre-order. Isn't it stunning?


Dreaming in California by Debby Lee
In the summer of 1967, Hollywood actress, Lucinda Baker, appears to have it all - fame, money, and an all too doting fiancé. Dark traits begin to emerge from the man she's pledged to marry, and he threatens her. Lucinda must now lean on her best friend, celebrity photographer, George Creston to escape the clutches of the dangerous relationship. Together they are forced to summon courage, and trust each other in desperate circumstances. Will they find love in the process or lose everything they hold dear, including their lives.

A Summer of Stars by Lisa Watson
McKinley Graham has escaped to her summer getaway to regain her perspective and her health. Zane Davidson has taken refuge in the lovely seaside community, welcoming the healing balm of the salty sea air and his childhood home to mend his wounds. They aren’t looking for love, but their attraction is too explosive to ignore. Against the backdrop of starry nights and sultry kisses, they come to realize that even love may not be enough to save them from the angry storm of his past that threatens to destroy their dreams!

Drowning Sandy by Sarah Daley
The water is calling...
and Sandy can no longer resist the urge to unleash her mermaid form. But a simple swim in Lake Ontario ends when she discovers the truth of her own banishment. When long time crush, Alardo, seems to shift in a direction she never dreamed possible, Sandy must make a choice - mermaid or human? Once she chooses, she can never go back.

Summer Holiday by Carol Malone
In the summer of 1905, Lizzy Gordon’s father dismisses her desires to be a doctor, demanding she become a teacher - a profession which does not allow women to marry.
Teacher Brent Pierce is dedicated to expanding young minds, but circumstances are forcing him to take over the family farm.
Before the summer is over Lizzy and Brent will be forced to make hard decisions. Can they find the courage to each stand up for themselves and still be together?

Shark Boss by Kathy Bosman
When Tara takes up a job at the local aquarium, her colleagues warn her about their harsh boss, Mr. Carter Jones. She soon discovers how impatient he can be, but she also can’t deny her fascination and attraction to him. Carter can’t stop watching Tara as she works but holds back from her because of his secrets. If she knew what he was, she would never want him. Could the reason for Carter’s moods be related to something more troubling than what’s on the surface? Tara soon discovers Carter’s secret, and it only bonds them closer. But the curse starts to take over Carter’s life, and he won’t give his heart to a beautiful woman when he can only cause her pain.

The Best Place to Meet a Man by Robyn Echols
Jeff goes to the beach to run and clear his head. Meredith goes to the beach intent on burying her nose in her book. In this contemporary romantic comedy, these two collide when Meredith’s two young nephews come up with other plans.

You can pre-order the anthology on Amazon here: Summer Hearts

Thank you so much to Robin Alexander for compiling, formatting, and publishing the book and to Sarah Daley for organising all the promotions. Also to everyone else who've helped. What a great team to be a part of!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Spotlight and Character Interview with Iris Blobel

Today, I'm interviewing Iris Blobel's hero in her book Love Will Find You. Iris is a contemporary romance writer from down under. Her new sports romance is out plus her it's now going for free on Amazon. Don't miss out. Links to follow.

Love Will Find You
By Iris Blobel


Can their new love survive the scrutiny of the public eye?

After his father’s heart attack, Australian Football League player Tyson Gaspaldi takes his parents on holiday to a small place at the New South Wales coast.

One morning, following a surfing session, he comes across a crying woman on the beach. Everything about her intrigues him, and he can’t walk away. She’s not only sexy and humble, but, as he soon finds out, vulnerable as well.

It’s only been a few months since Katie Cassidy lost her sister in a car accident.

Still overwhelmed by the loss, a chance encounter on the beach with an attractive stranger awakens unexpected emotions inside her. She’s instantly drawn to his caring nature, but also his looks.

However, Tyson’s past quickly catches up with them, causing Katie’s childhood demons to return, and the road to romance becomes anything but smooth.

Author Bio:

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London, as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper only emerged a few years back, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as their dog. Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

Buy Links:

Where to Find Iris:

Twitter: @_iris_b



Tyson held the Brownlow Medal in his hand, but celebrating was the last thing on his mind. His fake smile was as much a lie as the last message he’d sent to Katie the day before. As a result, it was his mother who sat in the crowd amongst his teammates, his friends, the footy world, reporters, and whoever else was important—and not Katie. His gaze wandered around the ballroom, with all the round tables neatly positioned in nice rows. Each table was beautifully set with dinnerware, menus, and a floral arrangement. The TV screens on either side of him showed a close-up of the stage, and as he tried to protect his eyes against the bright lights, he watched them all, making toasts, their glasses filled with the best champagne, applauding his achievement.
The crowd settled and awaited a speech. His speech. Nervousness crept up in him as he stared into the audience. His throat burned as the acid in his stomach churned.
The Brownlow Medal was awarded to the best and fairest football player of the season, yet he didn’t think there was anything fair about the way he’d treated his girl.
Tyson Gaspaldi took a deep breath, unfolded his little note, and cleared his throat. The first word he focused on was her name, Katie. He blinked to refocus and thanked his mother as well as his family. It came effortlessly once he was past the initial hurdle and in only a few minutes he finished, held up his medal, and walked behind the stage.
Why had he said the things he had? Why didn’t he just answer her question?
A short time later, Tyson joined his friends and his mother at the table again.
“Congratulations, darling.” His mother took his face into her hands and gave Ty a kiss on his cheek. Only a few years ago, he would have been embarrassed by such open emotions in front of a crowd, but since his father’s death earlier in the year, he welcomed every sign of affection by his mother.
“Thanks, Mum.”
“Dad would be so proud of you.” Caroline Gaspaldi took a step back and gazed at him. Pride radiated from her eyes. “Look at you. You should wear a suit more often.”
His friends around the table gave him a quick clap on the shoulder and congratulated him before sitting down to proceed with the evening. Ty noticed his phone buzzing and with a flick of his finger, he scrolled down his messages. He stopped at Katie’s message from earlier in the day.
I don’t believe u!
With a heavy sigh, he switched off the screen, ignoring all the other new messages and the phone into his pocket. He took the beer in front of him and tried to concentrate on what the guy on stage was saying. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a woman at the other table. She looked incredible in her shimmering silver evening gown. The décolleté of her dress revealed tanned skin upon which a delicate necklace hung. Her curly brown hair was pinned up in a ponytail which made her look very sexy. When she smiled at him, he winked at her in return.
“What are you doing, Ty?” his mother whispered into his ear.

Character Interview:

~~ Tyson Gaspaldi ~~

What’s your favourite part of the day? Morning, afternoon or night?
Morning. I love to run along the beach when the sun just comes up over the horizon.

If you had to take anyone with you on a long journey away from home, who would it be?
My Katie girl.

What is your motto in life?
“Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “Holy shit, what a ride!”

Name one of your weaknesses that you’d like to work on.
Jumping to conclusions.

What question would you like to ask your creator?
Mate, honestly, why did she have to give me such a vindictive ex-girlfriend? I thought I’d deserve better.

If you could do anything over again in the book, what would it be?
If I could turn back time, I would answer Katie’s question without wondering about her reasoning. I’d fight more for her to stay. But you can’t turn back time, and you learn from your mistakes. I certainly have.

If you were able to invent something totally new for your world, what would it be, and why do you think it’s needed?
I like sports. I leave all these fancy inventions to other people. There’s some great stuff out there and some really, really intelligent people, so I’m sure we’ll see many more great inventions over the next decade.

Give a memory from childhood.
I loved going to the beach with my family and my buddies. Going surfing, hanging out with the girls, great ice cream. Yeah, that was great.

Is there anything you’ve always secretly wished for but isn’t mentioned in the book?
For my football club to win the finals. Oh man, that would’ve been great. But hey, I got the medal for the best and fairest player. You can’t have everything, right?

If you could commission a painting from a famous artist, what would it be of?
Van Gogh’s Irises

What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Man I tell ya, when Scottie did that tackle, grabbed my shorts, and ripped them near off me — leaving me half naked on the field. Yup, that was embarrassing. Of course, there are a few others, but, hey, some things just need to stay private. *winks*

Are you similar to how you were as a child or have you changed significantly? If you’ve changed, what changed you?
Hahaha … of course I’ve changed. You mean as in my character? Nah, mate, I reckon, I’m more or less the same. I’ve probably got more patience than when I was a child.

What is the most sacrificial thing you’ve done for someone else?
Oh wow, this is deep and meaningful. Sacrificial thing. I couldn’t tell you. Honestly, I wouldn’t know. I like helping people, it’s in my nature, it’s how I’ve been raised, but sacrificial? Let me think about that.

What do you prefer? Rock, classical, jazz, country or other?
Rock, although, Katie’s a real party pooper when it comes to having loud music at home… She likes the soft pop … *gives an exaggerated shiver*

Cat or dog person?
Dog! No doubt. Cats are for girls.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Helen Pollard - Spotlight for Holding Back

Today, I want to welcome Helen Pollard on my blog. She's been here before for an author interview and the release of her debut novel. She writes amazing contemporary romances. Her second book has just come out. It's called Holding Back.


The last thing they're looking for is love …

Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends' hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.

Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn't have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.

As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?

Buy Links:

Amazon US: 

Amazon UK:

Barnes & Noble:



About the Author:

Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor - to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love ... and we all need a little love, right?

A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers and a psychotic cat. When she's not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.

Find Helen at:
Website & Blog:     

Excerpt from Chapter Two:

Laura's mind raced as her footsteps slowed. What on earth was he doing here? The unlikely hope he might be passing by—perhaps he'd called in for directions to somewhere else?—was immediately scotched as he lifted his luggage from the car. Reminded of their encounters at the airport, she could have squirmed with embarrassment at how out of character she'd acted, making mistakes and being so snappy about them.
Well, he wouldn't see her like that again. If Daniel Stone was a guest here—and it seemed there was no escaping from it—then she must make him welcome. For goodness' sake, she was used to dealing with awkward situations every day at school!
He turned at the sound of her footsteps. Forcing a calmness into her voice that didn't extend to her stomach, she stepped forward and held out her hand.
"Mr. Stone? Welcome to the Quinta Maria."
Closing the car, he straightened up to his full six-foot-something and reached out to shake hands. For one brief, glorious moment, Laura thought he might not recognise her now that she was spruced up a little, but any hope of that disappeared as his eyes narrowed in sudden recognition and his hand dropped to his side as though it had been burned.
"It seems you have the advantage over me, knowing my name," he said. "Since you're determined to turn up like a bad penny wherever I go, perhaps you could enlighten me with yours?"
Incensed, Laura bit back a response. They were no longer on neutral ground, and as his host, she could hardly give him a piece of her mind.
"I'm Laura Matheson," she replied as evenly as she could. "If you'll excuse me, I'll get your key and then I'll show you around."
Disappearing into reception before he could find further fault with her, she crossed to the desk and raked her tired eyes over the reservations spreadsheet with a growing sense of disbelief. Not only was Daniel Stone booked in for a full fortnight, but he'd been allocated the room next to hers. Even Paulo and Rachel were unknowingly conspiring against her!
"You're in room eleven," she announced, sensing his presence in the doorway. "Your other party checked in earlier. Will you require a second key?"
"My other party?"
Something in his tone made her glance up. She recognised the travel weariness in his stance, but his face showed only bewilderment.
"Yes." She squinted at the computer screen again. "Miss Hartman."
His eyes froze to a dangerous dark blue. "Natalie Hartman?"
"That's right," she confirmed, double-checking the name. "Is there a problem?"
"What time did she check in?" His mouth was a hard, thin line.
She frowned. "I'm sorry, I don't know."
"You don't know?" There was incredulity in his voice, along with displeasure and a hint at incompetence on her part.
Laura didn't like it, nor was she going to take it. "I don't know because I wasn't here in reception when she checked in. As you're aware, I only arrived here a short while ago myself. I …" She stopped. There was no need for her to explain herself. Frankly, she couldn't understand why he didn't just go and talk to his companion. After all, they were sharing a double room.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Home Grown Apples

As the season turns toward winter, our apple tree offers us a gift of bright red, shiny apples. Pity that the birds and insects get to them many times before we do. The best apples are at the top of the tree. As the saying goes, the girls who are harder to get are the nicer ones just like the best apples are at the top of the tree. The rotten ones on the ground are quick and easy. A funny saying, but it's definitely true of apples. Anyway, my kids went up the tree and shook the branches. Our dogs waited expectantly at the bottom to catch some treats. They love apples. The kids used sticks and rocks to knock the apples off. We collected them into a basket and then the next day, I cut them up and made an apple pie filling in the crockpot. Of course, the amount of good flesh I got out of them wasn't huge, but it was fun.

Here's a pic of our apples - they come in a great variety of shapes and sizes, like us human beings.

In the Fall anthology that came out last year, I wrote a story about a rich lady who owned a gorgeous home with apple trees. Because she didn't know what to do with all the apples, she hired Mr. Craigson, a handsome handyman, to cut them down. A romance blossoms between the unlikely pair.

Here's a short excerpt from my story:

The best antidote was to spend the rest of the week indoors—not her favorite seeing she pottered around her garden to keep sane—but she had no other solution. He couldn’t know how much she liked him, since he thought of her as a married woman. If he found out her secret, he might seduce her and then take all her money. And what would she do then? She hadn’t worked a day of her life. The inheritance from her father had kept her going all her adult years.
Sucking in a breath for strength, she went to the kitchen to begin a baking day. If she busied herself with flour, eggs and butter, maybe she wouldn’t keep on wanting to look out the window. Problem with her stylish modern house—every room had plenty of large windows, most giving a beautiful view of the back. She tried to bury her head in the recipe book and the bowl, but kept on looking up to see what Mr. Craigson was doing. He hadn’t gone home. In fact, he kept very busy cutting trees and using those biceps and triceps and all the other ceps. Halfway through the morning, he removed his shirt, and she stared through the window, mesmerized by the play of shadows defining the ripples of his upper torso.
“Oh!” Tears came to her eyes as he turned and stared right at her. “I’m such an idiot,” she mumbled to herself.
Cheeks throbbing, she spooned the cupcake mix into the holders and placed them in the oven. A knock sounded on her kitchen door.
“Come in,” she chimed, not expecting Mr. Craigson to be there so fast.
“Smells amazing.” He stood in the doorway, his bare chest clearly visible for her errant eyes. Sweat beaded his bronzed skin, and a brush of hairs added texture to the glorious sight. She swallowed and choked. He was by her side in a moment and hit her back.
Scent of male, sweat, hard work, trees and grass seared through her. She coughed several times then composed herself.
“Who are you baking for?” He looked at her, humor in his eyes.
He took a good perusal of her figure. “Really?”
“Well, I just bake for fun. And for my husband. When he comes back from his business trips.”
“And when will that be?”
She couldn’t look at him but instead turned to the sink full of dishes to busy her hands.

“Um…I’m not sure. Next month, I think.” How come all her usual stories about her “husband’s” business trips went flying out of her mind? She even kept a diary of his supposed flight schedules so she didn’t make any faux pas with her friends or anyone else who asked her. For the life of her, she couldn’t remember any of the dates.

The anthology is still on sale on Amazon for only $0.99 until the middle of May. Here's the link:  Amazon - Autumn's Kiss