A blog infiltration we didn’t see coming…

naughtyninjaI bet you weren’t aware that lurking deep within the internet bowels of Escape Publishing five non-assuming, seemingly mild-mannered Escape artists live a double life.

A life of international mystery and intrigue, stealth and Danger! So dangerous that the first letter of the word requires capitalisation.

That’s right. When we’re not tapping away furiously at our keyboards in the pursuit of romance excellence, we’re engaging in…naughtiness. That is, writing about lurv and all the naughty fun things that can crop up in love and the bedroom.

Our naughtiness is all designed to introduce a little bit of extra vim, verve and fun to our promotion efforts. Promotion can be hard work, but making sure we get a laugh out of it and doing it as a team who support one another’s efforts makes it that much easier.

And then there’s the added creativity generated by all for our author brains pulling together in a tandem effort, like a team of eager but easily distracted huskies tied to a giant, mutant sled. Whether it’s articles, round robin stories, prizes or podcasts, we pitch in together to come up with ideas, and the discussions around the ideas are often hilarious. Plus, everyone brings different resources to the group, so we all benefit from one another’s expertise and networks.

So, who are these mysterious Naughty Ninjas?

There’s co-founder and erotic romancer Rhyll ‘The Lady’ Biest, author of Unrestrained, which is expected to be released by Escape on November 1, 2014.

rhyll biest

Contemporary romancer Sandra ‘Cookieface’ Antonelli, author of A Basic Renovation, For Your Eyes Only and Driving in Neutral, which is expected to be released by Escape on September 1, 2014.

sandra antonelli
Erotic romancer, Cate ‘The Man Eater’ Ellink, author of The Virginity Mission and Deep Diving, which is expected to be released by Escape on August 26, 2014.

cate ellink Contemporary romancer, Lily ‘ Beanie Queen’ Malone, author of His Brand of Beautiful.

LIly maloneMagical Realism romancer, Sarah ‘Sizzing Yoga Pants’ Belle, author of Hindsight and Miss Spelled, which is expected to be released by Escape on September 1, 2014.

Sarah belleTwenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, these authors are ninja-ing, so if you’re in the mood for a bit of fun, a bit of naughtiness and a whole lotta romance writer crazy sauce, check us out at http://www.naughtyninjas.net. Or even better, subscribe to our monthly newsletter and be in the running to score all sorts of ninja booty, as well as being the first to see our regular round-robin stories set in Coffeelandia – the speed dating capital of E-romance!

Inspiration Behind the Story – Jacquie Underdown

FINDING LOVE IN DARKNESS

8880You may ask how an idea for a romance novel can spring from gloom? Well, let me tell you.

When you become a mother or father, I believe you enter a special kind of club. A club for people who have learned how deep love can be—where you implicitly, unequivocally love another person so much that you alter your entire existence just to protect and nourish them. You would kill for this other person and know that your soul would endlessly bleed if they were to die. Having children gives one an expanse of empathy unlike any ever experienced before, because you know now what you have to lose.

After I became a mother for the first time, with all my new-found emotion and perspective, I watched a graphic show about Chinese orphanages and Dying Rooms—rooms where babies are placed in cots in dark, empty rooms and left alone for the sole purpose of dying. This show told of so many orphaned babies (mainly girls) who were dumped in underfunded orphanages. Children were not given any physical or emotional nourishment, no love, no hope. Instead, they were placed beside each other, in long wooden seats, a horizontal timber bar to support their back and a timber bar across their lap to lock them in. Lacking any mental stimulation or physical contact, the babies just rocked back and forth in these seats for hours on end, every single day. The children were so used to having no one come to them and offer comfort or motherly affection that they no longer even cried. They just rocked and rocked.

After watching this I sobbed until I could barely breathe. I couldn’t even tell my husband why I was upset because each time I tried, I would cry again. I have never forgotten these images and I never will.

So, as tragic as this reality is, this is where my inspiration for my first novel, The Paler Shade of Autumn, sprouted. Story lines were threaded; compassionate characters, who experience the darkness of life so they can love even harder, were spun. And from this gloom sprang forth a beautiful, happy ever after.


 

Autumn Leone travels to India to find answers about her unique ability to see into other’s minds. But instead of answers she finds love. It takes one night of passion to fall for Jet Stark, whom fate had sent her half way around the world to meet. But, too soon, Autumn is to fly back to Australia and out of his life.

When Autumn bumps into Jet back in Australia after five long years apart, it’s difficult to dispute fate’s intention in crossing their paths not only once, but twice. Autumn knows it is a risk to fall for an old fling, especially because Jet now happens to be rich, her new boss, and involved with another woman.

But a connection like theirs proves impossible to sever.

Reunited with the only man she has ever truly loved, Autumn thinks their relationship is flawless. But she fails to see that Jet is hiding secrets from his past. Secrets, which threaten to fracture not only their love for one another, and her career, but also her relationship with her family.

Will the truth about her gift and their unbelievable history be revealed in time before Autumn loses all she cares about? And will the truth be enough to mend old wounds?  

Inspiration Behind the Story: Robyn Rychards

She may not need a knight in shining armour to save her, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to look a gift knight in the visor…

20378I love reading romance, whether contemporary or historical, and if I can have it with suspense and intrigue, all the better. My number one fave for years has been the Harlequin Cherish/Romance line and my dream has long been to write for that line. When I read Melissa James’ The Sheikh’s Destiny, Her Knight in Shining Armour flickered to life. It had the suspense/adventure aspect that I longed for and was from my favourite line. Then my basic writing motivator switched on. Since a Harlequin Romance with suspense was hard to come by, I’ll write one. I have always wanted suspense in the Romance line and thanks to Melissa, I knew it was doable.

Enter my first hurdle. Did I have the writing skills for suspense? I have a heck of a time figuring out mysteries when I read them or watch them, how was I going to write one?

The next hurdle followed closely behind: Melissa’s story was set in a part of the world where there’s a lot of strife. Perfect setting for a suspense story. However, I know nothing about such places and was already taking on enough trying my hand at writing more than romance. What situation would have two people on the run from an enemy in the United States?

This led me to hurdle number three. I know nothing about law enforcement or military, so the type of heroes I’m familiar with in the Harlequin Intrigue line wouldn’t work. What scenario puts the heroine on the run and how would she be rescued by a hero who isn’t a professional rescuer? Then I saw Sleeping With the Enemy. Now I had an idea of what might work.

Lots of thinking, lots of rejected ideas, but I kept coming back to a heroine on the run from an abusive husband. However, going with this idea gave me another hurdle. I didn’t want the heroine to still be married. It complicated the relationship with the hero as well, as to how to get her out of the marriage. Once I resolved that in my head—which included changing some of what I had already started writing—I had yet another hurdle. I know nothing about abusive relationships.

BUT that was something I could handle. I know people and I have a library card. I educated myself as best I could and faced the first hurdle again which was now my last hurdle. Could I write suspense?

Having read a lot of suspense, I decided to just go with my gut—I am a pantser after all. The story wouldn’t leave me alone. It had to be written and if I sucked at writing suspense, well, at least I’d know for sure, the story would be out of my head, and I could move on. Now it’s up to you to decide if I can do romantic suspense. If so, I may just take on a Gothic—a la Victoria Holt of course—next.


 

When Robyn was young she always enjoyed reading, but it wasn’t until her Grandmother gave her her first Harlequin Romance that she fell in love with it. At the age of fourteen Robyn didn’t have the funds to feed her romance addiction, so she started writing them. Writing romance is in Robyn’s blood and she’s happy to be able to share her stories with the world, as well as be part of the Harlequin family. Robyn was raised in Boulder, Colorado, USA and lives in a neighbouring town not far from where Her Man From Shilo takes place. Though four kids have kept her too busy to write for a long time, she is thrilled to be able to dive back into it, now that they are all in school. She hopes you enjoy reading her story as much as she enjoyed writing it!

7 Steps to Getting Pitch Perfect

We’re heading into conference season, and that means fun, friends, and general frivolity with other people who get it.

It also means opportunities, potential, and possibilities. One of the main attractions for both established and emerging writers is the close mingling that happens between industry professionals and authors – the chance to chat, maybe catch an ear or two. And one of the great ways to do this is via pitching.

All conferences run their pitching program in a different way, and most should have clear explanations for what is expected of you should you want to pitch, and what you can expect from your session.

In terms of what can make your pitch perfect, well, here’s a few thoughts that might help help you with the polishing.

Also, gratuitous Pitch Perfect picture, because relevance.

Also, gratuitous Pitch Perfect picture, because relevance.

  • Use your time wisely
    Generally, your pitch is going to run between 5 and 15 minutes long, with the majority being on the shorter end of the scale. This is good. This gives you the chance to be all ninja-sniper-pitch, get in, get out, get the most out of your time. But if you’re going to only have a short period of time, you’re going to want to make sure that you use it wisely. Pitch sessions run to a stop-watch, and you won’t be given extra time. So be aware of how long you have, how fast you speak, what information you want to impart, and make sure you practise.
  •  Do your research
    Whether you’re going with a scattergun approach or a laser-focused sniper shot, you want to make sure that you know who you’re talking to, and why they’re interested in you. Not all publishers are accepting the same thing, not all want the same thing, not all are open to the same thing. So at the very least you should check the submissions page of every editor/publisher that you’re talking to, and read the bios/checklists they’ve provided to the conference. Editors/Publishers are asked to provide what they are looking for and what they are not interested in, and that information is freely available to attendees. So if you sit in front of someone and pitch something they can’t take, they know that you haven’t bothered to get to know the publisher, and you’ve taken the space from someone who genuinely may have had something that could have sold.
  • Be a match-maker
    This ties into both 2 and 4, but it’s so important that I’ve given it its own number. If you have more than one manuscript to pitch, then you should definitely be prepared to pitch them all in the same session, but you should make sure that you’re pitching them in the order that is most relevant to the editor/publisher you’re pitching to. If you’ve got a SF, a rural, and a contemporary, and you know that one publisher is actively looking for SF while another is not, then tailor your approach to the publisher. Pitch the SF first to one, while shelving it to the end at the other. This boosts your chances of success, as you’ll be pitching the right manuscript to the right person. If an editor isn’t interested, they can always pass, and that’s when you can wow them with your next pitch.
  • Be prepared
    This is a great opportunity to impress an editor or publisher, and you don’t want to blow it by sitting in front of them and having nothing to say (or, worse, saying too much and never talking about your story!). You’re a writer – so use those skills to create a tagline, a short, snappy summary that’s going to interest and entice, and one or two comparisons to centre your style or story. Make sure that you know what you are looking for, and that you have any questions you might want answered by the editor/publisher at the ready. Don’t be afraid to write things down if you think you might forget. If you have business cards, bring them along, and don’t forget to grab a card from the editor/publisher. Practise in front of the mirror, your family, your critique group – anyone that can give you honest feedback. The more prepared you are, the calmer you’re going to feel, and the more you’re going to get out of your session.
  • Mind your buts
    One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard for speaking to editors/publishers about your book is to lead with the ‘but’. When describing the general plot of your story, the interest doesn’t lie in the ‘and’s. It lies in the ‘but’s. By focusing on the buts, you’re also focusing on the crises of the story, the high notes and the downfalls. It’s a great way to put your story into focus, make sure you keep it short and timely, and build interest at the same time. For example:

Jenny is a small town girl with big city dreams. She has it all planned out – university in Sydney, a top-notch apprenticeship, and a meteoric rise through the ranks to a top-level position at a top tier architecture firm.

BUT
the death of her mother puts a nail in the coffin of her dreams. Her dad is incapable of functioning from grief, and someone has to look after the family hardware store. It looks like Jenny’s dream are just so much road dust.

BUT
when the house up the street finally sells, the town is thrown into a tizzy. Some big name architect has bought the property and plans to turn it into a glitzy tree-change resort. As the local hardware store, Jenny sees an opportunity for both some financial stability and making a connection and maybe put her life back on track.

BUT
a catastrophic first encounter means that the architect, Clive, is never going to look at Jenny as anything more than a disaster, let alone a potential employee … or girlfriend.

  • Don’t be too nervous
    Easier said than done, but remember this key fact: editors/publishers are in the business of buying books, and they are actively looking for new titles. That means that you have something they want. So they’re just as interested in meeting you as you are them.
  • Submit
    You would be astonished at the number of authors who get full or partial requests and never actually submit. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and that means taking that big next step and actually hitting the ‘send’ button. Do it. The absolute worst that can happen is someone will say ‘no’. But if you never hit ‘send’, then you’re saying ‘no’ to yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to take that risk. You never know – it might be a ‘yes’!
sing it, baby

sing it, baby

Happy 4th of July!

july4thHappy Independence Day to all of our American readers and friends, and special fireworks go to our American Escape Artists:

18880Beth Fred!

19223Carly Drake!

21488JM Bray!

19228Katherine Givens!

19569MA Grant!

18615Nell Carson!

20378Robyn Rychards!

19726Sarah Daltry!

19913Scarlett Dawn!

19720Sunny Cole!

19222Tara Chevrestt!

19911Nicole Flockton! (Nicole is an Aussie living in the US)

Apple pie for everyone!

Brr…it’s cold in here – Must be some July Releases in the atmosphere!

Guaranteed to generate some heat on those long, cold, winter nights :)

21489From best-selling author Amy Andrews comes a fabulous, funny, flirty new single-title romance about putting pleasure before business, and the risks we all need to take when we find someone worth risking everything for.


21471Lisa Ireland takes a city girl country in her debut novel: when a smooth-talking, sophisticated city girl comes striding into town on her stiletto heels, local grazier Luke is the last person who wants to notice…


21473Escape releases its first short story anthology this month, an erotic collection with a spirited twist from Elizabeth Dunk. Follow the journey of four remarkable women — Luisa, Anna, Cara, and Jan — and the four spirits that set them on a new path to sexual freedom and boundless pleasure.


21474From Escape Publishing’s Queen of historical Australian romance, Téa Cooper,  comes an adventurous new story about a privileged member of Australian’s colonial squattocracy, a bushranger, and a very special horse.


21470Discover beautiful South Africa (and a very handsome set of brothers!) in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting.


21488The second in the fresh, exciting, romantic fantasy Shroud trilogy takes up where Tearing the Shroud leaves off — with the lives, the loves, and the mythical world beyond the veil (also 80s music).


21472NM Harris makes her debut with Escape this month with a sizzling, sexy, surprisingly sweet short story about a special anniversary. Traditionally, leather is an anniversary gift. One couple is about to take that in a very non-traditional way…

Happy Canada Day!

canadadayHappy Canada day wishes to all our Canadian readers, and a special shout-out to our Canadian Escape Artists:

21184Auralee Wallace!

19723Darlene Fredette!

20835Daniel De Lorne! (who’s actually an Aussie, but currently living in Canada, so gets the love too!)

Maple syrup and pancakes for everyone!

Inspiration Behind the Story – JM Bray

19576Church, it’s a place where we should receive inspiration, at least if everything is working as it should.

I’m guessing the pastor didn’t intend it to be the kind that popped into my head while I sat in the pew that Sunday morning. The message included the passage where an army surrounds the Israelites. The servant of prophet Elisha goes into panic mode. Then it says this in 2 Kings 6:17:

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Right then, whatever the preacher intended, went out the window. I’d heard the passage before, but today it took me somewhere else. Possibilities peeled open like flower petals: The horses and chariots didn’t show up because of the prayer…they were already there, all that changed was the servant’s perspective. What if the army on those horses and chariots were as unaware of our world as the servant was of there’s? Maybe they had their own lives and lived them on the same lands as we have but with each existence shrouded by some sort of barrier.21488

I couldn’t tell you what the message was that Sunday, but I know the one I walked away with changed my life. From those kernels, Tearing the Shroud was born.

J.M. Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. In his spare time, he races an old Porsche named ‘Tuffy’.  The sequel to Tearing the Shroud, Mending the Shroud, is available for pre-order now.

“This story isn’t just a survival story…” Tea Cooper interviews Kendall Talbot

Escape Artists are rocking the R*BY nominations.  The finalists in the Romantic Elements category are: Under The Hood by Juanita Kees and Lost In Kakadu by Kendall Talbot,  and in the Short Sweet category A Father At Last by Julie Mac. I caught up with Kendall Talbot to find about the Who, When, Where and Why of Lost in Kakadu – which, in case you haven’t read it yet, is a fantastic Aussie suspense.

Tea Cooper

In your wildest dreams WHO would play your characters when it’s made into a movie?

My story is Australian, so I’d love Australian actors to play my characters. Abigail, my leading lady has an incredible character arc. She begins as a rich pretentious bitch who is completely useless in the harsh wilderness she’s literally crashed into. But not only does she learn to live there she develops into a strong passionate resourceful woman who can wield an axe and eat all manner of things in order to survive. She discovers who she is and develops a wicked sense of humour along the way. This simply has to be the gorgeous, talented, Cate Blanchett.

cate

My hero, Mackenzie, is sexy, dark haired, with eyes the colour of molten honey and has an Adonis body. Even before the crash his life was a roller coaster of tragedy and triumph. But he’s a man who truly believes in love and isn’t afraid to show it. Eric Bana is the hunky man for this role.

Eric

Tell me WHEN you came up with the idea for your R*BY nominated book.

I love hiking in our great Australian bush. There’s nothing like the solitude, the earthy smells, the melodious birds and our abundance of beautiful and sometimes not so beautiful flora and fauna. I wrote this story during the Year of the Novel course at the Qld Writer Centre. But it wasn’t until I was hiking for 4 days in New Zealand’s Milford Track that the story truly came alive. During the hike we carried our own food, water, clothes, bedding etc. We walked in the sun and the rain. We tramped through crystal clear streams and climbed a mountain so high I was on top of the world.

 

kakadu

During these 4 days I imagined being lost in the wild without any luxuries. Abigail is a woman who was so horrified about being in the bush, her heart would race just at the thought of it. But when the sun went down and complete blackness consumed her and the bugs came out, just the sound of rustling in the bushes would send her over the edge. Then to give her even more misery, I trapped her with a complete stranger, a man she would never even associate with back at home. Abigail hits breaking point, and then, only then does she truly discover who she really is.

 

Tell my WHERE your story is set.

The title that says it all: Lost in Kakadu. My characters really do get lost in Australia’s fabulous heritage listed Kakadu National Park. It’s 20 000 kilometers of virgin Australian bush and it offers some of the most amazing scenery including cascading waterfalls, ancient caves complete with Aboriginal paintings, great stone plateaus, crocodile infested wetlands and even a deserted mining town. Perfect. Simply perfect for a survival story.

 

Tell my WHY you think your story is a R*BY finalist?

My life motto is: I’m grateful that I’m mortal, it motivates me. This story isn’t just a survival story, it’s about living every day as if it were your last. I think Australian readers love my action adventure style of writing, my hidden messages about accepting who we are, and if they love my characters as much as I do, then they too truly believe in love. Sometimes crashing down to earth is exactly what we need. I personally want to thank each and every one of my readers for believing in my story as much as I do.

You can find more about Kendall Talbot and Lost In Kakadu at http://www.kendalltalbot.com.au

Tea Cooper writes timeless romance from the ocean to the outback. http://www.teacooperauthor.com. LILY’S LEAP is now available for pre-order on amazonitunes & kobo and for reviewers on NetGalley. Release date July 1st, 2014 Escape Publishing