Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 29: S. E. Gilchrist’s Oweynagat

driving smallFear. It’s ll about fear again today. For some of you Halloween is all about those scary spirits, dressing up as Dracula, and HORROR movies. Or maybe even claustophobia, like Driving in Neutral’s Emerson Maxwell’s which started because of a horror movie views in his youth.

But there are geeks, like me, who love the Science Fiction angle, as Rebecca Turner suggested with the movie THE THING, which may have more to do with Kurt Russell’s beard being my idea of a Halloween treat. Anyhow, S.E. Gilchrist faces fear in SPACE!

Halloween has never played a part in my childhood and looking back I see that possibly is why it doesn’t play a role in my adult life. Of course, growing up in a small coastal town in Australia in the 60’s guaranteed very little exposure to the fascination some people feel for this celebration.

Research reveals Halloween may have stemmed from pagan beliefs when at Samhain the portals between the mortal world and the immortal were open for a brief time, allowing passage between.

OwenagcatThis is Oweynagat (meaning, Cave of the Cats) and which is believed to be one of the many gateways to the Otherworld from where beings and spirits were said to have emerged on Samhain. That sounds fantastic in theory – I mean who wouldn’t want to meet a hunky viking or a hot elvish warrior?

Knowing Murphy’s Law and my luck, I’d be stuck with a knife-wielding troll on a blood rampage.

Halloween is definitely not celebrated in the Seven Galaxies, the setting for my science fiction romance stories. But there is a large dose of the fear factor especially in my latest release When Stars Collide.

Here’s a little glimpse taken from When Stars Collide © S. E. Gilchrist 2014:WhenStarsCollide_Final compressed

The door opened and they both glanced over. A female Relic Ensign strode onto the deck and stopped three paces from them.
Excitement glittered in her pale blue eyes. ‘The smuggler’s ship approaches. Commander Kondo requires your attendance in the hangar bay.’
‘What?’ Heart racing, Nina didn’t wait to hear any more. She rushed past and hurried to the closest chute. Bansell. He’s back.
‘Come on, come on,’ she muttered, thumping the panel until after what felt like a week, the door slid open.
‘I will go with you,’ said Sherise, slipping in beside her.
In silence they travelled to the hangar level.
Nina’s head whirled. I should be feeling happy but I’m not. Instead her earlier feelings of dread had returned in full measure.
The chute opened and she stepped out into the corridor.
Every second dragged at her soul. The clatter of their boots as they hurried down the passageway was like shards of crystal falling like broken glass. There was a buzzing noise in her ears that made it hard for her to think straight. Her hands clenched and unclenched over the material of her beige knee-length tunic. Why do I feel something is wrong, terribly wrong?
Longing to vomit and with tremors racking her body she stumbled after Sherise who had marched ahead. Behind them tramped the two Relic female guards.
One foot after the other. Nearly there. Nina clutched the railing as she all but fell down the stairs to the main deck that looked out over the hangar.
All about her were smiling people, laughing, jesting, gesturing towards the shuttle now powering down on the runway below. The smugglers emerged from their ship and the hangar erupted into roaring cheers.
Standing back from Sherise, her minders and Kondo and his officers, Nina gripped her hands together and battled her erratic breathing. Her heart beat with painful strokes. Icy sweat trickled beneath her arm pits. She stared with burning eyes as a group of males climbed the metal steps to the deck where they all waited.
Closer. Closer.
Bansell. Oh, Bansell.
The buzzing inside her head intensified.
Bansell, a broad grin on his face clapped his hands on the Relic leader’s shoulders. A gesture returned with enthusiasm by Kondo. Then everyone stepped aside.
Kondo waved Bansell forward to where Nina stood alone.
Their eyes met and held.
Something in his gaze flickered.
Her heart seized.
The noise in her head drowned out all else.
She couldn’t move.
Couldn’t breathe.
Grappling with the insane thought screaming inside her mind.


Buy Links: Nook, Amazon US, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Kobo, iBookstore 

segilcrestS.E. Gilchrist lives in the Hunter Valley, Australia with her family, both two legged and four. S. E. loves to write books that embrace a sizzling love story with action, adventure and often, danger.
She is keenly interested in the environment, animal welfare, bush walking and kayaking. Several of her books have finalled in writing contests and she is currently hard at work with a NA apocalyptic story and a new science fiction romance series.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads


Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 23: Jennifer St George, Fear Lover

SandrabookspunkinbudAh, Halloween! Goblins! Haunted Houses! Witches! One’s husband leaping out of a perfectly good plane! These are all perfect examples of fear. As you know I adore writing about fear, especially the brain-scrambling, messy, heart-in-your-throat fear of LOVE. Hello Driving in Neutral, For Your Eyes Only and A Basic Renovation, my love-is-so-scary smartassed romcoms, which, you can get here.

Jennifer St George writes about scary things, like Halloween, commitment, and abandonment, and yep, you guess it, LOVE.

I have to admit I’m not a big fan of Halloween. I’m enough of a scaredy cat without having a whole day dedicated to all things spine-chilling.JenStG

What am I scared of? It might be simpler to write a list of things I’m not scared of. My top three fears are flying, snakes and sharks (I probably should have participated in your phobia series, Sandra or simply booked an appointment with Dr Shrinkee).

My husband is always trying to convince me these are irrational fears but that’s just rubbish. Recent aviation events are evidence that my fear of flying is…rational. The slithering things in my backyard (some which can kill you in a matter of minutes) proves my snake phobia is…rational. And the fact that a three metre white pointer shark just killed a man at the swimming beach next to our house…again, I’m completely rational.

Having all these fears makes me perfectly qualified to write romance novels as most of my characters are plagued with some fear or other. Of course not all my character’s fears are as obvious as flying, snakes or sharks. In my latest release, Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, my TemptedBy_2b[2]heroine Poppy has a deep-seated fear of being left. Consequently she never allows herself to get close to anyone. When she does find herself falling for the hero, she does a runner. You can’t be left if you leave first.

I suppose I should embrace Halloween. Try to make fun of my (perfectly rational) fears. My daughter does. She’s terrified of the dark, so this year she is going as ‘darkness’ (which makes costuming very simple – black sheet, here I come). Yup, she’s facing her fear. Trust a child under ten to teach me a valuable lesson.


Happy Halloween!


Jennifer St George is a romance author whose sexy stories feature courageous, career-minded heroines, strong heroes in glamorous international settings. Out in October, Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon is the second book in Jennifer’s Billionaire Romance series.

You can buy Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon from:

AmazonTunes, Kobo, Penguin, Google

Find Jennifer at Facebook Twitter: @JenStGeorge Blogs: and Lovecatsdownunder


Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 21: The Most Horrifying Thing I Have Ever Seen

Fear. I like writing about it. I put fear in everything I write. SandrabooksFear motivates. Fear stimulates. Fear makes you do things you never thought you’d do.Halloween likes to play with fear, play up fear, to scare the bejesus out of us–or try to with the haunted houses, vampires, headless horsemen, and those urban legends of razor blades and poison in all the Halloween candy.

Yes. they are urban legends, a sort of fear-mongering, if you will, as Smithsonian Magazine noted with Where Did the Fear of Poisoned Halloween Candy Come From , which they ran in take some2013. The Smithsonian debunks the myth, attributing the tales of poisoned candy to Ronald Clark O’Bryan, a father,in debt up to his ears. O’Bryan willfully murdered his own child to collect the life insurance. He also attempted to kill a other children he knew, including his daughter, to try and cover his tracks and set the blame on some unknown madman and/or the candy manufacturer.

This is the only known instance where someone willfully and maliciously tried to kill using Halloween candy, and it is frightening, but the Halloween candy didn’t come from stranger handing out candy to Trick-or-treaters. Urban legend expert David Emery investigated further and notes in his post Is Halloween Candy Tampering a Myth, on the About Entertainment Website, that no child has ever been injured eating any Halloween candy collected from Trick-or-treating.

While this mythic fear is a valid one many parents have, for me my first and, to this day only Halloween season fear happened last weekend. And it had nothing to do with pumpkins, haunted houses, trick-or-treating, or candy. No, kids. My fear came from a place where having BunJumpinsurance was a small comfort. This was the MOST. TERRIFYING. THING. I. EVER. FACED. My husband, Dr Shrinkee decided her wanted to do this:

He found it exhilarating.

I found it horrifying*. So terrifying I didn’t watch. I didn’t even go with him, or drive him to the the plane, or meet him at the drop zone. I could not face this fear. I put it from my mind. I pretended he wasn’t leaping to his doom. I pretended I didn’t buy him the jump as a birthday present. I did not focus on the jump — unless he mentioned it and then I thought about it for a few minutes, got all sweaty for a few minutes, and then quit thinking about it. I did pretty well, putting it out of mind.

Of course my subconscious had it’s own ideas because fear is a powerful motivator, a powerful stimulator. My subconscious spit out songs I sang or hummed for my beloved skydiving husband, Dr Shrinkee.

1. Long Way Down — Michael Penn
2. Free-fallin’ — Tom Petty
3. Bluer Than Blue –Michael Johnson
4. Jump– Van Halen
5. Just Call Me Angel of the Morning — Juice Newton
6. Say Geronimo –Sheppard
7. The Last Time Forever –Squeeze
8. I Learnt How to Pray -Squeeze
9. Goodbye Girl — Squeeze
10. I’ll Never Fall in Love Again — Dione Warwick

When I realised I was singing these songs, I also realised the depth of my terror. I was so scared for him, while he had no fear AT ALL!

I tried really, really hard to be like Olivia in Driving in Neutral with controlled breathing and counting each breath. When that didn’t work I turned to coffee because coffee was so going to fix my terror!  I went out to breakfast with my friend Elle and told her I had sweaty palms and rubber legs. Then the coffee kicked in and Dr Shrinkee sent me a post-jump photo of himself on the ground, and all was right with the world.

RPCI think I deserved a Halloween-themed pumpkin-shaped peanut butter cup, don’t you?


*I can’t look at the photo and not break out in a cold sweat.

Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 13: What’s All the Halloween Hubbub, Bub?

If you ask me why Halloween is so freakin’ amazeballs-o-riffic I’ll tell you it’s because:

hpbc1. Pumpkin-shaped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because peanut butter.

2. Costumes, costumes, costumes! Ever wanted to be a pirate? Thought it would be cool to get your cheese on and channel a Slice of Pizza? Thought cross-dressingheroween would be fun, but worried what your friends would think? Now’s your chance to do one or all of these things because it’s Halloween and wearing a costume, a mask, and makeup is totally acceptable!

3. Pumpkins. Lots and lots and LOTS of pumpkins… and Jack-o-lanterns: Carving them, seeing them, and ahem, even smashing them. OH! The Power of Pumpkin! The appeal of pumpkin is, sadly, misunderstood Down Road Trip 87 Under, and only eaten as a roasted with potatoes, garlic-n-onions savory dish, rather than a cinnamon-nutmeg-ginger Festival of Pumpkin-spice Everything in the USA.

4. This is most important. I cannot express this vehemently enough. I bet you might agree with me on this too. I’ve come to understand this importance more and more every year: Halloween provides a much-needed buffer between the end of Summer (or beginning of Springpunpkin, depending on what hemisphere you live in) and the Christmas advertising onslaught, which, I kid you not, started here in Australia on September 12th.

5. Finally, I must remind you of Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s The Monster Mash. My friend Cindy does this right. She combines all that is Halloween in lights and song! EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!


When you’re done enjoying that little ditty remember I write smartassed romantic comedies for grownups. You can find out more about them here.



Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 9: Jenny Schwartz Goes Blank In The Night

SandrabooksYearbookYourself_1958Are any of you kids waiting for the creature from the Black Lagoon to come to your door? Or are you just dying to smash a pumpkin or have candy hurtled your way?

Is anyone wondering what the hell I was thinking about when I went into that machine that morphed my DNA with my dog’s? I know Jenny Schwartz, my guest today, is a little wary of something, but she totally understands Halloween. You wait and see.

Jenny Schwarz

Jenny Schwartz

Fear and Halloween… I typed those words on a blank screen page and contemplated whether anyone other than another writer would understand a Halloween costume that was simply a huge, blank piece of paper. A blank page is terrifying. I’m instantly compelled to find words to fill it…and what if one day those words don’t come?

What if one day I have no more stories to tell?

Being a writer, a novelist, is my dream job. The thought of losing it, of fate wrenching it from me, is terrifying. Yet life does things like that. We devote years to a specific goal and then WHOA! the path we’re on rears up and throws us off.

In my new release, Kiss It Better, the heroine Cassie has always dreamed of nursingKissItBetter in Africa and she achieves her dream, only to burn out. Angry, depressed and generally wanting to scream at the world, she meets Theo and her frustrations find a new focus. But Theo has his own problems and as their lives collide, both have to reassess who they are and what they’re willing to risk to build new lives.

Reading fiction is a lot like Halloween (See? Jenny agrees with me! –Sandra), but instead of dressing up as pirates, axe murderers or clowns, we try on other people’s lives by losing ourselves in books. Either way, we get to explore our fears in a safe way. It’s an emotional thrill ride, with the safety harness on.

Happy Halloween! Thanks for the invitation to post here, Sandra, and may you never be haunted by a blank page.

Kiss It Better

All Cassie Freedom wants to do is save the world, and she could, if only she were able to. But her dream of nursing in Africa is shattered, and she returns home to Jardin Bay, where familiarity, security, and a sense of her own failure threaten to drown her. Dr. Theo Morrigan knows a thing or two about responsibility, leaving his own medical practice to take over a family business. He knows his mind, his future, and how he wants to live his life – until an old secret resurfaces and rocks his whole world. Suddenly, the man who needed no one needs a broken-hearted nurse, and a nurse who thinks she’s too weak will find her own strength.

Find Kiss it Better here ! (via Amazon)

Jenny Schwartz is an Australian contemporary romance author. Her books celebrate the joy of falling in love and the freedom of choosing to follow your heart. She has a degree in Sociology and History — people watching and digging into the past — and a passion for reading, especially books with a guaranteed happy ever after. Her Jardin Bay series captures her love for Australia, and for sexy heroes and the determined women who drive them wild.


Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 4: Georgina’s Arabian Halloween

SandrabooksWhile the inspiration for my writing seems to be rooted in food, what with all the cookie, peanut butter and coffee references, as well as all the bits where character seem to be eating, my Guest today, author Georgina Penney found her muse in an exotic location and tells a Halloween tale of Arabian Nights.

Georgina Penneysml

Georgian Penney

Halloween used to be just a scary movie or something that I’d see featured in American sitcoms as a kid. In fact, other than a couple of really memorable Simpsons episodes, it never flew across my radar until seven years ago when I moved to Saudi Arabia.

The compound we moved to was pretty much a simulacrum of 1950s American suburbia right Ras Tanura Beachdown to the bake sales and coffee mornings. There were churches on camp, a golf course and, because the compound was built on the Arabian Gulf, some fantastic snorkeling and diving to be had… all right next to the world’s biggest oil refinery. (“Just don’t breathe the air and everything’s perfect honey!”)

The first inkling I got that Halloween was something that I would be experiencing for the first time was the decorations on my American and Canadian neighbors’ homes. In fact, even my Saudi neighbors got into the swing of things. There were suddenly scary ghosts hanging from palm trees and plastic spiders stuck to the golf carts we women drove around camp. People started talking about how the weather always shifted from scorchingly hot (50 plus degrees SaudiCelsius) to winter after Halloween and all of a sudden I started to have something to really look forward to.

Then I started to get women asking me if I could co-taxi with them into the nearest city, Khobar to get sweets and costumes for their kids. (If you’re smart, you never take a taxi on your own as a woman in Saudi.) Before I knew it, the sun was going down one weekend and my house was besieged by munchkins and their parents in costumes. It wasn’t just the American kids but the English, Lebanese, Australian, Saudi and everyone in between and I had a hoot of a time. (Thank God I’d stocked up on sweets on one of those trips into town!)

The surrealness of that evening, the sheer inclusiveness and the fun the kids and their parents were having really drew me in and became the inspiration for my first attempt at a novel. I haven’t stopped writing since and nowadays when Halloween comes around, I always make sure I’m well stocked up on sugary treats just in case there’s a ring on the doorbell.


Georgina Penney first discovered romance novels when she was eleven and has been a fan of the genre ever since. It took her another eighteen years to finally sit in front of a keyboard and get something down on the page but that’s alright, she was busy doing other things until then. You can find Georgina’s latest, Irrepressible You here.

Thirty-One Days of Halloweenie Day 2: Om Nom nom


I’m an author who loves Halloween, peanut butter, coffee, cookies, and writing about fear because one of the scariest things on earth is falling in love. I write about that fear in my novels, A Basic SandrabooksRenovation, For Your Eyes Only, and Driving in Neutral, all of which feature one or more of those delicious things. For instance, there’s a peanut butter in A Basic Renovation

a-basic-renovation_finalLesley reached back into the car. Plastic crinkled in her hand. ‘Can I have one?’
‘Can you have one what?’
‘One of the Fifth Avenue candy bars you’ve hidden under the socks and condoms on the bottom.’
‘Never you mind what’s in there. Just take it inside.’
Those clunking cowboy boots of hers stopped clunking just a few feet from the front door. Martino looked over his shoulder to see Lesley smirking. ‘I think I need something to guarantee my silence,’ she said.
‘Extortion is a crime, just ask Eilish’s nephew.’
‘I will. I’m going out with him tonight.’
‘Well, I’m not giving you any of my rubbers.’
‘I want chocolate and peanut butter, not sex and condoms.’
‘Ha! You want both, but you’re not getting any.’
‘You really think you will?’
He narrowed his eyes. ‘One. You can have one, merdinucchia.’

Numerous coffee and peanut butter scenes appear in For Your Eyes Only0913-eyes-only_final1

Her stomach growled on cue.
Peanut butter. It’s what’s for dinner.
She unscrewed the top from a jar of Jif. The instant she smeared a slice of whole-wheat bread with creamy, peanutty goodness, the phone rang again and the doorbell chimed a backwards, off-key dong-ding. Ignoring Isabel’s persistence, licking her fingers, she went to unlock the deadbolt, peanut butter-coated knife still in hand. She sneezed as she opened the door.
One more sneeze and Willa found herself gazing at a pizza box and John’s lopsided smirk. His nose was red from the cold.
“Hi,” he said, his eyes traveling from bare feet to peanut butter-covered knife. “I’m here about the shirt and the note you left at my door. Thank you. You know, you didn’t need to replace anything. It’s sweet, but I told you, clothes can be washed and…” his eyebrows rose, “…should I cue the Psycho music?”

driving smallDriving in Neutral is all about fear, yet the story contains coffee and peanut butter on Ritz crackers.

It took Emerson a second before he grasped what she meant. He hadn’t intended the baseball game comment to be a come-on, but subconsciously, in that very Freud kind of way, maybe it was. He was turning into a sleaze who winked and soon he’d be into wearing gold chains and exposing his chest hair like Barry Gibb on the album cover of Saturday Night Fever. Would he be able to stuff himself into a pair of Bee Gees-tight pants?
Quickly, before he imagined how his genitals would look forming a moose knuckle in white satin pants, he changed the subject. “Are you enjoying the work here?”
“It’s interesting.” She took a small plastic bag from the fridge.
“Is that a euphemism for it sucks?”
“No. If that were the case I would have said, it’s different. Want one?” She held out the bag.
“What is it?”
“Peanut butter and jelly on Ritz crackers.”
“Peanut butter and jelly? Peanut butter’s for kids. I’m an adult. I eat adult snacks.”
“So that box of Coco Puffs over there with your name and DO NOT EAT all over it in purple marker isn’t yours?”

Oh, all right. I often write about peanut butter. Does that scare you? Yesterday, I was given a scarily large jar of homemade peanut butter cookies. That scares me because I know I WILL EAT THEM ALL!

The scariest thing about today’s post is that it is about really about cookies — Halloween cookies and by Halloween cookies you know I mean PUMPKIN cookies.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C

1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar    1/2 cup butter softened

2 eggs                                              1/2 cup mashed pumpkin

2 ¾ cups flour                                   1/2 tsp saltpumpkincookie

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp  cinnamon                       1/4 tsp  ginger

1/4 tsp  nutmeg                       1/8 tsp  allspice

1/8 tsp ground cloves


In large bowl, beat sugar, butter, eggs, pumpkin with electric mixer on medium speed.

Stir in flour, salt, baking powder and spices. Drop dough by tablespoon onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Cool on racks, about 30 minutes. EAT.

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


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?


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.


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!



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.


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!


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.


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?





Twitter: @sandrAntonelli


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