Thursday, November 30, 2006

Introducing Anna Campbell

Hello, everyone!

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 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

Another Newcomer

Lee, thanks so much for inviting me to be here - and for the fun interview we did. I'm waving to everyone from Vancouver, BC, which is normally known for its rainy winters. Right now the city is reeling in shock from 2 days of snow. I'm dealing with the issue by staying inside where it's warm!

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 -- 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


Inspired by friends and readers asking me about my heroes, and also by the wonderful Male on Monday slots on the Pink Heart Society's blog, (I can't wait to see who Anne McAllister has picked for her posting there tomorrow!) I thought I would share with you some pictures and thoughts relating to characters from my books. (

You have already seen a photo of Iker Cassilas, the Spanish soccer goalkeeper who was my model for Nic in The Italian Doctor's Bride - and I am very glad that he has also proved very versitile and has been an inspiration to the wonderful Kate Walker for her new hero, Guido. (Kate has kindly included a copy of my first book in her Chirstmas Stocking Contest. Do visit her blog at and take part.)

It has always fascinated me the ways in which different writers work. We are all individuals and there is no rigid right or wrong, only what works best for you. Some write a set number of words over a set amount of time each day. Others, like me, cannot "write to order", and may write nothing one day and then loads the next. If it is there and flowing, I sit until I am done. I can't stop at X number of words and hope it will be there again when I come back to the keyboard. Likewise, some writers are detailed plotters while others, myself included, fly by the seat of their pants! I am very character driven. I know what the story is about and where it is going, but it is my characters who lead me there, not a very detailed synopsis and plan. The more I get to know them as real people and live with them in my head, the easier I find it to write. It is as if they are speaking to me, dictating their stories or enacting things like a film in my head. Consequently, I am very visual ... I like to have pictures of my characters and settings and anything else relevant from which to work. I don't follow it slavishly but use the images as a reference guide from which to build my own fictional people and places.

With my second Medical Romance, A Doctor Worth Waiting For, I already knew a lot about my hero, Dr Conor Anderson. A caring GP in a rural practice in southern Scotland, (the setting for all my books), Conor is laid back, irreverent, an excellent doctor and loyal friend, a highly sought-after bachelor but one who is picky about the woman he is looking for. He is also deliciously wicked!

When I found this picture, I just knew it was Conor - it had exactly the look that I wanted.

Conor turned out to be a very special hero for me to write and he has stayed with me long afterwards. True, my characters usually do find a niche for themselves, one of the reasons I so love to write books that are loosely linked so that I can revisit them and have them pop in for little cameo roles from time to time. I don't like to say goodbye. I also enjoy building up that feeling of a wider community and, in the case of Medical Romances, the sense of interconnected colleagues working in different practices, hospitals or other specialties, whose lives intertwine.

One of my very best friends, Christina Jones, who writes spectacularly good novels which make me laugh and cry, ( paid me a huge compliment when she had a sneak preview of A Doctor Worth Waiting For. She told me that my feelings for Conor had come through in the writing of the book. She also told me that she had fallen for him, too! Sorry, girls, you will have to form an orderly queue!

My next hero, in His Very Special Nurse, is Kyle Sinclair. Conor's best friend, Kyle is also a GP but at a different practice some miles away. Nic, Conor and Kyle meet up when they can to go hillwalking, climbing and cycling. My supremely wonderful editor and I have come to call Kyle my "tortured" or "troubled" hero. And he has become Sue ( my splendid critique partner's favourite.

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!

My fourth Medical Romance, One Special Night, sees the action move to the fictional town of Strathlochan. The hospital, and wider medical and rescue services, serve not only the town but also the surrounding villages and a large, scattered rural population over a big area - including the villages visited in the first three books. This fourth book is linked loosely to those first three stories but also sees the start of what will hopefully be a whole new series of Strathlochan books.

For One Special Night, I needed a very special hero. I had the personality and characteristics in mind for Cameron Kincaid and needed to match him to the heroine, Ginger O'Neill. Hunting through my hero folder (it's a tough job but someone has to do it!) I found an advertisment for Seiko watches from about eight or ten years ago. Sadly, I have no idea who this man is (and if anyone knows I will be forever in your debt if you can name [and kidnap if possible!!] him for me) but he was Cameron. Again the brooding sensuality, the mesmerising eyes ... Having this picture sitting on my desk sent shivers down my spine!

He is simply stunning! Excuse me while I pause for reverie ... Where was I? Oh, yes, Cameron. Well, I had some inspiration, as you can see! The sparks really fly between him and Ginger, a red hot passion and searing need - one which refuses to be extinguished when they discover the conflict of interest which lies between them. Somehow they have to walk away from each other. But that is easier said than done. Can they resolve the conflict and find a way to balance their professional and personal lives? You'll have to wait and see!

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!

Best wishes,


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Arriving Late For The Party!

I big warm thanks, Lee, for inviting me in here. It’s so great to be amongst so many of my favourite authors!

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!

Michelle Reid

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dashing Through the Mall???

Don't hate me because...well, I've all but finished my Christmas shopping. I know, I know, you're muttering that I'm sick. I am. But rather than calling it sick, I like the term, foibles. But the foible that makes me hate shopping in the midst of Christmas craziness, means I'm done early and can just relax while everyone else runs around like crazy! And that foible is what inspired my novella, Deck the Halls, for this month's Harlequin Anthology, Dashing Through the Mall. My heroine, Joy, is feeling frazzled by the holiday crowds and by the nonstop Christmas carols. But the whipped topping on top of her holiday angst is the fact she has to shop with a Dr. Ed Hall and his three sons on Christmas Eve. Joy's not feeling very...well, joyful at the thought! Oh, did I mention that I have four kids, so I understand the horrors of trying to keep them on task in a mall full of tempting distractions!

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

Hope you all have a happy holiday, whether you're shopping early or late!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Holiday Shopping with Sandra Marton

Does anybody shop in stores and malls anymore?

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 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

My Christmas Contest - from Kate Walker

Okay so I'm going to let myself mention the C word. After all, it is only . . . eeek - five weeks + to the day. So today I'm announcing my big Christmas Contest - and your chance to win a

Christmas Stocking Stuffed with Books

Would you like a special romance readers’ Christmas Stocking stuffed full of books written by some of your favourite authors — or authors new to you that might become new favourites in the coming year?That’s the prize I have on offer in my special Christmas Contest!I have two prizes of Christmas stockings stuffed full of books to give away to then winners of this contest — so far the stockings contain signed copies of:
Christmas, Kids and Kisses, the Christmas 3 in 1 By Request in which my novel The Christmas Baby’s Gift is reprinted
Accepting the Boss’s Proposal by Natasha Oakley
The Italian Doctor’s Bride by Margaret McDonagh
White-Hot by Trish Wylie

And I’m adding new titles all the time — I won’t stop till the stockings are full. Friends and fellow authors are donating books all the time, right up until the closing date.
If you want to know more about the books I’m adding to the stockings, keep checking my blog to find out what’s happening.

So how do you win this great Christmas reading stocking?It's easy - just check out the Contest page on my web site, find the two easy trivia questions and hunt down the answers to them - the answers are on my site somewhere.
Then send your answers to me - email links are on my site too - with CHRISTMAS STOCKING CONTEST in your email subject line.
There are no runners’ up prizes in this contest. But if you want more chances to win, then why not join my Newsletter mailing list where you will have twelve more chances to win in the 12 Days of Christmas Contest that starts in December. My newsletter members already know about this - so if like them you want to be the first to know what's happening and have chances to win the special prizes I have just for my mailing list members - then there's a link to the group in the sidebar of my blog or you can find it on most pages on my web site.

So what's the cat doing here? Well, for those of you who don't already - Sid's the guy who makes you a winner! When a contest comes to an end, I put the names of all the entrants with the correct answer on to separate pieces of paper - and then I add a cat crunchie to each name. Then Sid goes to work! The first name he eats a crunchie from is the winner - and the next . . .
Of course Sid is looking forward to there being plenty of entries to these contests, so why not make a cat very happy? Good luck!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What an honor to be here among my fellow bloggers! Thank you, Leena, for the opportunity, and hello to all! I'm Gerri Russell, winner of this year's American Title II contest sponsored by Romantic Time BOOKreviews Magazine and Dorchester Publishing. If it wasn't for the contest I probably wouldn't be here with you now. The American Title competition truly helped to get me published after 13 years of trying.

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 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.

All my best,


Monday, November 13, 2006

Glad To Be Here

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.

Until later,

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Margaret McDonagh - introducing myself and my books

I am so honoured to be asked to join the wonderful authors already part of this blog. Many thanks to Lee for including me. Having been writing for twenty years, doing short stories, serials and story library novellas, I still cannot believe the dream has come true and I have a "proper book"! The last eleven months since my first Medical romance was accepted by Harlequin Mills & Boon has flown by and I still think I am dreaming, that all this really is not happening to me! It is the most amazing feeling. I will never forget the moment when my brilliant and supportive editor phoned to tell me that they were going to publish my book! Having an actual copy of that first book in my hands still hardly makes it seem any more real.

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?

(Iker Casillas, Spanish soccer goalkeeper proved a more than adequate model of inspiration for Nic!) The Italian Doctor's Bride is out in Australia and New Zealand in December 2006 which is very exciting.

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.

The scrumptious, naughty and laid back hero, GP Conor Anderson is one of the county's most elligible bachelors. He is looking for that one special woman who will capture his heart - and he thinks he has found her in new doctor, Kate Fisher. But Kate is hiding many secrets and Conor must first unravel her mysteries and gain her trust if he ever hopes to also win her heart and make Kate his partner in life and well as in the practice.

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?!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Shannon McKelden - Introduction

Like all the other ladies here, I want to thank Lee for inviting me! It's a wonderful compliment to be included here with such a selection of talented writers.

UNlike all the other ladies here...I don't even have a book out yet! Really. VENUS ENVY comes out on December 26th...still 48 days away. (I might make it that long.)

Actually, 48 days doesn't sound all that long anymore. See, I sold this book a year and a half ago. What a wonderful, frustrating, and joyous ride this process has been since I sold Venus in May of 2005. You can read about my first day as a newly-sold writer here. What's happened between then and now would fill a book all by itself.

So, what's VENUS ENVY all about? Here's a little hint:

Take one hunky firefighter, one stubborn "Cinderella," and one very reluctant fairy godmother and what do you get?

Rachel Greer wants no part of Venus's scheme to land Mr. March as her Prince Charming, but Venus is determined to do just that. She's only a few love-life fixes short of returning to her former goddess status, and she's not letting one mulish mortal stand in her way.

It appears the only way Rachel can get rid of the very un-Disney-like fairy godmother is to play along. So she follows Venus's plan to interview Luke Stanton's ex-girlfriends...which Venus believes will cure Rachel's relationship fears, but which Rachel knows will only prove her point that men are never what they appear to be.

But, when Venus's plan appears to work, and Rachel and Luke fall in love, does Rachel dare set aside her fears about happily ever? Or will betrayal send her back into relationship seclusion...this time forever? And what happens when a goddess-turned-fairy godmother breaks the most important rule--protecting herself from human emotions?

Publishers Weekly recently said about VENUS ENVY:

"Told from the alternating viewpoints of Venus and Rachel, the story puts a fresh spin on the classic fairy godmother story, and Venus—catty and generous with her barbed wit—is cut from different cloth than the standard well-behaved fairy."

And: "McKelden's sharp sense of humor pulls plenty of weight."
If that sounds good to you, you can take a little sneak peak here.

I've also got a newsletter going, which you can sign up for on my website. Directions can be found on the home page right under my author photo. You never know when I might be giving away terrific prizes, so be sure to sign up soon.

Adding to the wild ride I've been on has been the popularity of Venus, the character, as well as the book. In fact, Venus recently got a job! (How's that for strange?) Affaire de Coeur Magazine has signed Venus on to be a regular columnist. "What Would Venus Do?" will let readers ask the Goddess of Love/Beauty/Fertility and Fabulousness how to solve any manner of problems with love, romance, beauty and, most importantly, men. Venus, of course, will offer advice in her super snarky fub fabulously fun way. Watch for it!

So, I guess that's about all I can tell you about me. Again, I'm so glad to be here. Hope you'll stop by my personal blog also. I can be mildly entertaining sometimes, I think. :-)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Susan Mallery - If only it were like the movies...

Hi--I'm Susan Mallery and I'm going to be posting over here from time to time. You're probably wondering where the fancy graphics are, the links to my covers, or my web site. Hmm, you're gonna have to use your imagination. I have no idea how to link or upload...I keep telling myself I should learn. But it's sort of like the government suggestion of 9 fruits or vegetables a day. A fabulous idea in theory, but honestly, who has the time?

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!

Michelle Styles: Introducing Myself

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

Joining in - Annie West

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 the invitation to join in on the blog. I'm with Anne - this is so very tempting when compared with the work of writing! A warm hello to everyone else here.

I've read some great books recently with virginal heroines, though it's not something I particularly look for in a story. As Sandra said, it depends on the book.

Just for the thrill of it I've included the cover of my Mistress for the Taking (yes, it's my first Presents). After all, one of the main characters is sexually inexperienced. Three guesses which one.

I have to say that some of the books that stick in my mind have had the hero as a virgin. Now, that's something different. What do other people think? Have you read any books like that? Did they work for you?

I'm smiling at Anne's concern about the looming middle of her next book. I'm at that stage now. I'd just decided to slash a minor character from the text as I'd convinced myself he was unecessary. A few minutes later he was in my head having a fascinating conversation with my heroine. It was all interesting stuff that really should be in the book. It looks like Anne's not the only one to have troubles in the middle of a story!

Anne McAllister -- Happy to be here!

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

Sandra Marton: Virginal Heroines

Trish, that's an interesting topic! I, too, get emails asking why I've chosen to make a particular heroine a virgin... and other emails asking why I don't make more of my heroines virgins.

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.

Kate Walker - Contests and great prizes

I just realised that when I blog I need to make sure I make it clear who the post is from (thank heaven for editing)

- 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

The Virgin is In!

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?