Hallowe’en Series: Cathleen Ross’s Special Permission

by Cathleen Ross

Once a year, I go on tour with the eminent historical writer Alison Weir. A few years ago we visited Twekesbury Abbey, where the guide for our party said he and his daughter often saw ghosts in the Abbey, notably one who occupied the pulpit preaching. 

Although Alison’s tours are fast paced, we are allowed free time to explore the Abbey. I’m psychic and although I normally keep my senses reigned in, I relax on vacation and decided to sit at the back of the Abbey and open my third eye.

It didn’t take long when I heard a spectral male voice say, “You do not have jurisdiction here.”

I couldn’t see who was speaking. Sometimes I get an image, sometimes not. I did however recognise the voice of authority. I humbly explained I was a visitor and could I see back into the past to what happened in the abbey after the Battle of Twekesbury  where many soldiers from the losing Lancastrian Army fled to take sanctuary.  

An image came to me where bodies were piled in the back of the Abbey and the floors were awash with blood, so much so that that it flowed like a small wave across the floor under my feet.

I thanked the ghostly custodian of the Abbey, closed down my third eye and decided to leave.

When I asked Alison about what I’d seen, she said the voice had been using Canon Law. I now know that means law as pertaining to the church. The ghostly custodian had allowed me permission to see into his realm.

So much violence had been done in the Abbey 4 May 1471, and it was clear to me that the ghosts still remain.


The world’s gone to hell, and her only chance of survival is the sexy, dominant soldier determined to keep her safe…

Doctor Ruth Parker has always taken care of herself, and that’s what she’s doing now, hiding out in her apartment and avoiding her neighbours: once privileged Mosman residents, now flesh-eating braindeads, thanks to the virus that’s turned her world—and everyone else’s—to hell.

Captain Jack Lang has always taken care of others, and with the newly secured Base he and his loyal commandos control the only safe place in the city. But the Base has needs that he can’t meet—doctors. And women. So when he discovers Ruth and her two friends in an unsafe apartment, he brings them back to Base where he knows he can keep them safe, and where he will do anything to make them stay.

Ruth is used to giving orders, not taking them, and the Captain’s methods for making sure she stays put don’t gel with her fierce independent streak. But the world has changed, and Jack will make Ruth understand that he is in charge and that her survival is more important than her control-freak tendencies—even if he has to chain her to the bed to do it.

Hallowe’en Series: Ghosts Among Us

This Hallowe’en, we asked our authors – have you ever had an encounter with ‘the other side’?  Their stories will thrill and chill you!

by Eva Scott

The Ghost of Eldritch Farm

Many summers ago I got a job renovating an Elizabethan era farmhouse in the Sussex countryside. The house had been added to over the centuries but the main part retained the distinctive uneven Tudor beams of its heritage. My job was to paint the small bedrooms on the upper floor and cut in the beams. While I painted shades of lilac and primrose on the walls I’d stop once in a while to take in the bucolic view out of the tiny window.

The fields were full of horses, which the farm specialized in breeding, and a vast quantity of rabbits. The eccentric brother and sister who owned the farm, Walter and Meredith, refused to allow the rabbits to be poisoned or shot so crossing the field to bring the horses in became a dangerous occupation in avoiding a broken ankle.

Being a working farm there were several dogs running around, the cutest being a Red Setter puppy. He’d visit me regularly tracking muddy paw prints up and down the stairs and leaving stray hair in the wet paint. Occasionally he’d go crazy, barking and leaping about. My family had bred setters, so being familiar with their temperament I put it down to the dog being basically bonkers.

One morning the puppy started barking and bounding about playing some imaginary game in the room where I worked. I turned around to shush him and there standing before me was a little girl of roughly ten years old. She regarded me solemnly, dressed in an old fashioned pleated smock, the kind you see in historic paintings of the English countryside. Surprise and confusion made me freeze for a heartbeat. There were no children on the farm so where had she come from? Then I yelled with realization, the hairs on the back of my neck literally standing on end, and she disappeared.

To say I was rattled was an understatement. The dog had clearly been playing with the little girl all along. I didn’t see her again and I would have doubted I’d seen her at all had Meredith not backed me up, having encountered her once in her own bedroom. She had tried to find out who the little girl might have been but the records for the house were patchy at best. Perhaps we had disturbed her with the renovations or maybe she just liked the company of the puppy. A great many other odd things happened on that farm but that, as they say, is another story….

29352Everyone deserves a second chance—and another dance.

Tamsin Cooper’s career as a Parisian showgirl is coming to an end. Nearly thirty, with no boyfriend and no prospects of a family of her own, she decides to take up her inheritance—her Uncle Ted’s cattle farm in Queensland.

Farm life seems to be suiting her until Tamsin discovers that Uncle Ted had a secret—and her sexy neighbour Angus Walker helped him keep it.

Faced with losing her farm and her heart, Tamsin returns to what she knows best, dancing, and starts teaching the residents of Elliott’s Crossing how to get in touch with their inner showgirl.

She may have the dance moves, but can she shimmy past a forty-year-old lie and a betrayal of lost love to find her place—and rediscover love—in this country town?

Feed Your Reader: A M/M romance and a Bound bind-up!


A diva who lives for the spotlight, a sailor deeply in the closet, a love that will change them both.


From hot author Nicole Flockton comes three steamy stories of powerful men discovering what they need the most…

Method Writing: Ballet Dancing

by Shona Husk

I like research. I enjoy learning new things. Sometimes though reading or even talking to others isn’t enough. Sometimes the only way to get a feel for it is to get out there and give it a go.

So in October last year I decided I’d give ballet a try. I did ballet in grade one, jazz ballet around grade six, and belly dancing my twenties, so it wasn’t as though I had never danced before. Yet somehow I had forgotten what hard work it was (I had also forgotten everything about ballet except first and third position and good toes/naughty toes–in my adult beginner class my toes were never called naughty even though they were…).


I’d also forgotten how much fun it was–way better than turning up at the gym. I was getting fitter (ab and thigh work out as well as cardio) and learning something. I think dancing is now my preferred work out. Well, aside from karate🙂

In both cases though there is footwork and posture and names and routines to learn (and after years of sinking my weight and keeping my knees soft it is really hard to turn out and keep my legs straight). I’m getting there, though I don’t think I will ever be graceful.


So how does this help my writing?

Experiencing new things sparks new ideas. And the people watching is amazing, really. New things means new people to watch and it’s always interesting to see how people pick up a new skill–the drop out rate was surprisingly high. Some people came all done up in leotards and skirts for their first class…some of us just wore our gym leggings.

Even though I had spoken to a professional dancer (hi Tamsyn!) while writing In the Spotlight–and I spent far too long watching things like world ballet day on YouTube (it’s a thing, check it out) and watching interviews with dancers….watching dancers…  OK I spend a lot of time on You Tube–there is nothing like actually giving it a go. Being in a class and hearing the corrections, being singled out, trying to memorize the routine and then keep in time with the music while drawing in your stomach, pointing your toes–but remember not to be wooden! It’s different to watching. It’s more fun. And I’m getting better. When I started I thought I’d just do one 5 weeks basics course, but it’s been close to a year.


Giving something a try adds a layer to the story. While no one wants to read about all the research, there are little bits that can slide in and make the scene more real. As a bonus you might get a new hobby🙂

29604A diva who lives for the spotlight, a sailor deeply in the closet, a love that will change them both

Ripley Malone is returning to Perth in triumph. A principal ballet dancer in a production that has critics raving, he is an unqualified success, and all the small-minded  people that made his life hell can kiss his lycra-covered ass. But behind the makeup and the glitter and the costumes, Ripley is beginning to tire, tire of the competition, the drive, the endless parade of meaningless lovers.

For Pierce Lovell, joining the Navy was a way out of rural Victoria, but becoming a submariner comes with its own set of challenges. The close living quarters and long months away are awkward enough without adding any extra tension around his sexuality. The fear is probably in his head, but he isn’t taking any chances with his career. He gets by on anonymous one-night-stands every time they come to shore and keeps his heart well-shielded. But one night with Ripley opens the tantalising possibility of more.

Through a mistake Ripley is injured. He can’t dance. His wings are clipped and he crashes down and hits the earth hard. Pierce knows their affair can’t possibly end in anything but heartache, but he can’t stay away. As Ripley heals and reassesses his life, he is determined not to make the same mistakes again. That means letting someone see the vulnerable side of him. But vulnerability for Pierce could cost him everything

Feed Your Reader: A Rural Romance and some Hot Lawyers


The final book in the stunning Darkhaven trilogy about secrets, lies, and love conquering all.


From critically acclaimed author Lee Christine comes three tense, taut stories where top lawyers and bad boys clash, but the one thing they can’t dispute is attraction…

Bloodbath by booty-bump: the story behind Hell on Wheels

by Rhyll Biest

Hometown Throwdown, Skater Smackdown, Seasons Beatings, Wild Things Unleashed, Shove Me Tender. Just the match names give my heart a little booty-bump of excitement.

I first learnt more about roller derby when a fellow romance writer helped me to interview a player, and was hooked as soon as I read her earthy account of the sport.

As a tame public service house cat, I’ve always admired the wild, rough-and-tumble broads of the derby track who skate and play hard, cuss with hearty enthusiasm, and express dissatisfaction with a tit punch rather than passive aggression or pouting.

As a writer I felt compelled to dig deeper into the sport. Not just because of the saucy uniforms or the sassy names, but because of the story potential when a character’s hips and booty are their weapon of choice.

As a woman I applaud the athleticism of derby players, envy their thighs honed to steel from several million hours of skating (mine have been shaped by several million hours of sitting). Plus I’m in awe of their fearless approach to bangs, bruises and breaks, though I’m yet to hold an exhibition devoted to butt bruises.

Then there’s their style. They wear little more than sharkish smiles and lycra, their socks often longer than their shorts, and yet they’re not dolly-birds. Rather, their vibe is fierce and feminist, more Tank Girl than Sports Illustrated what with all the argy-bargy, smelliness and sweat. Derby ain’t no beauty pageant and these broads give zero fucks about ladylike or what guys think of their bodies.

All these things make me long to be a terror on the track, and yet I have zero balance and even less time for training.

So instead I wrote roller derby into my October release,  Hell on Wheels, where the heroine skates and booty-bumps her way right into the hero’s heart. But first she has to learn to appreciate the sport and what it can offer her.

For starters, the sport models solidarity and fighting spirit—the she-demon players always have their sisters’ backs and always play to win. Also, rough as the game is, it’s also surprisingly clean, pointing to the derby code of honour. The players might fight and brawl in their own time, but during the game there’s no tit punches, no king-hits, no eye-gouging, no kicking, no chokeholds, no locks, no fish-hooking, no bush pushes, no twat shots, no boob blocks, no cooter stomps, no beaver cleavers or titty take-outs allowed.

An honest win is preferred.

In writing about the sport, I learnt as much from the wisdom of derby as the heroine did. For example, the exhortations to small fall (a metaphor for life if ever I’ve heard one) tells players that they can expect a tumble, that it’s okay to fall—so long as you protect yourself by tucking your limbs in. Plus, there’s strategy to the game, and a good coach knows to treat each player like a chess piece—some girls are built to block, others are born to be jammers. Each player knows how to counter certain moves and knows their part in the team.

The writer in me is also greedy for the sport’s showmanship, the sort that sees events named Bruise Cruise and team players named everything from Fannie Tastic to Flustercluck. Some of my favourite registered derby names include Ova Bearing, Katniss EverMean, “A” Cup Annihilator, 5 Scar Jeneral, A Fist Called Wanda, A’Maiming Grace, Baron von Punchausen, Charm School Reject, Hammer Montana, Vivi Section, Punani Tsunami, Clitty Clitty Bang Bang, and Lady Shatterly.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your skates on and grab a copy of Hell on Wheels. You’ll discover how to high-five with the hips and perhaps even learn about ‘goating’ and ‘poodling’.


An imperious princess, an arrogant mercenary, a marriage of convenience, and one hell of a roller derby bout.

Princess Valeda fled Hell to hide from her mad brother, but a war on her realm sees her dragged straight back to seal a military alliance through marriage. Her betrothed? The Captain of Bloodshed and Slaughter, a royal bastard with blood black as night whose passion for her might prove as dangerous as the war with her brother. Valeda is going to need all of her wits, treachery and cunning—and some lessons learned through demon roller derby—to overcome her past, defeat the enemy, and survive her marriage.


The Story of my Book: Blue Steal

by Marnie St Clair

I came to write Blue Steal because it was the kind of book I wanted to read.

First and foremost, I’m a romance reader, but I do love mystery. I spent one summer as a teenager on a three-month Agatha Christie binge. I swear I literally barely raised my head from the pages all summer long. But I do remember thinking, if only there were more kissing …


And I am not alone. Romance readers tend to read widely, and one of their favourite other genres is mystery.1 Two fantastic genres – so why choose? Let’s throw them both in the pot. Hence, romantic mystery (or mystery romance) Blue Steal.

Romantic mystery is like romantic suspense’s older, quieter sister. They’re similar, but distinct genres. I read somewhere2 that suspense appeals to the heart, while mystery appeals to the head—in suspense, the bad guy is often a known quantity, and people read it for the heart-pumping constant threat of danger; on the other hand, people read mysteries to pit their wits against the investigator (or the author!), trying to solve the mystery before the big reveal. Of course, there’s overlap—protagonists in suspense novels often have some figuring out to do, while those in mysteries are often in danger at some point or another.

The hero of Blue Steal is private investigator Jack Tierney. I love books with private detectives – they’re halfway between the grittier, dutiful police procedurals and the more home-spun feel of the unwitting amateur detective cozies. PIs are fun to work with – they’ve got training and skills, some connections and experience, but not all the red tape and bureaucracy associated with the police force. Blue Steal is the first in a series of books featuring the detectives of de Crespigny Investigations. I had stacks of fun thinking up all the different personalities and detective styles. Jack is a loose cannon, wild card of a detective, who operates mostly by seeing patterns and trusting his gut. It works for him—he has a 100% success rate he has no intention of compromising.

But he hasn’t met my heroine Selina yet!

I hope you enjoy Blue Steal. I wanted it to be fun and fast-paced. I wanted it to have an atmospheric trapped-in-a-crumbling-hotel setting. I wanted it to have a fast-thinking, fast-talking heroine and a delicious, unorthodox hero. I hope I succeeded!

1 There are statistics somewhere to support this claim.

2 Oh yes, here comes another unsubstantiated claim.


A witty, sexy and suspenseful story about a stolen necklace, a doomed hotel, and two people determined to get their hands on the jewels—at any cost.

Selina Migliore is smart and streetwise—with an ill sister and an elderly grandmother relying on her, she has to be. When fate hands her a chance to change her life, she’s determined to seize it. All she has to do is retrieve a long-lost sapphire necklace before the Empire Hotel is blown to smithereens. Nothing’s going to get in her way…

…except Jack Tierney, PI, who’s also on the hunt for the stolen jewellery. Jack is amused by his clashes with the pushy brunette, but as he continues to bump into Selina at strange times and in odd places, he starts to question who she is and what she’s doing at the Empire.

The pressure cooker really heats up when a new player enters the scene and it becomes apparent that Jack’s not the only one keeping an eye on Selina…

Gateway to Romance: Louise Forster

by Louise Forster

What drew me into the romance genre?

Gosh, where do I start?

I’m quite sure I’ve been a romantic all my life. I lived it, but it never occurred to me that I could write within the genre. And then a friend said I could … and should … so I did.

Music is huge in out extended family. On weekends we’d play out favourite albums, turn up the volume and dance and sing all over the living room. Christopher Cross’s song, ‘Sailing’ was a biggie. If my sister, a fine arts painter was around, she’d would join in. On one occasion our Burmese cat prowled out and bit her in the ankle. Maybe sis’s pitch was off.

I used to sit with my ear to the speakers and sway and quietly sing along to love songs. I don’t press my ear to the speaker anymore, which is probably a good thing. Old favourites will always remain close to my heart, nevertheless I have moved on from bands such as Bread, Deep Purple, and Prince and others. Now I listen to artists such as Gwen Stefani, Pink, Adele and more. Did listening to them draw me into reading and writing romance? Probably, but having said that, anything that has to do with the arts: music, movies, concerts, fine art, fashion … oh yes … and guys on horseback mustering, and guys saving animals; you name it, I’m drawn in and will use my experiences to write. Hold on, not that I’ve had experiences of guys on horseback; but my guy does save animals, birds, reptiles, insects …

Escape published my first book, titled: Finding Elizabethwhere Jack takes Katherine to a Christmas Eve dance. The music flows and he takes her hand for a sensuous, slow dance her across the floor.

Music is a powerful medium. I’m moved by a melody and lyrics, and when they come together, it’s magic. Some can bring me to tears, while others make me swoon or laugh. There are so many writers and singers of brilliant songs way too many to name. But some of the most moving, and romantic lines, I find, are in lyrics. A whole love story is sung in 3minutes 28 seconds. The song by Bread titled ‘IF’, has powerful, touching lyrics that will arouse your emotions in about two minutes forty-three seconds.

Because Chris Isaak comes across as a cheeky bad boy, and many would say Hot, I’ve added an oldie … well, maybe not that old.


The world was on fire and no one could save me but you
It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do
I’d never dreamed that I’d meet somebody like you
And I’d never dreamed that I’d lose somebody like you

The song below is not in the least bit romantic, but it’s the first time I’ve been able to really listen to the lyrics. Is it because the singer is awesomely hot, his voice, his expressive face or the powerful music and lyrics?

From Jonathan Zalman, a staff editor, runs The Scroll, Tablet’s news blog.

“As one YouTube user put it: “I came for the metal, I got feels.

People writing songs
That voices never share
And no one dare
Disturb the sound of silence

28381In the sequel to Home Truths, Louise Forster returns to the sleepy country town of Tumble Creek with the story of a cop, a teacher and a mystery that will bring them together—or tear them apart.

Art teacher and occasional life model Sofie Dove wants to know what’s up with Brock Stewart. Everything about the ex SAS soldier turned police officer seems to scream passion—and it’s all for her—but he just won’t express it. All she knows is that he has a past that still keeps him up some nights.

After a semi-trailer crashes through Sofie’s house and the driver disappears into thin air, Brock insists he’s the only one who can keep her safe—but can he, when they can’t seem to trust each other?

While Sofie works on figuring out why this man keeps giving her mixed messages, Brock is determined to find out who’s out to get her—as they both find out why falling in love is a bit like being hit by a truck.