Category Archives: Interviews

Quintette of Questions: Elsa Winckler

Quintette asks writers five quick questions. This week’s interview is with Elsa Winckler!

Elsa Winckler

Cover, Love, in writing 367 kb1.   What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

Love, in Writing. The hero and heroine are both authors, so the title was obvious

2.     If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson 🙂

3.     What five words best describe your story?

Heartwarming, funny, steamy, sweet, quirky.

4.     Who is your favourite fictional couple?

Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy of course!

5.     What song always makes you cry?

Real Song by our son Heinz Winckler

About Elsa:

ElsaI married my college boyfriend and soul mate and after 39 years, 3 beautiful children and two grandchildren, he still makes me weak in the knees. And although life so far has not always been an easy ride, it has always been an exciting and interesting one!

I like the heroines in my stories to be beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong.  The heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity. They are of course, also gorgeous!  My stories typically incorporate the family background of the characters to better understand where they come from and who they are when we meet them in the story.

Buy Love, In Writing:
Would you like to answer a Quintette interview? Email me at nmharrisheart@gmail.com!

Quintette of Questions: Elise K. Ackers

Quintette asks writers five quick questions. This week’s interview is with Elise K. Ackers! And this week, the interview comes with a competition!!

Elise K. Ackers

Dear Stranger1.   What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

It’s a short story called Dear Stranger, and the title wasn’t hard to choose at all because the story is all about love letters to strangers.

2.     If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Much tougher question! Maybe Emmy Rossum for Reese, she has long, brown curls and an expressive face; and Dylan McDermott for Ian – when he’s clean shaven.

3.     What five words best describe your story?

Romantic, hopeful, valentine, possible and short!

4.     Who is your favourite fictional couple?

Probably Lizzie Bennett and William Darcy, if only because despite all of the misunderstandings and prejudices, they still managed to fall in love with each other for who they truly were.

5.     What song always makes you cry?

Brad Paisley and Allison Kraus’s Whiskey Lullaby makes my heart hurt, but Green Day’s Time of Your Life is so often linked with saying goodbye to people we love, so that one gets me the most.

Whiskey Lullaby

Time of Your Life


Win an e-copy of Dear Stranger

Elise is giving away three copies of her story across a couple of blogs.

A beautiful love letter to the most troublesome of holidays…

Soft-hearted Reese Ahearn is single for Valentine’s Day. Again. But that’s not going to stop her from spreading the holiday’s sentiment on the streets of Melbourne with short, sweet, anonymous love letters, left for strangers to find. The last thing she expects, however, is a reply…

Visit a Rafflecopter giveaway to register for the competiton – and leave a comment to improve your chances!

About Elise:

Elise K. AckersElise K. Ackers is a romantic suspense and contemporary romance author based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a 2013 Romantic Book of the Year finalist, print and ebook published with Destiny Romance and Escape Publishing, and known to do some pretty strange stuff in the name of research.

Buy Dear Stranger:

Would you like to answer a Quintette interview? Email me at nmharrisheart@gmail.com!

Romancing the Bloke – Part Two

momoko_King_of_Hearts
Clipart from http://openclipart.org/

I asked a number of male friends about their experiences of romance and what they found romantic themselves. These Romancing the Bloke posts are the result.

Read Romancing the Bloke Part One

Romance and sex aren’t unrelated, of course – physical intimacy is part of the expression of love after all, as martial artist and horror writer Alan Baxter notes in passing.

The activities I find romantic are anything where my wife has gone out of her way to do something just for me, whether that’s cooking my favourite meal, arranging a cool outing or visit from friends, a surprise movie and dinner out, an unexpected blow job. 🙂 You know, just something where you feel special and looked after with no other reason than because she wants to make you feel special.

Honestly, those kind of gestures are enough. Some grand and elaborate thing is usually no more romantic, just a lot more expensive.

Are romantic gestures important? Definitely. You want to feel looked after. You want to be reminded every now and then that you’re not taken for granted. All the things men are supposed to do for women, and the reasons for them, work both ways. We may not want a bunch of flowers, but buy me a cool book for no reason, arrange for me and a mate to go to a great gig, arrange a dinner out and surprise me. Anything like that. All the stuff women like, men like too. At least, I think they do. I certainly do.

S. certainly finds physical intimacy, whether or not it involves actual sex, very romantic, and playfulness and spontaneity will get him every time.

What absolutely would work for me are the same things that were happening when we were dating: When she walked in to the room and I lost the power of speech because I had no breath. The things that caught my attention then still catch my attention now – maybe moreso.

  • Sitting in the cinema and snuggling
  • Kissing in the rain under an umbrella – dropping the umbrella and still kissing and then laughing
  • Sitting by the harbour having a meal and champagne – it rains – really rains – no real shelter – everything gets wet – and you sit there finishing your meal and champagne
  • Delivering a meal to me at my office because I am working late,  wearing nothing but an overcoat – but not staying because I have work to do – oh dear

Activities I find romantic are things done with that sense of fun, gratitude , intensity , lust or delicious lightness as we did in the first few months before we lived together

My partner has done so many romantic things for me. One Valentine’s Day, I was speeding through Melbourne in a sports car and she took off all her clothes and kissed me saying Happy Valentine’s Day then got dressed again. Another time, it was my birthday and I was away working. She walked in to the restaurant where I was sitting with work colleagues –– she walked in, hours from home. I couldn’t speak – I know I cried and it was totally wonderful because it was impossible and I had no idea.

The things I find romantic are where I get the feeling that I am worth it and this is for me because she loves and/or desires me or just appreciates me. I love it when she washes my hair in the shower. Intimacy without anything sexual is beautiful and romantic.

I think romantic gestures are important, if by that you mean evidence that you care and love for someone in a demonstrative way. I think romantic gestures for me can be interpreted as signatures of actions that show the other person is “the one”.

tearing the shroudS. isn’t the only man who appreciates the intimacy and romance of bathing. Romance writer, JM Bray, (whom I interviewed for a Quintette last year) lists that as one of the activities he finds most romantic.

I hate to sound like “a typical guy” but I have to admit that when I first started thinking about answers, my brain went right to sexual situations. After caging that beast, the ideas became clearer. (But feel free to add sex to most romantic gestures and many men will be good with that.)

I honestly lost sleep over this whole thing, because in our relationship, I’m the “big romantic gesture” person. As I tossed in the bed, my mind churning I wondered: What is a romantic gesture? For me, it’s an action or choice that expresses your love for someone. As I give my answers, I hope you’ll see why I’m taking the time to define it this way.

The activities I find romantic are travel, nice dinners out, surprise gifts… These are all romantic activities I enjoy. But they are not things my wife does, because I arrange them. She is the queen of the consistent, small gesture.

Coffee in bed; being washed in the shower; touching, physically. When she wraps her arm in mine as we walk, her hand on my back when we are with friends, her finger grazing my cheek. MMM HMMM!

When our kids were little we decided that one of us should be home with them. Of the two of us, I could make more money, but it meant some tough work situations. At one point I was commuting two hours each way to work so I got up about 4 am. Though I encouraged her to sleep, my wife got up every morning, made me coffee and a lunch while I dressed and then saw me out the front door with a kiss and a word of love. It went on for months. That’s all kinds of romantic.

To answer “What romantic thing would you like your partner to do?” – it’s not a “one thing” but an attitude: To feel good about herself. Fortunately most of the time, my wife does. Don’t underestimate the romantic power of self-confidence and contentment. They let romance flow.

I think romantic gestures are vital to a healthy relationship. They let your partner know you love them and care for them. I put romantic gestures in three basic categories: Big moments (trips, gifts,) expected moments (Valentines Day etc.) and everyday moments. For me, the last one is the most important. In March my wife and I will be married 29 years – it’s working so far. 

So there we have it. It may be a small study sample, but certainly many of the men I know have big hearts and appreciate the romantic – not the grand and sometimes overblown gestures of St Valentine’s Day, but the small daily things that come from love and appreciation. Also sometimes bonus surprise nakedness and unexpected oral sex. But honestly, I think women appreciate those things too.

It’s Valentine’s Day on Friday, but why wait until then?  Show your love on any day of the year.

What is your take on romance and romantic gestures? Feel free to leave a comment!

My thanks to all the men who answered my little survey and revealed their loving hearts to me for this blog. You’re all lovely.

Romancing the Bloke – Part One

momoko_Jack_of_Hearts
Clipart from http://openclipart.org/

It’s Valentine’s Day this week – a day with a mysterious history. As a saint’s day, it honoured several martyred saints with similar names, and there are also suggestions the day was created by the Christians to overwrite Lupercalia, a pagan holiday. It was in the 18th Century that Valentine’s Day became a big thing, with cards, flowers and confectionary.

However it started, and whether or not you observe the day in any way, it’s a good excuse to tell someone you love that you care about them.

Of course, every day of the year is good for that – and that’s what a lot of men told me when I asked a number of male friends about their experiences of romance and what they found romantic themselves.

Craig Martin wrote simply that:

I love surprises. Little things I’m not expecting that do not happen on those “designated days”. These are the most romantic.

KJ was the first to reply to my questions about what things he found romantic, and his favourite recollection of romance.

I don’t equate ‘romantic’ with wooing and courting, perhaps as I have been married for over 25 years.  If romantic is when one feels in love there are two times that are memorable for me.

One day I needed to read a Charles Dickens or Jane Austen for university.  At the time I was sharing a flat near St Kilda junction with a Sri Lankan friend.  It was a first storey flat with a view across the junction to the West Gate Bridge.  A. wanted to spend time with me but I needed to get the book read so she brought over her own book.  We settled into armchairs for the afternoon and spent our most companionable afternoon together.  No speaking, no need to.  Being together was enough.

Another time, A. and I were on the Great Ocean Road for a weekend away during Winter (our favourite time).  The tide was out and we were walking the beach.  We separated as we were hopping across the rock pools looking at crabs, seaweed, little fish and all the wonderful colours that the absence of a tide allows.  I was wrapped in my own activities when I wondered where A. was.  I looked up and she was around a hundred yards away walking among the rocks, collecting some shells and enjoying the solitude.  I remember feeling happy, content and very lucky that she chose me as her partner.

It may seem odd that I am not talking about the romance of a wedding or the lustful simplicity of a light touch in the small of one’s back or the time when I was given a special gift.  Gifts are tokens of affection and I prefer the real affection, the love, the comfort, the reassurance.

Chuck McKenzie, who runs the Notions Unlimited bookshop in Chelsea, is similarly moved by the everyday expressions of love.

What’s romantic? Anything that allows you to be with your partner, preferably alone together, in relaxed surroundings; sitting on the beach at evening time, eating fish and chips. Or dinner in an uncrowded little café.  My partner romances me every day, with random kisses, and unsolicited I love yous.

“What romantic thing would you like your partner to do?” I don’t feel there’s anything I could ask for – for me, romance is unplanned and unexpected, and leaves you feeling happy that your partner thought to say or do something nice, whether that be with a cuddle, flowers, or a surprise hotel booking.

Chuck feels that romantic gestures are important.

They’re a pleasant reminder of why you’ve chosen to be with someone, as well as a reminder not to take that person for granted. I speak from experience when I say that, once you’ve endured a relationship with no romance in it whatsoever, you realise the true importance of such things in living an enjoyable life.

Josh Kinal, former presenter of Boxcutters and podcaster extraordinaire, says he doesn’t believe in romance, as such.

I believe in acting in love in all moments. Romance, to me, has a sense of desperation to it; of courting favour in the chase for reciprocated love. But when one loves truly, then acts are not romantic but an expression of how much one is aware of the other as a whole. So the question ‘what activities do I find romantic’ can’t be answered because I don’t think a regularly accessible activity can capture this feeling.

The most romantic thing my partner ever did for me was to give me cufflinks for my birthday. She had them made for me specifically and they relate to the two places in the world I feel most at home. It spoke to so many parts of my being that it’s the most meaningful gift anyone could have given me.

As to whether romantic gestures are important – I think acts of confirmation of love are important because we can take each other for granted, and we can take the love for granted, which leads to an unhealthy expectation. Acts of romance, on the other hand, are trivial and akin to trickery.

Horror writer, comic book writer/artist and rock fiend Jason Franks mostly wants to have fun with his other half.

What I find romantic is anything that’s actually fun. Staring into each other’s eyes across candle-light or gazing into limpid ponds? Composing love sonnets and wearing berets? I’d rather drown in napalm. Watching DVDs on the couch?  Gallivanting around foreign locales, having adventures and goggling at weird animals? Laughing hysterically because there’s WAY too much chilli in tonight’s dinner and we’re both crying tears of fire? That’ll work just fine.

My partner does lots of little romantic things for me. Buying me some useless tchotchke because it has a guitar or a skull printed on it. Jumping out of the car to open the garage door for me. Organizing my t-shirts drawer so I can find Black Sabbath without having to turn the wardrobe upside down. Taking me to a concert for some band neither of us has ever heard of so we can bang our heads and jump around like idiots.

I don’t think grand gestures are important. They feel staged and fake to me. Much more important to keep on laughing. I don’t want a life with my partner where we’re always working up to some theatrical event; I want a life that’s just fun and funny.

Voice artist Kevin Powe is similarly enchanted by shared interests, daily affection and having fun.

Ive had relationships where I’ve done the traditional romantic thing (rose petals on hotel beds, surprise weekends) but I finally got it right with the girl I see myself growing old with. The most romantic things I find are ones where we indulge shared interests, or find a window into the other person’s world. Our first ‘date’ started at the State Library, where she gave me the benefit of her vast historical expertise, including explaining Hannibal’s tactics for smashing cavalry with elephants (on the back of a napkin). Whether it’s a love of good cafe breakfasts, great theatre, or bad TV, sharing that is what I find the most romantic.

There are a lot of little things that my partner has done for me that are wonderful gestures, but the most romantic thing of all would have to be being willing to go on crazy adventures, and make our life together exciting and bold. Shortly after we became a thing, she moved to Perth with me for a year.

I’m not sure I’ve got an answer for the question of ‘what romantic thing would I like my partner to do for me’, because it sidesteps the spontaneity, which is what I tend to find the best part of it all. However, we have been discussing Vala Mal Doran cosplay recently, because we’re watching season 8 of Stargate SG-1, and PIGTAILS OMG. *cough*

I absolutely think that romantic gestures are important. Small tokens of thoughtfulness and affection outside of daily routine surprise and delight us, and remind us that we’re not just a functional part of an ongoing series of cogs in a household – we’re someone worthy of falling in love with. (incidentally, there’s a great subplot in the late 90s film Playing By Heart that explores that concept – I highly recommend it!) They build up a storehouse of warm fuzzies that helps you get through the rough parts of your week/month/year.

There’s a more saucy side to romance, too, since sex is part of love and intimacy after all. In the next post, some of the men who responded talked about showers, surprise nakedness and unexpected physical intimacy.

Read Romancing the Bloke Part Two 

What is your take on romance and romantic gestures? Feel free to leave a comment!

My thanks to all the men who answered my little survey and revealed their loving hearts to me for this blog. You’re all lovely.