Feed your reader: Get some revenge!


What happens when you fall in love with your worst enemy?

When the CEO of one of New Zealand’s biggest companies steps down, heir apparent Kate McPherson and Australian outsider Sam Shanahan are left fighting for control of McPherson & Co.

But Sam hasn’t just travelled to New Zealand for business. He’s there to avenge the wrongs done to his mother three decades ago, and he’s determined that no one—especially not his beautiful arch rival—will get in his way.

Poised to take over the company from her father, Kate has fought hard for her success and will do anything to defeat the stranger who’s after her job—no matter how strong the chemistry between them.

Sam and Kate are driven apart by ambition and drawn together by fiery attraction. And between them sizzles a family secret that threatens to blow Kate’s world apart.

What a Weekend!

Freshly back from the Romance Writers of Australia conference, Romance Rocks, this past weekend in Sydney, with our heads still spinning and enormous grins on our faces.

Here are the highlights:

  • Kicking off the conference with a Literacy High Tea, where librarian Vassiliki Veros charmed the pants off everyone in the room with her romance journey, her study of librarian-heroes and heroines, and the work she’s doing now for her PhD.

    Nobody knew this book existed, and now everyone is desperate to read it...

    Nobody knew this book existed, and now everyone is desperate to read it…

  • The Harlequin Author dinner where we celebrated with our Harlequin family, including lovely international guests Flo Nicholl and Malle Vallik
  • We also celebrated with our lovely (shirtless) guests for the evening, Marco and Jeremy.

    Marco, R*BY nominee Juanita Kees and I, you know, hanging out, talking

    Marco, R*BY nominee Juanita Kees and Managing Editor Kate Cuthbert, you know, hanging out, talking

  • Escape has had an amazing year, so it was fantastic to be in one room together, sharing our highs, and supporting each other.
  • The Leather and Lace opening cocktail party was a chance to catch up with people we haven’t seen for awhile (or have never actually seen in person!) While the lighting was decidedly purple (very strange), the food was great, the costumes inspired (hello Ros Baxter!), and the good times had by all.

    Managing Editor Kate engaged with Engaging the Enemy author Susanne Bellamy!

    Managing Editor Kate engaged with Engaging the Enemy author Susanne Bellamy!

  • Cherry Adair was an absolute delight and joy as an international guest. She was present, hilarious, generous with her time and her expertise, so very personable, and swore like a sailor when she realised we weren’t going to get offended. What a treat it was to spend time with her and listen to her speak.
  • The Saturday workshops were also really well-run, and we have to offer congrats to everyone who stepped up to share their expertise and teach what they know to others. This kind of resource sharing is a hallmark of RWA and one of the reasons that the conference and organisation is so successful, so should never be downplayed.
  • The day sessions also allowed for more chatting with less ambient noise, so a greater possibility of having a conversation with someone, rather than just a yelled greeting.
  • The Australian Romance Readers Association held their annual book-signing event on Saturday. This in an incredible (and incredibly well-organised!) organisation, and they do amazing things for the romance community in Australia. They also have a new website: www.ireadromance.com.au,so check them out if you are interested in talking about romance (yes), meeting other romance readers (yes), and attending fab reader-focused conventions (yes!).
    Alison Stuart and Kate Cuthbert at the ARRA book signing with Alison's first book with Escape - Lord Somerton's Heir

    Alison Stuart and Kate Cuthbert at the ARRA book signing with Alison’s first book with Escape – Lord Somerton’s Heir

    the fabulous Amy Andrews and gorgeous Sandra Antonelli at the ARRA book signing

    the fabulous Amy Andrews and gorgeous Sandra Antonelli at the ARRA book signing

  • Saturday night – WHAT A NIGHT. First we have to offer the biggest, hugest, most enormous congrats to our three Escape nominees: Julie Mac, Juanita Kees, and Kendall Talbot, and also to all the other nominees, including Amy Andrews, who was nominated for a book with another publisher.
  • Emma Darcy had us all in laughter and tears as she accepted her induction into the Hall of Fame. No one, and I mean no one, will ever forget her Five Fs.
  • We also have to congratulate Kat Mayo on her Romance in the Media Award (ROMA) for her article on ABC’s The Drum: Dear Columnists, Romance Fiction is not your bitch. We’re pretty much sure she’s the only person to ever have the word ‘bitch’ etched into a glass award.

    Seriously, the pink lighting was very, very odd

    Seriously, the pink lighting was very, very odd

  • Then this happened:
    Kendall Talbot wins the R*BY for Best Novel with Romantic Elements

    Kendall Talbot wins the R*BY for Best Novel with Romantic Elements



  • We are so so so so beyond thrilled to congratulate Kendall on her win – the first win for her book after countless award nominations, and the first win for Escape Publishing.
  • I’d like to show you photos of what the rest of the night looked like, but what happens at the Escape After Party (and the after-after party), stays at the Escape After Party.
  • Except these photos. These totally get distribution:

    Frickin' A, man!

    Frickin’ A, man!

  • Sunday was for recovering, and more learning from generous and talented presenters. Malle Vallik’s presentation on building an author brand was very well received by those brave enough (and smart enough) to be up at 8:30am.
  • The conference for next year has been announced, with very exciting new partnerships, and a beautiful venue in Melbourne. International guests are a bit hush-hush, though the Friday workshop instructors have been lined up.
  • Finally, the conference close with Anne Gracie’s now legendary Stand-Ups, which always leaves attendees feeling engaged, excited, and downright warm & fuzzy.
  • We cannot give enough props to Shannon Curtis and her crack team of conference organisers for a well-organised, well-run, fantastic conference, and to all the attendees who made it an amazing experience all around. We’ll see you all again next year!

Recognition For Writers Across the Pond

We are so thrilled and delighted to announce the Escape nominees for the Romance Writers of New Zealand’s inaugural Koru Award!

According to the website, The Koru, Māori for loop, is a spiral shape based on the shape of a new unfurling silver fern frond and symbolises new life, growth, strength and peace. It’s also known as a symbol of creation.

RWNZ LogoThe Koru is a reader’s choice award, and will be awarded in four categories, for the first time at this year’s RWNZ conference.

We are so pleased to announce that three Escape Artists have been nominated:

8883From Frances:

The last time I was nominated for an RWNZ Award was when I won the Clendon Award and began my career as a published writer, so win or not I’m looking forward to the experience of sitting with like minded friends while the winners are announced.  Anything shared with friends has an added piquance,  and romance writers are the best.

8902From Julie:

I think the absolute best feeling in the world that a writer can experience is the knowledge that someone likes what we’ve written. (It’s even better than the warm, wonderful feeling we get when we type, The End.)

That someone else enjoys our story and gets tied up with the characters’ emotions is the reward that makes those hours at the keyboard so worthwhile. So I’m very happy and humbled to be a finalist in the Romance Writers of NZ’s Koru Award. Thank you to the judges and organisers, and of course, to Escape Publishing.

18889From Mary:

Finalling in the RWNZ 2014 Koru Award is particularly special as it is the first time RWNZ has run a competition to recognise published NZ romance writers. There are so many amazing NZ romance writers selling all over the world, but we are generally little known or recognised within NZ. The Koru changes that! Being told by your own people that what you are doing is good and being included among such a list of talented writers  – it doesn’t really get much better.


“I wrote it from the heart” – Jennie Jones interviews Julie Mac

Three fabulous Escape Authors are finalists in the prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year Award (R*BY): In the Romantic Elements category: Lost in Kakadu, by Kendall Talbot and Under the Hood by Juanita Kees, and Julie Mac in the Short, Sweet category with A Father at Last.

I had already interviewed fellow Escape authors and superstars Juanita and Kendall on my JennieJRomance Blog, just before the R*BY finalists were announced and felt pretty superstar-ish myself at having done so. Therefore, I decided to track down superstar Julie Mac and ask her a few questions about A Father at Last because otherwise, I’d kinda feel left out!

This is what I discovered: Julie had a career in journalism and PR but these days she relishes the freedom of writing fiction. She lives north of Auckland, New Zealand (I lived in Auckland for 18 months but I didn’t meet Julie Mac, more’s the pity). But more importantly, guess what? A Father at Last is Julie’s debut novel!

How brilliant is that? (Now I really wish I’d met her in Auckland so that I could say ‘I knew her when’.)

Julie – let’s get straight in because I love the cover and we need more information on how A Father at Last came to life, to print, and to the finals of the coveted R*BY Awards.

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

When I sat down to write A Father at Last, about five years ago, I had a picture in mind of my hero, Ben. He had black hair, caramel coloured eyes, dark olive skin and a shadowing of black beard. He looked like Liam Connor on Coronation Street — a young Irishman with a devilish glint in his eyes and a hidden streak of darkness. Liam was played by actor Rob James-Collier, who more lately had a role in Downton Abbey. So … in a perfect world, Rob would be my Ben. I’m sure he could manage a Kiwi accent. And for Kelly, with her golden-red hair? I’d go for lovely Aussie, Isla Fisher.

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

I remember clearly the moment of inspiration when I knew I had to write a story about Kelly Atkinson: I saw an image — on TV or in the newspaper, I can’t remember — but the image is still imprinted on my brain. A woman was walking into a prison to visit her husband, and a little girl held her hand. What, I wondered, would it be like for a little girl to have her much-loved daddy locked up in prison? How would it change her way of thinking as an adult? And so A Father at Last was born.

Tell me where your story is set.

New Zealand: Auckland’s pretty beaches, a romantic country garden (with a honeymoon suite), a windswept cemetery — and the Auckland District Court. It’s at the latter that young public defence lawyer Kelly and bad-boy Ben Carter’s lives collide again after a gap of nearly seven years. The last time they met, they shared a night of passion which left Kelly with a broken heart, a myriad of memories and, a beautiful legacy that will last a lifetime.


Tell my why you think your story is a R*BY finalist?(Sorry to throw such a difficult question your way, but I bet readers will want to know how you feel about your story getting such a wonderful response.)

I wish I knew. Then I’d do it again next year! Obviously the readers liked it, and to tell you the truth, I liked that story too. Even having read it countless times in the writing/editing process, some passages still manage to bring a tear to my eye. Some make me laugh. So I guess you could say I wrote it from the heart, and I’m humbled to think it touched other hearts too.

Julie, the cover touches me, the storyline touches me, and your answers to these questions touch me. So go ahead and write from your heart because it’s working! And will you please come on my blog when your second book is released so that I can continue to bask in your glory?


Jennie Jones Romance

R*BY Finalist Julie Mac

She stared at the email in-box on her computer screen, her heart rate cranking up several notches. Then a smile formed on her lips and spread wide — so wide, the man sitting at the desk on the other side of the room was alarmed when he asked her a simple question about work, and all she could do was turn and smile. ‘What?’ he prompted. But for once, words refused to gush forth.

Yep, that was me, on Monday, when the email arrived to say A Father at Last, my first book, was a finalist in Romance Writers of Australia’s Ruby Awards.

In their blogs, Escape’s other two Ruby finalists, Juanita and Kendall, both described being speechless with excitement when they received their good news, and I understand completely what they’re talking about. Pleasure, joy — the thrill of success —robbed me of words.

So I turned to my computer and forwarded the email — with a new subject line ‘Look!!’ — to the man at the desk two metres away, and to our two adult kids. Mr Mac quickly realised what the crazy grin was all about, and his grin was just about as wide. And within 60 seconds, the kids had responded, breaking all records for email replies to Mum. They were happy too.

Just as they were when Escape Publishing said “yes” and my very first book was published last year. All of them, my husband, my son and my daughter, had supported and encouraged me over the years. “I want to be a romance writer,” I’d say, and they’d say, “Just get on and do it.”

Of course, there were submissions and rejections along the way. But rejections help us learn, and luckily A Father at Last struck a chord with Escape Publishing.

And thankfully the Ruby reader-judges liked it too, and to them, and the contest organisers, I’m very grateful. It’s always heart-warming and somewhat humbling when other people enjoy our stories.

It’s also humbling and exciting (sorry to use that word again, but it’s the best one for the job), to see my name up there with writers I’ve admired for years. So thank you, Romance Writers of Australia. And thank you, Escape.

Congratulations Escape Artists!

We are beyond thrilled to congratulate three of our Escape authors for their Romantic Book of the Year (R*BY) nomination!

Congrats and best wishes go to:

8903Juanita Kees, Under the Hood (Stories with Strong Romantic Elements)

18610Kendall Talbot, Lost in Kakadu (Stories with Strong Romantic Elements)

8902Julie Mac, A Father At Last (Short Sweet Category)

Congratulations also go to the other nominees – a diverse, far-reaching list of nominees that demonstrates the depth and breadth of the Australian romance industry!