Friday Five: Annabelle McInnes

Annabelle McInnes - alternative profile pictureAuthor: Annabelle McInnes
First published with Escape: September 2017
Favourite romance trope: Tortured Hero
Ideal hero (in three words): Alpha, supportive, gentle
Ideal heroine (in three words): Compassionate, brave, curious
Latest book: True Refuge

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
There is so much beauty when people fall in love. I take great enjoyment from writing these stories, allowing my characters to find their own path and articulating their happy ending. I plot the big elements to my books, but never the small ones. I try not to even think about my characters until I sit down and write. For me, this allows me to get excited about the journey they take me on. I have always read ferociously and across many genres, but romance speaks to me like no other books do. The birth of my son was the catalyst for me to take a risk and start a new manuscript that was focused on the relationships between my characters. That was the first draft of True Refuge. I write romance because I enjoy exploring the precious moments between lovers, where I can tell tales of tenderness and devotion and create happy endings that can be unashamedly enjoyed.

What was the best writing advice you ever received?

I attended Fiona McIntosh’s Commercial Fiction Masterclass in April this year. There were so many small nuggets of information that I found profound, but the most useful was the word count algorithm. Simply put, it’s a mathematical equation to work out how many words you need to write per day to finish your novel. For example, if you are required to write an 80k manuscript and have one year to finish, but can only write three days per week due to family and work commitments, you simply put in the numbers. So, it would look like this:

52 weeks of the year x 3 days = 156

80000 words \ 156 days of the year to write = 512

There you have it, in one year, you will have written 80k and you only had to write 512 words three days per week. Easy right? Of course, this doesn’t take into account a number of factors, including holidays for example. But if you take in it principle and apply it to your requirements, and stick to it, I promise its works! It prevents burn outs, stop and start writing, and helps with writer’s block. This algorithm has been essential to the success of completing my books.

What was your hardest scene to write? Which kind of scenes do you find difficult to write? Which scenes do you enjoy writing the most?
In romance, one of the most important element is the development of the relationship between the characters. For me, the hardest parts to write are the scenes where this plays out physically. Writing these scenes requires focus on many elements. The details of the physical placement of the bodies, the emotion, the tone and the style of writing all play an important part of these scenes. The Refuge Trilogy is a ménage relationship and often has three people intertwined in the act. The scenes must ensure that each character develops emotionally, that their individual’s quirks, mannerisms and physical limitations are detailed appropriately, and finally, that the relationship between the three of them progresses. It is a mammoth task. These scenes are always integral to my story, so the pressure to ensure that they are accurate makes them even harder to write. They are also some of my longest chapters.

But they are my favourite because of many of the same reasons. I relish writing the love that develops between my characters, the importance they place on each other, and highlighting the devotion and dedication that they share for one another. These scenes are often the most beautiful, and I really enjoy letting go with extravagant words for the right moments.

Where is your favourite place to write?
My favourite place to write is at my desk in my study. When I write in the mornings before the family wakes, I am able watch the sun come up and the flowers open to greet the day. Sometimes, the rabbits will hop past as they get their breakfast. It’s quiet, I’m usually not too tired, and the words flow more freely. It’s a beautiful time of day. 


What’s the thing about writing that surprised you the most?
I have found the most surprising element to be that I can no longer read for pleasure as much as I used to. The books I read now no longer have swooning couples on the cover, but facts and figures. I spend my nights learning about marketing, branding, web design, the art of writing and advertising. I am inspired by other authors so I still read romance, but I find I can get caught up on their style, prose and plot and it is harder to lose myself in the narrative. My buying habits have changed as well. I am more inclined to take a chance on a new author, buy a book which supports diversity, or is in a sub-genre that I normally wouldn’t read. I also am more inclined to contact an author and let them know how much I enjoyed their book.

32434 (1)They thought they’d found a refuge, but the battle for survival has only just begun…

Surrounded by the destruction of the human race, Euan, Nick, and Kira find solace in one another, making their underground bunker a haven and a home. Sheltered under layers of steel and cement, they should be safe, but danger isn’t always kept outside — sometimes the enemy is within.

When their electronic warning system detects intruders, Euan and Nick must investigate. Outside, they discover the true terror that is approaching, and Euan must make a terrible decision: stay or go. To stay is to watch the only people he loves perish under the weight of pure evil. To leave is to face his certain death to protect them and potentially save humankind.

Despite all his preparation, skills, and strength, Euan knows that each decision carries the risk that he could destroy them all.

True Refuge, Book One, The Refuge Trilogy is available now:
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Fractured Refuge, Book Two, The Refuge Trilogy is available for pre-order now:
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Exclusive Excerpt 2: By the Currawong’s Call


A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

‘You kissed her.’ Matthew was surprised to let the words out. They’d been searing little troughs of ugliness into his mind for at least the past hour, as time ticked longer into the evening, but he hadn’t planned on giving actual voice to them.

Jonah looked up at him as he removed his shirt and flung it on top of his jacket. ‘Well, technically,’ he said, ‘she kissed me.’ For a moment, it looked like he was about to grin, but the expression died before any of his features could commit to it.

Matthew swallowed and tried to keep his breathing calm. His memory flashed back to the kerfuffle in the main road that afternoon, how firmly Jonah took control of the situation, soothing the giant horse and catching Miss McMillan in his arms as she swooned. How obviously and understandably impressed she must have been with the gallant policeman who’d come to her aid. Of course she kissed him.

Jonah swore softly at his boots as he fumbled with them. He unbuckled his holster and laid the gun and baton on the table. Onto his trousers next, he swiftly unbuttoned them and slid them down his legs and off, letting them fall over the back of the chair with the rest of his uniform. He steadied himself against the table and lifted first one foot and then the other, removing his thick woollen socks and haphazardly stuffing them into the tops of his empty boots.

‘You were her dashing hero today,’ Matthew said softly, his words coming out on a shallow sigh. ‘Just like you were my dashing hero during the fire.’ He looked at Jonah standing before him in nothing but his union suit. ‘I of course understand her compulsion in wanting to kiss you for it.’ He tried to say it as dispassionately as he could muster.

Jonah squared his shoulders, standing his ground there beside the table as he took in Matthew’s words. ‘I hope you remember,’ he said, ‘when you kissed me in yer sacristy that day, how when you went to pull away, I grabbed at ya and dragged ya back in for more?’ Matthew stayed silent, so Jonah went on. ‘Just want you to know, alright? When she pulled away? I let her.’ And with that, Jonah turned his back and walked over to the washstand.

Beneath his crossed arms, Matthew’s heart banged a tremulous staccato, letting Jonah’s quietly defiant statement sink in. He watched, in the dim light, as Jonah bent at his washstand, brushing his teeth. Such a mundane act, yet it was an action Matthew had never before seen him perform. The casual intimacy of the moment, of the fact Matthew was sitting here in Jonah’s cottage, on Jonah’s bed, the knowledge that the two of them were actually about to sleep in the same room together for the entire night, even wake up in one another’s company – it all suddenly felt momentous.

‘I thought you might’ve slept with her,’ he said toward the fire.

‘I might’ve done,’ came the gruff response. ‘Hell, six months ago, I would’ve done. But with the way things are now…’

Marsland’s pen is playful but there are some serious questions asked. What is a hero? What does courage really look like? What are the shapes of true love? It’s refreshing, too, to read an erotically charged romance that’s not all about the sex.”
– Kim Kelly, Historical Fiction Author


By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now and releases 20 November.

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Exclusive Excerpt: By the Currawong’s Call


A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

‘Who would you say my friends are in Dinbratten?’

Matthew was momentarily stumped by the apparent change of subject and it took him a second or two to dredge up a name. ‘Um. George, I suppose? Or Albie at the pub?’

‘I’m a trooper,’ Parks said, as though that fact had been somehow forgotten. ‘My presence tends to make people uncomfortable. Like they’re immediately looking for what the trouble or the danger is as soon as I walk in a room. I think I make them feel a bit guilty, even if they’ve never done a bad thing in their whole life. And I can’t help thinking,’ his voice dropped slightly, ‘that men in your line of work must have it something similar.’

For a moment, Matthew couldn’t think what to say in response. He’d never before encountered such an attempt at solidarity. ‘I think I understand you, Sergeant,’ he said evenly. He glanced down at the bottle in his hand and smiled. ‘Though I must say, I’ve never had anyone offer me a gift of, well, sex before.’

‘Eh.’ Parks took the bottle back. ‘People see the cassock and the collar and they forget there’s a man underneath ’em, I s’pose.’

‘But not you?’

At the question, Parks paused with the bottle partway to his mouth and gave Matthew a penetrating look. ‘I see ya.’

On the receiving end of that look, Matthew felt a little hot under the aforementioned collar and realised belatedly that he had managed to get slightly tipsy. He cleared his throat. ‘It’s Sunday tomorrow…’

‘Don’t be offended if half the town are too hungover to turn up.’

Matthew smiled at that. His face was still feeling warm. ‘I think I’ll be bidding you goodnight now, Sergeant.’

Parks crossed his arms over his chest, liquor bottle nestled in the crook of his left elbow. ‘You called me Jonah earlier.’

Had he? Yes, Matthew remembered, he had. ‘You still call me Father,’ he pointed out.

‘So I do.’ One side of Parks’ mouth pulled up in his quirky grin. When it didn’t seem likely that he was going to say anything else, Matthew took a shuffling step back toward the door.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘goodnight, then.’

‘Goodnight,’ Parks returned. ‘Matthew.’

Matthew fumbled the doorknob and took his leave.

By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now and releases 20 November.

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Feed Your Reader: Love Brings Light to the Darkest Places

32049 (1)
Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

The human race has been all but wiped out, along with our best traits: compassion, empathy, and generosity.

Euan is a survivor. In a dystopian wasteland infused with violence and cruelty, he protects something invaluable. His love for Nick and the solace that comes with the connection keeps him from destruction, and offers him that most elusive and dangerous emotion of all —

But happiness comes at a price and a hunting trip leaves Nick vulnerable to the evil that still infects the world. When Euan returns, he finds Nick broken and bloody, irrevocably damaged in both body and soul.

Now Euan’s only goal is to find a place for Nick to heal, a safe place, a refuge where they can rest, recover and repair their love. When they risk a raid on an abandoned house, they discover the unthinkable, the rarest treasure of all. A woman.

“an amazing dystopian read” – Deborah, Goodreads

Read Annabelle’s moving story about her inspiration behind this trilogy.

True Refuge is available now!
Fractured Refuge, Book 2 of the trilogy, is available for pre-order.

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Romances Celebrating Pride

Google Play is currently running a promotion on LGBTQI romances that include some fantastic Escape titles. If you’d like to celebrate Mardi Gras with some queer romance, may we humbly suggest the following?


A gripping,  blood-drenched saga about twin brothers, the men they love, and the enduring truth that true love never dies  — no matter how many times you kill it.

From Goodreads: “If you love your fiction dark, bloody, and breathtaking, you will love this book.”

From Daniel:

Bonds of Blood isn’t just your average series of gay love stories. Gritty, blood-thirsty and passionate, it brings into the light the love that has until now been hidden in the shadows. I love writing in this genre, adding my own voice for the mostly female readers of gay romance to discover.


From the author of the romantic horror debut Beckoning Blood comes the gripping sequel that mixes blood, sex, and magic.

From Goodreads: “graphic in its presentation; impassioned in its friendship; burning with the immortality of love.”


Falling for her best friend was never going to make life easy.

From Goodreads: “a quick, light, airy read that I would recommend to any rock star readers”


An all-access pass to Sex, Love, and Rock ‘N Roll. Because what happens on tour doesn’t always stay on tour

From Goodreads: “an intimate exploration of the M/M dynamic but … this story is also about the journeys we take on the path to finding ourselves”

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

May Titles Bloom Into Life

For your reading pleasure!

23731Six Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’  fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.

24128Revisit Swallow’s Fall in this beautiful short novel from Jennie Jones about an ex-military man, a single mother and the impossibility of dreams coming true.

24083From the author of the romantic horror debut Beckoning Blood comes the gripping sequel that mixes blood, sex, and magic.

Finally, all the Housewives are together at last – with four bonus stories…

24129Secrets Revealed! Bonus four epilogues, exclusive to this digital bind-up!

You’ve never met housewives as hot as these…They’re wealthy and glamorous. The elite of society. But appearances can be deceiving.