Monday 25 May 2020

Where’s Your Head At?

 By Anna Campbell 

Hi Breathless girls! Thanks for inviting me to be your guest today.

Do you remember the video for this Basement Jaxx song? Scientists experimenting on super-clever monkeys and everybody going crazy at the end! Creepy and intriguing, with a fiendishly catchy tune. Seems a suitable soundtrack for the madness that’s engulfed us all over recent months. 

I’ve spent the last few months discovering that my head wasn’t where I thought it was! Back in March, I sat down to write a heart-warming novella for an anthology of Christmas stories that I’m participating in at the end of the year. But outside the warm shelter of my house in Caloundra in Queensland, the world was going mad, with horrific figures emerging from the US and Europe detailing the death toll from the Corona virus.

Turns out my head wasn’t with a charming Christmas romance after all. Instead it was with a rather hard-edged, intense story about two people seizing a forbidden chance for happiness and succumbing to a passion that threatens everything they hold dear. No mistletoe in sight. 

As I wrote this story, I kept saying to myself I’d fix it up in the edits, I’d fill it with Christmas cheer, I’d make it sweet and lovely. Until I reached the point where I realised that these characters had their own agenda and seasonal goodwill wasn’t on the list. Turning Selina and Brock’s love affair into a charming bonbon would distort what this story had to offer on its own terms – tumultuous emotion and some very steamy love scenes.

I should have realised I was veering off-piste when I set the events in an isolated hunting lodge where my hero and heroine are snowed in. Wonder where that came from in these days of lockdown and social distancing!

Image courtesy of giphy

So I had a good think about things and changed my plans. Now I have an end of June release called The Highlander’s Forbidden Mistress – not a sniff of a Christmas title, you’ll notice. It’s book 7 in my Lairds Most Likely series. I should have a cover and buy links by the end of May. And clearly my head is in a less fraught place now, because I’m currently at work on my light-hearted Christmas story. I must have got all the angst out of my system!

So what are the lessons I drew from this series of events? Firstly, I’m glad I’m an indie writer these days. One of the joys of working for myself is that I can turn on a sixpence when I need to adjust to the market or, in this case, the vagaries of inspiration. Secondly, sometimes I have to go where the story takes me, despite best-laid plans meant to guide me in another direction entirely! Thirdly, in the words of John Donne, “no man is an island.” Or woman either! Real life has a tremendous influence on what we write and often, that’s a very good thing. So I guess I’m just saying sometimes when you’re a writer, you need to be flexible!


Hoping you’re all getting through this mad situation and that we all have better times ahead. 

In my news, my most recent release is The Highlander’s English Bride. All platforms including Amazon Australia.


You can find me on social media at:



Twitter: AnnaCampbellOz



Using Google Chrome as your browser will enable you to leave a comment.

Monday 18 May 2020

Fun with Virtual Travelling

By Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of giphy

Image courtesy of giphy

In the first months of this year, our country was in the grip of the worst bushfires in our written history, soon to be followed by massive floods, and right now we’re caught up in the craziness that is COVID-19. In the midst of all the angst that 2020 has brought, I’ve been looking to find positives.

Mostly I’ve been losing myself in researching and writing about the past. I’m in the middle of writing a timeslip series about Rebel Daughters of Wales, and next week I would have been winging my way to England on yet another research trip. Sadly, that’s now postponed until next year.

But rather than dwell on the disappointment, I’ve spent time looking back at mementos bought during my previous trips and recalling when and why I bought them. It’s been lovely to reminisce so I thought I’d share some of my favourites...


Not only do I love this watercolour of the village of Aberffraw on Anglesey for its sheer colour-filled beauty, but it’s a wonderful reminder of my visit to the birthplace of Gwenllian, the heroine of one of my stories. Precious little remains of the one-time princely Welsh court, but my writer’s brain supplied a fantastic re-creation (helped along by this drawing in the café-come-visitors’-centre). 

This bronze ring, certified as fifteenth century from an antique shop in London, has become integral to my writing routine. As well as listening to medieval music, I wear the ring when I write to help me maintain a ‘feel’ for the past (maybe it’s more to do with my imagination, but whatever works, right?).

I found this in one of the many eye-poppingly fabulous bookshops in Hay-on-Wye. Together with The Chronicles of the Welsh Princes it’s my go-to book for authentic information about the Norman Age. I adore Hay – such atmosphere! The castle was written about in Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine (the timeslip queen IMO) who I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of years back at the Hay Literary Festival.


An ancient gold cross plays a major role in one of my timeslips, and when I saw this one in Dublin I just had to have it. It may not be ancient, but it’s a reminder of the fascinating old city in which it was bought.

At an antiques auction in Aberystwyth I came away with this treasure. This little Welsh lady (only 2 inches tall) is going to play a role in one of my future books. Not sure how yet, but she definitely called to me (or maybe she tolled, she is a bell, after all). When she was sold as part of a ‘job lot’ I was so disappointed. Thankfully, my lovely hubby persuaded the buyer to re-sell it to him.


These gorgeous little initial stamps came from the Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill – a must-visit whenever I get to London, not only for the atmosphere and the antiques and the live music but also because there’s a Pylones shop there. (If you don’t know about Pylones, just click on the link.) I have no idea what I’ll use these cuties for, but I love them ’cause they’re so pretty. 

I’ve had the loveliest time revisiting some of special possessions. Thank you for indulging me in my quest for positivity.

Apart from photos, what are your favourite mementos from your travels? I’d love to hear about them.

Using Google Chrome as your browser will enable you to comment.

Love to Love being able to view Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre productions from home. Of course, there’s nothing like a live production, but watching the video of Romeo and Juliet (which we had bought tickets for 😢) was the next best thing.

Image courtesy of giphy

Love to Laugh at the funny memes of life in iso.

I’d Love to Learn how to speak Welsh, but the closest I’ve come is getting a basic understanding of how to pronounce Welsh words and names.

Monday 11 May 2020

Romance Settings - Coastal Romance

The Beauty and Drama of the Coast

I have always loved the coast. Sandy beaches that seem to stretch on forever, the gentle ebb and flow of the tide, the rainbows and sea spray formed by breaking waves, and the sheer energy of huge swells. To me, the ocean is a place of mystery, power and romance.

Not surprisingly, many authors have chosen to set their novels by the sea. Others have chosen ocean settings to create particularly poignant scenes. Who can forget the scene by the sea in Little Women in which Beth tells Jo she is glad Jo knows she is going to die, or the powerful oceanic imagery in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca?
I’d like to share my thoughts about two special romance novels with coastal settings. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Heron’s Landing Book 1, Honeymoon Harbor by Joann Ross.

Seth Harper’s wife, Zoe, was tragically killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Torn apart by grief, he hasn’t been able to move past her death. Seth works with his father restoring Victorian buildings in the US Pacific Northwest town of Honeymoon Harbor where he grew up.

Brianna Mannion left Honeymoon Harbor many years ago. She has had a crush on Seth since the first grade, but when he became the boyfriend of her best friend, Zoe, she knew a relationship with him was not to be. Brianna has risen within the hospitality industry to become chief concierge at the Las Vegas Midas Resort Hotel. She enjoys her work, but something is missing. After she encounters one rude, self-entitled guest too many, Brianna decides to quit and return to her home town to run a B&B in an old Victorian house she has always loved.

Joann Ross masterfully uses the harbour and mountain setting of the small town she has created to accentuate the emotional journey of her two protagonists. As Seth kisses Brianna for the first time, Ross writes “He’d felt as if he were standing on the summit of ice-clad Mount Olympus. One false step and he’d fall the nearly eight thousand feet, crashing over rocks down to Honeymoon Harbor’s sea level.” This imagery perfectly captures Seth’s uncertainty as he and Brianna take the first steps towards a loving relationship.

Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry

I read several popular coastal romance novels to prepare for this blog post, however nothing surpassed my emotional reaction to Nineteen Letters.

Braxton Spencer’s wife, Jemma, was in a major car accident 19 days after they were married. Her injuries caused retrograde amnesia. Jemma now has no memory of her past life, or any of the people in it, including Braxton.

This dual viewpoint novel traces Jemma’s and Braxton’s emotional journeys as he tries to give her back something of her past life, with the hope of rekindling her love for him. Braxton writes Jemma nineteen letters telling her of their past love and times together. Jemma moved next door to Braxton when he was seven years old. They became childhood sweethearts and soulmates. Can he win her love again?

The beach setting of this novel provides a beautiful background of constancy and calm juxtaposed with the strong feelings both characters experience as they journey, once again, towards mutual love. This lovely setting symbolises the beauty of their former lives, and is the location of so many of their shared experiences. To me, the beach provides a symbol of hope that Jemma will fall in love with Braxton again. In his words, “What we had is far too beautiful to be forgotten.”

What is your favourite coastal romance novel? What makes it appeal to you so much?

I love to learn more about the world and the people in it.

I love to laugh with family and friends.

I love to love my one-year-old grandson.

Monday 4 May 2020

May the Fourth Be With You: Powerful Women and the Men Who Love Them.

Sorry. This blog post is not about Star Wars!

image purchased from i-stock 477399888
Did you know that 4 May 1979 was the day Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom?


Well, it was. And, love her or loathe her, women like Thatcher are the women I like to write. Strong, complex women – lawyers and doctors and bankers and stockbrokers and entrepreneurs – who are navigating work and life and love in big cities.

So, of course, when I sat down to write this blog, I thought, who better to write about on May the Fourth than four of my favourite fictional women who have the Force (and the men who love them).

Yeah, yeah, sue me. I told you this blog wasn’t about Star Wars! 

Meet Chloe Mills
Chloe Mills is the heroine of Christina Lauren’s first book: Beautiful Bastard.

Chloe has stuck with me a long time… probably since this book started as a fanfic (I still have the original… shhh!). She’s focused on completing an MBA but is also completely consumed by her Bastard - and he's completely consumed by her. She's the one who stands up to him, sticks to her guns and makes him think. She's courageous. And that's kinda hot.

Also, I do love a man who has good taste in lingerie (for his lady, of course!).

Meet Alice Lawrence
Alice Lawrence is my latest favourite heroine, who comes alive in Kylie Scott’s recent release The Rich Boy (hoo boy – have you seen the cover for this one. Hot!)

As Alice is navigating her relationship with the swoon-worthy Beck, she has to deal with a whole host of mess from his VERY WEALTHY family and she does it with style, grace, and wit. There are a couple of scenes where she takes on his Grandmother which are 5-star scenes. Alice is awesome.

Now, if only I could find my very own Beck…

Meet Laurel McBane
Laurel McBane is the baker extraordinaire in Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet series. Laurel's book is book three in the series.

Now, I partly love Laurel because she bakes… and I love to bake. But she’s also feisty and forges her way through culinary school (with a little assistance from the indomitable Mrs G who's also a fave!) into a successful bakery/events business and a relationship with Delaney Brown - lawyer, brother of one of her BFFs and her long time friend.

Meet Miranda Gray
Last but not least, let's talk Miranda Gray. 

We first meet Miranda when she's been sleeping on a park bench, trying to get a better understanding of what should be included in housing for the homeless, and we pretty quickly learn that Miranda goes ALL IN - whether it's for work or play! 

But Miranda's not a push over. And when her Knight (tee hee hee - Lucas Knight, see what I did there) doesn't give her what she needs - she walks away.

Thankfully, Lucas finally gets his head on straight!

Tell me about your favourite female with the Force (whether factual or fictional) in the comments below.

As a final note, did you know that, on receiving a school prize, aged nine, Thatcher said:
I wasn’t lucky. I deserved it. I just love her moxie… and I do deserve the things I work for, darn it!

Kristine Charles writes sexy tales where coffee (and red wine) is abundant, designer shoes and handbags are cheap, chocolate has no calories and men always put the toilet seat down. Find her at or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I love to love… my healthy and happy family and friends #stayathome

I love to laugh… at the ridiculous Zoom backgrounds everyone’s finding to make online meetings more entertaining!

I love to learn… online! How many great classes can you find online at the moment – ballet, yoga, dance, cooking… try something new this month!