Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bronwyn Jameson's Fangirl Post

I admit it: I am an unabashed Barbara Samuel fangirl. Have been ever since a friend (thank you, Gabrielle!) recommended I read Jezebel's Blues because it was quite possibly the best category romance ever written. She was right. I adored that book with its moody blue theme, its wounded hero, its beauty and lyricism.

Several chapters in, I was on a mission to hunt and capture every Ruth Wind title I could find. I discovered that she'd also written several historicals as Barbara Samuel and promptly fell in love with her tortured Lucien (Lucien's Fall) and her proud Irishman Tynan Spencer in The Black Angel. Then there's Blue Reynard and that long cool drink named Malachi and Alejandro (are they not the most perfect names?) and those Forrest brothers.

You may have gathered that Samuel/Wind writes quite the hero. She knows men; not just the romance novel model but the true heart of the species. When she changed direction from romance to women's fiction, I wailed Noooo! and brooded for a while. Then I read No Place Like Home and was entranced all over again by the truth of the relationships she explores and the vibrancy of her settings and the rich eloquence of her prose.

When I heard she was speaking at this year's Romance Writers of Australia conference I signed up immediately. Only weeks after the American conference, I knew I'd be travel-lagged, knew I should be staying home, writing, working to replenish the bank balance bruised by that trip. But there are some things one cannot miss and this was one of mine. A full day workshop by Barbara Samuel on voice and "layering in lusciousness". A keynote challenging us to explore what we believe in. A Girls in the Basement roundtable. A chance meeting at morning tea where I gushed about my adoration of her books...

Okay, so that last I could have done without. I'm sure Barbara could have done without as well, but she was gracious and ever so nice in turning the conversation around.

Is there one author, above all others, whose every word you adore? Who you would either gush over or turn speechless in awe of if you were to meet? Let me know that I'm not alone in my fangirl exuberance. Please.

Saturday, August 30, 2008



For most of my adult life I was a trim 7 stone, 12lbs. That's 105 lbs for those of you who do things that way. If you’re working in kilos you’re on your own.

I had kids and lost the weight without any special effort. The pointer on the scales seemed glued to that 7/12 spot.

Back in 1991 I had a day job helping to organise the Brecon Jazz Festival and twice a day I tackled the steep hill from my house to the office, usually at a run (I also had two teenage kids so I was doing everything at run). I was writing in my spare time, stories a little girls picture paper called "Twinkle". The odd magazine article. Had a ghost story published.

Then I gave up the day job and concentrated on my writing and within a year I'd reached the goal I'd set myself when I sold AN IMAGE OF YOU to Mills & Boon. We moved that year and started building our own house. I am, of course, using “we” in its loosest possible sense. For the best part of a year, while the dh was on site doing man-stuff, I was holed up in a room in which we’d stored most of our furniture. There was just enough space for me to slide into my chair and get at the computer.

That Christmas, because I’d put on a little weight, I decided to buy a size larger skirt – it’s hell sitting all day with a tight waistband. With the twenty-twenty vision of hindsight it's clear that what I should have done was cut down on the fast food (building a house and writing four books in a year, the faster the food the better) and started jogging. Instead I kept my butt attached to the chair and went on writing. And the word number wasn’t the only thing increasing by the day.

It isn’t called “Writer’s Bottom” for nothing.

I’m not going to tell you my present poundage, just that I’ve tried diets – the Atkins was fabulous and had me whizzing around like a three-year-old on speed, but you begin to crave bread like a junkie craves a fix. I’ve done the really healthy diets, too, I’m on one now. I even joined a gym (I really, really hated that). I’ve lost weight. (It’s easy. You exercise more and eat less.) And then I’ve put it back on again.

Three weeks ago I decided that I needed to lose half a stone (7 lbs) before I do my mother of the bride bit so I treated myself to a wii and I'm suddenly an exercise junkie…

Five lbs of the Liz “mii” have already disappeared, the tummy is flatter, the legs are looking a little thinner. I get up each morning and put in half an hour of yoga, and stepping and even running and it’s not a trial. For the first time in my life I'm actually enjoying taking a little exercise. But there's no getting away from the fact that there's a long way to go before I begin to approach my ideal weight -- 117 lbs. (Apparently I was underweight for all those years.)

But I really, really wish that when I'd reached for that large size skirt back in 1991 someone had tapped me on the shoulder and said, "DON'T DO IT!"

So for any new writers out there who've got their butt glued to their chair for ten hours a day, for the writer whose skirt is getting a little tight around the wait, consider this a friendly tap on the shoulder from someone who's learned the hard way that it's a lot easier to take off 5 pounds than the 37 that I've still got to shed.

Award-winning author Liz Fielding's novella, The Temp & the Tycoon is published as part of the Mills & Boon Centenary Celebrations. Her next Mills & Boon/Harlequin Romance, Wedded in a Whirlwind, will be published in November.

Friday, August 29, 2008

When They Leave the Nest

Hi, All! I’m back to blog here and so happy to do so! I thought I’d write about what is on my mind these days of soon-to-be fall. Things seem to happen in fall, even though most of us don’t have to go back to school any more. My fourth romance Intimate Beings will be published in October, which is exciting, and I am actually back at my college teaching. No leaves have fallen yet, but I feel that change in the air, the hope and optimism that things will change and be better. I always felt that way as a child—maybe, I would think, this school year I will get good grades! Maybe this year I will figure out math!
But for adults, I’ve noticed fall means different things, and for many of us right now, it means our children are going to college, flying the coop, leaving the nest.

Yesterday at work, a good friend and colleague casually mentioned that she was taking her son to college the next day, driving him down to Southern California and doing the parent dorm move in weekend thing. She looked down, arranged her books in her arms, looked up, trying to hold in the tears and succeeding. The space around us seemed to quiet. If I had said one thing about a quiet house or empty bedroom, we would have been sobbing together in her office.

I said, “It’s going to be exciting.”

She looked at me as if I were crazy.

“I mean, for your son,” I said, but really, I meant for her, too. She just wasn’t ready to see that yet. Maybe it will take her longer than it took me to find the joy in not being a daily parent. But in the empty space things can happen. Life could happen. It just didn’t seem that that to her yet.
I had my children at an early age, when I was physically but not truly psychically ready to have them. We were also always broke. When they were little and my former spouse and I were living on first one and the two teacher's salaries, I took them to every free event in the Bay Area to make sure we got out of the house. I can still recount the free days at the Oakland Museum and the San Francisco Zoo. We bought summer park passes to the Knowland Zoo. We went to all the public pools. I know by heart all the parks in the greater Bay Area. Back then as I was packing up my VW Van for the day with bagged lunches and juice boxes and sand toys and sweaters, I could only imagine a day when they would be out of the house and not my total and utter responsibility. What would the day be like where I could go to the bathroom by myself or make a meal for myself and then sit and eat it while reading the newspaper? What would it be like to not have to pour sand out of my shoe every evening?

Back then, sleep was something that was always interrupted (though please, let's not talk about peri-menopause and sleep issues here) and the day all about keeping them occupied and making meals. Every single day was about driving to or from preschool and then grade school and the various lessons they had through the years--tumbling, ceramics, basketball, drawing, clarinet, aikido, drama. It was about the worries and vicissitudes of adolescence and driver's training and getting into colleges.

And then they were gone. Poof!

And then they were gone and I had to figure out who I was without them.

Now, I miss them. Some days, I’d pay anything to have to pour sand out of my shoe. As they grew older and became more of who they are, I grew used to the rhythms of our lives together. That life changed when I left my husband, but I am still accustomed to the way they fit in along with me. I can picture Alexander out on a deck of one of the houses we and I have lived in reading a book. Nicolas is out there with him, too, both with their shirts off, getting some sun. I can hear them laughing at a movie they are watching. I can hear the clomp, clomp, clomp of Nicolas’ heavy boots on the wood floor. I can hear them talking in their rooms to their girlfriends, the slow, steady murmur of love talk.

I can see Nicolas rehearsing a part from a play in the living room of my second small apartment. I can see them both as they drive away, toward home.

As they grew older, I had to do less daily maintenance on a physical level and became more important emotionally. They needed to talk, and I was there. They had troubles, I could help. But I could sleep and I didn’t have to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches except for my self.

I miss the peanut butter and jelly sandwich life sometimes, wishing I could go back in and be a better mother. I made so many mistakes, pretty much all the time. My mothering life is a string of mistakes, corrections, further mistakes, more corrections. I wish I hadn't worried so much about things that weren't important (traffic and schedules and who took what class when and who would drive them there). Wishing I'd listened more. Wishing I'd slowed down. I know I did my best, working one then two then three jobs (writing being one of them). Between the two of us, my former spouse and I were able to pick them up after school and spend time with them. We ate dinners together and watched television together. I helped with homework. We traveled all around the world during the summers, and yet, I have regrets.

And here's the deal. You know your children are really gone when they have attachments to a place not home. This past holiday, my youngest insisted on leaving for "home" early because of his girlfriend. He missed her. She was back home. My oldest has a home too, a home not here. They have lives and people and jobs and activities that aren't where their father and I are at all.
The good news for me is that I have a home, too. I have the job and activities and life that continues to keep me busy, but as my boys are adding to their lives, bringing in more, pieces of mine are falling away.

I guess that's what happens. We build and then let it go, a bit at a time.

So if I could go back to me, that young mother, I would tell her this, and she wouldn't be able to do much differently. But I think she could look around, take in those beautiful boys, and know that it was temporal, ephemeral, soon to end. She could hold them and touch them and know that never again would it really be like this. That it was a blessing, the best blessing that this human life has to offer, no matter how many of us are crowding the planet.

Here I sit writing, pictures of my boys all around me, and I want to tell them thank you.

Have you had to deal with the letting go of the old life and moving into your own? Do you have any advice for my friend? I am sure she is sick of mine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tempt Me With Darkness - Shayla Black

Yesterday, the first book in my new Doomsday Brethren series released, titled TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS. Set in modern London, to the back drop of all things magical and out there, the books are a tightly connected series of recurring characters. Each book is about a different couple, but the threads of the plot continue from book to book. I’m thrilled about this series…and nervous too. It’s a change for me, right?

Yes and no. These days, I’m often asked why I’ve switched from writing steamy and/or erotic contemporary romance to writing an urban fantasy romance series. The short answer is that I didn’t switch; I came back to it. Let me explain…

The Doomsday Brethren series has been brewing in my head for about a decade. In 1996, I started the first book, then put it aside when I realized I just didn’t have the skill yet to write it. A few years later, after I was published, I took it out once more, and again realized I wasn’t ready. I dusted it off again about two years ago, reworked a bunch of it—and sold the first three in the series. This is near and dear to my heart, and I’m really hoping that readers enjoy it.

Currently, I’m under contract for 2 more Doomsday Brethren books. SEDUCE ME IN SHADOW and POSSESS ME AT MIDNIGHT come out back to back beginning October 2009. I’m writing them as we speak! In my head, I have at least 7 books in this epic to tell, so I’m hoping that readers want to come along for the ride.

These are books of my heart—and believe me, I’m pouring soul in there as well. They are steamy, but not erotic. They ARE, I think, lots of fun.

To read the first chapter, click here. Leave a comment here, and we’ll randomly select a winner to receive a free copy of TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS for 1 lucky winner, to be drawn tomorrow.

I hope you’re interested in launching with me on this new magical series!

*****Shayla picked DINA as her winner!!! Congratulations to Dina and thanks to everyone else who commented! Dina, please contact Lee or Shayla via email with your snail mail address so the prize can wing its way to you soon!*****

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Christine Rimmer's Evening Angels

I like my treasures around me where I work. I like my Tweetie Bird mug and the lamp my dh bought me for my desk--and my James Christensen print, Evening Angels. That's it to the left.

And here you see it keeping me company in my old office.

And here it is again, lookin' good in my workspace in my current office.

Those angels inspire me. They make me smile and they make me feel like someone good is watching over me. Those angels are my angels. My workspace wouldn't be the same without them.

I found my Evening Angels in an art shop in Grass Valley, California over a decade ago. I dragged the DH over to admire them. He grinned. "I see what you mean. All the major food groups--blond, brunette, redhead and silvery-gray." I groaned and poked him in the side with my elbow. And then we agreed I should have that print.

Does everyone love their treasures around them in their work areas? Do you?

My website
Myspace Page

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thoughts on Meeting Famous Writers by Diana Holquist

I had the fascinating experience of meeting two very huge writers at this year's Romance Writers of America national conference in San Francisco and it was such an eye-opening experience, I wanted to share.

Who are they?

I'm not telling. First, because it's besides the point. Second, because I don't want to piss them off. And third, because I don't want to write about them, I want to write about what I learned from them.

Here's what happened. At 6 A.M. on the first morning of the conference, I couldn't sleep. I didn't want to wake my roomies, so I thew on a pair of jeans and crept down to the lobby. There sat a group of strangers who looked like me: tired, jetlagged, and possibly romance writers. So I joined them.

We chatted about business and it slowly dawned on me who two of these women were (HUGE fangirl moment while trying to play it cool in my no makeup, dirty jeans, bedhead....gah!).

Anyway, what struck me about these two women was that when it came to writing romance, they were total opposites. It was fascinating and very affirming that they could do everything differently, and still write great romance and be successful at it.

One of these writers had written four books in the last year. The other had written four books in her entire career.

One of these writers critiques with some of the biggest names in romance. The other critiques with no one. Ever.

One of these writers spends big money on promo. The other doesn't even have a website.

One of these writers writes across genres. The other keeps solidly to one genre.

One of these writers knew EVERYONE who walked by (yeah, we talked for a few hours). The other was rooming with a stranger she found on the web. She knew no one.

I don't know if this resonates with readers; I hope you all don't find this dull.

But for me, a new writer trying to start a career, a writer looking desperately to try to figure out how this business works, it was a defining moment. A shocking moment, even.

To me, meeting these two women meant that there's room for all of us, however we do it.

It meant that everything outside of writing the best book we can write is purely optional.

This week, I send my new book out into the universe.  And I wonder if I did it "right." If I've done everything I could to make it a success. But then, I think of these two women and say to myself, "it's the book, stupid." 

It's all about the book. 

Well, about that and about meeting famous writers at conferences and having fangirl moments.



(P.S. -- Oh, and it's about winning chocolate, too.  Come visit my website to enter my Happy Endings contest. )

When a Cover Works

We all know what a wrong cover looks like. The one where the man and the woman on it look nothing like the characters the author created. Or there is an extra arm there. The colors make the hero look orange. The hero looks like a bad version of Donald Trump.

But when a cover works, like this one for my new book, Tempted by the Night, all the right elements converge together like a perfect storm.

When I was asked (and yes, authors are asked what they would like on the cover--they don't always listen, but it is nice to be asked), I suggested a moonlit scene, because the bulk of the story happens at night. I had seen a Harry Potter movie poster that I thought was brilliant--just Harry in the moonlight with a sword in his hand. And I wanted the same dark, desperate, passionate mood on my cover.

Yet the art department and the artist took another view, and put the couple together here, on the dark streets of London, in this fabulous, desperate embrace, as if this is their first and only kiss. And boy, are they going to make it a good one. While murky darkness surrounds them, together they glow. She is his light.

It captures Hermione's and Rockhurst's relationship perfectly. Like I said, when it works . . . But you'll have to tell me if it fits the story. Tempted by the Night goes on sale Tuesday, August 26th. Get a copy and let me know if the cover and the story work for you.

In the meantime, what is your idea of a perfect cover?

BTW, I'm having a contest over on my blog to win a box of goodies from the RWA conference. Drop by, comment before Monday noon, and you could win!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Playing Dress Up

Did you ever play dress up as a child? When I was a little girl, it was my favorite game. My grandma had a small suitcase kept just for me, filled with fancy clothes and high heels. Even more fun was when she’d let me play in her makeup, so I could “do my face” to go with my fancy ball gown or tea party ensemble.

I carried the habit into my teens, with some unfortunate fashion choices. High heels and ankle socks, army jackets and miniskirts, and one unfortunately memorable semester of harem pants and ballet tops. And, again, that love affair with makeup. I love playing with hair styles and colors, changing looks with the swipe of eye shadow and pencil. This dress up thing is a lifelong love affair.

One of my favorite times of year is the RWA conference, where I get out of my ‘mom and writer clothes’ and get to play dress up for a week each summer. It intrigues me to see how simple things, an attractive hairstyle, clothes that flatter the body and in a style that suits the personality can shift a person’s self-confidence. And in the process, give them enough of a boost to do things they might not have felt okay doing before.

After playing with this concept (oh fine, let’s call it what it is –obsession) for a while, I decided to use the makeover angle for my September Blaze, RISQUÉ BUSINESS. It was so fun to watch my heroine, Delaney, discover what a difference her makeover made. And even more important, how it really didn’t change anything. Sure, a sassy hairstyle and pushup bra gave her a new level of confidence, but she had to work through the repercussions of that confidence... which are quite hot since they include one very sexy erotic suspense author and a very naughty bet.

So how about you? Have you ever had a makeover? Was it a fun experience or a nightmare? Do you do the girly dress up thing in regular life or do you only dress up for special occasions? Share your dress up and makeover stories with me and I’ll pick one person from the comments to win a copy of my September Blaze, RISQUÉ BUSINESS so they can read all about Delaney’s makeover for themselves.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Unleash Your Story and Make a Difference

From September 1st to the 30th I will be taking part in the first annual Unleash Your Story, a fund raising write-a-thon and read-a-thon that will not only help you meet your writing goals and give you a perfect excuse to curl up with a good book , but it will also give you the chance to win fabulous prizes while at the same time helping to raise money for a very worthy cause, The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic Fibrosis is a life-threatening disease that causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, particularly in the lungs and pancreas. When mucus clogs the lungs, it can make breathing very difficult. The thick mucus also causes bacteria (or germs) to get stuck in the airways, which causes inflammation (or swelling) and infections that leads to lung damage.

Mucus also can block the digestive tract and pancreas. The mucus stops digestive enzymes from getting to the intestines. The body needs these enzymes to break down food, which provides important nutrients to help us grow and stay healthy. People with cystic fibrosis often need to replace the enzymes with capsules they take with their meals and snacks to help digest the food and get the proper nutrition. (

Here’s how Unleash Your Story works.

Readers and writers join a team or work as individuals to set a goal for the month. Supporters can donate in the name of their favourite team or individual and watch as word counts and pages read grow by the minute! Everyone who participates (writers, readers and supporters) will have a chance to enter a draw for a prize basket and everyone who meets their goals or keeps up with the Pacesetter will earn a certificate.

Who is that Pacesetter?

None other than the fabulous Debbie Macomber! As a best selling author, Debbie is famous for her persistence and dedication to writing daily and will be an inspiration to all of us to push on, to write more, to read more, and to donate more.

You have the choice of joining as an individual or as a team, and then register online at Unleash Your Story. If the direct link to CFF isn’t there yet, simply email us and we’ll let you know when it opens. After that, all you have to do is set a weekly goal. If you’re a writer, you goal will be set in words written. If you’re a reader, your goal will be set in pages read. Keep track of your progress and report them weekly to us.

Donations for you or your team will go directly to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation who will track not only the donations but also the goals. Every person or team who meets their weekly goals will receive a chance to enter a prize package. Those with the Top Five donation levels will be named Our Heroes and receive special rewards. We will also have certificates and special virtual rewards for you to post on your website.

How to donate:

Very soon, CFF will give us a live link from the Unleash Your Story site which will accept your donation and direct every cent of it to the CFF. You do not have to donate to participate, however we do encourage you to make a donation. Every cent donated in your name (individual or team) will count in your tally, and the more you raise, the better chance you have of winning a prize, and more importantly, the better we have of helping to find a cure.

And what are some of those prizes?

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has generously donated prizes of their own depending on the amount raised for an individual or team, and these include things such as Tshirts, mugs, backpacks, cameras and iPods.

Other prizes continue to pile up every day, including donated critiques from agents and editors, tote bags, books, promotional packages for authors and an AlphaSmart Neo. And these are just to name a few!

If you would like to donate a prize to this very worthy cause, please contact us and we’ll add it to the growing list.

I hope you will all join us in this very worthy cause. If you know a family who is directly affected by CF, you know how much they have to go through on a daily basis, not only to get their children’s airways cleared, but often it’s a struggle just to get the kids to eat. CF research has come a long way, but there’s still no cure, and we want to do everything we can to help them find one. What better way to help than by doing what we love?

So please join us. Read, write and donate. Have your friends and family donate. Post a link on your website and encourage your fans to join in and donate in your name. We’ll all come out better for it in the end!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Desert Island Reading : : Anne McAllister

Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my mind there is an echo of someone on a desert island in the middle of a vast ocean saying, "Water, water everywhere -- and not a drop to drink."

I'm sure I should footnote that, and I would if I knew who said it.

And yes, I can probably find out who said it on Google, but I don't have time because it is one minute to midnight, and I have to finish this and go to bed so I can get up and go to the dentist.

Life is what happens when you are making other plans -- John Lennon said that (as have I on occasion) -- which is why I am going to the dentist bright and early in the morning.

But I digress.

What made me think about the water quote was that I just spent a week by the water and I had time on my hands and for once I could actually read - for pleasure.

There were plenty of books on the shelves of the house I was staying in. And some of them were really Worthy books.

But honest-to-goodness, there wasn't one I wanted to read.


Because they seemed uniformly to have unhappy endings. They were books about miserable unhappy unfulfilled people who encountered other miserable unhappy unfulfilled people who in the course of the book anguished and sighed and made each other cry and pretty much feel even more awful. And while they might think about doing something about it, life was too terrible for them to manage. And so they didn't. They just got more miserable for 300 or so pages.

And then, at the end, they either offed themselves or sank further into depression. Usually, though, they died. And not believing in the Ever After, in case you wondered.

So much for happily ever after.

And all I could think was, why does anyone read these books?

Because, I guess, they are Worthy. And they are often very well-written by authors with a good command of spare elegant insightful prose. And certainly these books have something to say about the human condition. Without question, they have their place in the pantheon of English and American literature.

But God knows I do not want to read them on vacation.

On vacation I don't want to be reminded about the misery of the human condition. I don't want to read about the plague overtaking the world while time runs out and, in the end, everyone is dead, and won't that just teach us to be better custodians of the earth?

Etc. Etc. Etc.

While I'm not Pollyanna-ish enough to believe that everything is going to be hunky-dory forever, I do manage to keep a reasonably optimistic attitude on life -- even when it sucks.

And I like the books I read to pay lip service to that same notion.

I like stories in which good triumphs over evil. I like characters who strive and struggle and love and believe that they can change. I like to spend time with people who care. They can hurt, they can cry, they can kill (in a good cause) but they had better not be killed.

My emotional landscape -- in the books I write and the books I like to read -- doesn't allow that. It isn't part of the bargain I make with a writer whose book I take off the shelf and agree to spend time with. It isn't part of the bargain I make with readers who buy my books.

Is that unrealistic? Probably.

I don't care. I can't control real life. Not enough of it anyway. But I can control what I read.

I'm not in high school anymore. I'm not taking The Nineteenth Century British Novel. I'm not signed up for Modern Drama.

I don't even belong to a book club because I don't like to talk about books. I like to read them. And books with "questions to think about" at the end of them make me grind me teeth.

So I took one look at all the books on the shelves and I went to the bookstore where I bought books that I wanted to read -- books that might be classed as 'popular fiction' (as if it were a bad word -- or two bad words), but IMHO, books that would feed my spirit, not depress the heck out of me.

I came back with several.

I read The Bourne Sanction (bodies, bodies everywhere. But definitely not Jason Bourne's).
I read Gabriella Herkert's Catnapped and Doggone (more bodies, but Sara and Connor were still alive at the end).

I read Janet Evanovich's Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie, Joe, Ranger and Grandma -- even Rex the hamster stayed alive). I read Hester Browne's The Little Lady Agency and the Prince (no dead bodies at all).

And I had a great vacation. I felt much happier. Refreshed. Envigorated.

And not only because I got to spend my non-reading time with my one year old granddaughter whose smile could light the world.

So, tell me, if you were on a desert island for a week -- or two -- (without access to my smiling granddaughter, though you're allowed to bring whomever else you want to brighten your life) what sort of books would you bring along to read?

Titles are fine. Authors are good. The type of books you like I especially want to know.

Post a comment and on Thursday Gunnar the Proust-reading dog (whose taste in books does not even remotely reflect mine) will pick a winner who will get a copy of some book of mine with a happy ending -- your choice, as long as I can find it in the attic or on the shelves. Or Proust, if Gunnar will part with it and the winner is of like mind.

Check my blog or here at the end of the comments to see who wins.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Husband Wanted

So, as I was surfing the web last night, too tired to write but not tired enough to actually go to bed when I ran into the most interesting blog. It's and it deals with-- you guessed it-- a smart, funny, emotionally mature woman who is looking for a husband. Calling herself Ms. M, she very candidly discusses the fact that she is single, has one child and has taken a little longer than average to grow up. But now that she has-- and is really proud of the woman she's become-- she can't find a man to share her life with. So she's challenged Asheville, where she lives, to find one for her.

Her basic qualifications for a husband are as follows:

I no longer want someone just to be there; I want someone to lead when I start to forget where I'm going and to make me laugh when I'm taking life too seriously. I want someone who isn't afraid to tell the truth, even if it makes me cry. I want someone who can admit when he's wrong so that he and we will always be able to grow. I want someone to sit in the dark with- no words necessary. I want someone who isn't afraid to drop everything and go anywhere. I want someone who will not settle for mediocre, for almost, for halfway. I want someone who doesn't give up and won't take no for an answer (unless it's me saying it). I want someone who isn't afraid to sneak in the back door at a party we weren't invited to. I want someone to present a different angle at life, at art, at music, at politics (mmm…. let's not get too crazy). I want someone to help me decide what is or isn't best for my child; someone to balance the scales so that my daughter isn't a mini replica of myself, regurgitating all my own opinions and attitudes towards the world. I want someone to teach me things I would have never thought to learn. I want someone to get lost with, to grow with, to discover with. And lastly (and mostly), I want someone who will bring me closer to God through the simple act of living.

When I first read this, I thought, honestly, what an absolutely brilliant idea. Fed up with blind and internet dating, sick of the bar scene, responsible for a young child-- what does a young, single woman like that do to find a man? Recruits an entire city to help her on her search. What an excellent start.

That thought was immediately followed by, geez, maybe I should pay a little more attention to this blog. After all, I write stories about young, single and attractive women looking for their special someones-- how interesting it is for this married, thirty-two year old mother of three to truly get inside the head of a single woman again. Especially one as eloquent and together as M. seems to be.

Which then got me thinking about that time twelve years ago when I met and fell in love with my husband and all the things I expected life and love to be about. It reminded me how much I've changed and he's changed through the years. How we've grown up together, learned to live with and love each other's differences yet never lost the spark that makes us who we are as a couple. How even after all these years he still challenges me, listens to me, makes me laugh and is the absolute best father I know.

So thank you, Ms. M for your candid, idealistic and oh so wonderful take on finding a soul mate. It sure helped me focus-- on my writing and my relationship with the man I love-- just as it reminded me of everything I hold dear in a relationship. I wish you all the best on your serach-- and if a smart, funny, single guy comes my way-- I'll certainly send him yours.

And for the rest of you, M's laid out her classifications for a man, as have I. What do you/did you look for when you choose/chose someone to spend your life with? And what do you think of M's approach to finding a husband?

The Lure of Secondary Characters - Donna Alward

All of you who like reading linked books, raise your hand.

All of you who like WRITING linked books, raise your hand.

I think there might be LOTS of raised hands at the moment.

As long as there are secondary characters, there will never be a dearth of story ideas for an author.

I've read many articles lately on the lure of the series, and I for one am glad. There are benefits and drawbacks, and to hedge my bets I love series that are all connected but that stand alone as far as reading. One of my favourite series ever is Nora's MacGregors. All of them could be read separately, but you really want to read them all. I've read lots of Nora - from suspense right down to the category stuff, and the MacGregors are still my favourites.

Of course sometimes series need to be read as a series and the downside to that is if you miss one, you might not buy the rest.

As a writer, I'm always happy when I get to write linked stories. I often feel at the end that while my hero and heroine have found a happy ending, there are always a few characters that are left. They are open questions. So when I wrote HIRED BY THE COWBOY, there was a character, Mike, that wouldn't let me go. He became the hero in the follow up, MARRIAGE AT CIRCLE M.

Officially, these two books weren't a series, but they were linked by the ranch, Windover. And in doing Mike's backstory, another question was raised. Who was this woman, this cousin Maggie that took Mike in from foster care when she was still so very young herself. And where was she now?

That question led to Maggie's story in FALLING FOR MR. DARK AND DANGEROUS. It's set in the same general area of south-central Alberta. Maggie has a teenage daughter and runs a bed and breakfast. And she likes things just the way they are. No muss, no fuss. No rocking the boat. She's been hurt one too many times. But when US Marshal Nate Griffith arrives on her doorstep, he challenges all of that. And in the end, he'll challenge everything she thinks she knows.

FALLING FOR MR. DARK AND DANGEROUS is out this month, and in my mind it was the end of the "Windover" books. But then I had an e-mail the other day asking if there was going to be a sequel. And of course my mind kept spinning around one other character - Grant Simms, the RCMP officer that worked with Nate. Who is Grant? Why is he where he is? And the lure continues....

Readers AND authors...what do you like or dislike about series?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How Michael Phelps Saved The Olympics

Like most of the world, I've spent the last week watching the 2008 Summer Olympics. Not exactly of choice, mind you. I live in a house with two men and a satellite dish, so sports is something I can't avoid. But unlike many sports, the Olympics has traditionally been an event that appeals to both men and women alike. Which is why one sport in particular has me exceptionally irked.

Beach Volleyball. Or as I've personally coined it, Beach Dolly-ball.

You see, I'm trying to figure out why the official Olympic uniform for beach volleyball has to look like this:

I've seen more clothing in a Girls Gone Wild video. And I can't help but wonder if there's some sand-meets-Lycra hazard that makes it necessary for these athletes to wear as little of it as possible. Because, pardon me, but in my 46 years of watching the Olympic Games, there was always an integrity to the games. And if there were borderline sports included, they were always relegated to the wee hours of the morning when no one was watching. I've been tuning in during prime time all week long and every night at 8:00 Pacific Time, this is what I've been getting.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking, "Lori, um...don't you write for Blaze? Aren't these rather prudish thoughts by someone whose next book opens with a highly explicit blow job?"

Yes, I do write for Blaze, and let me explain. It's not the sex I have a problem with. It's the sexism. Because really, I didn't have a problem with Beach Volleyball until Wednesday. That was the day that, after watching naked women for three days straight, I heard Bob Costas announce that after the commercial break, NBC was going to bring me men's beach volleyball. And you can believe I perked up in my La-Z-Boy for that.

For three long commercial minutes, I sat with baited breath, anticipating the male equivalent of this Spring Break exhibition I'd been watching all week. I would be treated to a nice set of six packs, chizeled abs, a little nipple action. And Speedos. Teeny tiny little Speedos. With bulges. I wanted bulges. To get my payback, I should be able to gauge their religion through that thin layer of Spandex. And I held a collective breath for all women across the world as the cameras tuned in and I was treated to---


That was the moment I stopped watching the Olympics. Us women had been officially robbed and I was pissed. Beach Dolly-ball had turned the 2008 Summer Olympics into a big sexist joke. And with gymnasts falling off balance beams and Swedes tossing medals and storming off podiums, this criminal act was the last straw. Frustrated and thoroughly disgusted, I picked up a book and promptly stuck my nose in it, not willing to give the Olympics another minute of my valuable time.

Until the coverage flipped back to swimming, and I peeked out over the pages for a glimpse of this:

Okay, so maybe there might be something for us gals. In fact, given the deliciousness of that upper body, I'd have to admit us women might actually be coming out ahead. After all, it was my husband who said the Dolly-ball athletes aren't stacked enough to be of interest, and Michael Phelps is...well...let's just say there's plenty of stacking going on there.

And when his team won the relay and the camera caught him standing by the pool like this, I started rooting for gold.

I mean, seriously. Roll that wet suit down another quarter inch and George isn't the only Bush in the swim cube. And honey, if that isn't a fine display of stars and stripes, I don't know what is.

So I'm back for a few more nights at least, thankful in more ways than one that Michael Phelps is part of the games, bringing equilibrium to the events and justice to the world of sports.

So tell me, how many of you are watching the Olympic Games and what are your thoughts so far?

Lori Borrill is working on her fifth Harlequin Blaze. Her next release, titled "Unleashed", will be on shelves in November, 2008. It features a San Francisco Homicide Inspector who most definitely spends much of his time sans clothing.

As it should be.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friends and Festivities

by Anna Campbell

I'm sure by now you've all gathered that the San Francisco RWA conference was a huge hit. There's been posts left, right and center about meeting up with famous authors and attending signings and going to fantastic parties and what a wonderful time everyone had.

I had a marvelous time too! It's always such a hoot to catch up with so many of my romance-writing sisters. And as this is my third conference, I know a lot of people now. Sadly too many to do justice to in a couple of days. I kept having the thirty-second conversation - you know, "Hello!" Hug. "Must go." But even just that much touching base is fun! I finally got to meet the lovely Lee who runs Tote Bags. That was a thrill - I wish I'd got back to talk to her in more detail.

Sadly, I didn't come home with a RITA but I'd love to offer my congratulations to all the worthy winners. The awards night was huge fun - everybody gets dressed up and there's a wonderful electric atmosphere of celebration. And the desserts afterwards always go down well too! I'm delighted to say, however, that CLAIMING THE COURTESAN did win the Booksellers' Best Award at the Greater Detroit RWA reception. It's a seriously cute bit of bling - a gold open book with a pair of glasses poised over the pages.

Another fantastic plus of this conference is that it was crawling with Aussies and Kiwis. Every time I turned around, there was someone else from Downunder! Including Tote Bag regular Bronwyn Jameson. My countrywomen have been thin on the ground at recent conferences so this was such a treat. San Francisco is practically in our backyard compared to the east coast venues so of course lots of us took advantage of the (relative) closeness.

I thought you might like to see some photos. The top picture is me with great Avon historical author Sophia Nash at the awards night. The next photo is of more Avon ladies. Me (again!), Julie Anne Long and Jenna Petersen at the Avon dinner at the very glamorous Mandarin Hotel. The next one features the Romance Bandits mascot, the Golden Rooster, who was a VERY naughty boy when confronted with 3,000 romance writers to flirt with. He's completely fascinated by Donna MacMeans's corset purse, the saucy fellow! And I don't mean red-wine marinade! This candid shot was taken at the Romance Bandits party which was a huge success - a 'crush' in Regency terms!

The group photo is 12 of the 19 Romance Bandits in attendance at the conference. Sadly, one of us just couldn't make it. The picture was taken at the Golden Heart Booting Out ceremony which featured a gratifying number of Banditas. 11 of us have been published since we finaled in the 2006 Golden Heart that brought us all together.

And yes, there had to be a silly photo to finish up with. This is me at the literacy signing (do you like the top? I got it at Macy's which is now my favorite place in the universe!) clutching my two RITA finalist flags in a strangely King Tutankhamun pose. Although he lacked the gleeful expression!

So did you go to San Francisco? What was the highlight of your conference? Even if you didn't go, is there a romance writer you would like to meet? The conferences take place all over the States - you never know, you may just get your wish one day!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Woman Who Inspires Me -- Michelle Monkou

Miriam Makeba, who is as old as my mother, has earned the honor in my heart as one of my biggest inspirations. How could anyone look at this woman's life and not be inspired and humbled?
Born in 1932 she is known around the world as Mama Africa. In 1959 her passport was revoked after she went to Italy for a documentary premier she had participated in about anti-apartheid. Her journey to being a great singer connected her with Harry Belafonte and eventually to Stokley Carmichael, Black Panther Leader. Their marriage brought a halt to her career in the U.S. and she moved to Guinea.

Later in her life, her only daughter died. She then wrote her autobiography - Makeba: My Story - It's a great read and she is such a humble spirit. In 1990 Nelson Mandela invited her home. And it was a great welcome. She is still touring, paying tribute and saying goodbye in all the countries and venues that marked her ascension to being an ambassador of music and peace.
She is a symbol of what we women can do, despite incredible odds.

Michelle Monkou

Pre-order now - Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Life's a Beach

I’m sort of known for writing comedy. With titles like I Waxed My Legs for This? and Not Precisely Pregnant...well, it’s sort of obvious where I’ve done most of my writing. But last year, I moved to a more serious sort of book with The House on Briar Hill Road, a book that dealt with breast cancer, loss and a failing marriage. It was a real departure for me. I had to switch my website’s tagline from, love is a laughing matter, to love is a laughing matter...except when it’s not. So, in the interest of fairness, I should let it be known that my first SuperRomance this month, SAME TIME NEXT SUMMER is not a laughing matter. Oh, there are moments of humor, moments when I hope you’ll smile, or even chuckle, but there are other moments when I made myself cry as I wrote.

I could feel for the heroine, Carolyn, as she sat at her daughter’s hospital bedside, listening to the heart machine, and praying that her daughter would wake up. As a mother, I could imagine her terror, and admire her tenacity as she held onto the belief her daughter was going to find her way back to her. When Carolyn’s family sends an old friend–someone she shared her childhood summers on the lake with–to her hospital to try to talk her into leaving, I felt her pain as she told him she couldn’t leave her child. That while Emma’s heart was beating, Carolyn knew there was a chance her daughter would come back, and that she’d need her mother close to find her way out of her coma. When Stephan pulled his chair next to Carolyn’s and simply said he’d wait with her, I fell in love with him and this story.

This book is special because it’s my second drama. And though I didn’t set it in Erie (where most of my books are set) I did set it on Lake Erie in Ohio. If you visit my website, not only will you find my new improved tagline, you’ll also see a beautiful lake shot. When I had to come up with a theme for the site, my first thought was families...most of my books are all about family. But I wanted something visual. Beaches. Most of my books are set here in Erie and my characters visit the lake, or mention the lake. Uh, I’m a fan of the lake. There’s nothing more beautiful then heading out in the evening, sitting on the beach and watching the sunset. And of course, the idea that life’s a beach (full of fun and family) and sometimes it’s a beach (a nicer word for b#$%^) well, that seems appropriate for my new comedy-drama writings.

So sunsets on the of my favorite summer activities. What’s your favorite summertime activity?

Same Time Next Summer's on the shelves now, and in Australia too, this month!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

12 Points on the 12th with Kate Walker

Category romances have very specific word limits. Many other types of fiction too specify or suggest a word limit and even if they don't, it's often a good idea to watch your word count carefully. Too long a story can ramble, have a sagging middle, and end seeming far too heavy with more details than are really needed. It does all of us no harm at all to check that we are not being self-indulgent and writing far more than we need to.

Here's a question that I'm often asked - either exactly in this way or somehting very like it:

QUESTION: I've finished my novel and done a total word count - to find that I'm way over the limit. How does one cut 28 pages from a WIP?

Some years ago, I had an editor who was affectionately known as Ms C4P and the C4P stood for Cut-for-Pace. This is because when I - or any of her other authors - sent in a manuscript for her to read, inevitably, even if she passed it without any other revisions, it would come back with lines, paragraphs, sometimes even whole pages where she had put a pencil line down the side and the instruction 'Cut for pace'. After a while working with her, I very soon started to hear her voice in my head when I was writing, and I would soon start cutting for pace even before I'd sent the manuscript off - sometimes even as I was writing the words - I would be erasing them as fast as I wrote them.

Cutting your work to meet the strict word count of a Harlequin novel can be one of the hardest things for an author to do. We put a part of ourselves into these stories, we love every word we've written - we believe every word we've put into it is vital, essential to the story - and oh, so eloquently written. How could anyone ever ask us to cut it back?But an editor will. If your work is over the word count limit, you'll be asked to bring it under the maximum. If your story has lots of extra characters, events, secondary plots that are extraneous to the central romance, you'll be asked to reduce them. If you have proportionally a lot more narrative than dialogue, you'll be asked to change the balance to around 60% dialogue to 40% narrative. And even if your story fits exactly into the word count limit, very often a trained, objective, editorial eye will see places where the action slows, where the dialogue goes nowhere, where you repeat something you or your characters have said before, and her pencil will come out, a line will go through the passage and in the margin will be the words:


So how do you cut anything from a few hundred words to several thousand from your precious manuscript on which you've worked so hard?

First things first - you swallow your pride. You push away all thoughts of how much you 'just love this bit!' and you look at your work as coldly and objectively as you can. After all, that's what your editor is going to do. She isn't going to think, 'Oh but she had such fun writing this,' or 'This is where she put in something that her DH said to her once - a secret message between the two of them'. No way. She's going to decide that this doesn't really contribute to the story or that has been said already on pages 34 and 78 and really we've got the point by now. And she isn't going to be impressed by long, poetic descriptions of scenery or clothing or meals or the history of a particular place. To her it's going to look like padding and the pencil will cross it out.

The best thing you can do is to try and get there first - to do much of the cutting for her. If you're careful and clever then you'll create a tighter, pacier read at the same time -you might even improve on the slightly saggy middle - and that will help to give your manuscript the best possible chance.

So what do you cut?

Cut anything you’re already said
If you have a point to make between you characters, make it once as clearly as possible and then leave it to stand. You can refer back to it briefly, but don't keep belabouring the point. In short books like romances, even just one line repeated on several occasions can seem way too much.

Unnecessary description
Obviously you have to have brief descriptions here and there - what your characters look like - what they're wearing - what the room they're in looks like. But don't waste time and precious words going into elaborate details. The sad truth is that more often than not a reader will skim over any detailed descriptions so as to get on with the good stuff - the relationship between your H & h - so you're really wasting your time if you go into poetic descriptions. Make it short and sweet.

Dialogue that doesn’t make its point
Okay, so everyday dialogue is full of Good morning/How are you/Nasty weather . . . but you don't have space or word count for that. You don't really have the word count for any dialogue that doesn't reveal one character to another. The conversations your characters have should add to their knowledge of each other, reveal facts about the conflict that has come between them, explain why things happened. They - and you - don't have time just to pass the time of day. Make your dialogue count. And don't constantly keep getting them to the point of revealing something and then breaking off and saying, 'No - not now.' No one in real life would let that pass again and again and it becomes irritating repetition.

Excessive introspection
Yes, the reader wants to know what your H & h are thinking - but keep it short, sharp and to the point. One problem with introspection is that it's always in narrative - and it's always telling, not showing. If you spend time having your hero reflect on how the way the heroine is behaving reminds him of how his mother always used to act in front of her many boyfriends and so he . . . before you know it, you'll have lost the reader's attention - and they'll have lost their place in the dialogue. Keep introspection to a couple of telling sentences. If there is more that needs to be explained, then it should go into dialogue and be told to the heroine.

Introspection that has been done before, that doesn’t add anything new, that is indulgent
This is much like point number one - yes, your reader wants to get inside the H/h's head and understand them - but we don't need to know every last details of their life, their thoughts, their relationship with their parents and every single girlfriend/boyfriend they ever had. Only use introspection when it actually tells the reader something about the way the person Is feeling now.

Elaboration on minor points
Elaboration full stop

The reason a reader has picked up a romance is because she wants to read a ROMANCE. She doesn’t want a travelogue, a history lesson. You may be a world expert on horse racing, or martial arts – but are the details you’re putting in directly relevant to the ROMANCE? If not, they are padding, and padding will weigh down and slow down your story.

Too much detail/dialogue/description/action involving minor characters who take away the focus from the H&h and so diffuse the action
The story your reader wants is the story of the HERO and the HEROINE. They don’t want her sister’s troubles with her husband or his best friend’s long last girlfriend.. Any time you spend away from the central story weakens that plot and so the focus of the book. Of course, this varies according to the different lines – a Superromance can afford to have more of a secondary plot and more characters than, say a Presents – but as a general rule, and certainly when you are trying to cut for pace, the main relationship should always be your focus and you can afford to cut back on the lesser ones.

Scenes that only show one thing and so could be combined with another to tell a couple of things in one go
In a restricted word limit, you don’t have time to detail everything and give everything its single focus in the spotlight. Use each scene to it’s best advantage by making sure that it shows something about your H&h and their story. Don’t just have one scene where the heroine finds a photograph of the hero’s dead wife – put that together with an argument that leads to her blurting out that she has been married too - unhappily – and the repercussions from that will lead into a sensual reconciliation . . .

Family – families often get in the way in fiction – and in fact!
Don’t however fall into the trap of feeling that you have to kill off all the heroine’s parents and relatives – that will just turn your book into melodrama. But families could interfere – a brother or father wouldn’t stand for the way the hero is treating the heroine – so set up a scenario where the heroine is working away from home – or living in another country – or Mum & Dad have gone on a round the world cruise and won’t be back till Christmas. Then you won’t have to have scenes in which things have to be explained to them.

Lovemaking scenes that don’t show any development – that aren’t different from the last one
The point about a sex scene is not just to show that your H&h fancy each other - they are there to mirror the development of the relationship and show the changes in it. If your word count is too long and you have some love scenes , however well written and erotic, that are really just a long-winded way of saying ‘they made love again’ - then why not just say that. Besides, too many repetitions of lovescene, even passionate love scenes lose their impact and become a bit too much the same. Don’t waste them. Make them count – or cut them.

Long, detailed ‘getting to know you’ that could be summarised into ‘and then he told her about…’
The H& h need to learn about each other, especially if this isn’t a reunion story – but you don’t have to have ALL the story – summarise – He told her about his childhood in Texas, the happy days before his mother died, the change that came after . . .’
Quite often if you show the beginning of the conversation – ‘Tell me about . . .’ then like a film would ‘fade’ - focusing again on the ending ;’ . . .and that’s why I came to live in New York . . ‘

Scenes that do not have the H&h together should always be looked at in case they’re not really needed.
This is another point on the focus of the plot - that central relationship. So even if a scene is the heroine discussing her relationship with the hero, if it’s with her mother/her best friend, it can probably be expendable and a shorter, more direct way of just stating how she’s feeling can be found.

Detailed telling of action that could become ‘with one bound he was free’!!!!
For example – if your hero has been captured and tied up – then finds a piece of glass and cuts through his bonds- again you only need the beginning ‘Twisting the glass awkwardly in his restricted grip, he began to saw clumsily . . . Two hours later the last strand finally parted. With a sigh of relief he rubbed his hands, wincing as he touched the places where the glass had slipped and nicked him.’
You don’t have to go into every last detail of how long it took, how he kept dropping the glass, how he cut himself . . . Leave that to the reader’s imagination.

Factual background that weighs down the action – history of places/family histories/ clothing details/ training details
A romance isn’t the place to air your knowledge – you are telling a story never forget that.

Cutting always hurts – you’ve written it and you meant it to stay but….

The rule of thumb is – yes you may have written this wonderfully well – but is the fact that it’s well written enough justification for it staying in – what does it ADD to the book – if nothing/not much – why is it there?

(c) Kate Walker 2008

You can find out more about the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance and how to buy it by visiting the Writers' page on my web site. There you'll also find details of my latest release - the complete collection of The Alcolar Family Trilogy in either a print version or a Harlequin ebook bundle.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fangirling Richelle Mead by Megan Crane

I have a confession to make.

I'm a fangirl.

Okay, this isn't news to anyone who knows me, and has suffered through one of my cold glares should the subject of, say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer come up in anything less than reverent tones. I protect that which I worship.

I also like to share it.

I discovered Richelle Mead by accident. I think I was paging through some review site, and Vampire Academy sounded interesting, so I ordered it. I then proceeded to devour it, and its sequel. I'm not exaggerating-- I refused to put the first book down, and since I was in Vegas and it was a Friday night, believe me when I tell you that yes, IT IS THAT GOOD.

Not satisfied, I then jumped in to her succubus books, and fell in love with Georgina Kincaid and her merry little band of helllspawn and demons. How could I resist? A sympathetic succubus! How cool is that?

But today I must tell you that Richelle Mead's latest series is out, and I am smitten.

I'd actually forgotten that I'd pre-ordered the first book in the Dark Swan series until it arrived on my doorstep. (I am also a big fan of amazon for exactly this reason, but I will spare you the rhapsodizing...) I jumped right in. And... oh, people. This book is just FANTASTIC. Eugenie Markham is tough and cool and fascinating, and I can't get enough of her. I have inappropriate crushes on at least two of the dangerous, delicious men in the story. This book even makes me want to move to Tucson! Not an urge I ever expected to have, I assure you.

I think you should race out and buy Storm Born right away! You'll love it. And then I think you should treat yourself to Richelle's other two series. You're worth it.

And I promise you won't regret it!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Achievements and a cry for help... - Christina Hollis

San Francisco looks to have been a blast! I really wanted to go, but flying all that way was a challenge too far. Trying to write books doesn’t worry me at all – but flying is another matter. It would be a great achievement if I could overcome that fear, so I’ll have to work on it. It would be wonderful to make the next venue.

I’ve had plenty of work to keep me busy while I’ve been stuck at home. Revising my latest manuscript was top of the list. When doing that, it’s amazing how useful reader input is. My books are like babies to me. I’m so close to them it’s impossible to have an objective view! Once all the suggestions have been incorporated and the manuscript is as good as I can make it, off it goes into the big scary world (another moment when books resemble children).

When you’ve been working with one gorgeous guy for so long it’s hard to say goodbye, but today I waved a fond farewell to Alessandro Castiglione. He has charmed and infuriated me by turns as I tried to get his story exactly right.

Now for the challenge of casting my next hero! It’s an exciting time. There are all sorts of possible models, including a guy I saw on a TV documentary the other night. I’ll be raiding my notebooks and surfing the Internet looking for inspiration, but before I begin there’s going to be a bit of ‘me’ time to celebrate the achievement of actually finishing my latest book, which is called The Tuscan Tycoon’s Pregnant Housekeeper. The children have arranged a special (and very fattening!) treat for tea. My daughter used her pocket money to buy me a box of Ferrero Rocher, while Son Number One made and iced some sponge cakes (with a bit of help). They’re lovely children - I’m so proud of them, and think they’re my greatest achievement.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Right now I’d settle for a better understanding of the Internet. When I clicked on ‘Christina Hollis’ on the Mills and Boon site, it’s sadly in need of biographical notes – they must be floating somewhere in cyberspace! If you visit my blog at, you’ll find a mini competition, asking for your tips and hints on using the web. I’d love to hear from you!


Friday, August 08, 2008

Trends, new lines and revamped websites

A few years back, many pundits in the publishing world were predicting the demise of the Historical Romance, a slow lingering death. Never, ever to come back. Funny things predcitions...
Several of the more traditional Regency lines closed, and Harlequin Historical clung on in retail, thanks to its dedicated fans. I can remember Deborah Hale remarking that half- dead was also half alive. Personally, I knew historical romance would never die as too many people love reading historicals.
What a difference a few years makes. As far as I understand it from reading reports of the RWA Nationals, the over all historical romance genre experienced double digit growth. Historicals are once more a happening genre. They are alive and kicking. The cycle reversed. Historicals are here to stay.
It happens that way in publishing. This is why if you are writing, you need to follow your heart and write the sort of book you want.
By the time, a trend is spotted, it is quite possible that it is reaching its peak. And I suppose the reverse is true, if pundits are predicting the demise...
Anyway, as I adore historical romances -- both reading them and writing them, I am really pleased that there is an upward trend.
As a sign of the revival -- Harlequin Historical Undone! debuts in November. It is short --10 -15,000k e-book exclusive line, but is also the sexiest series Harlequin Historical has ever produced. Mainly it will be either prequels or sequels so that readers can visit the worlds that the authors create in greater depth. Eventually, it may include stand alone stories. If you are interested the writing guidelines are here.

Mills & Boon has revamped its website. As you can see by the cover of my latest book, An Impulsive Debutante, they now have a browse the book function.
As An Impulsive Debutante is out next month, I am having a contest for readers of Tote Bags. It is the sequel to A Christmas Wedding Wager and you can read the excerpt here. It is however a stand alone book. My daughter insisted that I write Lottie Charlton's story and it proved to be a great deal of fun. Lottie went from being a mean girl bit part to becoming one of my favourite heroines, and hopefully readers will enjoy her as well.
The prize is a signed copy of An Impulsive Debutante.
The question is where and in what year does the book take place?
Please send your answer to I will be drawing the winner on 15 August.

UPDATE: THE WINNER IS feline wyvern . Many thanks to all who entered.