Jan 16, 2017

Stefanie London's Favourite Podcasts

In the last twelve months I've really gotten into podcasts. They help me while away the hours while I'm doing housework, cooking dinner, sitting on the subway or working out at the gym.

The thing I love about podcasts is that there are so many types - if there's a topic you're interested in, then there will be a podcast covering that subject.

Here are a few of my personal faves:

True Crime - this is probably my favourite topic for podcasts. There are tons of options in this category!

Serial - the first true crime podcast to real gain momentum. This follows a case per season set-up, with the first season covering the high profile case of Adnan Syed's murder conviction.

Criminal - this podcast takes one case per episode and explores all types of crimes. The episodes are a short but perfect for quick commutes to and from work.

Casefile - similar to Criminal in that it takes a case per episode (for the most part), but the host is Australian and many of the cases are Australian cases.

Writing/Publishing:

Self-Publishing Formula - Host by Mark Dawson, an experienced indie publisher, and James Blatch, who is getting his first novel written and ready for market. Together Mark and James talk to some of the biggest names in the industry bringing you actionable tips and ideas from across the spectrum.

Sell More Books Show - a weekly podcast focusing on helping new and experienced authors stay up-to-date with the latest self-publishing and indie news, tools and book selling/marketing strategies.

Other:

Death Sex & Money - A podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation. A great look at people, our hangups and modern society.

Stuff You Should Know - A podcast about everything! The Stuff You Should Know team cover everything from genes to the Galapagos, the Great Wall of China to frostbite and everything in between.

Are you a podcast fan? Let me some of your faves in the comments. if not, what do you like listening to while whiling away travel time or housework?

Jan 15, 2017

A Vintage Sunday Smooch with Bronwyn Jameson


Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a vintage smooch from way back in 2001, from In Bed With the Boss's Daughter by Bronwyn Jameson, one of the books listed in the Summer of Romance research project featured in a recent Rachel Bailey post.  But first ...

... the winner of our last Sunday Smooch Giveaway, from before we took a smooch-free break over Christmas and New Year, is Donamae Kutsa.  


Donamae, can you please contact Kandy (AT) KandyShepherd (DOT) com to receive your copy of Heart of the Bay.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch.



In Bed With the Boss’s Daughter

Corporate tough guy Jack Manning hadn’t laid eyes on Paris Grantham, his boss’s daughter, since the night he’d refused her invitation to take her virginity.

Six years later, the former innocent carried her pedigree like a shield—and was fighting her way into his world of billion-dollar deals. He’d sworn off loving this woman years ago...yet how badly he ached for her.

Scene set-up:
Jack has been manipulated into working with Paris, teaching her the ropes in her father’s property development empire. Jack is determined to keep her – and his desire for her – at arm’s length. This day he’s escaped to the corporate gym but Paris tracks him down, impatient that he’s been avoiding her and the obvious chemistry between them.

Smooch:

He snatched up a weight and started a set of bicep curls. Curl, release, three. Curl, release, four. “I thought you wanted to talk,” he bit out. Curl, release, five. When she didn’t answer, he made the mistake of glancing up and found her attention fixed on his arm, her focus hazy, her lips softly parted.

“Hell, Paris, I told you not to look at me like that.” He slammed the weight back into the rack, breathing harshly as he battled the tight, hard clutch of desire. “What is it you want to talk about? I have to be out of here in five minutes.”

“Of course.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Eyes narrowed, hands on hips, he dared her to take issue. “Come on. Spit it out, princess.”

She almost did; Jack saw the instant she changed her mind. The almost imperceptible shake of her head, the compressed lips, as if she’d bitten down on the words. The movement of her throat as she swallowed them. She straightened. “Maybe this isn’t a good time.”

“No?”

She took a step backward. Jack followed. It wasn’t rational, it wasn’t smart, but he couldn’t stop himself. He ached for an argument, a release from the hot roiling restlessness that had driven him to the gym. He’d hoped to pound it out of himself on the bag and maybe he would have succeeded. If she hadn’t shown up.

“Running away again?” he asked as she continued to backpedal. He was still one step from reaching her when she tripped. In slow motion he saw her flailing arms, heard her startled breath, felt the grab of her hands as she tumbled backward over the edge of the bench, dragging him down with her.

They hit the floor hard. The dull sound of the impact throbbed in his head as he attempted to fill his winded lungs. Somehow he’d managed to end on the floor side of their tangled bodies. And despite the ringing in his ears and the elbow planted in his abdomen, he was instantly aware of the leg nestled between his. The soft weight of her breasts against his chest.

“Are you all right?” she asked. And when she scrambled off him, both the heavy silk of her hair and her stockinged leg dragged against his skin. He was not all right.  Eyes closed, he groaned in response to the dual-edged torture.

“I’m sorry. You took all my weight and I’m no lightweight. Did I hurt you?”

He felt her moving, heard the soft rustle of her clothing as she sat up. And then, God help him, she was touching him. Her hands skimmed across his shoulders, up his neck, over his skull. Another hoarse sound, part pleasure and part pain, tore from deep in his chest.

“I did hurt you!”

Constantly. I hurt constantly.

“Where?” As her fingers probed further around the back of his head, she must have leaned forward. He felt the brush of her jacket against his arm, the whisper of her breath on his face. He inhaled her soft scent until his senses overflowed, and then he opened his eyes and looked directly into hers. The concern in their woodsmoke depths caused something to squeeze tight in his chest, then to unfurl slowly, as if releasing him.

“Everywhere,” he replied simply. Whatever she read in his answer or his eyes caused her lips to part on a barely audible “Oh.” Then, “Would you like me to kiss it better?”

Her throaty tone resonated through his body, marking every spot he wanted kissed.

“Here?” she whispered, feathering her lips against his chin. Then she opened her sweet mouth against his skin and branded him with the delicate slide of her tongue.

Oh man, had he really been avoiding this?

Her mouth lifted, and she traced a gentle fingertip across the bump on his nose. “How did you do this?”

“I walked into a steel girder.”

“Silly you.” She smiled.

“Silly me,” he echoed as he slid his hand under the fall of hair that curtained their faces. Gently but insistently he pulled her mouth down to his.

It was nothing like their first kiss, rough with anger and disappointment, yet her mouth seemed familiar, and absolutely perfect under his. He couldn’t describe the complexity of emotions tumbling through him as he tasted the smile on her lips, but he knew whatever he felt transcended physical need. And as he increased his pressure on her nape, he embraced it with all his being.



Hello, Bronwyn here, thinking about avoidance and how futile it can be (as Jack discovered in the above scene.)  I've been avoiding a really tricky (emotional) scene in my work-in-progress and writing all around it.  Futile, right, as I know it must be done.

Is there something you've been avoiding lately?   Come on, 'fess up.  I'll be selecting one winner from the comments who can choose a copy of my book (in a duo) or a $5 Amazon gift card.


Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway -- a copy of Bronwyn Jameson's Bestseller Collection containing In Bed With the Boss's Daughter and Addicted to Nick -- will be announced and a smooch from Amy Andrews'  brand new Playing the Player will be posted!


Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Jan 13, 2017

I Am Not A Victim

But first, Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2017 brings lots of wonderful and special things and events to you.

Yesterday I had a call from the police asking me to fill in a Victim Impact Report for the judge to read at the sentencing of a certain young man who'd happily smashed the passenger window of our car and stolen my handbag.

Yep, in October my DB and I were on holiday in NZ's North Island when we drove up to the lookout of the town we were about to leave. I won't name the town because this could've happened anywhere. I rarely leave my handbag in the car but the car was locked, we were only 30 metres away, and less than ten minutes looking at the view. Yet in that space of time a vehicle came up the hill, two men leapt out, smashed our window, took my bag and drove away - all without anyone seeing it happen. I did turn and wonder why our car was rocking but then saw a man getting into the car beside ours and thought I'd imagined it.
But something made me turn back and when I saw this vehicle spin out of the park I ran and got the number plate. Turns out the police were already trying to track these ratbags for driving off from a petrol station without paying. The car was stolen, of course.

Anyway, within an hour they were apprehended, after the police dog took a large chunk out of one thigh, and I got everything back except cash and credit cards which had been hit hard repeatedly in that short time.

So now I have an Impact Report to fill in. I explained to the detective that we didn't really suffer except for inconvenience and a wee bit of shock, and missing out one destination on our trip as we had to stay in town for an extra night by the time we'd done interviews and checked through my bag for what had been stolen, got the car fixed, etc.

Worst part of the whole deal - going through my handbag with the detectives. I mean, our bags are personal. Right?
And this one isn't small so there was a lot of stuff to check out.




There were a lot of people on that hill at the time and not one woman had her bag with her. Be warned, it's not much fun when the bag gets stolen.

Back to this report. I've been told to put down how our holiday was interrupted and what we missed out on. Here's my problem. At the time it was a pain in the butt, very annoying and yes, a little scary in hindsight. But this all seems a little precious, especially to be read out in court. However the police were so good to us, so I'll send it in and get over myself. And hope the perpetrator gets more than a smack over his knuckles.


Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Jan 11, 2017

Favourite Reads: The 2016 Edition

 
I love looking back on the previous year and remembering the books that brought me so much pleasure. So in the interests of sharing, these are my favourite books for 2016…

 Category Romance
I had two favourite category romances. They’re both from the Romance / Cherish / Forever line, but they’re also very different in tone and theme. The first I read in January: Jessica Gilmore’s PROPOSAL AT THE WINTER BALL (fabulous friends to lovers story). The second I read in July: Marion Lennox’s HIS CINDERELLA HEIRESS (and as the title says, it’s a perfect Cinderella story). Such utterly wonderful and heartfelt stories!



Honourable mentions include: Rachel Bailey’s THE FINN FACTOR, Cathryn Hein’s SANTA AND THE SADDLE, and Annie West’s THE DESERT KING’S SECRET HEIR.

Oh, and gosh darn it! I want to also honourably mention Scarlet Wilson’s HIS LOST AND FOUND BRIDE, and Nikki Logan’s STRANDED WITH HER RESCUER. Both of these were seriously emotional reads.

Historical
I discovered Ashley Gardner’s CAPTAIN LACEY REGENCY MYSTERY SERIES last year, and I gobbled it up. It’s not just that the last time I was in London (in 2014) that I stayed in Drury Lane, and Captain Lacey lives just off Drury Lane, but the world Gardner creates and the community that forms around her eponymous hero is complicated, compelling and captivating.


And for sheer and utter delight factor, Connie Brockway’s BRIDAL FAVOURS. I bought this because of a review I read…and I thought it was a contemporary romance rather than a historical. And I was disappointed when I found out it was historical…until I started reading. ;-)

Honourable mentions: Anne Gracie’s AUTUMN BRIDE

Favourite Non-Romance Book
Neil Gaiman’s THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. My book group read this and it’s part fairy tale with a dash of horror and… I don’t know, it’s hard to explain, but I loved it. It captures childhood perfectly. Plus there are great examples of female power—both good and bad—which I found hard to resist.



Honourable Mentions: DADDY LONG LEGS by Jean Webster HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jones and GOOD OMENS by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

Favourite Re-Read
Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers: I hoovered these back like there was no tomorrow. I then went and read THE CHILDREN OF CHERRY TREE FARM. Seriously, Blyton is kiddie crack.


It’s so much fun looking back over the books that made me laugh, cry, and heave happy sighs, and also books that made me think…that stayed with me a long time. What about you—what were your standout reads in 2016?

Jan 9, 2017

Love of Learning and Romance on Sale!

I love learning new things. I’m one of those nutty people who enjoys studying and doing courses. I’ve signed myself for a new uni course and over the past three days have been writing a reflective assignment. They didn’t have reflective assignments my first few times around, but I’ve really enjoyed reflecting on all I’ve learned over the past few weeks.

I’m doing a Graduate Certificate in Leadership through Coaching and Mentoring at QUT in Queensland. Most of the course is online (lucky, as I live in NSW) and we have interactive lectures online too. So different to my days of sitting in a lecture theatre. I've also lucked into the most awesome study group. Two members live in Brisbane, one in Melbourne and me in Byron Bay. We meet up regularly online and have such fun. Group assignments have been a pleasure.

It’s fascinating learning about authentic leadership, adult development, adaptive learning, goal setting, 360 feedback survey tools and lots more interesting things that will hopefully improve my leadership skills. With my new role as Chair of the Byron Writers Festival, studying leadership is certainly timely. Also very useful for insight into all those billionaires I write about.

Speaking of billionaires, my best-selling story, The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love, is on sale at the moment for $0.99. If you are looking for an escape into some passionate romance, pick up a copy from Amazon, iTunes or your favourite etailer.

Blurb: When Sarah Walker's beloved wildlife sanctuary is threatened with closure, she heads for London and goes straight to the top to find out why. But the man responsible is the one man she's never forgotten, and the only person who can destroy all her happiness.

Billionaire CEO Blake Huntington-Fiennes can't believe that the girl he's spent years searching for has just marched into his boardroom. And this time, he's willing to resort to any means necessary to keep her. But Sarah has a secret she must protect at all costs or risk losing something even more precious than the sanctuary.

 What about you? Do you enjoy learning new things, studying, doing assignments and exams, or does this have you running for the hills?

Jan 8, 2017

And the winner is...

Hi everyone,
The winner of my signed copy of The Temporary Mrs Marchetti is Laurie. If you could email me on melaniemilburne@gmail.com with your postal details I will get the book to you as soon as possible. Thanks for all the comments!

Jan 6, 2017

Goodreads Reading Challenge

Last year I partook in the Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Not having any real idea of how many books I usually manage in a year, and no idea of the kind of reading time the year before me would bestow, I picked 50 books as my task. A book a week, pretty much. And I kept it up.  I did.  Gleefully registering each book as it reached ‘the end’.

Keeping track in my beloved Bullet Journal also helped each month at book club, as in the rush and wash of life I always found I had forgotten some gem that I had read that month.

I also particularly loved looking back and spotting patterns and anomalies.
-          Autobiographies written by smart, funny, creative women (Mindy Kaling, Shonda Rhimes) made a strong showing this year.

-          As did authors I go back to again and again (Lisa Kleypas, Jill Shalvis).

-          I discovered authors I’d never tried before then loved them and devoured them (CS Pacat, Harlan Coben).

-          And then there were authors (RJ Palacio, Lisa Lutz) who gave me one book which changed the shape of my reading year adding depth and flavour and delight.
So did I make it to 50?  You bet I did!  54 to be exact. Will I do it this year?  You bet I will!  It was fun, and helpful, and a buzz to see that tracker ticking over.

But it was the burgeoning realisation that I had such a healthy reading life that really warmed the cockles.  As a mum of three with healthy happy young kids and a writing career and a graphics business and the rest, to know that I still found those pockets of time for myself to sink, dive, indulge in the reading of stories for my own pleasure was extremely gratifying.


Starting as I mean to go on, I finished reading my first book of this brand spanking new year at half past midnight on New Years Day and I could not wait to write it down in my 2017 list.  I'm thinking 55.  One more than last year.  Surely that's a worthy goal.
So come on, who's with me?