Friday, October 17, 2014

Vigeland Park in Norway... its starring role.

Belinda Williams is a "new to me" author... one of the up and coming writers that Australia, and its wonderful Romance Writers of Australia organisation, is producing. Her post today on the role of Vigeland Park in Norway in her debut novel (which is released next week) THE BOYFRIEND SESSIONS demonstrates how importance place is to a writer (and what inveterate travellers, Australians are!).

Belinda is a marketing communications specialist and copywriter who allowed an addiction to romance and chick-lit to get the better of her. She was named a top ten finalist in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Award in both 2013 and 2014.

Her other addictions include music and cars. Belinda’s eclectic music taste forms the foundation of many of her writing ideas and her healthy appreciation for fast cars means she would not so secretly love a Lamborghini. For now she’ll have to settle with her son’s Hot Wheels collection and writing hot male leads with sports cars.


Where contemporary romance meets early 20th century sculpture: The Vigeland Park, Norway

I write contemporary romance so my fun fact is less of a fact and more of an amazing place I’ve visited that I just knew had to make it into one of my books.

I visited Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway, in 2007, and this incredible place has stayed with me ever since. Below is an excerpt taken from the park’s website:

"The Vigeland Park is the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist, and is one of Norway's most popular tourist attractions. The park is open to visitors all year round.

The unique sculpture park is Gustav Vigeland's lifework with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron. Vigeland was also in charge of the design and architectural layout of the park. The Vigeland Park was mainly completed between 1939 and 1949."

Vigeland Park is like no other park I’ve ever visited (or heard of) and the sculptures are endlessly fascinating. The park itself is exceptionally beautiful and when there you find yourself wandering the paths wondering if you’ve discovered some sort of magical otherworldly land. In many ways it could be described as an open-air museum that touches every stage of human life and human emotion.

In The Boyfriend Sessions, my main character Christa is a graphic designer who first learned about Vigeland Park when she did her degree at university. Since then, she’s always vowed she’ll go there and after missing out on a promotion at work, it’s finally the kick Christa needs to pack her bags. She decides to visit France on her way and finds herself staying longer than originally planned after meeting the distracting Benjamin Renard. From there, things don’t go exactly to plan.

And here’s a glimpse of Vigeland Park in my story:

On my first visit, it was dark and the sculptures emerged out of the black as though conjured from my imagination. A veil of snow covered them, but it didn't disguise their beauty. Silent caretakers of the park, they signified every stage of life, from birth to death, from pain to joy, with an honesty that was breathtaking.

And standing there on that frigid night, my toes going numb through my wool socks and thick boots, I finally understood. I thought I had come here to escape, but I hadn't. I had tried to hide, to run from everything and look where it had taken me.

Christa’s journey isn’t all serious though, take a look at THE BOYFRIEND SESSIONS

Please take your seats. The journey to happiness may involve some turbulence.

Christa Morrison has commitment issues, a fact that quickly became apparent after fleeing a romantic proposal in Paris, the thunder of impending wedding bells ringing in her ears.
Back in Sydney, she turns to her closest friends for reassurance. Instead they offer her a startling and painful diagnosis: she’s a relationship junkie. The cure? An extreme rehabilitation program guaranteed to reform even the most L-word illiterate.

With her girlfriends along for the ride, Christa commits to their radical plan and the chances of recovery look good. The only problem is Max Spencer. The one guy Christa—and her friends—never expected her to fall for. But he’s proving to be a temptation she may not have the willpower to resist…

For a shot at happiness, is being with Max worth betraying her friends? And will Christa have the strength to trust her heart when her colorful relationship history comes back to haunt her?

It might just be enough to make a poor girl leave the country (again).

Website and blog: 
Twitter: @bwilliamsbooks

BUY THE BOYFRIEND SESSIONS (available on preorder)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Prologue/Epilogue: Yes? No? Maybe?

I recently did an author talk and during the course of discussing the concept of an emotionally satisfying ending being a key ingredient of a romance novel, one of the audience said. “I have read GATHER THE BONES and I loved it, but of course they could never have a life together… he is too damaged.”

That comment set me back on my heels because if that was what she thought, then I have failed in my task as a writer of romance. I had hoped (intended?) that readers would see GATHER THE BONES as a redemptive story where the damage the hero suffers through World War One is healed. Without a spoiler, I won’t reveal here how I ended the story except to say in it’s original draft the story had an epilogue with the hero and heroine away from the terrible events of the book, in their new life in Australia. My original editor and I discussed the need for this epilogue and, given the book also has a prologue, decided that the ending provided the hope of a life together.

"In a Galaxy far, far away..." So begins the most famous Prologue in cinematic history. 

It was Jenny Crusie, a writer for whom I have the utmost admiration, who stood up at a Romance Writers of Australia Conference and told us in no uncertain terms that a writer should NEVER use prologues and epilogue. They are a sign of weak writing and show disdain for the reader.

I have published six full length novels and I am ashamed to admit that two of them have prologues (BY THE SWORD and GATHERTHE BONES) and, in my opinion, both prologues provide absolutely vital pieces of information regarding the motivation of the characters that I feel the reader needs to know before they move to the events of the book. Could the books stand without them? I’m not sufficiently far removed from the story to comment!

The current work in progress also has a prologue - for the same reason. This is the third book in a series and I feel, for the readers sake, it needs an explanation of the intervening years between Book 2 and this book. I guess at the end of the day it is up to the reader. Like all things… some readers love them, others hate them. Whether the Prologue stays in the final version is yet to be seen...

I also think in the vast majority of cases the prologues I have read are unnecessary and are just used as a vehicle to provide back story. If that is the case then that is the wrong use of a prologue and it is, as JC, would say “lazy writing”. I particularly hate prologues that end with something like “And little was she to know…” or “and then the countess died, the child grew up and etc etc…”.

Epilogues - these can very often feel tacked on to the story. In romance stories do we need to see the wedding or the hero and heroine surrounded by their brood of children. I have one book with an Epilogue - Secrets in Time. Would Gather the Bones be improved with the addition of the unpublished epilogue?

I think for writers considering the use of prologues or epilogues, the question you need to ask yourself is: “What does this add to the story that cannot be exposed in some other form during the story?” (Which probably leads to another discussion on Flashbacks…). If the answer is “very little” then ditch the prologue and start the story where it is meant to start. Ditto for epilogues - unless the epilogue is going to add something significant to the story and is not just an indulgence on the part of a writer who can’t let go of the characters, then it should be enough to leave the readers with the promise of the Happy Ever After.

As to the unpublished epilogue to GATHER THE BONES... subscribe to my newsletter and on the issue of my next newsletter you can have exclusive access to read it... and maybe comment as to whether the published version should or should not have included it!

In the meantime GATHER THE BONES (prologue and all) is on sale of just .99c until 20 October. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tea Cooper "Repurposes" the Wollombi Post Office...

If you are looking for historicals with a bit of a difference, then you can't go past Téa Cooper who writes AUSTRALIAN set historicals, many based around her little home town of Wollombi in the Hunter Valley. It is so hard to find good historicals set in our own lovely country.

In JAZZ BABY,  Téa has stepped into the evocative world of the 1920s and it is fascinating to see how she has managed to incorporate Wollombi into a story set in the rough and tumble of Sydney during the jazz age. This once utilitarian building takes on a whole new persona in Tea's tender loving care!

TEA IS GIVING AWAY AN ECOPY OF JAZZ BABY to a randomly drawn commentator so do drop in and tell us what you love best about the 1920s!


Thanks Alison –

I went completely blank when I started to think about this post – so blank I gave up, took the dog and headed down to Wollombi for a cup of coffee. Not much has changed in the village in a long time (except for the coffee, thank goodness). The wisteria outside the old Post Office was in full bloom and the building is now a beautiful family home renovated with a lot of love and skill. What a history it has …. BANG … my post!

I like to slip a little, or even a lot, of Wollombi, into my historicals and although Jazz Baby is set in Sydney my heroine, Dolly of course is from Wollombi. She arrives in the big dark city ready to risk everything.

The Wollombi Post Office (without wisteria)
But back to the Post Office … this is from The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser 29 June 1844
"Permission from his Excellency to the Council to hold their future meetings in a wretched looking hovel, bearing the dignified name of post office, with the proviso that their meetings should in no way interfere with the duties of that establishment. Now to us of the township, who know the building in question, this gracious offer with its stipulation appears highly ridiculous; and we will venture to say that this murky looking affair would never have been honored by the Governor's notice had he been rightly informed of its appearance and history. We will give both in as few words as possible. It is one of a group of old ruinous road-party huts, which have been allowed to remain, a standing disgrace to the township; it is composed of slabs, with a mixed covering of thatch and bark, and it has served in its time for a constable's barrack, a bawdy house, and a gambler's hell. Such is the concern which no doubt misrepresentation induced the Governor to offer for the accommodation of the Council."

I have to admit to taking a bit of poetic licence over the dates – Dolly is set in 1924 and by then the Post Office was a rather more reputable establishment and looked much as it looks today — nevertheless it sneaked into Jazz Baby.


Dolly took a deep breath and knocked on the door of the room Alice had shown her yesterday. No sound came from behind the painted timber, so she pushed it open. A jumbled mess of sheets replaced the beautiful bed of last night. Cushions lay strewn across the floor and one of the glorious golden curtains hung askew. The wingback chair close to the fireplace had disappeared beneath a mess of… she dropped the pail and darted across the room. Draped across the chair lay a wrap, as fine as a spider’s web and fringed with purple feathers. With her thumb and forefinger she lifted the wonderful garment. A waft of something sweet and flowery rose from the material as it floated like angels’ wings. Holding the gown up in both hands she dangled it in the air before clasping the beautiful creation to her shoulders then she made a series of dramatic twirls and drifted to the bed and sank down. An empty bottle of champagne stood on the bedside table next to two crystal flutes. The imprint of lipstick plainly showed on one. Where were the guests who had spent the night at Mrs Mack’s boarding house? Why had they left so early and why hadn’t the woman taken her beautiful gown?

Her mouth opened in surprise. “Oh!” Covering her lips with her hand she smothered the giggle building in her throat. “Oh my!”  Mrs Mack’s boarding house was no such thing. It was nothing more than an up market version of the two rooms out the back of Wollombi Post Office.

Stifling a snort she laid the purple confection on the bed. That’s why there were so many girls living here, why Alice had said she'd got a step up, why Mrs Mack had been so interested in her bones. Oh goodness gracious! A deep flush of heat swarmed up her body. Alf must have known where he was sending her. And who else? No wonder Jack had been so adamant she shouldn’t work here. Thank goodness she didn’t have to explain to Ted. He wouldn’t have asked any questions he’d just have skinned her alive. She let out a huge belly laugh.

“Dolly. Have you got that room done yet?” Annie called from the stairwell.

Dolly sprang to her feet and stuck her head around the door. “Very nearly. I’ll be about five more minutes.”

“Get a move on. There are more rooms up there for you to do, never mind downstairs and I want to get the copper going.”

“I won’t be long.” Dolly scuttled across the room and began pulling off the sheets sniggering at the wafts of perfume billowing around her. She bundled all the bedding into the pail and without glancing in any of the other rooms she bolted along the long Persian runner gracing the landing, down the stairs and out to the scullery.

“Here are the first ones,” she said as she pushed her way through the door into the steaming outhouse.

Annie grunted and gestured at the huge copper.
“Shall I put them straight in?”

“They’re not going to wash themselves, are they?” Annie plonked her hands on her hips and grinned. “Got a bit side tracked, did you?”

“I was just… As soon as Dolly dropped the sheets into the copper she covered her flaming cheeks with her hands, grimaced then burst out laughing.

Annie’s eyes twinkled. “Wondered how long it would take you. You don’t look like a stupid girl to me.”

“So Mrs Mack’s…Dolly spluttered …so Mrs Mack’s isn’t exactly a boarding house,” she managed at last.

“No, not exactly. More like an up market bawdy house actually. She’s good to her girls though not like those dirty places in Darlo.”

“You’re right, Annie. I’m not as silly as I look, just more concerned with getting to Sydney and finding a job. I hadn’t given much thought to anything else.” A huge bubble of excitement swelled in Dolly’s chest. It was too good to be true. Now she definitely wanted this job. Oh yes! She’d promised herself she’d go places she’d never been before, experience every sensation, and this was just the beginning. Humming the words to one of the songs she’d heard last night she waltzed across the room.

“Better get yourself back upstairs and sort the rest of the rooms,” Annie said handing her a pile of clean sheets, “and no trying on the finery while you’re there.” She winked then shooed Dolly out of the scullery.


In the gritty underbelly of 1920s Sydney, a fresh-faced country girl is about to arrive in the big, dark city – and risk everything in the pursuit of her dreams.

Sydney is no place for the fainthearted—five shillings for a twist of snow, a woman for not much more, and a bullet if you look sideways at the wrong person.

Dolly Bowman is ready and willing to take on all the brash, bustling city has to offer. After all it is the 1920s, a time for a girl to become a woman and fulfil her dreams. Turning her back on her childhood, she takes up a position working as a housemaid while she searches for her future.

World War I flying ace Jack Dalton knows he’s luckier than most. He’s survived the war with barely a scratch, a couple of astute business decisions have paid off, and he’s set for the high life. But a glimpse of a girl that he had forgotten, from a place he’s tried to escape suddenly sets all his plans awry. Try as he might he can’t shake the past, and money isn’t enough to pay the debts he’s incurred.


In February 2015 Forgotten Fragrance the first book in a family saga entitled From the Ocean to the Outback, is due for release and there is a sequel to Jazz Baby entitled The Wages of Sin in the pipeline. At the moment Téa is working on a parallel time-line series entitled The Adventures of Miss Abigail Wynter and an Australian Regency – The Great Platypus Hoax. She has also written three Australian contemporary romances.

Personal Links:


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Boxing for Gentlemen with Sasha Cottman (and a book review)

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Last week, over a couple of glasses of very nice French champagne, good cheese and the wedding episode of Outlander, I badgered Sasha Cottman into joining me on my "Fun Facts" blog to talk about her new book, AN UNSUITABLE MATCH.

I am a huge fan of Sasha's charming Regency Romances. I love them because they are about real people (they may happen to be Earls and Lords) but at heart they behave like normal human beings. The younger generation bicker and hanker after unsuitable young men, or women and, most importantly, for all their faults their parents (yes they have parents) love them and want what's best for them.

In AN UNSUITABLE MATCH (which I have just finished reading - see review below) Sasha creates a particularly obnoxious villain who cheats at boxing... obviously no gentleman. I know the degree of research Sasha goes through and this charming little vignette reflects exactly what I mean when I say good research shines through unobtrusively.


Boxing at Gentleman Jacksons Boxing Salon
While writing AN UNSUITABLE MATCH I wanted to write a scene where the hero and villain of the book could encounter one another, outside of a normal Regency period social setting.

Boxing was a perfect way to show the contrast in character of the two men. David Radley, the hero, conducted himself as a gentleman should. Thaxter Fox, in turn, behaved exactly how a man with a shady and sordid past would conduct himself.

One fact I discovered as I researched boxing was that bare knuckled boxing was frowned upon by London’s elite. If you wished to join and box at establishments such as Gentleman Jackson’s Saloon in Bond Street, you had to wear mufflers. Wool stuffed, mufflers were the early 19th century forerunner of the modern boxing glove.

Thaxter Fox strode confidently over to where David stood and stopped. Rolling his head from side to side and doing a small jig on the spot, he gave the air of one who had seen more than his share of fights.
Neither of them bothered with the social niceties of a formal greeting.
‘Damn nuisance, these muffler things; what happened to being able to fight a man with your bare fists? I didn’t realise how many fops there were in London. I should not be surprised if they allowed girls to join this club,’ he sneered.
‘House rules, Fox,’ David replied, refusing to take the bait. A quick nod to his second and David was ready.
He punched his gloves together, mentally rehearsing for the moment he intended to land a solid whack to Thaxter’s head.
Lord knows you need a good thrashing.

The Favourite Heiress…
Once engaged to the future Duke of Strathmore, the beautiful Lady Clarice Langham now finds herself in the humiliating position of celebrating his marriage – to another woman.  As a result of the scandal, it seems her reign as London's most eligible debutante has come to an end.  But things begin to look up when handsome and charming rake David Radley makes it clear that, at least as far as he's concerned, she's still the catch of the season.
The Illegitimate Son…
The eldest son of the Duke of Strathmore, David Radley has been raised alongside his father's legitimate children.  But while he is generally received as part of the family, not everyone thinks he should be, and especially not Clarice's father, the Earl of Langham, who forbids her from having anything to do with him.
An Unsuitable Match…
David's been in love with Clarice for years, and it isn't long before the attraction between them develops into something deeper. Yet he senses Clarice is hiding something and until she reveals her secret, she won't be free to follow her heart. Despite everything, David will not give up on Clarice, not even when another seems set to claim her…

AN UNSUITABLE MATCH is available from Destiny Romance  and at all good estores... AMAZON

Connect with Sasha Cottman on her WEBSITE, FACEBOOK and TWITTER


I rarely do reviews (mostly because I am the world's slowest reader - 2 pages per night and I'm asleep)... but I devoured this story.

As I said above the one aspect of Ms.Cottman's story I love is the humanity of the characters.

This is the second in the Duke of Strathmore series and although we meet our old friends from Book 1, the book stands alone. 

The hero, David Radley, is deeply loved by everyone in his family, including his stepmother and despite the "stain" of his illegitimate birth, he has the confidence to move easily in society. Like David we met Clarice in the first book (LETTER FROM A RAKE) and there is nothing loveable about her... she dresses like a dowd, she is gawky, prickly and an unlikely contender for the love of David, who has something of a reputation with the glamorous married ladies of the ton.

But love her he does and this fact she has accidentally discovered. Unfortunately her father Lord Langham, who we did not form a good opinion of in the first book seems determined to keep these two young lovers apart and push Clarice in the direction of his heir, the ungentlemanly and thoroughly unpleasant Thaxter Fox. 

Clarice has her own secrets and the path of true love is destined not to run smoothly, despite the help of her own wise and scheming grandmother and the couple's loving friends.

Thoroughly recommended to anyone who is looking for something a little bit different in Regency Romance.  Oh... and don't expect it to be 'sweet', the couple have to earn their time together but when they do, the pages (and the sheets) sizzle... 5 stars!

Sasha and Alison dressed for a wedding... Outlander Wedding Ep!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Anita Seymour and The Exeter Guildhall

Anita Seymour and I were founding members of the Hoydens and Firebrands... a blog which ran for 8 years, devoted entirely to all things 17th century.  We both share a passion for this period of history and there have been a great many parallels in our lives (even though we live at opposite ends of the world).

Anita was born in London, a city with a strong sense of times past, which she connected with at an early age. Her work within the genre of Historical Fiction is borne out of that enthusiasm. Anita is the author of four previously published works, 'Duking Days Rebellion' (2007) and 'Duking Days Revolution' (2008) and two Victorian Romances, 'Trencarrow Secret' and 'Culloden Spirit' (2011). She is the author of a wonderful fictionalised accont of the life of Elizabeth Murray (Royalist Rebel) and, like me, is turning to crime with her first "cosy" mystery, Flora Macguire, due to be released soon.

Like my first two books, Anita's first books set around the Monmouth Rebellion (The Duking Days Rebellion and the Duking Days Revolution) have just been re-released with spiffy new covers AND new titles! 

I would have expected nothing less than wonderful, well thought out post by Anita on the role of the Exeter Guildhall in the history of England....


Thank you, Alison, for inviting me to participate in your ‘Friday Fun Facts’.

The Exeter Guildhall
My novel The Rebel’s Daughter, which is published under the name Anita Seymour, is based on the events that took place in the West Country during the summer of 1685. For several weeks during days that changed from bright, hot sunshine to torrential rain that dragged down the spirits, and the progress of the Duke of Monmouth’s army of seven thousand artisans, weavers and workmen in what was known as The Pitchfork Rebellion. His intention was to advance on London and demand the Catholic King James II protect the Protestant religion.

What actually happened was, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, through his own vanity or because his cunning cohorts convinced him the English people wanted him and not his uncle, James, as their king. Tutored by his mother, Lucy Walter to believe she had married his father, Charles, the then exiled Prince of Wales, he declared himself the rightful monarch and accused his uncle of poisoning James’ father.

This action marked him out immediately as a traitor and he was captured and beheaded without a public trial on Tower Hill a month after his three ships landed.

My heroine in The Rebel’s Daughter, is Helena Woulfe, whose father, an Exeter nobleman rides off to Lyme to join the Duke’s men, along with his brother and son. When the rebels are defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor, Helena goes in search of her menfolk but returns unsuccessful. She and her brother Henry are driven out of Exeter when their family home is seized and given to their enemy, so they begin a new life in London.

Much of my research was done in Exeter, where what became known as ‘The Bloody Assize’ was conducted at the Guildhall where approximately forty men were tried, thirteen of them condemned to hanging at the Heavitree. This trial was less shocking than the one held in Winchester, where over three hundred men were tried and executed, including an octogenarian Dame Alice Lisle for harbouring rebels. However this may have been a backlash for the fact her husband, John Lisle signed Charles I’s death warrant.

A guildhall has stood on this site since at least c.1160, therefore it is probable sections of earlier medieval halls survive concealed above or below ground. The building as it stands today dates back to the late 15th century, its walls dressed blocks of red Permian breccia found in the area. The interior walls of the main hall are covered in eighty panels of oak, with no two carved alike and installed in 1594, the cost mainly covered by the city trade guilds.

The Exeter Princess
There are two important portraits in the Guildhall. The first is of Princess Henrietta Anne (1644-70) the youngest sister of Charles II, given by him as a gift for services provided to ‘the Exeter princess’. 

When a heavily pregnant Queen Henrietta Maria fled Oxford ahead of Parliament troops in 1644, she gave birth to her last child at Bedford House. She managed to escape to France, but had to leave baby Henriette Anne behind. The little girl wasn’t reunited with her mother for another two years, when her nurse, Lady Dalkieth disobeyed orders to take the baby to London where the child was to become a prisoner of Parliament. Henriette, raised in Paris,  married Philippe d’Orleans, the brother of the French King, but died at the age of twenty-six of suspected peritonitis.

George Monck, 1st Duke Albermarle
The other picture is of General Monck KG, 1st Duke of Albemarle (1608-70) - famous for having brought Charles II back from exile in 1660. Monck was born at Great Potheridge at Merton near Torrington in north Devon, where his house still stands.  He was High Steward of the City in 1662.

In The Rebel’s Daughter, it is at the Guildhall that Samuel Ffoyle sits among the guild members listening to the roll of the men who stand condemned. He hopes his friends’ names are not among those brought to face a traitor’s death, but has to endure Judge Jeffreys haranguing the prisoners. He makes a rapid exit, but is approached by a clerk who, to Samuel’s horror, tells him he is requiredin the judge’s presence.

As Alison says, good research should be unobtrusive and become part of the fabric of the story instead of jumping out at the reader. In most cases the hardest part is what to leave out. It was very tempting to overload the narrative with all the fascinating details I had learned, but I had to remind myself I was writing a story, not a history book!
(Sources: and

To find out more about Anita vist her,


Helena Woulfe, the daughter of a wealthy Exeter nobleman leads a privileged life, however, when rebellion sweeps the West Country, her family is caught in its grip. After Monmouth’s bloody defeat in battle at Sedgemoor, Helena sets off for Somerset to find the three missing members of her family.

With the Woulfe estate confiscated by the crown, Helena and her younger brother Henry hope the anonymity of the capital city will be more forgiving to the children of a convicted rebel. However, Helena finds her search for security and respectability in London are threatened by someone who wishes harm to a traitor's daughter.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

17th Century is the New Regency...

That's right, you heard it from me first! Forget your tons and your silly frilly fripperies, the seventeenth century in general and me in particular can give you REAL men... with long hair, high heels, powder and patches and... NO wait... that's the Restoration.

I am talking about the English Civil War... 

Can we even imagine what it must have been like to find yourself at war with your brother, your father, your best friend, the neighbours you have known all your life? Of course there has been civil wars throughout history and the American Civil War is still close in the memory, but that was a war fought more along geographic boundaries: north vs south. The English Civil War divided England on political, religious, moral and social divides.

And I love writing about it. Yes, I do... I don't just love writing about it, I have a PASSION for it.

That is why I am beyond excited that my Escape Publishing has picked up my two very first books:  BY THE SWORD (which won the 2008 Epic Award for best historical romance) and THE KING'S MAN (Runner up in the 2006 Emerald Award for unpublished manuscripts). These books have been sitting in my "back list" effectively since they were first published by a small US epublisher in 2007. This was after they had done the rounds of mainstream publishers... even to the point of acceptance by one major publisher, only to have it dashed by the marketing department who sneeringly declared that they could never market the English Civil War.

Hooray for the Ebook revolution... and that little ebook publisher. Unfortunately back in 2007 the ebook revolution was still at slings and arrows. No one had ebook readers, distribution was extremely limited and my books slid into oblivion. The rights reverted to me and yay... self publishing had been born... ebook readers were the norm and I was able to self publish these books.

But readers of both books will know that while they are stand alones (although loosely connected), there is something unfinished about them. Stories of two loyal adherants to the King in the dark years of the "Interregnum" while complete in themselves, always needed the Restoration to complete the story arc - the third book.

I have to confess to losing heart and so the third book remained unwritten... is the fabulous news. Not only is Escape Publishing reprinting my first two books but they have also commissioned the third book, tentatively titled EXILES' RETURN which will close the loop on the stories of the Thornton and Lovell families. All three books will come out in 2015 under the banner of the "Guardians" series. Yes that's right... I have a series!

The first two books have been completely revised and brought up to date... I have learned a thing or two about writing in the intervening years and I had great pleasure expunging all those unnecessary adverbs! 

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR MORE EXCITING NEWS ABOUT "The Guardians".... and mark these dates in your diary (subject to the publisher of course!)

March 2015:  BY THE SWORD
August 2015:  THE KING'S MAN
December 2015:  EXILES' RETURN

For more information click HERE

And in the meantime if you are curious about why the 17th century will be the new Regency, explore CLAIMING THE REBEL'S HEART (my January release which is currently available from all good ebook retailers)

For more information visit my WEBSITE or just the form on the right hand bar of this page.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Formula One and Anxiety - the research world of Sandra Antonelli

Like my guest, SANDRA ANTONELLI, maths was never my friend and I distinguished myself by managing to fail it in Year 9. My husband, an Engineer (how did that happen?) is mystified how I get through life without the frequent application of a good dose of quadratic equations. Strangely I do...

Sandra and her wonderful husband are well known to those of us in the romance writing tribe in Australia and I am absolutely delighted she can be my guest today. I am in awe of the sacrifices she has had to make in the name of research! Physics related language?... Oh My!!!

On MATHS, F1 RACING and how to manage Anxiety...

I totally suck at maths. This means I didn’t do as much research for Driving in Neutral, my love story about claustrophobia, as I did for my previous book For Your Eyes Only, which has a lot physics-related language. Thankfully, Olivia, the heroine of Driving in Neutral, has a past related to Formula 1 Racing, while Emerson Maxwell has a tiny problem with being claustrophobic. This meant my maths-free research focused on Formula 1 Racing terms and events, as well as phobias and anxiety attacks.

Sadly, no coffee and cookies were involved in my research into F1 racing. I watched F1 as a child in Europe. I knew names like Emerson Fittipaldi (did you catch what I did there, kids?) Niki Lauda, James Hunt, and Mario Andretti. To refresh my memory and bring my work into this century, I watched races on TV with my race-mad friends, Lisa and Sean. I learned about the length of the race season (it begins in Australia, runs from March to November, and finishes in Abu Dhabi), and the lingo, which was pretty easy to pick up and use as a way levelheaded Olivia views her life.

The phobia and anxiety attack research was easy and even more fun. My husband is a psychologist and is probably analyzing you right now. He lapped (no race pun intended there) up my asking him to describe the physiological and psychological manifestations of an individual in the throes of a panic attack. Oh, I enjoyed writing about a big, strong man unraveling in front of stranger. I loved writing the scene where Emerson faces his greatest fear, and fails so miserably. But I also loved writing where Olivia finally loses it and ‘spins out of control.’

I wonder how my psychologist husband would analyse that.

Maxwell couldn’t breathe. Well, he could, but it felt as if the air was being squashed back out of his chest as soon as it went in.
“You’re going to take me down with you, aren’t you? When you pass out, and you’re going to if you keep hyperventilating, you’re going to fall on top of me.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he wheezed, bending forward at the waist to snatch his breath back as if he’d just sprinted 800 meters. Shit, he was hyperventilating.
No, he was hyper-hyperventilating.
This was ludicrous. He was nearly forty-eight years old and terrified of being in a very small room simply because it had no window and…his mind suddenly zeroed in on that important point.
There was no window.
What if the emergency light died?
What if the storm outside made the Chicago River flood into the basement of the building like it did back in “92?
What if the rubber-coated elevator cables, the cables suspending them in mid-air above nothingness, snapped?
Any way he looked at it they were locked in this box…trapped in this vault…enclosed in this coffin…sealed in this tomb.
Instantly, his rapid, shallow breathing picked up speed and he began to twitch involuntarily. His shaking fingers started to curl in towards his wrists, and he sank to the floor heavily. His head slumped towards his bent knee. Camera flash splotches of bluish-white appeared to mar his sight, his peripheral vision compressing into tunneled lines of black. His body capitulated to the oncoming blackout with an incremental steadiness, his hands and feet fizzing into numbness, and he moaned.


Levelheaded Olivia Regen walks away from her car-racing career and the wreckage of a bad marriage to take on new work that’s far removed from the twists of racetrack. Her new life is about control, calm, and the good friends that she adores. But her first day on the job involves getting up close and too personal with her claustrophobic boss — alone in a broken elevator. Her unconventional solution for restoring his equilibrium shocks them both and leaves Olivia shaken. 

Determined to stick to her plan, Olivia drives headlong into work and planning her best friend’s wedding, leaving no room for kissing, elevators, or workplace relationships. But Emerson is not one to be out-maneuvered. Can he convince Olivia that her fear of falling in love again is just another kind of claustrophobia – one that is destined to leave them both lonely?

About Sandra Antonelli

I come from the land Down Under, but I do not eat Vegemite nor do I drink beer. I drive a little Italian car, live in a little house with a little, peanut butter-loving dog who thinks he’s my husband. However, as much as I adore my dog, I am married to a big, bearded Sicilian, who is the moon and stars above my head and earth beneath my feet.

Twitter: @sandrAntonelli
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