Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Trish Wylie - Preparing For Culture Shock

I'll admit I'm a bit of a home bird at heart. Now don't get me wrong, I've both worked on 'tour' and had fun traveling but it was rarely too far from home - a short flight or a boat trip away at most. Except for two trips I took abroad with friends - but *still * not that far away in the greater scheme of things...

This summer I'm taking the plunge and doing the Conferences. And to be honest, I'm both excited AND a little worried about that. Why to the latter you may wonder? Well - the first thing is going to be a bad case of Culture Shock I feel...

Let's look at home shall we? Teeny tiny green island with a mostly rural population - places we call cities most people would call towns - places we call towns most people would call villages and the villages... well... I'm not sure they're called anything outside of Ireland - neighbours maybe???

First stop on my trip? New York, New York. (I'd heard you had to do it twice like that?) The city that probably houses more people than the entire island I live on! Now as much as I love where I live I've never actually contemplated what it would be like having every single resident in the one place at the one time and we're still a little behind the game when it comes to building anything quite as high as some of those buildings look. And let's face it - if I get lost it's not like I can phone my family to come get me. Though it's good to know if anything happened to me that Gary Sinise would be there to solve the mystery (yes - I do watch CSI:NY) But then there's so many things I want to see and do. And that's very exciting!

Then it'll be off to Dallas for the conference. (we'll not even begin to talk about the temperature in Dallas that month, okay? Suffice to say if anyone steps in a puddle of water it'll be me - cos I'll have melted!) So like a good girl I went online to check out the hotel. Now as part of my eight month tour of Ireland a few years ago I stayed in every sort of hotel and B&B going - the excellent, the good, the bad - and well, one's that horror movies could be filmed in quite frankly... So I felt I was a little ahead of the game for this one - Ha!

Not so much. 'Cos the last hotel I stayed in was this lovely one in Dublin - isn't it cute? And the one I'll be staying in in Dallas? Well - I'm fairly sure it's never once been called *cute*. I mean, it's like, huuugggeee - practically a city on it's own! Will there be maps? How many hours should I allow for finding my way to where I'm supposed to be? And it has how many restaurants? I'm just thankful that with so many other conference-attendees I stand a good chance of meeting someone else who might be lost and then we can both go looking for Sawyer together...(yes I watch that one too...) And knowing my hatred of all things higher than is safe thanks to a little thing called gravity, I just betcha I end up way way way up in the sky where I'll never ever be able to ever look out the window. Oh - and one of my earliest film experiences - The Towering Inferno - nuff said...

Then there's the literacy signing. Now, despite the fact I first sold four odd years ago, I've never actually done a book signing before. It's something that just isn't done over here unless you're mega-famous or Bill Clinton while here on a golfing tour. So I was a little nervous about that before I even made the mistake of looking up pics online of what it was like... And dear heaven - HOW MANY PEOPLE GO TO THAT??? And in the ONE ROOM??? Are you KIDDING ME???

Where I live I'm not used to a crowd - in fact Christmas Shopping is my worst nightmare. But then I don't know what's the worst scenario - lots of people saying Hi or NO-ONE saying Hi... on reflection I'm going with the latter - cos at least no-one will be arguing over the last action-figure on the shelf on Christmas Eve kinda thing, right? And I also have the firm knowledge that Romance Writers and the Romance Writing Community is the friendliest bunch of people out there! That part I have absolutely no worries about...

But still - it's gonna be one heck of a dose of culture shock! Anyone want to come say Hi to me when I'm there to make me feel better??? Have any tips that might help me sleep at night???

The one consolation is I'll have one of my favourite books to sign while I'm there - and with one of my favourite titles! Bride Of The Emerald Isle is a little taste of home sprinkled liberally with the romantic magic of Valentia Island, off the coast of Co. Kerry, and it was a lovely lovely book to write... with a good dose of Matthew McFadyen's Pride & Prejudice film scene in the first chapter as inspiration... (and RT just gave it four and a half stars so I'm well chuffed!)

Keelin O’Donnell had always been a morning person. But today was testing her love of the a.m. to its limits…
She paused, looked back down the road, and sighed. The house had to be somewhere near by now, surely? Did people still die on the ‘moors’?
There was the sound of barking nearby.
“Great,” She scowled as she looked towards the source of the sound, “Now I’m going to be eaten by wild dogs. The Hound of the Baskerville’s lives.”
The barking sounded closer again. Not so much of a rabid dog sound as an excited yapping; which made her feel vaguely better, so her blue eyes searched what she could see of the surrounding countryside. With the last of the early morning mist clearing she could finally see more than the outline of the old stone walls on either side of her. Now there were fields, swirling with a hint of mist in pockets where the ground was still wet with morning dew.
She could hear the sea in the background, could smell it in the air. But even with the reassuring, steady rhythm of waves hitting rocks, she still felt like the last person left on earth. Until her peripheral vision caught sight of a shadow looming through a pocket of mist.
The dogs sounded closer too, one of them appearing at the shadows feet. And then a voice called one of them, followed by a whistle. So Keelin knew the figure was male. A man walking straight towards her- practically dreamlike- like some kind of early morning ghost.
The mist swirled again in pockets at his feet, the sun came out and caught in a glint off his dark hair. And Keelin stood transfixed as he got closer and looked straight at her.
He was sensational.

Monday, May 28, 2007

This 'n that - Helen Bianchin

Authors write, there are schedules, deadlines ... there's also family, and occasionally a break between finishing one novel and beginning the next.

I say occasionally, for mostly the lines are blurred, and there's a heap of stuff put to one side in the rundown to deadline. Ideally, there would be a secretary and a "wife" ... the secretary to take care of all the stuff, and a "wife" to cook, clean and "go-fer".

The reality is a one-woman band ... wife, mother, go-fer, author ... in any particular order according to importance and circumstance on the day. The family need to be fed, chores need to be done, kids fetched and carried on the home front, and on the business side there's taxes, research, and a heap of writing-related stuff aside from writing the book.

Every now and then everything aligns beautifully. Very recently I handed a book on deadline, and a best friend flew in for a visit.

As the best friend is also an author, she understood perfectly the euphoria of having just finished the book. We shopped, enjoyed leisurely coffees, lovely lunches with mutual friends. We relaxed, laughed, schmoozed. Guilt free!

Now she's flown home, I've dealt with various stuff, and I'm back in front of the computer compiling a character biography for the next book. Working on the theme, location, motive, goals. And once again the excitement is beginning to build as the new story begins to form and take shape. Tentatively. Will the characters behave ... or take off in a different direction from the one I've mapped out for them? It's too early to tell. The one certainty is there'll be a "happy-ever-after". The challenge is their emotional journey to that point.

The only teaser I can provide is the hero's name is Wolfe, the heroine is Lara, it's set in New York and Sydney ...

Meanwhile, my next title is The Tycoon's Virgin Wife is due for release in September 2007, followed by The Martinez Marriage Revenge in the first half of 2008.

Regards and best wishes to all,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Untangling my mind

Walking is my way of untangling the grey matter. Right now I have two WIPs both screaming for my attention; one is a historical western and the other is a contemp/paranormal. With all these characters elbowing for room in my head, I find it a little hard to focus. :)

Anyway. . .I've found the best way to sort them all out, and put them back where they belong, is to go walking. When we lived up north, going outside for a walk wasn't always an enjoyable thing to do (especially in January/February), but we're back in BC now, so I can walk to my heart's content. While I walk and sort, I need music, and who better to help me with that than Toby Keith? I find the louder I have my iPod cranked, the better I can think. Yes, I realize this is in direct opposition to what my parents said during all those hours of highschool homework, but that can't be helped. Sometimes Father doesn't know best. LOL

I'm curious to know what other methods people use to sort out the scramble when they're writing.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Where does the time go? It feels like only a few weeks ago that I brought my first little bundle of joy home from hospital. Wow - look at her now! I spent yesterday morning watching her perform as Teresa in The Memory of Water for a drama exam. And how can my son manage to ride his bike like that? He’s so small! Well, no, he isn’t actually – not any more. It won’t be long before I’m the shortest person in this entire family. Everyone teases me that things are going to change around here when it happens. I reply darkly that Napoleon never let a lack of height hold him back. So if they want feeding, they’d better keep on being present and correct at mealtimes! Time flies when it comes to work, too. The ghost of an idea flutters into my mind, and I can’t wait to get started on a story. That’s when the hard work begins, but it’s so rewarding. It hardly seems possible that my next book, Count Giovanni’s Virgin, will be on sale within a few weeks. I’m so pleased with the cover. It reflects everything I love about romance: a gorgeous guy, fresh out of the pool and drenched in sunlight. Now all I need is a cup of tea and a big slice of chocolate cake to make all my fantasies come true…

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Wrong Holly Jacobs

Rumor has it that a certain professor feels I'm the wrong Holly Jacobs.

Okay, you're scratching your head. Let me back up. For a classroom assignment, a professor told his class to write an obituary, then assigned them a person to write it about and assured them that they could find enough info on Google to do write their obit.

A girl named Kristi was assigned...Holly Jacobs. She googled the name and...there I was. 96 out of the first 100 entries were about me. And Kristi wrote my obit. I died on Lake Erie in March. Now, she didn't mention how I died on the lake, but I'm sure I was doing something exciting. March...on the lake. Hmm. I was probably ice fishing and caught a whale of a fish. Now, you probably think I'm going to say the fish pulled me in, but no. I was so excited about that fish that I did one of my goofy, Snoopy dances of joy...on ice. I slipped, hit my head and died. Sad, isn't it? I digress.

Anyway, Kristi wrote a lovely obit. Talked about my tragic death, the family I left behind (and would someone please tell my son, I forgive him for leaving so many clothes on the floor that I haven't seen his carpet in months), and the books I've written, and was about to write. It was nice to see my life summed up by someone else. She turned it in to the professor, and he gave it back without a grade. When Kristi asked about it, he told her, "You've got the wrong Holly Jacobs."

Now, I'll confess, I've always felt like the right Holly Jacobs. But maybe I was wrong. So I called someone who should know... my mom. She assured me that after being in labor for thirty-eight hours with me, she was positive I was the right Holly Jacobs. I asked my husband, he asked if I wasn't the right Holly, did he have to pay alimony? Then he asked, what's the other Holly look like? Oh, yeah, I married a funny man. Friends and children assured me of my rightness. And of course, my dog, Ethel Merman, thinks I'm the right one. But I wasn't right enough for Kristi's professor.

I feel guilty. As if the ten years of my writing life haven't been quite enough to make me the right Holly Jacobs. That maybe I should have worked harder, written more, done something else in order to be the right Holly Jacobs. But alas, I didn't, and poor Kristi has to pay the price for my slacking with a gradeless obituary. SIGH.

Poor Kristi, I was the wrong Holly Jacobs.

My poor mom, who was in labor for an absurd amount of time in order to bring...the wrong Holly into the world.

My poor husband...okay, so he's not going to be poor if he can get away without paying alimony and the other Holly's better looking.

My poor kids, maybe that other Holly would have been a better mother? Maybe she wouldn't have nagged my son about those dirty clothes on the floor?

Poor Ethel Merman, she still thinks I'm the right Holly, but she's a dog, and not overly bright, so what does she know?

And that poor professor, who, if he met me might find he liked me and even if I wasn't the right Holly Jacobs, I was certainly worth of an obituary.

Geesh. Talk about questioning your existence.

Holly--The wrong Holly Jacobs.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Susanna Carr asks: How Old Were You?

Whenever a reporter does an interview or feature on me, they always make a point of my age when I first started reading romances. I was ten years old, and it was a Harlequin.

Yes, that was young. Some say it was too young.

For me, it came at the right time in my life. I was already a permanent fixture at the local library and the selection of books was beginning to bore me. When I got my hands on the Harlequin, it opened a new world. I got to read about women who faced life-changing dilemmas. They took action, made mistakes, and persevered to get what they wanted.

Despite what the grown-ups in my life thought, I didn't read the romances because of the sex! Don't get me wrong: I didn't exactly skip over those parts, either. *G* But I loved reading about two people falling in love. That was the exciting stuff.

I'm glad I started reading romances early in life, but I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. How old were you when you started reading romances?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sandra Marton's Covers for THE BILLIONAIRES' BRIDES

My new trilogy, THE BILLIONAIRES' BRIDES, will be published in the USA in August, September and October. Now that I have all three covers, I wanted to share them with you. Aren't they beautiful? And those guys... Mmm mmm mmm.!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dream Big!

When I was a kid, I didn’t know how to dream. I couldn’t see ahead in life and didn’t dare think of a future. Some people I knew had dreams of a knight in shining armor dropping into their lives, while others dreamed of having lots of children in big families filled with love. Even more people I knew had dreams of becoming famous or being the first to do a thing or even of possessing great wealth. Not me. I can’t explain why, but I never wanted to see myself in the future.

Looking back now, it was a strange way to live, and it caused me plenty of problems along the path. I found the love of my life in a chance encounter. I stumbled into being a stockbroker, a job I had wanted for years but never thought I could have. I decided to write fiction on a whim and a promise to give it a try that I made to my dying mother-- after giving up that idea many years before.

I’m not sure what the problem was for most of my life, but maybe it stemmed from being afraid to dream. Afraid to wish for things that might not come true.

When I sat down to plot the story for the fifth book in my Night Guardian series, SHADOW WARRIOR, I decided it was time to write about a woman who is afraid to dream. Lexie Ayze has a much better reason to be afraid of her dreams than most; she’s a medium who sees ghosts in her dreams. But she is also a woman who has allowed life to push her along from one thing to another just like I did. She has always been afraid to wish for things that might not come true.

Lexie does have one important trait in her make-up; a strong desire to do the right thing for her child. At first, she just doesn’t know what’s right. When she finally gives up and allows dreams into her life, everything changes. Lexie learns to go after what she wants. She finds out that improbable goals take risk, hard work and persistence, but she is willing to try.

SHADOW WARRIOR is the intimate story of one woman coming to terms with who she is meant to be…then learning to fight for the man she loves.

Have you always known what you wanted? Or were you more like me? Afraid to wish? Do you have a dream or goal you still haven’t reached? Improbable goals are the best, but they’re also the scariest. What are some of yours?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


How do you start a book?

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the first words you write will set everything moving at a cracking pace and you never look back, or stop to think “Where did that come from?” until it's all done and suddenly the book is out there and being talked about.


“Good book?”

A deep velvety voice penetrated the cold, swirling mists of the Yorkshire Moors, jerking Ellie back into the twenty-first century.

Those words never changed.

I wrote them and the book galloped away. Unfortunately, it was in totally the wrong direction. I was supposed to be writing a Harlequin Romance. This was rapidly turning into a Katie Fforde style chick-lit. Totally female focussed, with batty characters coming out of the woodwork, but the hero a shadowy figure waiting to appear when I could find somewhere to cram him in.

I’d written two and half chapters when I realised that it just wouldn’t do. And no matter what i did I couldn’t fix it. For the first time in years, I abandoned a book and wrote something else. (The Sheikh’s Guarded Heart, if you’re interested.) Then I was committed to The Valentine Bride. But Ellie (because she was a true heroine) just wouldn’t quit and I thought about what was wrong, and how I could fix it.

It all went wrong, I finally realised (dumb author moment) when I let her walk out of the house. The solution -- how simple it seems in retrospect -- was to keep her there. Have her move in . Which also took her out of the orbit of the batty neighbours who were taking over the book, solving two problems with a single solution.

Then, because I needed to build up to the initial meeting, invest it with more importance, I wrote a new beginning. It started out as a prologue, but just grew . But even then Ellie would keep walking away. So I nobbled her knee and gave the hero a conscience, which that fixed that problem.

Keeping the hero and heroine together is one of the most challenging parts of writing series romance. When it becomes almost impossible, you need to find yourself a crucible, something that keeps them locked together. In this case it was the house. Ellie’s inspiration; Ben’s fading, empty home and finally, I had a book.

Oh, and just in case you're interested, here’s the new beginning –

‘LADY March?’

Ellie’s tongue was glued to the roof of her mouth. This was such a mistake. She wasn’t a “lady”. She shouldn’t be here. She should own up right now...

‘I apologize for keeping you waiting,” Jennifer Cochrane, continued, but there was a crisis at the printers I had to deal with.

Unable to speak, she attempted an answering smile. Even in her borrowed clothes, hair swirled up in a sophisticated style and wearing more make-up than she’d normally wear in a month, she’d been expecting someone to point a finger at her, shout “impostor” the moment she’d stepped within the hushed portals of the offices of MILADY magazine.

She’d never meant to take it this far.

And if you want to know what happens after Ellie takes her head out of those nineteenth century clouds, check out the excerpt at my website

THE SECRET LIFE OF LADY GABRIELLA is on sale now in the US and UK and will be available in Australia and New Zealand in June.