Monday 30 April 2018

Royal Love is in the Air...

By Alyssa J. Montgomery

Meghan Markel is set to marry Prince Harry and whether or not you love the royals, there's something exciting about a royal wedding - a scene far removed from our own reality and yet one we can be part of by virtue of the fact it's beaming into our living rooms.

All Images in this post Courtesy of

Perhaps the royal wedding is even easier to relate to given Meghan is a commoner and yet she's still found her prince. After all, we've been raised on Cinderella-type fairytales where the impoverished heroine marries her prince and her life changes forever. It's a common enough theme in children's fairytales and still frequently found in contemporary romance novels for adults. It's one I've explored in my Royal Affairs series. My final book in the series, The Irresistible Royal (due for release May 12th), isn't quite a rags to royalty story, but it does involve a commoner marrying a prince. The upcoming British, and many other royal weddings, are proof fairytale can become reality.

Sadly, the marriage of Charles & Diana didn't have a fairytale ending, but modern day princes seem to be choosing stronger, more confident women. Kate Middleton stands by William's side as an equal. Meghan has already broken with royal tradition and declared she wishes to speak at her wedding - letting the world know this future princess has a voice and isn't afraid to use it. Thinking of another royal, Denmark's Mary, there's no doubt in my mind she'll be a power behind the Danish throne.

There are lesser known yet very interesting modern royal love stories. We're a long way from Norway, but did you know that Mette-Marit was a single mother when she met Crown Prince Haakon at a rock concert? She hung up her waitressing apron in favour of a ball gown. Sounds like something from a Harlequin Mills & Boon Presents line...which goes to show it's entirely possible!

Think of Princess Lili from Sweden. Lilian was the daughter of a Welsh pitman and once worked in a laundry. She met Prince Bertil in 1943, but there would've been a constitutional crisis if he'd married her (he was committed to acting as a regent for his nephew). They couldn't marry for 33 years, during which time they lived together openly, but Lili was banned from official royal functions. It was only when the king died that the marriage took place with the blessing of the new king.

Love to Love: The romanticism of a royal wedding.

Love to Laugh: At the magazine articles that'll appear as early as next month proclaiming Meghan is pregnant, or that she and Harry are about to be divorced.

Love to Learn: What you think of all the famous royal romances over time. From Cleopatra and Anthony, Victoria and Albert, and to the upcoming nuptials, which royal romance resonated most with you and why?

 Alyssa J. Montgomery's Royal Affairs Series is published by Escape Publishing. (Cover Images courtesy of Escape Publishing, Harlequin Enterprises, Australia.)

Monday 23 April 2018

Author Spotlight - Melanie Milburne

Breathless in the Bush is thrilled to introduce Award-winning and USA Best-selling Modern Romance author, Melanie Milburne.

A prolific writer and proud member of Romance Writers of Australia, and Ambassador for Australian Childhood Foundation, you can contact her on Twitter:, on Facebook:, and through her website:

Where are you at this moment and what is on your writing desk?

I am at our beach house on the east coast of Tasmania where an echidna waddles outside my window, dolphins swim in the ocean and the black and yellow cockatoos make a raucous noise as they fly past. And just the other day, a scarlet-breasted robin perched on the corner of the balcony near my office and a sea eagle drifted past. On my desk are my laptop and stand, my story notes and a collection of pens as well as a bottle of dog treats for my three poodles. I put them through some tricks when I need a break from my story.

What is the hardest part of your writing process? Starting a novel or finishing it?

Starting is easiest for me. I would have written three times as many books by now if I only had to start them. Ha ha. 😀 Finishing is always hard for me. In fact, I think it's getting harder.

What inspired the story idea behind Blackmailed into the Marriage Bed?

A couple of years ago I read Andrew Solomon's amazing book called Far from the Tree, a lengthy tome about the experience of parents who have children they didn't expect to have, such as with disabilities, or gay or transgender or with mental illness such as schizophrenia. One of the chapters was on children born out of rape. It made me think of what it would be like to know you were not conceived out of a loving union but out of a brutal crime and how that would make you feel about yourself. Thus my heroine Ailsa was created.

This is your 76th book. How have you changed as a writer over the course of so many books?

I'm certainly not as fast as I was in the beginning of my career. I could literally churn out novels like a conveyor belt! I've done a lot of professional development over the last few years and it has slowed me down a lot, but that's overall a good thing. I no longer head hop (changing points of view within a scene) and I spend more time thinking about my choice of words and phrases and getting rid of cliches where I can.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

I have just finished a Wedding-themed duet and I will spend a couple of weeks reading and thinking about my next story. I don't rush in too quickly these days; I find it helps me to allow my subconscious time to play.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Writing is a craft and anyone with a modicum of talent can learn how to do it better. Writers need to read but they also need to write as often as they can. It's like physical exercise - the more you do, the stronger and fitter you get.

Tell us a little about Blackmailed into the Marriage Bed...

Ailsa is estranged from her husband Vinn Gagliardi because he wanted children and she didn't. But with his beloved grandfather facing do-or-die transplant surgery, Vinn is determined to get Ailsa back into a temporary reunion until his grandfather is out of danger. Ailsa had never told Vinn about her dark secret, but the temptation of being back in his arms is too overwhelming to resist!

What do you love to love?

I love to love my husband and two sons who have always believed in and stood by me.

What do you love to laugh at?

I love to laugh at my three miniature poodles Polly, Lily and Gonzo who are so intelligent and entertaining and do about twenty tricks apiece and still counting!

What do you love to learn?

I love to learn about the craft of writing and enjoy making each book better than the last if I can.

Monday 16 April 2018

Using Pinterest to Help Write Your Story

By Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of giphy (Love you, Phoebe!)

In case you weren’t aware, I love Pinterest! What writer couldn’t love a site that might well be the world’s most accessible medium for educational resources for authors?

In my last post I mentioned that part of my creative process is to make a Pinterest board for the story I’m working on—a visual representation of my book. But the role of Pinterest in my writing begins way before I even start a book.

Here’s how I go about using Pinterest to help write a story:

1. Story Inspiration

Image courtesy of Haunted Earth's Ghost World

My story ideas come from many different sources—things I’m passionate about (Art, medieval history, travelling), unexplained mysteries, unique locations… The list goes on.  Just by typing ‘unique locations’ into Pinterest I’ve found a wealth of amazing settings to inspire my writing, as well as some other inspiring 'finds', like this one (which could be the ghost from my wip). 

 As for characters, just type in ‘character inspiration’ and you’ll find hundreds of boards filled with interesting-looking characters. I recommend Kristen Kieffer, who has a huge collection of images. It’s an excellent source for headshots to begin your storyboard.

2. Planning

In my ‘Writing Life’ board I’ve saved sixty or so resources to be inspired by, to motivate me or to help me improve my writing.

Like to use worksheets? I guarantee you’ll find a worksheet for whatever you need. Can’t think of a word to describe a character’s voice, take a look at Jami Gold’s Word Lists. Looking for ideas for plot twists? Click here

3. Character Development

Image courtesy of Book Riot

When developing my characters, I need to know all there is to know about them. To help with their backstories, I firstly check out the different personality types. There are a heap of boards that focus on the Myers-Briggs types, as well as character archetypes. I found this site concise and helpful:

4. Settings

A quick tip: when searching for images of settings, include a + for more specific visuals. For example, ambulance station + interior, Kidwelly castle + landscape photography, quaint café + Cardiff.

5. Writing the First Draft

Okay, so now I’ve got a setting and my main characters have made their appearance in my head (physical description, backstory). Unfortunately, Pinterest won’t write the story for me 😜, but once I’ve worked out my characters’ Goals, Motivations and Conflict, I’m ready to start that first draft.

6. Covers

An oldie but a goodie

Harlequin MIRA and Escape ask their authors for suggestions for the cover of their books, so I collect covers that appeal to me to keep as a reference.

7. Writing Advice

Natasha Lester, Author (author of The Paris Seamstress) has some great tips and advice on her 'How to Write a Book' board. Click on the link and check it out.

8. Blog Posts

Screenshot of my board

I recently started adding my blog posts to my ‘The Writing Life’ board.

Legal stuff

In my last post I mentioned the importance of having the P button on my dashboard which allows me to instantly add any image on the net to any of my boards. As all images added to Pinterest are directly linked to their original site, if I unknowingly pin or re-pin a copyrighted image I get a message telling me it’s been removed.

Do you have any favourite boards on Pinterest? Let me know; I’m always on the lookout for new inspiration.

Love to Love: designing a promo for my blog post with Lumen 5. (A time suck, but great fun!)

Love to Laugh: at this Instant Elevator Pitch. For a readable copy click here to try it yourself. My pitch reads: "A compulsively readable thriller about a dissatisfied woman's mission to embrace her eating disorder" (what the ???).

Love to Learn: Victoria L Fry has a YouTube video entitled The Power of Pinterest for Authors. It’s 40 minutes but she’s very informative and easy to listen to. 

Monday 9 April 2018

Writing the First Draft - You Don't Always Have to Type It.

By Cassanda Samuels

Writing a book is hard. It takes many months, sometimes years, to complete even a first draft, but my guest authors today have found that you don't always have to type your first draft.

Anna Campbell is an award winning author of Historical Romance. She writes her first drafts longhand, but it hadn't always been that way. Here is why she chooses longhand over typing:

"In 2014, a lot of things happened. I had the house on the market, I’d decided to make a real attempt
at having a career as an indie author, and I had a dreadful accident. I fell over in the kitchen in the
middle of the night and injured my left arm and as a result had trouble typing for about 18 months.

Necessity meant that I had to go back to doing first drafts longhand because I really had only one
hand working at full capacity and this ended up being one of those decisions about making the
best of adverse circumstances that turned out to be a wonderful opportunity.

When I’d dreamed of being a writer as a child and teenager, of course I wrote longhand. This was
back in the dark ages before every house had at least one computer. Returning to writing longhand
took me back to the time when writing was fun and full of dreams and hope, whereas writing on a
screen seemed (and still seems) like a job. First drafts stopped being a horrible experience (I still edit on the computer. That really IS a much better option) and went back to me telling myself a story. Even better, I could write longhand anywhere. In the backyard, in bed, on the sofa, at a café. Not only that but my really rough first drafts became less rough, I think because writing longhand is a slower process so you have time to think about what you’re putting down (one of the downsides of being a really fast typist is that any old rubbish goes down on the page). So the editing process ended up being easier as well.

I still have to type the manuscript into the computer,but that has the advantage of letting me do a
rough first edit. I’m investigating dictation programs so that I can just read my manuscript into the
computer. I’m definitely sticking to longhand first drafts. That’s given my writing a whole new lease on life."

Anna's latest book is available now.

Buy here

Lord Garson’s dilemma.
Hugh Rutherford, Lord Garson, loved and lost when his fiancée returned to the husband she’d believed drowned. In the three years since, Garson has come to loathe his notoriety as London’s most famous rejected suitor. It’s high time to find a bride, a level-headed, well-bred lady who will accept a loveless marriage and cause no trouble. Luckily he has just the candidate in mind.
A marriage of convenience…
When Lady Jane Norris receives an unexpected proposal from her childhood friend Lord Garson, marriage to the handsome baron rescues her from a grim future. At twenty-eight, Jane is on the shelf and under no illusions about her attractions. With her father’s death, she’s lost her home and faces life as an impecunious spinster. While she’s aware Garson will never love again, they have friendship and goodwill to build upon. What can possibly go wrong?
…becomes very inconvenient indeed
From the first, things don’t go to plan, not least because Garson soon finds himself in thrall to his surprisingly intriguing bride. A union grounded in duty veers toward obsession. And when the Dashing Widows take Jane in hand and transform her into the toast of London, Garson isn’t the only man to notice his wife’s beauty and charm. He’s known Jane all her life, but suddenly she’s a dazzling stranger. This isn’t the uncomplicated, pragmatic match he signed up for. When Jane defies the final taboo and asks for his love, her impossible demand threatens to blast this convenient marriage to oblivion.
Once the dust settles, will Lord Garson still be the man who can only love once?

Louise Forster  is a best selling author of contemporary and small town romance and uses Dragon Naturally speaking. This is what she says about it:

"For me, Dragon Naturally Speaking, is brilliant. I researched to find the best dictate program, and Dragon kept coming up with great reviews. About 15+ years ago my sister in-law used it after a shoulder operation. I watched her train the program to recognize her voice, and nuances, and even back then it wasn’t too bad.

To have some fun, I suggested she say f**k into the mic. She surprised me by giving it her best shot. The program wasn’t into cursing and came up with all sorts of weird and wonderful words: flock, duck, suck, fluck, pluck. I figured they would’ve improved their program, so I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking 13 Premium. (Premium, because it was on sale). I haven’t had it long, but I like it, and it works for me. Issues with my body forced me to take this path.

The wrong words are highlighted in yellow, the correct in blue/turquoise.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking takes a little training, but it does this as you work and went when you close off. I haven’t tried this program while putting together a first draft, but I can imagine that it would be pretty good. For me, the problem lies with thinking and speaking two different things; I can't speak a sentence while thinking they had our head ahead on the next one. A friend said I could train my brain to work that out in the creative sense.

If you want a quote symbol you simply say open single quote and close single quote. For double quote marks it’s open quote and close quote. If it won’t accept a word simply say spell and a window appears where you can choose or type in the correction.

Editing is a little tricky, for example after highlighting what you want to take out and saying delete, you have to remember to only say the word, or words you want to put in, and not the rest of the sentence, thereby doubling up. I learnt that one pretty quickly."

Louise has a brand new book out on the 4th of May that is available now for pre-order.

Buy here

 In the small town of Tumble Creek, secrets aren’t kept for long...

From the outside, Adele Valentin knows she looks strong, capable, unflappable. But when she loses everything, she can only think of one thing to do: run. A friend’s house in the small rural town of Tumble Creek is a ready-made sanctuary, and Adele flees the big city without ever looking back.

The timing has never been right for Takumi Edwards to express his feelings for Adele, the beautiful, mysterious woman who visits occasionally but haunts his dreams nightly. But now she’s here to stay – at least for a while – and he will never have a better chance.

But Adele is struggling with both past decisions and how vulnerable Takumi makes her feel. When her past follows her to Tumble Creek, Takumi is the only one who can help resolve both what came before and what could be ahead. If Adele is only strong enough to ask.

Have you or anyone you know used a different way to get down that first draft?

Love to love: Finishing edits on my next book.

Love to laugh: At the weird things my cat Angus does. He always keeps me entertained.

Love to learn: about the way my fellow authors create.

Monday 2 April 2018

Romance Around The World: Ireland

The Romance of Ireland
by Sharon Bryant

I love Ireland. Rolling green fields, fast flowing brooks, ancient stone walls. A place of legend, wonder and romance. I find the Celtic culture and history fascinating. And there are so many wonderful Irish romance novels to read. Here are three of my favourites.
A Gathering Storm

A Gathering Storm by Sheena Lambert tells the story of Christine Grogan, who is haunted by tragic events in her past, and Mark Harrington, an incredibly successful banker, who knows something is undeniably missing from his life. The journey to romance these two unlikely lovers take is a real page turner.

Beneath an Irish Sky

In Beneath an Irish Sky, Luke Kiernan wakes in hospital to find that his mother has tragically died. He must accept help from the man he hates most, his father Jack. Luke and Jack have much to resolve, and are assisted in solving their problems by two special women. This intriguing novel with elements of romance is a delight to read.

The Cad and the Co-ed

Reading The Cad and the Co-ed was fun from start to finish. Eilish became a mother when she was very young. Too young. Cut off from her family, she accepted support from her favourite cousin - a footballer who plays on the same team as the father of her child. There is no point telling the father about his child. The man is a self-centred cad who treated her badly and couldn't even remember her name.

Bryan is determined to prove that he has changed. No more getting drunk. No more one-night stands. He wishes to settle down with the right woman, and Eilish is the right woman for him, or so he thinks. This unlikely couple are thrown together when Eilish has little choice but to accept a job as physiotherapist for Bryan's football team.

Which romance novels set in Ireland have you enjoyed the most?

I love to love: So many wonderful romance novels to read. So much fun to share.

I love to laugh: We saw David Williamson's latest play at the Ensemble theatre last weekend. I think part of the fun of watching good comedy is being able to laugh at yourself.

I love to learn: To me travel is the best teacher, and Ireland is one of the best places to learn. The Celtic cultural history is fascinating.