Thanks to all those who congratulated me on my 5th Publishaversary last week! If you haven’t read my post on How Becoming a Writer Helped Me Become Myself, you can do so here.
To celebrate my 5th anniversary of being published, I’m having some giveaways this month… congrats to Karen who was the lucky winner of last week’s giveaway; a signed copy of THE SECRET LETTERS PROJECT plus a beautiful journal!
Keep reading to see how you could win this week’s prize pack…
February is a time for love, and with Valentine’s Day almost here, it’s the perfect time to get those warm fuzzy feelings happening inside with a heartwarming romantic read. FEBRUARY OR FOREVER is one of my most popular bestselling stories, and explores an exciting ‘what if?’ question: “What if your favourite celebrity fell in love with YOU?” I’m sure our teenage selves wondered that at some stage! And this story shows how Chrissie, a single mother and yoga teacher who has just moved to Tarrin’s Bay, deals with that very scenario when she’s given the job of private yoga instructor to Drew Williams, her favourite singer-songwriter, while he’s in town for the month.
Yoga teacher and single mother, Chrissie Burns has a plan: move into the rundown beach house left to her by her deceased aunt, renovate it, sell it, and move on. The scene of a terrible accident years ago, the house needs to get out of Chrissie’s hands as soon as possible.
But Tarrin’s Bay, where the house stands, has more to offer than bad memories. The town is lovely, the people friendly, and even Chrissie’s young son finds friends and begins coming out of his shell. Employed at Serendipity Retreat as a yoga instructor, Chrissie is shocked to be given the role of private teacher to Drew Williams, Australia’s top singer/songwriter for the month.
Relationships between instructors and clients are strictly forbidden, but Drew draws happiness out of Chrissie with his down-to-earth nature and sense of humour. Days of stretching and bending may bring Chrissie unexpected peace and strength, but she knows that this interlude must end, and there’s no pose or position to aid her if Drew walks away and leaves her broken-hearted.
This book is part of my Tarrin’s Bay series which has books for each month of the year and is now up to ‘May’, and has guaranteed happy endings and new beginnings! You can start with The January Wish, or whichever story you feel most drawn to as they can also be read as stand-alone stories.
AND for the next week you will have the chance to WIN a copy of FEBRUARY OR FOREVER in print as part of the MORE TIME FOR THE BEACH anthology of 3-in-1 bestsellers! Included in this prize pack is a beautiful scented ‘coastal hideaway’ candle in a tin. Best of all, the contest is OPEN WORLDWIDE, despite shocking postage costs from Australia! 😛 I love hosting giveaways and I value my international readers as well as my Australian ones, so when I can I like to include some international giveaways too.
To enter this giveaway, please visit my Facebook page and find the GIVEAWAY post dated February 8th. I will draw the winner the day after Valentine’s day, on Thurs 15th.
Good luck, and stay tuned next Thursday for another special giveaway!
P.S. ~ If you’re a writer and love to write love stories, you might be interested in my upcoming online course, How To Write A Lovella (romance novella). It starts Feb 25th and goes for 2 weeks. All the details and registrations are HERE.
I wanted to do a different type of blog post for Valentines Day this year, and after being inspired by a couple of articles I read online recently (which I’ll share below), I thought I would write about the one thing that united them – the need for human connection.
Connecting with people is what makes the world go around, our lives are intertwined on a daily basis with those of others, but just how many of those people do you truly connect with? How often do you take the time to delve deeper, to get to know them, to put aside the obligatory small talk and ask questions that really matter? Not only that, but to listen to the answers with genuine interest and understanding?
There is safety in small talk, safety in staying in our comfort zones and not taking risks. But through making an effort to connect, you may just open up a whole new world of possibilities for any area of your life, be it professional or personal.
Life is short. Make connections, and make them count.
~ One of the articles I found interesting was about addiction, and what its likely cause is. Of course there is a physical, biochemical basis for addiction where the body becomes accustomed to something and makes the person keep wanting it, but what studies have found is that both the likelihood of becoming addicted and the success of recovery rely a lot on human bonding, love, and connection. Those with a healthier social environment and happier state of mind are more likely to beat the addiction. But pushing those who are addicted aside, cutting them off, isolating them, is only exacerbating the disconnection fuelling the addiction. What they need is the opposite – human bonding, connection, and unconditional love. And, I believe, this includes a strong sense of identity and connection with themselves, and self love. You can read the article by Johann Hari about how disconnection drives addiction, here.
So with the high prevalence of addiction in society, there is no better time to understand the importance of human connection. It is the glue that holds society together, it is what we as humans all crave whether we want to admit it or not, it is what matters most in life – feeling like we belong, like we are bonded and supported in life, and experiencing the joy and purpose that comes from this.
~ The other article that caught my attention was in the New York Times, and was fascinating and fun to read. The title, To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This by Mandy Len Catron, makes it sound like a lighthearted novelty, but if you read right through to the end you’ll see the depth and beauty of what it is discussing. It talks about a series of 36 questions that have succeeded in making some people fall in love with each other, by bypassing all the usual small talk and getting right to the nitty gritty, exposing vulnerabilities and allowing people to open up to really being ‘seen’ by another. You can read the list of questions yourself to see what it’s all about, or read the full article here.
I think that these questions could be used by anyone, with anyone; friends, family, colleagues, lovers… to connect more deeply with them and create a stronger bond.
It is all about emotional intimacy, or as one of my favourite authors, Neale Donald Walsch calls it: IntoMeSee.
The article on the 36 questions emphasises that love is an action. It is a feeling, a knowing, yes, but it is also an action. Love not acted on will simply exist in a sort of limbo, and the questions used in this study are an example of how a sort of ‘love-based momentum’ can be established which may potentially allow love to blossom. But if it doesn’t, at least not in romantic form, then I believe that each person will at least come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of the other, a greater bond and connection, and that is a great thing.
~ The need for human connection and the value of establishing bonds with others is one of the reasons I love writing fiction that celebrates people’s lives and relationships. We can relate to reading about others who are or have been in similar situations, and it is rewarding to see characters overcome obstacles and challenges to reach a greater sense of wellbeing or ‘happy ending’. It connects us with a sense of hope in our own lives, and although the story may not be true, the emotion behind it is. Fiction can be both an escape from and a reflection of real life, and ironically, one of the most effective ways to hold a mirror up to life and express its truths.
So this Valentines Day, or any day for that matter, I challenge you to make an effort to connect more with others and spread the love around!
- Smile at a stranger. 🙂
- Talk to someone in the street or at a shop (and not about the weather).
- Ask a friend what they’re looking forward to over the next year.
- Do an anonymous act of kindness.
- Give someone flowers, not just on Valentines day, but any day – just because.
- Write a letter to someone you care about . An actual letter. With paper and pen.
- Send your loved one a text message when you’re not with them, just to say ‘I’m thinking about you’.
- Tell people what you appreciate about them. Don’t let compliments go unspoken.
- Tell someone how they’ve inspired you.
- Hug your friends and family. Human touch is vital to wellbeing.
- Shout someone a coffee, sit down with them, and listen attentively as they talk.
- Email an author whose book you’ve enjoyed (hint hint!). 😉
- Call someone for a chat, and ask thoughtful questions.
- Ask an older person to tell you a story about their youth.
- Read out loud to someone you love.
- Write a poem for someone special.
- And if you’re brave enough to try the 36 questions with someone, go for it!
What better day to get hooked on a good romance than Valentine’s Day? Today I’m featuring a few books from my publisher, Escape Publishing. Next to each book cover is a brief romantic snippet from the book so you can get an idea of the writing style and characters and see which ones click with you. To find out more about each book or to buy it, click on the book title.
To start, I’ll share a snippet from my latest release, February or Forever, followed by other books from Escape…
She watched him for a moment, her finger wanting to desperately trace the curves on his face, but she settled for tracing them with her gaze instead. She lowered herself onto her elbow next to him, watching him sleep. Everyone said that sleeping children were gorgeous, but no one ever mentioned sleeping celebrities. Only he wasn’t a celebrity to her any more. He was a man. A talented and creative man, and a damn good dancer.
Watching him was like a meditation in itself, centring her mind and calming her breathing. She was about to snuggle up next to him when his eyes snapped open.
‘Gotcha!’ he said, a cheeky grin on his face.
Chrissie sat up. ‘You weren’t asleep?’
He shook his head.
She whacked him lightly on the chest with the back of her hand. ‘You trickster.’
‘You were watching me, weren’t you? I could feel it.’ A smug look graced his face.
‘No I wasn’t,’ she said. ‘I was just…waiting for you to wake up.’ She tightened the elastic on her ponytail and looked away.
‘Come here.’ Drew pulled her on top of him and whispered, ‘I would have watched you too.’
Chrissie confessed the truth with an honest smile, and her finger finally traced around the side of his face as she took in every perfect detail.
‘Your eyes,’ Drew said. ‘You’ve got Hungry Eyes.’
Chrissie smiled, remembering the song of the same name from Dirty Dancing.
‘Well then, you better feed them,’ she said, lowering her face to his and taking his lips in hers.
By day’s end, a dozen people would have a little piece of her heart. Perhaps it wasn’t the heart they longed for, but hers was a willing one.
Dressed for the occasion, Reese was a shock of colour on the subdued street. The bust of her dress was red and the lower half white. Just below her breasts the block of colour broke apart into tumbling hearts, which fell and pooled around the hem. The pockets of her long, red coat were stuffed with envelopes, none of which bore her name. Because these letters were not for her.
Reese didn’t know who they were for.
Each boasted the same sentence: If you’ve found me, I’m yours.
Brennan opened his beautiful blue eyes again and stared into mine. “I have lived my entire life searching for you. The instant I laid my eyes on you, the moment you first opened your mouth to speak, I knew that I would one day love you. But what I didn’t understand in those first moments was exactly how much I would grow to love you. I couldn’t have even conceived of the force of emotions I now feel for you. Leah, I want to spend the rest of my life with you and I have no doubts or reservations about that.”
My heart fluttered. Breathing heavily, I asked, “What are you trying to say?”
He hesitated, enough for my heart to thud hard in my chest, before asking, “Will you marry me?”
As he said those words, it was as though everything around me dimmed out. All the noise and all the colours faded, leaving only Brennan and I in the entire world. I didn’t have to think, I knew instinctively what my answer was. “Yes. I will marry you,” I said, unable to hold back the tears any longer.
He leant over the table and kissed me. “Thank you,” he breathed.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black ring box. My breath caught as he opened it and pulled out a stunning, antique diamond ring. I couldn’t tear my gaze from it as he delicately placed it on my left ring finger. It was beautiful; a generous square-cut diamond set in an ornate platinum band.
‘You’re really happy, aren’t you?’ I asked him as I observed every part of his face, mesmerised by what the emotion looked like on the outside, from his easy smile to his brows that were not at all crinkled like mine always seemed to be.
‘“Happy” seems tremendously understated I think.’ My nerves grew all at once wilder under the surface of my skin and my eyes widened. ‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ he said, as a hint of a smirk pulled on his lips as if they were gating a secret behind them.
With his relaxed disposition and loosely worn wedding attire, I could hardly breathe let alone answer him. ‘Like what?’ I managed.
‘As if I’m about to lure you into the fires of hell.’
‘How do I know that you won’t?’
He wrapped an arm around my waist and held my hand out to our side with the other, taking the pose that would begin a traditional waltz. He pulled me securely against him. ‘You know me better than that. Now, it’s about time that we get a little loose, don’t you think?
‘Nick,’ I warned, though all over my body my skin prickled with anticipation of what he had planned.
‘Do you trust me?’
‘You’re up to something,’ I accused.
‘You didn’t answer my question.’
‘I trust you, but—’
He shook his head dismissively. ‘No buts. It’s a yes or no question, angel.’
‘Yes. I trust you.’
‘That’s my girl.’
Abi rested her hands upon Mackenzie’s knees, her fingers playing with his coarse leg hair. Her breasts bobbed salaciously above the water line and her wanton nipples peaked as the sensation of the warm water and the cool air teased her skin. Mackenzie placed his hands over her hands and she felt the warmth emanate from his palms. She closed her eyes and was absorbed in the immeasurable pleasure of a simple bath.
His hands splashed into the water and his fingers caressed her calf muscle. She opened her eyes. He was watching her. His honey eyes drew her in. Her heart beat faster and heat rose from within her core. As he devoured her with his gaze she wondered what he was thinking.
He licked his lips. “Would you like a foot massage?”
She swallowed hard, unable to answer.
Without taking his eyes off her he lifted her foot from the water and she chewed on her bottom lip in an attempt to curb the fireworks racing through her body. Her breath deepened more with each toe he massaged and she felt herself melting away when he ran his thumbs down her instep. Her heart quickened as she experienced one of the most sensuous moments of her life.
An exquisite pulsing between her thighs surprised her.
She wanted him to touch her more but she had no idea if he wanted her too. As she looked into his eyes she wondered if he was thinking the same thing. Never before had she wanted to be with someone so much.
Matilda smiled up at him, her eyes dark with passion. As she lay back against the pillow, her bright hair fanned out around her perfect face. ‘I know that you are to be married and that you will belong to another, but tonight I want what your eyes have promised me from the first moment we met.’
Dear God. This woman would be his undoing.
Kit knelt at the side of the bed and ran his fingers around the loose collar of her blouse. The sight of peaked nipples—visible through the cotton of her blouse—and of goosebumps sparking in the wake of his fingers caused an agonising pulse of need to score his already-tense body.
Surely she didn’t understand what she was saying.
‘Kit.’ The breathless tone of her voice turned his name into a caress more potent than the touch of her body. She was irresistible, and she was right—he had dreamed of this since that first moment she had leaned across the dinner table, captivating him in the candlelight.
Bending over her, Kit took her lips, kissing her slowly as though they had all the time in the world. As he nipped at her lower lip, she moaned in pleasure, licking and stroking until his body screamed with need.
Kit released her mouth and trailed a line of kisses across her cheek, inhaling the scent of warmth and sunshine in her hair.
‘Tell me once more,’ he whispered against her cheek. As much as he wanted her, this had to be her decision and must be made of her own free will. He would not take her until he truly knew it was her wish.
‘I want you, Kit. It is my gift.’ Matilda stated the words simply, ‘My gift to myself.’
A rapid splash under the shower got him as alert as he was going to be. He was just reaching for the towel when the bathroom door opened and Erica slipped in, wearing a short cotton robe and looking pale and washed out. ‘You need a shave,’ she said, reaching out one small hand and touching his cheek.
‘Yeah,’ Nathan said, pushing the water out of his hair as he turned off the shower. She handed him a towel, and he wrapped it around his waist as she opened the bathroom cabinet and rummaged amongst the shelves. Then she pulled a small blue stool out from a corner and pushed him down on to it. Nathan didn’t protest as she soaped up his face, tilted his head to the side and set about shaving off a week’s worth of growth.
‘You’ve done this before,’ he said, wanting so badly to pull her close and just hold her, to tell her everything was going to be alright.
‘No,’ she replied. ‘But I’ve always wanted to.’ She touched her mouth to a clean patch of skin on his jaw. ‘I’m in love with you, you know,’ she said, offering him a pained little smile. ‘I didn’t mean to be. But it happened anyway.’ Another stroke of the blade against his skin, this time across his chin.
Brent Coleman’s gut clenched when the doorbell echoed through the house, heralding the arrival of another of Valentine’s Dates. Watching from the window, he committed the licence plate to memory as the expensive car eased down the driveway and out of sight. His fingers tightened on the frame, his knuckles turning white with the effort to rein in his jealousy. The sequence of beeps behind him indicated the front gate had been passed and the following three longer and one short beep marked the activation of the perimeter alarm.
He let go of the window frame with exaggerated care and turned to check the control panel. The property was broken up into zones, each linked in an overall system that protected the premises of the sprawling three thousand-square-metre estate. It was overkill, but it was a valuable testing ground. Being able to work out the bugs in his latest programs on the harbour-side mansion meant real-life experience and he wasn’t stuck in the office twenty-four-seven. Luckily, Wade, his business partner and best friend, more than welcomed Brent’s need to regularly tweak the security systems their company built.
Satisfied the alarm was armed, he made his way back to his office. Working and living with Wade had never been a problem, even once his best friend married and had a baby. Vee moving back in, however, made him uncomfortable. The woman had been a thorn in his side since the day she turned eighteen and made it clear any attention he gave her would be willingly received. But he couldn’t bring himself to admit he’d fallen for his best friend’s little sister. Talk about a walking cliché.
Melinda dumped her wine glass on the bar, slipped off the chair and headed for the dance floor to join her friends. It was stupid to feel so hurt but she did. James didn’t know she had feelings for him, so she really had no reason to be angry. To him, she was just his housemate; the girl he could joke around with and test his pick up lines on.
The fact that she’d fallen in love him was her problem. He was the perfect housemate. He cooked, cleaned, ironed and listened. He even watched chick flicks with her sometimes.
He was the perfect guy and to him, she was just Melinda; the girl whose house he shared. He’d never once batted an eyelid when she’d brought guys home. In the beginning, she hadn’t batted an eyelid when he’d done the same and bought girls home. The fact that she hadn’t gotten laid in over six months wasn’t his issue. It was totally hers.
The realisation she’d fallen for him had been one Friday night when they’d been sharing Chinese. He’d said something and she’d looked over at him and WHAM that was when it had hit her. She’d fallen for him.
Mooning over a guy who wasn’t into you was the least attractive trait in a woman. How many times had she’d told her friends that? Now it was time to take her own advice and get over her feelings for James.
Chris takes me in his arms, brushes the stray hairs off my face and gently traces my rounded cheek with his fingers. “My beautiful wife,” he says smiling at me. Those sexy crinkles melt my heart again. He puts a hand on my tummy and right at that moment the baby kicks. His face lights up and then he looks at my tummy as though it is the most miraculous thing he’s ever seen. “I can’t wait to meet you, little one. Be kind to your Mummy. She’s the love of my life.” A tear rolls down my cheek and my chin wobbles as he takes my face in his rough hands and brings his lips to mine in the most delicate, loving kiss I’ve ever experienced. I can still feel his lips long after he’s pulled away.
He heads out the door. “I love you, Chris,” I call out after him, but he’s gone and doesn’t hear me.
~ Hope you enjoyed these excerpts and hope you’ve found a new book to read! Which excerpt/s caught your attention the most?
In honour of The Day Of Love I thought I’d share some romantic books with you in a unique way! Here is an impromptu poem I created using the book titles from Escape Publishing’s February releases…
Take your loved one on a few VALENTINE’S DATES or run the risk of being struck down by THE CHIEFTAIN’S CURSE.
There are HIGH STAKES on this special day and you are BOUND BY HER RING after all.
Forget about FINDING ELIZABETH or some other young floozy; stick with the woman you have ARRANGED TO LOVE.
Spoil her, love her, and maybe even give the house A BASIC RENOVATION and repaint the bedroom in THE PALER SHADE OF AUTUMN.
Life moves fast, so don’t FAST FORWARD, savour every moment and she just might organise some extra special ROOM SERVICE to thank you.
And an Escape ebook pack would be an awesome gift… just sayin’ 😉
Now, here are the gorgeous covers for the February releases, which you can read about and buy here.
Don’t forget – launching on Valentine’s Day, the Escape authors are having an Escapade – 30 authors, 1 story, 1 month. Watch the fun unfold at the Escape blog.
Whether you celebrate this annual day of love or not, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some love and run a competition. My first ever blog competition! And there’ll be more to come, so if you want to hear about upcoming competitions (as well as fascinating blog posts and author interviews of course ;)), just enter your email address into the subscription form on the right >>
Most people associate Valentine’s Day with romantic love, but I thought I’d do a blog post about things I love, and I’d love you to share with me the things you love too. In fact, if you do, you’ll be entered into the draw to win a goodie bag! (*AUS only, more details on the competition at the end of this post).
So here’s a ‘List Of Things I Love’.
Maybe you love some of them too, or maybe you don’t. Don’t you just love how we are all so different!
Now these aren’t in order or anything, they are simply a few examples of things I love…
The Sound of Music (I know some parts are cheesy, but it has everything – romance, suspense, humour, drama, music!)
The Wizard of Oz (For writers, one of the best examples of Goal, Motivation, & Conflict)
Titanic (nothing like a big budget Hollywood Blockbuster!)
The Holiday (I love the story and the characters)
Harry Potter (I just love the world JK Rowling created, and all the little details)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (anyone…anyone…?)
Girls Just Want To Have Fun (for those young women who’ve never heard of this dance flick, check it out to see a young Sarah J Parker & Helen Hunt!)
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (I’m not usually one for ‘older’ books, but I couldn’t put this book down when I read it several years ago)
The Passion Test by Janet and Chris Attwood (this is non-fiction, and it has quite literally changed my life)
29 by Adena Halpern (funny, charming, well written, fast paced – everything I love in a novel)
Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor (one of the most unique stories I’ve read in the last few years)
(I could mention so many other books but it would be a very long blog post!)
Melbourne (the culture, the food, the shopping, and so much more compact and easier to find your way around than Sydney!)
Rainforests (I love the feeling of being completely surrounded by nature)
Department Stores (I also love the feeling of being completely surrounded by no nature whatsoever)
Bookstores (I also love being surrounded by books)
Although I’m a very healthy eater (given my health industry background), who can resist a melt-in-your-mouth piece of chocolate once in a while?!
Nectarines (yummiest fruit ever)
Chicken soup (made by yours truly 😉
(Don’t you just feel wonderful reading those words?)
TV Shows (past & present):
3rd Rock From The Sun (2nd best sitcom EVER)
Bewitched (Oh, how we’d all like to be Samantha!)
Packed To The Rafters (Best Aussie show)
24 (Great plots, twists, and edge of your seat action)
Prison Break (slightly unrealistic concept but heaps of fun, and um… nice, er… scenery 😉
Reading (double duh!)
Staring at the ocean (I swear some of my ideas get washed in with the waves, so any time spent staring is purely for productivity)
What about you, what things do you love in life?
*Here is how to enter my competition to win this Valentine’s Day Gift Bag (Australia only):
1. Firstly, make sure you’re Australian, or have an Australian postal address. If you’re not sure, ask your parents 😉 …For my international friends (who are probably slamming their fist on the table yelling ‘It’s not fair!’), don’t despair, I promise I’ll run some international competitions on the blog too!
2. Secondly, make sure you’re subscribed to this blog. If not, enter your email address in the subscription form on the top right of this page (Don’t worry, I’m not a daily blogger so you won’t get bombarded with blog updates, and I’m not one of those people who tries to sell Viagra!). Done? Okay, next step…
3. Leave a comment below and tell me at least three things you love and why (use the categories I’ve listed to inspire you).
4. The winner will be drawn randomly from valid entries around 5:00pm Sydney time on Friday 17th February 2012, and notified via email and on this blog.
5. The gift bag contains a copy of ‘The Trouble With Valentine’s Day’ by Rachel Gibson, a Lancome maharani jewels ‘Juicy Tubes’ lip gloss, a Sanctum organic cedarwood and olive leaf soap, and a Sanctum organic Body Essentials pack containing body buff exfoliator, body balm, and hand/nail repair cream. So the winner will be able to have an in-home pamper treatment, slick on some juicy lip gloss, and curl up with a fun book!
What are you waiting for? Leave a comment, it could be you!