What does a ‘trashy novel’ really mean? #romcom #trashy

I always thought the answer was gratuitous sex scenes amongst shallow characters, but others have told me it’s an insignificant plot. I Googled the answer and (palpitations!) it brought up chick lit. Chick lit! Surely not the light-hearted books I … Continue reading

Five Facts about A Fair Exchange

This month, Monique McDonell is the first author to reveal FIVE FACTS about her latest release (she is also offering prizes. Scroll down for details). During the FIVE FACTS month we’ll  be discovering facts about books that their author would rather not be known.

Over to Monique…

1. Just like the main character in my novel, A Fair Exchange, I was an exchange student in Massachusetts as a teenager.

2. Of all my novels this one had the longest gestation period.

3. I had lots of fun researching this book doing road trips in Australia and eating out at places in the book.

4. The character of Stacey in the book is an amalgam of a few of my friends when I live in America. (Stacey is a very American name and was not common in Australia in the 1980s and yet I had several American friends by that name – all my Australian friends were called Jennifer, Emma or Kylie).

5. Of all the male characters I’ve written Matt is my favourite so far. If I wasn’t happily married he’d be welcome on my door-step anytime!

A Fair Exchange

Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?
What if you got a second chance?

Amelia Armstrong is about to find out!

It’s just a shame her long-lost love, Matt, has returned (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself, and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.
How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses? Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.

A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.


It was not as if he was the
first one to mention it. In the past week everyone who had entered my apartment
had commented on the shiny new Vespa parked in the middle of the otherwise
empty living room. In fact, each and every one of them had imaginatively said
“Amelia you have a red Vespa parked in your living room!”  And they all said it in a tone that implied I
might not have noticed, as if it may have magically appeared there.
How could I not notice a
vehicle parked in what was otherwise an empty room?
What amazed me was that the
Vespa was what they chose to comment on.
 Not that Nick had dumped me,
after ten years, for a twenty-one year-old. Nor that he had moved out, taking
basically all the furniture and leaving me with a great view over the beach and
an enormous mortgage.
 No one even commented about
the fact that I, in turn, had quit the fabulous job that had always meant way
too much to me.
 No, they commented on the
 What I could not understand
though was why it hadn’t bothered me until right then, when Matthew Blue
commented. And when he did comment, why had I collapsed into this embarrassing
sea of tears?
 How had this happened? How had
I become this sobbing pathetic figure of womanhood?  And more importantly how had I ended up
thirty-six and alone?
 Didn’t I used to have so much
potential? Everyone had said so, hadn’t they?
 “Amelia Armstrong is something
 I was one of those shiny young
girls who took risks and dreamed big. I was one of the smart ones who knew what
she wanted and went after it. I was one to watch.
 If I hadn’t been that kind of
a girl I would never have met Matthew all those years ago. A different girl
would not have found herself, on the other side of the world, at sixteen,
staring into his dark and dreamy eyes.
 So where was that girl right
now, I wanted to know? And how had a girl with so much potential gotten it so
horribly wrong?

About the author – Monique McDonell:

‘I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.

I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn’t write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)

When I began to write again I noticed a trend – writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.

I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for eight years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia.

A Fair Exchange is the fifth novel I have released in the last two years.’

Just an ordinary day for Karen Martin

A Day in the Life of…
Karen Martin

Well, first of all, most of my writing time
isn’t spent writing novels, and my average day of writing is never average! I
never know what I’m going to be working on next, as I get new assignments from
my clients all the time. I write both fiction and nonfiction for a wide variety
of educational publishers, such as Scholastic, National Geographic, and Oxford
University. One day, I’m writing nonsense poems for 2nd grade, and
the next day, I’m creating the index for a university’s book on bio-terrorism.
It keeps me on my toes, but I like it that way. I love learning about new
things, and my work keeps me researching constantly.

But on a typical writing/work day, here’s
how it goes:

9:36 am (approximately) – Wake up, after
having been up late last night reading some book I just couldn’t put down,
brainstorming for my upcoming novel and/or novella, or playing Jurassic Park
Builder because I was too wired to sleep. #WorldsWorstSleeper

9:37 am – Stumble 16 steps to the “office”
and prep a one-cup of extra bold, boot up computer. Proceed to social media, do
not pass go, do not collect $200. Spend way too long putzing around on Facebook,
Twitter, Amazon KDP, Smashwords, Goodreads, my blog, emails, and Pinterest.
Cook and eat breakfast in there somewhere.

10:45 am – Realize I need to get down to business
if I want to get any work done today. Sigh, and click open the folder to my
external hard drive, where I store all my current work projects. Check my work
email to make sure there are no urgent client messages I need to return, then
get down to work.

11:45 am – Make lunch for Mom. (She lives
with me in her own little suite in the house.) Back to work. No lunch for me
yet; I just had breakfast.

2:15 – When the weather is nice, take a
turn around the neighborhood with Mom to get some exercise, not to mention take
a break from computer eyestrain/get some sunlight so I don’t start looking like
one of those no-pigment-having creatures that hide away in caves at the bottom
of the sea their entire lives. Twenty or thirty minutes later, back home and
back to work.

4:30 pm – Look up and realize it’s time to
make dinner for Mom. Some days we dine together, and some days I keep working
through the dinner hour.

8:30 pm – Wrapping up work for the day
because I’m too cross-eyed to see the screen anymore. At this point, I may be doing
“work” work or personal projects:  blog
posts, writing or editing my next creative piece, formatting a new book to
upload to the internet, checking up on any marketing promos I’m currently
running (such as blog hops or Rafflecopter contests), and so on.

9:00 pm – Spend an hour or so chilling with
Mom, watching the shows we can both stand to watch together:  The Paradise, The White Queen, Two and a Half
Men, American Pickers, Castle, Chopped, and Flea Market Flip are a few of the
usual suspects.

10:15 pm – bubble bath, hot tub, and/or back
to the computer for a stretch of evening productivity that sometimes lasts
until 11:30 or midnight. Usually working on personal projects at this time, as
my brain is too fatigued to do the intellectual heavy-lifting required by most
of my work projects.

11:45 pm – head to bed with an e-book or a
tree-book. Read until sleepy, fall asleep. Or, get a second wind and read

2:30 am – at which time I force myself to
turn off the light. Meditate, hoping brain will cooperate and settle down into
slumber. But some nights I’m up until…

5:30 or 6:00 am – If I’m really wired, I’ll
hit the computer again. I finally fall asleep around bird o’clock, but still
invariably wake up around 9:30. On days like this, I take a long nap in the

Rinse and repeat, occasionally throwing in
date night or an evening out with friends to break up the routine.

Glamorous, no? 



Kate Adams has it all figured out. Five years out of college, she’s got a steady job, a home she loves in the big city, and good friends who always keep her laughing: her stylish but nosy roommate Evette, happily-married Cecie, and of course, good old Mitch, her seriously cute co-worker who’s been stuck in the Friend Zone since the day they met. 
Everything is going just fine—until the night Kate crosses the line with Mitch, and the boundaries between friendship and love begin to blur. Things get even more complicated when hunky JP enters the scene. What’s a girl to do? Add to the mix a spunky little pug Kate never expected to fall for, and her neatly-ordered life is starting to look more like a dog’s dinner. Maybe her roommate has the right idea after all: forget the men, and stick with a canine companion instead. 

It’s time for Kate to figure out what she really wants in life. But can she dig her way out of the mess she’s created before she ends up permanently in the doghouse?

E. Martin, M.Ed.
 is a full-time freelance writer/editor. She has
been in the publishing business since 2004, working on books and publications
for major and independent publishers, universities, businesses, and private

Prior to entering the field of publishing, Ms. Martin worked as a
Senior EFL Fellow (English as a Foreign Language) for the U.S. Department of
State in Romania, a Junior EFL Fellow for the U.S. Department of State in
Jordan, and a teacher-trainer for the U.S Peace Corps in Mauritania, Jordan,
Romania, and Morocco.

Ms. Martin served as a Peace Corps volunteer for two
years, teaching English in the Errachidia Province of Morocco. 
Modogamous is Ms.
Martin’s first novel.


Join the Modogamous Holiday Hop Giveaway
to win a fabulous Swag Pack full of prizes! The Swag Pack winner will receive a
signed copy of the paperback, tote bag, coffee mug, Christmas ornament, and
more! Additional prizes include a copy of the e-book, a signed paperback, and a
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt from Modogamous

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 ~ Keepin’ It Kate: “A New Year, A New Reason to Jump Off a Bridge”

~January 3~
Crappy New Year’s, folks!
Oh, don’t mind me. It’s just been a bit of a rough week.
“Come on, Kate. Surely it can’t be that bad,” you say.
Well, that’s very kind of you. But yes, it can be that bad.
“Why’s that?” you say.
You know, the usual. I got fired. My boyfriend dumped me. And I think I may have lost my best friend, too. ‘Cause I’m an idiot like that.
Pardon me while I wallow for a moment. **sigh**
Okay, moment over.
On the up-side, I wrote a special poem to commemorate the occasion, just for you, dear Readers. It’s a bit late for the Christmas theme, I know, but what the hell. I’ve messed everything else up lately, anyway. What’s one more screw-up to add to the list?
Would you like to read it? You would? Oh, thank you! Really, you’re too kind. I don’t know what I’d do without you guys sometimes. Well, without further ado, here it is:

‘Twas three days after New Year’s, and all through the house
The bottles were empty, my feelings to douse. 

The bills were all stacked on the table with care,
In hopes that some money would soon be paid there.
Alas! There was none, for the cash had dried up,
Since my job I did lose at the store known as Pup.

And I in my sweat pants and looking like crap,
Had just settled down for a post-drinking nap.
When up in my head, there arose such a clatter,
It rattled me! But I knew what was the matter.
Away to that night, my mind flew like a flash,
It tore open my heart, and my nerves it did smash.

‘Twas the Eve of New Year’s when things came to a head,
And my heart was ripped out, and they left it for dead.

But let me explain just what happened that night,
And you’ll see, reader dear, why I’m in such a fright.
The evening began with such cheer and such glee!

On the arm of my man, as glad as could be.
A handsome young lad, and so virile and strong,
I thought I might swoon! What could ever go wrong?
Now Prada! Now Vera! Armani! Dior!

On Gucci! On, Pucci! On, Chanel! And much more!
The dance floor was swirling with such fine array,
As the young and the hip danced the cold night away.
And then, in a twinkling, my heart hit the roof.

When I nearly committed the year’s biggest goof.
The moment when everything first went awry
Was the song where I danced with another young guy.
His eyes—how they twinkled! His spirit, how merry!

Then he whispered sweet nothings that turned my cheeks cherry. 
As he drew me in close, my heart started to pound,
But the next thing I knew, he was sprawled on the ground!
I had to escape; I was ready to leave, 
But alas, I’m afraid there would be no reprieve.

I raced ‘round the club, searching through every room,
‘Til at last what I found was my own dismal doom.
I peeked through a door, and my boyfriend I spied.
Thank God! I had found him. I started inside.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, 
But a ho-ho-ho-HO who was nibbling his ear!

Then came Bachelor Two, and things really got tense,
For that’s when the shouting and cursing commenced!
Then laying a fist just below my date’s nose,
He turned words on me, and my aching heart froze.
What was there to do but to bid them goodbye?

I gathered my things, and I held my head high.
But they heard me exclaim, ‘ere I tramped out of sight,
“Crappy New Year’s to all, and you all can me bite!”

Every Woman – Whose A&& Is That?


Marylu Zuk with 


Filled with whimsical illustrations and witty rhyme, Whose A&& Is That? encourages women to laugh at our collective selves. Author Marylu Zuk reassures us that we are indeed perfect regardless of the size or shape of our buns. Whose A&& Is That? permits every woman to relax her abs, exhale, and laugh at what we rarely see – our own backsides! This quick read is a delightful gift for your female tribe – sisters, aunts, coworkers, and friends.

Reviewed in September: Ugly Reviews 

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Holidays from Hell


Zanna Mackenzie

So, it’s September and the end of the peak holiday
season, the schools are back and summer seems but a distant memory. We all look
forward to those weekend escapes and week-long holidays but do they live up to
the great expectations? Sometimes yes – but, it seems, most of the time, no
they don’t.  Am I the only one who finds
there is an inexplicable and confusing difference between how a hotel/holiday
cottage looks in the photos on the internet or in the brochures compared with
the view you get when you’re actually standing in the property?

Booked via a reputable cottage agency a property we
stayed in during a break in Norfolk looked fantastic on the internet, the
reality was unfortunately quite different. The lounge sported an ultra-creepy
ancient lace and white silk christening robe pinned to the wall which gave the
whole place a very unsettling ghostly atmosphere
– we avoided the lounge and
sat at the dining table in the kitchen all the time instead!

In Keswick in the Lake District our property had an
added extra which wasn’t welcome – a mouse which liked to come out for a night
time stroll. The whole place had laminate floors so you could hear it scuttling
around everywhere – we didn’t get much sleep and left after a few days. Then
there was the barn conversion near Ambleside which sported a dilapidated
caravan right outside the kitchen window – needless to say that didn’t feature
in the internet photos!

A log cabin in Scotland’s Argyll had a strange and
rather unpleasant smell which refused to dissipate even with all the windows
open and a bracing Scottish gale whistling through the rooms. It also had a
bathroom which you felt grubbier, not cleaner after visiting – I still shudder
at the memory of that one.

In North Wales there was a property with the added
convenience of the railway line ten foot from the lounge window, all the
crockery in the kitchen rattled alarmingly from the vibrations of the high
speed trains en route to Holyhead.

Holiday disasters don’t seem to be restricted to the
UK either. In Greece there was the studio apartment with a bathroom not much
more than a hole in the floor, ripped sheets on the bed and a grapevine so
overgrown you had to fight your way through to the front door
like a fairy tale
prince trying to machete his way through the forest to rescue his princess. In
Romania – when it was still under the old Communist rule – our flight was
diverted from Bucharest due to fog and our plane instead landed in Timisoara and
was immediately surrounded by armed guards. We were herded onto a bus like
criminals and put up in a dingy tower block of a hotel with mould all over the
walls, damp bedding – with 10 people to a room!

On reflection there have been some vacation
successes scattered in amongst the never-again- hols, so in the interests of
presenting a balanced view of vacations here are some of my holiday highlights:

*Ten days touring British Columbia in western
Canada, breath taking scenery, excellent standards of service, friendly people
and the most gorgeous and romantic B&B on Vancouver Island which only had
one room – a whole suite with its own sundeck right on the water’s edge.

*An ultra-tasteful little cottage in Snowdonia that
looked even better than the internet pics (!!)  had stunning views of the mountains and a
little study/writing room with views of said mountains.

*A cottage next to a private beach in south west
Scotland – step out of the door and there was the sea – spectacular and
blissfully peaceful too.

To prove to us that you don’t need to endure traffic
jams on the M6 or flight delays at the noisy airport one of our best holidays
was barely four miles from our own home! We house (and pet) sat for some
friends who own a barn conversion set in 2 acres of grounds – the sun shone, we
sat out in the gorgeous gardens all day loving having all that space around us,
read, ate, chatted, walked the dogs and totally and utterly relaxed. There was
no urge for frantic sightseeing, no unfamiliar surroundings in which you
struggle to settle or sleep, no long journeys or having to pack everything but
the kitchen sink ‘just in case’. 
Holidays can come in all styles, lengths and budgets, and sometimes they
even manage to be relaxing…

The Love Programme

Thanks to an embarrassing incident involving a
wedding and her ex-boyfriend Marcus, Lucy has to leave her home town in a hurry
and needs a place to escape to for a while.

Best friend Fiona is convinced now would be a good
time for Lucy to get herself a new life with some potential for romance thrown
in. Fate seems to agree when Lucy is given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to
star in a TV show and be a contestant on The Love Programme – two weeks of
luxury living on a grand Highland estate coupled with, she hopes, fun and
romance in wildest Scotland.

When Lucy meets Paul – the young, handsome owner of
the Highland estate – she thinks she may have found the love of her life but
who is the mysterious Hannah and what part does she play in his life? When she
discovers that Marcus is planning to follow her to Scotland to win her back
Lucy has some serious soul searching to do. Does she have a future with Paul,
with Marcus or is she yet to find the man of her dreams?
About the author Zanna Mackenzie: Mackenzie lives in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!
Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!

Zanna has written two novels, The Love Programme (Astraea Press) and How Do You Spell Love? (Crooked Cat Publishing) and both were published in early 2013.

Read an extract of The Love Programme below:

The Love Programme
“Just sit on this suitcase, will you, Fi? I can’t
get the stupid thing shut!”
Fiona, obligingly perching her bottom on the bulging
case so Lucy could tug the zipper to close it up, said, “I can’t believe you’ve
agreed to do this. You’re going to be on a TV show about love! Won’t you be
embarrassed having everyone know all your business?”
Her face red from doing battle with the suitcase
and, thankfully, managing to win, Lucy shook her head. “No, it’s all for a good
cause. Where else could I get a few extra weeks off work and live the life of
luxury whilst a man tries to impress me with extravagant dates? Plus, I’ll be
getting relationship coaching from a top expert.”
Lucy checked around the room to make sure she hadn’t
forgotten anything. “Do you think I’ve packed the right clothes?”
Fiona lay back on the bed, stretching and spreading her
arms out around her as though she was making the duvet version of a snow angel.
“How should I know?”
“Mel said the programme is being recorded at the
home of some Scottish laird. It’s a real mansion with a spa and acres and acres
of land.”
Fiona pushed herself into an upright position,
suddenly all attentive. “A laird, eh? Sounds interesting. What else do you know
about him?”
“He’s not going to be one of the dates so don’t get
all excited. He’s just rented his home out to the TV production company. Apparently
he’ll be away on business most of the time we’re there, so we probably won’t
even get to meet him.”
Fiona shook her head. “Shame, how exciting would it
have been? Meeting a real life laird would be amazing.”
“He’s probably about sixty, balding, as round as he
is tall and arrogant to boot.”
Fiona slapped Lucy on the arm. “Don’t spoil it for
me. I was just picturing him as about our age, the classic tall, dark and
handsome type. Big brown eyes…” She sighed happily. “Is it just me or do you
find all those green wellies and Barbour jackets the country gents wear
incredibly sexy?”
“No, it’s definitely just you!” Lucy shook her head
As Fiona stared into space, no doubt continuing her
little country gent fantasy, Lucy flopped down onto the bed. “Do you think I’m
doing the right thing?”
“Of course you are. This could be a life-changing
“I’d like to be able to go on dates without feeling
guilty about Marcus all the time.” Sighing, Lucy added, “I want to be free to
have relationships like everyone else does.”
“I know you do. So, how can you doubt if you’re
doing the right thing? You have to go to Scotland. You know you do.”
“I suppose so but will you be okay? I hate leaving
you with your wedding just weeks away. There’s still some preparations to do
and I am chief bridesmaid. Maybe I shouldn’t go. This is all crazy, I won’t go.
I must be mad even contemplating it.”
“You’re going! End of story! The wedding is being
perfectly managed by my mum and by Luke’s mum, so no worries there.” Fiona
hauled Lucy to her feet. “What time’s your train?”
“I’m getting the overnight sleeper up to Inverness
and then Craig, the TV guy, is going to meet me at the station and drive me to
the country estate.”
“I’m so envious.” Fiona sulked, folding and unfolding
the corner of the duvet around her fingers.
“I thought you were happy with your
“I am.” Fiona sighed. “But a girl can dream, can’t

An interview with Sarah Louise Smith from Crooked Cat Publishing

Let’s get to know Sarah Louise Smith, a British author of women’s contemporary romance.

How did you find your publisher?

I found Crooked Cat Publishing through a simple Google search and then did a bit of research on their authors. I was impressed and decided to submit my ms to them… I was thrilled when they offered me a contract and they’ve been brilliant to work with – hence going back to them again with my second novel!

How do your juggle a writing schedule?
It can be really tricky to balance life/work/writing. I try to write early in the mornings and at weekends, in and around my social life. It isn’t easy but I love it so I do it! 🙂 

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
The best thing is the lovely comments I’ve received from readers, it’s so nice to hear that someone has enjoyed my stories and makes all the work feel worth-while! The worst part is just the lack of time I have to dedicate to it; I never have enough time to do all the writing I want to do! 

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
All sorts of places – songs, books, films spark little ideas. Quite often my storylines are daydreams that got carried away! 

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
No… I have to be in the right frame of mind to write, so there’s no point in trying to reach a set word count if I’ve lost the inspiration… I tend to set a goal though, as in, I will finish this novel by a set date. So far though, I’m always late! 


Do you have a critique/editor partner?
My husband always reads my work and it quite honest if he feels it’s good/bad or if a character seems to be doing something unrealistic, etc. Crooked Cat provide an editor, and in both instances this has been invaluable to me. 

Promoting is something most authors struggle with. How are you managing yours?
I have worked in marketing communications for over eight years so before I became published I was already experienced in writing marketing campaigns, building websites, using social media, etc. So I’m quite lucky in that regard. Mostly, I just try to put myself in the reader’s place (I read a lot of chick-lit myself so this isn’t hard) and think about what would make them want to take an interest in my books/me as an author and go from there. I think it’s mostly about building a brand for yourself. 

What is your book about? Genre, theme, essence etc.
My new novel, Izzy’s Cold Feet, is about a girl who’s about to get married. However, she’s not sure about her groom. Does she really love him? She starts to compare him with her ex-boyfriends and takes the reader through her past relationships one by one. To complicate matters and confuse her further, each boyfriend turns up in the week leading up to her wedding and Izzy has to question which of them she’d be happiest with. As a subplot, Izzy’s sister Helen has been missing since Izzy was twelve, so she’s got quite a few issues and problems due to that, too. 

Was there a character you struggled with?
Yes… I can’t reveal too much but the ending didn’t go the way I had originally planned. The characters kind of took over and I had to change the ending to make Izzy happy! 

If your main character were a real person, how’d they perceive you?
What a great question! I think Izzy and I would be friends; we’re similar in some ways as I am a bit of an over-thinker and so is she. We also both love to cook!

Thanks so much for having me visit today 🙂

Sarah Louise Smith

Sarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, UK, with her
husband, two cute cats and a loopy golden retriever. She has an extremely
lovely step-daughter and spends most of her free time writing, reading,
cooking, and taking long walks.

She’s the author of two chick-lit novels: Amy and Zach and
Izzy’s Cold Feet, both published by Crooked Cat.

Izzy’s Cold Feet
One bride to be. Three ex-boyfriends

Izzy is engaged to Greg, who is everything a girl could
want. The trouble is – all she can think about is the men she
loved before she met him: sexy Ewan, the first love of her life; dependable
Jason, who loved her more than she deserved; and irresistible Dexter, who broke
her heart…

Then there’s the fact that her sister has been missing since
Izzy was twelve. After such a traumatic childhood all Izzy wants is a normal,
happy, settled life, but love is never simple.

In the week leading up to her wedding day, Izzy is forced to
ask herself who she loves the most. And, given the choice, who would she want
to spend her life with?

Confessions of a writer… anxiety attacks.

Zanna Mackenzie

When I was asked to contribute to WWBB’s theme on
Confessions of A Writer lots of ideas whizzed through my mind  and I spent a while debating what I wanted to
confess about.

The fact that when I’m writing, everything else (well,
almost everything) gets neglected, especially the housework, was one confession
possibility – and very true!

As was the fact that I have burnt many a meal by not paying
attention to what I’m doing because my thoughts are caught up in character
dialogue and plot points for my latest work in progress.

What I have decided to confess though is that, I think, writing
helps to keep me sane.  All my
life I’ve been prone to nerves, worry and anxiety which has affected  me in my social life as well as in my career.

I have tried hypnosis, meditation, aromatherapy, mineral supplements (magnesium
and calcium are supposed to aid and calm the nervous system I had read) as well
as self help books, all with varying degrees of success.

Years ago I used to write and enjoyed it, then,
disillusioned with feedback on some of my work, I gave it up. Last year,
encouraged by my husband, I began to write fiction again, re-editing two of my
books and daring to send them off (for the first time) to a publisher for
consideration. Within a few months both books had been accepted and I was on my
way to becoming a published author. So I began to take my writing seriously,
fitting it in around my day job, allocating time to work on my next books.  My creativity flowed and I found I had loads
of ideas, characters evolving, plots all fighting to be written down, snippets
of dialogue to make notes on, and books to plan. As my creative mind came to
life, in direct contrast, my state of anxiety diminished. It seems as though, for me, being creative and putting my mind to work
on all these books, plots, characters etc meant my mind no longer had time to
dwell on creating anxiety and worries.

Creativity has long been recognised as a way to help with stress,
anxiety and mental health issues and, for me, my confession is that writing
truly does help to keep me sane. For anyone out there with anxiety issues I
would say try getting creative!

For help and support with anxiety issues the following
website is a great resource: http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

Author, Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a
vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library
of books waiting to be read. Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications
is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down
notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the
characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from
the original plot!

Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has
qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic
nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when
she’s not writing or reading!

Zanna has written two novels, The Love Programme (Astraea
Press) and How Do You Spell Love? (Crooked Cat Publishing) and both were
published in early 2013.
How do you Spell Love?

Make A Wish…

Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this.
What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan?

Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling
the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend
Rob is increasingly distant.
Crooked Cat Publishing
When the developers win the battle and move into town
everyone’s life is turned upside down.

Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his
company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.

Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of
his own, so things could get really complicated.

Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts
are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious

An extract to whet your appetite

How do you Spell Love?

Kat pushed the last of the cottage cheese and shrimp
sandwiches into the cool box and slammed the van door shut. As if her life
wasn’t enough of a disaster zone as it was – no money, lousy job, losing
Nathan, having to move back home to live with her parents – now this had to go
and happen. Plus, of course, it didn’t help that today she was feeling
shattered after spending half the night chanting some ridiculous protection
spell in the middle of the allotments with Summer.

Cringing as a van full of builders stopped at the nearby
traffic lights, Kat braced herself for the inevitable. After the standard-issue
wolf whistles had drifted across from their van, next came the leered,
“Wouldn’t argue with that, love!” as one of them nodded towards her sparkling
clean van, parked neatly at the curb. The words “A Bit of Crumpet on the Road”
emblazoned down the side in deep purple, glittery lettering. Not for the first
time Kat cursed her boss Janice for calling her bakery-cum-deli that name.

Kat sighed, well it certainly drew comments from the public
and from their customers, not always welcome ones, but as Janice was always
keen to point out, any kind of publicity and attention was, in her eyes, good
publicity and attention.

Pulling her navy and white striped apron more tightly around
her T-shirt and shorts, Kat ignored the builders and climbed into her van to
begin that morning’s deliveries. As she indicated to pull out into the busy
street in Luisborough, she mulled over the bad news – that she was to add the
controversial Netherton Meadows housing development to her daily sandwich

Netherton Meadows. Yippee. If Summer found out, she’d surely
be ostracised for fraternising with the environmental enemy. This was a
development that pretty much everyone in Luisborough had fought against for
getting on towards a year. It had been the focus of STW campaigns. It went
against everything that Kat believed in environmental-wise. Everyone hated the
Netherton Meadows developers. Except, it seemed, Janice, who was perfectly
happy to, in her words, ‘supply yummy builders with yummy sandwiches.’

Lost in thought, Kat just managed to spot the approaching
traffic lights had turned to red and hastily slammed a foot on the brake. The
van lurched to a halt and several boxes of crisps and one of the cool boxes in
the back tipped over. Damn. It was shaping up to be one of those days.

Two hours later Kat had visited all her usual drops, was
extremely hot and bothered, and could put off going to Netherton Meadows no

Driving through the assorted vans, machinery and portacabins
Kat parked next to a building marked as being the Site Office and hit the
button on the dashboard. Tinkling chimes filled the air as Kat climbed from the
driver’s seat and made to open the back doors of the vehicle. It was
embarrassing enough that the van had the company name in large lettering along
its side but, just to make sure that it received maximum exposure – and
achieved maximum embarrassment – Janice had had some irritating chimes fitted to
the vehicle too. Kat was under strict instructions to sound the chimes when she
called at all of the sites where people came out to the van; such as they were
about to at Netherton Meadows.

A man came down the steps of the office with a grin on his
face and walked towards her. “Hi, you must be Kat.” He wedged a clipboard under
his left arm and offered a hand to shake. “I’m Alex. Project manager for the

“Hi,” mumbled Kat, spotting a group of hard-hat-clad
builders advancing towards her with hungry expressions on their faces.

“Right, lads,” Alex turned towards the men. “This is Kat and
she’s very kindly agreed to venture onto this site to bring you all your lunch.
Don’t give her any hassle, OK?”

The men laughed and then nodded. “Sure, Alex. You’re the boss.”

Fifteen minutes later it seemed that all of the team at the
development had made their sandwich, crisp and drink selections and sloped off
to devour them in the sunshine. Only one of the builders, a portly man who must
have been twenty years Kat’s senior, had pushed the boundaries a little,
despite Alex’s earlier warning. As he’d selected a smoked salmon and cream
cheese roll – a choice that had surprised Kat somewhat, having pegged him as a
ham and cheese kind of guy – he’d asked Kat if she’d fancy joining him for a
drink sometime. She’d politely declined his offer, saying that she had a
boyfriend. No need to tell him that, technically, she and Nathan were no longer
an item. No need to tell him why either.

Miss Anthrope on TOUR!


The Fall of the Misanthrope has been on a tour since February. She’s
been showing her face all over the blogsphere and it’s been tremendous fun!
On Francine
LaSala’s blog
I was interviewed and asked questions about my books and my
blog, so if there is anything you want to know about me then head on over for a
look. Pam
allowed me to spotlight Misanthrope and there is a HUGE picture of me
(ugh!) so be warned. On Monique
McDonell’s blog
I wrote an article called Chick Lit in all its Sub-Genre Glory, and we talk about the many
sub-genre’s in romance and how DIFFERENT they are.

Misanthrope even made in on to Parent Bloggers Network where she was reviewed (btw am I the only one who gives my books a gender?); this was out of the blue so REALLY pleased about this one.
Over on Mike
Cooley’s blog
Misanthrope is spotlighted again with a short excerpt. The
excerpt is when Valerie, my character, realises she fancies Lex Kendal, but she
daren’t get into a relationship with him and so wants the next best thing—a one
night stand. 
On Tracy
James Jones’ blog
I wrote an article titled: Can men ever be REAL men in women’s romance? Well can they? Head on
over to see what that’s all about. Isabella
Louise Anderson
allowed me to post the entire first chapter so you might
want to check that out before purchasing, or jump to Cindy
Roesel’s blog
for her review on Misanthrope. It says it all really.

The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch therefore I am

Valerie Anthrope learned, from a young age, to hold tight to her emotions. Her days are spent keeping people at arm’s length while she has conceded her nights will be forever haunted by disturbing dreams. 

Her life isn’t prepared for the bubbly and assertive Ellen, who believes she’s been put on this earth to help everyone she encounters. Ellen introduces Valerie to the sexy, but equally upbeat, playboy Lex Kendal.
Valerie’s not interested. Lex is and pursues Valerie. Then Valerie’s dreams become more sinister until, finally, she learns why. 
A modern Cinderella with Valerie’s emotions playing the ugly sisters, Ellen enacting the fairy godmother, Lex Kendal playing a flirty Prince Charming and instead of a glass slipper, furry Boots. 

Can Lex win her before her dreams take control AKA midnight?