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Friday, May 29, 2009

Brain Waves and Creativity - Joy Nash

I started writing about the same time I learned to meditate regularly. It wasn't a coincidence. Meditation opened the door to my creativity. Images and words flow into a quiet mind. At the time, I was completely ignorant of craft, and shaky on goal/motivation/conflict. I could only plot in a straight line. But there was no end to the ideas pouring out of my subconscious.

It was only later that I learned about brainwave patterns and their role in creativity.

How can you harness brainwaves to enhance creativity of all kinds? Here’s the short course on the four categories of brainwaves: Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta.

Beta is the everyday, mundane task brainwave. It's good at logic and organization. Most people in our culture spend almost all their waking hours with Beta as their predominant brainwave. Beta is your internal critic, your worrywart, your procrastinator. It’s also your internal editor. Beta can be your friend or your enemy. You have to learn when to listen, and when to tune out.

Alpha is detached awareness. It's kind of a floaty, zoned-out, daydreaming consciousness, known as "The Bridge to the Subconscious." Alpha is the brush that paints the images that rise from your subconscious. It helps athletic performance. Some people refer to an Alpha state as being “The Zone.” Nature sounds help produce an Alpha state.

Theta brainwaves are produced by the subconscious mind, and are present in dreaming sleep. Theta brainwaves unlock the creativity of the subconscious mind. Theta will also unlock deeply stored "baggage," both good and bad, which is probably where the "tortured artist" stereotype comes from. If you reach a state where your brain is producing only Theta waves, you’ll experience an immense feeling of wellbeing. When you come down into Beta, you probably won’t remember the time in Theta. But the messages from your subconscious will rise into Alpha and then Beta eventually. You want to keep the channel open as much as possible.

Delta brainwaves come from the unconscious mind. Strong Delta brain activity is common in healers, psychics, mystics, and people who are very sensitive to the moods of those around them. For those of us who are less enlightened, we experience Delta during sleep. The body does most of its healing work in Delta, and the mind does most of its dreaming. This brainwave length is connected to what psychologist Carl Jung called "the collective consciousness."

Combine the Four
The highest levels of creativity come when all four brainwave patterns are present at once. When you are in this state of awakened consciousness, you are thinking and meditating simultaneously - brainstorming, creating, visualizing, and evaluating, all at the same time. Everything comes together beautifully and you know you’re doing your best work. It's a great place for a writer to be. There are many books and audio courses that contain meditation exercises designed to strengthen the links between the four levels of consciousness. One I book I highly recommend is Awakening the Mind, by Anna Wise (ISBN 1585421456, Tarcher/Putnam 2002).

Creatively yours,

Joy Nash

PS: Check out the latest offering from my murky subconscious: A Little Light Magic, a Jersey Shore romance. (Leisure Books, May 26) http://www.joynash.com/

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's The Time of the Season. . .


Time of what season? Well, it's summer now - not officially but past Memorial Day so it counts -- and that means. . .it's time for summer anthologies and hot romances!

I realized what publishers already knew -- certain times of the year are better for reading short romances. Have you seen the shelves? The list of upcoming releases? There are SOOOOO many holiday and seasonal romance anthologies scheduled for not only Christmas-time but also the summer. June Brides, hot summer beach reads, both long and short, fill the shelves. My own TBR is filled with them, too.

Even though for some, summer means more time to read and more time for relaxing, it's not my 'slow time'. So, those anthologies are great! I can read a whole story in a short time and still have time to work, shop, write, and all those other things expected of me. And then, when I have another bit of open time, there's another whole little romance waiting for me! I love it!

And then, just when the weather gets hot. . . the romances get hotter! Is that because we're already sweating and fanning ourselves so publishers figure it's a good time for those? I was just browsing through the latest RT magazine and wow - it looks like there are some steamy romances coming out in the next couple of months. I guess I'll have to save those for when I'm near a pool or on the beach so I can run or jump in to cool off as needed? LOL!

So, do you fall for 'hot' summer romances? Do you read shorter books during the summer (or other times like Christmas)? More importantly, which hot or shorter romances are you looking forward to reading this summer? I have a set of my Highlander trilogy -- being published in the UK this summer -- for one lucky random poster.....


Terri has both a short and a hot romance coming out this summer! Her Harlequin Historical UNDONE! short story will be available online on June 1st -- A Night for Her Pleasure introduces readers to the Knights of Brittany, Terri's hot sexy medieval heroes. Then in July, the first full-length story The Conqueror's Lady hits the shelves to continue the story. Check out Terri's website for more info and links to her current and upcoming releases - www.terribrisbin.com

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Popped Balloon - Jessica Inclán


On a recent Sunday morning--a glorious, already hot 8.30 am--my friend Sue and I rounded a bend on a street close to our homes, part of our weekly walk, and saw a man getting into a car driven by a woman. Sue and I were talking, but we both thought about this as we saw them drive away.
Are they going out for a Sunday event? I thought.
Are they going to the beach? Sue thought.
The white Camry passed us, and we just kept on moving.
But as we walked by the car they'd been parked next to--the car I'd assumed was the man's--I heard a tinkling sound, the rainfall of broken glass hitting the asphalt.
"Did they just break that?" I asked. "Did that just happen?"
Turns out, yes, it had just happened.
After I called the police and Sue rousted the poor folks to whom the car belonged--the car now missing GPS and window--I couldn't help but be amazed at humans. We do so many things that are appalling, and I suppose breaking into a car isn't among the worst, not by a long shot. In fact, it's not even close.
And I know that certain circumstances push us toward things we wouldn't normally consider. Things happen, and we decide to steal identities, break into cars and houses, rob convenience stores. We buy guns, hole up in houses, and wait for SWAT teams. We can easily fall down the rabbit hole of crime, but what about that moment before it all happens.
Is there a way to catch us before we do what we do?
I often think about a short skit that was on Sesame Street when my children were little. In the quick, animated sketch, a boy imagines walking up to another child and popping a balloon. The noise of the popped balloon scares the child, who is standing on a skateboard. The skateboard careens into a number of things, people, and about three other lives are disrupted and hurt because of the impulse of the child who had to pop the balloon. Then the child who imagines this chain of events decides to not pop the balloon and walks up to the other child and says hello instead.
That's the moment we all need, the moment before the popped balloon.


video

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Makes Your Garden Grown - Laura Drewry

Gardening. Love it. Hate it. Regardless, it must be done.

Some gardens are completely random, with vibrant colours and mismatched annuals/perennials/what-have-you. Some have been painstakingly mapped out, petal by petal, until every inch of dirt is symmetrical and balanced. Our garden used to be like that. When we bought this house, the previous owner gave us a scaled drawing of all the gardens and what each plant was. We've tweaked it a little since then, and while I'd like to say I've been as organized as she, and kept the drawing up to date. . .well. . .that's what I'd like to say.
My point here is that gardening is a lot like writing. Some 'gardens' are meticulously mapped out, scene by scene, whereas others (like mine) tend to be more random.


Regardless of the gardener's method, there will always be weeds that need to be pulled;




there will always be slugs that need to be relocated (or treated to a saucer full of beer)



and there will always be those little buds that look like beautiful spring plants, but upon closer inspection, we discover they are feelers from the willow tree growing six yards down the block.


So while it doesn't matter how you garden, what matters is that you do garden. Pull those weeds, get rid of those slugs (whether by beer, salt, or other relocation practices), and remember - above all - to fertilize. The trick to a good 'garden', of course, is being able to determine when you've got a good amount of fertilizer and when your garden has become nothing more than a pile of . . .well. . .fertilizer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Grandma and the Prince - Part 7


<--Grandma El and me, at the beginning of my life

May 1989

Grandma El was dying. For three years she'd been in a decline but
it's only in retrospect that I can recognize the beginning of the end.
But somewhere in the early spring of 1989, Grandma crossed stopped
living and started dying.

I don't think any of us ever believed she would die. Why would we? El
wasn't a woman, she was a force of nature. Brash, opinionated,
sentimental, harsh, occasionally cruel, always astonishing. I think we
all expected El to be around as long as we were--and maybe even longer.
But not even Grandma was able to keep time at bay forever.

God knows, she tried. In her own way, Grandma was a pioneer. We don't
think twice today about popping vitamins and minerals, about exercising
for good health, but in the 1940s and 1950s this was fairly radical
stuff. Grandma was into nutrition before it was fashionable. I can
remember her laying out her vitamins each morning, row after
multicolored row of tablets and capsules lined up neatly on the kitchen
counter with two full glasses of water and her dolomite powder. I'd
watch in awe as she popped four or five at a time, taking huge sips of
water to wash them down, never once losing a beat of conversation along
the way. "Now, Barbara," she'd say, "the B vitamins are good for
stress...always get the Vitamin C made from rose hips...calcium tablets
and Vitamin D will keep you from shrinking one day like all those old
ladies in the park...and lecithin...Old Thing, let me tell you about
lecithin..."

And she loved Jack LaLanne. Long before Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda,
there was Jack LaLanne of the pumped-up torso that Grandma adored. "He
could park his shoes under my bed any time," she liked to say. She
watched him faithfully every morning, doing jumping jacks and squat
thrusts in the privacy of her bedroom then finishing off with a
half-hour on the exercise bike. Her children were aghast at her
behavior but El didn't much give a damn. Let them sit around on their
fat bums watching Steve Allen and Dinah Shore. She'd have the last
laugh one day.

No amount of physical activity ever managed to turn her small, round
body into a sleek machine but, my God, was she strong. Up until a few
months before she died at 89 years of age, she was able to walk up four
flights of stairs without getting winded. She did her own shopping, her
own wash, her own cleaning, until very close to the end when my dad took
over for her. She rode an exercise bicycle until the year before she
died. (If I sneeze twice in a row, I lie down for a day or two to
recover. I am a tall American wimp. Grandma, however, was a short
English Amazon.)

And she did grow more English with every passing year. She took to
leaping to her feet whenever she saw the Queen on TV, to placing her
hand over her heart whenever she saw the Union Jack or heard the first
notes of God Save the Queen. She and the Queen Mother were the same age
and Grandma El identified totally with the woman. They even looked
alike. Being English defined El in a way that being American has never
defined me. It was her very essence. I always figured Grandma and the
Queen Mother would keep pace with each other until the end. I certainly
never figured Grandma would be the first to leave.

Grandma's birthday was April 18. My dad's was April 17. My mother and I
irreverently referred to those dates as the High Holy Days. Only a major illness
exempted you from attendance at their birthday dinner. That year a bad
case of flu kept my husband and me from joining the celebration. I hate to admit it, but I was kind of relieved. The trek to
Queens was easier when we lived on Long Island, a straight run on the
Long Island Expressway. Now that we lived in central New Jersey it was
a real pain in the neck and I'd grown to resent the command performance.
My birthday came and went without fanfare from Grandma. So did my
husband's and my mom's and my Aunt Mona's. Grandma and my father,
however, were feted with the Fuller version of Trooping the Colors.
I had no idea this birthday would be her last.

On April 19th she was rushed to the hospital. She was in congestive
heart failure, her kidneys were beginning to shut down, there was
evidence of a silent heart attack. Within two days, she was no longer
communicating with anyone. Her eyes were closed. She was
non-responsive. The doctors held out little hope for a recovery. Still,
they wouldn't let us come see her until the last vestiges of our flu
were long gone. They wanted to give her the best possible chance, even
if they were just tilting at windmills.

The days passed and she remained non-responsive. "She's in a very weakened
condition. To be honest, we don't know what's keeping her alive," the
doctors said. Day after day they repeated the same thought. "What is
she waiting for? We don't know why she's still alive." But alive she
was and the doctors wouldn't let me see her.

My dad called early Sunday morning, May 7th. "You'd better come to the hospital,"
he told me. "They say it could be any time." Two hours later we met
him in the corridor outside Grandma's room. She was still alive. Her
heartbeat barely registered. Her respiration was shallow. More than
two weeks had passed since she'd opened her eyes or said a single word.
My dad prepared me for what I was going to see.

"You won't recognize her," my father said. "She doesn't look like your
grandma any more."

How ridiculous, I thought. How could she look like anyone else? The
sparkling blue eyes. The strawberry blond curls. That incredible
English skin. She was one of a kind. I'd know her anywhere.

I stepped into the semi-private room and my knees went weak. Two beds.
Two elderly women. I didn't know which one of them was my grandmother.
I turned toward my dad who was standing in the doorway. He pointed
toward the bed by the window. A loud "No" rose up in my throat but I
swallowed it down again. That wasn't my grandmother. That couldn't
possibly be the vibrant, outrageously juicy woman I'd known all my life.
This was an old lady. An emaciated, grey-haired old lady at that.
Didn't they know my grandmother's hair was red?

Yes, I actually believed my 89 year old
grandmother's conceit that her strawberry blond hair was still natural
and not the result of three decades of temporary rinses. And you know what?
I'm glad I did. We all need those cushions against reality's hard
edges. I hope my naivete gave her a good laugh somewhere along the way.

I approached her bed as a nurse finished adjusting the IV drip. "Won't
be getting much talk from this one," the nurse said. "Haven't heard a
word from her since she got here." It was easy to see that my grandmother was a body in the bed and nothing more to her. El, in all her Technicolor imperfect
glory, no longer existed. I waited for the nurse to finish then I
leaned down close to Grandma. I often disliked her, was frequently exasperated
by her, would only begin to understand her twelve years after her death.

I took her hand and told her I was
there. I told her that she didn't have to stay any longer, that it was
okay to let go of life, that if it was time to go we would understand. I
told her that I loved her. That had always been so hard for me to say,
so damn hard. And, although I don't expect you to believe this, Grandma
squeezed my hand then opened her eyes. She looked up at me and smiled,
and I know that in that instant she knew who I was and how I felt. How
I'd always felt despite it all.

A few hours later, as my husband and I drove across the Verrazano
Bridge on our way home, Grandma El died. "I don't know how she lasted
so long," her doctor said to my father as he marked down her time of
death. "It's a mystery to me."

But it was really no mystery at all. She'd been waiting for me.

PS: Yes, I'll go back to the story of her life next month. I couldn't let the twentieth anniversary of her death slip by unnoticed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Virgin Mistress, Scandalous Love-Child

by Jennie Lucas

Pregnant.

She was getting married in six hours, and she was pregnant.

With another man's baby.

Her boss's baby...


I adore the first few words of this book so much that I know them by heart. Hi guys. I'm coming up out of deadline haze to tell you that my new book, Virgin Mistress, Scandalous Love-Child, is coming out this week in North America.

Diogo Serrador is the most alpha hero I've ever done. I mean, he's really alpha. He's demanding, dark, and so dangerous, he's almost cruel...but very, very sexy. And ultimately: loving.

When he finds out the virgin secretary he seduced in Rio is now pregnant with his child, he kidnaps her from her wedding in Pennsylvania and takes her to Brazil, where he keeps her prisoner in a luxurious cage--er, penthouse.




Here's the blurb:

She's pregnant—and he'll take what is rightfully his!

In the sultry heat of Rio and its Carnaval, Ellie succumbs to her dangerously charismatic boss Diogo Serrador. But having taken her virginity, the Brazilian billionaire wants nothing more to do with her—until he discovers she's pregnant!

Diogo will accept nothing less than taking Ellie as his bride. Their marriage is passionate by night but forced and hollow by day. Ellie realizes she's in an impossible situation: Diogo's dark past has frozen his heart, but she's fallen in love with her husband...

Please visit my website for more information about the book, or to enter a contest to win an autographed book from Silhouette Desire author Olivia Gates, who is my shelfmate this month with the second book in her Castaldini Crown trilogy, The Prodigal Prince's Seduction.

Virgin Mistress, Scandalous Love-Child
is now available at amazon, barnes & noble, and eHarlequin (where it's been a #1 bestseller! Aaah!). It should soon be at a store near you!

Thanks for letting me tell you about my new book. Now back to the salt mines--er, luxurious sheikh's palace,

All my best,
Jennie




Monday, May 18, 2009

Girls Know What They Want - Fiona Lowe

You know the expression, ‘drop a pebble in a pond and watch the ripples flow’? Well that happened at our house over the weekend. It all started because of a new TV which wasn’t going to fit in the TV cabinet. So the TV cabinet had to move and by the end of the day four rooms were involved in a major furniture reshuffle and now a wall needs painting!!



Halfway through all this I had to clear out a chest of drawers in the office as it was unexpectedly going back into circulation downstairs...I tell you, never get a new TV ;-). Anyway I found a box that had gone on holidays with us a year and a half ago. It contained a note book where I’d scribbled down some story ideas that eventually became “The Surgeon’s Special Delivery”, along with some pictures from a couple of magazines.



At the very bottom, next to some batteries, was a scummy bit of paper, a bit water damaged with blue writing on it. I remember my teenage son coming back from a walk along the beach saying, ‘I found this on the sand and you might find it useful.’ (Bless him!)




As I re-read the scrawl of (and I am guessing here) a 15/16 year old girl who was obviously describing her boyfriend or the boyfriend she wanted, I was stunned by how she'd written down exactly what every woman wants (physical description aside) and what every ROMANCE AUTHOR puts into her hero.


Here is the double sided list…. Has strength, is gentle, has integrity, is trustworthy, is flexible, has spontaneity, is patient, is reliable, is loyal, has initiative, is honest. And on the other side she’d written..dark hair, olive skin, sense of humor, funny, has respect for self and others, knows himself, comfortable in his own skin, jenerous (sic) giving, we understand each other.




Isn’t this the perfect Hero list?


What do you want in your hero? Let me know and I'll choose a winner and send a copy of 'The Surgeon's Special Delivery.'


Callum Halroyd is the dark-haired doctor and reluctant protector in Fiona’s latest release, The Surgeon’s Special Delivery If you're not in the UK or Australia then the best place to buy it is The Book Depository with FREE World -Wide PostageTo read an excerpt and to see pictures that inspired the book visit Fiona at her website





Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why I'll Stick to Category

I was reading a blog the other day about an author who is touring the US doing appearances on radio and in book stores to publicize her first published novel. Obviously, being a newbie, she’s not well-known, just working to get there, and it caused me to stop for a moment and envision myself having to do what she’s doing.

When it comes to writing category romance, most authors tend to agree that speaking engagements, book signings, and other such public promotions are far more optional than for those writers breaking into single title. We’re lucky in that the Harlequin line itself sells the bulk of our books. We can choose to do as much or as little publicity as we’d like, which for me means I can pretty much write my little books and sit back and collect royalties. End of subject. I don’t have to fly around the country being bold and entertaining making witty small talk with people who may or may not have ever read a romance novel in their lives.

That’s a good thing, because despite being very outgoing, I’m not a salesperson. I doubt I could sell Pamela Anderson a boob job. Convincing people to buy my romance novel through the power of my friendly nature and bright smile? I don’t think so. Therefore, the idea of doing an appearance at a book store scares the hell out of me.

Naturally, the first thing I think of is nobody showing up--which happens. Worse is the idea of two people showing up. In that case, I’d have to actually follow through with whatever event they’d planned...in a public place like a book store...where people are mulling around doing their shopping and wondering who that weirdo is over there reading sex scenes to all those empty chairs.

Maybe I was tarnished by the one book signing I did at Borders. I sold exactly two books. Thankfully, I was there with another author who was a pro and talked to the customers for me. Borders had set us up by the front door so we were left with the option of either professionally greeting people as they entered or sit there looking like a boob. My author friend was the former, which helped distract everyone from noticing that I was most indeed the latter.

Then there’s the whole flying thing. Mind you, I’m not afraid of flying. My father has an airplane and I spent a lot of my teenage years flying around in those little Patsy Cline airplanes. But even the puddle jumpers I rode in back when my butt was small had first-class leg room compared to what the airlines are trying to pass as a “seat” today. I find the whole experience trying and uncomfortable, therefore, I only fly when there’s a place I really want to be and driving’s not an option. Like if an obscenely rich relative died and I was told to be at the reading of the will...tomorrow. But to spend half my summer traveling to places like Potwunka, Iowa so I can read a chapter of my book to three people who were there only because they’d heard there might be cake?

I’m afraid my sense of adventure just doesn’t stretch that far. Which means, for me, I’m pleased with the career I have writing category romance and letting Harlequin handle most of the publicity for me.

What about you? Are you the type of person who is comfortable putting yourself out there to strangers? And what about traveling? Would you see it as an adventure or an inconvenience to have to travel for work?

Lori Borrill just completed her seventh novel for Harlequin Blaze. Her fifth, THE PERSONAL TOUCH, will be on sale August, 2009. For more information on Lori and her books, visit www.LoriBorrill.com

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Joy of Beginning - Annie West

I LOVE the first scene of a new book. That's where the author grabs me and tosses me into a nail-biting or humorous or romantically intriguing situation. I read an opening chapter with enormous enthusiasm, expecting to be hooked so I want to read the next chapter and the next. A great opening will have so much scope for deliciously exciting tension and all sorts of possibilities. If I don't get hooked in chapter one I'm not likely to proceed to number two.

It's the same for writing. What comes to me first is usually an opening scene and setup where I see the hero and heroine, what they're doing and have some juicy problem to keep them at loggerheads but stuck with one another! Ah, the scent of new conflict in the opening pages is enough to give this writer's heart a kick start.

I was thinking about this as I recently received copies of my May UK Mills and Boon Modern story, BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INNOCENT WIFE. While I love writing openings for all my books, this one was especially fun to write.

It didn't come about because I was trying to come up with a new plot. It emerged from an article I was writing. In that I spoke about using scent to make a story come alive and gave as an example a scene that's a favourite with most romance readers and writers - the wedding. As I wrote and pondered the different emotions a bride might feel as she walked up the aisle I started to visualise a woman dressed in a bridal gown that was just a fraction too small for her (obviously made for someone else) whose heart was pounding because the last thing she wants to do is marry. But she has no choice.

Instantly I found I had two intriguing questions. Why doesn't she want to marry? Something lurking in her background perhaps? And even more to the point, why does she feel she must go through with something so repugnant to her.

It seems odd I suppose but I started the first draft not entirely sure of the answers to those questions. For the first few pages I was so busy getting deep inside Alissa's emotions that it didn't matter. But soon, thankfully, my mind came up with answers. I devised a convoluted plot that was exciting and intriguing and just a little too much to swallow. Fortunately, over a little time I pared it down to something workable. However, I hung onto the best part of all - the fact that though Alissa forces herself to turn up for the wedding against all her instincts, the tables are turned on her when the man waiting to marry her isn't the one she'd agreed to wed. Instead it's a stranger, enigmatic, powerful and dangerous.

You can imagine how the imaginative wheels started turning then!

There's no more exciting part of writing than discovering a window into a new book that grabs you from the first and that promises (if you can pull it off!) to hook other readers. The surge of enthusiasm is potent and it drags you along so you're writing and wondering and discovering as you go. It's like riding an enormous wave and striving to keep your balance as the wind rushes through your hair.

For me, there are so many memorable openings. Books I've adored where the writer drew me instantly into an exciting new world just waiting for me to explore. Michelle Douglas' heroine who's so out of her comfort zone she climbs a clothesline rather than face the hero's dog in The Loner's Guarded Heart. Anna Campbell's Untouched where the heroine is kidnapped to amuse a madman. Susan Napier's Secret Admirer where the heroine is stuck in a lift with a gorgeous stranger while she's wearing a fur coat and nothing else. Trish Morey's The Italian Boss's Mistress of Revenge where Dante believes the woman sleeping in his bed is waiting just for him. Christine Wells' The Dangerous Duke where we first see the Duke dangling a man by his ankles out of a window. The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride by Liz Fielding, where we know from the start that Diana is the worst choice of chauffeur for Sheikh Zahir and therefore absolutely perfect for him!

What do you love in an opening? What hooks you? Do you have any favourites you want to share?

Annie's so thrilled about the release of BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INNOCENT WIFE this month, she'll send a signed copy to someone who contributes a comment. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about the book visit her website at http://www.annie-west.com or you can buy the book from Amazon UK.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Child Characters - Elizabeth Hoyt

Child characters can be a real pain to write. They can come off as too old, too young, or just plain irritating. A lot of readers say they don’t like children or babies in romances—it detracts from the chemistry between the hero and heroine. So why would an author put a child character in her book? Well, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Children do exist in the real world after all and sometimes it would be odd to omit a child character. If your heroine is a school teacher or mother, a child is going to have to be in the book. Sometimes a child character can just be in a walk-on part to add color to a scene.

But what if the child character is more?

Children by their very definition are innocents. They see the world in much more black and white terms, which can be useful for the author. A child character can reveal what the adults are hiding, or point out the obvious that the adults have avoided or missed. She can be the emotional center of a story. A child has a harder time conceal emotions. She can cry when the heroine can’t or become angry when the hero is supposed to be neutral.

But the best child characters are not just reflections of the adult characters, but have their own emotional arc within a story. That’s the kind of character I was trying to write when I gave Abigail, the little girl in TO BEGUILE A BEAST her own story arc. Abigail is her own character with her own wants and needs, and she isn’t a cute child. She has a bit of darkness about her. Here’s a scene from Abigail’s point of view:

Abigail had a sudden longing for home, in London, where she knew everyone and everything was familiar. If they were at home right now, she and Jamie would be having tea and bread with Miss Cummings. Although she'd never been very fond of Miss Cummings, the thought of her pinched, narrow face and the bread and butter she always served made Abigail's chest ache. Mama said they might never return to London.

Now Sir Alistair was frowning down at the big dog as if he might be cross with her.

"Mama'll be in soon," Abigail said to distract him.

"Ah," he said. The old dog put a paw on his boot. Sir Alistair looked up at Abigail, and she stepped back. He was so stern looking. "What are your names?"

"I'm Abigail," she said, "and that's Jamie."

"We're to have tea when Mama comes in," Jamie said. He didn't seem at all nervous at Sir Alistair's presence. But then he was blissfully rubbing the dog's ears.

Sir Alistair grunted.

"And eggs and ham and bread and jam," Jamie recited. He often forgot things, but not things that had to do with food.

"She's going to make some for you as well," Abigail said cautiously.

"She isn't a very good cook," Jamie said.

Abigail frowned. "Jamie!"

I hope you enjoy Abigail’s story in TO BEGUILE A BEAST!
Elizabeth

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Opposites Attract - Lauren Dane


We’ve all got tropes we like – assassin heroes, marriage of convenience, small town romance, older man/younger woman (or vice versa), uber alpha heroes, beta heroes, certain historical periods (me? I love me some wallpaper regencies), friends to lovers, whatever your preferences may be – we’ve all got em.
Relentless is a story of opposites. In Abbie, we have a woman without political power. In the world I built for my Federation books, the haves are Ranked. As in they are members of the ruling Families who hold the reins of political and economic power across all the Federation Universes. Everyone else is unranked and therefore able to rise only so high.

So Abbie is unranked. She’s also a barrister, a public defender if you will and she has spent her adult life working to bring a more representative form of governance to her home ‘Verse. She’s small and fiery and full of passion and conviction.

And then there’s Roman. Roman Lyons isn’t just Ranked, he’s the head of the most powerful Ranked Family in all the ‘Verses. He’s charming and intelligent, his passion is there, but it’s beneath the surface and when Abbie storms into his life, he’s knocked off his feet, literally and figuratively.

He’s everything she isn’t and everything she’s trying to destroy. Until they meet and he realizes his preconceptions about her are wrong and she begins to realize the same.

But they can’t be together. Even as they begin a secret and fiery love affair, they both know it has an expiration date. He can’t marry someone who isn’t Ranked. The Federation is rocked by a series of treason trials in the aftermath of what happens in Undercover. He knows he has responsibilities that are larger than his own wants and needs. It is his job, his calling, to take care of his people. But he wants her and she’s his in a way he is certain no other woman can ever be.
For her part, Abbie is in love with Roman and she slowly realizes just how seriously he takes his position. Not all Ranked are the same, but she still has a job to do.

I gotta tell you, writing this book was probably one of the most difficult few months I’ve ever experienced. I sweated to be sure the pacing was just right. That the scenes between Abbie and Roman were tender as well as urgent and sexy. I had to balance that with the world, with the politics and customs I need to create a sense of home for them and for the reader too. In the end, when I turned it in, I was proud. Proud and hoping like heck my editor would like it. Hoping my readers would.

In the end, a futuristic romance is just like any other – Roman and Abbie have an uphill battle. I wanted to relay that sense of star-crossed lovers, but also, it’s a romance, not a tragedy so the reader knows they’ll work out something to be together. The key is to try as hard as you can to draw the reader in, to make them feel what Roman and Abbie do as they’re loving each other and knowing they can’t be together.

I hope my readers enjoy meeting Abbie and Roman and I hope Relentless can bring over some readers who might have been put off by the “futuristic” tag in the past as well!
Lauren

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stretching Your Muscles - Donna Alward


Admittedly, I don't stretch my muscles nearly enough. It IS spring though, and with the longer days I'm walking more and I'm back out in the garden. And boy did I stretch some muscles a few weeks ago, hunched over staining step railings and also picking rocks to put around my perennial beds.

Not quite what I meant to talk about today, though. While my body could definitely benefit from some yoga, I've been doing a different kind of stretching lately - of my writing muscles.

Last month I blogged about what to do when there was nothing to do. I've moved past that now, and having a little fun. You see, I'm actually not on any firm deadline. I have a few months to play, and I'm having quite a bit of fun with it.

The last ten books I have written have been solely targeted at Harlequin Romance, as great a home as any category author could wish for. I LOVE writing for Romance. And what's more, I know how to do it. Doesn't mean the books come easy, but I know what Romance is, and sliding into a pair of characters and a nice hook is like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers. I love the depth of emotion, the broadness of it. Let's face it, in Romance you will see online dating as a hook, you have cowboys, you have royalty and office romances. You can be set in a fictional kingdom, a Canadian ranch, in the middle of Manhattan or in the wildest corner of the outback. It's great.

But as many authors know, sometimes you yearn for something just a little different. And that's GOOD in my opinion. Thinking outside the box - stretching your muscles - will make you a better writer.

But it's not always easy. What I'm working on now is hopefully for another line, and while in Romance the bedroom door is closed, in this line it is not. And the TONE of the books are different as well...so the worry is, will my voice fit? Will my sex scenes read the way they should? After all, I haven't written very many. Even the slightest difference in construction means a shift in thinking. I told my CP recently that I think the process for this book will be write, get it out, and then fix and shift as I go. Adjustments are being made more than usual.

But this isn't a bad thing. It is seeing something from a different angle, a different camera shot. It's interesting, and it's fun to explore a side that's slightly different than what I usually write.

And I'm not even switching genres.

I can only imagine the huge writerly gymnastics that occur when you go category to single title, or contemporary to historical, or perhaps to paranormal...maybe you're dying to try a saucy YA!

The thing is, you'll discover a lot about your strengths and your weaknesses, and what works for each genre or subgenre as you go.

So go ahead. Stretch. Have fun! Who knows what will happen?




My latest release is HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE, a June 09 Harlequin Romance release. It's available for presale on eharlequin and Mills and Boon in both print and e-book.

Monday, May 11, 2009

An Astonishing Auction - Anna Campbell


by Anna Campbell

Do you all know about Brenda Novak's amazing auction to raise funds for research into a cure for juvenile diabetes?

Brenda's been running this fabulous fundraiser for the last five years and has raised over $500,000 so far. And 2009 looks like being her biggest year yet.

One of the great things about this auction is that you can benefit both yourself and a good cause if you make a bid. Brenda gets donations from all sorts of heavy hitters in the romance writing industry. It's a particular treasure trove for readers and writers, but there are prizes that anyone in the universe would love.

Just to give you a few examples:

An overnight stay in a swish hotel in Regency jewel, Bath, in England, with a champagne afternoon tea at the famous Pump Room, donated by romance writer Nicola Cornick.

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/AuctionHelp.taf?S=N&R=2&C=2&DA=0&m=3&return=50&sort=1&st=1&_start=1&_UserReference=D1D0771446B55C7D3F6202F4213449FA87E4

A Six-Night African Safari for two

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=1290702

A Six-Night Getaway to Seattle and British Columbia courtesy of romance writer Jane Porter

For aspiring writers, the selection of prizes is amazing. I'm donating a critique of a partial manuscript (three chapters and a synopsis) which includes a signed copy of my latest book TEMPT THE DEVIL.
There's critiques by editors and agents. There's critiques by a whole stack of great romance authors. Check out the list under For Writers and be amazed!

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/auctionhelp.taf?S=N&R=2&C=2&m=3&sort=1&st=1&days=&category_id=4948&skipkw=1&_start=1


There's a wonderful selection of signed books and ARCs and other treats for readers - and I know everyone on Tote Bags falls into that category. Check them out!

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/AuctionHelp.taf?S=N&R=2&C=2&m=3&sort=1&ST=1&days=10&category_id=4949&skipkw=1&status=&_start=1


There's baskets and gift packs filled with goodies. One in particular I'd like to point out is the Romance Bandits basket which is chockablock with all sorts sorts of amazing bits and pieces courtesy of my blog sisters. http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=1389058

Michelle Buonfiglio of Romance: B(u)y the Book has mustered a whole stack of people to put together a huge pool of prizes too, including this great selection of signed books. http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/auctionhelp.taf?S=N&R=2&C=2&m=3&sort=1&st=1&days=&category_id=10727&skipkw=1&_start=1

There's raffles and $1 spot specials and other assorted prizes. Seriously, it's well worth seeing what's there. You'll be astonished and awe-struck! And I bet you're tempted to reach for your credit card! And remember, everything you spend goes to a very worthy cause!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Distractions All Around - Christina Hollis


When it’s going well, there’s no job in the world like writing. The problem is, even when the ideas are flowing and you can’t wait to get your fingers moving over that keyboard, real life has a way of bouncing up and biting you on the bottom.

Take this week…

….actually, the chaos began last week, when I had a really peculiar phone call. A very nice, efficient woman asked when I would like to come and collect my bees. In a panic I thought one of my colonies must have decided to move house and landed in a neighbour’s garden, but no. It was an early birthday present – and a definite surprise. With the bees around here having a really good year so far, most of my spare equipment was in use. That meant one day out of the seven was lost to hunting around to make up a new hive, and then fetching the consignment of bees to go in it. The next day I was helping to put some students through their paces before an assessment, but even that didn’t go smoothly. An enormous cycle race meant delays as the local roads were chock-a-block, but at least they had good weather for it!

Bank holiday Monday meant the shops were closed and the weather was glum. It was just the day to get down to some serious writing. I did – but tortured all the time by thoughts of my children, who I’d condemned to cleaning their rooms. I was working, when I should have been taking them out/baking/gardening/singing with them like Julie Andrews (continued p.64), boo hoo – you get the picture.

Tuesday was good, Wednesday started out better – until I got a worrying call from my parents’ health care professionals, which took a lot of sorting out. The panic spilled over into Thursday, but when everyone was happy again I managed to sit down in front of the computer for a couple of hours. Then suddenly I realised I haven’t updated my own blog for ages (http://www.christinahollis.com/), I’m guesting here, and with a Modern Presents release in June, I have any number of advance copies to send out, and it’s all got to be done while I’m feeding the family and fighting back against the garden…

And that’s the story of my life.

If you’d like to discover if I ever get around to catching up online, and post those paperbacks, tell me your favourite distraction. There’s a copy of my latest Harlequin Mills and Boon romance, The Tuscan Tycoon’s Pregnant Housekeeper, for the best!

Christina

Friday, May 08, 2009

Honoring Mothers and Mothers' Day

This Sunday is Mother's Day in the US, Canada, Australia and a number of other countries. The UK has Mothering Sunday during Lent when mothers are appreciated. As I now live in the UK, and my mother lives in the US, I do have to remember the US date as my mother prefers to celebrate Mother's Day on Mother's Day rather than on Mothering Sunday.
As I am sure you know, Mother's Day was chiefly the work of one woman -- Anna Jarvis. She wanted to honor her mother and to celebrate the role of the woman in the family. She began handing out carnations at her church in 1907, choosing the Sunday closest to her mother's birthday. The movement took off and in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the bill making the second Sunday of May Mother's Day in the US. Later Anna Jarvis denounced the day as it had become far too commercialised. But the day remains and mothers do like to think they are appreciated.
It is interesting that it started in this time period. International Women's Day which is celebrated at the beginning of March (particularly in Italy as the Festa della Donna) started as a result of the 1907 fire in New York City. Many of the seamstresses who were killed were Italian.
But whenever you celebrate, I do think mothers and motherhood are well worth celebrating.
Thankfully, my lot understand that often the gift of time and a romance novel are what I want.
Anyway, as a mother, one of my great joys is to read some of the quotes about motherhood. My aunt sent through some yesterday and so I wanted to share some with you. Does anyone else have any good quotes or sayings about being a mother?
All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.--Abraham Lincoln
My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my
mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and
physical education I received from her.--George Washington
A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.--Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Youth fades; love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all.--Oliver Wendell Holmes
The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until the children are in bed.--Author Unknown.
Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each
wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.--Charlotte Gray
A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after.--Peter De Vries
It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't.--Barbara Kingsolver
God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.-- Jewish proverb

Michelle Styles's latest release in the UK was Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

This Little Piggy Went Wee Wee Wee All the Way Home by Jenny Gardiner



Don't worry, I'm not about to write about swine flu. Just had to clear the air on that, what with the pig reference in the title. No, instead I'm going to regale you with far more compelling subject matter: wee wee. Well, not exactly. I've been thinking about wee-wee a bit lately, but really I'm not going to talk about it. At least not in it's truest form.

You see my daughter is in an upcoming musical at her high school. She loves to sing and do all of those theatrical things and my husband and I have enjoyed watching her grow as a performer and we were duly thrilled that she was going to try out for the musical this year. I pictured her belting out songs about the corn being knee-high by the Fourth of July, or being Hopelessly Devoted to whomever was the closest thing to John Travolta that the school could scratch up, or maybe even getting a bit edgier and joining the ensemble cast in a rousing rendition of Seasons of Love from Rent.

But instead, she and her peers will be singing about pee. Yeah, I know, that sounds so terrifically disgusting. But really, it's nothing but funny. They had a new drama teacher this year who wanted to undertake something a little bit different than the usual high school musical productions, to give everyone something to talk about, and she decided that this year they would put on Urinetown. Yep, that's the title. Urinetown.

And then I got asked to help to publicize the play and I have a background in public relations so I was more than happy to do so, but then the reality kicked in once I actually started talking it up. Every time I've mentioned this play to anyone, I'm met with this: "Urinetown? As in urine town? Oh." And then their eyes glaze over. And I can't say that I blame them because, I mean, the title is a little off-putting.

I even thought about pitching it as You're In Town, figuring nobody would know the difference. I came up with the line I'd use for reporters:

"I wanted to let you know that the high school will be putting on a play, and it's been fabulously well-received on Broadway. Tony Award-winning, in fact. Yeah, uh-huh. Uh-huh. It's called You're In Town."

I figured they'd just sort of in their minds mix it with Our Town, an old chestnut that gets dragged out by all kinds of high school drama departments during play season.

Admittedly I'm not quite "in the know" in the world of drama, despite a potentially lurid addiction to People magazine. But that's more to do with pop culture than actual theatrics.

The extent of my acting prowess consisted of a quasi-starring role as Aunt Sally in Mr. Popsack's sixth grade production of Huck Finn. I made quite the memorable entrance when I tripped over a tree stump prop in a night scene during the first few minutes of the play, flipping heels over head and landing on my back. Despite my abject humiliation from that gaff, I received rave reviews, and Charlotte Tragard, the actress in our modest little high school, pulled me aside and told me I had a future in the arts.

Little did I know that future would be in trying to convince people that a play about pee is a must-see production.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Urinetown, don't let the title scare you. It's good, clean fun for the whole family. And perfectly relevant for the times in which we live, complete with corrupt politicians, corporate greed, and ecological devastation thrown in for good measure. What's not to love?

Yes, sometimes I feel as if I'm flacking the live action version of the children's book series, Captain Underpants. More like Captain Dirty Diapers. But I take heart in knowing that it's a fabulous play and has lots of terrific singing and you know, in some ways it brings me back to the day when changing diapers with my own babies and I probably sang about wee-wee, just to keep the kids entertained. So it all comes around.

Plus, my friend had a good point the other day.

"Hey," she said. "At least it's only pee! You could have been asked to publicize a production of The Vagina Monologues."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Comfort Food

It’s May, my rhododendrons, azaleas, and hydrangeas are starting to come. So why is it raining!!?? You know the old saying, April showers bring May flowers. But it’s not supposed to bring rain in sunny California. So it’s cold and damp, and that inspires me to bring out my Crockpot and make some delicious comfort food. My mom made some great stuff in the slow cooker, filling the house with all these wonderful scents. A couple of weeks ago, her church had a huge book sale, and if you went after two in the afternoon, you could fill up a shopping bag with books for $5. I got all the slow cooker cooking books! Plus some Lisa Kleypas, Mary Balogh, Tami Hoag, JD Robb. Anyway, there was a wonderful recipe for beef stew, very simple but it sounded so tasty. So I think I’ll make that. I love the Crockpot because you buy really cheap meat and make a great meal. Mmmm, some of my other favorite, beef bourguignon, stroganoff, Norwegian meatballs (my hubby’s Norwegian and he loves these), Asian short ribs, my mother’s chili simmered all day long. Ooh, I’m getting hungry already. And it makes the gloom of the rain fade away.

What’s your favorite comfort food? And if you’ve got a favorite Crockpot dish, I’d love to hear about that, too.

Hmm, Josie, my heroine in Fair Game, wouldn’t have time for the Crockpot. She’s too much the career-minded woman. Oh well. She doesn’t know what she’s missing!

Post a comment and I’ll enter you in the drawing (you must type in your email address to actually be entered) for an autographed copy of my book Somebody’s Lover. I have to admit this is one of my very favorites, always makes me cry. I’ll also add you to my newsletter for updates on all the fun stuff and releases, too. And be to sure visit my Jasmine blog for more contests.

Jasmine, Jennifer and JB!
http://www.skullybuzz.com/
http://jasminehaynes.blogspot.com/
Newsletter: skullybuzz-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Monday, May 04, 2009

Pairings and Phrases -- Susanna Carr

The other day I was catching up on my Facebook and Myspace. Sometimes when you want to add a friend, a security check pops up. You’re given some words to type into a text box to prove that you are a person (and not a spamming program, I guess.)

Have you ever noticed some of the phrases in the Facebook security check? They are so weird. Here’s a sample of what I had to type in the text box at Facebook:

Smooth urethra
Windbag rides
The schnable
Gratify yer-client

I’m curious about the schnable. Is it bigger than a breadbox? And Gratify yer-client? Where do they get these phrases? Anyone know?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

How Old is a Hero Anyway? by Kate Walker

This week is the one that sees my birthday come around again. And no you can’t ask how old I am! In my head I’m the age of the heroines I write about - and the heroes. And that’s the way it’s going to stay.

But thinking about age, made me start to wonder about those heroes and heroines. I mean, how old is a heroine? Or a hero for that matter? When I first started reading romances, the heroines tended to be young – and often a lot younger than there heroes. Girls of 19, 20 were partnered with men maybe ten or even fifteen years older than them and no one thought twice about it. Because of that, heroes were always well over thirty – sometimes heading for or even having reached forty and so more than likely to consider the heroine a silly little girl – and maybe even call her that too!

For myself, my first heroine was seventeen when she first met the hero - something I’m not too sure would be totally acceptable these days. Another heroine was eighteen to the hero’s thirty. These days, I’m far more likely to be writing about heroines of twenty-five or twenty-six and heroes just a couple of years or so older. That seems right in a Presents romance, though Modern Heat for example can have a younger. less well-established hero.

On the brand-new Mills & Boon Community web site. Someone raised the question of how old - or perhaps I mean how young - a hero can actually be. Would twenty–six be too young? And how about twenty-five? What about a hero who is older - forty – fifty . . . Or one who is younger than the heroine? Many readers I know believe that a man takes a while longer than a woman to grow, mature – achieve something in life. And yet for others the thirty something hero is too old.

It’s perfectly possible to write a heroine or a hero at any age. None of us (thank heaven!) is immune to the wonderful, uplifting, life-changing experience of falling in love at any stage of our lives. And equally age is no barrier to the intense and wonderful feelings that a loving relationship can bring no matter what stage of life we’re at, or how many times we’ve been through this before. Only this weekend I was reading about a man who lost his wife tragically when she was murdered five years ago and is now rediscovering the joy of a new love as time has helped him heal. He’s no spring chicken – mid-forties – but love is no respecter of age. My friend’s mother has just married for the second time and she’s approaching her seventieth birthday and I’ve seen the photos of her wedding day – I doubt if any younger bride could look more starry-eyed and head over heels in love.

But every now and then romance publishers say they are looking for younger readers, that they want to appeal to a younger market. Would younger heroes and heroines do that or is there something else that would appeal to the readers who are the age of my first heroine – in their teens and very early twenties? Is it the years in a character’s life or the life in those years? What about you? Do you care how old the hero and heroine are in a romance you read – or are you happy to accept any age, and any age difference as long as the author convinces you? And because I’m nosy – what about you as a reader? How old were you when you first came to reading romances? Are the publishers right to think they need to attract the younger reader – or are you already there?

Because I’m celebrating this week, and when I celebrate I like to share, I’ll get Sid the Cat to pick two names from the comments that are posted and there will be a signed copy of one of my backlist for the winners.

And if you want to read more about heroes – I’m running a special discussion on the Alpha hero over on my blog.

Kate's latest novel Cordero's Forced Bride was released in Harlequin Presents in February and Mills & Boon Modern in March it is still available on Amazon and the M&B website

Coming up is Kept For Her Baby which is to be published in August (UK) and October – in Presents Extra in America. But before that there is the reprint of At The Sheikh’s Command coming in the Sold to The Sheikh collection in June in the UK.

You can find out more about Kate and her books on her website or for the most up to date news, visit her blog.

Friday, May 01, 2009

READING - THE GREATEST GIFT

The first few months of this year have flown by and, for me, much of the time has been occupied fighting a deadline while at the same time battling an infection and virus. The subsequent pill-induced stupor and propensity to drop off to sleep over my keyboard every five minutes, were not at all conducive to keeping my hero and heroine on track. Nor to meeting that rapidly-advancing deadline. But Luca and Polly finally walked off into the sunset - I can't quite describe the state I'm in!

Fresh panic set in when I remembered it was my turn to blog today. Oh, help! What could I talk about? I was pondering this dilemma when a very interesting discussion came on the radio following publication of a list of favourite children's books, as selected by five well-known Children's Laureates here in the UK. One of the first obvious points to note were the complete absence from the list of writers including J K Rowling, Roald Dahl, Philip Pullmam, Beatrix Potter and A A Milne.

Each of the five writers selected their seven favourite books. The selection is "not meant to be a list of books all children should read, but rather provides an insight into what inspired some of today's finest writers", the Times Online explained. (You can read the piece here http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/children/article6181796.ece )

Anyway, it started me thinking about favourite children's stories of my own. A A Milne's Pooh books are included in my list, as are other classics like The Secret Garden, The Silver Sword, Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven, and the superb Anne of Green Gable series by Lucy Maud Montgommery. Featuring most strongly in my memories are all the wonderful pony books by the Pullein-Thomson sisters, including Show Jumping Secret and the Phantom Horse stories, Mary O'Hara's Flicka, Thunderhead and GreenGrass of Wyoming books, Ruby Ferguson's Jill books, the Sue Barton nurse books by Helen Doye Boyleston, and Willard Price's fabulous series of adventure books that shaped my lifelong passion for wildlife and conservation.

I'm not surprised that the most popular writers of today didn't feature in any of the five selected writers lists. After all, it is the books, characters and adventures we embark on and experience throughout our own formative years that shape our love of reading and hone our imaginations. I feel very blessed that my parents actively encouraged my reading, shared with me their joy of books, and gave me one of the greatest gifts of all - one that lasts a lifetime.

That I have been lucky enough to extend my love of books from pure enjoyment and relaxation into what I do for a living is beyond belief, and I never cease to give thanks. My next two Medical Romances set in my fictional Scottish town of Strathlochan, come out as a double bill in May and June in the UK.

First up - and out now - is THE EMERGENCY DOCTOR CLAIMS HIS WIFE, which tells the story of Nathan Shepherd and Annie Webster. The back blurb states:-









"There's a sexy new doctor in town!




Pulses rise at Strathlochan Hospital when a tall, dark-haired, drop-dead gorgeous new doctor strides purposefully through the doors, especially Dr Annie Webster's! Nathan Shepherd is her ex – the very man she's never been able to get out of her system.




It's been five years, and they both have very different recollections of their break-up. Whatever the tensions between them, neither can deny the smouldering passion they still share.


It's clear to Nathan they have unfinished business, and this time he's not leaving without answers ... or his woman!"





Poor Nathan has had a while to wait to be reunited with Annie. I had just begun to write his book when I was asked to stop by my editor and to focus on an exciting new project, which turned out to be the superb continuity series, BRIDES OF PENHALLY BAY, set in Cornwall and

which ran throughout 2008 to mark Mills & Boon's wonderful centenary. Nathan made his displeasure clear, writing his own post here on Tote Bags back in February 2007 as A Frustrated Hero!! Now, at last, his story is told - I hope you will enjoy his and Annie's journey to love.

I'll be back next month to introduce you to the second book of this Strathlochan duet, THE REBEL SURGEON'S PROPOSAL, when Luke Devlin returns with one goal in mind ... finding Francesca Scott.

Whatever your memories of childhood and your choice in genre these days, I wish you all the contiued gift of reading and the lifelong joy it brings.

Love,

Margaret

www.margaretmcdonagh.com