About Me

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Queensland, Australia
I'm an Australian author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Action/Adventure, and Historical fiction. I live in Queensland, Australia. www.noelleclark.net

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Day in the Life of: Author - Susanne Bellamy

Today I welcome fellow Queensland writer Susanne Bellamy to my blog. Susanne writes contemporary romance novels set in exciting and often exotic locations.

Susanne’s current releases are:
  • White Ginger
  • One Night in Sorrento
I recently reviewed One Night in Sorrento. Needless to say, I absolutely loved it. Click HERE to read my review.

Susanne, which comes first – the plot or the location?
Generally, location allows me to develop plot ideas although I often see the meeting of my protagonists first. Travelling along the Amalfi coast road gave me the idea for Luca and Rhiannon's meeting and Arne and Amelie were always going to be in Hawaii. I do think that place is important because it carries cultural and social elements that affect what may happen and how characters are likely to behave.

Do Arne from White Ginger, and Luca from One Night in Sorrento, have anything in common?

Apart from being tall, dark and sexy? Heroes have to be heroic in their actions; what they do speaks volumes about their personal values and attitudes. Arne fights to protect his town and reef from a big developer as well as being honourable  towards Amelie. He is also a fabulous uncle to his sister's young daughter. Despite it being Rhiannon's fault, Luca offers her a ride after their near disastrous meeting and helps her achieve her goal. Neither hero is perfect, both have faults but they are intrinsically good men with whom the reader might imagine living a long and happy life. They both have a sense of humour and   engage in witty repartee. Did I mention Luca rides a big, black motorbike and wears leather while Arne is most at home in swimmers or a short wetsuit? Whatever they wear (or not!), they are fine specimens of men, eye candy extraordinaire!

Your heroines, Rhiannon and Amelie: do they have any similarities/major differences?

I like women who are the intellectual equals of their men but a certain amount of vulnerability is fine if packaged with inner strength and determination.  Amelie is visual and highly creative whereas Rhiannon has a logical brain and has assisted her step father with his engineering research. Both women are in unfamiliar countries; Amelie is in Kauai for three months to work on her fabric designs while Rhiannon had taken her ill step father's place. She is on her first trip to Italy to present his designs to a luxury car manufacturer. Amelie has had a bad experience with her ex-fiance yet is still open to possibilities with Arne. Rhiannon has never ridden a motorbike but discovers how exhilarating it can be—Amalfi, motorbike, wrapped around a sexy Italian man wearing leather?
Do you think the characters are influenced by the location? I mean – would Rhiannon (for instance) have acted differently if she had been at home in Australia?

Location definitely influences characters' behaviour. Much of Rhiannon's anxiety and reaction to initial events was based on the fact she couldn't understand Italian whereas if she'd been in an English speaking country, the problem would never have arisen. Amelie has to face her greatest phobia in order to help Arne and the location is a key factor.
Take a person out of their comfort zone and a great source of potential conflict opens up. Increase the  problems (ie throw a few rocks their way) and you really see what they're like under pressure.

What do you think readers will enjoy most about your novels?
Location, location, location! I love being transported by a story to another place; it's delicious to live vicariously through the written word. I've been told I write great sexual tension and sensory descriptions too.

How do you balance writing with all of life’s responsibilities? Which ones do you have to juggle?

Until now, I've been juggling full time work and family needs with writing but 2014 is my year to write almost full time while I take long service leave. My biggest problem is 'pfaffing around' because I feel like I have so much time now! I balance writing and other 'stuff' according to the day's needs. House work takes a back seat when I'm writing. The dust will still be there tomorrow but the idea might disappear if I don't get it down. And evenings are time to spend with my husband who works long hours.

What is a typical writing day for you? Do you stick to a regimented pattern of writing so many words per day?
I set a word goal for each day but I'm still trying to find my best writing time. It's such a luxury to have most of the day available! And I'm still learning the demands of social media; it's a great tool but a terrible master. Turning the internet off except for set periods might save my sanity and boost my word count.

Where do you like to write? At your desk, or perhaps wherever looks comfortable at the time?
Mostly in an armchair with my laptop on my lap. I found a neat little 'laptop tray' in an office supplies store that has made this much more comfortable. My main requirement is a lack of distractions. And no chips in the cupboard. My name is Sue and I'm a chipaholic.

Is there anyone who stands out as a mentor in your writing career?

Annie Seaton—she is such a dynamo and generous with her time and assistance in so many areas. Shirley Wine deserves a mention for beating out my early tendency towards 'purple prose'.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer?
Self discipline.
When you don't feel like writing but have a dead line to meet, when your word count seems as elusive as the peak of Mt Everest, when that publisher you subbed to still hasn't got back to you and you feel like your writing 'sucks', you need to keep writing, even if it's just stream of consciousness 'stuff'.
What tips would you have for aspiring authors who feel passionate about the stories they write?
Be open to feedback and take it on board, especially if several people give you similar comments. It might be the story of your heart but others may not read it in the same way. If you receive some negative comments or there are elements identified that you don't agree with, don't jump up and down and say they haven't 'got' you. Put your work aside for a night or two or more if need be then come back when you're fresh and look at your work again. Distance does give a different perspective.

Are you able to share with us what you are working on now?
I’m thrilled to announce that I have just signed with Entangled Press. I’m writing Book 4 in The Emerald Quest, a romantic suspense series that spans two centuries.

My book is set in Hawaii in 1960, just after it became the fiftieth state of the USA. It will be the story of Eva Abbott and Luc Martineau. It is scheduled for release in May 2015.

Congratulations! That is wonderful news and I'm looking forward to seeing that one. Susanne, thanks for visiting today, and for sharing so generously with us.

About Susanne Bellamy:

Like most authors, I’ve always loved reading and I read broadly, following whatever my current passion is. Perhaps curiosity killed the cat but it is lifeblood for an author and I am curious. I enjoy researching and I love creating new characters then chucking the proverbial rocks at them and making them work for their happy ending.
I am also mad keen about travelling to new places, as well as revisiting some old favourites. Paris will always be one of my top spots, and I fell in love with Scotland when we visited the west coast (it had nothing to do with the fine single malts), but I only recently had my first real trip to Italy. Four weeks in four different parts of the country--tick off one of my Bucket List items!  I’ve enjoyed New Year in Kathmandu and trekked in the Annapurnas, sailed in Ha Long Bay on a junk, and stayed on a floating hotel beside a tethered elephant in Thailand. I love the Peak in Hong Kong and the cable car ride in Singapore. My heroes have to be pretty special to live up to the real life one I married. He saved my life then married me. We live on the edge of bush land on a mountain in beautiful sunny Queensland, Australia, together with our two children and two dogs.  I write contemporary romance novels set in exciting and often exotic locations.
Check out my story boards on Pinterest for White Ginger, One Night in Sorrento and Betting on the Boss (formerly Merger in Melbourne) and see what else you can find! Follow me if you see boards you like!
Two great books – two fabulous exotic locations.
Blurb – White Ginger
Amelie Mackenzie chases her artistic dreams in Hawaii after a life detour. That means no more ex-fiancĂ©…and definitely no men to distract her. Should be easy, but how will she resist the hot and sexy marine biologist fighting a battle against a corrupt developer?

Arne Keloki is fighting a resort development which will damage the reef protecting his small Kauai town. Although being with Arne could be dangerous for Amelie, in more ways than one, some attractions cannot be ignored. Will she succumb to the smoldering attraction or will Arne lose his chance forever?

Blurb – One Night in Sorrento
Rhiannon steps out of her comfort zone when she travels to Sorrento for a meeting in borrowed business clothes. The last thing she expects is to miss her meeting, and end up in the company of Luca, a sexy Italian bike rider.

What will one night in Sorrento bring?
Contact Susanne:
Buy links
One Night in Sorrento http://amzn.to/1brE2Jp
White Ginger http://amzn.to/MiDjVr
Special! Extract from Susanne's next release - Betting on the Boss

Wrong Matt’s warm, long-fingered hand covered hers and stilled her jerky movements. As he pressed her hand against his chest, calluses at the base of his fingers, the kind that came from hard, honest labour, scraped over her knuckles. Strong, tanned and downright gorgeous, Wrong Matt did more than shuffle paper and the touch of his work-hardened hands comforted her. 
Through a haze of tears, she stared at the expanse of wet white shirt plastered to his broad chest. Like a second skin, the material stretched over toned muscle that her hands were now firmly pressed against. Tempted to trace the outline of well defined muscle, she opened her fingers wide and slipped her hand beneath his jacket.
He leaned into her touch. Did he welcome it? A muscle jumped and her little finger slipped between the buttons of his tuxedo and touched warm, smooth skin.
How would his skin taste? Of Champagne? Almost certainly. Her lips parted.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Day in the Life of: Author - Crystal Donahue

I’m thrilled to have fellow Etopia Press US author Crystal Donahue visit me today.

Crystal writes New Adult Romantic Comedy, and her second novel – Above Par – is out now.

Firstly, congratulations on the release of your second novel, Above Par. What inspired you to write this book?

Thanks, I’m very excited! ‘Above Par’ was actually inspired by my six year old son, of all people. His favorite summer activity is miniature golf so we spend most weekends just putting around. One day I noticed our favorite course was put up for sale. It made me think about how fun it would be to own a putt-putt course.

That thought grew and evolved into the story of Drew and Weston. I was actually in the middle of writing another book at the time, but I couldn’t get ‘Above Par’ out of my head. So I gave up and went with it, and I’m glad I did!

It sounds like there’s a fair bit of angst and tension in Above Par. What was the hardest part about writing this novel?

For me it was keeping readers guessing. Weston, for all his charm, is hiding a BIG secret from Drew. It was important that I handled this with care and not give too much away before the dramatic reveal. So far I’ve yet to hear from a reader that’s figured it out beforehand. Could YOU be the first? There’s only one way to find out!

Romantic Comedy stories often have parts where I laugh myself silly, and then have me in tears at the soft, tender moments. How hard is it to write comedy and balance it with sad bits?

I actually dislike writing sad, emotionally charged chapters. I tend to feel right along with my characters as I write. Since I know what’s coming next, I’ll do everything in my power to procrastinate. At some point I force myself to sit down and type. When it’s done I wipe away the tears and smile about the happy times that come next!

Does your main character, Drew, have any traits that could be found in yourself?

I think it’s impossible to write a main character that doesn’t in some way resemble yourself. All authors shed little pieces of our personalities in each story we create. For example, Drew and I both have a natural inclination to help people. While I’m a nurse by trade, she plans to be a therapist someday. This wasn’t really something I meant to do, it just sort of happened because it’s who I am.

There are problems that Drew and Weston need to overcome. Is there a hidden message in your story and if so what is it?

‘Honesty’ is definitely front and center in ‘Above Par’. All the problems that arise between Drew and Weston could’ve been easily avoided had they told each other the truth from the start. Shame on them! But then again, who wants to read a book without any ups and downs? Not this girl!

Where do you like to write? At your desk, or perhaps wherever looks comfortable at the time?

I do my best work in bed…uh, wait, let me rephrase that…I write most of my best scenes while sitting in bed with my laptop. Yeah, that’s what I meant to say all along! **Wink, wink**

LOL. Well now, Crystal! That made me sit up and take notice. How do you balance writing with all of life’s responsibilities? Which ones do you have to juggle?

If you saw the giant pile of dirty clothes in my laundry room you’d know that I don’t juggle well at all. The very same week that ‘Above Par’ released, I also started a new job. I really don’t recommend that anyone else tries that. I was beyond stressed! I’m only just now starting to get a work, writing, and personal routine back down.

Are you able to share with us what you are working on now?

If you’re a fan of a deliciously sexy man in uniform, that also has a sensitive side, then you’re in for a treat! But that’s all I’m saying for now.

Who doesn’t love a man in uniform. *wink* What tips would you have for aspiring authors who feel passionate about the stories they write?

Write the kind of story that you would want to read yourself. Don’t cater to the fads or genre expectations. Chances are, if you love it, someone else will too!

So many readers have told me they like ‘Above Par’ because it’s not like any New Adult novel they’ve ever read. This, to me, is a huge complement. It’s possible to go against the norm and still have readers connect with your characters and story.

And finally, where can readers get a copy of Above Par?

Let's meet Crystal Donahue:

Crystal Donahue has been fortunate to live all over the US, including Arizona, Hawaii, and Georgia but she currently resides near the Iowa/Illinois border with her tornado obsessed son and their mischievous cat, Brownie. She is a procrastinator of epic proportions, finds humor in almost everything, loves sarcasm and loathes washing dishes.
A 2004 graduate of Western Illinois University, Crystal has held several unique jobs including driving a Zamboni and being a relay operator for the hearing and speech impaired. While working as a claims adjuster she realized life is too short not to do something that makes you happy, so she quit her job to become a nurse. Between work and raising her son she somehow manages to find time to write too, usually to the detriment of her social life. Fortunately her friends and family are amazing so it isn’t much of an issue…yet.

Blurb for Above Par:

There are no mulligans in love.

Drew's life just got a whole lot harder. Her relationships are falling apart, her little sister is failing math, and her parents are leaving for Florida to take care of Grandpa. Now not only does she have to play surrogate parent, study to graduate from her last semester of college, and deal with the looming threat of full-on adulthood, she has to do it all while running the family's mini-golf course by herself. Even the upbeat Drew is starting to feel like she just drove her ball down the unfairway.

Her luck takes a turn when she meets Weston, the snarky geometry teacher. He's smart, capable, dependable, and handsome—a real hole in one. But even Weston has a few hazards of his own. Now Drew will have to decide whether his secret is the wedge that drives them apart, or pushes them together.
Contact Crystal Donahue:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy St Valentine's Day

Today I'm one of the lucky guests over at Shehanne Moore's blog. A dozen or so of us - all authors - are sharing the First Kiss scenes from our novels. We are also spilling the beans on whether it is love or lust, and what happens at the happily ever after.

Here's my portion of the post - re-posted with the permission of Shehanne Moore. But please visit her blog by clicking here, and read what the others have to say.

Why is this story called Rosamanti?
Rosamanti is a villa. A 400 year old villa. In its lifetime, it’s witnessed its fair share of happiness, sadness, loss, even violence. When you’re 400 years old, you gain a bit of wisdom.
Rosamanti seems to have a hand in causing good things to happen to good people who deserve happiness.
Do you believe in magic? I do.

The first kiss between Sarah and Pietro:
Pietro picked up the bottle of wine and the glasses and indicated to her to follow him. She walked behind him up a steep but well-trodden pathway. After about ten minutes, they reached a flat area atop the big headland that she recognized from her study window. They sat down on the grassy knoll and looked across to the east where the big full moon again made its slow climb, spreading gold on the waters of the calm, dark sea. The sheer beauty of the place was very moving.
Trapped in the moment, she hardly noticed Pietro remove the glass from her hand. She detected the silhouette of his head as it blocked her vision, then his warm, soft lips caressed hers. It was a mere whisper of a kiss, but tender. He pulled back.
“I couldn’t help myself, bella. Do you mind?”
She didn’t know what to say. She shook her head. Did she mind? No. No she didn’t mind at all. But no words would come out.
“Ah, I see. Then please forgive me. The wine, the moon…”
She reached out in the darkness and placed her palm gently on his cheek, unable to speak. His big hand covered hers, then his strong arms embraced her. His kiss this time was warm and robust. She found herself responding. It was delicious. He parted her lips with his tongue and probed for hers. Caught up in the moment, she touched his tongue, tasting saltiness, mixed with wine. Somewhere deep down, something fluttered—oh so delicately—through her. His embrace became tighter. Linked together, they lay back on the spiky turf, their kiss becoming more passionate.

What happens next?
He cooks for her, gives her a whole cellar of gorgeous wine, charms her with his smooth Italian ways, makes her laugh again.

But is it love?
She watched enthralled as Pietro spread the pliant dough on the smooth, floured bench in Nonna’s kitchen. Sipping wine, she could feel contentment oozing through every pore of her skin. He started singing as he worked—firstly skinning the rich, ripe tomatoes, and dicing the onion and basil finely. Every so often, he looked at her and winked, a happy smile resting on his handsome face. When the meal was ready, they sat opposite each other at the old wooden table. She loved the meal, and she loved the happiness that he infused into the food. Wholesome, calm, generous, and sweet.
When they finished eating, he raised his glass to her. She clinked hers with him and smiled.
“Bella, you look so happy.”
“I am happy, Pietro. I’m happier than I’ve been for a long time. I don’t know if it’s your wine, your food, or Rosamanti, but I feel like I’ve been transformed into a fairy tale where everything is good.”
His face took on a look of mock admonishment. “Ah, bella,” he chided, “maybe it is because of me!”
They both laughed. She looked thoughtful for a moment, tipping her head to one side. “You know, maybe—just maybe—it is.”
The tender look in his eyes, and the happy smile on his face, warmed her heart.

When it is love, how does Sarah know?
Taking her coffee outside, she sat at the little white wrought-iron table under the pergola and waited for the sun to rise. Her thoughts turned to Ted and she felt the weight of sadness deep within her. When he was first diagnosed, they talked a lot. She remembered his words: “You’re still a young woman. Promise me you’ll love someone else.” She drew an involuntary breath as she realized she may have just done exactly that. The vision of Ted’s sick, pale face dissolved into a brown, smiling countenance brimming with life. Pietro’s black eyes twinkled as they gazed out from his handsome face. She felt like she was sixteen years old again. No way—no way at all—had she expected this to happen. Not so quickly. Maybe even never.

The Passion of Chocolate

Romance—and reading Romance novels—is often undertaken in conjunction with the consumption of chocolate.

This is not a new phenomenon brought about by commercialism from multi-national corporations to sell more of their product at Valentine’s Day. Nor it is based on the assumption that women who read romance like chocolate more than women (or men) who read Sci Fi or Political History.
The earliest recorded connection between the consumption of chocolate and romance, is from the Mayans who, more than 2000 years ago, made a beverage from the cocoa bean which was an important part of marriage and betrothal ceremonies.

The Aztecs, from Central America, were the first to discover the aphrodisiacal powers of chocolate, and it is reported that Montezuma, the Aztec Emperor, drank at least fifty goblets of liquid chocolate a day in order to enhance his powers of love-making.

Later, in the 12th Century, the Incas believed that the beverage made from the cocoa bean was a ‘drink of the Gods’, and their Kings consumed it regularly believing also that it had mystical powers, especially over their abilities in the bedroom. Such was the power of the cocoa bean as an aphrodisiac, that in the 16th Century the Spanish took chocolatl to Europe, where nobility couldn’t get enough of the stuff.

Many famous romantic figures consumed copious amounts of chocolate, believing it to be a love potion, which not only gave them staying power, but also helped to stimulate passion in others. The Venetian, Casanova, was one such imbiber of huge quantities of chocolate. So were several renowned mistresses of the French King Louis XV – notably Madame du Barry and Madame de Pompadour, believing it cured frigidity, enhanced desire for sex, and prolonged the act by imparting energy.
Today, more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans are consumed annually, with almost every country in the world having their own chocolate specialties.
One such country to develop a pure form of chocolate with a unique blend of ingredients, is Ireland, where the high cream content in their milk makes for rich, smooth chocolate. Cadbury’s—a name synonymous with chocolate—established a factory in Ireland in 1933, and use exclusively local ingredients. There are many boutique chocolatiers in Ireland, where artisans lovingly create hand-made chocolates using 100% local milk.
For expatriate Irish who miss the unique and delicious chocolate from the Emerald Isle, life can revolve around receiving ‘care packages’ of Irish treats to keep them sane. Here in Australia, a new business has just launched where Irish Australians can indulge in luxury, hand-made Irish chocolate.
Clover Chocolates is a newly established business in Brisbane, Australia, the brainchild of Caroline O’Connor, who has relocated to Brisbane from Cork, Ireland.
Caroline O'Connor at the markets in Brisbane
Clover Chocolates at Brisbane Powerhouse Markets

Clover Chocolates has sourced only the finest award-winning chocolates from boutique chocolatiers in Ireland, and the product range includes Hot Chocolate Swirly Sticks, milk chocolate salted caramels, and dark chocolate mint creams.
To learn or about Clover Chocolates, visit their website at www.cloverchocolates.com.au and to keep up with all the latest places you can meet Caroline, like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CloverChocolates.

Irish skin after a day at the markets

Caroline is VERY passionate about Clover Chocolates. She wore a heart cut-out blouse to the markets in Brisbane last weekend... and look what happened. Ah, that pale, soft Irish skin is just not up to the heat of a Brisbane summer.

My recommendation for a total indulgence, is to pick up your favourite romance book, a box of salted caramels, and a mug of rich, dark, hot chocolate, and escape from the wear and tear of everyday living. Oh, and at the same time, you can be increasing your libido to share later with your partner of choice.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Day in the Life of: Author – Tania Joyce

Today I welcome fellow writing group member, Tania Joyce, to my blog.

Tania writes New Adult and Contemporary Romance, and I can tell you that she writes with a s-s-sizzling heat level!

Tania’s current novel is called Worlds Collide. I’ve read some extracts, and I just love it! Her writing style is both witty, sharp, and funny. I can’t wait to read this book.


Everything changes in Jessica Mason's perfect world when her agency wins the grand opening for Somers Hotel and Nate Somers, the son of a hotel billionaire, sets foot in her office.
Devastated by a moment of unprofessional conduct, Jessica heads out to a country retreat for some reflection where she runs into someone from her past and her hidden burdens are unveiled.
It will take nothing short of a small miracle stop her worlds colliding.
Tania, I’d love to find out more about you and your writing.
Q. Was anyone in your past, or present, life the inspiration for Jessica Mason and Nate Somers?
No – definitely not. My lead character Nate is pure fantasy (and damn he is good!!!)
Q. Is there a little of yourself in Jessica Mason?
I probably share the same anal characteristic of trying to be a perfectionist. 
Q. What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
Writing really confronting heart-felt emotions and putting myself in my characters shoes.  When Jessica meets a lover from her past after 20 years and they have to deal with a lot of baggage (hey – we all have it) it was tough.  
Q. Which mainstream author would you say your work most closely resembles and why?
My Writers Group think I am like Jennifer St George in my style of writing.  (Fingers crossed – I hope to be published like her one day.)
Q. What do you think reader will enjoy most about your novel?
While the spectacular scenery of Sydney’s Darling Harbour and News South Wales Hunter Valley region is wonderful, it’s the constant tug-of-war Jessica faces in deciding between two men and the dramas she faces.  Plus there are some pretty hot sex scenes throughout the book.  As I said before….Nate is good.
Q. How do balance writing with all of life’s responsibilities? Which ones do you have to juggle?
I work part-time, write part-time and I’m a full-time mum.  Somehow it all works out.  Being a mum always comes first.
Q. What is a typical writing day for you? Do you stick to a regimented pattern of writing so many words per day?
Before I even start writing I usually have the whole book planned out and summarize each scene/chapter. So then once kids are at school/daycare and I have caffeine by my side, I hook in to writing. Once I sit in front of my computer the words just magically flow. I often have to set the alarm to go and pick up the kids because I lose track of time and get lost in my characters.
I don’t stick to a word count per day – I’m more of a go with the flow type person.
Q. Where do you like to write? At your desk, or perhaps wherever looks comfortable at the time?
At my desk overlooking the gardens out the side of my house. It’s beautiful and quiet. Just me and my keyboard!
Q. Is there anyone who stands out as a mentor in your writing career?
No – not really.  My Writers Group is inspirational and keeps me motivated. Being a member of RWA and QWC has also helped me along the way.
Q. What other books are you currently working on?
Too many stories – not enough time.  But on a serious note - presently I am working on “Scandalous”. It’s a fun, sexy novel where a tabloid gossip columnist is in love with her flatmate – a struggling actor.
I’m also reworking my new adult manuscript called “Distractions”
Thanks for visiting today, and for sharing so generously with us. I know you’re anxiously waiting for Worlds Collide to find a home, and when it does, I hope you’ll come back and visit again.

I was born in Brisbane, Australia. Up until a few years ago my life focused around my career in the corporate world of marketing for several software corporations in the mining, oil and gas industries.  I lived to travel the world, shop and shared many adventures with my husband.  All that changed when he finally convinced me after 10 years of marriage to have children.  What a life changing event that was!  I gave up my full time career to raise my two beautiful boys and, along with the insane hormonal imbalance, I experienced, I unearthed the desire to start writing.

It is amazing how much I love writing - hours disappear without me realizing it and hate having to drag myself away from the keys some days when motherly duties call - especially in the middle of a great scene! I have now been writing books since 2010.

I am a member of:

RWA (Romance Writers Australia),
QWC (Queensland Writers Centre)
Yon Beyond Writing Group
NightWriters Writing Group.

Contact links:

Email: tania@taniajoyce.com
Web: www.taniajoyce.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/taniajoycebooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaniaJoyceBooks

Distractions - Wiley (Wilhelmina) Cayton's world turns upside down when she meets college newcomer Cameron Wilks. Full of mystery and a painful past, Cameron seems to be nothing but a party boy and a constant distraction. But their families have their futures planned out for them which is destined to keep them apart. As Wiley battles her insecurities and college pranks go horribly wrong - is their love meant to be or just a temporary distraction.

Worlds Collide - Everything changes in Jessica Mason's perfect world when her agency wins the grand opening for Somers Hotel and Nate Somers, the son of a hotel billionaire, sets foot in her office.
Devastated by a moment of unprofessional conduct, Jessica heads out to a country retreat for some reflection where she runs into someone from her past and her hidden burdens are unveiled.
It will take nothing short of a small miracle stop her worlds colliding.

Tania, it's been a pleasure having you here. Good luck with your writing!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Day in the Life of: Author – Isabella Hargreaves

Today I welcome fellow writing group member, Isabella Hargreaves, to my blog. Isabella’s debut Historical novel – The Persuasion of Miss Jane Brody - was released in December.

Firstly, may I offer huge congratulations on the successes you’ve already had with this wonderful novel.

Short-listed: Australian Romance Readers Awards 'Favourite Historical Romance' category.

http://steamereads.com.au/Steam eReads 'Some Like it Hot' Romantic Fiction Competition 2013 - second place.

Who was the inspiration for Miss Jane Brody?
My inspiration for The Persuasion of Miss Jane Brody was the life and writings of Mary Wollstonecraft (1757-1797) who wrote the early feminist treatise The Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. It was ridiculed by most people aware of its content including intellectual women in Society at the time. The term ‘bluestocking’, used to label an educated woman, was a term of derision for most of the nineteenth century.

This story arose from asking “how would a supporter of Mary Wollstonecraft’s views cope with falling in love?” That someone, for me, was Jane Brody, a member of an intellectual family, who not only absorbed Wollstonecraft’s views but advocated them as well. Like Wollstonecraft, she fell in love and in doing so tried to find a way to retain her principles while committing to her lover.

Is there a little of the politically charged Miss Brody in yourself?
I guess as someone who believes in the equality of women then I do reflect Jane Brody’s views; but in this day and age, so do most women in the western world.

What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
I think the hardest part about writing this novel was its resolution. How to get a satisfying ending where the hero risks all for his heroine? Unfortunately, I couldn’t have the Marquis of Dalton make his proposed speech to Parliament promoting the equality of women because none was made by a member of the House of Lords on the rights of women until much later in the nineteenth century. The earliest writing advocated female suffrage was by Englishman Jeremy Bentham, (1748-1832), a leading philosopher and political radical, in his 1817 book, A Plan for Parliamentary Reform. He was well ahead of his time and the idea didn’t take, as the 1832 Great Reform Act in Britain specifically excluded women from voting and it was not until 1851 that a petition calling for women’s suffrage was submitted to the House of Lords - and failed.

Which two mainstream authors would you say your work most closely resembles and why?
I have no idea. My favourite authors are Mary Balogh, Mary Ann Schaffer, Liz Carlyle and Jennifer Crusie, so I would like to think that I had learnt something from their work. I’m now a Noelle Clark fan, so I hope to be creating beautiful ambiance and settings for my characters soon.

What do you think reader will enjoy most about your novel?
Hopefully the interplay between Jane Brody and the Marquis of Dalton because they are so diametrically opposed in their beliefs but attracted to each other at the same time.

What is a typical writing day for you? Do you stick to a regimented pattern of writing so many words per day?
Typically, I write on the train, to and from full-time work, and sometimes in my lunch time. That amounts to about 40 minutes writing – not very much. Evenings and weekends include more writing, if home and family responsibilities allow it. It’s only really while I’m on annual leave that I make big progress with finishing manuscripts.

Where do you like to write? At your desk, or perhaps wherever looks comfortable at the time?
I write any- and everywhere. I don’t need a computer - paper and pen will do. However, I do like sitting at the desk in my study with the air conditioning on during summer in Brisbane.

Is there anyone who stands out as a mentor in your writing career?
I do have someone who acts as a sounding board for ideas, but I don’t have a mentor for my fiction writing – alas – I would love one. Any volunteers?

Thanks for visiting today, and for sharing so generously with us. Again, congratulations on your awards and nominations, and best of luck in the finals. I hope you’ll come back and visit again soon.

I’m an Australian author of historical romances, mainly set during the Regency period. I’ve read historical fact and fiction since I was a child growing up in Brisbane. That wasn’t enough, so I became a historian and now spend every work day researching and writing about people, places and events from the past. It seemed the perfect idea to combine my love of history and romance in writing historical romances. I write about strong, determined heroines and heroes that aren’t afraid to match them. Recently Steam eReads published my first historical novel, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Brody.

Passionate bluestocking Jane Brody, whose mother’s early death left her to raise eight siblings, campaigns to free women from the society’s shackles of poor education, marriage and motherhood. Jonathan Everslie, Marquis of Dalton, must marry. Jane is the only woman who doesn’t bore him; but her politics are dangerous. When Jane's father dies suddenly leaving the family in poverty, the only way out is marriage to the wealthy and conservative Dalton. Can she give up her ideals to marry him and save her family? Does he dare risk his political career by embracing her cause to win her love?

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Extract from The Persuasion of Miss Jane Brody


Grosvenor Square, London, August 1817

The door to his library opened abruptly and swung back on its hinges crashing into the bookshelves behind. An erect, grey haired lady dressed in the latest Parisian fashion marched into the room and stood before him as he sat behind his oak desk, bathed in early afternoon sunshine. Jonathan Everslie, Marquis of Dalton, gave her his full attention as she wanted and smiled in amused anticipation.

Without hesitation she launched the frontal attack he knew was coming.

“You must marry, Dalton, you must!” Lady Lucinda Mulgrave was emphatic. “You have a large family of dependent aunts and cousins and there is no heir to follow you. Do you want them thrown out on the streets when you die?”

“I must have an heir somewhere Aunt Lucinda. It only stands to reason. If I were to expire, I’m sure he would be found.” The new Marquis of Dalton attempted to calm her with logic. “And would look after his dependents,” he added as an afterthought.

The elderly lady raised her chin and stared down her aquiline nose at her nephew, her mouth set in a disapproving line. “There may be a cousin in New South Wales from my youngest brother who was sent there in exile - but his mother could be a convict for all we know. It is your duty to marry and beget an heir, and soon.”

“Let me be clear. I know it is my duty to marry, and soon, Aunt Lucinda, but I won’t marry anyone I consider unsuitable.”

Doggedly, Lady Mulgrave ploughed on with her lecture. “This is not the time to be fastidious. There are myriad young ladies every Season, more than suitable for the task – with impeccable backgrounds and some with money to match.”

The Marquis was placating. “And I will consider them. However, the Season doesn’t begin for another seven months, so this conversation is premature.”

“Nonsense, there are many families with eligible daughters whom you could visit, or invite to stay at Everslie in the meantime.”

“And how do you suggest I do that?”

“You have your secretary write invitations and send them, Jonathan.” She glared at him.

“How do I know who these candidates are?”

“I have a list already written.” She produced it with a flourish and laid it in front of him on his desk. “I expect to be presiding over a house party for these ladies and their families at Everslie by Christmas.”

Having delivered her message and assuming agreement, Lady Mulgrave nodded to her nephew in conclusion and sailed from his presence.

In frustration, the Marquis ran his long fingers through his hair, pushing the short brown curls from his forehead. He picked up the list and cast a knowing eye down its length. He had met them all and been bored to the point of irritation by their simpering ways. He groaned then crumpled the paper into a ball and threw it into the empty fire grate.

“Stevens!” His man of business arrived quickly. “Send to the stables for Nate to saddle my horse. I’m going out for a ride. I believe we have concluded today’s business.”

“Yes, we have my lord, but have you forgotten that you promised to take your sister to a lecture this afternoon, as Lady Mulgrave is unavailable?”

Vexed at the impediment to his escape, he sank back into his chair behind the desk. “Ah, yes, I do remember. We shall be gone for the afternoon. Thank you Stevens, continue with your work.” He changed his mind. “No – send word to my solicitor that I shall see him tomorrow morning.”

“May I tell him what it concerns, my lord?”

“Yes, I wish to trace the whereabouts of my uncle in Australia, or his family, should he have met his maker.”

Stevens nodded compliance and left to follow the Marquis’ orders.

Alone again, Dalton sank into a reverie about the onerous obligations that befall those who inherit titles – that of producing heirs for the benefit of their families. Of course, he mused, it shouldn’t be an onerous task to find a wife and create a family - it should be a pleasurable duty. Why wasn’t it turning out that way?


He wanted her. Only her.

The Marquis of Dalton shook his head. Was he mad? Where did that idea come from?

The room came back into focus and her words swirled around him. The drawing room in the modest townhouse, leased by The Reverend William Brody, was awash with late summer light streaming through its tall arched windows. An assortment of well-loved chaise longue and chairs were grouped around the simply dressed young woman who was expounding in her low-pitched voice on a better way to educate young women to take their place as men’s equals in society.

She had drawn quite a crowd for this unfashionable time of year. But then again there wasn’t a fashionable person in the room. Instead, when he looked around, those he recognised were doctors and the committed few society people who devoted themselves to philanthropic causes. To his left was Mrs Courtice, an eccentric elderly widow who supported every charitable cause in the city. Her bird-like form was clothed in an outmoded dress. That was deceptive. She was neither timid nor wanting for money. In fact, he knew that her husband had left her extremely wealthy as there was no entailment on his property and no children to support.

What was he doing here? In answer he glanced at his sister beside him. Her pale face contrasted with the dark circles beneath her eyes. She had urged him to accompany her to this important talk for women.

Oh, he had resisted of course. What man in his right mind wouldn’t, especially a peer of the realm? To entertain such notions was to upset the established balance of the world as it was known. His role was to keep things stable. Bad enough that the working classes were threatening to rise up against their masters.

Nevertheless, he couldn’t resist a plea from his sister Elizabeth for long. Her sweet disposition had always meant that he gave in to her requests - the precious few she made. Involving herself in charity work from the time she had left the schoolroom, she had pulled him into supporting her causes with generous donations. Occasionally he accompanied her when she needed a chaperone other than their aunt, but he had not escorted her to this residence before.

He focused again on the speaker. Miss Jane Brody was petite, confident, and articulate. She had the most beautiful open and earnest face with clear blue eyes. Her wavy golden brown hair was formed into a severe knot at the back of her head, emphasising her high cheekbones but not improving her attractiveness at all. He began imagining how her loosened hair would curl around her slender shoulders. How far would it drape down her naked back? The audience listened in silence, intent on her message, unaware of his lascivious thoughts.

Soon the talk ended. For a moment there was stillness then polite applause began. As hostess, the speaker invited all to join her for tea, which two servants brought in on cue. A hubbub of conversation followed as a number of guests surged towards her. Elizabeth took Jonathan’s arm and urged him forward into the throng around the woman now presiding behind the large teapot.

Apparently Elizabeth knew the speaker. She skirted the chairs, guiding him to the young woman in her daffodil yellow summer dress. Jane Brody looked like sunshine and he was being drawn to her. The thick carpet hushed his highly polished Hessian boots but the tassels swished against them as he strode forward, catching her attention he noticed as she looked up at their approach. Her gaze openly admired his form and air.

Elizabeth introduced them in her breathy voice and Jonathan courteously responded. “Charmed to meet you Miss Brody. My sister insisted that I accompany her to hear your views.” And I will certainly do so again after seeing how very much more attractive you are close up.

“I’m delighted to meet you Lord Dalton. I trust I have convinced you that women have voices which ought to be heard. This fraternity needs people in high places such as you to spread the word and convince men that women are entitled to equal rights.”

Surprised by her calm expectation that he was a supporter of her women’s cause, Jonathan felt compelled to disabuse her. “I’m afraid that I do not yet believe there is reason or need for women to demand an equal place in our society.”

“If they do not need equality of rights, then why do women die every day from too many confinements weakening their health?” she demanded quietly.

“Unfortunately they do die,” he replied. His face was impassive. “But that is an issue for man and wife to debate and settle – not society as a whole. And surely not a subject for an unmarried woman to concern herself with?”

“And how do you expect women to control their reproduction if they are not permitted to discuss the question and the means before they are wed? Afterwards it becomes a fait accompli, does it not?” she queried.

Her smile was still in place and her voice was calm but, Jonathan noted, there was a look of fierce determination on her face. He expected she may be a formidable opponent if pitted against him.

“So I can count on your maiden speech in parliament being on the topic of women’s rights my lord?” she added.

Good God; had she left hold of her sanity like old King George? “I’m afraid not Miss Brody, I will not be lecturing my peers on such a personal topic.” He hoped the conversation was at an end, but he saw a battle light in her eyes and suspected she would not let him off the hook.

She spoke quietly. “I took you for a man of greater moral fibre my lord. I see I was mistaken.” She turned to his sister and then Mrs Courtice on her right offering them tea and cake.

He was dismissed – as if of no further interest or use to her. It was an unfamiliar feeling – of being ignored by an unmarried woman, or by anyone else for that matter. Stunned, he stepped back from the group and strode away to talk with Dr Logan, the middle-aged doctor who aided a mission in Wapping for unmarried mothers. It was a charity to which Jonathan had given funds for some time but in which he had never taken a close interest, preferring instead to let his money do the work. He listened distractedly to the doctor but his mind was churning.

This woman, this Miss Jane Brody, the daughter of a clergyman, had challenged his very usefulness in the world and found him wanting. Anger flared in him. By what right did she feel she could do that? Did she truly believe that women were the equal of men? Obviously she did. He cast his eye around the room. Did all these people hold the same belief and expectation? It was a sobering thought.

The anger died as quickly as it rose. Why be angry at being called to account? Better to be curious and find out more about her ideas like the man of letters which he was. He vowed to investigate her and her writings, find the flaws in her beliefs and make sure that she could never put him on the back foot again.

His eyes were drawn to her slight but womanly figure seated at ease amongst the China tea set. She looked so right there; as did most ladies of his acquaintance. It was a charming and attractive sight. But she wasn’t chatting about the weather and fashions and events for the upcoming Season like others. Instead she and her fellow bluestockings and philanthropists were discussing ways of changing the order of things in society.

She was a disturbing phenomenon.


Jane seethed. While smiling and serving her guests she sensed Lord Dalton’s eyes on her. He was the most annoying man. First his narrow-minded attitudes and now his steady brown-eyed gaze upon her. He was every inch the Corinthian, from his short brown hair swept upon his brow and his tall athletic body clad in the best of men’s fashion, to his shining Hessian boots. Obviously good looks, a wonderful physique and enormous wealth did not ensure intelligence and manners!

What a contrast to his delightful and thoughtful sister. Jane had met Lady Elizabeth a number of times at meetings of charity groups over the last few months. The last encounter had been at a ball when Lady Elizabeth had been accompanied by her aunt, Lady Lucinda Mulgrave. The aunt had seemed a typical society matron intent on pushing her niece forward into a suitable match. It appeared the brother might do the same.

Having met two examples of the family Jane hoped these traditionalists were not pressuring Lady Elizabeth to accept the usual role for women before she was old enough to think for herself.

Jane had one sister already married and the next one, Anna, was keen to find a husband. Jane couldn’t understand the haste or the reasoning - she was glad to be unshackled by husband and children who would claim every moment of her day. Instead, she enjoyed devoting her spare time to charitable work when not supervising her father’s household and organising her three youngest siblings who were still living at home. Now nineteen, Anna required only escorting to public events from time to time, while the younger pair still needed tutoring, which she shared with her father.

Her other sister Charlotte had married about a year ago, at what Jane felt was the very young age of twenty. Despite all her counselling to wait a little longer, until she was at least of age and better knew her fiancĂ© - a cavalry officer - Charlotte had persuaded their father to give his consent to the marriage. She was now residing near Portsmouth close to the cavalry regiment’s encampment. Too far away for frequent visiting, leaving only weekly letter writing between the sisters as their means of communication.

Eight years after his wife’s death her father, the Reverend Brody, had not recovered his zest for life, nor much interest in the people and events around him. He seemed to have shrunk inside his clothes; his hair had gone white and his laughter rare. In the interim Jane had taken over much of his charity work.

Marshalling her thoughts, Jane involved herself in the conversation between Mrs Courtice and Lady Elizabeth going on beside her. “Have you been well, Lady Elizabeth?” asked Jane.

“Yes, much improved since the cloudy, foggy days have gone,” she responded. “As long as London’s sky remains clear my cough is non-existent. If the weather changes I may have to retreat to the country again, like last Spring. My brother keeps a close eye on me and whisks me away if my symptoms start.”

“Indeed, he is a very caring, solicitous brother from what you say,” Jane conceded.

Lady Elizabeth nodded. “I do wish I could convince him to take up your cause now that he is to take his place in the House of Lords. The rights of women need to be recognised so that we may have some chance of independence in these tumultuous times.”

“Yes, we need a champion in high places if we are to spread your message Jane,” agreed Mrs Courtice. “It is not enough for us to just perform charity work to help women who have fallen on hard times. We need to change the way society thinks of women. We are not inferior to men. We ought to be educated to assume our rightful place beside them.”

Her look pierced Jane. “You must continue to write your pamphlets about our cause Jane. It is valuable work.”

“I hope never to stop until our aim is achieved Mrs Courtice,” Jane agreed. “But we still need a patron – preferably a man of influence.”

“Then you must try to convince my brother to take up our cause Miss Brody,” said Lady Elizabeth. “If anyone can do it, it is you. He has always been complacent about social issues but now that he has inherited his title, he has the ability to effect change. He needs a good shake up.”

“How should I go about that Lady Elizabeth? He seemed quite adamant that he was against women’s rights when I spoke with him a little while ago.”

“Don’t let one failed attempt put you off! Come to see me tomorrow morning. He is always in his study working with his man of business before luncheon. I will ensure that you get the opportunity to talk with him there.”

Jane wondered why she felt as though she would be bearding the lion in his den when she visited the handsome, yet reactionary, Lord Dalton to convert him to their cause.