Tag Archives: Sandy Curtis

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the tantalising blog series where I share snippets from works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels. Except for the weeks when writing buddies kindly fill in for me, like today!

It’s my pleasure to welcome Sandy Curtis to the blog. Sandy is a romantic suspense author whose tagline is the very cool “where crime and passion collide”. She hails from Queensland’s central coast and lives not far from the beach, and loves to spend time walking the sand while mulling over intricate, edge-of-your-seat plots for her books. If like your romance with an edge of danger, Sandy’s novels are for you.

Her latest release is a women’s fiction novel with the intriguing title of Murder, Mayhem and Men On Pause, available with just one click from Amazon. It sounds an absolutely cracking read too. Here’s Sandy to tell you more about it.

Author Sandy CurtisCathryn, thank you for having me on Teaser Tuesday and letting me share a piece of Murder, Mayhem and Men On Pause. I started writing this book over ten years ago (under a different title), but it was going to be one of those angsty women’s fiction novels that had the characters going through major traumas and showing how they dealt with them. But I couldn’t keep writing it. It was too depressing. A couple of years ago those characters told me they’d been kept in limbo too long and it was time for me to let them show the world that women have the kind of enduring strength that enables them to cope with whatever life throws at them.  Yes, they might go down for a while, but they grit their teeth and get back up and take control of their lives.

So I started writing again, but this time with a different flavour. There are losses and sorrows, but also happiness and laughter, and the kinds of friendships I’ve been lucky to have in my life.

This teaser has Ellie, who has been hospitalised with concussion, being visited by her new friend (they’re not lovers … yet), police officer Chris Ryan. And then her separated husband, Damien, turns up.

 

A flash of blue in the doorway made her heart thump. Chris. Oh, God, but he looked good, standing there, all lean but solid at the same time, a bunch of roses in one hand, police cap in the other, and a look in his eyes that said “caring” more than any words could.

‘You look better than you did last night,’ he said, and walked in, closing the door behind him.

 ‘I hope so.’ Hell, she’d seen herself in the mirror – she still looked like crap, only a better version. ‘I still can’t remember what happened. Miranda told me about Mouse finding me. Was he able to give you a clue?’

Chris shook his head. He placed the roses on the bed and gently kissed her. Ellie gave silent thanks that she’d cleaned her teeth before melting into the warmth of his lips. When he moved back, she breathed, ‘Thank you,’ and wasn’t thinking of the flowers.

Murder Mayhem and Men on Pause by Sandy CurtisHe looked like he was going to kiss her again, but sat on the visitor’s chair instead. ‘From what we can work out, your heel caught in the carpet on the stairs and you fell onto the tiled floor and hit your head.’

Something flicked in Ellie’s mind at his words, but it quickly went. ‘I must thank Mouse for calling Miranda. I could have been lying there a lot longer.’

A smile made its way across Chris’s face. ‘I think you and Miranda have a friend for life there. And I gained a few brownie points by suggesting to him that if he had anything on him he didn’t want the attending police to see then he might want to leave it in the garden before they arrived to take him to the station to make a statement.’

‘You did?’ Ellie smiled. ‘That was very un-cop-like of you.’

‘I’ve attended a lot of crime scenes, and it was pretty obvious that you’d fallen and not been pushed or hit. I figured I owed Mouse a favour. He could have left you there and no-one would have known, but he didn’t.’

‘Maybe you should offer to take one of his kittens. You’d join his friends-for-life club.’

Before he could reply, the door opened.

Damien walked into the room.

Ellie stared. She felt her jaw drop.

He’d lost weight, his expensive suit tailored to fit his trimmer physique. In one hand he carried an overnight bag. The other held a bouquet of flowers that screamed ostentatious. She found her voice. ‘Damien. What are you doing here?’

He glared at Chris before striding over to the bed and thrusting the flowers at Ellie. ‘Miranda called and told me about your accident. I caught the first plane I could.’ He glared at Chris again. ‘I’m Damien Cummins, Ellie’s husband.’

Ellie almost groaned. Damien had made the statement sound like a challenge. She saw the gleam of battle in Chris’s eyes as he stood.

‘Separated husband,’ Chris reminded him.

It was like a rag waved at a bull. Damien clenched his teeth, and Ellie wouldn’t have been surprised if his eyes bulged. ‘We’re still married,’ he ground out.

‘That’s only a legality.’ Chris’s tone was mild, but Ellie could see the tension in his body and the way his fingers gripped his cap.

‘I came here to be with my wife, and would appreciate some privacy, if you don’t mind.’

‘Perhaps Ellie minds.’

Both men held each other’s gaze for a few more seconds, then turned to look at her. It was like being confronted by the headmistress when you knew you had to take the blame or rat on your friends – dead whichever way she went. Then anger bubbled up. She tossed the flowers to the end of the bed. ‘What about your girlfriend, Damien? How does she feel about this?’

Ooh, now that’s what I call an intriguing teaser. Murder, Mayhem and Men On Pause is available right now from Amazon. Grab your copy today!

 

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THIS WRITING LIFE: Hanging with my tribe!

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If you love romance, writing, or both, the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference is the RWA Get Fresh logoplace for you. Every year I come away with my head spinning from all I’ve learned, my heart warm from all the darling friends I’ve caught up with and the new ones I’ve made, and my body buzzing at all the exciting ways in which we can give our readers the best reading experience possible.

The 2015 conference, held recently at the glorious Park Hyatt in Melbourne, was no exception.

On a professional front, the highlights for me were Angela Ackerman’s Friday workshops Larger than Life Characters and Show Don’t Tell, CS Pacat’s How To Plot A Page Turner, Sarah Mayberry’s and Sara Hood’s Marketing Masterclass, and the ‘If I Knew Then What I Know Now’ published author panel. Social highlights? Well, let’s just say every day was a social highlight!

Here are a few happy snaps from the weekend. As you can see, there was plenty of laughter, great information, and even a few dress-ups.

COCKTAIL PARTYRWA Cocktail Party - Crowd

A happy crowd. You would not believe how loud it was.

RWA Cocktail Party - Christina Brooke, Denise Rossetti and Annie West

Christina Brooke, Denise Rossetti and Annie West.

RWA Cocktail Party - Harlequin Australia ladies

Harlequin Australia ladies Lilia Kanna and Michelle Lee looking gorgeous.

RWA Cocktail Party - Trish Morey and Marion Lennox

Trish Morey and Marion Lennox.

RWA Cocktail Party - Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie

Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie.

RWA Cocktail Party

Robin Aldridge and Fiona McArthur, both attending their TWENTY-FOURTH conference in a row. How cool is that!

RWA Cocktail Party - Michelle Conder. Annie West and Me

Michelle Conder, Annie West and me.

CONFERENCE

Angela Ackerman Workshop - collage of slides

Some of the slides from Angela Ackerman’s brilliant Friday workshops.

RWA Conference - Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti

Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti.

RWA Conference - Tricia Stinger and Cathryn Hein

Tricia Stringer and me.

CS Pacat's fantastic How To Plot A Page Turner - slide collage

C.S Pacat’s session on How To Plot a Page Turner was soooo good. Fantastic information.

RWA Conference - Maggie Le Page

New Zealand author Maggie Le Page, who won the guess the number of jelly beans competition, lucky thing.

Marketing Masterclass - slide collage

Some of the great slides from Sara Hood’s and Sarah Mayberry’s Marketing Masterclass session. The full set of slides from the presentation can be found on Sara’s Marketing4Writers website.

RWA Conference - my raffle prize

My raffle prize: martini glasses and two Sandy Curtis romantic suspense novels. Rah!

RWA Conference - morning tea

Morning tea. More loudness, but with cake.

ARRA BOOKSIGNING

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein

Me and Hot Chocolate the Blow Up Wonder Horse.

ARRA Booksigning - Meredith Appleyard

Meredith Appleyard.

ARRA Booksigning - Shannon Curtis

Shannon Curtis.

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Le Page

Maggie Le Page.

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein and Helene Young

Me and Helene Young.

ARRA Booksigning - Fiona Palmer

Fiona Palmer takes her books very seriously.

ARRA Booksigning - Anita Heiss

Anita Heiss, who I had the great pleasure of sitting next to.

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey

Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey.

ARRA Booksigning - fans lined up

Eager fans!

RWA GALA AWARDS DINNER

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - pre dinner drinks

Pre-dinner drinkies.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner

Celebrating all our achievements thanks to Anne Gracie’s stand-ups.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Ruby winner Amy Andrews

Ruby winner Amy Andrews received many lipsticky congratulations on her win.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Dance lessons

Dance lessons thanks to the Escape After Party.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Rachel Bailey and Annie West

Rachel Bailey and Ruby Award winner Annie West in the cocktail bar.

OTHER STUFF

RWA Book haul

My book haul! Although I may have read that bottom one a few times.

RWA Conference - cafe entertainment

Entertainment in the Hyatt’s cafe. Very civilised.

Melbourne - Yarra River

Melbourne looking pretty at night.

My huge thanks to Kate Ledsen, Kate Belle and their team, along with the RWA committee and all the volunteers for putting on such a wonderful conference. Very fresh indeed!

As you can see from the above, romance authors are super-savvy about their business and craft, generous with their time and expertise, and know how to have a good time. If you’re searching for your writing tribe, perhaps the RWA is the place for you. It certainly is for me.

 

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THIS WRITING LIFE: GenreCon 2013

Ahh, Brissy, what a warm and friendly city. And made even better by the staging a few weekends ago of GenreCon, the conference designed for that most excellent of authorly species, Genre Writers. I’ve been a quite a few Romance Writers of Australia conferences now and GenreCon was a lot like one of those, except it had men. A lively, lovely lot of them too. It also had, thanks to the irrepressible Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services, karaoke, an event from which my voice didn’t recover for a week. A week of gravel-throat and I didn’t even get to sing Dancing Queen or Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Although I did get hear editor and writer Patrick O’Duffy do the most amazing deep-voiced version of Total Eclipse of the Heart imaginable.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

 

Friday: The Start of Sleep Deprivation

 

Before karaoke and the conference proper, there was lunch on Friday at GOMA Restaurant with romance authors Amy Andrews, Anna Campbell, Keziah Hill, Rachael Johns, Bronwyn Parry, Helene Young and myself where much prosecco was drunk, rabbit terrines savoured, desserts drooled over, and happy birthday and Frocktober ditties sung. There may have also been unsubtle mention of the Penis Beaker Debate and He of the Mighty Wang (Amy Andrews’s fault). Personally, I think we added a nice splash of colour and noise to the restaurant although I’m not sure the staff would agree, but at least they were good sports about our rowdiness.

GOMA lunch ladies, left to right: Anna Campbell, Helene Young, Rachael Johns, me, Bronwyn Parry, Keziah Hill and Amy Andrews

L to R: Anna Campbell, Helene Young, Rachael Johns, me,  birthday girl Bronwyn Parry, Keziah Hill and Amy Andrews

Friday night was the opening night reception on the State Library of Queensland’s aptly named Queensland Terrace. Fantastic venue, partially open to the sub-tropical air and a great area in which to mingle, sip wine and eat naughty things.

Anne Gracie and Alex Adsett

Best-selling Regency romance author Anne Gracie and Alex Adsett

Anna Campbell, Lea Scott and Sandy Curtis

Regency romance superstar Anna Campbell with crime and thriller authors Lea Scott and Sandy Curtis

Rachael Johns and Dianne Blacklock

Good buddy and fellow rural romance author Rachael Johns with women’s fiction author and lovely lady Dianne Blacklock. Best-selling babes!

Amy Andrews and Sandy Curtis

Romance author Amy Andrews (and Penis Beaker Debate enabler) with Sandy Curtis

This was followed by a trek back to the bar at Rydges South Bank, the official conference hotel, then cabs into town to Fat Louie’s for some karaoke where so much silliness was had that this may become tradition. I hope so, although if next time anyone tries to make me sing Summer of ’69 again there will be reckoning…

Chuck Wendig in full karaoke throttle

Author and Terrible Minds blogger Chuck Wendig in full karaoke throttle. I have no idea what he was singing but by that time of night I’m not sure anyone did!

Saturday: Brain Awakenings

 

Saturday opened with the Power of Genre Fiction, featuring speeches by Anne Gracie, Kathryn Fox and John Birmingham to well and truly put us in the mood. I then attended Rule of Knowledge author Scott Baker’s Worth A Thousand Words workshop which I found brilliant. Scott has spent the last year working with Peter Jackson on the Hobbit films and was also a consultant in the film industry as well as lecturing at the Australian National University in digital video. How well he knows his stuff was shown in the booktrailers he made which are nothing like I’ve ever seen and, quite frankly, amazing.

Scott Baker

Rule of Knowledge author and booktrailer guru Scott Baker

In fact, this was such an interesting session that I’m considering writing a separate post on it, so stay tuned! After lunch I attended the Writing Fast workshop with Anne Gracie, Charlotte Nash and Anita Heiss, hosted by Denise Rossetti. Thank goodness for Anne making me feel semi-normal over my painful writing process, because Charlotte Nash’s super speedy production levels just left me feeling completely inadequate and even more depressed about my output. But you know what? We all have our processes. I’m slow and horribly pedantic, but I get there in the end. Time to stop beating myself up about it.

Denise Rossetti and Charlotte Nash

Award winning erotic romance author Denise Rossetti and Ryders Ridge author Charlotte Nash

Writing Fast was followed by What Writers Get Wrong with Helene Young, Kathryn Fox and Deborah Burrows. My take away from this was that if you don’t know something, then ask. People tend to be fascinated by this strange writing business and are usually delighted to help.

Helene Young

Award-winning romantic suspense author Helene Young, looking lovely as usual.

John Connolly In Conversation was the last Saturday session and it was funny and fascinating, with the auditorium completely charmed and engaged. One point John made that struck me enough to write down was: In genre fiction, it’s the characters the readers care about, and authors can and do make a living off this affection and investment in character. An important thing to remember when writing.

John Connolly in conversation

Internationally best-selling Irish author John Connolly in conversation

Dinner at Rydges was a great night with crackup author and Terrible Minds blogger Chuck Wendig entertaining the crowd with his 25 Reasons Why I F**king Love Genre Fiction followed by a Q&A with Escape Publishing’s Kate Cuthbert. And then, surprise-surprise, another, even later night gasbagging in the bar.

Listening to Chuck Wendig

Some of the rapt dinner crowd listening to Chuck Wendig

 

Sunday: Can We Do It Again?

 

Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services and karaoke organiser

Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services and karaoke organiser

Sunday’s Plenery Session was The Future of Genre Fiction, featuring agent and contract lawyer Alex Adsett, Leanpub’s Peter Armstrong, and author and academic Anita Heiss. Alex, seemingly unharmed and in good voice despite Friday night’s  karaoke-ing, gave a great overview of industry changes (including a handy tip about reversion clauses on print rights with digital deals), while Anita’s discussion about targetting her audience was equally thought-provoking.

Anita Heiss

Author and academic Anita Heiss

Peter Armstrong of Leanpub

Peter Armstrong of Leanpub

But it was Peter’s rundown of the history of genre fiction and serialisation which had my mind a-spinning and triggered an excellent discussion with good buddy and GenreCon roomie Rachael Johns as we headed back to the hotel to check out, and which so caught us up that we missed the next workshop. A bummer because by all accounts Beyond Rippling Muscles and Uzi 9mms was a hoot.

Amy Andrews, Rachael Johns and Dianne Blacklock looking mighty fine for a Sunday lunchtime.

Amy Andrews, Rachael Johns and Dianne Blacklock looking mighty fine for a Sunday lunchtime.

Post another excellent lunch (the food was fabulous at GenreCon!) I attended the Thinking Like A Pro workshop with John Connolly, Valerie Parv and Keri Arthur, followed by Know Thine Enemy with Chuck Wendig, PM Newton and Kathryn Fox. The fact that I stayed awake throughout both after an extremely late night proves how entertaining they were.

Thinking Like A Pro Workshop. L to R: Aimee Lindorff (Chair), Keri Arthur. John Connolly and Valerie Parv

Thinking Like A Pro Workshop. L to R: Aimee Lindorff (Chair), New York Times best-selling paranormal and urban fantasy author Keri Arthur, John Connolly and romance queen Valerie Parv

The Great Debate: Genre Just Wants To Have Fun was a blast. John Birmingham opened strongly with a story about a certain literary author’s pillow problems that had everyone laughing, only to be neatly countered by Anne Gracie with her “Paris” jibe.

And a new nickname is born: Anne Gracie giving John Birmingham her "Paris" dig

And a new nickname is born: Anne Gracie giving John Birmingham her “Paris” dig

Lindy Cameron and Dianne Blacklock (gorgeous lady!) put in sterling efforts but the negative side, with their brilliant goblin story and Scott Baker’s clever revisioning of The Raven, were just too strong. And so it was proven that genre doesn’t just want to have fun. Which could be said for all GenreCon attendees, I think. We had fling your arms in the air and sing it out, loud and proud fun, certainly. We had karaoke, great food, met lovely old friends and made gorgeous new ones, but thanks to a fantastic program, excellent speakers and plenty of opportunity to network, we also learned an enormous amount. And for that I can’t thank Peter Ball, Meg Vann and their team of ninjas enough.

A wonderful conference. I’ll be back in 2015 with bells on.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Sandy Curtis

Happy Friday, everyone. Are you ready for a gorgeous spring weekend? I know I am. Our computer carked it this week, so a trying time was had. Thank goodness for Friday Feast and delicious thoughts of food!

This week my guest is the utterly delightful Sandy Curtis. Now if you met Sandy, you’d probably think this petite Queenslander would write cosy mysteries or perhaps sweet romances, but no! Underneath that demure exterior lies a mind raging with murder and mayhem, passions and thrills, daring romance and most of all criiiiiiime.  Yes, indeedy. My mum always said it’s the quiet ones you need to watch out for…

Sandy’s latest release is Fatal Flaw. Check it out.

 

FATAL FLAW

 

Operative Mark Talbert’s father is murdered, the agency he works for has him hunting terrorists, and the only connection is the father of Julie Evans, his childhood friend. Mark realizes that Julie is what has been missing from his life, but the love that hits him with the force of the bullet that almost took his life creates an insurmountable problem.

Julie’s father has placed her in the hands of a terrorist determined to unleash horror on an unprepared city. She needs someone she can depend on, but can she trust Mark? He has come back into her life after thirteen years, a changed man from the idealistic youth she loved.

People are dying. People who seem to have nothing in common, until Mark discovers his father’s involvement in a decades-old crime. A killer is taking a calculated revenge. A revenge that threatens Mark, Julie, and Julie’s son. And the terrorists are making their final move.

 

Oof! I went all shuddery just reading that blurb, but I’m a complete sucker for a good crime novel and I bet you are too. So why not get your thrills from one of Australia’s best authors? Fatal Flaw can be purchased right now from Amazon Kindle or Clan Destine Press, where you’ll also find all of Sandy’s backlist.

Now here’s Sandy!

 

GOING TROPPO

 

Hello from sunny Queensland, Feasters. Well, I hope it’s sunny when you’re reading this or Rob’s and my getaway to four days and nights of relaxation at the Ramada Resort at Port Douglas in far north Queensland will be a disaster. We’ve been told the Wet Season shouldn’t start until the end of November, so fingers crossed.

I know I shouldn’t make you jealous, but I just have to share that this marvelous four days came about through a Hightide Holiday offer and it’s only costing $399.00! I just had to snap it up.

One of the great things about it is that I WON’T HAVE TO COOK. After being married for innumerable years and raising three children, the thought of having all meals cooked for me is as much my idea of heaven as the wonderful facilities the resort offers and the chance to explore the tropical Daintree region. There’s an ice-cream factory up there that uses all the beautiful tropical fruit in their ice-creams and I’ll have to sacrifice myself and do some sampling as we wander through The Orchard Walk and see the fruit growing. According to their brochure, the fruit of the Jackfruit tree can grow up to 46kg. I’ve warned Rob that if one drops down it will be like having me fall on him (but with no side benefits lol). If it falls on me there will be one less romantic suspense author in Australia 🙂

You’d think that with all this emphasis on delicious tropical fruit I would be offering you an exotic fruit-flavoured dish, but, sorry, I’m not. Most people love chocolate, and a lot of people love drinking Bundaberg Rum, so I’m offering a delicious combination of the two in my Chocolate Rum Pie recipe.

When I was first diagnosed as Coeliac (gluten intolerant), there was little gluten free food commercially available and what there was didn’t taste like anything I was used to. So I started experimenting by trying to adapt my usual recipes to gluten free. The disasters out-numbered the successes by a great margin. I learned a lot about how essential gluten is to keeping cakes and biscuits moist and not crumbling. I also learned that even dogs, no matter how hungry, won’t be tempted to devour a gluten-free disaster. Even birds seemed to view it as an indirect assassination attempt. But my chocolate rum pie recipe (adapted for ease of making over the years) never fails and is a great favourite.

Thanks, Cathryn, for inviting me to share this with your Feasters.

 

CHOCOLATE RUM PIE

Base:

Crush 2 packets of your choice of gluten-free biscuits (or any normal crunchy biscuit for non-Coeliacs) to crumbs and add enough melted marg/butter to moisten, mix well and press into a pie dish.

Refrigerate.

Filling:

Bring 2 cups of milk to the boil.

Mix 2 tablespoons of cornflour (White Wings is gluten free) with ¼ cup milk and pour into hot milk. Cook on low heat, continually stirring so lumps don’t form, until mixture thickens (I use the microwave as this doesn’t require as much stirring). Remove from heat.

Add 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Gently beat 3 egg yolks together and quickly stir into the mix.

Break 125g dark cooking chocolate into small pieces and put into mix and stir well until chocolate is melted and mixed in.

Dissolve 1 sachet (3 tablespoons) of gelatine in ¼ cup warm milk, making sure no lumps form, and add to mix.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes then stir in 2 tablespoons of Bundaberg rum (or any dark rum if you can’t get Bundaberg). Set mix aside to cool.

Beat the 3 egg whites until stiff. Gradually add 1 tablespoon of caster sugar. Mix should be stiff and glossy. Slowly add in the chocolate mix while stirring gently.

Pour into prepared pie dish and refrigerate. When set, serve with whipped cream and strawberries or just on its own.

 

Thanks, Sandy. What a pleasure it was to have you on Friday Feast. As for that recipe, all I can say is: WANT! Rum and chocolate? That’s sigh-inducing. And even better that it’s gluten-free. So important to consider these things, and just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it can’t also be delicious. I have a fantastic recipe for orange syrup cupcakes that is completely lip-smacking.

So, Feasters, any favourite hints or recipes for Coeliacs or those who prefer gluten-free tucker? Sandy and I (and many others) would love to hear your ideas.

Now, if you’d like to learn more about Sandy’s world, where crime and passion collide, please visit her website. You can also connect via Sandy’s blog, Facebook and Twitter.