December Recipes: Rustic Rocky Road

by Sarah Belle

I am a very fussy Rocky Road eater. That’s because, for me, RR is all about ratios. I don’t like RR’s that have a very thick chocolate base and miniscule pieces of marshmallow and jelly lolly on top. Noooo. I love light, fluffy, mountainous Rocky Road with the perfect combination of marshmallow, jelly and chocolate in each delicious bite. So, here’s my own recipe:Sarah's Rocky Road.


  • 2 bags of Pascall’s marshmallows – the coloured ones are very pretty.
  • 2 bags of jelly lollies – ripe raspberries are my faves, but you can use whatever tickles your fancy.
  • 2 Blocks of chocolate – you can use milk, white or dark. It needn’t be high quality, but the home brand or cooking chocolate won’t taste as good.


Chop one bag of marshmallows in half. (This is for variety in mallow-bite size!)

Empty marshmallows and jelly lollies in a large bowl. Mix them up so they are evenly distributed.

Break up and warm chocolate (either in double boiler saucepan or in microwave. Just ensure that all utensils you use with melted chocolate are completely dry- water will cause the chocolate to seize up into one big, ugly, useless ball of gunk).

When the chocolate is three quarters melted, take it off the heat/microwave and stir with a silicone spatula until it is completely melted – this prevents chocolate seizing due to being over heated.

Pour chocolate onto lollies/mallows and mix until there is a light chocolate covering on everything. Tip this mixture into a large, lined roasting pan with high sides. Gently spread the mixture around until it is relatively even- don’t compress it or you’ll lose the fluffiness. It is meant to look a bit rustic.

Pop in the fridge for 3-4 hours and try not to pick at it until the chocolate has solidified. It’s tempting to eat a little bit, and I often fail to leave it alone until it’s set.

Chop into generous slaps and devour with gusto!

(This could, potentially, last for 7 days in the fridge- but ours never makes it past 3.)


Magic realism mixes with romantic comedy in this new novel from Sarah Belle about the dangers of internet shopping – and using magic to solve real world problems.

10 Things Not to Buy Off the Internet

By Sarah Belle – the voice of experience.

10. Perfume – unless you know the seller is reputable and you are buying a perfume that you have previously worn and know won’t smell like cat urine on you.


9. Diet Pills – yeah, ‘cos who knows what’s really in them?

8. Twitter Followers – what are the chances they are truly interested in your twitterings? Remember people, it’s quality, not quantity!


7. Paint – that particular shade of ‘Smouldering Sexy Boudoir deluxe’ that looks so great on your laptop screen, actually looks more like something from Romper Room in the flesh. Don’t do it.

6. Uranium – just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You don’t want the government to go all gang-busters on your uraniumised butt.


5. A Private Island – why wouldn’t you pay a paltry US $50 million for a little piece of rock floating off the Panama coast? Because chances are, it doesn’t exist, is currently inhabited by a fugitive Cuban drug lord, or will require extensive flood insurance.


4. Shoes – unless you know the exact size. It’s hard enough to get a standard shoe size in retail, let alone on line.

3. Jewellery – if you only pay $25 for a 18ct gold necklace, then chances are it ain’t 18 ct! Good luck getting a refund out of these etailers.

2. A spouse – because someone who is meant to look like this:


Or this:


Will actually look more like this:


1.  A love spell – or any kind of spell for that matter. Unless you are a seasoned spell casting genius, or go by the name of Hermione Granger, it’s better for us novices to lay off the internet magic.

22035Magic realism mixes with romantic comedy in this new novel from Sarah Belle about the dangers of internet shopping – and using magic to solve real world problems.

Lou’s life is perfect. She loves her job, her renovated house, and most of all, her gorgeous fiancé, Aidan. But when her old flame and Aidan’s school yard nemesis turn out to be the same person, Hunter Wincott, Lou’s life is blown apart. She must divulge her secret past, or have Hunter give it away. Either way, she runs the real risk of losing Aidan.

In desperation, she turns to Google. A quick search turns up Majique, the Internet Witch, and a spell that will delete herself from Hunter’s memory. But something goes wrong in the casting process, and Lou deletes much more than just a memory. She deletes herself from her life completely.

Luckily, there’s a one-week window for Lou to get back to the life she loved. One week to win back Aidan, before he walks down the aisle with the wrong woman, and damns everyone to a lifetime of misery. It would be easy, if only Aidan had any idea who Lou actually is.

September springs new releases!

It’s a great month for new releases – and a great month to dip your toe into our Magic Realism sub-genre, with three titles being released under that banner today!


From best-selling, award-winning author Frances Housden comes the gripping, sensual, suspenseful follow-up to The Chieftain’s Curse...

22032Mixing romance, humour and a sparkle of magic, Juliet Madison is back with a new full-length, Magic Realism romance about a bride-to-be, a mystery and the stripper next door.

22034From Cate Ellink comes a sun-soaked, sandy, seaside erotic novel about a tropical paradise, two athletes used to getting physical, and a sex-filled, no-strings holiday fling. 

22035Magic realism mixes with romantic comedy in this new novel from Sarah Belle about the dangers of internet shopping – and using magic to solve real world problems.

22033A new, quick-witted, quip-heavy romance for grown-ups from Sandra Antonelli about facing your fears — because love is the greatest risk of all.

22036Mixing romance, history, and a touch of the unexplained in a new magic realism novel from Jacquie Underdown about love that needs to cross oceans and time before finding a place to come true.

Magic Realism – the authors

18883From Juliet Madison:

Magic Realism rocks because it makes the ordinary extraordinary, and allows us to experience unlimited possibilities within the context of the world that we know.


9689From Sarah Belle:

A world without magic, like a world without love, is a world without hope for a brighter tomorrow and all the beauty a new day brings.

21186From Jennifer Brassel:

Magic Realism is a perfect marriage for romance because…any person who has truly been in love knows that there is a reality beyond the everyday. It is higher, deeper, more colourful and more enticing. When that reality is discovered through a relationship it is so uplifting the lovers can believe anything is possible.


19225From Jacquie Underdown:

I write magic realism romance because I can take those most wished about wishes, most dreamed about fancies, and plant them in reality, seamlessly, until I can no longer tell where reality ends and the magic begins.

19228From Katherine Givens:

Every romantic believes in a bit of magic. It’s what kindles fantasy and inspires dreams. Magic Realism Romance is simply a genre able to capture the essence of a romantic’s heart.


21765From Robyn Neeley:

Faith, hope, and destiny themes tend to influence my books. Magical realism became a new tool for me to continue to explore these themes in an entertaining way!

We need help! Win some books!

9689There were many reasons for starting Escape Publishing, but one of the most compelling was the stories that we were reading that were fantastic, breath-takingly romantic stories that just didn’t fit into any of the traditional categories.

Since then, we’ve gloried in diversity, publishing titles that we loved across a number of different sub-genres (and even invented some of our own!)

In the next few months, the Escape Publishing website is being updated, and we get the opportunity to update our categories at the same time. We’re very excited to be able to better signpost to readers where they can find the book they really want to read. But some of our titles are easier to categorise than others.

19225Which leads to our current dilemma.

We have a group of stories that have a similar theme, but no current category that adequately describes them.

Behind the scenes, we call them our ‘woo-woo’ romances – those stories that recognise that there may be more to our world than what we can see and hear and touch, more to our world than can be adequately explained by science.

They are grounded in reality, but see more possibilities to our life.

They’re not paranormals; they’re not fantasy. They’re just…more.

19228The Contest

Come up with a category for our website and marketing that describes this very special group of stories.

We’re looking for something short and snappy, something that we can use in our marketing and descriptions with e-tailers, something that readers will understand (or at least suggest enough that they want to look into it more!)

Enter in the comments; enter as often as you like. With each entry, please include your email address, so we can notify the winner. We’ll be running the competition from now through the month of May, so check back often to see if anything sparks your imagination.

18883The Winner

The entrant who comes up with the category title that we like the best will win one (1) copy of a book from each of the authors in our backlist that will end up in the new category. These books include:

I Dream of JohnnyJuliet Madison

Hindsight – Sarah Belle

Beautiful Illusion – Jacquie Underdown

Secret Reflection – Jennifer Brassel

In Her Dreams – Katherine Givens

You will also win bragging rights, and the undying gratitude of our digital marketing manager, who just can’t wrap his head around what ‘woo-woo’ means.
9087(she looks like she knows).
Save us, romance readers! You’re our only hope!

ARRA Nominees – Sarah Belle

Why Hindsight should win the ARRA for the Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance Novel of 2013

I’ve been a stay at home mum ever since I had my fourth son, almost five years ago. But next year he will be joining his three older brothers at school, so the time has come for me to think about my career options, post-stay at home kids.

I’ve put together a photo-resume of some of the jobs I’ve been doing around the house, in conjunction with usual mum stuff like cooking food that no one wants to eat because it has a vegetable in it, picking clothes up off the floor, and constantly wiping urine splatter off the toilet seat (because apparently it’s sooooo hard to remember to lift it when they pee!).

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

Covering school books with contact paper. No, I wasn’t drinking at the time. A friend asked me if I threw the book at the contact paper. Of course, I didn’t, but I may as well have. At least my son won’t get his book confused with anyone else’s…

book covering
Making baked goods for morning teas and birthdays. This particular concoction was meant to be a brownie so rich, decadent and fudgie that no icing was required. It looked so much more appealing in the recipe book though.

cake bakingOrganising family holidays – like this one last year where we were caught in a cyclone and then flooded in for an extra three days when the road out of town turned into a river. We missed the first two days of school for the new year. (Love the billboard in the background though!)

holiday disasterThis year on our annual family get away, we all came down with Gastro – you know the saying, the family that vomits together stays together… (I won’t show you pictures of that one!)

And finally, costume designing for special school occasions…

This, believe it or not, is my son dressed up as a star. He refused to surrender to my grand ideas and the closest I could manage was a t-shirt with the word ‘universe’ on it, and a glitter hat sprinkled with purple stars. See, you’d never know the difference!

costumeBelow is my very creative interpretation of Spiderman face-painting. Look at how overjoyed my youngest is at my skill! (Yes, I am aware that the spider has a pair of legs coming out of its head. Like I said, it’s an ‘interpretation’).

spidermanMy husband says I should stick to writing…so do my kids…and their school teachers.

9689So, if you vote for Hindsight, you will actually be doing the world a huge favour, because if I don’t succeed at this writing gig, I will be forced to open my own business catering for children’s dress up parties. Yep – I’d do the costuming and catering for families. I am even thinking of a sideline of holiday/event organising.

Do the world a favour and spare the unsuspecting population of my crap baking, costuming, and holiday planning skills and Vote 1 for Hindsight in the Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Futuristic Category at this year’s ARRA Awards! Generations of children will thank you.

List of finalists:

Join ARRA to vote:

Let’s do the Time Warp (again?)

by Kate

When you hear the term time travel, what do you think of? Mad scientists, fancy machinery, and flux capacitors? Or do you think of second chances, rekindling relationships, and personal growth? A lot of fiction involving time travel revolves around the scientific part; the process of time travel and what it means for history and mankind, but time travel can be a fascinating way of creating a story that focuses more on the personal journey of the characters and how their relationships develop and change.

Time travel in romance adds an exciting element to the already challenging situations characters can find themselves in. It allows characters to question who they are, how they got to where they are, and whether they are making the right choices in life. Most importantly, time travel in romance introduces that compelling ‘what if’ scenario… what if I’d said no to that guy instead of yes? What if I’d had the courage to do something I wished I’d done? What if I took a later train on that fateful day? And in the case of the future, what will my life be like in ten, twenty, or thirty years time? Will I be with who I think is Mr Right, or someone else? And even, does that anti-ageing cream I spent a gazillion dollars on really work? 😉

Time travel brings lots of opportunities for highly emotional scenes and romantic development. Time travel can take an ordinary story and make it extraordinary. It can add intrigue, suspense, despair, time sensitivity or that ‘ticking clock’ situation, and force the characters to make important decisions affecting themselves and those around them. Also, time travel in romance can be super fun!

There are only two ways time travel can go – backwards or forwards. Which would you choose?


9689Sarah Belle takes us back in time…

The concept of time travel has fascinated me since I was a seven year old watching Rod Taylor in ‘The Time Machine’ (it was a re-run – I wasn’t around for the original!). The prospect of time travel – either in the past or into the future – fuelled my imagination as I thought about the endless possibilities that come with skipping through time.

As a writer, I am attracted to situations that are exceptional and completely different to anything we can experience in everyday life. I love the ‘what if’ factor because it makes for a story that is not bound by the usual constraints of life. It allows me to really invest my imagination and create a situation that is intense, simply because the main character is already out of her comfort zone – and that’s even before I throw in conflict, fears, relationships, and anything else that she wants to avoid!

Why was HINDSIGHT set in 1961, rather than in the future – perhaps at the end of Juliette’s life so that she could reflect on her choices? Good question! I am going to be completely honest and say that setting Hindsight in the future never occurred to me.  I only ever saw it as a retrospective story.

In fact, with the exception of Juliet Madison’s Fast Forward I haven’t read any romantic comedies set in the future. It’s a concept that is fresh and under used enough to still be original. I look forward to reading more rom-coms set in the future.

The main challenge for writing in the past is research. For Hindsight I had to ensure that the names of the characters were appropriate to the era. I also did a lot of research for the setting – architecture, design and decor, fashion, personal products, kitchen appliances, and such.

Language was also challenging because there are many expressions used in the past that have slipped out of our modern vocabulary. Likewise, there are expressions or words that have changed in meaning from 1961 to now – take ‘gay’ for example. In 1961 ‘gay’ meant happy. Now it means homosexual.

Attitudes, morals, and social etiquette have also changed, as have women’s and men’s roles in the family, workplace, and society. Even though it is only a little over 50 years ago, it was a completely different time to live in, and so accurately reflecting these differences was challenging – but fascinating! (I admire writers who delve even further back in time – 1961 was hard enough).


8875Juliet Madison propels us into the future…

I love time travel stories, but had noticed that not many stories that aren’t sci-fi go into the future. I wanted to create a story of everyday life with everyday people in a slightly different time period: not hundreds of years into the future, but twenty-five. Long enough to have some major change,s but short enough that the world is still recognisable. I loved the movie Suddenly 30 (13 Going On 30 for those in the US), so that was a great inspiration to me… a young person in an older person’s body? Yes please! And so Fast Forward was born.

I knew I wanted the story to focus on the journey of the character rather than the process of time travel itself, and so how Kelli actually gets there isn’t completely apparent, however there are a couple of potential triggers at the start of the story. I figured she would have to be at some kind of transition in her life, with an impending event or situation that could act as a catalyst for her time travel and eventual character growth. I chose her birthday. Because every young woman wants to wake up on her twenty-fifth birthday and find that she’s doubled in age, right?

The challenges to setting a story a quarter of a century into the future were mostly to do with being realistic. I wanted to make sure there were plenty of surprises and amazing technological advancements, but not go overboard. It had to feel at least possible that those things could exist in the future. I chose not to go ahead with flying cars or hoverboards, but added details like a talking and auto-driving function in cars, as well as an in-built coffee machine for those long trips (is anyone working on that I wonder? Mazda? Ford? C’mon guys, we’re waiting).

The benefits of writing a story set in the future were many. Because I didn’t have to worry about being accurate with historical data like Sarah did, I was able to let loose and create the world I wanted. Move over iPhones, the e-pad is on its way (I wish)! Even though I was focused on the future, I did have to think back to the past to see how far things had come in the last couple of decades, and try to replicate that natural progression as realistically as possible.

The most fun in writing a futuristic story was in the characters and how they got to where they were. Kelli had no idea how she ended up married to the high school nerd, so I had a lot of fun with that, and making sure that throughout the story she got to learn more about her husband and what drew her to him in the first place. So travelling to the future was a great way for the character to see what her general life and love life would be like if she’d made different choices. That way if I chose to send her back she could set her future on the right course. It’s hard for a character to realistically change and grow in only one day, but throw some time travel into the mix and you have an extreme situation where anything is possible!
What time travel romance stories have you enjoyed?

If you could choose to go to the past or the future, which would you choose?