Category Archive: About Me

  1. Just in case you’re new…

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    Hello! First up, I have to apologize for letting my little blog gather dust the last few months. The start of 2016 has been a busy one and I’ve been plagued with some health issues that have sucked up what little energy has been left over after meeting my deadlines. But I’ve missed posting here and would like to make it more of a regular thing. So, here we are.11891251_1659466744266787_7880075496173469026_n

    To get back into the blogging spirit I thought it might be fun to do a ‘getting to know me’ type post. Kind of a Stefanie London 101 in terms of me as a person and as an author.

    If you’re new, hello! If you’re returning, then welcome back. Thanks for being awesome.

    I’m Stefanie, author, caffeine addict, collector of lipsticks. Owner of stuffed llamas. I’m an Aussie gal who managed to survive the Australian wildlife for thirty years before moving to Toronto, Canada. After working in Human Resources, Change Management, Communications, Retail, and Makeup Artistry, I gave it all up to pursue writing full time. I honestly think it’s the best job in the world and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

    I grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie, R.L.Stine and Sweet Valley High books until I eventually started ‘borrowing’ books from my mother’s shelf. I didn’t develop a strong appreciation for romance until I got married and decided I wanted to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a published author. When trying to figure out what I wanted to write, I gravitated to romance because I’ve always been interested in people. And what is romance about, if not people? (well, there’s shifters and aliens and the like, but you know what I mean!)

    Aside from my love of books I’m a fan of anything zombie-related, I love playing board games (my current fave is Agricola!) and I have a newly developed appreciation for baseball.

    Want to know more? Here’s some rapid fire info:

    • I live with my husband and our best friend/roomie, we’re all Aussies and we’re very loud when watching the baseball.
    • I studied ballet from the ages of 5 until 16 when I had to give it up due to ankle injuries and tendinitis. I continued to dance other styles until I was 20.
    • I miss Australian coffee SO MUCH. But I love poutine. Also, Canada does grilled sandwiches very well…I appreciate that.
    • I’m really clumsy (clearly all that money my parents invested in my ballet classes didn’t give me any grace or balance. Sorry Mum!). In fact, to ‘do a Stef’ in our household means to walk into an open cupboard door. Yes, it happens often enough that we have a name for it.
    • I got glasses and braces in the same week when I was fourteen. I have never grown out of the awkwardness.

    So, what’s the deal with your books?

    I write sexy contemporary romances, this means there are ‘on screen’ love scenes with descriptive language (and I love me some descriptive language haha!) All my books have a ‘happy ever after’ and generally can be read as standalone, even when in a series. Not sure where to start? Here are some recommendations:

    The USA Today Bestselling series!! Behind the Bar (Entangled Lovestruck) – sexy romantic comedies

    Paul and Des Chapman are the sexy brothers you’ve been looking for! These sexy Italian-Australian brothers run a bar  and make a lot of mischief on the road to finding love. The series is currently two books in (with two more hopefully on the way).

    Read this series if: you want a light-hearted, ‘warm and fuzzy’ series with plenty of laughs.

    Start here: The Rules According to Gracie (Behind The Bar #1) and Pretend It’s Love (Behind the Bar #2)

    The Dangerous Bachelors Club (Harlequin Blaze) – super steamy romance with a touch of mystery

    The men who work for Cobalt & Dane Security are here for your protection (and pleasure!) This series has ex-cops, former FBI officers and sexy computer geeks.  It’s steamier than my other works, but there’s still plenty of emotion and each book has a satisfying HEA.

    Read this series if: you like a little mystery and light suspense mixed in with your romance.

    Start here: A Dangerously Sexy Christmas (Dangerous Bachelors Club #1) and A Dangerously Sexy Affair (Dangerous Bachelors Club #2)

    Still not sure? Short on time? Try a low commitment option.

    Loving the Odds is a fun, sexy novella set at a Vegas romance genre convention. It’s not linked to any of my other series and you can pick up a copy for only 99c!

    Or, if you fancy something totally for free, I have my small town romance, A Kiss in Kite Harbor, available as a free gift for newsletter subscribers.

    Want to see where I work?

    Check out this video I made a few months back where I give you a tour of my work space.

    That’s all for today’s post! I hope you enjoyed this little look into me and my books. If you have any questions that you’d like me to answer, please feel free to contact me.

  2. The Accent Tag | Australia / Melbourne

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    Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I filmed a video, things have been very busy around the London household. But I’m back today with a fun tag video, where I read a bunch of words and answer a few questions in my Australian accent…I also get totally stuck on the pronunciation of aluminum.

  3. I’m on YouTube!

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    Hi everyone. So, I’ve taken a plunge and put a little more of myself on the internet…I promise it’s not as creepy as it sounds.

    I’ve been wanting to start a YouTube channel for a while, so I finally plucked up the courage and did it! This is my first video and it’s a short introduction to me as a person and writer. Watch out for a little guest appearance from my favorite llama at the end ;)

  4. Release Day! A Day In The Life…

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    It release day for my new novella, The Rules According to Gracie! I’m so excited.

    Let’s all take a moment to admire the GORGEOUS cover….

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    Sigh. It’s perfect.

    Release day is one of the most exciting things an author gets to experience in their career. I’ll be honest, it can be darn frightening too! Will people love the new book? Will the connect with heroine and fall in love with the hero? Will the feel satisfied when they get to the HEA?

    To celebrate The Rules According to Gracie being released into the big, wide world I thought I would share what a typical day looks like when I’m writing. Back when I wrote this book I was still working full time in an office, but now I’m lucky enough to have scaled back to split my time between writing and working for MAC Cosmetics (which you might know if you’ve seen my makeup shots on Instagram).

    So what happens on a day when I’m writing?

    8am – I usually get up around this time (after my husband has left for work) and I start my day off with a cup of coffee or tea. It might not be the best habit but coffee makes me a better person. Trust me.

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    Coffee always tastes better out of a pretty cup!

    8:30am – time to check on my emails that have come in overnight. Since my family, friends and people I deal with are scattered all around the world, I often get emails while I’m sleeping. This is also a great time to check Facebook, Twitter and watch a few sneaky YouTube videos while I have breakfast.

    10am – Housework. Yep, it’s a pain in the butt. But I find setting aside a little time to do it each day stops it from piling up.

    11am – Non-writing writing work. This means working on promotions, checking in with other writer friends, looking at reviews, writing blog posts for my blog or the two blogs I’m a regular at (check out LoveCats DownUnder and The Pink Heart Society). I also use this time to do any critique work for my wonderful critique partner, Lauren.

    12:30pm – Lunch! I make lunch and usually eat at my desk (I know, I know….it’s a bad habit) and watch more YouTube videos or I keep working if I’m super flat out.

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    Hmmmm delicious Pho

    1:30pm – Time to start writing. I love listening to instrumental music while I write and I recently discovered the Vitamin String Quartet who do wonderful remakes of famous songs. I think all those years of studying ballet have made me love instrumental and classical music.

    4pm – More coffee. More writing.

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    Om nom nom

    6:00pm – Time to start dinner!

    7:30pm – Once we’ve had dinner I love to indulge in a little couch time with my husband. We’re currently watching Modern Family from the first season as well as Brooklyn Nine-Nine (I LOVE  Andy Samberg) and we’ll be finishing How To get Away with Murder when it finally comes back on.

    9pm – Time to have a shower and change into PJs! I try to read every night for an hour or so before I go to bed, but sometimes I come back to my desk and keep working if I feel extra inspired.

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    My PJs have legwarmers on the bottom just in case I need to bust out some moves in the bedroom…mind out of the gutter people!

    Each day is a little different depending on what I have going on. But I can easily say that spending my days writing and interacting with other authors and readers is the best job in the world!

    There are so many people who’ve contributed to helping me find my way as a writer and to reaching this point. A big thanks to all my wonderful writerly friends, to the fantastic people at Entangled for publishing The Rules According to Gracie and to my wonderful family.

    The biggest thanks for all goes to my wonderful husband for keeping me sane and believing in me at every turn. You make me happy beyond anything I could have ever hoped for <3

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  5. How writing changed my life…

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    With the move to Canada being only two sleeps away, I wanted to share my experiences around the impact writing has had on my life.

    For anyone who’s ever been labelled a ‘good girl’ would know, playing by the rules (other people’s rules) can sometimes be a suffocating and unrewarding experience. I’ve been following the rules my entire life.

    I always did well at school, I studied what I was told was the ‘sensible choice’ and I worked hard to get a career in what I thought was the ‘right thing to do’. Nearly seven years later I was burnt out, unhappy in my job and feeling that my creativity was all but extinguished. Except I was still the ‘good girl’ – I performed well, was rewarded and was chasing a promotion because I thought that’s what I should be doing.

    Then I started writing.

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    No matter how stressful my work day, no matter how unsatisfied I felt, sitting down to write made me feel free. I’ve had a lot of people ask how I manage to fit writing in while working a full time job, running a house etc. The answer is that I love it so much I simply can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. When Harlequin called me in December 2013 to offer me a two-book contract I was in shock. I’d been told that hardly anyone sells their first manuscript, I’d been told that it could take years to get a publisher to pick up my work. It took seven months from the time I submitted.

    Now, I don’t say this to brag. I say this to encourage aspiring authors. You CAN do it. I started the same way many writers do: with a passion for reading and a desire to tell a story. I don’t have any qualifications in creative writing, I don’t come from a family of writers. I just sat down and started with Chapter One.

    Now,  I have three books coming out with Harlequin Mills and Boon and I’ve recently signed a contract for a novella with Entangled Publishing. I’m also moving to Canada with my husband. I’ve quit my day job and I’m going to concentrate on my writing for the next two years. Sure, I’ll still have to work a part time job for a little financial certainty. But my work won’t be my first priority, my writing will be.

    I had to stop being a ‘good girl’ and start being me.

    I was lucky enough to work with an incredible mentor in my office job over the last few years. She told me that I needed to stop apologising for going after the things that I want. I listened to her, and it was possibly the best thing I’ve ever done. If it wasn’t for my writing I would never have had the confidence in myself to break away from what I thought I should be doing. Now, I’m about to embark on a scary and exciting new life adventure, all because I sat down one day and let the words flow.

    Someone asked me recently what steps I took to make these changes and there’s no real easy answer to that. It was a multitude of factors, but the following is a list of things that I felt were key in helping me get to the point where I could go after what I wanted:

    • Firstly, I needed to let go of the idea that my family would be disappointed in me if I chose an alternative path in life. Their love for me isn’t defined by my professional success, though it was a thought that had held me back because me parents had paid for my schooling, helped me through university etc.
    • I had to zero in on what was most important to me and be honest about it. Was making a lot of money important or was the chance to have a creative, fulfilling job more important? It’s easy to say ‘money doesn’t matter’ but I was giving away a very well paying job and this impacted no only me but my husband. We still have to pay the bills at the end of the day.
    • That leads me to my third point, I had to talk it out with my husband. It was a decision that affected us both. He needed to be involved.
    • I had to ask myself if I truly believed I could do it. This wasn’t an easy question to answer, I’ve never been a super confident person and over the years I’ve doubted my ability on many things. But I wasn’t going to take a leap unless I could look myself in the eye and say ‘I believe in you’
    • I was willing to deal with the challenges of someone following their dream: being self-reliant, dealing with people who are not as happy for you as you expect, dealing with people who criticize your choice/what you write/how you live your life. It’s all worth it to do what makes me happy.

    I don’t know how helpful that is because I didn’t really ‘do’ anything. The steps leading up to making the switch were more emotional/mental changes rather than physical ones, but they were big changes and I couldn’t be happier.

  6. On the move – goals

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    Many of you will already (if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter) that I’m about to make a huge change in my life. I’m moving from my hometown of Melbourne all the way across the other side of the world to Toronto.

    I wasn’t sure it was possible to feel equal parts terrified and excited, but both are dialed up to eleven right now! I’m leaving in less than two weeks… *cue nail biting*

    But then I look at pictures like this and I know I’m making the right move.

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    There’s so much world out there to see and I’ve really only scratched the surface. My husband and I bought our house at a very young age and so we missed out while all our friends were backpacking around Europe and doing Contiki Tours. Now it’s time for us to do a little exploring.

    Here are some of the things I plan to do while living overseas:

    • Have a white Christmas! It will be so nice to have a roast Christmas lunch while it’s cold outside
    • Celebrate Thanksgiving and eat all of the pumpkin-flavoured things (Pumpkin Pie here I come!)
    • See Niagara Falls
    • Go to the following places in Canada and the USA: New York, Alaska, Washington, Montreal, Banf, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Disneyland
    • See Ice Hockey, Baseball and Curling games
    • Drive (just to experience driving on the other side of the road)
    • Try all the cultural pockets in Toronto (Chinatown, Little India, Little Portugal etc)

    Just to name a few…

    Right now I’m trying to figure out what to take and what to leave behind (which is a lot considering I am only take two suitcases with me!) Have you ever moved overseas before? What was the most exciting thing for you?

  7. Writers Conferences for Introverts

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    In a few short weeks I will be heading to the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference. Last year I was a conference virgin, this year I hope to return a little more experienced, a little less nervous, and be able to keep my fangirling in check. The last one may or may not happen. There’s only one problem with conferences: I, like many writers, am an introvert. Introvert-extrovert   When I use #hermitlife on Twitter I do it without irony. I built a corporate career on my ability to appear confident and in-control, but I can promise you it’s all a lie. Meeting new people scares the crap out of me, big crowds…no thanks. Social events need to come with a life raft, in my opinion. So, if you’re coming to conference for the first time (or even if you’re a seasoned conference-goer but you struggle with the social aspects) here are a few tips that helped me last year:

    • Find someone to meet up with (my version of a life raft). It might be someone you chat with on FB or Twitter, someone from your writers group. Having a designated person to meet can help make ease the stress of day 1 jitters. This person can be your ‘conference buddy’ but don’t let them be the only person you speak to.
    • Promise yourself that you’ll make at least one new acquaintance. It’s scary, but I put myself out of my comfort zone last year and met some absolutely incredible people (Eden Summers, I’m talking about you!)
    • Find someone who is standing by themselves looking as awkward as you do and say hello. Chances are they’ll be grateful that you took the pressure off them having to make the first move.
    • Smile.
    • Approach an author you love and tell them which of their books if your favourite. Trust me, this never goes down badly.
    • Introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you at a workshop, you’re both there for the same reason so it should be easy to make conversation.
    • Make use of the Friday costume cocktail party, we’re all dressed up and it’s an easy conversation starter. Wear a mask if it makes you feel more comfortable.
    • Talk about books. That’s why you’re all there, it’s the best topic of conversation because aspiring romance writers are often voracious readers and even the most introverted writer will get fired up about their favourite book.
    • Relax. It’s not life or death. Take a break in your hotel room if you feel overwhelmed, call your husband/boyfriend/bestie/Mum if you need to. Then get back out there.

    If you’re coming along to RWAus14 this year and you see a girl with a stuffed Llama, that’s me. Come and say ‘hi’ and I promise I won’t bite. More than likely I’l be working up the guts to go and chat to someone myself.

  8. The Support Factor & giving thanks

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    I want to ask you a personal question and it’s nothing to do with your sex life. or how much you earn. I want to ask you something even more personal than that.

    Have you told yourself that you’re not good enough today? Have you told yourself that you’re a failure? Have you decided not to do something because you’re scared?

    If you have you’re not alone. I did it as well.

    I thought about turning down a job because I was worried I wasn’t good enough to do it. This was after they’d offered me the job.

    Even after an editor has not only said ‘yes’ to publishing my book but offered me contracts for two more, I have a crippling fear that I am not good enough to be an author. I constantly question the things that I write, whether the ideas are unique enough, whether anyone will want to read my book, whether I’m going to be able to cope when I get a horrible 1-star review.

    My understanding through talking to others is that this lack of confidence is not uncommon in women, particularly for sensitive, creative types like writers. I see brilliant women cut themselves down, belittle their talents and generally talk to themselves the way that no one should ever talk to another human being, let alone themselves. Why?

    Unfortunately I don’t have an answer for why this happens. All I can do is share how I’ve managed to get the confidence to continue writing, submitting, going for promotions at work and generally doing other stuff that scares the sh*t out of me.

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    This is an actual photo from my wedding – my sister (who hates public speaking) gave an impromptu speech about our wonderful friendship and I grabbed her hand because I knew she was probably terrified. I’m so glad the photographer was there to capture this moment, the photo was completely unplanned.

    Want to know my secret? I’ve learned to ask for support.

    I have people in my life who are supportive, who don’t think my dreams are crazy and who are willing not only to help, but are also happy to put up with me when I have a meltdown about the impossibility of it all. They’re a shoulder to cry on, they give me a kick up the butt when I need it (I can thank my husband for this one), they tell me the truth about my work, they clap their hands when I achieve and sometimes they just leave me the heck alone (also, a big thanks to my husband for this one.)

    But I have had to ask for this support. This has not been easy, I dislike asking for things because I question whether or not I deserve what I’m asking for.

    One thing I’ve realised is that people are almost always willing to help if you reach out. Sometimes we have to remember that we can be our harshest critics, and that others are a lot kinder to us than we are to ourselves.

    I guess what I’m trying to say (in my usual rambling fashion) is that you’re not alone. You can ask for help, you do deserve support and success, and most importantly yes, you are good enough.

    Don’t hesitate to ask a question of another writer over Twitter or Facebook or email, don’t think that you’re too early (or too late) in your journey to join a writer’s group/attend a conference/submit your work. Don’t let your fear stop you from working towards your dream. You can do it.

    On that note, here are a few people I would like to thank:

    My husband – for everything from doing the dishes, to putting up with my cranky editing-cave BS, to letting me ugly cry when I need it.

    My family – my little sister for being a shining beam of positive throughout my entire life, to Mum for reading my very first manuscript and telling me it was wonderful, for Dad for being so proud and showing me that real men have emotions.

    Nan and Nonno – although you’re no longer here I feel your influence like a comforting blanket. Thank you for teaching me so much in the time I had with you both. It could never have been enough time.

    The ladies at MRWG – you guys rock! I am so eternally grateful for the support, encouragement and belief you have given me…and also for all the chocolate rewards.

    Violet – my friend, beta-reader, BS detector and eradicator of single tears and chin tilts. Thank you for your unwavering honesty and enthusiasm.

    Lauren and Kari  – two gorgeous ladies who’ve critiqued my work with gentleness, care and enthusiasm. I’m hanging out to watch you both get published.

    These wonderful Australian romance writers whose work and attitude has inspired me to no end – Anna Campbell, Annie West, Anne Gracie, Louise Reynolds, Rachel Bailey, Eden Summers, Madeline Ash, Rachel Johns, Amy Andrews, Nicola Marsh and many, many others.

    I know it’s hard to put yourself out there, it’s hard to believe you’ll get to where you want to be. But you can, and there are always people to help you no matter how alone you feel.

  9. Romance Llama + 10 Random Facts

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    If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that yesterday I posted a rather random picture of myself with a stuffed Llama. I love Llamas… and not in a random I love Lamp kind of way. The Emperor’s New Groove is, in my humble opinion, a highly underrated movie and if asked what animal I would most like to own, I would always say Llama. Random fact: the annoying catchy and amusingly meaningless Llama song (warning: earworm ahead) is actually older than YouTube. Anyhow, when my husband decided that he wanted to get some something to celebrate the sale of my first novel he came home with this little guy…

    Meet Roamnce LlamaMeet Romance Llama

    I’ve decided to make Romance Llama the mascot of this blog and, in a similar tradition to travelling garden gnome prank, Romance Llama will make regular appearances here and on Instagram  and Tumblr. Also, in the spirit of randomness here are 10 random facts about me…besides my love of Llamas:

      1. I’ve worn glasses since I was 14 years old. I was declared short-sighted and prescribed glasses on the very same week that I got braces…talk about an ugly duckling phase!
      2. Both sides of my family immigrated to Australia in the past two generations – my paternal grandparents are originally from Italy and my mother was born and raised in London, England.
      3. I used to write and illustrate my own books as a kid, my mother still has one that I produced in my first year of primary school…it was about cats. I’m not a cat person.
      4. My favourite author of all time is Agatha Christie, and my goals is to find a copy of every book she ever wrote. Of all those I’ve read so far Death on the Nile is my favourite.
      5. I wasn’t able to eat anything with cocoa in it as a child, so I grew up on white chocolate. Even now that I can eat regular chocolate, white chocolate is my favourite.
      6. I’m so pale that I can get burnt through a car windscreen if I’m driving on a sunny day. As such, I almost never go to the beach.
      7. I have an agreement with my husband that if Jason Statham ever propositioned me, I would be allowed a ‘day pass’ with no hard feelings.
      8. I was an avid dancer growing up and I studied ballet, tap, jazz and other types of dance from the age of 5 until I was 23. Unfortunately, due to severe tendonitis and troubles with my ankles, I was never able to dance en pointe and I suffered many injuries over the years.
      9. I once was a cheerleader at a Melbourne Storm rugby league game at the Telstra Dome (now Etihad stadium) in Melbourne.
      10. Aside from my business degree, I have a Certificate II in makeup artistry and worked as a wedding makeup artist for a number of years. I did my own makeup for my wedding and still do makeup for friends and family’s special occasions.

    I hope you enjoyed meeting Romance Llama and finding about a little more about me. I’m planning to put up some Q&A on this site, so if there’s anything you like to know please feel free to leave a comment below or ask a question via Tumblr.

  10. Have you always loved romance books?

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    I’ve noticed a recurring them when reading romance bloggers and author’s websites recently. Quite a few of these die-hard romance story lovers have admitted to distancing themselves from the genre at one point, some even saying they dismissed the genre in favour of more ‘literary’ works for a period of time.

    I also went through this stage, for quite a number of years in fact. After falling in love with romance novels during my teens, by the time I’d graduated high school I felt that I should be reading books with more ‘substance’ and thus I shunned the romance genre for almost a decade.

    I think this was a misguided attempt to appear worldly, in a time when I was young and trying to figure out my way in life. I think it was also due to the shock of leaving high school (where I breezed through school) and entering a more adult world, where I was accountable for myself. I felt like literary books were more ‘grown up’ and thus, a better choice for someone trying to appear smart and successful.

    Almost ten years later I’m a lot more comfortable in myself and have moved back into loving the romance genre. Although I am ribbed, by people in my life, for my love of Mills and Boon books on a fairly regular basis.

    I’m curious, have you ever shied away from the romance genre?