Romance … as reflected on Publisher’s Weekly’s Bestseller Lists

Browsing the ‘net for some inspiration, I came across Publisher’s Weekly’s most recently published bestseller lists. They did inspire me, providing proof as they did that romance thrives ‘out there’ in the real world of book buyers and readers. But they also caused some twinges of annoyance.

Why is it that American authors, publishers, readers and reviewers have free access to regular bestseller lists, but Australian authors, publishers, readers and reviewers do not? Nielsen BookScan supplies the data in both countries, which makes the lack of information in Australia doubly disappointing. Bookseller and Publisher Australia do publish a weekly paragraph on bestsellers, but you have to be a subscriber to access the information which does not include sales data.

COME ON FOLKS WITH THE DATA. We know we don’t sell as many books as they do in America. After all, our population is only about 23.5 million while the Americans have a whopping 320 million potential and future readers. However, we would still like to see some figures. Stop with the secrets please!

Below is a brief reveal of romance and erotica titles featured in PW’s latest bestseller lists: the Top 10 Overall; Top 20 Hardcover Fiction; Top 20 Trade Paperbacks; Top 20 Mass Market Paperbacks; and Top 10 Romance. I have listed the book’s position followed by title, author, publisher, release date and sales figures. There are two sales figures provided. The first is that week’s sales, and the second is total sales year-to-date.

PW bestsellers Oct 2014


Raise a glass of bubbles to Nora Roberts; Blood Magick, book three of her Cousins series, is at #5 in the Top 10 Overall with over 135,000 copies sold to date. Congratulations again to Nora as well as to Debbie Macomber, Robyn Carr, Diana Palmer and Nicholas Sparks, all of whom have more than one title featured on the current bestseller lists. As a genre, romance dominates the mass market paperback category, accounting for 10 of the top 20 bestsellers.

Not surprisingly, Christmas stories and anthologies feature strongly at this time of the year with no less than nine books featuring festive love stories. Debbie Macomber appears to be the 2014 Queen of American Christmas Romance with three books on the lists: Mr Miracle, A Country Christmas and Starry Night.

An interesting footnote is that the first book in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is still hanging in there at #9 on the Romance bestseller list despite being over two years old at this stage.

Top 10 Overall

5. Blood Magick: Book Three of the Cousins by Nora Roberts (Berkley, October 2014) 41,052/ 135, 607

Hardcover Fiction

13. Mr Miracle: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, October 2014) 5,303/ 49, 428

Trade Paperback

1. Blood Magick by Nora Roberts (Berkley, October 2014) 41,052/ 135, 607

7. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing, August 2014) 7,726/ 172,586

17. Shadow Spell: Book Two of the Cousins by Nora Roberts (Berkley, March 2014) 3,964/ 279,312

Mass Market Paperback

2. A Country Christmas by Debbie Macomber (Mira, October 2014) 16,110 / 30,958

5. Starry Night by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, October 2014) 12,922/ 25,889

7. Wyoming Strong by Diana Palmer (Harlequin, October 2014) 12,630/ 28,504

8. Tis the Season by Robyn Carr (October 2014, Mira) 11,196/ 23,969

9. The Best of Me (movie tie-in) by Nicholas Sparks (August 2014, Grand Central) 10,906/ 225,673

12. Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne (Harlequin, October 2014) 9,313/ 19,845

candlelight-christmas13. Candlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs (Mira, October 2014) 9,155/ 17,092

16. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, September 2014) 8,915/89,514

19. Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery (Harlequin, October 2014) 7,962/ 16,195

20. Snowflakes on the Sea by Linda Lael Miller (Harlequin, October 2014) 7,765/ 15,908


No sales data is provided with this bestseller list although the first four books appear in the above lists where sales figures are provided.

  1. Blood Magick by Nora Roberts (Berkley, October 2014) 41,052/ 135, 607
  2. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing, September 2014)
  3. Starry Night by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, October 2014)
  4. Mr Miracle: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, October 2014)
  5. Christmas in Cowboy Country by Janet Dailey (Zebra, September 2014)
  6. California Dreams by Nora Roberts (Silhouette Books, September 2014)
  7. Texas Born/Maggie’s Dad by Diana Palmer (Harlequin, September 2014)
  8. In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins (Harlequin, September 2014)
  9. Fifty Shades of Grey (Book One) by EL James (Vintage, April 2012)
  10. Forbidden Falls by Robyn Carr (Mira, September 2014)

All I wanASTR-cover-300dpit for Christmas is … a love story set in sunny Australia. Any suggestions?

Despite the absence of a prawn barbie, I’m going to start with Amy Andrew’s novella, Tis the Season to be Kissed, set in Vermont but with plenty of sizzle. There are also the four short stories in A Season to Remember. In the spirit of Christmas, authors Susan Bellamy, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, Noelle Clark and Eva Scott are giving it to all readers as a free download from Smashwords in various formats. Thank you ladies. It’s a lovely gesture that I’ll remember when late-night shopping and long queues threaten to fray my nerves :)



* with the exception of California Dreams, which is available in paperback only.

Author Spotlight: Sexy Contemporary Romance novelist, V. K. Black…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, V.K and congratulations on the release of ‘Unexpected Places’. Can you give us the blurb, please?

One treasure map; a pair of priceless emeralds; two very keen hunters — only one can win, but who says that competition can’t be a little fun?

When sweet, pretty Ariana Noonan knocks out treasure hunter Luke Donahue with a champagne bottle and steals his treasure map, he vows to get his map back, find the missing priceless emeralds…and exact a fitting revenge.

When Luke finally discovers Ariana in a dingy hotel on a remote tropical island, she’s in desperate straits and he finally gains the upper hand. Of course he will rescue her. His price? They act on the attraction that’s been simmering between them from the very beginning.

But all is not as it seems, and Luke’s sexy bargain turns up not only an unbelievable secret, but Ariana’s reasons for wanting the emerald. Suddenly, nothing is clear-cut anymore, and map or no map, Luke and Ariana are sailing into uncharted territory.

Unexpected_Final (300)


You write what you like to read, which is sexy romances with open bedroom doors. How have sexy romances changed in recent times to become more mainstream?

I really don’t know the answer to this one. The romance world, of course, has been enjoying sexy romances for ages. But the mainstream world? My bridge club is a good example of mainstream society. We have a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey in the bridge library. Lots of Nora Roberts. Danielle Steele. No HM&B though. In the members’ attitudes to me, I haven’t experienced contempt or rude questions about when I’m going to write a “real” book. There seems to be a genuine admiration of and interest in the fact that I write and am published. There’s amusement about the sexy bit. Quite a few members have bought my books.

Who are your favourite sexy romance authors and what impact have they had on your writing.

There are a few authors who are automatic buys for me. Maybe my favourite is Kelly Hunter, closely followed by Heidi Rice. I really enjoy the tone of their books, their voices. There’s a light-hearted readability about their books I admire, and which I think has influenced my writing. There’s lots of other authors too. Melanie Milburne, Abby Green, Lynne Graham, Kristan Higgins, Julie James. And at the hot end of town, Cherise Sinclair and Lexi Blake. 

You write in a number of genres, do you have a favourite?

Contemporary is my favourite genre, although I love World War Two historicals too.

Do you think that writing in different genres has improved your writing skills? Are there any other genres you are going to work in?

I guess by simply writing, your writing tends to improve. And by reading craft books. And by reading other authors’ books with an eye to their craft. When I re-read my first book, Lies and Seduction, a World War Two historical, I scrunch up my nose in a couple of places, as I’ve written things I wouldn’t now – although I still think the book is fun and a good read. I’m not sure if writing across the genres has improved my writing, except by keeping myself fresh, perhaps. There’s a World War Two/Time Travel in the wings.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?

Read, play bridge (though more for the chatty fun – goodness, some of those bridge players get serious!), go to exercise classes, which means chat with friends at coffee afterwards, cook (eat) spicy food. Love curries. A nice glass of chardonnay of course helps with that relaxing.

Can you tell us about your current work in progress?

It’s another sexy contemporary, set on an island in the Great Barrier Reef. Originally, I wrote it as a short story told entirely from the man’s point of view. But the two publishers I submitted to both wanted to hear about the heroine’s story as well. So that’s what I’m doing now. I’ve had to change the heroine’s character, because as a damsel in distress she wasn’t terribly interesting. Although I rather enjoy reading about distressed damsels being rescued by big strong bad boys. Okay, it’s the big, strong, bad boys I’m interested in…

What does the future hold for Victoria Black?

It’s actually V.K. Black these days. I used to be the one and only Victoria Black, Author, out there, but there are heaps of us now, one of whom writes Wow, O.M.G., taken-by-the-team-you-get-my-drift erotica. I mean, what would the bridge club say? Hence the name change.

What I enjoy writing most, and what I’d like to investigate with a view to publishing, is short stories. I know everyone is self-publishing these days, but I’m so bad with technology, I’m really nervous about dipping my toe into that pond. Travelling is also on my agenda. Two months eating and drinking my way around the U.K. has but whetted my appetite.

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Unexpected Places’, please?

This excerpt is from early in the first chapter, where Luke is about to meet Ariana.

Luke watched with interest as she approached him. He’d noticed her earlier, when he’d been chatting with his dad’s old secretary. A tiny, pretty little thing—the approaching blonde, not Mrs Abercrombie. She’d been standing all alone, gulping her wine. Then her attention had suddenly fixed on him. She’d started on the long approach, unaware, he was sure, that he knew she was coming.

There’d been the noise at Bob’s door last week. Someone had been listening, he was sure of it, and that person knew all about the missing emeralds and the map. He’d been expecting a stranger to approach him at some point, all week. And well, well, here she was. Another girl. Another one of Changpu’s little off-siders.

Of course, he could be misjudging her. Maybe she was a pretty girl who wanted sex badly, and had lousy timing. But he didn’t think so. There was a steely purpose behind the way she was currently stalking him.

Again, an unfamiliar fury rose within him. For Changpu to follow him into his own company was the final straw. He’d played nice up until now. He’d been a perfect gentleman to Mai Ling. But no more. Neither the old man nor this little employee of his could expect any mercy. Luke traced the still-painful line of his scar beneath his shirt.

His eyes roved leisurely over her sweet curves, enjoying the enticing bounce of her white breasts revealed by her sexy black dress. It hugged her trim little body and came to rest at her knees. Her femininely curved hips swayed with the help of heels that must be adding inches to her height. Pretty green eyes fixed on his face. Her cute half-smile, half pout drew her lovely full lips up at their corners.

Clenching his teeth, Luke felt the muscle tick at his jaw. His stomach tightened for battle. But, to his surprise, his cock rose in enthusiastic greeting. Luke smiled, enjoying the widening wariness of her eyes, enjoying how his fury and desire for revenge had mixed into a heady, potent cocktail of lust. Grabbing a glass of the cheap champagne they were serving tonight, he stepped toward her, crowding her.

He smiled again. Or at least did his best, forcing his lips to curl up into something approximating genuine warmth. “Hi. I’m Luke. Would you care for a glass of champagne?”



Author Bio: V.K. Black is from Queensland, Australia. She loves tropical islands, snorkelling on the Barrier Reef, good wine and hot spicy food. Amazingly, all of these appear in Unexpected Places (published by Escape Publishing). Sadly, treasure maps and priceless emeralds have been in short supply in her real life, so she has written a story about them.

As well as her action/adventure contemporary, Unexpected Places, V.K. Black has written an erotic fantasy/sci fi called Heavenly Revenge (published by Secret Cravings) and a World War Two historical called Lies and Seduction (published by Cobblestone Press.) There is a unifying theme. They are all fun sexy romances, with a handsome hero and a lovely heroine.

V.K. Black has been a member of RWA for many years now, and enjoys the company of her fellow RWA members at her monthly Sultry Scribes writers’ meeting.

Web links

Website: victoriablacksexystories

Blog: victoriablacksexystories

Facebook: V.K. Black

Twitter: @VKBlackAuthor

Goodreads: Unexpected Places

Buy link: Escape Publishing

Kiwi Author Breaks North American Stranglehold on Amazon’s 2014 Top Romance Picks

Amazon editors have released their annual Best Books lists, including their pick of this year’s romance novels. We were delighted to find, Nalini Singh, New Zealand’s Queen of Paranormal Romance, firmly entrenched on this best books’ list. Nalini, who was nominated for the Psy/Changeling series novel Shield of Winter, was the only non-North American author to feature on the 2014 list. All the rest were US citizens with the exception of Canadian indie author Sarah Castille, who squeaked in at #20.

Nalini Singh composite

Lists are great places to pick up on trends and find out what others are reading. They also generate debate. This particular list is quality-based on the Amazon editors’ preferences rather than being based on absolute numerical values such as the number of books sold. However, most, if not all, of these authors are NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors, proving once again that quality and popularity DO mix.

The top 20 is an eclectic mix of sub genres, highlighting the diversity of romance writers: historical (time travel, Regency); contemporary; new adult; multicultural; suspense; fantasy; science fiction; paranormal; inspirational; and erotica. In short, there is something for almost every reader! Of course, some titles such as Diana Gabladon’s Written in My Own Heart’s Blood cross multiple sub genres ensuring we read because we love the story — and not because it got classified as a such-and-such book! Interestingly, this cross-genre love story is also the bestselling book on the 2014 list.

Other universal favourites include writers such as Nora Roberts, Sylvia Day, Debbie Macomber and Eloisa James. There are three indie authors on the list – Bella Andre, Courtney Milan and Sarah Castille. Charlie N. Holmberg is agented but published under the Amazon imprint 47North. Hmm. Does that make her an indie author or not?

An analysis of the publishers reveals that Penguin dominates this list with four titles from three imprints (Berkley, Ace, Jove). Harlequin, Avon, Random House (Ballantine, Delacorte), Kensington Press, and St Martin’s Press are all represented by two titles. The rest of the publishers are a collection of big houses, independent presses and one more Amazon imprint, Montlake Romance. All the books are published in paperback and ebook although some paperbacks are only available from Amazon.

The complete list of editors’ picks in bestselling order is listed below:

  1. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon (Delacorte).
  2. Shadow Spell (Cousins O’Dwyer) by Nora Roberts (Berkley).
  3. Son of No One (Dark Hunter Novels) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (St Martins Press).
  4. The Paper Magician (The Pager Magician Series Book 1) by Charlie N Holmberg (47North).
  5. Night Broken (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs (Ace).
  6. Blossom Street Brides: A Blossom Street Novel by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine).
  7. Thankful: Return to Sugarcreek, Book 2 by Shelley Shepard Gray (Avon).
  8. Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery (Harlequin).
  9. Ultimate Sins (The Callahans) by Lora Leigh (St Martins Press).
  10. It Happened One Wedding by Julie James (Jove).
  11. Kiss Me Like This: The Morrisons 1 by Bella Andre (Oak Press).
  12. Three Weeks with Lady X (Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James (Avon).
  13. Once in a Lifetime (Lucky Harbour) by Jill Shavis (Grand Central Publishing).
  14. A Man’s Promise (The Grangers) by Brenda Jackson (Harlequin MIRA). Shield of Winter (Psy/Changelings) by Nalini Singh (Berkley).
  15. Shield of Winter (Psy/Changelings) by Nalini Singh (Berkley).
  16. Single by Saturday (Weekday Brides Series Book 4) by Catherine Bybee (Montlake Romance).
  17. Kiss and Tell (Sisterhood) by Fern Michaels (Kensington).
  18. The Sufragette Scandal (The Brothers Sinister, 4) by Courtney Milan (Femtopress).
  19. The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day (Kensington).
  20. In Your Corner (Redemption) by Sarah Castille (Sourcebooks Casablance)

So, what do you think? Do you agree with the Amazon editors, or would you like to nominate another book/books for this year’s top 20 reads?



Amazon 2014 Best Books, Romance:

Amazon 2014 Best Books (all):

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Erotic / Fantasy novelist, Rhyll Biest…

Editor’s note: This post contains content unsuitable for people under the age of 18 due to sexual content.


Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Rhyll and congratulations on the release of ‘Unrestrained ’. Can you give us the blurb, please?

When the reclusive Holly Unthanks finds some very naughty photos, both the star—a muscular Teutonic god with some serious ink and a knack for knots—and the way he’s tied his lady friend to his four-poster bed, make her more than a little curious. But to get to know the big, built stonemason better, she’ll have to overcome his vengeful ex and her own inhibitions—and pray that the walls she’s built around her guarded heart and dark secret remain safe from a man who has a way with stone.

unrestrained small

Can you tell us the differences between erotic romance, erotica, and sexy romance, please?

Different authors might disagree with my definition of the differences, but to me a ‘happy ever after’ or ‘happy for now’ are optional in erotica whereas they’re not in romance. And in erotic romance sex is an essential plot element (e.g. trigger for character development and conflict) whereas this isn’t the case in sexy romance (no matter how much heartfelt boffing goes on). For example, because Unrestrained is an erotic romance, whether Holly can move past her inhibitions is an important plot element (and a happy ending depends on it).

Erotic romance has certainly taken off as a genre in recent years, why do you think that it has taken so long to become mainstream?

My theory is that once e-books and e-book readers such as Kindle became ubiquitous, this allowed women to consume/purchase what they wanted without being slut-shamed at the library or bookstore.

Some readers hold the perception that erotic romance is just about sex, but it’s more than that. What else will a first time reader find in an erotic romance?

Because sex is an important plot element (i.e. either a trigger for character development, relationship change, conflict, or a crucible – something that prevents the couple from leaving one another) I often find the sex scenes in erotic romance a lot more meaningful (story-wise and for characters) than those in stories where they’re inserted to spice things up or for pacing reasons. In other words, because sex is an important plot element, the sex in erotic romance is emotionally charged rather than mindless bonking.

Also, human sexuality is such a highly emotive and fascinating subject, with a million different facets and variations with every individual—the character and dynamics possibilities are endless. Good erotic romance explores that variety, and the highs and lows of sexuality, and—most importantly—the vulnerability people experience when it comes to sex. Sexuality issues also seem a very realistic and natural romance plot conflict to me, and less artificial than say, for example, a secret baby or mistaken identity. I think erotic romance also offers writers a lot of freedom in terms of genre boundaries, which means there are some really unique characters and stories out there.


You write about heroes and heroines with unusual occupations. Which has been the most interesting and why?

I do love unusual occupations, it’s true. I think stonemason is the most interesting one I’ve written about so far, and I really enjoyed researching the different types of stone, tools and techniques involved. To me it’s a type of craftsmanship close to art (sculpture) and because I’m a hobby artist learning about materials and methods appealed.

You’ve lived in many different countries, do you have a favourite? What was it about that place that made it endearing to you?

Prague was my favourite city to live in because it’s so very beautiful, cultured and historic. I don’t know that ‘endearing’ is the right way to describe the Czech Republic but I certainly enjoyed my time there.

I love that you write about things that don’t always happen in real life, but should, such as the plain looking girl getting the hot guy. How have your readers responded to this change of character stereotype?

I think readers have always loved that sort of thing, think of Mr Rochester and ‘plain’ Jane Eyre. It’s pretty common in popular culture, too, and I’ll confess that I’m totes waiting for Oliver to fall for ‘plain’ Felicity in the TV series Arrow. I don’t see anything wrong with authors or scriptwriters offering their audience a bit of wish fulfillment. After all, who else is going to offer it?


You are the co-founder of the Naughty Ninjas. Can you tell us a bit about being part of a ninja group?

Being a ninja is awesome as I can always count on my fellow ninjas for tips, ideas, shameless pimping, merkin discussions, encouragement and support. Being a writer/author can be tough at times, so it really helps me to know that a half dozen ninjas have got my back. Plus they’re all funny, creative and filthy—my favourite kind of friends.

What is your current WIP about and what does the future hold for Rhyll Biest?

I’m currently writing book two in a saucy fantasy series about demons. My spiritual guide assures me that writing about sex and demons will keep me young forever, so I feel that’s the way to go.

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Unrestrained’, please?

Carving headstones for a living didn’t make him the Grim Reaper. He was just a man, a man being blackmailed.

To call or not to call? She hated that the very idea of doing it immediately made her skin prickle with discomfort, and that it wasn’t just the thought of the man himself that made her uncomfortable, but the physical act of calling him. It was hard to pass for normal, to be normal, with her almost pungent aversion to phones. Landlines, cell phones, business and personal calls, she hated them all and it wasn’t unusual to catch herself pretending she couldn’t get to the phone in time to answer it, or deliberately letting her cell phone batteries go flat, sometimes for weeks at a time. It had lost her many editing clients and yet still she did it. Because she remembered the shrill sound of her cell phone ringing and ringing while she was busy dying.

Don’t be a pussy, Holly. Man up.

She had to force herself to do it, to take out her phone, which actually had some charge left. Poor planning on her part. Her fingers misdialed twice on the suddenly too-small keys before she nailed the third attempt. Three rings, four rings, five. No answer. Maybe he’d changed his number to dodge the stalky, threatening Luisa. Maybe his hands were full of tombstone. Maybe he was busy tying someone up. Or perhaps he was ignoring the phone like normal people did now and then. Except there was nothing ‘normal’ or ‘like most’ about Herr Stein, the butcher of stone, and now there was no hiding the truth from herself, that his looks, his very being, intimidated her. Thoroughly. As well as everything else about him. His job. His name. That stare.



She hung up, the rich baritone reverberating in her ears. She focused on her hot chocolate as she replayed the sound. His voice was subterranean deep, wrapped in a harsh German brute of an accent. He’d uttered a single word, yet it had transformed him instantly from a picture to a flesh-and-blood man, a man she didn’t know, a man who didn’t look at all friendly, and who more than likely had an attitude to match his insanely powerful body.

Sweet splicing semicolons, Holly, you would have to be out of your gourd, bat-shit, flesh-eating crazy to get mixed up in this.


Author Bio: I’m an Australian writer of erotic romance published with Escape, Ellora’s Cave, Momentum and Mischief. Living in Prague, Shanghai and Germany as well as studying Russian and German have given me a taste for the exotic, and I populate my writing with sexy Soviet men, Teutonic hotties and alluring Aussie vixens. Yes, I’m host to the United Nations of Hotness (in my writer’s imagination, at least).

black ninja small copy


Web links






Buy link

Rhyll is kindly gifting one Ecopy of ‘Unrestrained’ to one lucky reader. To be in the running, all you need to do is leave a comment below.


This competition is open world wide and will be drawn one week after posting.

A Day in the Writing Life of Cassandra Samuels

A Scandalous Wager_Final (1)Today we find out all about Cassandra Samuels. Welcome!

In one or two sentences, please tell us what genre you write in and what made you decide that particular one is your calling.
I am currently writing Regency Historical Romance. I fell in love with the era when I first read Pride and Prejudice (as you do) but I fell in love with Historical Romance when I first “borrowed” a Johanna Lindsey (Malory series) from my mother’s bookshelf.

What time of the day do you write? Are you a morning, night-owl or anytime writer?
I mostly write at night after my youngest is in bed, but I often take notes during the day. I would be more productive during the day but for the full-time job. (sigh).

Where do you write? Do you have your own special place? Does the location vary?
I have a desk in front of a window in my bedroom. I prefer to write here, although I confess to writing in bed in winter, much cosier.

Are there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?
I try not to feed my muse chocolate but she responds so well to bribes. ;-)

What’s the first thing you do before you begin to write?
I like to listen to music. After a while it becomes white noise and keeps me from getting distracted by banging doors or the TV in the living room. I know some people like total silence but in a house full of kids that is usually impossible.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? Do you edit as you go or prefer to edit after completion of the ms?
I don’t plot the whole novel/chapter etc but I do usually have an overview (not quite a synopsis) when I start. I usually have a good idea of at least one of the main characters going in. I edit per chapter (usually with my critique partners) and then go over it in total when the whole ms is done.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time? Are you a goal setter with your writing?
I try and write between 9pm and 10.30pm every night on the weekdays. When I am in the zone and the Muse Fairy is feeling frisky I can write on until much later, but with a full time job I try and keep to a more doable timeframe. My goal is to write as much as I can that night rather than a word count.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?
I do use visual aids (why wouldn’t you? They are so much fun to find). They are usually in the form of a collage with the hero and heroine and other pictures relevant to the plot. For The Wager my hero is Henry Cavill and my heroine is Eva Green. It certainly helps me to keep them clear in my mind and Henry is awfully easy to look at.

Do you give yourself any writing rewards for achieving goals?
You know I don’t and I probably should, but my goals are sketchy at the best of time I am happy to just get to bed most nights.

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc and if so do you do any exercises at your desk or between sessions?
I do try and make sure that I get away from my desk every so often to rest the eyes and do some neck exercises. There are some great exercises out there for writers. There was a great hand out at last years The Claytons Conference, so I use that.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?
Ah, yes. I currently have Jon Snow, Tyrion, and Rob Stark from Game of Thrones guarding my desk and they do a fine job too. I also have a dictionary, Thesaurus and usually a research book of some kind. My desk is sometimes being warmed by my cat Angus. He likes paper, especially lying on it.

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between? CSdesk
My desk is more often messy than tidy. If it’s tidy there is usually a reason. I am either looking for something or hoping that some sort of inspiration will come to me while I tidy.

What’s the last thing you do before you finish your daily writing session? Save and back up. Very important. I know the computer does an auto save but I try and do an extra save every half hour or so while I am writing. When I have finished I like to back up to my flash drive and the hard drive on my pc. I have also emailed myself in the past, especially finished whole ms.

Thanks Cassandra and good luck with your new release A Scandalous Wager which is available from 8 November 2014.

This ms used to be called The Wager and has won/placed/been a finalist in quite a few contests/Awards. Most notable are: Gold (1st) in the Marylands Writers’ Association (Historical), 2nd in the Valerie Parv Award, 2nd in the Selling Synopsis, 3rd in the Hearts through History’s Regency section, 4th in the Emerald 2014.


You can find Cassandra at her web site and at her blog.



It’s November, and the big girls are coming out to play, releasing lots of new books so that we can join in the fun and games. The lead up to Christmas is my favourite time of year because the abundance of  wonderful books makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop with an unlimited budget. The only problem is where to start? With a  fellow RWA member’s book, of course, but even then, the choice is almost overwhelming. May I suggest a pinboard, a pencil and a blindfold? Pin the back page of Hearts Talk to the board, blindfold yourself and take a stab with your pencil. It doesn’t matter where it lands, you know you’ll end up with a great read!

November new releases from RWA members.

November new releases from RWA members.

eBooks Encourage People To Read More

A just released survey* by UK market research company Mintel confirms that the priStory formatsce and availability of eBooks are encouraging people to read more. Whilst it would be nice to have an Australian survey to compare it to (hint to all market research companies out there!), we can probably safely assume that there are more similarities than differences in market trends.

The Mintel survey found that:

  • One in four (26%) of eBook buyers read more because eBooks are cheaper than paperbacks
  • Price is an even bigger factor amongst younger readers in the 16-24 age group, with 38% reading more because eBooks are cheaper;
  • About a third (31%) of eBook buyers said they still preferred print books but bought eBooks because they cost less;
  • 23% of book buyers believe that print books are too expensive whereas only 16% said they same about eBooks;
  • Over a third (36%) of the UK readers surveyed buy both print and eBooks, with nearly half (42%) of this group saying they will always buy the cheapest version of the book, no matter what the format;
  • 7/10 eReader owners have bought a paperback in the the past year BUT
    • only 3/10 print book buyers have also purchased eBooks AND
    • over 36% of UK book buyers say they generally read print books but buy eBooks when travelling for work or holidays.

The Mintel study also revealed that Brits now buy more fiction thanks to the innovation of eBooks. There was a 6% year-on-year increase in the sale of fiction titles from 2012 to 2013.

There are clear distinctions between male and female reading habits:

  • Most women (86%) of women have read a book in the past year, but only 74% of men have done the same;
  • Women are more likely to read in either print or digital format;
  • Women are also more likely to favour fiction. 63% of woman have purchased a novel in the last 12 months compared to 48% of men.

When it comes to NOT reading, about a third of Brits have not purchased a book in the last 12 months:

  • 34% said it was because they were not interested in reading – although this figure rises to 42% in men;
  • 21% said they do have time to read them, and
  • 12% say they can’t afford to buy them.

The survey results are fascinating. Long live the story, I say. And long live libraries and librarians too (seemingly left out of the survey, surprisingly), to nurture those of us going through tough times.


*To read the full report, go to:


A Day in the Writing Life of Reba Ritchie

Let’s welcome new RWA member Reba Ritchie as our guest today.

photo-1In one or two sentences, please tell us what genre you write in and what made you decide that particular one is your calling.
The series I am working on now Keys to Erravilla is Fiction – Romance/Mystery. I had no clue before I started writing this series which genre I was writing in – it just sort of came out that way. There is an historical element to the series, probably because I am a keen history buff and have read many historical romance novels.

What time of the day do you write? Are you a morning, night-owl or anytime writer?
I always write at night, as my head seems to be clearer and less distracted than during the day. I have three children and I work shift work, so really the only time I am able to write is at night.

Where do you write? Do you have your own special place? Does the location vary?
I almost always write in my bedroom, sitting up in my warm, comfortable bed! photo

Are there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?
Often I write to music, which sets the tone of the chapter I am currently writing. Sometimes the music is varied and other times it is specific.

What’s the first think you do before you begin to write?
I always check my emails just before I start to write! Reading and responding to my emails puts me in the right headspace for writing.

Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work? Do you have a special system in place in order to begin writing or go with the flow?
I usually read over the previous few pages so that I know where my characters have just arrived at, and then I decide which part of the book needs to be written next.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? Do you edit as you go or prefer to edit after completion of the ms?
I have never plotted or planned any of my books. I usually have an entire book in my head before I sit down to write. I prefer to give the characters and storyline as much free reign as possible. As I am writing one part of the novel another part usually springs to mind.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?
I do tend to research and download pictures of people, places, animals, plants etc to use as visual stimulus as I am writing – particularly if the characters are going to a location I have never been to. Most places they go to I have already been to.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?
In my direct workspace I have photos of my kids, internet access, my favourite books stacked beside me for inspiration and reference, a lamp and a drink bottle. My key essentials!

Do you give yourself any writing rewards for achieving goals?
Before I finish each writing session I make sure I am satisfied that the characters and plot line has progressed in some profound way since the previous session. There has to be development and movement with each session for me to stop.

What is your favourite form of procrastination? Do you have any tips to beat off that old foe “procrastination”?
The only time I ever procrastinate with my writing is when I am not 100% sure what I want to happen next in the plotline – getting from A to B – (which doesn’t happen often). The only way to beat this is to simply sit down and start writing and let my fingers do the work! This always works for me.
What’s the last thing you do before you finish your daily writing session?

photoHosts of Erravilla is the first book in this three part series to be published through Serenity Press and has been awarded a 5 star review by Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews.

Hosts of Erravilla is available through, and other leading online stores, as well as some local stores in the Sydney area.

Book 2 The Guardian’s Curse will be available from 2015.

You can find me on Facebook or contact me by email at

Print Books Outsell eBooks In First Half of 2014

There is good news for all those who love ‘the book’ with all its comforting familiarity and solidity over the more ephemeral ‘eBook’, often referred to by those with a technological bent as, horror of horrors, ‘content’.

According to the Nielsen Book & Consumer survey released this month, print books outsold eBooks in the first half of 2014. Actually, BOTH hardcovers AND paperbacks outsold eBooks individually as well as when combined.

Overall print book sales accounted for 67% of the market, leaving eBooks with a 23% share. Hardcovers on their own accounted for 25% of sales while paperbacks dominated all other formats at 42% of sales.

These figures further reinforce predications that eBook sales will stabilise and that there will always be room in the hearts and libraries of readers for both paper and electronic books.

The launch of the Kindle by Amazon in 2007 saw triple digit growth in eBook sales for several years. However, in 2013, that growth slowed to single digits and the new 2014 figures suggest that trend will continue.

In an interview with HuffPost Live recently, bestselling author Stephen King said, ‘I think books are going to be there for a long, long time to come.’

King doesn’t believe books will suffer the same dismal fate as vinyl records and CDs.

‘Audio recordings of music have only been around for, I’m going to say, 120 years at the most. Books have been around for three, four centuries … There’s a deeply implanted desire and understanding and wanting of books that isn’t there with music,’ he said during his HuffPost interview.

That’s all good news for those of us who like the availability and pricing associated with our eReaders but also love to surround ourselves with overflowing bookshelves and hard copies of those books that are really dear to us.

So, which format do you prefer? Paperback, hardback or eBook? Or, like me, do you enjoy all three in equal measure?


Further reading:

Publisher’s Weekly:

HuffPost Live:

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Romance novelist, Iris Blobel…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Iris and congratulations on the release of ‘Love Will Find You’! Could you give us the blurb, please?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Is ‘Love Will Find You’ part of a series? Could you tell us about that?

Yes, Love Will Find You is the first book in the Australian Sports Stars Series. The readers will meet AFL player Ty Gaspaldi, Baseball player Oliver Dempsey, and Markus DeLeon, who plays Soccer. It didn’t start out as a series, but as I wrote Tyson’s story, I fell in love with Oliver and felt there was so much more to him than the few lines “he was given” in the first book.

How do you go about plotting a series?

I don’t really. I come up with an idea and it just flows with the characters developing and wanting their own stories told.

Your books have also been released in audio. Can you tell us about that process, and what it’s like to hear your book being read to you?

I’m afraid I’m not much help here. The production of the audio books was organised by my publisher.

And no, I haven’t listened to any of them. When I write my books, I have a very vivid imagination of how the character looks likes, talks, and even how s/he sounds like. Listening to a narrator “impersonating” this character might or could this.

What’s your current work in progress about?

There’s still Markus’ story to be told, but as I write this, I’m in Tumby Bay … lots of ideas already in my head about three friends who grew up in a small town. Having heaps of notes already and it’s just a matter of getting hold of my laptop again.


What would we find on your book shelf or e-reader?

Lot’s of Jill Shalvis books, Lee Child and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I just started reading Robyn Carr’s first book in the Thunder Point series… and liking it.

From where do you get your inspiration?

Usually when we travel, I come up with all my ideas. When the setting is right, the story simply flows.

Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a particular soft spot for anyone?

I get this asked often… and I have to admit, it’s still Daniel from Sweet Dreams, Miss England. He’s such a charmer, I still love him.

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Love Will Find You’, please?

As he struggled with his surfing board against the gentle breeze, he saw a woman sitting only a few feet away from him. Her body shook from her sobs as she wiped away her tears. It was none of his business, yet he stopped. He disliked the feeling of pity and helplessness creeping up on him. Inhaling a deep breath, he turned and walked towards her.

“Hi there,” he said quietly so as not to startle her.

She quickly wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and turned to him. Shading her eyes with the other hand, she echoed his greeting, “Hi.”

Ty’s gaze went out over the ocean before looking back at her. The thin long-sleeved shirt which hugged her curves nicely, and the cargo pants she wore, gave her a very casual, but sexy look. She smoothed a loose strand of her curly light brown hair behind her ear and met his gaze. Although teary and red, the beautiful green colour of her eyes shone through brightly. He knew he couldn’t walk away. He looked at her for a second or two, noticing the tight lines of her lips. Still, she had a beautiful mouth. Even though her lips were slightly swollen from crying, there was an urge inside him to touch them and find out what they felt or tasted like.

He sighed. Not that long ago he’d burnt his hands with a girl in his life and had sworn off the opposite sex, but there was something about the woman in front of him that drew him in and intrigued him. He’d always been a sucker for a lady in distress.

“Are you okay?” he asked, scratching his head.

Her mouth curved into a tentative smile. “Yes, I am.”

He frowned. “Was that sarcasm in response to a stupid question?”

“Yes, it was.”

Damn, she had a gorgeous smile that made his stomach tighten.

She didn’t offer more.

After a brief, but silent moment, he offered her his hand. “Tyson.”

She ignored his hand. “Nice meeting you, Tyson.”

He chuckled. “This is where you tell me your name.”

She let out a sigh as she looked away from him. It was a fine line he was walking. He was well aware of it. More than anything else, he wanted to help her. It was in his nature. She was hurt, and it seemed she was alone as well.

“Apologies, I didn’t mean to come on to you. But I’ve never been good with going past a girl who cries.”

“Does that happen often?” she asked as she turned back to him.

“Actually, no.” He laughed. “Only with my little niece.”

A tiny smile appeared on her face. “How old is she?”

Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “My niece? Turned four just a few days ago.”

She stared at him as he waited for her next question. Yet, it never came.

“I’m kinda getting cold here,” he said after a long moment. “Could I invite you for a coffee or tea?”

“No, but thank you for the offer. And thank you for caring.”

“Will you be here again tomorrow?”

A small sigh escaped her lips, and she shrugged slightly. “Not sure.”

He nodded and stood.

“It’s Katie,” she said as she stood as well.

Ty’s heart skipped a beat. “Nice meeting you, Katie.”

Author Bio:

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

 iris blobel


Web links







Iris is kindly gifting one Ecopy of ‘Love Will Find You’. To be in the running all you have to do is leave a comment for Iris.

This competition is open world wide and will be drawn one week from posting date.






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