The Day Before the Coming of the Thirty-one Days of Halloweeenie

eekclown

Yes, we clowns want to kill you.

Remember how last month and the month before I was all in your face with phobias and other irrational fears, and how so many of you were irrationally afraid of spiders and clowns, because everyone knows clowns are made of pancake makeup and pure evil?

FrankenBrideBud

The Bride of FrankenBud

You may recall that I like to write about fear, especially when it comes to falling in love.  Perhaps you’ll also recall how the previous 75 Days of Phobias series theme highlighted a cavalcade of horrors ranging from clowns, antique jewellery (because you just know it’s cursed), the dark, sharks, lighthouses, and aprons. Starting Tomorrow, 1 October,  it’s gonna be a (mostly) Clown-free Freaky Festival o’ Facts, Fun, Frankenstein, FrankenBud, Frankenbrides (like Ella in Driving in Neutral), and Fear, finishing on Friday 31 October.

candycornkid

I am delicious!

I play with fear a lot in Driving In Neutral and For Your Eyes Only. October continues with that theme of terror because, you know, it ends with Halloween, and it’s only 31 days long, and has clowns, things that go BOO, Reese’s Peanut Butter items, and candy corn is involved. And candy corn, as you are well aware, is delicious.

Join me and my guests for a little friggin’ fun. There will be coffee, cookies, candy corn (if I can find any Down Under) giveaways, treats, and maybe even a couple of tricks. Oh, YEAH MAMA!Sandrabooks

BEWARE! The Thirty-One Days of Halloweenie is COMING!

punkinbud

PunkinBudman

Remember how last month and the month before I was all in your face with phobias and other irrational fears?

I play with fear a lot in Driving In Neutral and For Your Eyes Only. October continues with that theme of terror because, you know, it ends with Halloween and it’s only 31 days long, and has Reese’s Peanut Butter items and candy corn involved.

supercreepweenie

How creepy is this kid?

You may recall that I like to write about fear, especially when it comes to falling in love, but perhaps you’ll also recall how the previous 75 Days of Phobias series theme’ highlighted that the two things that freak y’all out the most are spiders and CLOWNS! Starting This Wednesday, it’s gonna be a (mostly) Clown-free Freaky Festival o’ Facts, Fun, Frankenstein, FrankenBud, Frankenbrides (like Ella in Driving in Neutral) and Fear, finishing on Friday 31 October.

Join me for a little friggin’ fun. There will be coffee, cookies, giveaways, treats, and maybe even a couple of tricks. Oh, YEAH MAMA!

Sandrabooks

A Day in the Writing Life of Sandra Antonelli– That’s Me

I bet you’re ALL so desperate to know about a day in my writing life. Hands up. Who thinks cookies and coffee play a part? Hop on over to the RWAus blog and see more and find out if you’re right.

Let’s give a good coffee fuelled morning to Sandra Antonelli, whose book Driving in Neutral is out now!

Antonelli pink sweaterIn one or two sentences, please tell us what genre you write in and what made you decide that particular one is your calling.
I write contemporary, smart-assed romantic comedy for grown ups who aren’t really very grown up at all, which is due to my smartassed nature. Although, I do have a dark side…

Romance Writers of Australia

Let’s give a good coffee fuelled morning to Sandra Antonelli, whose book Driving in Neutral is out now!

Antonelli pink sweaterIn one or two sentences, please tell us what genre you write in and what made you decide that particular one is your calling.
I write contemporary, smart-assed romantic comedy for grown ups who aren’t really very grown up at all, which is due to my smartassed nature. Although, I do have a dark side…

What time of the day do you write? Are you a morning, night-owl or anytime writer?
I get most of my writing done from 8am to 1 pm, at the office I manage. I got in this habit when I was working on my PhD in romance fiction. Basically, I have three jobs, I manage the psychology practice we own, I write romance fiction, and make my husband lunch. I have a lovely view of swaying palms…

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Visiting Cafe Cala with Maggie Christensen CHAMPION OF WOMEN!

Maggie-Peregian-260x300I dropped by Maggie Christensen’s Cafe Cala to report on what condition my condition was in.  Maggie is:

An author of contemporary fiction. I love to write about mature women and examine how they face and overcome the family and the career issues they meet. I’ve chosen to write in this genre because this is what I love to read. I believe that older women and the events which impact their lives are often ignored.

Amen to that, Maggie. Amen to that.

 

 

Stop by for a chat!

 

Formula One and Anxiety – the research world of Sandra Antonelli via Alison Stuart

driving smallThis piece is Reblogged from the marevellous Alison Stuart.

Alison was gracious enough to have me as her guest
on Ms Stuart Requests The Pleasure of Your Company
to reveal some fun facts about Driving in Neutral. It was a pleasure to confess all to Alison. I thank her for her kindness to me.

Formula One and Anxiety – the research world of Sandra Antonelli

Like my guest, SANDRA ANTONELLI, maths was never my friend and I distinguished myself by managing to fail it in Year 9. My husband, an Engineer (how did that happen?) is mystified how I get through life without the frequent application of a good dose of quadratic equations. Strangely I do…

Sandra and her wonderful husband are well known to those of us in the romance writing tribe in Australia and I am absolutely delighted she can be my guest today. I am in awe of the sacrifices she has had to make in the name of research! Physics related language?… Oh My!!!

On MATHS, F1 RACING and how to manage Anxiety…

I totally suck at maths. This means I didn’t do as much research for Driving in Neutral, my love story about claustrophobia, as I did for my previous book For Your Eyes Only, which has a lot physics-related language. Thankfully, Olivia, the heroine of Driving in Neutral, has a past related to Formula 1 Racing, while Emerson Maxwell has a tiny problem with being claustrophobic. This meant my maths-free research focused on Formula 1 Racing terms and events, as well as phobias and anxiety attacks.

Sadly, no coffee and cookies were involved in my research into F1 racing. I watched F1 as a child in Europe. I knew names like Emerson Fittipaldi (did you catch what I did there, kids?) Niki Lauda, James Hunt, and Mario Andretti. To refresh my memory and bring my work into this century, I watched races on TV with my race-mad friends, Lisa and Sean (yes, you, Lisa Barry).

livraceI learned about the length of the race season (it begins in Australia, runs from March to November, and finishes in Abu Dhabi), and the lingo, which was pretty easy to pick up and use as a way levelheaded Olivia views her life.

The phobia and anxiety attack research was easy and even more fun. My husband is a psychologist and is probably analyzing you right now. He lapped (no race pun intended there) up my asking him to describe the physiological and psychological manifestations of an individual in the throes of a panic attack. Oh, I enjoyed writing about a big, strong man unraveling in front of stranger. I loved writing the scene where Emerson faces his greatest fear, and fails so miserably. But I also loved writing where Olivia finally loses it and ‘spins out of control.’

I wonder how my psychologist husband would analyse that.

Maxwell couldn’t breathe. Well, he could, but it felt as if the air was being squashed back out of his chest as soon as it went in.

“You’re going to take me down with you, aren’t you? When you pass out, and you’re going to if you keep hyperventilating, you’re going to fall on top of me.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he wheezed, bending forward at the waist to snatch his breath back as if he’d just sprinted 800 meters. Shit, he was hyperventilating.

No, he was hyper-hyperventilating.

This was ludicrous. He was nearly forty-eight years old and terrified of being in a very small room simply because it had no window and…his mind suddenly zeroed in on that important point.

There was no window.

What if the emergency light died?

What if the storm outside made the Chicago River flood into the basement of the building like it did back in “92?

What if the rubber-coated elevator cables, the cables suspending them in mid-air above nothingness, snapped?

Any way he looked at it they were locked in this box…trapped in this vault…enclosed in this coffin…sealed in this tomb.

Instantly, his rapid, shallow breathing picked up speed and he began to twitch involuntarily. His shaking fingers started to curl in towards his wrists, and he sank to the floor heavily. His head slumped towards his bent knee. Camera flash splotches of bluish-white appeared to mar his sight, his peripheral vision compressing into tunneled lines of black. His body capitulated to the oncoming blackout with an incremental steadiness, his hands and feet fizzing into numbness, and he moaned.

DRIVING IN NEUTRAL

Levelheaded Olivia Regen walks away from her car-racing career and the wreckage of a bad marriage to take on new work that’s far removed from the twists of racetrack. Her new life is about control, calm, and the good friends that she adores. But her first day on the job involves getting up close and too personal with her claustrophobic boss — alone in a broken elevator. Her unconventional solution for restoring his equilibrium shocks them both and leaves Olivia shaken. 

<>Determined to stick to her plan, Olivia drives headlong into work and planning her best friend’s wedding, leaving no room for kissing, elevators, or workplace relationships. But Emerson is not one to be out-maneuvered. Can he convince Olivia that her fear of falling in love again is just another kind of claustrophobia – one that is destined to leave them both lonely?

 

Website: http://www.sandraantonelli.com

Blog: https://sandraantonelli.com/oldbitey/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSandraAntonelli

Twitter: @sandrAntonelli

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/oldbitey/useless-fun-crap/

Buy: http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9780857991812 (includes links to all buy sites)

When Good Characters Behave Badly

baddog3I’ve been waiting to do this post. I mean REALLY waiting. I wasn’t sure how long it would be before someone made mention of a lead character’s less-than-stellar behavior in Driving in Neutral once it was published.

It only took a week (Thank you, Dear Author!).

I’ve been waiting because this book has a history, and not just a 75 days long blog series on fear history. Yes, kids, I spent 75 days focused on phobias. As a lead-in to the release of Driving in Neutral, the romcom I call my ‘love story about claustrophobia,’ guests dropped by to talk about their fears. For 75 days.

Bear with me. I’ll get to the history bit soon.

The 75 Days Series should have highlighted that I like writing about fear. I like using fear as the key to hindering or unraveling a relationship, but I also like that a character eventually triumphs over fear, after all, I write romance where love triumphs over all. Love is a scary thing. Love can make a person feel vulnerable. Love can make a person act impulsively, and do dumb things. Love is primitive, emotional. People may be unable to filter their actions because love has jacked up their hormonal system. Everything is overloaded. So, let’s backtrack to the bit about vulnerability because like love, fear has a similar effect on a person. Fear is primitive, emotional. A person may be unable to filter their actions because fear has jacked up their hormonal system. In both cases, the amygdala, the centre of emotional behaviour, is doing all the work, while the Baddog2pre-fontal cortex, the part of the brain that regulates behavior, that is, the part of the brain that tells you what is right and what is wrong, is sort of on hold.

Fear can make people act in ways that seem out of character, can make a good person do something bad. When it comes to a character pushing the boundaries of behavior, what crosses the line between an acceptable response and a reprehensible response to fear? Is retribution ever justifiable, or understandable within a character’s behaviour? Or is revenge always just plain wrong? This is what I wanted to explore.

Lead characters in romance fiction are often held to a higher standard of behavior; they are perceived by many readers to be a ‘better’ form of a human being, one who frequently rises above petty or malicious behavior. As a result of this, when a romance hero or heroine acts in a primitive way, when impulsivity gets the better of them and these good people do bad things, some readers will protest and deem that character to be unlikable, un-heroic, and unworthy of baddog1being a romantic lead. Other readers don’t care.

I wasn’t sure which lead character would push the boundary for some readers, since both the hero and heroine in Driving in Neutral behave quite badly. Getting trapped in an elevator brings out the worst in claustrophobic Maxwell. He raves and verbally abuses Olivia, the woman trapped with him. His reaction is completely childish and base. He is overwhelmed by his fear, is unable to filter, and works from a primitive space. He’s all amygdala function.

When Olivia’s fear surfaces she, too, is in amygdala overdrive. So jacked up is her response to her fear she misbehaves. Terribly. There are 4 reasons for misbehaving: attention, power, inadequacy, revenge.

Olivia feels aggrieved, exposed, and acts impulsively, which, at that moment when it all spins out of control, is her best way of coping with being vulnerable. Her reaction is completely childish, and base. What she does to Emerson is cruel, and, just as he feels remorse for abusing her, she feels remorse for her behaviour…eventually, once her hormonal system is back at a normal operating level.baddog5

Now the history bit. A while back, I entered Driving in Neutral in a writing contest. A judge took issue with Emerson Maxwell’s verbal abuse of Olivia, particularly with name-calling. I was scolded with, “A hero would never call a heroine names.”  In case you’re wondering, those names were ‘wet rodent’ and ‘waterlogged hamster.’ Not exactly ear-scorching or profane, but I knew, based on that reaction, that Maxwell and my writing had crossed the line for that reader-judge.

What I want to know is this: Does the context for a character’s bad behaviour matter to you, or is bad behaviour always a no-go zone for romance leads, because romance heroes and heroines must maintain that ‘better’ form?

Fear can make a person act in ways that seem out of character, can make a good person do something bad. When it comes to a romance hero or heroine pushing the boundaries of behavior, what, to you, crosses the line between an acceptable response and a reprehensible behaviour? Is retribution ever justifiable, or understandable within the circumstances of a character’s behaviour? Or is name-calling and revenge always just plain wrong?

baddog6So what do I think, where do I stand on all this behaving badly stuff? My friend Swell, a longtime romance reader, sums up how I feel about lead characters behaving badly in a romance novel. Swell says that if the “reaction is realistic and a part of the character, and the reaction is used to complete the relationship between the hero and heroine, then I will feel that the response was appropriate for the character.” Amen sister.

 

Driving in Neutral, A Basic Renovation and For Your Eyes Only on sale now!

driving smalla-basic-renovation_final0913-eyes-only_final1

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Contemporary Romance Novelist, Sandra Antonelli…

Me and my pink Converse are in the Romance Writers of Australia’s Author Spotlight!

Romance Writers of Australia

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Sandra Antonelli, and congratulations on the release of ‘Driving In Neutral ’!  Can you give us the blurb, please?

Level headed Olivia Regen walks away from her car-racing career and the wreckage of a bad marriage to take on new work that’s far removed from the twists of racetrack. Her new life is about control, calm and the good friends that she adores. But her first task on her very first day involves getting up close and too personal with her claustrophobic boss, alone in a broken elevator. Her unconventional solution for restoring his equilibrium shocks them both and leaves Olivia shaken. Determined to stick to her plan, Olivia drives headlong into work and planning her best friend’s wedding, leaving no room for kissing, elevators, or workplace relationships. But Emerson is not one to be out-manoeuvred. Can he convince Olivia that her fear of falling…

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