Tree Love Is In The Air. . .

Last week I made an executive decision as captain of my own writing ship. I decided to indie publish a romantic short story of mine, Tree Love. This story was previously published a year ago in the Taste of Romance anthology along with other stories from authors in my writing group, the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild.

Tree Love is a short and sweet story about first loves reunited, emails to trees, art, nature and taking chances. It’s now up for pre-order, ready for release on 13 February, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Tree Love: A Romantic Short Story by Cassandra O'Leary, cover design

Here’s the cover for Tree Love. I designed it myself with a gorgeous stock illustration (copyright warawiri) sourced from Isn’t it pretty? Well, I think so.

Tree Love story inspiration

I was actually inspired to write this story after reading a wacky newspaper article about something that happened in my home city of Melbourne, Australia.

Under a new environmental plan, the city assigned email addresses to trees. And people started emailing, not just to report on the condition of the trees as had been expected, but they wrote to the trees. Letters, poems, confessions. This was pretty hilarious to me, but also sweet. So a story idea was born!

The original article is on the website — People around the world have been emailing trees in Melbourne to confess their love.

In Tree Love, I imagined my heroine, Natalia, was the admin person working for the Parks and Gardens department tasked with answering the Tree-mails. It’s entertaining but also baffling at times.


If your first love fell out of a tree. . . would you catch him? 

Natalia Bianchi is a botanical artist, who finds herself accidentally working for the city’s Parks Department in admin and also accidentally engaged to her boss. It’s not what she had planned.

One day she checks on ‘her’ tree in the botanical gardens, and her first love, Dan “The Man” Mancini falls at her feet. Literally. Almost like it was meant to be. But that’s what she thought ten years ago when they were friends at university.

Should Natalia shake up her entire safe, convenient life to climb Dan like a tree? Could this be her second chance at love that could last forever?

Buy links

You can pre-order Tree Love now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Google Play Books. It’s only 99 cents or 99p.

Universal link:

Inspiration pics

Stock photo of tree from Pixabay

Check out my Tree Love Pinterest board for some great pics of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, and some character inspiration too.

P.S. join my newsletter list if you’d like to know more about my writing and receive a free novelette, Chocolate Truffle Kiss!

Love Gone Wild conference thank you image

Love Gone Wild!

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Love Gone Wild conference run by Romance Writers of Australia in Brisbane. I don’t think I’d be underestimating if I said the effect of the weather on my mood was magical. Goodbye, frosty Melbourne! Hello, sunny Brisbane!

As soon as I arrived on Friday afternoon, I shucked off the multiple layers of Melbourne clothes and enjoyed the sunshine and 28 degree C temperature. And the super swish room at the luxury Pullman Hotel and my two fun room mates didn’t hurt either.

Love Gone Wild cocktail party

Then it was a chance to get ready for the Love Gone Wild cocktail party, a costume or fancy dress event that’s always a hoot! It was amazing to see some of the wild animals let loose on the dance floor. I especially loved the flamingos and a certain ninja turtle who I didn’t even recognise under her body paint! Check out the pictures below, I’m sure you’ll see what I mean!

Business Hub

Over the next two days I set about learning lots of new information from the fantastic guest speakers in the new Business Hub stream. The content from Google, Draft2Digital and iBooks left my head spinning…but in a good way. I came away with heaps of things to research and study. I’m looking forward to implementing some digital marketing and promotional ideas over the next few months.

Awards Dinner and Butterfly Ball

The Awards Dinner and Butterfly Ball on Saturday night was a great chance to shake our tail feathers, too. And so many writers that I know and admire were up for the big awards. Special super-dooper congratulations to my fellow Melbourne Romance Writers Guild members, Miranda Morgan and Janis Linford, who were both contest finalists. Correction, Miranda also won the Ripping Start contest!

Of course mega-awesome authors Avril Tremayne and Amy Andrews are two of my absolute favourite Aussie authors, so it was wonderful to see them pick-up the big gongs. Congratulations to both of you. Mwah!

Networking like a #LoveArmy

But most of all, the conference was a chance to network with like-minded romanciers, the fabulous (mostly) women writers who focus on the positive, the good, the love in the world. Something we all need right now. Someone on Facebook mentioned that RWA is like an army of love. I totally agree and propose we all need #LoveArmy buttons.

Anyway, without further ado, please enjoy this Storify round-up of some of the social media around conference including lots of photos.

P.S. I’ll also be writing something else about the conference soon for the Romancing the Genres blog! Yes, I’m going to be a Genre-ista! How exciting. 🙂


AusRomToday Reader's Choice Awards Nomination badge

Best New Author nomination in AusRomToday Awards!

Best New Author nomination – Vote for me in the AusRomToday Reader’s Choice awards now 

Earlier this week I was excited to learn that I’ve been nominated in the Best New Author category of the AusRomToday Reader’s Choice Awards, celebrating excellence in Australian romance fiction.

This is such exciting news I could barely breathe when I saw the email come through…actually, I’ve had a bad headcold so I could hardly breathe anyway, but that’s not the point! It’s such an honour to be nominated alongside a bunch of super talented authors who I admire.

What an amazing year 2016 has been for me so far. I’ve gone from publishing one short story last year to winning the We Heart New Talent contest and having my first romantic comedy novel, Girl on a Plane, published by the wonderful team at Avon Books/HarperCollins UK. And I’ve seen that book fly high in the Amazon and iBooks charts.

I also quit my day job in corporate communications in June to focus on my writing. That was something of a leap of faith, and so far it’s been a good decision (although I’m not raking in the millions yet, and Hollywood hasn’t come knocking to buy any movie rights…come on Hollywood!) as it’s allowed me time to write and focus on promoting my book properly.

Now, with a nomination for a major national award, I’m almost dumbfounded at how much can happen in a year. It makes me wonder what 2017 will bring!

Hopefully, I’ll soon finish editing my next romantic comedy novel, then I’m working on another manuscript that’s at around 30K words. And there’s another anthology of short stories coming soon from my writing group, the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, which I’m pleased to be a part of again.

Action stations everyone – 2017 looks set to be huge! I’d better buy some more champagne…

MRWG members with heart sculpture

Ain’t Love Grand – Romance Australia 2016 conference highlights

For the last four days, I was lucky enough to attend the Romance Australia 2016 conference, Ain’t Love Grand. It was my third conference and probably the most fun!

Below is a Storify wrap-up of my Twitter feed from the weekend, filled with notable quotes, and as someone else told me, lots of impressive cleavage! My writing group pals in the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild (MRWG) were all brilliant as usual, and also looking particularly fabulous…

Super-dooper highlights

On Friday, the Michael Hague Story Mastery workshop was gold, right from the start. Michael is a Hollywood screenwriting consultant, having worked with the likes of Will Smith on finessing a script. His focus on romantic comedies was right up my alley, and I think I’ll gain a lot of inspiration from that session into the future.

Friday night was the cabaret-themed cocktail party. It was a hoot, and of course it was special to me, as I received my First Sale ribbon, acknowledging that 2016 was the year my first novel was published. My debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was only released about a month ago by Avon Maze/HarperCollins UK, so it’s still exciting and new to be an official author. I found time to chat with other authors and fangirl like a boss!

The morning after the night before was all a bit hard…but once I found real coffee and got going, I enjoyed some fab workshops and also brainstormed some new story ideas with some friends.

Then Saturday night was the big gala awards dinner in the Stamford Grand ballroom. I still can’t quite express how excited I was for my writing group friends who were up for big awards. Samara Parish and Jess Devine were Highly Commended in the Valerie Parv Award, and Chris Weston from the MRWG won! Also Stefanie London was Skyping from Canada, watching the announcement of the short, sexy romance category in which she was a finalist. Well done to all!

The biggest news from the awards was the WIN by MRWG’s own Michelle Somers, in the RuBY Award (Romantic Book of the Year) for her romantic suspense novel, Lethal In Love. Our table erupted into hooting and hollering, even from the ladies phoning it in via Skype. Super-dooper mega congratulations Michelle!

Later we danced the night away, busting out some 80s moves and even a shimmy-shake like my own flight attendant heroine, Sinead. This was on special request from Vanessa Carnevale, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it, because I’m such a shrinking violet on the dance floor… 😉

Sunday was more relaxed, but I have to mention the fantasticly funny and inspirational keynote speech from Fiona McIntosh. She challenged us all to work hard, write like it’s a job (it is), bum in seat and come and get her on the bestseller lists. It’s on!

Now the Ain’t Love Grand conference is over, I feel inspired to finish my manuscript (dubbed the Neverending Story) and get onto something new and fresh. Happy writing everyone!

Romance reading binge: it’s not fattening

I can feel myself falling into the abyss again. No, no need for alarm, it’s not an emergency (although I do have a penchant for emergency services type uniforms on tall, dark and handsome young men). I have just fallen into a romance reading binge once again. As per the title, it’s not fattening, so why not?

I started the year by reading Easy by Tammara Webber. This was a touching, young adult read about a college student and the dating scene that can sometimes be fraught with danger. The college student world that the author depicted was quite realistic, down to the detail of kegger parties and consuming copious amounts of coffee to stay awake for early lectures. But without revealing a spoiler, the heroine learns a few tough lessons about trusting so-called friends and falling into relationships based on what is easy, rather than right. Highly recommended reading.

I’ve also been reading a couple of Australian women authors, in preparation for the 2014 Australian Women Writers challenge. I’ll work on writing a couple of reviews in the next few weeks.

Then on a visit to Big W today I decided to buy myself a little present. The romance shelf was calling me with her siren song…buy me, buy me. I can’t wait to get started soon. Harlequin Mills & Boon, what fun. Ally Blake is a great Aussie author too.