Monday 26 June 2017

Tales From The Past Part Three: Sleeping Beauty

with Sharon Bryant

Why Use a Sleeping Beauty theme?

The Sleeping Beauty story is less utilised than Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, however elements of this story appear in many romance novels. Think of stories involving amnesia, coma or time travel.

In essence, Sleeping Beauty is about impossible love, and the ability of true love to triumph over evil. Such timeless themes, together with the suspense created by the enduring presence of a wicked fairy whose viewpoint could be understood, made the movie Maleficent a huge box office success in 2014.

Sleeping Beauty in Historical Romance

Flowers from the Storm, a historical romance by Laura Kinsale published in 2003, remains one of my favourite Sleeping Beauty romances. The hero, Christian, is a womanising rake. He leads a dissolute lifestyle resulting in a stroke. Doctors do not know what has happened, and incarcerate him in a mental institution. Enter Maddy Timms, a nurturing, chaste Quaker who needs to marry someone of her own faith. She recognises the intelligence trapped within Christian and wants to help him. He would love to seduce her, if only he were free to do so.

Another fabulous Sleeping Beauty story is The Accidental Wedding, a regency romance by Anne Gracie. Nash Renfrew, a diplomat, wakes with amnesia in the bed of Maddy Woodford, a poor country girl who has responsibility for five younger siblings. As their mutual attraction grows, Nash pretends that his memory is not returning so he doesn't have to leave her. The book is well crafted with ever-fabulous Anne Gracie characterisation, and a hero and heroine I loved.

Sleeping Beauty in Contemporary Romance

Waking Rose by Regina Doman tells the story of Rose Brier who has loved Ben Denniston, known as Fish, ever since he rescued her from a perilous situation. Sadly her love is not returned. Ben struggles with issues of his own and there is no way he wants a relationship with someone whose passion and honesty can get past his defences. If he ever marries he will choose a practical wife. Then tragedy occurs and Ben …I won't spoil it for you by saying what happens next.

What is your favourite Sleeping Beauty story? Why do you think the Sleeping Beauty tale is so enduring?

I love to love: My eldest daughter and her fiance visited Sydney last weekend. It was great to catch up with them.

I love to laugh: Conversation around a table with family and friends is the best.

I love to learn: I went to the Sydney Writer's Festival with my sister last month. So many fascinating sessions to attend. So many ideas to discuss and reflect upon.

Monday 19 June 2017

Author Spotlight: Annie West

Here at Breathless in the Bush, we love cheering on our Aussie authors. Special guest this month for our Author Spotlight is the gorgeous Annie West. Welcome, Annie!

What is the one 'must have' when you are writing?

Something to drink--tea, coffee or preferably water--I like being able to sip as I think.

What are you reading at the moment?

A Harlequin Sexy book by Michelle Smart and a book of essays by Jennifer Weiner.

Name one thing you're scared of.

Image courtesy of:

Horror films.

Like to share something that recently made you happy?

A keepsake necklace was broken so I took it to a jeweller. In the process of fixing it they accidentally broke it even more and had to replace a couple of the green peridots, which meant a long wait. When I collected it, not only did the jeweller refuse payment, but she had also made matching earrings as an apology for the delay. That was a terrific surprise. 😊

Like to share an embarrassing moment?

Sharing dinner with strangers, we got talking about fresh produce. I mentioned my dislike of chokos, saying I couldn't understand why they were sold in supermarkets. It turned out my neighbour at the table was Australia's biggest choko producer. Fortunately he had a sense of humour.

What is the premise of your latest book?

Bound to the Italian Boss is an office romance about an executive PA who's spent the last year hiding her beauty after being sexually harassed in a previous job. In the meantime she's fallen for her boss, Luca, who's not only sexy and charismatic but treats her as an equal. Luca finds himself drawn to the prim, no-nonsense woman who's become his right hand. When they meet away from the office, when all their barriers are stripped away, life becomes very interesting.

What unique challenges did the book pose?

This is only my third novella and while I love the shorter format (this one is half the length of the Harlequin stories) it's a challenge packing a strong, emotional story into a shorter word count.

What are you working on at the moment?

A sheikh story about a man who inherits a kingdom and a woman who changes his life. I've also started another 'Hot Italian Nights' novella.

What is your writing schedule? Morning, afternoon or night?

Day time, as early as possible, except that I tend to go for a long walk before breakfast. By night I'm ready to relax.

Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between?

I prefer 'organic writer'. 😊 I used to plot, until I found I'd plotted so much I hadn't left my characters room to become real, passionate people. Now I start with my characters and their backstories plus a strong conflict and then disappear into the mist, finding out what happens along the way. So invigorating and exciting!

Do you listen to music as you write?

Sadly no. I find myself being distracted by the lyrics and even instrumentals seem to break my concentration, dragging me out of the world of the story. I really do feel like I'm in that other world as I write.

What do you love to love?

My family. And cute furry animals.

What do you love to laugh at?

Image courtesy of Pinterest.

Events rather than people.

Anything absurd, and, I hate to admit--really bad puns!

What do you love to learn about?

I love hearing how writers came to write a particular story or how they became writers. I love history and hearing quirky details in the background behind historical events and people is fascinating. Just today I learned how Tim Tams got their name. Of course I was fascinated--historical trivia and chocolate!

About Annie

Annie is a USA Today Bestselling author who loves writing passionate, intense love stories. She's currently writing her 33rd 'Sexy' series book for Harlequin Mills and Boon. She's won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year and the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award. Annie has devoted her life to an in-depth study of tall, dark, charismatic heroes who cause the best kind of trouble in the lives of their heroines. Creating heroines who are a perfect match for those strong, stubborn men is one of her favourite things. As a sideline she's also researched dreamy locations for romance, from vibrant cities to desert encampments and fairytale castles. She lives north of Sydney, between glorious beaches, a pretty lake and fine vineyards. Her favourite things are books, good company, good food and travel.

You can find out more about Annie's books at her website.

You can also keep up to date with her news via her Facebook page

or by signing up for her email newsletter 

Monday 12 June 2017

What is Love? Part Two

By Cassandra Samuels

Welcome to part two of my exploration of What is Love? In my last blog I talked about the science of attraction but in this blog I want to explore physical attraction.

What makes one of us attracted to another? It's that first spark that can cause a sizzle or an inferno in a relationship. We all want an all-consuming love that lasts the rest of our lives, but it has to start somewhere. That somewhere is attraction.

We've all heard of natural selection: that we choose a mate by determining who is going to produce the best and healthiest offspring. This is often called the Good Gene Hypothesis.

But what I want to look at today is the research done on the symmetrical attractiveness of the face.
According to scientists, a symmetrical face is a sign of healthiness, whereas an asymmetrical face is a sign of deformity or unhealthiness.

This is where I say that nobody has a perfectly symmetrical face, but those who are widely considered to be attractive often have a more symmetrical face. For example, I took a picture of Brad Pitt.

As you can see he has a pretty symmetrical face. The tip of his nose lines up with the tips of his ears, his nose and chin line up and his eyes are evenly spaced and in line. But what happens if I take half of his face and use that same side to make up the other side of his face?

This is two of his right side which shows how very symmetrical his face is.

Let's look at two sides of his left side, below.

This is what I imagine his sporty brother might look like 😉. Which side of Brad do you prefer? Now you know why some people take photos better from one particular side.

Let's have a look at some others.

Facial symetry has an effect on whether someone finds another attractive in both males and females. Symmetry is a sign of superior genetic quality and developmental stability. Males with more symmetric faces as they age are said to have higher intelligence and to be more efficient at information processing than men with less symmetric faces. This could be due to better genes leading to more resistance against illness and stressors in life, which is then reflected in less accumulated fluctuating asymmetry.

Of course, being attracted to someone is not simply about symmetry. There are many other factors that make us attracted to someone: voice, eye colour, sense of humour, height and smell.

What is it that makes someone attractive to you?

Love to love - celebrating my daughter's baby shower.

Love to laugh - at my grandson's awesome dance moves (he's 20mths old).
Love to learn - Podcasts about Women in History by the History Chicks

Monday 5 June 2017

What I Loved About 'RWA 50K in May'

by Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of Giphy
I have just enjoyed the most inspirational month of writing, joining more than 80 other romance writers in the ‘RWA 50K in May’ group. I’d often thought of doing NaNoWriMo, but November is way too busy a time for me. MayNoWriMo, though, I reckoned could do!

Image courtesy of Giphy

Being a pragmatist, I knew I would never reach the dizzying heights of writing 50K over four weeks, so I set 20K as my goal. I'm more than happy to report that in May I more than doubled my usual monthly output.

Participating in the group was, for me, a great exercise in discipline. Every day, even when I was pressed for time or lacking in focus, I had to get some words down because I needed to report my word count each night.

A number of participants came up with some great tips to keep track of progress:

*Anne Gracie suggested rounding down the word count to the nearest hundred, checking how close to the next hundred you are and pushing yourself past it. I used a version of this by rounding down and using anything over that hundred as an automatic head start for the following day.

Link to Kendall's page

*Kendall Talbot posted a chart to achieve 30K in 30 days (above) which was adapted by Suzy Jay. I used a combination of both (below).

My version of the Word Count Chart at the beginning of the month.

*The spreadsheet created by Sarah Brabazon was a great motivator! I had to try to get that red line to meet the green line. (Didn't manage until right at the end, as you can see!)

*Quite a few members joined in sprints, which I wasn’t able to because I leave nights free for family time, but it obviously worked well for them.

At the outset, I did tend to compare my own word count to that of others, but there really is no point to that. With something like this you have to run your own race. I salute writers who can produce several thousand words a day but I have to accept that it’s not what I do.

The thing about joining a group like this is that everyone supports each other, urging one another on to meet our goals. The camaraderie was sensational. As writers, we lead an isolated existence, and it’s great to know that there are others out there experiencing the same things we go through.

Image courtesy of

It was also great to have commiserations when the frustrations of life got in the way, when things didn’t go to plan, or when disaster struck. I had a ‘hot wax’ experience (not as kinky as it possibly sounds😉) where I spilled my ‘ritual’ scented candle over the keyboard, traumatizing my laptop into shutdown mode. It was a very anxious overnight wait to see if I’d lost all the words I’d written, but I was still able to access the group via my ipad, and having people out there who understood the way I was feeling really helped. (The laptop had recovered by the next morning and the words weren’t lost. Yay!)

At the end of the month I had written 20 000 words. Yep, I reached my goal!

Image courtesy of Giphy

And altogether our group wrote over 1 million words!

A huge shout out to Delwyn Jenkins for coordinating the group, and to all my fellow participants. I really enjoyed your company and hope to meet in person those of you going to the conference in BrisVegas, in August.

The idea now is to ‘maintain the rage’, so to speak, and keep that doubled-up weekly word count happening.

Wish me luck!

Have you ever dedicated a month to writing with a group? How did you go?

Love to Love the fact that I’m now close to halfway to finishing my current wip.

Love to Laugh at Juanita Kee’s take on participating in RWA 50K in May. Here’s the link: Procrastination and a Mutinous Muse

Love to Learn different ways to increase my word count!