Café Cala welcomes Sandra Antonelli

Hi Sandra, welcome to Café Cala,

Antonelli 1

It’s a pleasure to be here, Maggie. Thank you for having me.

It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I’m looking forward to reading Driving in Neutral now that I’ve finally bought myself a kindle. I’ve been making some special macadamia cookies this morning. I guess you’d like coffee with yours?

Am I THAT obvious?

1. Where did you get the idea for Driving in Neutral?

I met my husband in an elevator. It was a very tame meeting, unlike the elevator introduction of Olivia and claustrophobic Maxwell in Driving in Neutral. I like to call this book a love story about claustrophobia, wet hamsters, bizarre wedding cakes, and love, the scariest thing of all. I enjoy looking at the messy, scary aspects of love, so in the book I took that a little farther by looking at the messy aspects of fear itself. Claustrophobia may be terrifying, but love can be pretty terrifying too because it exposes a whole slew of anxieties hidden anxieties or anxieties you never realised you had.

2. What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

I’m really excited by the fact that someone other than a friend or critique partner is reading my story.

3 How did you start writing?

Probably in Grade 7, when I won a writing contest for a story about a detective who rescues a stolen painting. I wrote in high school too. I was even an editor for the school literary magazine and school newspaper, but I only started writing novels about 10 years ago.

4. What would you say has helped you most?

I have a very supportive husband. He makes my writing possible. Plus he keeps me in coffee.

5. What are you working on at the moment?

I have a number of things on tap. Cleaning House is a James Bond-ish homage of sorts that is a blend of romantic comedy and romantic suspense. Take Me I’m Yours, another rom com, questions the notions of family, responsibility, and love. It’s the third book in my Los Alamos series (the first two are A Basic Renovation and For Your Eyes Only). The third book, Next to You, is actually completed, but I am in the process of polishing it before I send it to my Editor. It’s a little darker than most of what I write, but still funny. Essentially, it’s about making assumptions and how appearances are deceiving. This backlog of stories is what happens when you spend 3 years doing a PhD.

6. What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Be persistent. Keep writing and reading—although, and I find this quite fascinating, one of my favourite writers, Elmore Leonard, said when he was writing he didn’t read fiction because he didn’t want to be influenced by someone else’s work. I understand that. My reading tends to drop off when I am writing.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?Elmore Leonard, Jo Goodman, Jenny Crusie, Amy Tan, Bill Bryson, Julie James, Rachel Gibson, Susan Elizabeth Philips, Ainslie Paton—she colours romance outside the lines and I like that—Sarah Paretsky, Nevada Barr… I could go on and on…

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Excerpt from Driving in Neutral

Dark chocolate cranberry almond crunch was the unusual flavor Olivia chose, but Emerson went with green apple. He liked the idea of ambling around the town square, window-shopping and eating ice cream cones, but the afternoon sun was too intense. The ice cream began melting faster than they could lick it. Milky trickles started to run over golden cones as soon as they exited Kenton’s ice cream shop.
They found a park bench beneath the shade of a maple tree and sat.
Olivia handed him a paper napkin. “Have you ever considered you might have anger management issues?” she said.
Emerson licked the join where the apple ice cream met the cone. “I think I manage my anger very well.”
“I can’t argue with that. You did a great job getting hostile back there in the jewelry store.”
“I wasn’t hostile.”
She clicked her tongue. “You practically used him as a stand in for Timmons. Do you miss your little whipping boy?”
“You know if you talked less and ate your ice cream faster, you wouldn’t have chocolate all over your knuckles.” He sneered, wrinkling his nose.
Olivia made a face back. “You’re like my brother. It’s taken him over fifty years to learn you don’t have to yell to get what you want.” She watched him bite the tail off his cone and suck ice cream through the end.
He smacked his lips and said, “Look at it this way. This is how I manage my anger. I get mad, speak my mind, and poof, it’s over. I’m relaxed and I’ve got what I want.”
“Of course, because you use dictatorial intimidation tactics.”
“This coming from the woman with the chocolate Hitler moustache. Good Lord, you’ve got ice cream all over your chin too.” He handed back the napkin she’d given him. “It must be good if you make that much of a mess.”
She wiped her mouth with the crumpled paper. “It’s very good. Want to try it?”
“Great, and when you’re back in Kenton’s can you get me another napkin?”
It took him a second of watching her lick a circle around her ice cream before he got it. “You mean I can’t try yours?”
“No. Go get your own.” She stuck out her tongue and turned the cone against it.
Emerson stared at her.
“What are you going to do, yell at me until I let you try mine? Holler until I submit?”
“Just for that, you have to go back into the jewelry store and face Mr. Twenty-first Century Hair Fantasy alone,” he said.
“Like I was going to let you come back in there with me.” She licked her ice cream again and then shook the cone at him. “There is no way that’s going to happen. You are going to sit here and wait.”
In one motion, Emerson grabbed her wrist and yanked her close, sliding her across the bench until she was just a few inches from his chest. “I may employ a bit of intimidation…” He drew her closer and watched her lips part, her eyes widen. The heel of her hand pressed into his breastbone to push him away. The conductive energy of her touch shocked through him, but before she shoved him away, his head dipped. His mouth closed over her ice cream. Cone and all stuck out of his mouth for a moment like a strange, misplaced Pinocchio nose and he swallowed the semi-frozen blob, pulled the empty, sugary cone from his mouth, and finished his words with his sinus cavity smarting from the rush of cold, “…but at least I’m not a control freak like you.”
Olivia’s insides had dissolved into a warm little pond.

Twitter: @sandrAntonelli
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Café Cala welcomes Susanne Bellamy

Hi Susanne, Welcome to Café Cala,

susanne bellamy1

It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I’m looking forward to reading Engaging The Enemy, now that I’ve finally bought myself a kindle. I’ve been making some savoury muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Always tea in the morning! Do you have Earl Grey please?

I most certainly do.

1 Where did you get the idea for Engaging the Enemy?

Ideas pop ino my head at odd moments, often when I’m travelling and away from home.This one came during my first tram ride in Melbourne. An abandoned red brick building slid across my view and that became the germ of “One building. Two would-be owners, and a family feud that spans several generations.”


Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.
But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.
But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

Rewards in my writing life are readers’ appreciation of my work. Readers who have read and liked my stories and have left a review mean a great deal to me. They make me want to give them more. One of the loveliest comments was from a reader who read my latest book, loved it and was sad that she’d have to wait several months until my next one was ready. That’s motivation to get the next one written!

3 How did you start writing?

It began as a challenge I set myself. While my husband was in Nepal for his fourth trekking trip, I challenged myself to write a full length novel. That resulted in White Ginger which finalled in the RWA’s Emerald Award in 2011 and a publishing contract.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

Friendships with other writers and the information and services offered by the RWA. I’ve always been a reader; I can’t remember a time when I haven’t read and I think a lifetime of absorbing structure, characters and wonderful tales set me up for this career.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve headed to Nepal as the setting for my next story, a romantic suspense and the first book in a series. Tentatively titled Her Mountain Man, it’s about drugs and the search for an aphrodisiac! I travelled in Nepal years ago with my husband; he’s since returned a number of times and is my source of current information and attitudes!

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Aside from the obvious—you can’t edit a blank page—get a critique partner or three, join a writing group (real or virtual), and enter competitions; feedback is invaluable and necessary. It’s difficult to be objective about your own work.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

There are a number of authors whose work I automatically buy as soon as it releases; Anna Campbell has just released her third Sons of Sin book and the wait for What a Duke Dares has been so long. I love historical books from all ages but I particularly love witty repartee and the Regency era feeds this addiction! I also love contemporaries and buy Annie West, Annie Seaton, Rachel Bailey and many others as soon as they hit the shelves. If a story is well written and the characters engaging, I’ll read across most genres.


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With A Hip Hop Hippie To The Hip Hop

With A Hip Hop Hippie To The Hip Hop

I’ve been tagged by a fellow Sunshine Coast writer, Cassandra L Shaw, in an Author Blog Hop.


Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CassandraLShaw, or visit her website at

So here are the questions Cassandra sent through to me and my answers:

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing a book called The Dreamcatcher set on the Oregon Coast. It’s the second book in my Oregon Cost series. The first, The Sand dollar will be released in October/November. It tells the story of Jenny who, stunned by news of an impending redundancy, and impelled by the magic of a long forgotten sand dollar, retreats to her godmother in Oregon to consider her future. What she doesn’t bargain for is to uncover the secret of her birth. The revelation sees her embark on a journey of self-discovery such as she’d never envisaged. The Sand Dollar is a story of new beginnings, of a woman whose life is suddenly turned upside down and the reclusive man who helps her solve the puzzle of her past.
The Dreamcatcher follows Ellen, a minor character in The Sand Dollar. Ellen is a Native American bookshop owner who has the gift of being able to foretell the future, but is at a loss to explain her recent nightmares and the uncanny premonition she experiences one morning outside her shop when a dark cloud obscured the sun and she shivers with a sense of foreboding. When this is followed by the arrival in her life of an old friend of her brother, she links the two. However, there are other surprises in store and Ellen has a difficult journey ahead of her before all is resolved.

Give the beginning on your WIP as an excerpt?

It was a typical spring day in Florence, Oregon. A fine mist covered the river, a sharp breeze was blowing up, and rain wasn’t far away. Ellen stood outside her bookshop, The Reading Nook, and examined the window setting with a critical eye. Weak sunlight sparkled on the cobweb-fine threads and feathers in the dreamcatcher hanging from the top of the window. She’d made it the focus of the display for the Native American fantasy books, much loved by the local youth. Ellen sighed and fingered her long plait of black hair streaked with grey, as a gust of wind blew the tails of her shirt. Gazing at the dreamcatcher, she wished she could catch her good dreams and dismiss the recent nightmares. The display would have to do. She didn’t have time to tweak it any further this morning. Turning away, she became conscious of a dark cloud obscuring the sun, and shivered with a sense of foreboding.
After walking back inside, Ellen lit the scented candle she always kept behind the counter, breathed in the calming aroma of bergamo and geranium, and set to unpacking and sorting a carton of books which had arrived the previous day. She’d hoped to lure the author featured in her display to a book signing, but his publisher had replied that Peter Travers wasn’t doing any signings in the foreseeable future. Ellen was in the process of setting up the inside display, when she heard the familiar clang of the door.
‘You Ellen?’
Ellen nodded and examined the man who had entered. Accustomed to meeting most men’s eyes, she had to raise her head to meet his steely blue ones. Tall and broad shouldered, wearing a soft dun coloured, fringed suede jacket, the man’s faded blonde hair was tied back in a shoulder length pony tail. A scruffy goatee and unkempt moustache completed the picture. He slouched in the entrance, filling the doorway. His neck was festooned with the turquoise jewellery usually only worn by members of her own Native American community, but his Nordic looks indicated he didn’t belong to one of the local tribes. His ancestry hailed from much farther away. All of this must have passed through her mind in an instant, because the man was speaking.
‘Ron’s sister?’ he asked.
Ellen nodded again. What had her brother been up to now? And who on earth was this guy pretending to be a Native American? She had come across a few wannabees in her life and had no time for them. They had no understanding of the profound history of her people. They were an insult to all she held dear.

How is your work different from others?

I write about the more mature woman – women in their prime. In Band of Gold. Anna is in her late forties, in The Sand Dollar, Jenny is in her late fifties and in The Dreamcatcher, Ellen is in her fifties too. I believe that older women and the events which impact on their lives are often ignored in literature. Life for older women presents similar and different challenges to their younger counterparts. They still look for a HEA, but theirs may include stepchildren – even teenage stepchildren – and ex partners with their attendant issues.

And now I’m tagging my fellow Sunshine Coast Author, Sarah Belle, author of Hindsight, and Miss Spelled both of which combine Magic Realism with Romantic Comedy.

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You’ll find Sarah’s blog on Monday Sept 8th – don’t forget to pop in and say hi and see which author she’s tagged.

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.

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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 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.


Sarah’s’s Bio

Sarah Belle started her professional life in the hospitality industry, working in some of the roughest hotels in Melbourne in the late Eighties, surrounded by drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and undercover police. Tiring of the inherent dangers of her working environment, Sarah completed a business degree and went on to work in the recruitment industry and the Department of Defence, where she met and married the man of her dreams: a dashing, Army Blackhawk pilot. They have four young sons and live on the beautiful Queensland coast, where Sarah’s days are spent being a frazzled mum, writer, Bikram Yoga devotee and the only woman in a house of five males.