Monday, 15 October 2018

3 Writers: 3 Creative hobbies

By Cassandra Samuels

Today I have 3 amazing writers who do beautiful creative hobbies. So, I asked them a few questions and they were happy to share some of their work with us.

Alison Stuart is the author of English Civil War novels and she likes to make quilts when she is not sitting down writing words.
Buy this book here

1. When did you start quilting and why?

When I was in Form 2, my school introduced a new idea – extra curricular lunchtime activities (how the teachers must have hated it!). It just so happened that Mrs. Howard the science teacher offered up patchwork – and perched on the benches in the science lab I learned English Paper Piecing patchwork (which is a considerable improvement on anything else I learned in the science lab!).

Alison finishing her first quilt
Alison finishing her first quilt
2.How important to you is refilling the creative well?
I know I am writing better when I am sewing (I also do cross stitch). I I do love hand quilting in particular but it is an awkward piece of sewing and the discovery of a local machine quilter has made me rather lazy!

3. And have you ever suffered as a consequence of not doing so?
At the moment I am definitely suffering because to embark on a major quilting project I need the same amount of creative (and physical!) space as my writing demands. I have to plan my project and it takes me a couple of days to get all my ducks in a row and cut out the material for assembly and piece the quilt top.

Cate Ellink  likes to write spicy hot romances for Escape Publishing as Cate Ellink and small town romance under Catherine Evans, but when she is not making her readers hot under the collar she likes to take amazing photographs.

1. When did you start taking photos and why?

Ever since I can remember I’ve written and taken photos. My extended family are good photo-takers. I hate having my photo taken so I rarely take others.

Buy this book here

Buy this book here

2. How important to you is re-filling the creative well?
I tend to think of this as balancing myself and my life, rather than re-filling the creative well. If I’m indoors too much, I begin to feel confined. If I’m doing too much for others, I become drained.

3. Have you ever suffered as a consequence of not doing so?
My balance is never perfect! Some years back, I had a really bad run with lots of stressful life events in a short period and everything got totally out of balance. I ended up really sick. As part of my change of focus, I looked more at creative pursuits. 

courtesy of Catherine Evans

It’s so hard to pick a favourite photo but since I have to, I’ll choose this one I took at Uluru in 2007.   I’d never seen one like it, so I was happy (even if you can’t really tell it’s Uluru!)

Melanie Scott likes variety in her books and so she writes fantasy under MJ Scott, hometown romance under Emma Douglas and sports romance under Melanie Scott. When she is not creating new worlds, new towns or new sports' heroes she loves to create lovely watercolours.

Copyright Mel Scott

1. When did you start painting watercolours and why?

I took a class on a whim in 2014. It was a few years after my first book came out and I had started to realise that I needed another creative hobby that wasn’t my job as well. I’d always liked watercolour but never been particularly arty so was just trying something out. Happily, I loved it!

Buy this book here
buy this book here

2. How important to you is re-filling the creative well? 
For me it’s really important. I know writers who don’t read while they’re writing or don’t watch TV/movies etc but I can’t do that. My brain needs lots of stories being fed into it as well as looking at pretty things and nice colours. There’s so much pressure on writers to just write, write, write these days and I don’t think most of us can do that long term without burning out.

3. And have you ever suffered as a consequence of not doing so? 

I definitely notice when I’m stressed and I start doing mindless internet surfing etc instead of reading or watching something on TV or doing some art that it flows over into the writing not going well.

What is your creative outlet?

I love to love…sitting at a cafe with a view and enjoying a sweet treat.

I love to laugh….at the positions my cat Angus gets himself into.

I love to learn…about other people's creative outlets.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Romance Around the World: Wales

Wales: A Country of Majesty and Tradition
Wales is a country with incredible scenery, culture and history. It is an ancient land with rugged coastlines, soaring mountains and beautiful National Parks. Inhabited by modern humans for more than 29 000 years, it is known for its medieval castles, Welsh language and Celtic culture. The Welsh people have distinct romantic traditions such as lovespoons which young men would carve for women as a sign of their affection.

Some beautiful romantic novels have been written about this special country. Here are the details of three books, I especially enjoyed.

After Forever Ends by Melodie Ramone

This beautifully constructed novel tells of a love to last a lifetime. Sylvia is from Scotland. She lost her mother at a young age, and her father is somewhat preoccupied. She goes to boarding school in Wales where she meets and falls in love with Oliver Dickinson, a rebellious young man and a twin. The story is told from the viewpoint of Sylvia, now widowed and a grandmother. She decides to return to the Welsh cottage in the woods where she lived most of her life. There is magic in the woods.

The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett


This young adult novel with elements of romance introduces us to Bridie, a creative and imaginative young woman, migrating to Port Phillip Bay with her stressed mother and practical stepfather. She befriends a Welsh couple, Rhys and Sian. Rhys, a musician who suffers from agoraphobia, was regarded as a coward in his home town. Sian has special healing powers. We follow Bridie’s journey to adulthood and growing realisation of her love for Rhys.

Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney


When Nikki is a young boy, he is taken by his gypsy mother to live with his wealthy, titled Welsh grandfather. Feeling abandoned by his mother and scorned by his grandfather, he grows up, inherits the earldom and totally neglects the estate. Clare Morgan, the orphaned daughter of an impoverished Methodist minister confronts Nikki about the starving people in the village and the dangerous mine on his estate. She asks for his assistance. He counteroffers. What he wants is her reputation. If she will live with him platonically for three months, he will give her what she asks.

Have you been to Wales? Which part of the country did you like best? What is your favourite romance novel, set in this beautiful country?

I love to love: I went out to dinner the other night with my father, sister and husband. A very special evening.

I love to laugh: I saw 'Crazy, Rich Asians' at the cinema yesterday. This film is so much fun.

I love to learn: We visited some of the monasteries in Meteora, Greece on our recent overseas trip. The meaning behind the artworks and the ancient traditions of the monks are absolutely fascinating.

Monday, 1 October 2018

The TBR Mountain - How I'm Taking Back Control

by Enisa Haines

Image courtesy of:

Back in the days when life was simpler, a mix of school/university and leisure time, I hadn't met the TBR pile. I was always reading, devouring in a few days the ten romance novels Harlequin Mills & Boon published every month. Yes, ten novels. Soon a new publisher appeared, Silhouette Books, and the ten books per month grew to twenty. I could cope with that.

Then an explosion happened in the romance novel publishing industry. New publishers emerged, offering sub-genres never before published: romantic suspense, futuristic, fantasy, paranormal and Gothic. Harlequin Mills & Boon introduced new category lines. So many books vying for my attention but life was no longer simple, family and work obligations and using spare moments to write hacking away at my reading time. And the TBR pile took up residence in my home. Five books stacked on my bedside table.

Then the bedside table morphed into one bookcase, then two, then three, the shelves overflowing as the five books unread multiplied to 1500. Add the 1000+ eBooks waiting to be read on my Amazon Kindle app (eReader News Today daily bargain deals sure are tempting) and my stack is now a mountain!

How did my TBR pile get so out of control? I love books. Too much, I now admit. I'll see a promo for a new book release or I'll read a review and I'm purchasing, so I know I won't ever stop buying, but I have to take control of my unread books and work through that mountain. How?

Image courtesy of:

I've come up with a plan:

  • Resist buying more books to replace the ones read or donated (most important)
  • Read the back cover blurb and the first page. Does it grab my attention? 
  • Read the first chapter. Do I want to read on?                                                                                   (if the answer to either question is 'no', the book goes in the 'Donate to charity' box)

Am I being too ruthless? Sure, but ruthless I have to be to cull my TBR mountain.

Do you have a TBR pile? Is it out of control? How do you deal with it?

Love to love: reading romance novels

Love to laugh: at the funny gifs I find as I search the internet

Love to learn: all the ways how to tame my TBR pile