Heart Note cover reveal excitement!

I’m so excited to show-off the cover for my new romantic comedy Christmas novella, Heart Note.

So, without further shenanigans, here it is!

Heart Note: A Christmas romcom novella cover

Cover reveal – Heart Note: A Christmas romcom novella


I wanted an image that was fun, flirty, a little bit sexy and very Christmassy. I think the cover designer, the fabulously talented Lana Pecherczek from Author Zoo, did an amazing job.

This novella is the first in my planned Spritzer Chicks series, set in and around a perfume counter in a major department store. So of course it also had to feature perfume as part of the theme.

Thanks also to Rachel’s Random Resources for hosting a cover reveal across social media. Rachel is super efficient and ace!

I hope everyone thinks this cover is as gorgeous as I do. As an author, it’s made me even more excited to finish writing this story and to get it out there into the world for readers to enjoy.


Title: Heart Note: A Christmas romcom novella

Author: Cassandra O’Leary

List price: $2.99 (US)

Release date: 6 November 2017

Pre-order now: Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and Barnes & Noble (Nook)



A funny, romantic comedy Christmas novella, perfect for fans of Love Actually . . . from the award-winning author of Girl on a Plane.

Love is like a fine perfume. The top note draws you in, an instant attraction, but the Heart Note is the true essence. Like true love – a great perfume should be a woman’s perfect match.

At least, that’s what perfume counter manager, Lily Lucas, tells her customers in one of Australia’s largest department stores.

It’s almost Christmas, the store is bedecked with baubles and Lily has about eleventy billion gifts to wrap and sell. She and her team of spritzer chicks are glamorous, professional and hoping they don’t have to wear the hideous red onesies and reindeer antlers the store manager has in mind.

The high point of Lily’s work life is Christos Cyriakos, ex-cop, security guard, possible Greek god. He’s a mystery box she’d love to unwrap. But can she trust him?

All Lily wants for Christmas is to kiss Christos (and more), catch a band of thieves running amok in the store, and live happily ever after. Is that too much to wish for?


I hope you’re all looking forward to reading Heart Note!

Lazy Days of Summer sale – 45+ free and 99 cent reads!

Lazy Days of Summer promotional image

Summer? What’s that? As I write, I’m sitting here in Australia in my fluffy cardigan and Ugg boots, but of course it’s summer for my northern hemisphere readers.

Want to laze poolside or on the sand with books that’ll heat you up, sizzle your skin, and melt your heart? Why not steam up your Kindle this summer with romance e-books from some top Aussie and New Zealand authors? Grab a cocktail and pull up a chair!

Lazy Days of Summer Sale

We’ve got 45+ FREE and bargain 99 cent romances to get you through the rest of summer. From sexy or sweet contemporaries to romantic comedy, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, erotica, women’s fiction, and urban fantasy/sci-fi/fantasy – we’ve got you covered. Full list of Lazy Days of Summer sale books available here

My romcom novelette, Chocolate Truffle Kiss, is included. Still only 99 cents and a five-star swoony read according to Amazon reviewers. But it’s also FREE at the moment to my newsletter subscribers!

Chocolate Truffle Kiss 5 star promo graphic

Free novelette for newsletter subscribers!

Check out the books on sale!

There’s a whole lot of fabulous authors participating in this sale, including Tracey Alvarez, Nicola Marsh, Louise Cusack, Joanne Dannon, Cheryl Phipps and many more.

Visit the sale webpage hosted by Tracey Alvarez today.  

Prepare for take-off!

My debut contemporary romance/romantic comedy novel, Girl on a Plane, will be released globally as an e-book on 18 July 2016. As I batten down the hatches and prepare for take-off, I’ve been excited to have a bit of pre-release publicity.

A Book To Watch!

First of all, a massive thanks to the AusRomToday site for featuring my book as one of 5 Books To Watch in July. I’m in such great company too, with some fabulous Australian romance authors. I want to read all of these books, stat!

Check out the cool promo video here:

5 Books To Watch in July – AusRomToday

Hearts Talk article

Today, the July issue of Hearts Talk magazine hit the inboxes of about 1000 members of the Romance Writers of Australia. I was lucky enough to have a full-page article published in the magazine, outlining my path to publication following the We Heart New Talent contest win (with Avon Maze/HarperCollins UK).

Hopefully the aspiring and emerging authors who read it will find it interesting, to learn about the process from entering a contest, to winning, to getting the book ready for publication.

Here’s the full article, if you’d like to read it.

Prepare for take-off article in Hearts Talk magazine

Prepare for take-off article in Hearts Talk magazine


Soon, I’ll have something else exciting to share here, in the lead-up to release day. In the meantime, I’d love for you to pre-order Girl on a Plane, or sign-up to my newsletter mailing list on this page, for a couple of exclusives coming soon.

Prepare for take-off graphic

Future shock! Seeing my book on the HarperCollins website

As cover reveals go, this one was pretty fun, because it was a complete surprise to the author. In other words, me. I had a severe case of future shock when I suddenly stumbled across my book cover online, a few weeks ago.

I was sitting in my writers group meeting at the Melbourne Romance Writers Group secret HQ, when my writer friend, P.J. Vye, googled me. Cheeky as that sounds, we’ve been friends for over a year now, so I was okay with it. The googling.

She was looking for my blog when what should appear in the search results? My brand spanking new book cover and synopsis on the HarperCollins UK website! I didn’t know it would be live online yet, considering I’d been asked to keep the cover under wraps.

Well, to say I was stunned would be an understatement. I’d have to grab my thesaurus and say I was staggered, shocked, confounded, dazed, amazed and stupified. Or to use Aussie slang talk, I was a stunned mullet. Strewth! But at the same time I was thinking…you little ripper!

Seeing my gorgeous book cover and MY NAME listed under ‘Authors’ on the HarperCollins site is basically a dream come true. I’ve been writing fiction seriously (as serious as I can be, anyway) for about three years, but it’s been a dream of mine to write a novel for many years before that. I’d say it harks back to when I was in Grade 2, when I wrote a story about time travel, dinosaurs, centaurs and a princess. Hmmm, I may have to revive that story idea.

And the other amazing shock…on the first day of pre-orders on Kobo, my book somehow made it up to number 3 on the Contemporary Women bestseller list! Check out my book, hob-nobbing with JoJo Moyes and Danielle Steel!

Kobo rank screenshot 18 April 2016

Screenshot of Girl on a Plane at number 3 on the Kobo Contemporary Women bestseller list, 18 April 2016.

I can’t wait to see how the book goes on Amazon and other sites. Exciting times!

Prepare for take-off graphic

Winner – We Heart New Talent contest and book launch madness!

carina logoPrintRGB-HarperImpulse-3

In 2015, Avon Maze, Harper Impulse and Carina UK ran a joint global writing contest to search for new romance writing talent. I entered the We Heart New Talent contest in February 2015 and now, my debut novel Girl on a Plane is being released globally as an e-book today, 18 July2015.

Woo-hoo! It’s been an exciting few months since I WON the We Heart New Talent contest run by HarperCollins UK. A few months later, I was offered a publishing contract with the digital-first imprint, Avon Maze.

Let me just backtrack a little… I entered a contest in February 2015 and after almost 18 months of gestation, my book-baby is born! How amazing is that? I’ll tell you what, it’s totally amazing to me, and I wrote the book.

How did I get here?

As a new-ish romance writer – I’ve been writing fiction seriously for nearly three years now – I’ve been lucky enough to participate in some fantastic writing workshops and events such as the Romance Writers of Australia conferences. These have been valuable learning and networking opportunities that were pure gold in terms of giving me direction in my writing career. I also absorbed writing articles and blogs almost by osmosis, subscribing to all sorts of feeds.

The first novel I attempted to write, I drafted in three months. Probably complete rubbish, if I look back on it now (I don’t want to, and you can’t make me). But the next story started as a 10,000 word short story or novelette, which I re-worked and then added words, until finally it became a full length contemporary romance novel. That’s the one that finally became Girl on a Plane.

I entered a lot of writing contests. I mean, a lot. Fifteen or sixteen contests in about two years, which is pretty exhausting-sounding if I think about it. So I try not to think about it. But the reality was, those contests were a training ground for me as a writer. I learned how to write a ‘hook’, a blurb, an interesting first sentence, how to format a manuscript and how to write a synopsis (sort of – I still don’t want to write one and you can’t make me). And I received pages and pages of notes from more experienced authors, which were amazing feedback.

My big break was entering and WINNING the We Heart New Talent contest run by HarperCollins UK in 2015. Several months after entering, I received an email from an editor from HarperCollins in London which was an OMG moment… followed by many months of re-writing and eventually going through the editorial process.

The team at Avon Maze also produced a sensational book cover. It’s so graphic, it stands out well branding-wise on Amazon and everywhere online. Which brings us to the marketing side of the equation.

Promo Central – welcome to your destination!

Once I signed my book contract (SQUEE!), I soon realised the importance of planning and building my marketing promotions online. As a new digital-first author, online content and social media interaction are vital for building your profile. Promo Central seems to be my new address! I don’t mind, in fact I enjoy the promotional side of the publishing cycle, from what I’ve experienced so far.

I’ve had a bit of fun playing around with promo graphics in Canva and also commissioned an awesome teaser trailer video from Trailermade Production. Check it out:


Release day articles and blogs

I’ve also had some fabulous promotional opportunities that I’d love to share with you all again – if you haven’t already stopped by my Facebook and Twitter profiles.

AusRom Today – Tell Us Your Backstory feature

Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) release day blog

Melbourne Romance Writers Guild blog – Fun In the Sun or Grey Clouds on the Horizon?

Where to next?

I’ll be continuing the book promotion, blog writing, and maybe get some actual fresh-words down on paper for my next book! Yes, that’s right, somewhere in between all the exciting pre-release madness, I’ve managed to write another almost complete novel. It’s going to need a lot of editing though, so once I have my debut book-honeymoon love-goggles off and I can think clearly again, I’ll crack on with editing the new one.

I’ll probably write some short stories or novellas too, since I have a few more ideas bubbling away in the background. Exciting times!

Girl on a Plane has now taken off — go to my Books page for all buy links!

Heart shaped bookcase image

10 ways e-books have changed my relationship with reading, for better or worse

This topic has been on my mind lately, as I have read lots of articles and blogs about e-books and changes in traditional publishing. Some of these writers have been all doom and gloom, predicting the end of authors’ livelihoods, printed books and possibly the world as we know it.


In my own very unscientific study of one person (me) I’ve noticed my reading habits changing. I was given an Android tablet as a birthday present two years ago by my spunky husband. As an avid reader, he thought I’d enjoy being able to download and read books on the device.

It actually took me a while to get going. Although I know a few bits and bobs about websites and had also been a fan of online shopping for a few years, I found I had a bit to learn. Where to buy e-books, how to download them, what viewers or software I needed and how to view them best using my tablet. But since then, I’ve become something of an e-book addict.

It might be fitting to describe my relationship or love affair with e-books in terms of a marriage contract. Stick with me, this is going somewhere (I promise).

So, without further ado, here’s my list of the ten ways e-books have changed my relationship with reading:

1. Love. I love reading and read more books than ever before.

I’ve always loved books and reading. This hasn’t changed. Instead of buying a new paperback novel roughly once a week, I now buy several e-books a week. I don’t always have time to read all the books I’d like to, but that’s another story. So I’d estimate the total number of books I read has doubled, from approximately 50 to 100 in a year.

2. Honour. I now interact with authors who I admire and browse more books.

In this brave new world of social media and interactive forums, I’ve made contact with many authors. I love to honour the work and imagination of authors who I admire and let them know how much I enjoy their work.

Being a mother of young children and also working, I have limited time to wander through physical bookshops. Instead, I’ve discovered the pleasure to be had wandering through virtual bookstores, reading reviews and creating an online to be read (TBR) list. I often find the books I’ve enjoyed reading and then look-up an author’s complete backlist. This is much easier to do online than in a traditional bookshop. Also, I can browse anytime of the day or night.

3. Obey. Rather, I will NOT obey old-fashioned book reviewers.

I regularly read online reviews and recommendations, often by fellow readers. But I will not blindly obey whatever a professional book reviewer recommends I read. Book reviews in the past were always a bit hit and miss for me. I always found reviewers in the big newspapers could be relied on to elicit a groan. Did every book I read really need to be viewed as a potential literary classic or change my life? Could I not just read something light-hearted and entertaining? I noticed that a lot of the books I enjoyed most would not even rate a lot of reviews. Romance, science fiction, comedy, apparently these were not worthy of reviewers’ time.

The rise of independent book bloggers and humble readers like myself, willing to express their own opinions via the internet has changed all that. Not everyone likes this, but I do. I think there is room for many different voices in book reviewing and different ways to appreciate books. Fan-girling included.

4. To have and to hold. Do I need a physical book to hold?

I love books. I mean, as objects. I have two large bookshelves full of them and would probably buy more if I could physically store them. I love looking at book covers and flipping through the pages. But especially for new books or authors, I find e-books a great way to read. They are also fantastic for holidays or commuting. I can load up five e-books on my tablet without adding extra weight to my handbag or suitcase. Books I love and want to keep forever? Sure, I’ll buy a hardcopy too.

5. For richer or poorer. What price e-book happiness?

I now sample more books from new authors or those I’ve never read. This is partly a price consideration. I was always reluctant to spend $20 to $30 on a new hardcover or paperback book from an author who I’d never read, let alone buy a series. But when the price is lower, say between 99 cents and $8, I’m much more willing to give something new a try.

6. In sickness. Even if I’m feeling too busy or exhausted to read a book, I’ll pick up an e-book.

I’m not sure why this is true. Maybe when I’m tired I feel too daunted to pick-up a ‘fat’ book and start reading. An e-book seems more accessible sometimes. Also, I now read shorter, more contained books or books in series. Sometimes I do feel a bit of eye strain from too much screen-time, so shorter e-books are becoming my preference.

7. In health. Is it a good book? Did it make me smile or cry?

A healthy book to me, is one that leaves me feeling. All the feels. Smiles, laughter, tears or just phew, that was smokin’ hot! I post reviews and ratings of the books I’ve read and enjoyed or simply share the links on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t want to be indifferent to a book.

8. As long as we both shall live? Maybe until we separate.

These days, I am less likely to keep reading a book that hasn’t grabbed me from the beginning, or with characters I dislike.

I also make quicker decisions about books I might buy, maybe based on online recommendations. Then I often click-through to an e-book store to check the full details. There is an immediacy about e-book buying that makes it a bit of a spur of the moment decision.

9. I now pronounce you e-book and reader. Maybe a reader with multiple paramours.

I usually have a selection of e-books ready to go, then pick and choose which one to dive in to, depending on my mood. It may be a committed, long-term relationship, a brief affair, or I have been known to share the love around by dipping in and out of several e-books at a time.

10. You may now kiss your e-book. Or not.

I don’t get up close and personal with my books or read e-books in the bath! This probably applies to romance books more than others, but I’m not going there.

As I said, this is all very unscientific, top of mind stuff. Call me a rebel, but that’s just the way I roll. But I’d love to hear what other readers and writers think. Have e-books changed the way you read and was it for better or worse?

If you feel inspired, please leave a comment or feel free to pick up the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Sweet and Spicy and all things nicey…

Cover reveal

I’m very excited to be able to share a cover design! This is the gorgeous cover for the upcoming Sweet and Spicy anthology being published by the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild to celebrate its 25th anniversary. And my short story, Chocolate Truffle Kiss, will be included. Yay!

Without further ado, here’s the cover:

Sweet and Spicy romance anthology cover image.

Sweet and Spicy romance anthology cover design. To be released by the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild in November 2015

To read more about this anthology, go to the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild blog. More details will be coming soon.

Sweet success — delicious book news!

I’m calling it – as of 10 November 2015, I’m officially a published author. It’s just over two years since I got serious about fiction writing and now one of my story babies is out in the world. Hopefully, this will be the first of many book-aversaries.

Sweet and Spicy book cover image

Sweet and Spicy romance anthology. Cover design by Jay Aheer.

I’m so excited that the Sweet and Spicy anthology from my fabulous writing group, the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, is now live and available to purchase from a variety of e-book retailers. This collection of romance and love stories is a celebration of the MRWG’s 25th anniversary, and includes my first published long-ish 9,000 word short story, Chocolate Truffle Kiss.

The MRWG took on this project a few months ago, creating short stories from scratch, critiquing and editing, undertaking a cover design process and developing a promotional plan. All in all, it’s been a fantastic learning opportunity for the whole group, getting the chance to be indie published to professional standard.

Chocolate and coffee fuelled inspiration

My story, Chocolate Truffle Kiss, is a romantic comedy, inspired by my home city of Melbourne and the art of people watching, which I enjoy when out and about in cafés, restaurants and around town. As fellow Melbournites know, food and drink is a serious business to us.

Coffee and chocolate are a couple of the hot button topics for Melbourne foodies, and someone’s favourite café can be a definitive make-or-break in the friendship stakes. Overheard snippets of conversation in the city might go something like this:

She likes Gloria Jeans and Starbucks…whaaat?? I’m more a Degraves Street and Market Lane kind of girl.

So, when a story idea on this theme popped into my head when I was jotting down notes in a café one day, I knew I had to write it. Here’s the full blurb:

A writer, Beth, comes into her favourite café every day for her coffee and a chocolate truffle fix, a decadent treat that fuels her creativity. But what really keeps her coming back, day after day, is the delicious looking man behind the counter. The barista, Samuel. Could he be watching and wanting her too?

There may be some postmodern self-reflexive references going on here, but just so you know, I’ve never fallen in love with a hot barista. Aww. Never mind, I have a spunky hubby at home who just happens to be a whiz with our espresso machine and is an excellent cook. As I love to drink coffee and eat delicious treats, it’s true love!

If you need more mood-setting, have a look at my Pinterest board for the story or read an excerpt on my Writing page. There’s lots of Melbourne-ish goodness, plus my inspiration pics for the hero, Samuel, are kind of nice eye candy. Ahem.

I hope I’ve encouraged you to try a taste of romance, and not just made you hungry.

Read more about the Sweet and Spicy anthology and the other great authors in our group, and find the ‘buy now’ links on the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild website or see my Home page.