Fan Girl Friday – Second Hand Rules with Kate Belle

Hi Everyone and thanks, Paula, for having me.

It’s taken a while for Paula and I to get this post to you, what with both of us being busy and born with an organisational deficiency called ‘life’. As I write it’s school holidays and I’m spending my time at my computer yelling ‘YES’, ‘NO’, ‘LATER’ and ‘WHAT?’ over my shoulder to Miss 8 and her visitors. (I’ll never win a supervision excellence award.)

My parenting style mimics that of my childhood – ah, how we are destined to return to our roots. My childhood was a country one. My parents weren’t wealthy people. We lived simply, making do with what we had and being inventive when need be. I blame this ‘get-by-and-don’t-waste-anything’ background on what has developed into a full blown adult obsession with all things second hand

Confession time: I love opp shops. And garage sales. And markets. And council hard rubbish collections. Love, love, love them.

Most things I own are second hand. My lounge and sitting room are filled with 1920 – 1940’s furniture I bought in Prahran when I first started work at Swinburne University. As I look around my study the only new thing I see is the computer! The desk, filing cabinet, telephone, lamps, tall boy, couch, bookshelves and most of the books are second hand. Aside from my underwear, my clothes are second hand. Even the mug I’m drinking tea from is second hand.

katebell5Some of my most treasured possessions are items I’ve discovered at a market or an opp shop. Camberwell market is a famed source for hunter gatherers like me. It was where I bought this gorgeous royal blue velvet 1950s coat. I knew it was a prize when the woman I purchased it from fixed me with a steely eye and instructed, ‘You look after that.’

Clothing is a particular weakness of mine. I have a shopaholic relative who sends 3 enormous bags of cast offs my way once a year and it gives me no end of joy to go through them. Our annual holiday to Lakes Entrance always includes a visit to its many opp shops and I always come home with more clothes than I arrived with. My wardrobe is bowed and bulging. Must do something about that.

katebell4It doesn’t stop at garments though. Classic crockery is also a favourite in this house. I have more gorgeous 1960s coffee sets than I can possibly use. My Christmas table always see the 1930s green glassware and my 1950s canister set is on permanent display on top of my kitchen cupboards.

katebell3When I was a student it was a cost thing. Then, when I started working, it became an opp-shop-chic image thing. By the time I got married it was a financial necessity. Now, it’s just a love of pre-loved things that are too special to be discarded and, believe me, you’d be amazed at the sort of things people discard.

katebell2My beloved (who, by the way, is also second hand having been married before) recently found a Tiffany’s bracelet someone had tossed in a junk jinker with a lot of other jewellery. We’ve found a Russell Hobb’s electric kettle still in its box, full silver cutlery sets and a gorgeous old radiogram that plays 78rpm’s to add to our homely collection.

katebell1And books!! Every year our local Oxfam group have a massive second hand book sale and two years ago I scored a pile of rare books by Aboriginal authors, many of them signed, all at $2 each! I came home from that venture grinning like the proverbial Cheshire.

The down side is the clutter. An obsession with cheap and accessible second hand goods necessitates a regular clean out of wardrobes, cupboards, bookshelves. It’s hard letting go sometimes, but if you want to keep collecting, culling is a must. Out with the old and in with the…old, I guess.

the yearning by Kate BelleKate is a multi-published author who writes dark, sensual contemporary women’s fiction. She lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets.  Kate holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Read an extract from her latest release, The Yearninghere.  Buy The Yearning as an ebook from Amazon or iTunes  Print book: Target, Kmart, Myer, Collins, Dymocks, Big W, Eltham Bookshop and other independent bookshops and major airports.  Also by Kate Belle: erotic novellas, Breaking the Rules and Bloom.  Visit Kate at her blog/website, Facebook and Twitter.


Fan Girl Friday – TV Sitcoms with Juliet Madison

Thanks, Paula, for having me on the blog today to rave about something I’m a fan of. I ‘fan girl’ about a lot of things (so I’ll HAVE to come back to the blog again sometime!), but decided for today I’d discuss a few of my favourite TV sitcoms!

There’s nothing like a good, well-written, laugh-out-loud sitcom with authentic characters you care about and believe in. And as a writer, sitcoms are great inspiration for the romantic comedy stories I love to write. I love how they’re fast-paced, funny, and often extreme. They take real life scenarios and give them a fresh, unique spin.

So here are four of my favourites, which are sadly not on TV anymore 😦


Probably my favourite show of all time. Who can go past an episode of Friends? Even though I’ve seen every episode a zillion times, it still makes me laugh. I am the proud owner of a Friends boxed set, which I watched with my son from beginning to end as soon as he was old enough.

Friends also has a great romance – Ross and Rachel. When they finally got together at the end of ten seasons I think I cried a little. Or a lot.

Remember when Rachel said: “I got off the plane.”? Waaa!

Do you have a favourite Friends character? I find it hard to play favourites, I think somehow all the characters combined to create one whole entity, and it wouldn’t be the same if one of them wasn’t there. Having said that, I do love Phoebe’s quirkiness, and Joey’s loveable nature, not to mention his trademark “How you doin?”

Some of my favourite scenes from Friends are:

  • The one when Ross gets a fake tan and counts to three, ‘Mississippily’, which gives him a very dark tan ononly half his body.
  • The one where Ross gets his teeth whitened and they glow like the Cheshire Cat when he’s on a date.
  • The one where Monica and Chandler get engaged. All those candles – wow!
  • Any episode where Phoebe sings a ‘smelly cat’ song.
  • The one where Rachel watches the prom video and then kisses Ross.
  • And… there are too many more to mention!



I didn’t watch this much when it was on TV, but I got it on DVD and watched the whole series (again, with my son, who LOVED it). A sitcom about a four aliens who come to Earth in human form to learn our ways, 3rd Rock is hilarious, wacky, and has memorable characters.

How cute was Joseph Gordon-Levitt when he was younger? He played Tommy, the Information Officer who was really an old guy (or alien) in a teenage boy’s body. French Stewart, who plays Harry, was hilarious as the transmitter of messages from the Big Giant Head on their home planet. Dick “Oh my God, I’m gorgeous!” Solomon is sort of the leading man, who strikes up an on-again off-again romance with his just-as-wacky (though completely human) colleague Dr Mary Albright. My favourite character is Sally, the kick-ass heroine of the show – a combat specialist in a voluptuous female body who thinks she’s the luckiest woman alive to have scored Don, the incompetent cop.

My favourite moments:

  • When Harry gets hypnotised
  • When Dick’s evil twin takes over
  • The Soloman family’s first Christmas
  • When they stay in a hotel and get their first taste (and expense) of‘room service



I watched this on and off when it was on TV, and later got the DVDs. I don’t think I’ve seen every episode, and certainly not in order. But it’s the type of show you can watch at any stage and get a good laugh. It’s a slightly quirky sort of comedy, so it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m all for wacky comedies!

JD’s a bit of a wimpy doctor character who runs the show, alongside his talkative female sidekick, Elliot, and his confident best friend, Turk. I love how the show often has actual scenes to show what’s going on inside a character’s mind, and there’s a lot of slapstick physical comedy reminiscent of movies like The Naked Gun. Despite this, the show manages to balance out the humour with deep, heart-felt moments here and there.

Fave moments:

  • When JD and Turk haven’t seen each other in ages and Turk waves out the window, then runs back inside to try and meet JD but they keep ending up in opposite locations.
  • There was one episode that was completely in musical form, and everyone sang. Brilliant.
  • Any moment where the janitor (did he have a name?) got the better of JD


“Oh my stars!” …An oldie but a goodie, this is pure comfort television viewing. I’m a huge Bewitched fan, and own all of the DVDs as well as a big Bewitched companion book. The premise – mortal everyday guy marries a witch and has to put up with her interfering mother-in-law and crazy relatives – allowed for endless possibilities and storylines for the characters to get messed up in. I love anything that resembles real life with a bit of magic thrown in, so Bewitched presses all the right buttons for me.

I loved how Darrin had to try to make everything appear normal while trying to win over new advertising clients and dealing with his demanding boss, while Samantha’s magical attempts to thwart the spells of her mother’s provided much humour and fun.

I think the unique secondary characters really made this show – the nosy neighbour who always saw the magic but no one believed her, the incompetent Esmerelda, the wacky Uncle Arthur, the meddling Endora, sneaky Serena, and of course the cute little daughter, Tabitha!

I love this show so much I’m planning on writing a Bewitched-inspired story one day 🙂

Two other sitcoms, The Big Bang Theory and I Dream of Jeannie, have together inspired a novella of mine which is being published on September 1st, called I DREAM OF JOHNNY. It’s about a woman whose wish on a magic lamp for a Greek God goes hilariously wrong, when she ends up with a Geek God instead. My current release, FAST FORWARD, is a romantic comedy where each chapter is like a little ‘episode’ in the story. Like my favourite sitcoms, it’s a bit wacky, has many embarrassing yet funny moments for the main character, and has a touch of magic in the form of time travel, when the main character, Kelli, is catapulted 25 years into the future to her 50th birthday.

Are any of these your favourite sitcoms too? What other sitcoms do you enjoy?


Juliet Madison is a naturopath-turned-author with a background in dance, art, internet marketing and perfume sales (yes, she was one of those annoying people in department stores who spray you with perfume). Nowadays she prefers to indulge her propensity for multiple careers by living vicariously through her characters.  Living near the beach on the beautiful south coast of New South Wales, Australia, Juliet spends her days homeschooling her son and running her internet business, and her nights writing fiction while doing her best to avoid housework.  Connect with Juliet at her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Buy FAST FORWARD via Escape Publishing, Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes/iBookstore, Kobo, Google Play, B&N/Nook, JB Hi-Fi.



Fan Girl Friday – Tattoos with Kylie Scott

kylie scottHi, my name is Kylie and I’d like to tell you a story to introduce my Fan Girl Friday topic of tattoos. It’s Christmas Day in Australia about twenty years back. I was 18 and doing the traditional post lunch thing of lolling about letting the way-too-much food I’d eaten slowly digest. The fan spins lazily overhead, barely stirring the hot air, as I silently vow to never go back for thirds of Aunty Mary’s trifle ever again until next year (best trifle in the world). You know how it is…
Nan: What is that on your back?
Me: Nothing.
Nan: I saw something on our back, under your shirt.
Me: Nana, you need new glasses. Hey, isn’t it your nap time?
Nan: Did you get a tattoo?
Entire room packed full of relatives falls dead silent and commences staring at me.
Me: *flails*
Mum: I knew she was hiding something!
Dad: You better not have.
Me: *still flailing*
Mum: How will you ever wear a strapless ball gown now!?
Me: *stops flailing* *perplexed face* Wait. When did I ever wear one before?
Mum: No boy from a decent family will have you! Not once he knows about that!
Me: No, seriously … what??
Dad: *explodes*

Kylie tattooAh, yes, a great memory. I come from a pretty conservative background (go figure) and my parents honestly could not comprehend why I would do such a thing. But then tattoos tend to be something that either appeal to people or leave them shaking their heads with something less than wonder. I’ve always been fascinated by ink. Not just the art of the design, but the story behind it. So I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter for girls to pull out their trusty mobile phones and snap some pictures for me. The response was huge. Here are just a few of the people that volunteered to share their tats and tales. (Apologies to those I couldn’t fit in.)
We’ll start with me and my latest. Books have always been one of the great loves of my life, so for me, this one was a no-brainer. (And no, I’ve still never worn a strapless ball gown and my husband’s family seen quite nice. Though you never can tell…)

kylie tattoo2Kate Cuthbert, Harlequin Escape – This tattoo is of a questing beast. In Arthurian legend, Arthur’s best friend is a king called Pellinore. King Pellinore comes from a long line of Pellinore who have all had the same goal in life – to hunt the questing beast. The beast has the body of a leopard, the feet of a goat, and the head of a dragon. When it bays it sounds like 100 hounds all crying at once. However, the beast is invisible. So no one believes it exists, and the Pellinores are generally considered genial crackpots. So anyways, Arthur, being a logical fellow, takes it upon himself to talk Pellinore out of hunting the beast. He manages, and Pellinore abandons his quest. And that’s when the questing beast begins to waste away, eventually nearly dying. Without someone to hunt him, without someone to believe in him, he cannot live. I got my questing beast after a rough patch in my life as a reminder to have the strength and conviction to follow my own path, and to remember that my dreams and goals are only as real as I believe them to be.
kylie tattoo3Katrina Whittaker,  Page Flipperz  – It has my three girls on it. From oldest to youngest. As you can see they are wrapped around my heart always. The ribbon going from the beginning till the end. Forever!

Kylie tattoo4

Book Chatter Cath  – The Celtic band is on my left forearm and I got it done in England on a family visit back in 2005. I love Celtic myths, and really love the knot designs that they use in their art, and I have some Celtic blood (albeit watered down) running through my veins. And that tat is green, green is my favourite colour.

kylie tattoo5Jennie Brumley, writer – My dragon is taken from Aussie author Graeme Base’s book The Discovery of Dragons. I knew when I was 12 that I wanted a tattoo, I knew by the time I was 15 that I wanted a dragon, but it took me until I was 24 to find one I knew I could live with for the rest of my life. I have always been fascinated by dragons, perhaps because I was born in the Year of the Dragon, perhaps because I watched too many medieval fantasy shows when I was little, either way, dragons rock and funds (and hubby) allowing I want to add a Norse dragon to the mix at some point down the track.

kylie tattoo6Rhyll Biest, writer – I had a favourite live music club in Brisvegas called the Crash and Burn and their emblem was a sun. So my tat was in homage… I was in my 20s, but I don’t regret it at all. Having a tat makes me feel all kick-assy tough, even though I’ve only ever kicked ass in my imagination.

kylie tattoo7Shona Husk, writer – Here’s my seahorse. It’s about 12 years old. I’d had a partial molar pregnancy (which was fairly traumatic), my husband was in the navy at the time and sailed a week after I had surgery and I decided that if I was going to get a tattoo now was the time. Kind of a ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ moment. He was surprised when he got home…


Kylie is a long time fan of erotic love stories and B-grade horror films. She demands a happy ending and if blood and carnage occur along the way then all the better.  Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and one delightful husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.  Her latest book release is Colonist’s Wife, and you can find her via her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Fan Girl Friday – Best Football Team Eva! by Cathryn Hein

2012 Grand FinalWhat an opportunity! An entire blog post where I get to wax lyrical about my darling Sydney Swans, the most beautiful Australian Rules Football team in existence. Thanks, Paula.  Oh, stop looking at me like that, all grumpy and scowly. You know how much I love my boys. Of course I was going to blog about them!

Ahh, what a year was last year. My red and white beloveds made it all the way to the Grand Final against Hawthorn and won in what proved to be an absolute thriller of a game. I cried, as I did when they won back in 2005. They were so brave, so hungry for that win. So magnificent.

Yes, I love my footy team. Probably a little bit obsessively, but a girl’s got to have a hobby and watching sexy fit men in red shorts is mine. Besides, I’m a romance writer. I need this kind of research!

So how does a girl from South Australia start barracking for a Sydney based AFL team? Well, the truth is I wasn’t always a Swans fan. I know, I know. They were the dark days before I found enlightenment. It was my mum’s fault really, and her Carlton obsession. Those cries of “Jesaulenko!” during the 70’s and “Kernahan!” during the 80’s infected my brain, and I found myself cheering the Blues alongside her. Yes, dark days indeed.

Swans trainingThen along came a St Kilda player by the name of Tony Lockett. Sigh. I still get the girlie wobbles at the mention of his name. The greatest goal-kicker the AFL has ever seen and is ever likely to ever see. And I loved him, even though he played for the Saints. By that time I’d moved away from South Australia, first to Victoria and then New South Wales, where not a whole lot of Aussie Rules found its way onto the telly. All the Swans games were broadcast though, so I’d get my footy fix by watching them. One day, to my utter, utter joy, the Swans recruited Plugger (Tony’s nickname) and I was a goner. The Swans became my boys and I’ve stayed faithful ever since.

Greatest Swans moment? I don’t know, there have been a few. But I still remember the 1996 Preliminary Final against Essendon. With 17 seconds left on the clock and the scores tied, Plugger marked the ball 50 metres out from goal. Any score would do it but Plugger had a groin injury (it seemed like the world was obsessing about Tony Lockett’s groin that season) and no one was sure he could do it. The siren sounded. Swans fans went to their knees in prayer. Plugger lined up, kicked and DID IT! A point instead of a goal, but what a point. I think I cried then too.

Here it is on YouTube so you can experience the emotion for yourself.

But the game is all about winning premierships and our wins in 2005 and 2012 are treasured things. The 2005 Grand Final win was amazing. We were living in France at the time and could only get AFL via an internet subscription, and on 24 hours delay. To stop hearing the result we didn’t answer our phones, check email or watch anything other than the French music channel for over a day. Friends and family were warned that there’d be dire consequences for any result revealing. If I thought the delay was stressful enough, it was nothing compared to the game. Another typical Swans down-to-the-wire show, with me a complete nervous wreck and full of bad thoughts that those rotten West Coast Eagles were going to steal our glory. But Leaping Leo Barry saved the day with a magnificent grab in the dying seconds and victory was ours.
Ahh, memories. I’m sure my red and white boys will give me many more yet.

Heartland_cvr_640x480Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse-mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned. Armed with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture), she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her debut rural-set romance, Promises, released in 2011, followed by Heart of the Valley in 2012. Cathryn’s third novel, Heartland, is out now.

Connect with Cathryn via her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Fan Girl Friday – Cats, Dragons and Gargoyles…Oh My! by Kylie Griffin

KG (low res)Paula, thanks for inviting me here to participate in Fangirl Friday. What a wonderful idea for a series and wow, there are some great interests and, umm, dare I say it…obsessions…among the other posts – roses, music, favourite movies, holiday places, play lists, travelling, Joss Whedon…

I should feel quite at home! LOL

If you know me at all I’m just a tad obsessed with cats, but I’m not going to inflict you with numerous shots of my moggies or LOL Cats, no, I’m going to share my other love – garden ornaments.

Some people love gnomes (not me though, I can’t understand why someone would fill a garden with the Seven Dwarves), some go for animals (turtles, birds, lizards, ducks – I’m sure Dr.Dolittle would be jealous), others prefer the classic nudes (they just remind me of school excursions to art museums). Me? I like the paranormal (no surprise there given it’s the genre I love to write) – mythical creatures, fairies, castles, the weird and wonderful.

Screech the gargoyleBoo the GargoyleTake Boo and Screech, for example. They’re my gargoyles. I found them at a lovely nursery called Pot-a-Way and could immediately imagine them sitting on the skillion roof of my front veranda chasing away evil spirits. I seat-belted them into the back seat of my car and drove them 150kms to their new home.

I did ask my local SES unit if they wanted an exercise night at my place to train using ropes and pulleys and the safety roof kit to put them up there, but unfortunately we never got around to it. So I put one on guard near my front door and the other looking through the kitchen window from near my carport. I doubt they’ll ever be stolen as they each weigh 60kgs!

ShimmerscaleKeeping Boo company in the carport garden is Shimmerscale, a dragon I found at a fantastic nursery in Guyra, NSW. When he first appeared in my garden, my cat, Splat didn’t quite know what to make of him. She stalked, stared at him and stayed well clear of him for a good week. Now though they’re the best of friends and she loves to rub up against his head. I also have another half dozen dragons in the garden (they’re another obsession of mine but that’s a whole ‘nother post!!!)

Fairy Solar LightThe fairy is an all-weather sensor light and she came from a local market. Her crystal ball lights up with a myriad of colours as she sits on the corner of my veranda, an ethereal guide for those who come to my house at night.

3 cats birdbathThe three amigos (the cats stacked on top of each other holding a birdbath) was an impulse buy. As soon as I saw them, the evil looking expressions on their faces as they plotted to capture the birds that used the birdbath, really tickled my funny bone.

CastleIn amongst my bulbs is the castle. It reminds me so much of the fairytale, Sleeping Beauty. I can just imagine how after so many years all the plants and bushes would have grown up around her palace, and that it would look something like this.

Enchanted treeNot far from the castle I have a fairy sitting at the base of a rather ugly enchanted tree. The tree reminds me of the talking apple trees from the Wizard of Oz, and this is probably why I decided to add him to my collection.

SkullBy far the oddest ornament has to be the skull. The neighbour across the road gifted it to me when they moved away. I’m still not sure I like it, but it sort of appeals to the macabre side of me having it half buried under the daisy bush. It catches the local kids by surprise and when they ask me about it, I make an off-hand comment about how it belongs to the last child who annoyed me one too many times.

I do have some feline garden ornaments keeping my plants company but I said I wouldn’t rave on about cats and I aim to keep that promise! That doesn’t mean to say next time I visit a nursery I won’t buy another to add to the eclectic collection of ornaments I already have… 🙂

So, do you have any ornamental pieces hiding in your garden? Do you collect one sort or possess a variety of them? I’d love to know!

Allegiance Sworn hi resKylie Griffin’s obsession with all things paranormal/fantasy started at an early age, when she used to imagine the jacaranda tree in her front yard was a spaceship used to defend the world from invading enemies. Writing stories seemed a natural extension to her childhood adventures.  Today, she’s a primary school teacher sharing her love for the written word with young children. In her spare time, she writes and reads all things paranormal. Kylie lives in a small rural village in outback New South Wales, Australia, where she volunteers in a number of emergency service organizations in her local community. Visit her website, her blog, FacebookTwitter and GoodReads.

Fan Girl Friday – Traveling with Maisey Yates

Thanks Paula, for having me here to fangirl. It’s hard for me to pick just one thing to fangirl about, really because I’m sort of a geek by nature. That means, when I love something I LOVE it. (I write a lot of heroines like this too. Because I choose to believe it’s charming.)

LOTRLord of the Rings? Love it. Wore an elven cloak to the movies. Romance novels? Well, I fell so hard for those I had to start writing them so I could be immersed in all of it.

But what am I really a fangirl about? Traveling. This is kind of a new obsession of mine that’s come along with my romance career. I’m able to go to conferences all over the place for work (write off! Woohoo!) and that means…well, a lot of things.

First off, I like organizing my packing. I like going through my clothes and deciding what to bring. I love organizing what I’ll wear to what…

Then there’s the restaurant possibilities! This is where I reveal that I’m a total nerd. I love to scope out the restaurants at the places I’ll be. I like to get a good look at the menus in advance. You know, so I can pick what I’m going to order.

Hey, shush, choosing what you’re going to order at a restaurant is a big deal! And since I’m from a small town where fast food places out number any sort of good eating, it means I have to be prepared to take in the glory and wonder of the selection in the various cities I get to go to.

google earthOh yeah, and I Google Earth things. Because I like to scout out the new place I’m visiting! I’m getting to be such a travel fangirl that I’m even harassing my husband over his next trip. He’s going to the UK in May, and neither of us have ever been before.

So what am I doing? Googling pubs and mapping walking routes between must-see sights for him. I’m lucky he hasn’t disowned me.

I personally am doing a lot of traveling this year! And every trip is to a destination I’ve never been to before. In May I’ll be in Kansas City for the Romantic Times Convention, in June I’ll be in Cincinnati for Lori Foster’s Reader Author Get Together and in July I’ll be in Atlanta for the Romance Writers of American Convention.

But my biggest trip is in August and it’s a childhood dream come true (really!). In August I’m going to the Romance Writers of Australia Convention (and giving a workshop!). It will be my first trip away from my continent (I have been out of the country, but just to Mexico) and I’m really excited.

Except one thing. Yeah, I’m a travel lover who hates to fly. But no matter! I’ll withstand it.

And yes, I’ve already googled restaurants.

What’s your favorite part about traveling?

 heir to a desert legacyUSA Today Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit.  In 2009, at the age of twenty-three Maisey sold her first book. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sexy alpha males and happily ever afters, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances  set just about everywhere on earth and light sexy contemporary romances set practically in her back yard. She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world. You can find her on the web, Twitter and Facebook.

Fan Girl Friday – The Soundtrack of My Life by Anna Campbell

Anna Campbell 43970006Hi Paula! Thank you for inviting me to your Fan Girl Friday! I think this is such a fantastic idea for a series of blogs. It’s always fascinating to see what gets people excited, isn’t it? And I don’t mean in a romance novel sense – or not completely!

I’m a music maven from way back. Pretty much any sort of music. I’m not fussy. I started playing the piano when I was five and even had mild delusions that I might make a career in music at one stage in my young life. I still find great joy in thumping out a show tune or two on the piano (the neighbours don’t find quite so much joy but, hey, they can always move!).

Today I thought I’d rave about some of my favourite music – soundtracks!

I write to music. There’s something about music that places me right in the world of the story. However, because I’m an auditory writer (I hear VOICES, call for psychiatric aid!), I can’t handle words to go with the music. As a result, I listen to a lot of classical music – thank goodness for ABC Classic FM in Australia, 24 hours a day, ad free, and you can stream it on your computer – and a lot of movie soundtracks.

Epics 4There’s some great music out there in the movies. Where would Lawrence of Arabia be without that haunting theme? Would Dr. Zhivago’s miserable love life be half so miserable if he hadn’t stared longingly into space to Lara’s Theme? Would Judah Ben-Hur move right over into the realm of Judah Ben-Really-Girly if that lush, dramatic music by Miklós Rózsa hadn’t scared the horses?

You’ll probably gather from the above list that I have a soft spot for music from epics. Somehow those BIG stories seem to bring out the best in composers. All the conflict, adventure, tragedy, romance and excitement. All those HUGE emotions and scenes.

epicsPlaying pretty constantly on my CD player these days is a fabulous compilation called Epics: The History of the World According to Hollywood. It’s got pretty much everything, including a lot of music I’ve tried to buy but failed to find like Taras Bulba and The Robe. For less than $40, this is more music than your average film buff can handle! Here’s the Amazon link.

Epics 3Other favourite soundtracks include Gladiator, Braveheart, The Big Country, and The Magnificent Seven. Not to mention my all-time favourite, The Last of the Mohicans. I’ve often screamed out “I will find you,” when I’m looking for that one!

Epics 2There’s one more soundtrack I’d like to talk about because it relates directly to my latest release, an e-novella called These Haunted Hearts: A Regency Ghost Romance. One of my favourite movies is an old-timer called The Ghost and Mrs. Muir with Gene Tierney and a very sexy Rex Harrison as the ghost. It has a heartbreakingly romantic score by Bernard Hermann who wrote the music for many of Hitchcock’s films.

Here’s a YouTube video with stills from the film and some of the gorgeous music full of the sound of the sea and the deep, unfulfilled longing that invests this lovely story.

I tried to invest These Haunted Hearts with something of that same mystical yearning – although my story has a MUCH happier ending!

So do you like soundtracks? Any favourites? I’ve got a download of These Haunted Hearts: A Regency Ghost Novella up for grabs today for someone who comments!

THH low resQueenslander ANNA CAMPBELL’s sweeping, emotional historical romances have been published internationally and have won numerous awards including Romantic Times Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Aspen Gold (twice) and the Australian Romance Readers Association’s most popular historical romance (five times). She has twice been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award and three times for Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year. The Australian Romance Readers Association voted Anna their favorite Australian romance author of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Book 2 in the “Sons of Sin” series, A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, is out in September 2013. Visit her via her website (where you can also read an excerpt for These Haunted Hearts), Facebook and Twitter.

The One Where I Had a Bit of a Problem…

Reading: Twitter
Watching: Horrible Histories
Listening To: Oh, Sherrie by Steve Perry

Gilles Marini as Marco CorelliSo after I handed in my latest book (AJ and Matt’s story for those of you following at home), I dove straight into my next one, the one I’d dubbed ‘Hot Marco’.  Marco Corelli is cousin to my hero in Bed of Lies and made a brief appearance in that book.  And as soon as he did, I knew I had to give him his own story. The visual for Marco was immediately obvious to me – Gilles Marini (right), who you may have seen in Brothers & Sisters and Sex & The City.  So with him in mind, I wrote a synopsis and began to write the story.

And then something went wrong.

I’ve been reading a lot of fan fiction and Twitter role playing accounts and as I got drawn into these varied characters and scenarios, suddenly, Marco was not Gilles anymore.  He was… someone completely different.  I saw Marco as a bit of a womaniser, a guy with commitment problems, a guy who’s pretty much in it for the good time. And yes, a guy with some complicated emotional issues.  But also he is an incredibly fierce friend, a guy who outwardly, is tough as nails but inside is a vulnerable guy who’s deathly afraid of showing weakness.  aidan turner as marcoThis was not Gilles Marini.  It was… Aidan Turner.  Aidan Turner the vampire from Being Human.  Aidan Turner from The Hobbit.  Aidan Turner with all his crazy emotional issues, his struggles, his casual regard for relationships.

aidan turner as marco3It’s amazing what the change of visual can do for your story.  Aidan became Marco in all his charming, swaggering, damaged glory.  I loved how he’s just taking over the story, running with his role and shaking up my heroine’s life.

To give you a bit of a teaser, this story is about best friends turned lovers, a sudden pregnancy and decades-old secrets suddenly uncovered.  It’s set in Queensland, Australia, one of my favorite places, on a fictional tropical island that just happens to be owned by Marco.  Lots of emotional sparks fly between my hero and heroine as they battle to overcome their own relationship problems to get their happy ever after!

Fan Girl Friday – You Can’t Take the Sky From Me… by MJ Scott

I have several severe TV writer crushes.  Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls), Steven Moffatt (Coupling, Doctor Who), Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Vicar of Dibley).  Men and women who write stories with wit and romance and a strong dash of humour and heartbreak.

But the king of all my TV writer crushes is Joss Whedon.  I really need to buy that “Joss Whedon is my master now” t-shirt. He really is fangirl squee-worthy and if I ever did have to talk to him I would be a dribbly mess.

BuffyFirstly, he wrote Buffy which had monsters and kickass women and a romance that people still haven’t gotten over (in fact, several romances that people still haven’t gotten over).   The idea of the blonde teen who goes into the dark alley and kicks the monster’s butt instead of getting eaten is my kind of idea. And Angel wasn’t too shabby either, despite the fact it had to get wrapped up too fast. And then, just when I thought I couldn’t love him any more (seriously, once in a writing workshop we were asked to describe who we wanted to be as writers and I said the lovechild of Jenny Crusie and Joss Whedon), he created Firefly.

firefly11A show that on paper seems ridiculous.

A western set in space.

A vast space opera that takes place largely on one tiny ramshackle spaceship on the edge of civilisation.

A protectionist government and man-eating space pirates.

The projection of earth civilisation into space based on the premise that only China and the US survived whatever wars for power might be.  So everyone is bilingual and cross cultural (okay, so actually, having your characters being able to say wickedly filthy things in Chinese to get around the TV censors is sheer brilliance).

mal05But what Joss does brilliantly is write about communities.  By the time I got to the end of the first episode I was invested in the characters and the little family they were building.  A bunch of people finding their place (which is one of my favourite themes in stories).  The loner bad boy captain with the heart he can’t quite cut off (and seriously, what isn’t to love about Nathan Fillion in breeches)?  The warrior woman second in command with the beta-est of beta husbands, the girl genius mechanic and the villainous muscle who isn’t entirely sure why he doesn’t just work out how to steal what they have and leave them in his dust.  The preacher, the doctor and his puzzle of a damaged sister who sets the story into motion.  And the courtesan who has the most respectable job of any of them in that particular culture.

All of them individual and real and with their own agendas.  They fight and they make up and they tease each other and they turn on anyone who threatens them with ferocity.  And despite their better judgement, they stick together and they take on new members of their family who are just going to get them into trouble and they fall in love.

Joss gets community.  He also gets romance though he does have a regrettable habit of putting his couples through hell (he’s not quite on the George RR Martin scale of character death but important people die in Joss’s world).  He writes about fear and strength and love and family. And he does it all while blowing stuff up, pulling off heists and giving his characters some of the best banter going round.

serenityI still want to be him when I grow up.

And I’ll always mourn that there isn’t more Firefly after that one short first season and the movie.  Truly one of the great TV tragedies (why oh why Fox??), considering how much money it’s made in DVD and otherwise.  I watch all of it several times a year and don’t get tired of it. Because in my heart, Serenity is still flying and Captain Mal and the others are still having adventures.  And I’ll be wearing my browncoat proudly.

What TV shows do you love and why?

IronKinMJ Scott is an unrepentant bookworm. Luckily she grew up in a family that fed her a properly varied diet of books and these days is surrounded by people who are understanding of her story addiction. When not wrestling one of her own stories to the ground, she can generally be found reading someone else’s. Her other distractions include yarn, cat butlering, dark chocolate and fabric. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and you can visit her via her website or follow her on Twitter.

Fan Girl Friday – Antici-pation by Yvonne Lindsay

yvonne 9Ha, every time I hear that I have a visual image of that scene in The Rocky Horror Picture Show between Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss, where Dr. Frank-N-Furter strings out “anticipation” in the perfect illustration of the term.

I love looking forward to things. I think the anticipation of an event or something special is often so much better than the actual occasion. Maybe it’s because I look forward to things so much, I set myself up for disappointment sometimes but overall for me, the journey is way more fun than actually arriving at the destination.

Take Christmas as a child, for example. The whole ritual of going to the tree farm, choosing a tree (thankfully we didn’t suffer any major allergies beyond a touch of hayfever in those days,) driving home and setting it up, the lounge room being redolent with the scent of pine. Mmmm, I can smell it even now. Then there would be the careful decorating of said tree, the anticipation of Christmas Even when miraculously unmarked gifts would appear beneath it. I’d usually wake at some obscenely early hour, gather my pillow and my bedspread and traipse up the hall to the sitting room and lie in front of the tree on the floor, eyeing up all the parcels. I still remember the year when I got there and the parcels were in neat stacks, which certainly didn’t appeal to my visual expectation of what beneath a Christmas tree should look like and I scattered them everywhere because clearly Santa hadn’t had the time. I just couldn’t understand why my mother was so put out and had to squeeze and examine each individual parcel carefully before handing it out to its intended recipient! I don’t even remember what gifts we received that year because for me, it was the looking forward to things that was the most important.

ONE SECRET NIGHT official jpgIn my experience, the only time I enjoy the event more than the anticipation of it, is when one of my new books comes out and I’m so excited to have my third The Master Vintners book out this month in both New Zealand and Australian market as well as in the North American market. ONE SECRET NIGHT gives readers the story of what happens when Mr Uptight and Totally In Control crosses paths with Ms Free Spirit and Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. Ethan Masters and Isobel Fyfe’s story gave me so many challenges, not surprising really, given how different they are as people. Readers also get to see a little bit more of Tamsyn Masters, Ethan’s sister, whose book I’m writing at the moment (due out December 2013.)

One Secret Night Australia-NZ

So what about you? Are you like me, and relish the anticipation of things, or are you more of an in the moment kind of person? Leave a comment and go into a draw for one lucky winner to choose their choice of book from my back list (stock permitting.)

It took many years and many jobs before USA Today Bestselling author Yvonne Lindsay realised what she really wanted to be when she grew up—a romance author. Once she figured that out, it took 13 years of false starts, rejections, encouragement, and yet more rejections to achieve that goal. Since her first sale in 2005 to Harlequin Desire (then Silhouette Desire) she has contracted 25 titles with her publisher. Yvonne is thrilled to be living the life she always dreamed of and bringing her stories to her readers and can be contacted through her “contact me” page on her website.   You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.