Author Spotlight, Georgina Penney…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Georgina and congratulations on the paperback release of ‘Fly In, Fly Out ’ which was previously released digitally as ‘Unforgettable You’ in mid-2014, can you tell us about the journey to paperback, please?

It was all a little blurry to be honest. My husband and I were in the process of an incredibly intense relocation from Brunei to Scotland, I hadn’t slept for a couple of days. There was also a bunch of other dramas as well, none of which I can remember right now! But the gist of it was that my editor at Destiny emailed me two hours before I was due to catch a plane and asked if she could call me on skype. I immediately thought it was something to do with my plan to do a nudie run wearing the merkin my lovely fellow writer Cate Ellink had sent me not long before. (Editors are obviously prescient.) Instead, I answered a call to be told my e-book was going into print. Some hours later, once the shock had worn off and it all began to sink in, a bunch of people were confronted with a manically grinning woman the entire flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Fly in Fly out 500 pix

What is the most exciting thing about moving from digital to paperback?

It’s all so different but I think the big thing has been the reaction of the non-writing, non-e-book reading people I know. All of a sudden my strange little pastime feels more real to family and friends. Seeing them get excited I think has been the most exciting thing!

‘Fly In, Fly Out’ is part of a series. Can you tell us about that?

Fly In, Fly Out is the first in a loose series of stand-alone novels that follow the Hardy and Blaine families who all started in the same place on Evangeline’s Rest, a fictitious winery near Margaret River. It was originally only meant to be one book and then the characters got all uppity and declared that they wanted more so I kept writing!

You’ve recently moved from one side of the planet to the other, how did that go? What’s it like living amongst the rich history and heritage of Scotland?

Stressful when it came to visas, packing, religious policemen in Brunei and worrying about missing flights! But that aside, incredibly disorientating. The strange thing is, that because Australia has a heritage linked to the UK, there’s the assumption that things will be culturally similar, but I’m finding Scotland as unique and new as I did Brunei or Saudi. There are all these new customs to learn, traditions to get my head around, never mind the local Doric dialect! I’m loving it though. The Scottish are wonderful and incredibly inclusive. I’ve already visited a bunch of castles, hiked a wee bit, ate far too much haggis (haggis mash is the BEST) and gone all mushy at the herd of hairy “coos” in the paddocks near to our house. I can’t wait until summer next year when we’re hoping to hike up some of the nearby mountains.

Our Aussie summer currently has us sweltering, how’s the weather in Scotland?

Is ‘horizontal’ a good way to describe weather?

You’ve lived in many countries, do you have a favourite?

This is going to have to be besides Australia because I miss it all the time. I love some aspect about everywhere I’ve lived, including Saudi Arabia, but I’ve got a particular soft spot for Bahrain. The people there are so lovely. It’s an island so it has this unique sea-breeze smell all year-round. There’s a lot of history going right back to Gilgamesh butting up against brand new malls and skyscrapers. You’re never bored!

Your novels are set in the West Australian wine region, and involves a family of wine makers, what is your tie to wine? Did it involve much research into the wine industry?

I spent a chunk of my childhood in the Margaret River region so it’s always been there in the background. Later my now husband and I used to travel down south a lot, visiting wineries, asking a whole lot of questions about the wine making process. (That’s what happens when you’re with a guy who trained for a while as a chemical engineer!) I also had a bit of help in that one of my friends worked as a sommelier for a while and finally… a bunch of reading. And wine tasting. Lots of wine tasting!

You’re one of the founders of the Naughty Ninjas, what’s it like to belong to a group who combine talents on a blog?

Hilarious! Somehow we managed to team up a bunch of ladies who are some of the funniest people I know, who write some of the best stuff I’ve read in romance. It’s like we all gravitated towards each other, pulled together by our mutual desire to swear and cackle and the weird and wonderful parts of the romance and erotica world. On a more practical level, being a part of a group so supportive is simply brilliant, especially around book launch time. It’s great to know you’ve got a bunch of friends who understand where you’re at and how crazy-neurotic you are for that first couple of weeks the book is unleashed into the wild. If anyone out there is thinking of starting a group, I’d really encourage them to. The key thing is just not to take things too seriously and to have a damn good laugh along the way.

Can you tell us about your current work in progress?

I’m currently working on a whole bunch of projects but the most immediate is a short story for an anthology featuring a bunch of amazing chick lit writers (Carla Caruso and Laura Greaves to name a few) that will be out this Australian autumn.

What does the future hold for Georgina Penney?

Well, I never did get around to that nudie run for Cate Ellink… and I do currently live on a property out in Scottish wilds… hmm. Otherwise, hopefully some stress-free staying in one place and some writing! I’m also going to be lucky enough to pop down to Australia for the Perth Writers festival in February this year and I’d love to catch up with any fellow romance and chick lit writers. I’ll be the swaying, jetlagged blurry-eyed broad trying to look like she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to books.

Thanks for joining us today, Georgina, and congratulations again on the release of ‘Fly In,  Fly Out’. Could you give us a peek at one of your favourite parts, please? 

What the hell?’

Jo Blaine’s motorbike helmet bounced off antique pine floorboards with a dull plastic thud as she took in the state of her Fremantle penthouse apartment.

This was so not the way she’d left it when she’d flown out to her offshore oil job in Mauritania. No way.

There was a rumpled tartan throw rug and a pillow on one of her cream leather couches, a bright-red coffee cup—her favourite damn coffee cup—was sitting on her hand-cut glass-and-jarrah coffee table and the books in her bookshelves looked as if they’d been rifled through.

She took a step further inside, kicking a pair of expensive-looking, size-fourteen men’s leather shoes out of her way, and immediately felt a cool breeze against her cheek.

The sliding door leading to the balcony was wide open, letting in the scent of a recent summer shower on bitumen. The sounds of distant traffic and boats going up and down the Swan River filtered in, an incongruous backing track to her growled exclamation.

Definitely not how she’d left it before.

‘Hello? Anyone here?’ She turned back around, narrowed eyes searching for a coffee-loving, couch-sleeping, male Goldilocks but only saw her massive silver Maine Coon cat, Boomba, who chose that moment to waddle past with a pair of men’s undies firmly clasped in his mouth. His fat furry backside moved side to side as he disappeared into the kitchen, where Jo could see stacked Domino’s pizza boxes on the counter. Her temper, always on a short fuse after a long, sleepless flight, began to sizzle and fizz as she put the clues together.

She only knew one man with size-fourteen feet. That same man had a key to her apartment and was about to experience the flaming wrath of a jetlagged woman. ‘Scott? Where the hell are you?’ She called out her best friend’s name as she kicked off her steel-capped boots and reached into her pocket for her phone. She held it to her ear, hearing nothing but dial tone, feeling herself getting more and more worked up.

Boomba waddled past her again, chirruping around his mouthful. His expression said clearly that as far as he was concerned, she should forget her house invader, admire the thing he’d killed and give him a pat.

‘And what the hell are you doing here, fuzz ball?’ Jo reached down and plucked the underwear out of his mouth, throwing it away. ‘You’re supposed to be at Amy’s. Want to tell me what’s going on?’ The cat gave her his usual entitled feline stare and then butted his head into her shin.

‘You’re no help.’ She walked through the living room, kicking a pair of socks out of her way, and stopped short in front of the vibrant blue-and-green abstract painting she’d bought last time she was in town. It was askew, as if someone had knocked it, and she felt something inside her snap.

This was not cool. Not. Cool. Her house was supposed to be empty. Her cat was supposed to be at her sister’s and there wasn’t supposed to be a … man anywhere within a good twenty metres of her right now, even if he was her best mate. She’d spent the last sixteen weeks surrounded by Y chromosomes and all she’d been looking forward to was a blessedly empty, male-free environment.

Scott finally answered, his tone suitably shocked. ‘Jo? What time is it over there?’

‘It’s eight in the morning. I’m home. In Perth. Where are you?’

‘Home?’ Scott’s deep voice momentarily took on choirboy heights he hadn’t achieved since pre-puberty. ‘You’re supposed to be on holiday in Brazil!’

Jo squeezed her eyes tightly shut. ‘Yes. Home. I cancelled the holiday because I wanted to be home. You know, that place I like to come when I’m not on some rusting oil rig in the middle of nowhere? You know that place? The place you were looking after. The place currently being lived in by someone who has feet the size of yours. The place currently containing my cat, who should be at Amy’s.’

‘Ahh. Yeah. About that.’

‘Yeah, about what? What the hell is going on?’

There was a moment of silence and then a dull thud as if something had been hit, quite hard. ‘I’ll explain, but it’s probably better I do it in person.’

‘What? Why? I just want an answer and I want it now!’

‘You’ll get one … just … just stay there. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. We’ll get all this sorted out. I’m sorry, Jo.’

Jo scowled, turning around, taking in the disorder and feeling a renewed sense of outrage. ‘You bloody well better be. And bring me some goddamn coffee. I haven’t slept properly for days and all I wanted was to have a shower and fall into bed and instead—’

‘Ten minutes,’ he said with an edge of frustration in his tone that had better not be aimed at her. Given the mood she was in at the present moment, she’d be able to take Scott on one-on-one. They didn’t call her Krakatoa out on the rigs for nothing.

Jo hung up, looking around until her eyes settled on her bedroom door.

There was no way Scott would make it in ten minutes, let alone fifteen, and she was tired.

Shooing Boomba out of the way with her foot, she headed for her room.

The feeling of tiredness was blasted to smithereens the minute she pushed the door open, took in the contents of her bed and roared with rage. ‘Who the hell are you?!’

‘AAGGHH! Gnph.’ The very naked, very buff and all-over tanned blond man who’d until that moment been sleeping spread-eagled on her bed shouted in surprise, leapt to his feet, tripped over Jo’s cat and fell facedown on the floor.

Author Bio-

Georgina Penney lives with her wonderful husband, Tony in a cozy steading in the Scottish countryside. When she’s not swearing at her characters and trying to cram them into her plot, she can be found traipsing over fields, gazing and hairy coos and imagining buff medieval Scotsmen in kilts (who have access to shower facilities and deodorant) living behind every bramble hedge.

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Author Spotlight- Author Groups: The Naughty Ninjas…

 

Have you ever thought of being part a formalised writer’s group with the intention of blogging or creating a website together, but haven’t known where to start or what to expect?

Instead of shining the spotlight on sole authors, I thought it might be interesting to focus a little on authors who share a formal blog or website.  Over the coming months I will be chatting to other author groups about the mechanics and benefits of working with other authors towards a common goal.  These groups will share their experiences and knowledge so that it might inspire some of you to give it a go.

For the first in this series, please welcome Rhyll Biest and Georgina Penney from the Naughty Ninjas!

 

naughty ninja logo

Members of  the Naughty Ninjas are: Andra Ashe, Sandra Antonelli, Sarah Belle, Cate Ellink, Roz Groves, Lily Malone, Georgina Penney, Rhyll Biest.

The group commenced in February 2014 and focuses on the Romance Genre with naughtiness on the side!

Hi Rhyll and Georgina – otherwise known as the founders of The Naughty Ninjas. Thanks for joining us to discuss formal author groups. Can you tell us a bit about the Naughty Ninjas?

We’re seven Australian romance writers and one mighty Australian romance reviewer, Roz Groves. Andra, Cate and Rhyll write erotic romance, Lily and Sandra write contemporary romance, Sarah writes Ro-magic Comedy, Georgina writes Chick lit (with strong romance overtones) and all of us have a robust sense of humour, whether we’re talking about love, life, writing, reading, romance or sex. Or merkins and tentacles.

Rhyll%20Biest   GeorginaPenney

What sort of activities do the Ninjas undertake?

Our website, social media, podcasts and newsletter combine direct and indirect marketing. We share practical information about writing and marketing, books we enjoyed, and information relevant to romance (e.g. author interviews). And then there’s the naughty stuff purely for entertainment, including recipes, opinion pieces, advice columns and nerdy facts. If one of us has a launch date, the ninjas go into overdrive with promotion. There has been threat of a nudie run to promote the raft of upcoming releases but that’s on hold until Cate Ellink can knit a merkin big enough to cover up the entirety of Georgina’s wobbly bits.

What inspired you to form the Naughty Ninjas? How long did the group take in its planning stages prior to going live with a website?

Seeing other successful group sites, frustration with individual promotion efforts, and attending a promotion workshop all provided inspiration.

We started with a small core group in September 2013 who nutted out brand, aims, design and content ideas and general operation principles via Skype meetings. That part didn’t take too long and mainly involved a lot of bawdy talk and laughter. It then took us a couple of months to develop the site and fill it with content before trialling it with a small audience before the official launch on Valentine’s Day this year.

 Sandra%20_Cookieface_%20Antonelli    Cate%20_Man%20Eater_%20Ellink

What sort of issues do writers need to consider prior to forming a group- – IT, Intellectual Property, rules, expenses, etc.

If you’re looking to form a group like ours (with or without the merkins or tentacles) the key thing is going to be communication. Get all members to give you a realistic (not utopic) idea of the time they’ll have and the responsibilities they want and then halve that to allow for family dramas, book launches, bad hair days (or running out of coffee). That way you’ll start off on the right foot, with everyone having a manageable work load.

If you don’t have communication, you’re going to have trouble sorting out all the other tricksy bits and pieces when it comes to the following:

  • Deciding who is going to develop and maintain the site? (You can get mixed results if everyone is uploading to the site regardless of their tech savvy.)
  • Who owns the content, the site or each contributor?
  • Who is going to pay for the site domain, images and giveaways/prizes? How are you going to decide membership and handle disagreements or disputes?
  • How much time do you want to spend on the group and what’s the plan for sticking to that time limit?
  • How are you going to measure and report the achievement of your goals (assuming you’ve set some in the first place)?

Oh, and we can’t forget the tone of the group. Make sure you’re all on the same page when it comes to content. We ninjas can be a little risqué and it was super-important to make sure everyone was okay with that from the get-go.

 

How do you manage to keep in contact with everyone, as well as coordinate writing activities and due dates?

We’re a geographically dispersed group, with members living in Brunei, Canberra, Melbourne, WA, NSW and Queensland, so online communication is our main method (and some of it is actually serious group-related stuff!). At the moment, we mainly use email and a fantastic project organization site called Freedcamp to co-ordinate website content. The smaller stuff is all taken care of through Twitter and Facebook with the odd blog visit. The podcast is done through Skype.

Most of us are hopefully going to meet up at the conference this year as well for a couple of drinks and shenanigans as well.

roz%20grashopper%20groves    Andra%20_Madame_%20Ashe

 

What benefits do you see in writers coming together in a formal group to write and market their work?

So many benefits!

  • Other members can pick up the slack for each other when crisis or deadline looms for someone.
  • Where one blog/website might draw between 100-300 visits each day (depending on how amaze-balls you are), a single multi-author site which is cross-linked to existing blog/website readerships can theoretically be drawing over a thousand visits a day. That makes it more attractive to advertisers, sponsors and readers.
  • Fans of one author will come to the site, see who that author ‘hangs’ with and consider reading the books of other authors. I know that Wonkomance certainly worked that way for me (Rhyll). I’ve had that experience. A couple of readers have contacted me to say they found me through loving Sandra Antonelli and Lily Malone’s books (Georgina).
  • Eight people instead of one are promoting the one site (through tweets, likes, etc).
  • Eight people instead of one are creating the content for one site, so each person can spend less time on promotion. And we believe in recycling, so there’s no reason you can’t duplicate your own posts on your personal sites (blogs/websites) after they’ve appeared on the group site.
  • Instead of one lonely little brain struggling to come up with ideas all on its ownsome, eight brains work together. Assuming each of us has an average IQ of 80 (is that the average?) our site now has an IQ of 640 (which means NASA will approach us with a job offer any day now). Also, we can bounce ideas off each other and have a few laughs while getting feedback and suggestions.
  • With seven authors, that’s seven times whatever number of books each individual author has published to offer as giveaways or discounts on.
  • With eight of us, each with their own contacts and networks, our reach (in terms of finding potential sponsors, interviewees, guests etc) is wider than the Russian mafia’s.
  • Each of us writes in different styles and genres, so we’re able to bang on about a wider variety of things (which is more interesting for readers).
  • Each of us brings their own particular skills, knowledge and interests to the group. Georgina is a podcast whizz, a dab website designer and builder, and has a feel for the overseas romance community. Rhyll is a keen editor, planner and schemer (she makes some third world dictators eyeing a small neighbouring country for annexation look sloppy). Lily understands the hell out of wine, marketing and self-pubbing, Sandra is our recipe, Twitter and coffee queen, Andra and Cate bring science and erotica to the table, Sarah and Roz share their reviewing expertise, ro-magic comedy and well-developed appreciation of Cthulhu and megalodon jokes.
  • The best part is having other like-minded (i.e. fun) people to plan and speak with. Writing can be lonely, but promotion need not be. I think everyone’s energy starts to flag under the weight of promoting on their own. If your day involves working a full-time job (other than writing), meeting your family’s needs and trying to make sense of that manuscript you’re in the middle of writing, promotion can feel like many-tentacled beastie trying to drag you down. Having a group at your back to help you get the word out about your latest release and who’ll listen to you having a bit of a confidential rant, swear of happy moment is fantastic.

What have been your biggest hurdles to date?

They fall into two categories. The first is keeping track of the deadlines, who has submitted what, and what belongs to who, and where projects are at. Google Drive and Freedcamp are useful apps for sorting, backing up and tracking things. And time management. Luckily, if things go wrong, we tend to just giggle and snort at each other.

The second is managing our own crazy-keen ambition and understanding our limitations. For example, we started off with a pretty intense workload to get a decent amount of content on the site but now, six months down the track, we’ve realized that maintaining that workload isn’t necessary to get the traffic we want, so we’ve pulled things back a little and slowed down.

 

Lily%20_Beanie%20Queen_%20Malone%20copy   sarah%20belle

 

How many hours a month would you spend on the Naughty Ninjas? What types of tasks are involved?

When we started, lots! But things are much more streamlined now. Georgina spends about 18 to 20 hours a month all up taking care of formatting the podcast, the website and social media side of things (daily FB and Twitter posts) and Rhyll spends the equivalent on getting the newsletter out, scheduling, editing and all the vast minutiae of organising images for articles etc. On top of that there’s the time each Ninja takes to write their month’s articles/reviews, including any research, book reading etc. In Cate Ellink’s case, that involved knitting a merkin, sending it to Brunei and forever confounding the elderly gentleman at Customs.

We set everything up with a publishing calendar planned a month or two in advance, tied with a submission schedule designed to fill each planned item (recipe, review, interview) so if there are any problems in a given month, we’re covered.

Since we’ve got a light-fun based focus, we also try to theme things as much as possible. For example, if it’s national pedicure month, we’ll try to have several items about pedicures (and recipes with toenails).

A lot of brainstorming of ideas for promotion also goes on through Freedcamp. We also use Skype as well. Admittedly, the group Skype calls quickly degenerate into discussions of Cthulhu beanies and masturbation tents.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known in the earliest days of the group?

Everything will take up double the time you expect it to, so have realistic expectations of both your and your group members’ capacity to get stuff done around life’s little (sometimes huge) hurdles.

 

What’s the difference between marketing yourself as a solo author and marketing a group of authors?

The main thing is having the knowledge that you’ve got a bunch of kickass ladies at your back when it comes to a book launch, a beta read, a celebration or a rant. We all come from different backgrounds so it’s great to have access to such a big pool of different skills and knowledge. And we all crack each other up. There’s nothing like a good laugh to dispel the blues after a bad day in the writing trenches.

 

Do you have any advice for writers who are interested in forming a group?

The main thing we’d say is don’t start a group with people who you probably wouldn’t be friends with socially. Get together a bunch of likeminded people who you know will be able to communicate well, who are comfortable with the content you want to post and the brand you want to promote. If those people make you laugh so hard that you snort tea (or coffee) through your nose, all the better!

 

Thanks so much for joining us today, Rhyll and Georgina, and for sharing your pearls of wisdom with us.

If you’d like to check out the Naughty Ninjas, you can do it via:

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Author Spotlight: Georgina Penney…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Georgina, and congratulations on the release of ‘Irrepressible You’.

Thank you so much. It’s an absolute honour!

You write warm and funny romance novels, can you please tell us a bit about them?

My favourite books ever are ones that make me smile, cry, and that leave me a little hot and bothered so that’s what I set out to achieve in my writing.

My books are set all over the place but Irrepressible You is based in Fremantle, Western Australia with a bit of London thrown in. It features a lady barber with a penchant for nineteen fifties fashion and a terribly naughty and very sexy British satirist who’s out for someone to write about in his newspaper column.

I loved putting a Brit with an Aussie in this story. I think the Australian vernacular and temperament adds an extra special element to romance. We’re a pretty blunt people and it leaves a lot of room for juicy conflict!

Irrepressible You Cover

You have travelled extensively and lived in some very exotic locations, how has this inspired you as a writer?

Tremendously. Our first big move overseas was to an isolated expatriate compound in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia and my husband and I were among a few Australians living there. It didn’t take long to work out how different we were culturally to the Americans living in the compound at the time, not to mention the Saudis outside. The culture shock was huge!  (We shall never speak again of that time I took home-made pumpkin pie to a coffee morning in January and had all the Texan ladies telling me with sympathetic expressions that it wasn’t thanksgiving.) The entire experience left me feeling a little homesick and wanting to write about Australia.

In general though, being an expat made me hyper aware of just how similar we all are at heart, no matter colour race or creed. I think that’s why I gravitated towards romance. Love and laughter are universal, no matter where you go. The most popular books in Saudi Arabia were romances that featured the full old-school bodice-ripper covers and when I moved to my now-home Brunei, I found the same was true here. It was wonderful inspiration.

Your past life (prior to writing) is fascinating, can you give us a brief run down of what you’ve studied and worked as, please?

I’ve done a little of everything! My parents moved around a whole lot when I was a kid so I started working odd jobs on farms at an early age; feeding poddy calves, helping with worming, lambing, milking… all that kind of stuff before heading off to the big smoke to study fine art.

In addition to that, I’ve been a weigh bridge clerk, waitress (only job I was ever fired from… I am totally not cut out for the service industry), a receptionist, an administrator, a graphic designer, a web designer, the registrar of a naturopathy college. After that I decided university would be a little better and studied Communication and Cultural Studies and then headed off to UWA to do a PHD in Peak Oil, which I escaped by moving to Saudi Arabia with my husband in 2007. Oh, in there was also study and work in psychotherapy and hypnotherapy that started in my early twenties. I know I’ve probably missed something out here but that’s the bulk of it!

In all that time you must have met some very interesting people – do they ever make an appearance in your novels?

People watching is my favourite hobby. All of my characters have features or personality traits I’ve “stolen” from someone I know. My book, Irrepressible You, features a heroine, Amy, whose bubbly personality and steel backbone were inspired by one of my dearest friends and my hero Ben… well, he’s an amalgamation of a couple of charming gentlemen I’ve met over the years.

Wherever I go, I try to keep a notebook with me to write down things I overhear or see so I’ll remember them later. As it is, I’ve got about five full notebooks and counting! My most recent note is about the Bruneian gentleman who cuts our lawn wearing, for some undefinable reason, a bright orange wig. It would be a sin not to put him in a book at some stage.

You are currently living on the edge of the Bornean jungle – how’s the internet connectivity there?

“Dire!” We were under half a foot of water from torrential rain all January and landslides took out a bunch of wires and cables near the capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan. It’s left me with the kind of internet speed that old-school dial-up would sneer at. Mice on tiny treadmills could run the internet faster.

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You’ve described yourself as ‘incredibly pedantic’, does that mean you are a plotter or a panster?

I’m a total pantser but a total nit-picker when it comes to editing. I usually like to write my first draft then sit it for a couple of months before editing, repeating that process at least four or five times before I’m even vaguely happy with things. There’s a lot of swearing involved and a considerable amount of alternating wine and caffeine!

Can you please tell us about your path to publication? Is there anything you wish you’d known sooner?

When I moved to Brunei nearly 5 years ago, I was in the position of choosing expat wife coffee mornings or trying to write a book and I chose the book.

I did a bit of research and came up with a three-year plan. I’d write three first-draft manuscripts the first year, edit them the next and then see about publication after that. That’s pretty much all I did. Oh, I’m an inveterate procrastinator so I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t join any writing groups or go on Facebook or Twitter until I had all three done.

I then did a little more research, found out I had to get pro-edited if I wanted a shot at things, did that and then started submitting to American agents. Eighty rejection letters later, I had a very lovely agent tell me that my writing wasn’t so much the problem. The problem was that I’d written chick lit set in Australia, which was already a tough sell (at the time) as all people wanted during that period were sexy toothy vampires with mighty attributes or cowboys (with mighty attributes). With that news, I decided to try submitting to Australian publishers and was lucky enough to get offers from both Destiny and Escape, resulting in a three book deal with Destiny.

If I could do it over again, I think I would have started from the beginning with Australian publishers. Everyone is so professional and friendly!

Your blog is called ‘Steamy Puddings’. How did you come up with that name?

It was borne out of my love of all things dodgy in old school romance, including the covers where the heroines looked like they were being given the old Heimlich by Fabio, their “steamy puddings” were bursting out of their bodices for the masses to see.

And finally, could you please give us a sneaky peek excerpt from ‘Irrepressible You’?

“What do you think her deal is?” Alex Crane asked over the heavy roar of rain hitting the canvas awning covering the Norfolk Pub’s convict-built limestone beer garden.

Ben Martindale idly played with the packet of Gitanes he’d just placed on the ale-polished table in front of him while covertly studying the lady in question, who appeared to be the end product of an improbable romantic liaison between a Kewpie Doll and a fifties Barbie.

Her artfully curled platinum hair was pulled into a high ponytail that framed apple-cheeked features, and her rather delectable little body was decked out in a cinched waist red and white polka dot dress, red cardigan and black patent leather heels. In the dimly lit surrounds, she stood out like a rare bird of paradise lost in a penguin exhibit.

If Ben and Alex were prudent men, they’d take all that red as one of nature’s warning signals, but Ben had always been fascinated by things that didn’t quite fit—in fact, he’d made it his business—and Alex… well, Alex was full to the brim of that unique blind optimism possessed by a certain brand of Yank who travels abroad. As far as Ben knew, there was no known cure.

“Twenty dollars says she’s in the theatre,” Ben replied in clipped British tones, allowing himself a smirk at Alex’s instant censoring frown.

“I don’t know man, the fifties look is in. A lot of girls dress like that.”

“I must have been experiencing momentary blindness.” He poured himself a glass of a passable Cabernet Sauvignon, absorbing its earthy aroma, and leaned a little further back in his chair, projecting the boneless placidity of a big cat at rest. “She’s certainly not taking advantage of the attention she’s getting.”

“The sailors?” Alex looked around the outdoor bar, which was currently infested with an entire battleship’s worth of American sailors on shore leave, some in uniform, some in civvies, all on the prowl. Or as on the prowl as they could be clustered around a bevy of upright outdoor heaters spaced at random. Over the past hour or so, Ben and Alex had watched as they’d approached the lady in packs of twos or threes. Without fail, they’d all been given a double dimpled smile designed to charm and sent on their merry way.

“Hmm mm.” Ben took another sip of wine.

“She’s free to take advantage of me.”

“Just remember, Australian women are a tougher breed than the sensitive plants you’re used to. You’re getting yourself to the hospital if she beats you to a pulp. I prefer my car seats free of blood spatter.” His harsh, bare-knuckle-boxer’s features momentarily took on the menacing aspect the British tabloids had frequently remarked upon of late.

Alex chuckled, his booming, liquid-gold voice almost, but not quite, drowning out the rain. “Why would she do that? I love Aussie women. They love me too.”

“I know. Too much. Have I told you how little sleep I managed last night thanks to your stellar full volume performance with… Susan?”

“Sarah.”

Ben waved a hand dismissively. “Forgive me. Sarah. When I said mi casa es tu casa, I didn’t mean you and whatever banshee you pick up after your show. And I certainly didn’t request the encore performance, either.”

Alex shrugged unapologetically. “Is it my fault you brought a place with amazing acoustics?” He narrowed his eyes at the cigarette Ben had just tapped out of the packet and lit on autopilot. “Put that out or you’re a dead man. They screw with my vocal chords.”

“I know,” Ben said with a wicked grin, but stubbed his cigarette out on the bottom of his brown Italian loafer without taking a puff. He’d quit seven months ago and only carried the French cigarettes around out of habit. They were long past stale. He’d throw them out one of these days. Not yet, but one of these days.

“You coming tomorrow?” Alex asked, casually belying the fact he was referring to a sell-out performance of Pagliacci. Opera Australia had paid an obscene amount to lure him across the Pacific to play the lead, Canio, and they were getting their money’s worth if last night’s packed house was any indication. Alex possessed the heady combination of pretty-boy Filipino-American features, a golden voice and the grace of Astaire. In everything but hair color, he was the opposite of Ben, who couldn’t sing for shit, had the features of a hardened criminal and used his tongue to wield words like weapons, usually for comic effect but sometimes for the hell of it.

“Of course. How else will I be able to tell you what you did wrong?” Ben’s smirk transformed to a scowl as Alex leveled a punch at his shoulder. “Bastard. That’s my writing arm you know.”

“You don’t need it.”

“I bloody well do.”

“Just phone your column in.”

“How about you phone your performance in tomorrow? Oh just wait, you always do,” Ben shot back, only to see his friend hadn’t caught the dig. Instead Alex’s attention had been snared by the little blonde again.

Ben sighed. “Can you be a little more obvious? You’re looking at her like she’s a postman’s leg and you’re an amorous Labrador. Down, Fido.”

Alex ignored him, his expression turning thoughtful. “You know… I’m gonna go for it.”

“At your own risk. What do you think you’re going to achieve? Well, other than being thoroughly humiliated when she sends you packing?” He returned his gaze to the lady in question, who was currently peering at a small handheld mirror and wielding a tube of lipstick with the precision of a Dutch Master. He had to admit he was just as intrigued as his friend. His fingers twitched in the way they always did when he sensed a good story about to unfold. “And please make this amusing. I do have a word count to fill for next week.”

Alex ignored him, his broad brow puckered in a pensive frown. He was obviously working out what he was going to say to impress the lady, which was both ridiculous and rather endearing. Given Alex’s appearance, success and celebrity, he should have all the confidence in the world; still, he remained stubbornly oblivious to his own appeal. Ben, on the other hand, knew he was a charming bastard when he wanted to be and rarely questioned his attractiveness to the opposite sex.

“Watch and learn.” Alex pushed back his chair, then sauntered with painstakingly deliberate nonchalance over to the woman’s table.

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