Monday, 18 September 2017

What is Love? Part 4 - Body Language

By Cassandra Samuels

Body language. We know we use it, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes not, in our everyday lives. You've probably seen enough TV to know it is helpful in solving crimes, eg. the TV series Tell Me Lies (a show that follows a group of deception experts), and more recently the TV show Bull.

But what about body language when it comes to love, to attraction, to desire?

It's a complicated science but there are some simple things to do to show that you are attracted to another. Some are subtle and some not so subtle. Here are a few:

Courtesy of Communication

Open gestures of availability are things like uncrossed arms and legs, smiling, and looking the other person in the eyes. All these indicate interest in the other person and attraction.

Mimicking the other person is playing mirror-mirror, i.e. copying the other person's poses and gestures. If they tilt their head you do too; if they smile and blink, you copy. Purposely holding back on these indicators has been shown to actually make the other person more interested in you (delayed gratification anyone?). It is because they see their own attraction reflected in your body language.

Less subtle, perhaps, is hair flicking and exposing of the neck that women sometimes do when presented with a handsome man. You can try wearing your hair down, and keeping hands and wrists visible to display the soft skin of the wrists is also highly attractive for men.

Tilting your head can expose pheromones which can send a pretty strong message to the other person that you would like them to kiss you or at least get closer to you. The neck is a highly erogenous zone. Biting the lips or licking the lips is another way of showing you wish to be kissed by that other person.

Delaying a smile or a head tilt when you first meet a person you like can make the eventual showing of your attraction, by mimicry or other hints, more powerful, and make the other person feel like you have rewarded them and see you in an even better light.

courtesy of Pexels
Using the tone of your voice, lowering it or slowing down your speech patterns a little, can indicate attraction (not everyone can have the natural low husky tones of Demi Moore).

How can you read the signs of attraction? When we are attracted to someone, we blush. It is said to mimic the orgasm effect where we get flushed. It is a natural way the body tries to attract the opposite sex.

Is your heart racing when you look at that certain someone? This is another sign of attraction. Check out the feet of the person you are attracted to. Are they pointing your way? Yes? Then he is certainly interested, if not totally attracted to you. Facing away? You are not in the race.

These are just a few ways to gauge attraction. The topic of body language is huge and would take years to master, but I hope you have enjoyed this brief overview.

Next time you are in a local café, take note of the body language of the pair at the next table. Are they attracted to each other or just friends?

Have you ever met someone and felt your heart rate speed up and your face heat? And did it lead to seeing that person again?

Love to Love meeting my new grandson.

Love to Laugh at funny cartoons.

Courtesy of

Love to Learn about Body Language.

Monday, 11 September 2017

What I Loved About the Historical Novel Society Australasia Conference

 by Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of HNSA

I just spent the most fabulous weekend at the Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) conference in Melbourne. It was the first one I’ve attended and I assure you it won’t be the last. Sadly, the next isn’t until 2019, but at least it gives me plenty of time to save up 😊.

The selection of sessions, practical workshops and academic sessions was absolutely sensational (the only problem being that there were too many choices)! Everything you could ask for, from being allowed to heft pieces of medieval armour to listening to a panel of feisty romance authors vent their ire at the proposition that romance is written to a formula.

Lisa Chaplin’s From Elevator Pitch to Finish proved to me yet again what a wonderful author and teacher Lisa is. I attended her Deep POV workshop some years ago and it was shortly after that that my debut novel The Farmer’s Perfect Match was accepted for Harlequin’s MIRA line (due in no little way to Lisa’s suggestions, I’m sure). Fingers crossed, I now have the perfect pitch for my current wip.

I found out from the panel discussing Bio Fiction: Can You Defame the Dead? that according to Australian law, no, you can't defame the dead, or their descendants. Handy to know for those Aussie writing historical fiction.

The Outlander Effect: Parallel Narratives was of particular interest because my latest work is a time-slip novel. Ella Carey, Felicity Pullman, Belinda Murrell and Gary Crew gave some great insights into how to bring a dual timeline novel to life while maintaining the authenticity of both timelines and their characters' stories.
Looking like a dag

Having missed out on the Weapons session at last month's RWA conference (clashing sessions), I was so pleased to be able to attend the session on Armour with Matt Curran. I was able to get a tangible feel for the medieval past by trying on a chainmail hood and a twelfth century Norman helmet (recreated).

The discussion about the difference between historical romance and a historical love story was a lot of fun. The panel, consisting of Lisa Chaplin, Anna Campbell, Isolde Martyn, and Alison Stuart, presented a lively and entertaining discussion with a lot of laughs. 

The panel discussing Authenticity vs Truth: Does Historical Fiction Need to be Accurate? was interesting, but without arriving at a definitive answer, of course. There will always be those who believe that historical fiction should serve the narrative versus those who believe writers have a moral obligation to get the facts of history correct (even in fiction).

Photo courtesy of Jel Cel (HNSA)

I’m lucky enough to have had two books published (in a different genre to historical fiction), but there was so much I wasn’t aware of with regard to the process. Thank you to the panel of Pathways to Publication for outlining the different reasons why mss may not make the cut.

The last session, Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Sex and Violence, provided a lively conclusion to the conference. Thanks to Kate Forsyth, Anna Campbell and Luke Devenish for the laughs.

Over the weekend I also got to have a coffee with one of my all-time favourite writers, Juliet Marillier, and to actually meet the fabulous Anna Campbell for the first time in person. Talk about fan girl moments! Loved the way these ladies took the time to talk to their biggest fans (i.e. me :D).

Photo of Juliet Marillier meetup courtesy of Denniel Allysha
I love the conference experience! The interaction between writers of all levels is wonderful to be involved in. Needless to say, I've been totally inspired and can't wait to get back to my story with a heap of fresh ideas for finishing it off. (But I will miss Melbourne - despite the cold.)

What has been a memorable conference workshop you've attended? Would you rather interact or sit and listen to an expert?

Love to love meeting up with Facebook friends in person. I met a few Word Count Warriors for the first time - lovely to be able to put real faces (as opposed to Facebook photos) to names. Plus, I also unexpectedly ran into an old school friend - such a lovely surprise!

Love to laugh along with Anna Campbell's infectious laugh.

Love to learn about the concept of a 'sensitivity reader'. If you have a sensitive issue in your novel, it's a good idea to have an expert on the issue read your book to advise if your treatment of it is authentic. An example might be that if your book delves into the treatment of our Indigenous peoples in the past, your sensitivity reader should be an Indigenous person from the area you write about (the reason being that it's disrespectful for an Aboriginal person from one area to talk about the culture of an Aboriginal group from another area). I'd never heard the term before, but it makes sense to me.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Author Spotlight - Bronwyn Stuart

It is with great pleasure I present to you Harlequin author Bronwyn Stuart.


Bronwyn Stuart's love of reading got her into trouble at a very young age, starting with Mills & Boon 'borrowed' from her mother and then progressing to meaty historicals and sweeping sagas. It's only fair that romance pays her back with unique ideas for her own novels. She now writes gritty romance from her treehouse in the Adelaide hills where she lives with her young children, two terror hounds, one fluffy white cat, and a bad boy (now husband) of her very own.

Bronwyn is an award-winning author and multiple contest winner in both Australia and North America. She has three full-length Regencies published in English and Italian with Carina Press and Harlequin MIRA Australia. Her previous contemporary romance from Escape Publishing is entitled Mixing Business with Pleasure and can be found anywhere great ebooks are sold.

You can find out more about her and her books at or catch up with her on Facebook - Bronwyn Stuart Romance Author.

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

Apart from my little pink laptop, I have to have lollies or something to chew. I'm a teeth grinder, especially at the intense chapters!

What are you reading at the moment?

I'm about to jump into an Annie West threesome (three books, not three people) that I got at the RWAus conference in Brisbane.

Who is your favourite literary crush?

My crushes change as my reading tastes do. One day it might be a highlander (let's face it, it's always a guy in a kilt) and the next it might be a billionaire. If I could have a rich highlander, I'd be happy.

What is the last photo you took with your phone?

My two Jack Russell Terrors (and yes, terrors, 14 months and 6 months).

What is the premise of your latest book?

My latest Escape Publishing release revolves around the reality TV show, The Bachelor. I was once, unashamedly, an addict. In She's The One, the hero signs up for the show drunk as a skunk and when he sobers, tries to pull out but the contract is ironclad. In a last-ditch attempt to claw back his shady reputation, he demands his 'bride' be chosen before filming.

The heroine is the daughter of the network boss and he basically blackmails her into becoming a bachelorette, the last woman standing. But she has other plans to make our hero fall in love with anyone who isn't her...

What unique challenges did the book pose?

It was challenging to not make a mockery of the actual Bachelor show. We all know it's more scripted than they let on and we all know it's a huge setup, but it's about the journey, the reason I watch it, and I wanted She's The One to have that same exciting romantic journey.

What are you working on at the moment?

I submitted an entry to Harlequin's new Dare line and got a request for more chapters so I'm forging ahead on that. Fingers crossed.

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

Morning and afternoon while the kids are at school. I'm too tired at night.

Are you a plotter, pantser or something in-between?


Do you listen to music as you write?

I need total silence! Well, birds singing is nice.

What do you love to love?

Not what, but who. I'm fiercely protective of my family and friends and I love to love them.

What do you love to laugh at?

I actually love to laugh. Kids, pets, movies. I try to make people laugh as much as I can too because there's not enough to be happy about sometimes. It's my motto. Love, Laugh, Live. I have it tattooed on the back of my neck. Find someone who makes you laugh, fall in love with that person and then you'll know what it is to truly live...

What do you love to learn about?

I am always learning something new. I consider myself to be quite intelligent so information is like crack for me. Honing my writing craft is at the top of my list but I also love those useless facts, too, the kind that you'll never use for anything but a conversation starter.

Monday, 28 August 2017

What are 'Romantic Elements' in a Book?

Hello darlings, and welcome to Miranda's August Musings!

Every now and then a book with the label 'Romantic Elements' pops up, and you think - what does that mean? Is it still a romance?

Yes it is, but in a slightly different way. In romance fiction the romance is the main part of the story.

In a book with romantic elements the romance is definitely there in the plot, but it's not the main part of the story. The protagonists enter on their journey and get to their fantastic end, but the bonus is a romance sub-plot and often a happy - or at least 'optimistic' ending.

Examples? Why yes, glad you asked. Just so happens I've read three in the last few weeks.

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I read The Dangers of Truffle Hunting because I planned to go to the recent Mudgee Reader's Festival and hoped to meet the author, Sunni Overend. Unfortunately (long story) I didn't get there, but I really enjoyed the book! It's written in a very cool, refreshingly unapologetic, on trend, hip voice. The relationships are fun and realistic, and the questions about the heroine's fiance Scott and potential lover Raph lured the story on. I loved the theme of being true to yourself. (Psst! 'Strong language' warning.)

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Isn't this book gorgeous? I totally snapped up The Romance Reader's Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell. It packed a punch, building up to a huge showdown at the end. There is a book within this book, notably The Pirate Lover, a fairly dated bodice-ripping pirate romance which is then eerily echoed in the main story. So much so I found myself wondering which bits of the book within the book were going to be part of the main book. (!) Lots of bad, violent guys here, lots of angst and grief, some ghosts, and a great story. Plus, you know, pirates.

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Last but definitely not least is Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland. For starters, this is set in a bookshop. Immediate huge big tick for me. The issues the book touches on are mesmerising to read, and done with a huge heart. Domestic violence, fostering, mental illness, panic attacks, a love story, more. By the end of the book I loved Loveday, the main character, and those around her. I really wanted a happy ending for her, and you will too. Such a great read I didn't want it to end.

What do you think? Do you enjoy books with Big Issues and a Great Story that, incidentally, also have Romantic Elements? Let me know!

Love from Miranda xx

Love to Love:
Sunshine on winter days.

Love to Laugh:
At my default setting: books set in a bookshop or library, must read...!

Love to Learn:
About other people's fave books. My TBR just grows and grows.

Monday, 21 August 2017

RWA Conference Round-Up: Love Gone Wild. Yes, absolutely!

by Enisa Haines

It's August, the month when RWAustralia entices romance writers to their annual Romance Writers Conference. And entice writers they did, this year to the gorgeous Pullman King George Square Hotel, Brisbane.

Image courtesy of:

The RWAustralia Conference is that wondrous time when bestselling authors reveal their paths to publication; where writers attend workshops focused on the craft of writing, or take the opportunity so generously given to pitch their stories to an agent or editor. It's the time when writers gather together, old friends mingling with new, and celebrate their love of the romance genre.

The Bring Out the Animal in You Cocktail Party was fun, fun, fun. Especially the costumes!

As always, the keynote speakers grabbed my attention. Marion Lennox and Kate Forsyth were so emotive, so inspiring. Equally valuable were the workshop sessions. A variety of topics, each aimed at educating. I was reminded of things I already knew and learned a lot more. 

Some unforgettable quotes:

Marion Lennox - RITA Award-winning author:
Photo courtesy of: Joanne Boog

"Every day I sit at my computer and imagine people in my head."
"At times writing is easy. Often it's not. Protect your magic."

Kate Forsyth - Aurealis Award-winning author:

"Books are magic. They transport you to other worlds where for a while you travel the journey of other characters."

Ally Blake - Harlequin Mills & Boon author:

Image courtesy of:

"Show up. Show up. Show up." And after a while the muse shows up, too."
"If it isn't beautiful or functional, lose it!"
"Do not write 'The End' until the book is finished!'

Chris Taylor - indie author of romantic suspense:
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"Choose a character's past with care, one that they can get over."

Lauren K McKellar - author and editor:
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"Page-turning quality is reader magic."

Liz Pelletier - Founder, Entangled Publishing:
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"The key to crafting a bestseller is entertainment."
"Tell a story readers want to hear."

Inspire. Entertain. Create magic. Every speaker I listened to, every workshop I attended, those were the messages I received, and will nurture as I now look back on the conference as a wonderful memory to treasure as I write.

Do you love attending writers' conferences? Do they fill you with inspiration?

Love to love - beautiful dancing at the Butterfly Ball Gala Awards Dinner


Love to laugh: at funny animal snaps.

Related image
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Love to learn: all about writing, both serious and fun!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Author Spotlight - Elizabeth Ellen Carter

I am so excited to introduce you to a fantastic and talented Romance Author, Elizabeth Ellen Carter.

Elizabeth Ellen Carter writes richly detailed historical romantic adventures. Her full length 3 book Regency era series Heart Of The Corsairs is released in 2017 and 2018 - Captive Of The Corsairs (July 2017), Revenge Of The Corsairs (November 2017) and Shadow Of The Corsairs (early 2018). Her other full length titles include the Roman era thriller Dark Heart, the medieval romantic adventure Warrior's Surrender, and the Regency titles Moonstone Obsession and Moonstone Conspiracy. Also available is the novella Nocturne.
A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years.

What is one ‘must have’ when you are writing?
An internet connection – which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I can research on the fly, and a curse because I can get easily distracted.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m between books at the moment but I’m about to start on Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky in the coming week.

Like to share something that recently made you happy? 
The hope of a family reconciliation following the passing of my grandmother. There was a rift between two much loved members of my family that I hope will have come to an end.

Like to share an embarrassing moment?
I heard my husband talking and I was answering him until I realized that he was talking to someone on the phone. 

Who is your favourite literary crush? 
GK Chesterton. He had a searing intellect, a devastating wit and his fiction stories are a joy to read.

If you were the main character in your favourite book, who would you be?
I’d be Nora Charles in The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammet – she’s happily married, rich, drinks a lot and solves murder mysteries with her husband.

What is your writing schedule? Morning, afternoon or night? 
I still hold a day job, so I write in the evenings, so I try to make sure I do a lot of preparation during the day, thinking about the structure of scenes and dialogue.

Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between? 
Somewhere in between, I think. I have a story arc and key way-points but how I get to those points is an adventure in of itself.

Buy your copy here

What is the premise of your latest book?
Bluestocking Sophia Green’s future is uncertain. Orphaned as a child and raised by the wealthy Cappleman family, she has become the companion to her attractive younger cousin, Laura, while harboring to her breast an unrequited love for Laura’s diffident brother.

Sea captain Kit Hardacre’s past is a mystery – even to him. Kidnapped by Barbary Coast pirates at the age of 10, he does not remember his parents or even his real name. All he recalls are things he would rather forget.

When Laura’s reputation is threatened by a scandal, Sophia suggests weathering the storm in Sicily with their elderly uncle, a prominent archaeologist.

Their passage to Palermo is aboard Hardacre’s ship, but the Calliope, like its captain, is not all it seems. Both have only one mission – to rid the world of the evil pirate slaver Kaddouri or die in the attempt.

Initially disdainful of the captain’s devil-may-care attitude, Sophia can’t deny a growing attraction. And Kit begins to see in her a woman who could help him forget the horrors of his past.

Sophia allows herself to be drawn into the shallows of Kit’s world, but when the naive misjudgment of her cousins sees Laura abducted, Sophia is dragged into dangerous depths that could cost her life or her sanity in a living hell.

Who would you cast as your main characters?
Josh Whitehouse, who plays Hugh Armitage in the new series of Poldark would make a good Kit Hardacre – Kit is also a dancer, so he’s not big and muscle-bound. Spanish actress Paula Echevarria would be perfect as Sophia

Josh Whitehouse is Hugh Armitage on Poldark

What unique challenges did the book pose?
Captive of the Corsairs and indeed all three book in the Heart of the Corsairs series deals with very serious subject matters – both historically and psychologically - slavery, including sexual slavery, drug addiction, risk-taking behaviours and post-traumatic stress disorder.

I didn’t want to shy away from the reality of life at that time, but I was also conscious of the fact that it is a historical romance and there had to be a happily ever after.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m near the end of the first draft of Revenge of the Corsairs, the sequel to Captive of the Corsairs. This book will tell Laura Cappleman’s story following her abduction.

What do you love to love?
I love my husband (who would be a who, not a what, LOL), my cats, beautiful sunrises and sunsets and great times with family and friends.

What do you love to laugh at?
I love a good comedy with razor-sharp dialogue. I also tend to see the absurd side of life, so there’s plenty to laugh at there!

What do you love to learn about?
History (of course!) and human nature – the psychology of why people do the things they do.