Behind the Story: Mary Ann Marlowe

maryannmarlowe-279x300I am so delighted to introduce you to today’s author, Mary Ann Marlowe. Mary Ann works by day as a computer programmer/DBA. She spent ten years as a university-level French professor, and her resume includes stints as an au pair in Calais, a hotel intern in Paris, a German tutor, a college radio disc jockey, and a webmaster for several online musician fandoms. She has lived in twelve states and three countries and loves to travel. She now lives in central Virginia where she is hard at work on her second novel.

Mary Ann, please tell us your story behind the story …

If my relationship with music were on Facebook, the status would be “complicated.” To the outside world, music and I may seem to have it all together, but if you dig a little, you’ll discover a lot of dysfunction lurking under the surface. 

My favorite musician and I have a healthy relationship. Although I’m an ardent fan, I don’t consider myself weird about him. He plays huge venues. I show up, watch the show, then go home. I love him, but he doesn’t know I exist. This is normal, right?

On the other extreme, I’m married to a bass player who occasionally drags me to his gigs where I feign enthusiasm while hiding my desire to be home in bed reading a good book in my PJs.  (Please don’t tell him this.) I think this is also probably normal. Familiarity breeds boredom, after all.


Me and Jason Castro

Here’s where I confess my crazy. Over the years, as I’ve sought out midlist artists in smaller venues, I’ve crossed into the weird middle ground between distant fan and familiar friend. It started innocently enough: I built a fan site. (You’re probably cringing already.) I swear, even then, my motives were pure. I only wanted to share the love with other fans. Then I started meeting these online friends at shows, hanging around until the venues closed, and getting to know musicians who stayed to talk with us after. Over time, lines blurred and friendships formed—although not always reciprocated to the same degree I’m sure.

Thus began an era of me supporting musicians in a hands-on, possibly unhealthy way. On the mortifying end of the spectrum, I’ve created way more fan sites than any adult should admit. I’ve helped lead street teams. I’ve been that fan who brought baked goods to the band. I’ve been asked, “Haven’t you been to enough shows?”


Personally signed CD – Alex Trugman

But on the cooler side, these musicians recognize me and smile when they see me in the audience. They sometimes put me on the guest list if I ask. One artist emailed back and forth with me as his songs went from demos to fully produced tracks on his CD. I can’t express how awesome it was to be a part of that process.

Being a giant dork has had other perks. Because of my web experience, I ended up working directly with Atlantic Records to moderate a couple of their fan sites and discuss marketing strategies with managers. Because of my baking, I befriended the entire band—and their family members.  One time a bass player picked up a bottle of novelty wine named for a musician and brought it to me several cities later. Another time a musician’s mom fetched me from the airport before a show and took me to a barbecue in her backyard.


Me and Matt Hires

But for every cool story, I can match it with an embarrassing anecdote I’d like to bury alongside radioactive waste.

When I started writing Some Kind of Magic, I didn’t intend to tap into those experiences as much as I did, but as soon as I dropped my MC, Eden, into a small club, her world became something so familiar to me, I automatically knew everyone she’d encounter. While Eden herself is, for the most part, the cool, collected music fan I wish I could claim to be, she confronts many much more invested fans—fans who run websites, fans who bring cookies to the band, fans who hang around after the show hoping to meet the artists. I know these people because they’re all me. So, although I poke fun at that aspect of fandom, I do so knowing that I’m poking fun at myself.



Mary Ann has kindly offered to give away two e-books to two lucky readers. All you need to do is leave a comment below telling us about your biggest music star crush – present day or past. Get your comments in by Sunday 12 March, 2017 to be in the draw. Good luck!

You can buy Mary Ann’s book here:

Buy links:









Penguin Random House Audio:


And you can find out more about Mary Ann here:

Behind the Story: Shona Husk

profile.jpgToday I’m excited to introduce you to Shona Husk, who is the author of the Shadowlands, Blood and Silver, and the Face the Music series. You can find out more information about Shona at or follow her on Twitter @ShonaHusk, Facebook or join her newsletter:

Shona, please tell us about your story behind the story …

The Blood and Silver series came out of a challenge I set myself when I was made redundant during the Global Financial Crisis. I’d been writing for a  couple of years and had finished 2 novels (which still lurk in the back of a cupboard, but around that time I’d come to the realization that if it took me over a year to write a novel it was going to take me a long time to learn the craft. So I’d turned my attention to novellas and was reading heaps of them (on my computer because I didn’t have an e-reader…I’m not even sure e-readers were around or had reached Australia back then). Novellas had plot and character and dialogue and setting, all things a novel needed but without subplots. I thought if I could learn to write a novella, I’d be able to transfer those skills to a bigger project.

So while I was jobless and looking for work I set myself the goal of plotting and writing a novella every 2 weeks. I was aiming for more words a week than I’d ever written, but then I did have more spare time because of the lack of a job.

Lady of Silver wasn’t called that back then. It was the last 15k novella that I wrote before finding a job. It was also the one which I knew could be more.

The other three novellas sold. The next novel I wrote sold (so my theory about honing story structure by writing novellas paid off, YMMV). Lady of Silver got re-written and expanded. I plotted the next book in the series because I now knew what the overarching plot thread would be—I like series linked by a plot thread (although I have written a few stories that share a universe but no common thread).

Then the paranormal romance market died. As a paranormal romance writer this hurt both creatively and financially.

So I dabbled with contemporary romance, I started writing urban fantasy under a different name and I kept writing paranormal romance on the side because I knew it would come back eventually.

I re wrote Lady of Silver again, because I still believed in the idea and it combined a few of my favourite things.

I love lost civilizations. Stories about ruined cities found in a jungle/under water/buried in a desert will always get my attention. What happened to the people? What was it like when they lived there? Who were they?

Medieval witch hunts have also fascinated me, how can people be whipped up into such a hateful frenzy? And be so cruel to others (I’ve been to a medieval torture museum and it was sickening)? Unfortunately as I’ve gotten older I can see how easily it happens…

I also wanted to read a story where the hero was human and the heroine was the one with the magical powers and he had to come to grips with her world because usually in paranormal romance it’s the other way around.

So the premise for the Blood and Silver series was the survivors of an ancient and magical civilization struggling to live on, while being hunted by those who still see them as a threat. Oh and there’s vampires…evil vampires…because it’s about time vampires got back to feeding and killing and be bad.

lady-of-silver-highres-smallMore about Blood and Silver: 

A man on a mission
A brutal crime is haunting detective Dale Morgan. A young woman has been murdered on the city’s outskirts, and her blood drained. Dale suspects the leader of a depraved cult may be to blame. Yet with barely a shred of evidence at the crime scene, Dale will have to turn to the one person despises almost as much as the killers he puts behind bars.

A woman with secrets
To humans, Saba Venn is a psychic, but she’s Albah, a race long forgotten by humans but who live amongst them, her powers fueled by blood and silver. She agrees to help Detective Morgan, if it means stopping the vampire cult she believes is behind the killing. But the attraction she feels with Dale is immediate, and as their relationship intensifies she begins to doubt she can keep her secret from him.

Buy links: Amazon Kobo iBooks Barnes and Noble All Romance eBooks

Behind the Story: Alissa Callen



Photo credit: Gabrielle Battistel

Today I’m excited to introduce you to the gorgeous Alissa Callen. Alissa is a USA Today bestselling author who is happiest living far from the city fringe. Alissa writes small town and rural fiction and is published with Random House, Tule Publishing Group and Harlequin Australia. Once a teacher and a counsellor, she remains interested in the life journeys that people take. Her books are characteristically heart-warming, authentic and character driven. Alissa lives with her family on a small slice of rural Australia.

Alissa, please tell us about your story behind the story …

The Long Paddock is a story that has been woven from the scents, sights and sounds of my everyday world. While Woodlea, the town of windmills, is fictitious, the landscape surrounding the town and the experiences of the local community are grounded in reality. My real life has a way of wriggling into my words much like how our Jack Russell sneaks into our kitchen.

Coonamble Rodeo3.JPGI live on a small farm with my family in the central west of NSW where we grow winter oats and graze cattle. Our menagerie of animals, and the natural beauty around us, never fails to inspire me — even though one brown snake swimming in our pool is enough for inspiration, along with one grassfire. I hope never to see smoke in our front paddock again.

The plot for The Long Paddock owes its genesis to a past summer when rain was scarce and I’d drive through mobs of cattle grazing on the roadside verges. Concern has grown over the management and future of the travelling stock routes and this was an issue I wanted to explore. Another issue I wanted to touch upon was rural mental health. Droughts can parch more than the earth and bushfires can burn more than windmill grass.

our-carrot-eating-cowYarn bombers had decorated the trees in Dubbo’s main street and the colours and textures soon found their way into my story. After attending the Coonamble Rodeo and Campdraft, not only did I find myself with a bull-rider hero, but also a misunderstood bull who was determined to take center stage. Since I wrote The Long Paddock I discovered a bull like Reggie really does exist. His story may be different, and he may snore at night, but there are real people who have given a misjudged bull a forever home just like Cressy did.

I hope readers enjoy spending time in Woodlea as much as I enjoyed bringing this small, close-knit, rural community to life.

the-long-paddockMore about The Long Paddock:

Country-girl Cressida Knight fills her days with her farm, a rogue bull called Reggie and her volunteer emergency services work. The busier she keeps, the less she thinks about the cowboy who left her behind. She’s convinced the small-town Woodlea grapevine that she’s moved on but now it’s time to move on for real. 

Champion bull rider Denham Rigby shares Cressy’s deep love for the land and all he’s ever wanted was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Cressy through life. But three years ago a dark family secret left him no choice but to run. Now family duty gives him no choice but to return to the bush.

What Denham hasn’t come home to do is to hurt Cressy. He’s nothing but a liability and the beautiful cowgirl has to remain off-limits. But when faced with Cressy’s desperation to save her drought-stricken farm, he can’t keep his distance. He joins her out droving on the long paddock. When Woodlea is hit by more than just rodeo fever, they are further thrown together. Denham loses the battle to lock down his emotions.

But has he left it too late to stop running? And will the woman he’s always loved be prepared to risk her heart for a second time?


You can find out more about Alissa at

Behind the Story: Penelope Janu

profile penelope janu.jpgToday I am super excited to introduce you to the wonderful Penelope Janu. Penelope ives in Sydney with her husband, six great kids, and two big dogs. As a lawyer she spent many years working in legal firms and academia. She has a strong interest in social justice issues and the environment, and it was while teaching a university course about the legal regulation of climate change that the inspiration for the environmental aspect for In at the Deep End came to her.

Penelope has travelled widely, and last year hiked over 300 km from the west to the east coast of England (stopping at numerous pubs for refreshment along the way). Although she likes adventure as much as her heroines, Penelope is yet to go to Antarctica, one of the settings for In at the Deep End (she is praying for a film offer that might take her there …) In at the Deep End is her first book.

So Penelope, please tell us your story behind the story!

Why this story?

As part of my day job, lecturing in a university course, I’d been doing research on the legal regulation of climate change. It was a new area of law for me but I’d always had a fascination with the environment and was interested (and concerned about!) about global warming. This led to a determination that my heroine Harriet Scott would have some sort of connection to an environmental cause. My hero Per Amundsen is a scientist as well as a naval officer, because research is a crucial element in environmental preservation. Scientists and environmentalists often strive for the same outcomes, but use different means to achieve these outcomes. These varying perspectives are an essential element to Harriet and Per’s rocky path to romance.

Many of the historical references in the book made me laugh—but by the end of the book, I’d learnt a lot about Scott and Amundsen and their race to the South Pole. Can you explain how this aspect of the book came about?

Climate change and the environment led me to Antarctica, and Per’s surname (Amundsen) led me to Roald Amundsen, the first man to make it to the South Pole. The man Amundsen beat to the South Pole (by just a few weeks) was Robert Falcon Scott. The contrasting ways in which these early twentieth century explorers approached their journeys mirrored personality traits of Harriet and Per. Harriet, like Robert Falcon Scott, is passionate and persuasive (if a little high risk). Per, like Roald Amundsen, is capable and considered (in a control freak kind of way). Many communications between Harriet and Per are short, sharp and funny—but the research that went into them fills quite a few folders and many weeks of research!

Was the book always going to be a romance?

Definitely! Like many writers, I’d spent years not writing anything, but thinking I’d like to. A legal career and boisterous family (six children nine years apart) gave me a busy, fulfilling life, but also kept my plots in my head rather than in a notebook. My ‘stepping stone’ into creative writing was through a university masters degree (populated largely by writers of literary fiction), but I was determined to write what I loved. An early reviewer of In at the Deep End said there was sustained ‘simmering tension’ between my hero and heroine and I loved reading that! For me, that’s what romance is all about.

How did the elements of environment, exploration and romantic comedy come together?  

My heroine is an adventurer and so is the hero, and the book is first person, present tense and fast paced (elements common in the romantic comedy genre), but to be honest I wasn’t fully aware I’d written a romantic comedy until my publisher told me I had! Since then, I’ve worked out how important voice is in creating this type of book. Harriet has suffered loss and tragedy in her life. She also has a terrifying phobia—fear of the water. But most importantly she’s independent, thoughtful and smart—prepared to fall in love but unwilling to settle for anything less than that.

You’re a debut novelist. How have you found this experience so far?

Everything is new! Starting out a second career has been a wonderful challenge, but a challenge nevertheless. I get nothing but joy from the writing itself (I’ve recently finished another manuscript featuring another Norwegian hero, Per’s twin brother Tør) and having a traditional publisher in Harlequin Mira has made my journey easier in many respects, but the author platform and everything else that goes with it is all new to me. Now the book is finally available I can’t wait to connect with readers.  

Thank you Alli for having me today—this is my first visitor blog post ever!

It’s a pleasure, Penelope!

DeepEnd_HighRes_FC.jpgMore about In at the Deep End:

A quick-witted, contemporary romance about losing your cool.

What woman doesn’t love a real-life hero? Harriet Scott, for one. The fiercely independent daughter of famous adventurers, she grew up travelling the world on the environmental flagship The Watch. So when Harriet’s ship sinks in Antarctica and she has to be rescued by Commander Per Amundsen, an infuriatingly capable Norwegian naval officer and living breathing action hero, her world is turned upside down.

Like their namesakes, the original Scott and Amundsen who competed to reach the South Pole first, Per and Harriet have different ways of doing things. Per thinks Harriet is an accident waiting to happen; Harriet thinks Per is a control freak. But when Harriet realises that Per is the only one who can help her fund the new ship she desperately wants, she is forced to cooperate with him.

Per refuses to assist unless Harriet allows him to teach her to swim. But there is more to Harriet’s terrible fear of water than meets the eye. Can Harriet face her fears and come to terms with the trauma and loss of her past? And will she begin to appreciate that some risks are well worth taking—and that polar opposites can, in fact, attract?

BUY LINK: au/product/9781489214553

You can find more about Penelope at

Behind the Story: Virginia Taylor


Today I am delighted to welcome Virginia Taylor. Virginia Virginia Taylor is an Australian writer of contemporary romantic comedy, historical romance, short stories, and children’s stories.

So tell us about your story behind the story, please, Virginia!
In the writing stakes, I’m a late contender. In the reading stakes, I’m an early starter, but a persistent stayer. This means I have read every genre written but only enjoyed those with positive endings. I have read stories set in every country in the world but very few in my own, and I don’t recall reading any set in my state. Because the history of South Australia is not based on convict settlement, but free settlers, and because I love reading historical romances, I set my mind on writing a series of South Australian historical romances.

I started the first in 1995 after reading my first historical romance a year or two earlier. From the first one, Gentle Rogue, by Joanna Lindsay, I was hooked, but the historical accuracy was more romantic than authentic. Nevertheless, I read Ms Lindsay’s full series, preferring those she set in her own country whose history was more interesting to me than her British set stories. I had, of course, read Austen and Heyer who knew their own countries best, too.

Five generations of my family before me were born in South Australia, which has a rich and interesting history based on the free settlers who came out from England to the Utopia of the south. While they did so, they discovered copper, marble, slate, gold, silver, anything the world needed, in abundance. They grew crops and bred sheep to supply the world with good quality wool. They set up industries, processing plants, and small businesses. These are the people I wanted to write about.

30366819.jpgWenna is the fourth story of my South Lander series, which doesn’t need to be read in sequence. Her parents were immigrants, always had a plan, but she needs some way to finance herself. She works her way up as a servant and achieves her desired position of a lady’s maid. This job prepares her to start her own business, but her work ethic and her ambition makes her worthy of the best sort of hero, one who understands her, appreciates her, and knows he is lucky to have found her.

Although Devon is an aristocrat who doesn’t need to earn money, he is ambitious too, and wants to make his way in the world without the influence of his family. He is my sort of hero, tough, and smart enough to see beneath Wenna’s prickly exterior. He is loving enough to tame her: to teach her to trust him. I love these two, and the way they bounce off each other. Their journey together is tricky but survives all the stumbles along the way.

Before any of my books were sold, I had enough stumbles along the way to take me out of the race for almost twenty years. None of my original stories survived its original version because I had a lot to learn back then. I finally sold my first, a contemporary, whose heroine shares the name Alli Sinclair. How’s that for a coincidence?

For links to Virginia’s books, please click HERE.


Behind the Story: Darry Fraser

darry profile.jpgI am delighted to introduce you to the lovely Darry Fraser. Darry woke up one day with an epiphany: writing is her journey, and a major publication was the goal. It was now or never. 

So, the ‘now’ took five years and 9 e-books and happily, ‘Daughter of the Murray’ was published with Harlequin MIRA in 2016.

The Australian landscape is home and hearth – the rural, the coastal, the arid lands and the desert. The history, the hidden stories, the catalysts, and the powerful connection between humans are her drivers.

She lives and works on a beautiful island off the coast of South Australia with her black kelpie x writing companion.

So, Darry, please tell us about your story behind the story:

So lovely to be here on Alli’s ‘Story Behind the Story’.

Funny how the path to your goal takes many twists and turns. Had I been the sort who had one eye on the goal and the other eye also on the goal, I might’ve arrived at my dream a helluva lot earlier. Life gets in the way, as most of us know.

In a sense, I’m glad I wasn’t ‘one-eyed’ about it (though I do question that just a bit). When I first started writing seriously, i.e believing I could deliver a well-crafted story, I was nowhere near the mark. I remember being encouraged by friends and family, who alas, were well meaning, and also nowhere near the mark.

So, when I finished what was to become Daughter of the Murray many years later, I was a young writer burning with the urgent need to write, but without my craft honed, without my instinct for pace sharpened, armed only with my natural talent still raw and unformed.

Another author and I lately identified that the mature writer has had some years of ‘living’ under her belt. I certainly have those years now. And what those years have done for me – and the story – was give it the maturity of voice and style that it needed. If I’m lucky enough to have the second in the series published, those years of apprenticeship have honed my skills tremendously.

I’ve always loved a bigger story, the type with more than one arc, where characters are real, and who walk with me every day – albeit in my head. I tried my hand at other types of stories, learned how to make every word count, how to show not tell – but tell where telling had to be – and to find my own way.

By the time I grappled with my courage and pitched it to a publisher, Daughter of the Murray had come of age.

Readers have told me that my book is not what they were expecting. My research told me that the 1890s was not a namby-pamby nanny era, anywhere. It was tough. It was misogynistic and paternalistic. Rough, bloody, dirty and diseased. I wanted a decent story, so I had to be true to the times and not throw a 21st century character into a 19th century setting. I had to have my characters as true to their ‘selves’ in their era as I could.

The other thing I feel strongly about, and is why I write these sorts of historical characters: Australia needs some honourable, if fictional heroes. People who had personal honour. We weren’t all murderers, marauders, or rapists and pillagers, thieves and dirtbags, or escaped convicts but innocent of alleged crimes. And they are always fundamentally flawed. My take only, of course.

Where did the story-telling gene came from?  A generation back to a woman who only had her imagination to take her to places she could only dream about.

But honour in her heroes was always there.

cover-darryBlurb – Daughter of the Murray

1890s, River Murray, Northern Victoria

Georgina Calthorpe is not happy living with her foster family, the MacHenrys, on Jacaranda, their neglected sheep run on the banks of the River Murray.

Unlike the rest of the family, she isn’t looking forward to the return of the prodigal son, Dane. When he arrives at the homestead, he’s furious to discover his inheritance in severe decline. When he blames Georgina, ignoring the true culprit – his father, she decides to leave in a hurry.

Unfortunately, she makes her escape on Dane’s prized stallion and he gives chase, at first to track her down…

From here their fates collide with Conor Foley, a businessman with a dark secret. He offers Georgina apparent security: marriage with status in the emerging nouveau-riche echelons of Melbourne.

But where does her heart lie, now?

None of them can imagine the toll the changing political and social landscape will have on home, heart and family. Has Georgina’s decision led her into grave danger and more unhappiness, or will she survive and fulfil her destiny?

You can find out more about Darry here:

Daughter of the Murray is available in all good bookshops in print and ebook. Link to all retails found HERE.



Behind the Story: Vanessa Carnevale

Vanessa_Carnevale.jpgToday I am honoured to have the delightful Vanessa Carnevale on my blog today. Vanessa is an author and freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Passionate about writing and creativity, Vanessa coaches writers to embrace their words and enjoys presenting workshops that inspire budding authors to get their books written. She is also the creator and host of Your Beautiful Writing Life, writing retreats, the first of which she held in Tuscany, Italy, in 2016.

In her early twenties, Vanessa spent several years living in Florence, Italy, where she met her husband and discovered a love of travel and la dolce vita. She now considers Italy her second home. The Florentine Bridge is her first novel.

Vanessa, please tell us about your Story Behind the Story.

In my early twenties I travelled to Europe, a trip that would change the course of my life. I accidentally fell in love not only with the man who would become my future husband, but with Italy, or more specifically, Tuscany. I ended up moving to Florence, where I lived and worked for several years, right in the infamous piazza that houses Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome. I learnt many things during my time in Italy; how to ride a scooter, what a table celebration truly means, what makes a good Chianti and how to embrace the hand gesture! Italy is steeped in all of these things, but most beautiful of all is the way that Italians truly embrace the concept of ‘the slow life’ taking each day as it comes. Perhaps one of the things I loved most about Italy was how life seemed to chug along at a pace that never felt hard to keep up with.

During my time in Italy I kept lots of notes about my observations about life, thinking that one day they might come in handy if I wanted to write a book some day. I sold my first freelance article while living in Italy but put off writing fiction for some time.

When I did eventually sit down to write a novel, a lot of my memories about life in Italy came surfacing back as I read through those original notes. I knew then, that the book I was about to write, would be set in Tuscany, the perfect backdrop for a young aspiring artist by the name of Mia who was in remission from cancer and had lost her motivation to paint because her perspective on life had changed.

Creating an artistic character fit so well with the setting – Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance is steeped in so much culture, that it’s hard to overlook the beauty of this incredible city.

I didn’t expect to write a love story though, but a story of enduring, once-in-a-lifetime, timeless love unfolded once handsome Luca made an appearance in the early chapters of the book and was determined not to fly under the radar unnoticed!

“Full of heart and hope, The Florentine Bridge is a love story about the dolce vita in Tuscany.”

The Florentine bridge (1).jpgMore about The Florentine Bridge:

Young Australian artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. But her battle with the illness has taken its toll, leaving her depressed and tormented by overwhelming fears. What’s more, she can’t seem to paint anymore. Mia needs a fresh start so when a surprise opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself, she takes it. With any luck, this trip will help her find whatever it is she needs to open her heart and start painting again.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic. With his smile, his warmth and his inspirational outlook on all the good things life has to offer, he sweeps her off her feet. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, will a tragedy threaten her new life with Luca?

Full of heart and hope, a love story about la dolce vita in Tuscany.

Buy links for book/series

You can connect with Vanessa: 
Your Beautiful Writing Life Retreats:



Behind the Story: Bree Verity

bree.jpgToday I’m delighted to have the gorgeous Bree Verity on my blog. Bree grew up on a diet of love, romance, old movies and musicals and it’s no wonder she writes love stories – contemporary or historical, she doesn’t mind. Love and romance are timeless.

She lives in Perth Western Australia with her teenage son, her long-suffering partner, and her two attentive rescue dogs, Millie and Boofhead. She keeps it very quiet that she is equally a cat person.

She dreams of travelling the world, going off-grid and building a tiny house, although she realises she would very quickly go crazy in a confined space.

Thanks so much for being here today, Bree. Please tell us your story behind the story!

Quite a while ago now I attended my first writer’s group meeting, at a quaint white house alongside a lake, around which a university had grown.

I was struggling to complete what I thought at the time was my Magnum Opus, a novel of epic proportions, set in France during the revolution, that would bring me much fame and fortune on its release.

However, I had stumbled. It was incomplete. I was concerned that I didn’t know enough about the times, the customs, the laws. I had researched extensively, read many books, studied many articles. But I still felt dissatisfied.

Then, somewhere during the discussion at that first writer’s group, someone said, “Write what you know.”

It seemed a revelation. Of course! How on earth could I write about the French Revolution when I know nothing about it?

I set about creating a series of contemporary romance novels, set in Perth, Western Australia. I know Perth. I also know what it’s like to be single and in Perth. I figured I would write the contemporary series, find my writing feet, and then, when the time was right, go back and finish my historical.

I wrote the first contemporary novel quite quickly, using a Camp Nanowrimo month to get it done. It felt awesome, writing those words – you know the ones – The End. I think writing The End validates you somehow as an author. That you have the chops to craft something all the way to The End is a highly satisfying and smug-worthy feeling.

lydia-cover-smallThe book was published with little fanfare and, as expected, was downloaded by some of my friends and very few others. I wasn’t concerned by this. I knew it wasn’t a great book – it was a nice, fluffy, sunny day read. I continued on, writing the prequel story, and then started work on the second novel.

Writing these was my apprenticeship. Learning the craft, building characters, understanding plot, and then delving into the wild world of self-publishing; all my skills were honed writing the contemporary books.

I finished writing the second book and, while the satisfaction of writing The End was the same, I had a feeling in my gut that I simply couldn’t ignore. It gnawed at me, trying to tell me something. And it was only very recently that I realised what it was.

In writing that which I knew, I had stopped writing that which I love.

If you go for a browse on my Kindle, you’ll find hundreds of books, and at least half of them are historicals. I love the feel of stepping out of my time and into someone else’s. I love the pageantry and the manners and the romance. And I realised THAT was what I wanted to write.

So, I went back to my Magnum Opus (which over the years had shrivelled a little to become an historical romance, perhaps a little short at 75,000 words) and I finished it.

Writing The End on that book was a revelation. I understood for the first time that I didn’t need to know all the details, so long as my readers are transported by the story. It’s amazing the detail imagination will fill in.

amanda-cover-smlThe novel has been trimmed, changed and reshaped now, into something unrecognisable from the first drafts, but a novel that I am so proud of, mainly because it is a book that I would like to read. It’s currently with a couple of publishers. Hopefully it’s a novel they, too, would like to read.

I still plan to complete my contemporary novel series. They hold a place in my heart as the books where I learned to write people instead of situations. Where I took heed of a piece of writing advice to “Write what you know” and completed three stories all the way through to The End.

But I will be amending “Write what you know” to “Write what you love” in my author’s vocabulary. Being in the game for the long haul, writing what you love is a much better game plan.

Visit her website and blog at, ‘VeryBreeVerity’ on Facebook, or @VeryBreeVerity on Twitter.


Just a tad busy …

It’s been a busy year, for which I am very thankful and I’ll be doing a year in review later this month, but in the meantime I’ve been doing some guest blogging to celebrate the release of Under the Spanish Stars in the USA, UK, Canada and beyond. If you’d like to find out a little more about me, my writing process and the inspiration behind this award-winning book, you might like to pop onto the blogs below:

ELLE FIELD – Writer Wednesday

I reveal the book I wish I had written and why, as well as what readers can expect from me next year.


This blog post uncovers some of the super interesting information I learnt about Spain and flamenco when researching Under the Spanish Stars.

SHELLEY WILSON – Tuesday Book Blog

Here I reveal which super power I wish I had. Can you guess it?


Where I chat about why I chose Spain and flamenco as a destination for this book.


Where I reveal my reading habits and a little about my next book. 


Here I offer advice to writers just starting out or in the midst of self-doubt.

And last, but by no means least, I had a lovely feature in Readers Entertainment magazine where you can read the first chapter of Under the Spanish Stars. CLICK HERE to read more.

Stay tuned as I have a few more lined up over the next little while. Thank you so much to all the bloggers and readers who have supported me not only for the release of Under the Spanish Stars, but in every way since I first started this amazing journey in publishing. 

Release day: Under the Spanish Stars

UTSS KensingtonHooray! Today is the official release day for Under the Spanish Stars for readers living in the USA, Canada, UK and beyond (for readers in Australia and NZ, Under the Spanish Stars was released in February, 2016 – click HERE for details).

So, what’s the story about? Here’s the rundown:

Amid the vivid beauty of Granada, a woman entrusted with unraveling a family secret will discover the truth about her heritage–and the alluring promise of love…

When her beloved grandmother falls ill, Charlotte Kavanagh will do whatever she asks of her–even if it means traveling to a country that broke her abuela’s heart. Can an unsigned painting of a flamenco dancer unlock the secrets of her grandmother’s youth in Spain? To find the answers she needs, Charlotte must convince the charismatic and gifted musician, Mateo Vives to introduce her to a secluded gypsy clan.  

The enigmatic Mateo speaks the true language of flamenco, a culture Charlotte must learn to appreciate if she wants to understand her grandmother’s past–and the flamenco legend that has moved souls to beauty, and bodies to the heights of passion. As Mateo leads her into the captivating world of the music and the dance, Charlotte embraces her own long-denied creative gift and the possibility of a future rich with joy…

And if you’d like to purchase a copy, you can get it through most e-tailers and if you prefer print, you can order it online and it will arrive on your doorstep in no time! 









Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me on this writing journey and for sharing posts, telling people about my book and the lovely readers who take time out of their precious days to immerse themselves in the worlds I create. You are all wonderful!

Stay tuned – there’s some more exciting news about to let out of the bag!