Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fruit Smoothies in the Dark... - Christina Hollis

Hi, I'm Christina Hollis and I love romance! Places like this are ideal for writers and readers to get together and share. My first Harlequin Mills and Boon Modern Romance, 'The Italian Billionaire's Virgin', has just been published (January 2007) so I'm a 'new bug'. The last few months have been a real rollercoaster for me. That first acceptance has been followed by two more novels, one to be published in May and the second in December. I've been lucky enough to meet some of my favourite authors - or at least spot them across a crowded room! But the other day we had a tremendous storm which brought down the powerlines supplying our village, and brought everyone right down to earth. The electricity was off for two days. The whole area rallied round and it really restored everyone's faith in human nature. We were very lucky - all we lost was the contents of our fridge and freezers. They began to thaw and wouldn't you know it, leaked onto the only carpet in the house - our cottage has tiles or bare boards in all the other rooms!
Not all was lost, though. We managed to salvage some packs of blueberries, raspberries and strawberry granita and crushed them all into fruit smoothies. They were delicious, though not very warming on a cold, dark winter's night!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Romantic Novelist Association's Romance Prize 2007

The short list for the Romantic Novelist Association's Romance prize has been officially announced.

The prize which includes the Betty Neels Rosebowl is given for the best catagory romance novel of the year. The award will be presented at the Savoy Hotel in London on 27 April, at the same as the Romantic Novel of the year is announced. Previous winners of the Romance Prize include Liz Fielding, Anne Herries and Jessica Hart.

It is a major honour to make the short list, and I am very pleased to say that my novel, The Gladiator's Honour is there. Other nominees include Nicola Cornick for Lord Greville's Captive, Jessica Hart for Her Ready Made Family, Anne Herries for An Improper Companion, Natasha Oakley for Accepting the Boss's Proposal, Nell Dixon for Marrying Max and Catherine George for The Millionaire's Runaway Bride.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

a few minutes to be thankful - Julie Cohen

Hi, my name is Julie Cohen and I've had the most amazing 12 months of my entire life.

My first book was published in March 2006, and I've had five others published since then (the two latest are SPIRIT WILLING, FLESH WEAK, with Headline's Little Black Dress imprint, and DRIVING HIM WILD, Mills & Boon Modern Extra, in February). In March 2006 I also became pregnant, after much trying, and I gave birth to my first child five weeks ago today, on 23rd December.

Twelve months, six books, and a it any wonder I wake up every morning feeling blessed?

But some other really cool things have happened in the past twelve months. So in between feeding and rocking my son, I wanted to spend a few minutes blogging about how writing books has connected me with people.

For one thing, people I haven't heard from in ages have Googled me and sent me an email or a letter. This is great. I've heard from relatives, long-ago friends, former teachers and former students. Google is truly a wonderful thing.

(One of my hobbies is inserting strange phrases into my blog so that it comes up on a Google search for, for example, "nude Canadian hippies". I'm not sure if any of my long-lost friends have found me that way.)

For another, readers get in touch and tell me what they think about my books. This is a total thrill--particularly when they are from a far-away country I've never been to. On the other side of the fence, since becoming an author and finding out how great it is to hear from readers, I've started writing to authors I admire, and I've met a few amazing people that way.

Also, complete strangers email me because we share some sort of interest. The other day I heard from a woman who is a total Ewan McGregor fan (I am just slightly obsessed with him, and he's the hero of my book DELICIOUS). What a joy, to discuss the merits of a beautiful man with a like-minded stranger...

Of course, the romance writing community is amazing, full of generous published individuals and exciting aspiring writers. Forums like this blog, The Pink Heart Society, and Romancing the Blog are brilliant because you can meet online, but I belong to real-life writing groups too, and there I meet people of all ages, beliefs, backgrounds, and talents, who I probably would never meet if we didn't share a love of writing.

Writing has changed my life, and truly provided a community for me. For example, when I went into hospital to have my son, visits to my blog soared, and there were nearly a hundred congratulatory messages left for me to read when I got out of hospital.

What gifts I've been given.

How about you?

DRIVING HIM WILD, Mills & Boon Modern Extra, February 2007

When smart-mouthed New York City cab driver Zoe Drake finds Mr Tall, Dark and Brooding on her doorstep, she doesn’t know what to think...does he want something, or has Christmas come early this year?
"Cohen writes the perfect short contemporary romance"
(Romance Reader at Heart)

SPIRIT WILLING, FLESH WEAK, Headline Little Black Dress

Rosie Fox can’t see dead people. She’s a fake spirit medium, playing the game for fun and profit. Until one day, she really sees the future. And she realises that maybe the truth is more important than she thought.
“Wildly romantic, hilarious…terrific page-turning fun”
“Witty, fun, and just a little bit quirky”

(Amazon reviews)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Is Everything Research? - Trish Wylie

Seems to me that since I became a writer, everything has become research for me - in one form or another…

Used to be when I took a weekend away somewhere I did it just to – well – have a weekend away somewhere. But not anymore. Now I’m taking pictures of things around me with a view to using them in a story, I’m looking at places where imaginary characters could live or work, I’m seeing parks where they could have walked, cafes were they might have had coffee… And I’m seeing them there and wondering what they would say or do and what their lives are like.

But then I think I did that before I even became a writer.

Maybe that’s the thing with people who write – we don’t just look at a place and see that place. Or watch two people talk and just leave it at face value. Our imaginations are always on the go and we’re always curious about people; what they’re talking about, their lives, their problems, whether or not they're alone in the world. From time to time we may even eavesdrop to try and found out...

With friends on a night out (too many years ago for me to
confess to), we sometimes played a game where we would pick a couple in the crowd and build a whole life for them - we'd give them a profession and a name and a personality and we would talk when they talked – making up conversations for them (quite often with dumb accents and much hilarity) – and do you know what? I think that was writer training too.

So now, every place I visit become a research trip. I might never use a particular place or setting in the end, but if I ever need it I know it’s there , stored deep in my brain. Like when I visited Dublin recently for the book launch of fellow Irish Writer Abby Green’s first book. I mean, I’ve used Dublin as a setting dozens of times – but truth be told I’ve always shied away from finer details and exact place nam
es. All it took was a weekend refresher visit and it occurred to me that I was missing out on a lot by not adding that particular layer in.

So I put on my nice new trainers and took my Christmas Present camera and off I went a wandering. I found a house for my heroine to live in, a park for her to sit in, a busy shopping street near Trinity College where she could have worked. I took random pictures of the streets full of people that she might have seen every day, the local landmarks she would have walked past to get to work – I even took my camera and a pen and paper onto one of the open top bus tours so that I could take notes from the bus drivers hilarious running commentary…

And while I travelled back to my hotel on one of the City’s shiny new Tram’s (which give the place a lovely European City feel) I imagined that I was the heroine – I was breathing the air that she would breathe, seeing the people she would see and simply *being* in the city she would be in. Which made it all the more real to me, and I have to believe that can only be a good thing for my writing, right?

Maybe sometimes we do need to just leave the keyboard behind and walk out in the real world so that we can come back and create a more realistic imaginary world?

But what it does mean is that everything is now research for me….

I wonder if I’m the only one that thinks that way…?

H’s & K’s

Trish’s next release is a Modern Extra entitled Breathless! out in February:

Just one night would take her breath away!

Rory Flanaghan is every girl's dream: tall, toned and so, so sexy. On leave from his dangerous overseas job, he's helping out at the gym he owns. When writer Cara Sheehan starts one-to-one sessions with Rory, exercise takes on a whole new meaning. He leaves her with a sensual awareness she's never let herself feel before...

Rory can't understand why this beautiful, fiesty woman has a problem with her image, and he knows he can teach Cara what she's capable of... As things get really personal, Rory shows Cara that just one kiss, just one touch...just one night... will leave her breathless!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Perfect for a Day! - Susan Mallery

I just finished a book. Typing “The End” is a magic moment for me. Writing a book takes a lot of time and effort. It’s adding pages every day over and over until the story is finally told. At times it seems as if I’ll never get to the end, then I do and I feel so happy.

The absolute best part of writing is the sound a manuscript makes when it hits the bottom of the Fed-ex pick-up box. That “thunk” is satisfying and very previous, but typing “The End” is a very close second.

I know it seems that finishing a book would be more exciting than mailing it off. It probably should be, but it isn’t. Dropping the manuscript into the box is a simple act. Finishing a book is not.

When I get an idea for a book, things are so clear to me. I know what I want to happen, I know the feelings I want to evoke. I’m excited by the characters and the twists and turns in the story. When I’m writing, I push myself to make every scene better and deeper. I want the dialogue to sparkle and the emotional parts to be overwhelming. When I finish, I have the promise that I’ve actually done it. I’ve written the book to be as good as I want it to be. For that day, the book is perfect.

The next day I read it.

I start at the beginning, manuscript on my desk, colored pen in hand and I go through it, page by page. I edit, I rewrite, I tweak, I move scenes around. I rip it apart, then I put it back together because the cold truth is I can never make the book as good as I want it to be.

Eventually deadline constraints force me to send in the book. My editor reads it and sends me notes. A copy editor goes through it and leaves her marks all over the pages. I’ll have two more passes on the book, changing and changing, all in attempt to make it match that perfect vision in my head.

I never quite get there. I think that is truth of being a writer—we can never match that perfect vision in our head. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I know that striving makes me work harder to write each book better. I know the elusive goal keeps me motivated.

I finished a book today and for now…until I pick up that colored pen…it is perfect!

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Cornucopia of New Authors, Annie West

I suppose someone will tell me the correct term for a group of authors (fingers crossed it's not a 'gaggle'!). But in the meantime I'll go with cornucopia - the mythical horn of plenty that could provide whatever you wanted. You'll find out why in just a moment.

As you may know, I'm a new (12 months in the job) Presents author. I was talking to another new author just last week about the number of people who have their first or second romance books being released about now. There are plenty of us. As a reader I find that enormously exciting as I'll get to read stories by exciting new talents as well as by established favourites.

Our discussion led to the idea of a book giveaway by 2 or 3 of us. Within a week that blew out to 9 authors involved!

My only gripe is that I haven't read all the books in question and, as a contributor to the contest, I can't enter! I knew there had to be a downside to this idea.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day on 14 February we've joined forces in a competition that really will be a cornucopia for some lucky readers. This is a chance to try out books by some new authors whose names are starting to appear on best seller lists and who will, I believe, become well known to you in the future.

Prizes include signed copies of:

FALLING FOR THE FRENCHMAN (Romance) by Claire Baxter


PRICELESS (Promotional Presents) by Kelly Hunter

THE CEO’S CONTRACT BRIDE (Desire) by Yvonne Lindsay

HER MIRACLE BABY (Medical) by Fiona Lowe

BLACK WIDOW BRIDE (Desire) by Tessa Radley



PLUS every prizewinner will receive a cover flat for an exciting Avon Romantic Treasure release: ‘CLAIMING THE COURTESAN’ by Anna Campbell before it even hits the shelves.

It’s easy to enter the contest. Just visit my website at Go to the contest page, then send an email with the word ‘contest’ in the title and explain how you’d like to spend Valentine’s Day. (Short answers are fine!).

Winners will be drawn at the end of February to give you plenty of time to enter. One entry will be drawn for every prize on offer so there will be plenty of prize winners.

And, finally, if anyone does know the collective noun for authors, please let me know!

Jelly Beans or Chocolate - Sandy Blair

Which will it be: Jelly Beans or Chocolate?

Prior to becoming published, I was an RN, certified diabetes educator. Part of my training included following a registered dietician on rounds. One of the questions she asked every patient prior to creating their meal plan was, “Which would you prefer: chocolate or jelly beans?” Stunned the first time I heard this; I waited until we were out in the hall to ask, “Why? You’re not planning on feeding them jelly beans are you?”

She laughed and said, “No. I just need to know if they crave sugar or fat, so I can modify their diet accordingly and they won’t feel deprived.”

Turns out the jelly bean eaters are after fast sugar highs and would grab a real Coke and cake when under stress, whereas those who preferred chocolate would gravitate toward ice cream, burgers, fries and the like.

Readers and authors could be described in similar fashion when it comes to their taste in books. The jelly bean gang prefers fast paced plots with lots of dialogue. They often gravitate toward contemporaries and really don’t care what color the sofa is or what the wallpaper looks like. They just want to be entertained or kept in suspense until they discover if the guy gets the girl.

The chocoholics—like yours truly--prefer books with more detail. We gravitate toward historicals and sagas and do want to know what the castles’ interiors look like and how they made mead. And while you’re at it, why not tell us how they constructed and cleaned those garderobes. (Well, maybe not that much detail, but you get the idea.)

That’s not to say historicals can’t be fast paced. They are if the author knows what she’s doing. (Julie Garwood, Diane Perkins and Lorraine Heath immediately come to mind.) The best historical authors provide the richness we historical junkies crave while providing us with a thrill a page that keeps us up all night.

So, I’ll admit it. I’m a Heresy’s Kiss kind of gal. Which are you?


To win an expense paid trip to the 2007 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Houston, TX go to

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Held Hostage by Heroes - by KATE WALKER

I’ve had my blog hijacked!

I didn’t know it was possible, but for the past couple of days my personal blog has been completely taken over. And it’s happened to two of my friends as well!

Maybe I shouldn’t complain though – the highjacker is a gorgeously sexy Italian named Domenico Parrisi – in fact he’s the hero of my brand new book – The Italian’s Forced Bride. And he’s taken over my blog to set up a contest for all my readers.

It started like this. If you’ve read Anne McAllister’s blog from January 2 you’ll know that Anne, Liz Fielding and I have been running a joint contest this month. In February we all have books out in America that have ‘Bride’ in the title – The Italian’s Forced Bride is mine, Anne’s book is The Santorini Bride, and Liz has the final book in the Brides of Bella Lucia series, appropriately called The Valentine Bride. So we got together to run the Here Come the Brides contest. The details of this are in Anne’s blog on this site, and on all our web sites (mine, Anne’s and Liz’s and blogs too.)

The prize for this contest – and there are three of them – is a signed set of all three February books. The closing date is February 1st if you’d still like to enter.

That was the Brides dealt with. But then somehow the Grooms got wind of what was going on. Fir

st they were just looking for their Brides, wondering what the girls were up to while they were meant to be planning weddings. But as soon as the guys discovered that the girls were running a contest, they wanted to run one to. And it had to be bigger and better than the Brides contest that was already in place. This was when they highjacked their author’s blog.

First it was Theo - Theo Savas who is the hero of The Santorini Bride. He appeared on Anne McAllister’s blog to complain about his missing Bride.

Then Max Valentine who is the hero of The Valentine Bride joined in from Liz Fielding’s blog.

I was away in Dublin, at Abby Green’s book launch (see a report in the Scrapbook) so I was a little late in catching up with this, but sure enough my hero from The Italian’s Forced Bride – Domenico Parrisi – soon turned up on my blog and all three heroes got their heads together to cre

ate a contest.

The result? They’ve come up with a Scavenger Hunt – one that covers all three blogs. There are nine questions, three can be answered by visiting each author. And you get three chances to enter – one with each author.

And the prizes? Well – those Alpha heroes wanted bigger, if not better in the prize stakes so this is what they came up with:

From Anne McAllister each winner gets:A three-in-one book containing three complete novels: The Cowboy's Code, containing Cowboys Don't Quit, Cowboys Don't Stay a

nd The Cowboy and the Kid (Romantic Times's Best Series Novel of the Year) PLUS a copy of Theo Savakis's book by the author whose name you have to figure out.

From Kate Walker each winner gets:Her best-selling Alcolar Family trilogy: The Twelve-Month Mistress, The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife and Bound by Blackmail.

And From Liz Fielding each winner gets:Copies of her terrific books all about GROOMS: The Corporate Bridegroom, A Suitable Groom and Her Wish-List Bridegroom

It’s a great contest with some seriously good prizes - and the heroes have been blogging about it for the past couple of days. The contest stays open untiul February 10th so you have plenty of time to enter.

So why not visit all three blogs and find out more about the heroes of these three great books coming up in February – which means they should be on the bookshop shelves in just a week or two. You could enter the scavenger hunt and have a chance to wine nine – nine – books by three authors, all of whom have won awards for their writing.

And while you’re there, check out the HERE COME THE BRIDES contest as well, for even more chances to win. That one closes on February 1st so you'll need to enter soon.

What sort of contests do you like best? And what prizes will attract you to join in?
(No - you can't have Theo, Max or Domenico! Though someone did ask if Theo's brother George could be one of the prizes!)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Is There Life After Dial-Up? Sandra Marton Wants to Know.

Maybe the real question is, is there life after days spent battling computer woes?

We live within just a few miles of a major university. On the other hand, we live on a country road. We have neighbors who hold interesting, complex jobs at the university and in Hartford, the capital city of our state. On the other hand, our most immediate neighbors are deer with occasional hellos from foxes, raccoons and fishers.

In other words, we're in the country... but we're supposed to have all the benefits of more sophisticated living. Notice that word, 'supposed' in there? That's the giveaway. We were unable to get a high-speed internet connection until this week. I thought I'd be thrilled, giving up years of dial-up for the speed of DSL. Well, I am thrilled... with the speed. But getting all my computers connected, getting my email switched...

Not fun.

Anyway, things seem to be up and running after days of frustration. The even better news is that I sent my latest book, THE SPANISH PRINCE'S VIRGIN BRIDE, to my editor (once my DSL connection was working!) and she loved it.

My Spanish Prince will be published in the USA in October, after the publication in August of THE ITALIAN PRINCE'S PREGNANT BRIDE and then, in September, the publication of THE GREEK PRINCE'S CHOSEN WIFE.

So, I have a lot to celebrate this week. DSL is here and, for the moment, it's working. And my three princes are ready to meet all of you.

Sometimes, life is good.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Venus Makes Her Debut!

So sorry I've not been back to post since my introduction, but I have an excuse. Really. The way I figure it, authors who have been around know how to handle a book when it comes out. They've learned what needs to be done (and what doesn't need to be done). They know how to do it efficiently, in a timely manner, with finesse.

Not so, us newbies! I've decided it takes me about three times as long to do each of the steps to promote my new book, VENUS ENVY, as it would if this was my third or fourth book. After all, I have to figure out what needs to be done, how to do it, and how to do it so it doesn't take ten times as long as necessary. :-)

But, seriously, I've been on the shelves almost two weeks now, and I'm so happy with my progress! Some of my local stores were slow to get VENUS ENVY on the shelves, but they are finally here! I've done some stock signings (learned that talking up your book to the booksellers may land you better shelf space once you've signed their stock), taken pictures of VENUS on the shelves (and had many wonderful friends send my pictures of it from across the country!), and have checked my Amazon numbers and Googled my name a thousand times (a DAY, sometimes!).

All in all, it's been a fabulous experience, and I hope to continue to have as much fun going into the rest of 2007!

One of the things I wanted to share here is my updated website. It's been a long time coming...mostly because I wasn't sure what I had to say that was different from what was already there. But, I came up with lots of changes, including an Appearances & Events page, with all my upcoming signings. Thanks to my good friend, Gerri Russell, I'm going to be group signing throughout this month and February with her and Pat White, throughout the Seattle area. Please come see us if you are in the area!

Also on my website, you can sign up for my newsletter, see what great books I've been reading throughout 2006 (on my About Me page), and read all the great buzz about VENUS ENVY, which was chosen as a Book Sense Notable for January 2007!

So please check out all the new stuff on my web...and if you want to be even more up to date, you can always read my personal blog. AND, if you read VENUS ENVY, please let me know what you think about it!!

All my best,


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Anna Campbell's Contest News and Favorite Reads of 2006

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2007 brings you everything you hope for.

Firstly, I'd like to let you know that I'm running a contest until 31st January for an advance review copy of my first book, CLAIMING THE COURTESAN, on my website: - all you need to do is read the excerpt and answer a very simple question. Eazy-peazy.

It's that time of year again when we make resolutions and look back on the year just gone. I'm not very good at resolutions but a question on another loop made me think of my 10 favorite reads of 2006. I'd like to share them with you:

Dark Lover by JR Ward
Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
Hot Dish by Connie Brockway
The Perfect Stranger by Anne Gracie
A Mistress for the Taking by Annie West
Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Lord Greville's Captive by Nicola Cornick
Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
The Devil to Pay by Liz Carlyle
Passion by Lisa Valdez

I don't usually read a lot of paranormals, but the J.R. Wards and Nalini's book are extraordinarily good. As a long-time fan of Connie Brockway's historicals, I was disappointed when she announced her next story would be a contemporary. But Hot Dish is fantastic - sexy, funny, romantic and just so true. Anne Gracie writes heart-wrenching romance so well and The Perfect Stranger is wonderful. I dare you not to cry. Annie West's debut novel is everything I want a Presents to be - sexy, exmotional, dramatic and with a lovely Cinderella theme that worked a treat. Match Me If You Can is just so enjoyable, with a marvellous secondary romance that threatens to steal the thunder from the hero and heroine, it's so good. Nicola Cornick is always an auto-buy for me but this English Civil War story is something special. The Devil to Pay features one of my favorite heroes of last year - no wonder it won the RITA for best long historical. Passion radically divides readers - people either love it or hate it. I loved it because it manages to combine a really erotic story with a searing emotional journey for the hero and heroine.

What were your favorite reads for the last year?

Best wishes.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Here Come The Brides!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I'm catching up on a lot of things I still have hanging fire from 2006 (like finishing my Christmas letter, which I just did last night!) , but I wanted to stop by and say hi and let everyone know that Kate Walker, Liz Fielding and I have put together a contest called "Here Come The Brides" that began January 1st to celebrate our three February books -- all of which have "Bride" in the title!

They are:
Kate's The Italian's Forced Bride, Harlequin Presents

"As long as I want you, you stay — and you only leave when I give you permission to go"

Alice spe
nt six passionate months as Domenico's mistress. But she knew he would never love her back and would soon discard her — so she left him.But now Domenico wants her back in his bed, and his terms of possession are the same as before — until he makes a discovery that changes everything: Alice is carrying his child.

Liz's The Valentine Bride, Harlequin Romance

“Dammit, Louise,” he said, “you haven’t changed one bit –”

“Dammit, Max, neither have you!” She was on her feet, in his face. “You’re still the same arrogant, over-bearing, despotic, pig-headed idiot you always were!”

Working with Max was never going to be easy. There’s always been something
between them – something they’ve done their best to ignore. Family loyalty wins, but Louise extorts a very personal price from Max for her co-operation and sparks fly from the start.

and my The Santorini Bride, Harlequin Presents

Theo Savas didn't need marriage. He'd been there, done that. And he wasn't about to do it again – not that it stopped nearly every single woman on the planet trying. Hitting the "world's sexiest" list didn't help either.

Theo wanted space. Maybe even a bit of celibacy. So he was furious when his Greek island hideaway was invaded by a sexy, enticing woman – especially one who claimed his home was her

At first Martha thought Theo was just what she needed.
Sizzling passion would surely make her forget what had brought her home. She never counted on falling for him – or conceiving his child. But when she did, Martha knew she couldn't turn to Theo. He was strictly a no-strings man.

To enter the contest, find the full names of each of the brides (check our blogs and website) and enter the contest on our websites. If you enter on all three sites you have three chances to win copies of each of these brand-new books!

The contest ends February 1st.

And be sure to check out our blogs during the month as once the grooms get wind of this contest, you never know what might happen!

Hope you all had a great holiday season. Did you get lots of new books? I did. I'm still working my way through them -- taking my time, actually, as I want to make them last. I've begun reading Kate's though, and I can hardly put it down. Domenico is a great hero!

Who are some of the best heroes you remember from books you've read?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!!
Thank-you for all the friendship, support and business. I couldn't have achieved so much without each and everyone of you.

Love and Best Wishes,