Friday, December 22, 2006
There’s so much to look forward to at this time of year: the company, the fun, the fantastic food, the sense of shared goodwill, and, in this house always the books! This is when I catch up on at least some of my reading. Whether from the teetering To Be Read pile beside the bed, from the not-so-secret stash in the spare room, or from the books that have crept onto the coffee table in the living room, waiting to be picked up. And, of course, there are those lovely books given and received just in time for the summer holidays (I live in Australia).
And amongst the books I’d anticipated, I’ve just acquired a few extras, the first copies of my first sheikh story for Presents. I was agog to see the cover and was so pleased with the result. What a lovely present just before Christmas! If I have time after I wade through the mountain of other books I’ve got waiting for me I might just spend a little time with The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride too. But somehow I think the siren call of all those other stories, with all their delicious secrets, will be too strong. Maybe I’ll just drool over the cover in between reading.
Where ever you are over the holiday season, I hope you manage to get your hands on a good read, or two, or three.
Best wishes to all!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
In my house, we combine both the British and American traditions for Christmas, so I am always very interested in finding about other people's Christmas traditions. For me, once is pleasant, twice is coincidence and three times is a tradition.
Many people do not realize that even the date 25 December is traditional. In approximately 323 AD, Pope Julius l formally declared 25 December as the feast day of Christ's birth. He said he was simply confirming the several centuries old tradition. However, the feast day did dovetail nicely with the pagan solstice celebrations such as Saturnalia. The Coptic Christians celebrated the feast of Christ's birth in May. So who knows... but it is a long standing tradition. Because the Eastern Christian church still follows the old Julian calender, they celebrate Christmas Eve on the 6 January or Epiphany. There is a tradition that the Glastonbury thorn which supposedly grew from Joseph of Armathea's staff blooms at midnight on Old Christmas Eve.
The early Christian church added many of the pagan solstice traditions to the feast of Christ's birthday to make it easier for people -- for example decorating houses with evergreens comes from the Roman tradition of Saturnalia, the Yule log from the celebration of Jule in honour of Thor.
Some can be traced back to certain people (or so legend has it) -- the multi-figured creche or crib that is popular in Italy was inspired by St Francis of Assisi. Christmas trees were popularized by Martin Luther. A choirmaster in Cologne in 1670 started handing out white boiled sweets in the shape of canes to those people attending living Creche services. Christmas crackers were started by Tom Smith in 1850. And so it goes.
Does anyone have any special family traditions?
There are many ways to celebrate Christmas, but I hope whatever your traditions you have a Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
By way of introduction, I’ve written a bunch of books for Harlequin and recently I’ve been writing the Nerd series for St. Martin’s Press. I’ll get a plug in later, but first of all, is everyone finished shopping?
Please don’t tell my editor, but I’m playing major writing hooky these days so I can buy presents. I love the buying part. The crowds, not so much, so I’m going online for some things. But you don’t get to touch your online purchase, which is a definite drawback. I’m a touchy-feely present buyer, even with books.
Maybe you’re a gift-bag person. Bags are nice, and I feel like keeping some of those, too, but not with the same passion I feel for the boxes. I may start a Gift Boxes Anonymous for those who can’t control their craving.
So happy holidays to the boxers, the baggers and the wrappers. Now here comes the plug. *After* the holidays, I have a book coming out. January 2, to be exact. It’s MY NERDY VALENTINE, and if you get some Christmas money or a B&N gift card . . . That’s all I’m saying.
So, Lee, did I blog okay?
Okay, now that I've totally ratted out my husband's tool obsession, I have to confess, there is one store in the mall that is my downfall. A store I can't manage to power-shop through. The bookstore! Our is a Borders Express with some of the nicest employees ever! I always go into the store, smile at them and set off with the best of power-shopping intentions. I find the book I want, and feeling smug in my power-shopping abilities, head toward the cash register and...a book calls to me. It demands I pick it up and admire the cover, check out the back blurb, maybe skim a few pages. I swear, it's like a siren's song, befuddling me to the point I forget all about power-shopping and the fact I hate shopping as they weave a spell and make me not only pick them up, but by them...a quantity of them. I used to read a book a day easily. But now that I write, I don't have as much time, so my speed has slowed down, but that hasn't slowed my purchasing. I have a TBR (to be read) pile that's growing on its own! Last time I went in for a couple presents, and ended up buying myself Norah Ephron's, I Feel Bad About My Neck. What a riot! I couldn't put it down. Hope you all are making headway with your holiday preparations!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The other day I was talking to die-hard romance reader. We were discussing favorite authors and when I named one of my absolute favorites, the reader said, “She used to be on my auto-buy, but now she’s my comfort read.”
I never made the distinction between auto-buy and comfort read before, so I asked what she meant. To her, there is more urgency in an auto-buy. An auto-buy happens because she’s heard the buzz, or the story sounds so intriguing, or she’s been waiting impatiently for these characters’ stories. Whatever the reason, she simply must have it and read it right away when it comes out.
A comfort read, on the other hand, is more of a standby. The reader puts the book to the side, and has it waiting until she needs a pick-me-up or if she just finished a book that disappointed her. What’s important to the reader about the standby is that she knows what kind of story she’s going to get, and she knows the author won’t disappoint.
That got me thinking. I visit the bookstore and library a lot, but I don’t often feel a sense of urgency about a book or author. I do, however, have quite a few comfort reads. I’ll buy a book and not read it right away because I want to use it as a reward, or I want to read it all in one sitting. There are lots of reasons why an author is a comfort read for me.
I should have asked the reader how many auto-buy authors—the ones that gave her the initial rush—became comfort reads, and how many have fallen off of her list altogether. I sense that auto-buys are like a flash of excitement, but comfort reads keep her happy as she waits for the next auto-buy.
Monday, December 04, 2006
The year is winding down, and here in south-east Queensland, "downunder", it's sub-tropical weather, with high temperatures, late afternoon storms. Traffic is hectic, shopping centres and malls crowded ... and I should have been sensible and begun Christmas shopping way before this!
Next year, I'm going to do it right (sound familiar?!), and have my daughter and two daughters-in-law compile a "wish-list" for the children months before December. Picture a slightly frazzled woman fighting for space along the numerous aisles of Toys 'R Us!
The Christmas decorations were assembled in the house today, and the festive cards are beginning to arrive. I love this time of year when we play catch-up with far away friends, their annual news and photos. Today there was a card from BC Canada, with a photo of a friend's grandchildren rugged up building a snowman! All I could see were little round pink faces peeking out from the coverall snow gear.
The second book for the year went in to Harlequin last month, and editorial have selected "The Greek Tycoon's Virgin Wife" as a title. Release date to be announced. Meantime, "The Marriage Possession" will be out in April 2007. I've assembled and sent off a synopsis for the first book in 2008 ... the hero is a sexy Spaniard with part of the story set in Madrid!
Kate Walker has Sid, the cat. (Hi, Kate). I have two cats ... Birmans (a choc-point and a seal-point) who like to think their presence on my desk is integral to my creative process. They have sheepskin beds on my office floor ... but no, it has to be the desk!
Best wishes to all
Friday, December 01, 2006
It was Kate Walker was it not? She of the fantabulous Christmas prize pack? Just out there mentioning Christmas shopping like it was a good thing. * whimper whimper* Less than a month to go, and I am in the process of blithely ignoring it.
I bought a couple of faaaabulous gifts early on, ones that I know the receivers will adore, and thus I convinced myself I was on some kind of roll. I have only now realised that two gifts does not constitute a roll.
A start. It constitutes a start. But where does it end? I have a crazy mother who still fills the room under the Christmas tree to exploding point while my in-laws see Christmas as a chance for a huge lunch but don't do much in the way of gifts. So do we buy gifts in accordance with each of the different familys' traditions? Then there is the whole where do we have breakfast, and where do we have lunch, and where do we sleep dilemma that becomes a part and parcel of each holiday once you get married...
Okay, stopping for breath... One deep breath. Two. And you know what? It's okay. It's all good.
The buzz is in the air. Musak in shopping malls has changed. Everywhere you look there is the hint of tinsel. I have clothes laid out on my bed in preparation for a Christmas party tonight.
This next month is quite simply full of joy. I'll be far too busy, I'll eat too much chocolate, drink too much champagne, spend too much money, get not enough sleep and enjoy each and every second of it!
The fact that I have a book due in six days, five Pink Heart Society posts this month, as well as all the parties and chocolate and champagne is beside the point ;).
Big deep breaths...
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Thank you so much, Lee, for inviting me to blog on your site. You've got such a great selection of talent here, I'm in awe.
Yes, I'm another new author! Nice to see so many of us about. My book CLAIMING THE COURTESAN comes out next April as an Avon Romantic Treasure. It's a dark intense Regency historical about the Duke of Kylemore and his mistress Soraya, London's most notorious courtesan. You can read an excerpt at www.annacampbell.info/books but in the meantime, I'm really happy to share my gorgeous cover. There are a lot of exciting moments in the life of a new author but I've got to say getting this wonderful cover was one of the best. I hope you're drooling over it just like I am! Oh, dear, NOT an attractive image! Sorry.
Another exciting moment was seeing the advance review copies of my story. That happened about a week ago and I'm still doing the happy dance. I wrote for many, MANY years before I sold and I really thought I'd never hold a book with my name on it. So getting those copies was a dream come true for me. If you'd like to see what all my squealing was about, I'm offering one of those ARCs as a prize in my December contest through my website.
It's starting to get really warm over here in Australia. The rise in temperature always starts me thinking about Christmas approaching. We - or at least my family and friends - seem to do an odd mixture of Old World traditions with New World fun at this time of year. We always stuff ourselves silly with turkey and plum pudding and have Christmas trees and I seem to get a lot of Christmas cards with snow on them (ironic given our sweltering temperatures). On the other hand, Christmas always makes me think of the beach and long summer days watching the cricket or lying by the pool or eating seafood in the shade while I watch the sun turn the grass brown. I love the melding of old and new!
And one of the things I love about this time of year is that, even amongst all the frantic rushing around, I still seem to find time to settle down with a couple of good books. I'd love to know what's on the top of your TBR pile. I'm always looking for recommendations!
Best wishes and happy lead-in to the holidays!
Monday, November 27, 2006
I’m Susan Lyons, and I write sexy contemporary romance. After way too many years to count, and about a dozen short story sales, I made my first book sale in June of 2005. I’ve now sold 4 books and 1 novella to Kensington Aphrodisia, so it’s been a wild and wonderful year and a half.
It’s interesting being published by Aphrodisia. It’s an amazing line, with incredible diversity. There are werewolves, threesomes, futuristic, Goth, BDSM -- and then there’s me. One woman, one man, nothing incredibly kinky. I’m pretty “plain vanilla,” among my fellow authors.
But then, to me, what I’m really writing is romantic women’s fiction. My books are about friendship, family issues, work dilemmas, and basically, about finding yourself. I deliberately chose to write about heroines in their 20s because I think it’s such an amazing time. You’re not a girl any more, and you’re trying to figure out who you’re going to be as a woman. How are you different than your parents and how are you the same? What are your values? What do you want out of life -- and out of love?
My 4-book series has been branded by reviewers as The Awesome Foursome Series, because that’s the name the four girlfriends call themselves. They’re kind of like the women in Sex And The City, but younger and less jaded. They get together weekly for food, drink and lots of chat -- often about the men in their lives. In each book, each of the girlfriends gets her own romance.
And it’s true, I don’t believe in closing the bedroom doors. To me, sex -- even if it’s a one-night stand -- is a very significant, meaningful act. I want to know what my heroine and hero do, think and feel. So yes, I’ve been told readers often need cold showers, or can’t wait for their hubbies to get home from work! Reviewers have characterized my books as “combining sizzling hot sex and real emotional depth” (Joyfully Reviewed), and said my “sex scenes are graphic, sexy, and inspiring [and my] multilayered characters have a vibrant emotional impact” (Romance Reviews Today).
You can check out my books (and short stories and photographs, plus view a movie video of The Firefighter) on my website at www.susanlyons.ca -- and while you’re there, enter my monthly contest.
That brings me to the subject of firefighters. Why, you might ask? Well, because one of my website contest prizes is a firefighter calendar. Firefighters are a theme with me, right now. My August book, Hot in Here, has a firefighter hero and so does my upcoming February novella, “Hot Down Under.”
Before I wrote Hot in Here, I knew my heroine was going to be Jenny but I didn’t know what kind of hero to give her. Except that he had to make her face her identity issues -- i.e., to what extent was she a good Chinese daughter, and to what extent a modern Western woman? It turned out my book club (another 4-gal group) was keen on firefighters and wanted to attend an open house. In the rush to meet my contract deadline for Champagne Rules (the book before Hot in Here), I figured I didn’t have time for this little excursion. Ooh, unless…Jenny’s hero was a firefighter. So, that began my research into firefighters.
They’re amazing. True heroes, quietly risking their lives on a daily basis. And just all-around good people. They’re willing to take time to teach kids. They’re patient with old ladies who call them out in the middle of the night because they can’t open their pill bottles. And they’ll also sit down and chat with a fiction writer! One group even gave me Earl Grey tea in the kitchen of their firehall.
My monthly website contest is an opinion poll, where I ask a different question each month. One month, it was “what’s the sexiest occupation for a guy?” And you guessed it, the hands-down winner was, “a firefighter.” They’re strong, fit, brave, intelligent -- and honestly, don’t you think they’re recruited in part for good looks?
Hence, my collection of firefighter calendars. Of course the first I gave away had to be from Vancouver, BC, my home town and the city where Jenny’s hero, Scott, works. Stockpiled for down the road is one from Queensland, Australia, where “Hot Down Under” is set. And in between, I’ve just enhanced my collection with calendars from Calgary and Edmonton, gathered personally from some of the calendar models when I attended “Taboo, the naughty but nice sex show.”
A sex show, you may ask. Yeah, I was curious and a little inhibited, but three of us writers agreed to be featured authors at the Chapters booth, and to present seminars on “Writing Hot for Fun or Profit.” It was actually a great experience, and there were almost no people wandering around in black leather with spiked dog-collars. Honest!
Other women came home with souvenirs like bustiers and sex toys, but for me, it was firefighter calendars.
Before I became a writer, I never imagined I’d be sitting in a firehall kitchen or attending a sex show, but wow, have my horizons expanded. Can’t wait to find out what comes next.
Thanks again, Lee, for inviting me to be here.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Kyle has had a particularly difficult time and, aside from work, he had closed himself off completely from life. He needed a very special woman to bring him out of the darkness and back into the light again, and Alexandra filled the bill perfectly. She saw inside him and past the pain, teaching him to love again and awakening all that smouldering sexuality. Lucky woman!
So this is my own little Sexy Guys on Sunday slot to warm you all up for Anne McAllister's revelations tomorrow on the PHS! It's such a difficult job having to sit here all day and write romantic and sexy stories about guys like these, but long live the inspirations!
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
And thanks too, for running mine and Kate Walkers competition on your competitions page!
Oh, I forgot to say--Hi, I’m Michelle Reid, writing for Harlequin Presents. I’m going to try my best to pop in here as often as I can but being very new to blogging I’ll probably get lost along the way!
Christmas… Who mentioned Christmas first? Bad girl, you’ve put me into a panic because I’ve got no time to go shopping – no shops either! I used to be a die-hard city girl with a million shops to choose from only ten minutes away, since I made the move last year to rural wench, I just can’t get used to having drive 30 miles to my nearest town – hence the Christmas panic attack – where do I find the time??
Thinking about Christmas though there is an upside to it, Susan Stephens, Jane Porter and I will have an anthology of short stories out called ONE CHRISTMAS NIGHT (try to imagine the bright red seasonal cover because I don’t know how to put it up here) Well worth curling up with on one of those cold winter evenings. And with a Sicilian, an Italian and a Sultan to curl up with you, what more could you want?
STOP PRESS! (In case I don’t find my way back in here again) My book The Italian’s Future Bride is out in January, and it’s been awarded 4 ½ stars in The Romantic Times! –Fabulous, I’m so pleased and proud!
Okay, back to the deadline – to the accompaniment of hammers and drills and goodness knows what noises coming from the men who are building my new office on the side of the house…
Hey look, I managed to put in my photo!
Monday, November 20, 2006
So, what are you...early-bird shoppers, or last minute shoppers???
Oh, and you don't have to dash to any mall to enter my contest for a chance win a cool little handcrafted purse. The fabric, though it's hard to tell from the picture, is a library bookshelf...perfect for writers and readers! The contest is at http://www.hollyjacobs.com/contest.html
Hope you all have a happy holiday, whether you're shopping early or late!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Well, wait. I do. In fact, I just did. I went to the biggest mall near us--it's an hour away--just yesterday. It was great! No crowds. Lots of beautiful things to see and buy. I managed to come very close to completing my gift list.
Of course, that's because I also did lots of shopping online. I don't know about you but I love shopping on the internet. Such variety! Never a crowd! Incredibly helpful salespeople! And I don't have to change from my sweats and slippers to do it.
Now all I have to concentrate on is shopping for Thanksgiving dinner next week. I'll have to take time away from Lucas and Alyssa, my current hero and heroine. Alyssa will understand. Lucas won't. He's a true Alpha male, a Spanish nobleman with the hot blood of the conquistadores running in his 21st century veins, and he'll want to know why I'm not giving him my full attention for a couple of days.
Oh, the complex life of a romance writer...
Speaking of which, THE SICILIAN'S CHRISTMAS BRIDE spent THREE WEEKS on the Borders/Waldenbooks BestSeller List! If you haven't read it yet, give yourself an early Christmas treat and buy a copy. Dante and Tally will put you right in the mood for the miracles of the season.
By the way, stop by at http://pinkheartsociety.blogspot.com if you have the chance tomorrow, Sunday Nov 19th. You can read a fun interview with me and find out some stuff about me. See you then!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
White-Hot by Trish Wylie
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
So why did it take so long to publish? Who knows. Understanding the world of publishing is as complicated as trying to determine what number will show up on a roulette wheel. My stories weren't bad--I've finalled in the Golden Heart three times and won twice--maybe they were just misunderstood. But voters in the American Title contest understood my characters and helped me win the ultimate prize of a publishing contract. The Warrior Trainer, my debut novel, is just weeks away from hitting the shelves--seven weeks from now.
I'll be counting down the weeks and sharing what it takes to prepare for the launch of my first book on my website at gerrirussell.net. Stop on by, and while you are there, register for the "Spa Day Giveaway." You might be the lucky winner of a complete spa day package at a spa near you.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Hello! My name is Ann Roth. I write for Harlequin American (have done a few Special Editions, too) and Kensington. My next two novels, one from each publishing house, will be out in April, 2007. What a wild and busy month that will be! LOL
But April is months from now, so I won't get into either novel just yet. Maybe in Januray or February. I'll be doing booksignings in several places around the country and will let you know once things are set up. Meantime if you want to learn more about me and my existing novels, please stop by www.annrothnet. Enter the drawing for a free book!
At the moment, what's on my mind are the holidays.
If you live in the United States, you know that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Is anyone surprised by this besides me? Didn't we just celebrate Halloween? LOL. Before you know it we'll be deep into the holiday season craze. Do you have special holiday customs? If so, please share.
Many of our family customs center around food. Nothing wrong with that, especially if you love to cook. And I do. My husband's great, great aunt left this fabulous recipe for turkey stuffing that I make every year. My mother's homemade yeast rolls are also part of the feast. And my husband's mom's pumpkin pie. And a chocolate cream pie I found years ago, in a magazine. Our guests, which include our kids and their spouses and/or significant others and our adorable 19-month-old grandson, also contribute, as do the friends who join us. Some people drink wine, too. Some don't drink alcohol. But for those who do, last year I made cosmos and served limoncello, an after-dinner drink I first tasted in Italy. I made the limoncello myself and oh my, it's delish!
So there are lots of people and lots of fun!
After we eat we gather around a roaring fire and play dictionary, a game my grandparents started a long time ago. Since that time someone came out with a board game much like what we play.(Why didn't we think of that?!) What you do is pass out pencils and paper, the same size, color and kind, to everyone. One person opens the dictionary and chooses a word no one knows. They spell it and everyone writes it down. The object of the game is to make up a definition for the word and write it down. While everyone does this the person with the dictionary jots the real definition on a similar piece of paper. You sign your name to your definition, fold the paper in half, and hand it to the dictionary person. Then the fun begins. This person reads each definition aloud, including the real one, without revealing which one is correct. And of course since they're all written on similar paper, no one can identify who wrote what. That's important! You vote on what you think is the real definition. If people vote for yours, you get one point for each vote; if you vote for the real definition, you get a point for that.
Only after everyone votes is the real definition revealed. Believe me, this is a great deal of fun! Plus you learn new words. Or maybe I like it so much because I'm a writer? Anyway, that's Thanksgiving.
Well, I've rambled on and on, and I'm sure you've had enough. So I'll stop for now.
Please add comments and share you own special holiday customs.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
My first Medical romance novel, The Italian Doctor's Bride, was out in the UK in October 2006. (Available via the Mills & Boon website until the end of this month and online at Amazon!!)
Set in beautiful south-west Scotland, it tells the story of workaholic rural GP Hannah Frost, a woman with a painful past, and new Italian locum, the delicious Nic di Angelis, who also has memories to overcome. The last thing Hannah thinks she needs is a man in her life, but can Nic, caring and dedicated, help Hannah to heal?
I have chosen to stay with the rural Scottish feel for my novels and I hope this is something readers will enjoy. Although they stand alone, all the books are loosely linked and various characters will pop up again from time to time. I love that feeling of continuity and the rural Scottish locations also allow that feeling of community and of medical professionals who really know and care about their patients.
My second Medical is called A Doctor Worth Waiting For and is out in the UK in March 2007 and April 2007 in the US. I have seen the hardback (released in the UK in January 2007) and the cover is gorgeous - very atmospheric with the hills and rugged landscape.
Next will be His Very Special Nurse in June 2007 (UK paperback) with troubled doctor Kyle Sinclair and Alexandra Patterson, the dedicated, caring nurse who might teach him to live and love again. This will be followed in August 2007 (UK paperback) by One Special Night, a tale of passion and conflict, of the impossible choice doctors Cameron Kincaid and Ginger O'Neill must make between their duty and responsibility for their work versus their desire and need for each other.
It has been the most amazing year and I am so very grateful for the warm welcome and generous advice offered by so many other writers. I cannot believe my books are on the shelves with those of authors I have admired for so long! They are an amazing bunch of people.
Lee has done a terrific job with her website and her goodie bags. This new blog in which various authors can share their thoughts and news on their books is wonderful and I really appreciate being able to take part.
For now I had best leave you in peace and return to my work in progress, the latest tale from southern Scotland relating the trials and tribulations of Frazer and Callie who work together as doctor and paramedic one hectic, snowy December on the air ambulance! Callie is putting up a bit of a fight at the moment - will Frazer prevail?!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
The thing is being a writer is real life is nothing like being a writer in movies or on TV. Not that I want to be like that writer guy in Misery...I love shoes too much. But there are some fantasies I wouldn't mind having on a daily basis. Like the idea that a book sells, comes out and makes a million, all in a 22 minute sitcom. If only. Or that writers live glamorous lives. Or write in the bathtub, wearing a boa, drinking champagne.
I write in my office, with a cat on the table beside me and a dog curled up under my desk. Not a boa in sight. Or champagne. Let's take a typical day...let's take today. It's Sunday. Most people are off, but I'm behind, so I worked today. But first I went to the grocery store because it's lovely and quiet early in the morning and I can powerwalk my way through all the aisles.
I had a moral debate with myself in the bakery section, which I lost. So a blueberry muffin for me and apple fritters for the family later, I collected my groceries, made a quick stop at Starbucks, then drove home. After unloading groceries, I took care of the litter box, the puppy pads, refilled not one, not two but three water dishes, ate my muffin, then went to work. I stopped after a couple of pages to put in laundry, discuss whether or not the air filters needed replacing with my husband, yelled at my stepson to turn down the music which he was *studying* to, then went back to my chapter.
Stopped six pages later to start lunch, clean off my desk (didn't get that done) do more laundry, wash out the cat fountain, which is different from the cat water dish, medicate one cat with tummy issues. The local home owners association ladies stopped by, so that was a highlight. I still have to finish my chapter, pay bills, fold said laundry, cook dinner and then collapse.
Somebody pour me that glass of champagne!
In my next life I plan to be rich and have a staff. Or at least a pool boy. But for now...I'm doing my best to get it all done. The good news is, I get to write for a living and that's about the coolest thing around!
I am very happy to accept Lee's invitation to contribute to this blog. Unlike some of the others, I do maintian my own blog but welcome the chance to write on different subjects and perhaps meet a few more readers this way. The tote bag certainly looks like a very interesting place to be and Lee seems to have some wonderful ideas for the future.
For those of you who don't know me, I am Michelle Styles and I write for Harlequin Mills and Boon Historicals.
My first book, The Gladiator's Honour was published in the UK in May 2006, and in the US last September. It was the first time HM&B had published books set in this time period. Thus far, the reader response has been very positive.
My next book, A Noble Captive, has just been published in the UK in hardback and will be published in the UK in paperback in January 07. For those of you who aren't familiar with the UK system, the hardback books are mainly sold to UK libraries as they find the books are taken out so often... I have not been given the North American release date yet but understand it will be in the second half of 2007. Like The Gladiator's Honor, it is set in the First Century BC. It involves a captured Roman soldier being sheltered by a pagan priestess. I adore the cover.
I am running a contest until 15 November where the prize is a signed hardback copy of A Noble Captive. The details are on my blog.
Although there has been some discussion in recent weeks in the blogosphere about the demise of the historical, I am here to tell you that it is alive and well at Harlequin Historical. HH has been branching out into new time periods such as Rome, discovering new authors as well as keeping its commitment to its core readership by publishing Westerns and Regencies. The Historical editorial team is really committed to fulfilling the HH promise of rich, vivid, passionate romance in a historically accurate setting. From what I know, 2007 looks to be a stunning year for any fan of the series. For up to date info on the line, the HH authors maintain a blog.
Again, let me say how delighted I am to be here and contributing to Tote Bags 'n' blogs, and how much I am looking forward to the whole experience.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Speaking of virgins (yes, Trish, a fascinating topic) consider me in virgin territory here. Am hoping I manage to post this blog without doing something totally bizarre as my blogging experience is seriously limited.
Thanks, Lee, for inviting me to join the blog. Blogging is so much more fun than "writing."
Good to see so many familiar faces here, too. Hi everyone!
Trish, Kate has been raving to me about your Virgin book, so I'm looking forward to reading it. When I get holed up working I never seem to get to the bookstore while things are on the shelves. So it's a good thing there are online bookstores now (though my husband as been known to groan when he sees yet another box being delivered by the mailman!)
I've just dealt with a virgin of my own in The Santorini Bride (Feb 2007) -- and just got the cover yesterday, so I'm showing it off here!
I'm just starting a new book (a spin-off of a book I did six years ago -- the heroine was only 19 in that book and she had to grow up a bit to get her own story!) and so far things are good. But I'm nowhere near the "dreaded middle" yet.
How do you guys handle that? Or maybe you don't dread middles the way I do. There just seem to be so many options, even if you know your characters well. I love the "setting out" and the "tying up" -- but the middles can be quicksand, I think.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Bottom line? For me, a heroine's sexual past may or may not be important to the story. That's pretty much what dictates whether I make her a virgin or not.
There are times I don't think the heroine's sexual background matters to the hero or the story, as in my current book, THE SICILIAN'S CHRISTMAS BRIDE. In this book, Dante's deep need for Tally and her deep need for him are what drive the characters and the plot.
Other times, it does matter. For example, you mentioned a heroine not having had the kind of deep, passionate experience with another man as she has with the hero. That's the case in the manuscript I just finished proofing, THE GREEK PRINCE'S CHOSEN WIFE. There, the difference between what the heroine felt sexually in the past and what she feels now, in the hero's arms, is telling.
In the book I'm currently writing, THE SPANISH PRINCE'S VIRGIN BRIDE, the heroine's virginity is integral to the story.
Maybe the bottom line is that each story we write is different, and so is each heroine.
- so Hi again from Kate
Welcome Trish - it's great to see you here! This blog is becoming a real Presents Authors meeting place.
Around this time of year I start to plan my Christmas Contest. It's always very popular so I try to make sure that I have a really special prize. This year I have one that I think will make an romance readers' mouth water.
What is it? Well, you'll have to wait until I get it up on my web site to find out. I'll post details on my blog too. Just as soon as I get the right picture to go with the news and all the details in place.
But if you can't wait till then you might like to know that Leena has a special Kate Walker contest running on the My Tote Bag site right now. And it's not just a Kate Walker Contest - there are signed books by the wonderful Presents author Michelle Reid too - 6 books in all, 3 by me and 3 by Michelle.
So why not check out the My Tote Bag Contest Page to see what you can win and how to enter?
And I'll come back and post when I have all the details of my Christmas Contest in place.
PS - In case you don't know - the Christmas Contest is the main one that goes up on my web site - but I also run a very special contest for members of my mailing list - that's the 12 Days of Christmas Contest, with a chance to win a prize every day for 12 days in December. But that is for members of my mailing list only - so if you'd like to join the details you'll need are here.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Or maybe that should be The Virgin is Out Now - lol. A Virgin for the Taking, that is.
Lee, thanks so much for inviting me along to your blog! Lovely to see so many of my writer friends here already. Hi to Susan, Kate and Sandra!
And speaking of virgins, there was a question on one of our Downunder writing loops recently about why so often heroines in romance novels are virgins and how unrealistic it was in this day and age to be writing contemporary novels featuring inexperienced twenty-something heroines.
Now I don't think virgins are either as rare in real life as some would have us believe, or that contemporary novels are full of them - I think it depends on what you read - but I have to admit to writing a few of them myself:-)
So far I've had The Italian's Virgin Bride (a May 07 US release), even closer in January we have The Greek's Virgin, and right now on the shelves is my A Virgin for the Taking (Hint - if you like gorgeous pearls, to die for heroes and romance under tropical sunsets- you'll love this book:-))
And okay,if you look at the titles of the latest Presents releases and you'll find plenty more virgins sprinkled amongst the Greek Tycoons and Italian Stallions. Some might think it's a home away from home for virgins. Along with mistresses and inconvenient wives:-)
But not all my heroines are virgins. None of them, however, are sex in the city girls - it wouldn't fit the line, whereas it might work perfectly well in other lines or in single title.
I want my readers to be able to empathise with the heroine, so I don't want her to fall in bed with every guy she meets. I want her to be a tad more selective. And maybe, even though perhaps she's had sexual encounters in the past, they've left her cold or uninvolved or unimpressed or whatever (enter Mr Sex-on-Legs hero - she's incredibly drawn to him but damned if she's going to give into it in a hurry).
But whether the heroine is a virgin or not, it has to fit the story and be true to the character and to the tone of the book. When you're talking high stakes and drama (as in the Presents line), a hero who has the hots badly for a woman and who must possess her at all costs, then her being a virgin can be one more factor that ratchets up the stakes. That's certainly the case in my A Virgin for the Taking - discovering that the woman he believes to have been his father's mistress is a virgin is crucial to the hero's journey in that story. (And that's not giving anything away that the title already hasn't!) Hopefully I've also built into her history good reason why she's avoided men these past few years.
It's also worth remembering that the Presents is first and foremost a fantasy line. Larger than life heroes, larger than life situations. For instance, how often do blackmail or arranged marriages or deep seated revenge or secret babies happen in our everyday lives? I'd wager not that often. And yet this one line's books are full of just those things. They're hooks, hopefully set well enough in a believable context so that the reader becomes that heroine, and is transported away to a world of high stakes, high conflict and high passion.
And heck, we all deserve a bit of the latter, eh?
Monday, October 30, 2006
Hello everyone and thank you, Lee, for inviting me to blog with all of you. I'm new to blogging but it didn't take me long to decide that I love it. The only problem is finding time...
But I thought I'd drop by, greet everyone (Hi Kate, hi Susan) and take a minute to relax. I also wanted to show you the cover of my new book, THE SICILIAN'S CHRISTMAS BRIDE, on the shelves right now. Readers and reviewers say it's the perfect holiday story: full of emotion and, as always, with a to-die for, gorgeous Alpha hero. His name is Dante Russo and he does have a heart... if Tally can only find it.span>..
Just please don’t tell my editor that I’m here – I’m supposed to be working – writing a new book, not chatting. I know my editor reads my personal blog - so that’s the one where I say that I’ve been working really hard. But maybe she won’t spot this one.
What I really want to say first of all is how thrilled I’ve been to see the success of my October release, At The Sheikh’s Command. A great big thank you to everyone who has bought a copy and so put this book on both the Waldenbooks Top Ten list and the Booktrack top 100 for four weeks. I’ve been so delighted by this result. And because of it, I’m celebrating. When I celebrate, I like to give my readers a chance to celebrate too – so watch out for a special contest coming up here on My Tote Bag. I’ve got together with a very special friend of mine, and a writer I truly admire – Michelle Reid - to bring you some prizes I hope you’ll really want to win. That’s coming soon, so look out for it.
And I’m busy with new plans and ideas for a big Christmas Contest on my own web site – details of this will be posted early in November – so why not drop by and see if you can win a Christmas Stocking Stuffed with Books. Other new plans are going to include a total revamp of my web site, with the new look launching in the New Year – I’m working on that at the moment. The launch of the new look site is specially to celebrate the fact that in June 2007, I shall have my 50th title for Harlequin published so there are going to be some very special ‘Golden’ celebrations then.
So there’s plenty coming up – I just have to find the time to write as well. Susan (Hi Susan!) says she needs to be twins – I think I need to be triplets. But one thing I’m going to make sure I do is to visit here as often as I can. What I was wondering was what do you want to know about most? Do you want to know what I’m working on ? (A handsome Greek who’s just discovered that the wife he thought he hated is back in his life . . . ) Or what I’m reading ( There’s a Susan Stephens' Sheikh in my TBR pile, several books from the newest of the new Presents authors, the new Michelle Reid. . . )
What would you like to read about in this blog? You tell me or ask questions – and I’ll try to answer.
Just don’t tell my editor – promise!
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
When I thought of a novella collection about sisters sharing earrings, I ran the idea by my twin sister like I always do. Her first response? "Pink? Why pink?"
Coming from my sister, this was not a strange question. When I was growing up, I had to share a room with my twin sister. For some reason, my mother felt it was necessary to paint the room pink. I'm still not sure why. Neither my sister nor I were partial to the color, but we were girls, it was the 70s, and I sense there was a great discount on bright pink paint.
That's right. Bright pink.
But it didn't stop there. Perhaps my mother had lots left over because she painted the bedroom furniture the same color. The curtains were pink gingham. She even needle-pointed two quilts to go with the room.
Remember the line Julia Roberts' character said in Steel Magnolias? "My colors are blush and bashful." Yeah, she was talking about my quilt.
When we were older, my sister and I tried to get a makeover for our room, but my mother was adamant that it stayed this way. We weren't allowed to hang up posters to break up the great expanse of wince-inducing pink. I don't know why since a lot of singers in the 80s would have blended right into that room.
I have to say, there was nothing quite like waking up in the morning to a very pink room. It was jarring. Nauseating. Or maybe the color always reminded me of Pepto-Bismol. That would explain my choice of words when I had to describe my bedroom for a school writing assignment. I got points off for writing "My room is so pink it makes me want to puke."
I told my teacher I was going for alliteration. She still didn't think 'puke' had any literary merit.
My guess is that she liked pink.
I slept in the bright pink room until I moved out of the house. Right after this, my sister manage to convince my mother that the room needed a new look. She would handle everything herself. The first thing she would do was get rid of the pink.
So she painted the room gray.
I'm not kidding. Gun-metal gray that only came as outdoor paint. And, oddly enough, it was refreshing change. Although once my sister left home, my mother immediately repainted the room to a neutral beige color.
Since then, I don't surround myself with a lot of pink other than the occasional shirt. So it came as a surprise when I was at a conference last year and I met a reader who said, "Oh, you're the one who writes those pink books."
Pink books? I immediately did a mental checklist of my books. Uh-oh. I did have more pink books than the average romance writer. How did this happen?
But then I thought about what the color pink symbolizes. That is, once I stop thinking of my childhood bedroom. Pink means fun and femininity. It can show a flirty attitude. I'm told the color traditionally represent love and beauty. This is what my books are about!
So when I put together the idea of three sisters sharing a pair of diamond earrings, I decided to purposely add some pink. After my initial research, I found out that naturally pink diamonds were rare and expensive. It felt like it was meant to be, and I was going to really push the pink (In my books, that is. I still don't have anything pink thing in my home.) That's how I got the title PINK ICE.
What do you think about the color pink? Do you love it, hate it, or are you indifferent to the color?