Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sophia Knightly: Kissed By You

One of the most rewarding things about being a writer is the ability to honor a loved one in a book. Georgiana Kincaid, the heroine in Kissed by You, is facing her first Christmas without her beloved Grandma Emmy. Her grandmother is patterned after my mother, Emilia, who passed away this year after a long and full life at ninety-six.

Emilia drew people like a magnet with her irrepressible wit and charm. As a child, I marveled that my mother’s hands were never idle, never empty. She was always sewing or making jewelry or decorating the home she loved so much. A whirlwind of creativity, she was an extrovert who loved people and drew energy from being with them. I admired how resilient she was in facing many challenges with grace and how she managed to bounce back with renewed purpose and vigor.

She was my champion and my hero. Including her as a secondary character in Kissed by You was heart wrenching yet wonderful because it brought back beautiful memories of my mother and Mr. Woods, the man she married late in life, who romanced her and was her devoted dance partner at country club dances when they were well into their eighties.

Kissed by You is about Georgiana Kincaid and Dr. Alex Cortes, and how fate brings them together on one magical Christmas Eve. Alex is mourning the death of his parents five years ago on Christmas Eve and a painful, unresolved issue with his mother. Georgiana is reeling from a series of disappointing events and heartache that shatter her belief in a happily ever after.

Kissed by You is dedicated to all the believers in Christmas miracles and the magic of romance because Alex and Georgiana’s self-discovery and unforeseen awakening of love are nothing short of a miracle. 

What lovely memory do you have of your grandmother?  Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Tropical Heat Series Box Set!

Kissed by You is available for .99 cents until October 30th!
Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

I love connecting with readers and invite you to sign up for my Book News & Giveaways Newsletter and read an excerpt of KISSED BY YOU here:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Style for Characters

My small town series
You know the saying that a reader lives a thousand lives? Well, a writer writes a thousand lives, it seems. And there are a lot of fun perks to that. Not the least of which is dressing and housing my characters.

As a long time subscriber to magazines like InStyle and Southern Living, I’ve spent a lot of hours daydreaming over beautiful clothes, homes and landscaping. But no one person could possibly emulate all those styles of fashion or interior decorating. Much as I like Mexican Rustic furnishings, I don’t necessarily have a place to put pieces like that in my home. Lucky for me, every character is a blank slate for my stylist’s eye. Every home an opportunity to either Design on a Dime or pretend I’m decorating a Million Dollar Listing.

Dress your character!
One of my first inspirations for my characters’ wardrobes came from this adorable mini book called Fashion Astrology . I might not have any idea about the star sign of my heroine, but in thumbing through this book, I could choose a whole wardrobe aesthetic for her. Did her closet look like that of an uptown sophisticate? Or was she more of an eclectic, vintage store shopper? I dressed plenty of characters using this as a springboard and my most recent issue of InStyle for a specific outfit or two. I might not be able to afford some of those designers, but who’s to say my heroines were on the same budget? Or  maybe they were just better shoppers than me. Either way, I let them wear what they liked.

Bungalow in my Superromance
Houses were equally fun to dream up. From Central Park West apartments to California coast bungalows, it’s always fun to think about where a character might choose to live. And better still, how they might decorate. Some characters are Spartan, never acquiring too much. Others are collectors, with snippets of their past all around them. I like seeing what the surroundings tell me about their personality. Recently, I underscored my heroine Heather Finley’s backstory (from Dances Under the Harvest Moon) by having her live in a converted bungalow on her parents’ expansive farm property. Sure, she had some space between her and her mother. But she’d never left her hometown and her home reflected that. I did make it charming though, with a small porch for a swing and an airy loft bedroom.

Marchesa for Desire heroine
Recently I started writing for Harlequin’s Desire line, and this series allows me to really push the boundaries on wardrobes and decorating. There is no budget in the Desire world of wealth and privilege! Now, I can shop on Net a Porter and find gorgeous designer gowns to send my heroines to elegant charity fundraisers. I find it funny that after I “shop” for a while, my Facebook feed fills up with ads for other clothes I can’t afford, continually asking if I want that Marchesa gown or Louboutin shoes. Well… maybe not today. I already gave them to a lucky secretary swept off her feet by her wealthy boss.

***Are you addicted to HGTV or fashion magazines? Do you have a favorite store to browse through—online or in real life—looking at things you aren’t prepared to buy but just love to look at? Share with me in the comments and I’ll give one random poster a copy of my Harlequin Blaze, MY SECRET FANTASIES.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Eve Gaddy: Writers' Magic

Writers are a fun group. When we get together, be it at a conference or a retreat, or just lunch with friends, we talk. Sure, we talk about our families and what's going on in the real world, but we talk about our books. A lot. No one understands a writer better than another writer.

My family is used to me by now, but my daughter is still amused to hear my friends and me talking about our characters as if they are real. To us they are. Otherwise they wouldn't be nearly as much fun to write about.

I think there is something in the air at a writers conference that promotes creativity. Perhaps it's being able to plot and talk in person. As my friends know, I have to talk about my books before the story gels for me. Unlike some of my friends--you know who you are--I like talking on the phone. I like FaceTime a lot too. But nothing beats talking in person. The creative sparks fly, ideas flow and sometimes, especially if we're tired, we come up with the craziest stories.

Plotting on airplanes is fun. You have to be careful, though. Once I was plotting Just One Night aka 'the bomb book' on an airplane with my friend and writer buddy, Lenora Worth.

The heroine is a bomb unit detective, the hero her prime suspect in a bombing. Since we were on the plane we couldn't say the word 'bomb'. We finally came up with 'that big thing that happened.'

Another time my writer buddy, Julia Justiss, and I plotted an entire Regency Urban Fantasy series on the way home from a conference. That's a series I can't wait for Julia to write.

The last two conferences I went to were RWA --Romance Writers of America-- in New York City and Novelists Inc.--Ninc--in St. Pete Beach in Florida. I'm writing a new Romantic Suspense series and I talked about it at both conferences. I still don't have it figured out. I think I'm just going to have to start writing and hope there's a little magic left over from the conferences to help me along.

My most recent release is The Billionaire's Charade, Book 5 of the Amalfi Night Billionaires series. (I love this cover.:)

I plotted some of that with two of the other authors of the series, Nancy Robards Thompson and Mimi Wells. At Junior's Restaurant in NYC. (Junior's has the most incredible cheesecake, which I'm positive lends greatly to creativity. And adds to the waistline, alas.) It is also loud. Extremely loud. Which made discussing books interesting.

Check out all the books in the series.
The Billionaire's Temptation (Book 1) by Katherine Garbera
The Billionaire's Deception (Book 2) by Mimi Wells
The Billionaire's Betrayal (Book 3) by Nancy Robards Thompson
The Billionaire's Secret (Book 4) by Kathleen O'Brien
The Billionaire's Charade (Book 5) by Eve Gaddy

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Hero From the Wrong Side of the Tracks - Annie West

I've written a few romances now. Well, okay, more than a few. More than twenty five published ones, in fact. (Yay!) And I'm in the process of deciding what story to write next as I've just handed a book in to my editor. The world is my oyster as I let my imagination run free to come up with a romance I'm burning to write. I'm also in the lovely position of having a book out now, called SEDUCING HIS ENEMY'S DAUGHTER so you can see there are some exciting things happening right now.
As a result, my mind has been drawn again and again to the sort of hero I'd like to write next. He'll be strong, I know that, and determined. Will he be tortured by a difficult past, or maybe happy with his lot in the world?
I confess that, because SEDUCING HIS ENEMY'S DAUGHTER is currently receiving reader feedback (positive, I'm glad to say), I've been thinking a lot about Donato, my hero in that story. He's a classic rags to riches hero. Born to poverty, he'd lived most of his childhood in places most parents would fight to keep their kids away from. To say he came from the wrong side of the tracks is an understatement. He understood the seamier side of life while still young, but a series of events which could have broken a lesser spirit, instead make him determined to succeed and make something positive of himself.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed about Donato was that he'd got where he was (with wealth, confidence and success) on his own merits. He didn't get a head start from his family but worked against the odds to succeed. That takes courage, determination and energy. I think too that appeals to the part of me that enjoys seeing the underdog win. He turned his life around after an early brush with the law and incarceration, which made him see the two different directions his life could take in stark detail.
So now I'm wondering if my next hero should be a hero with a dark past, from the wrong side of the tracks and past actions that have made him the man he is today. Or perhaps someone born to privilege, who's known success and has a golden touch.
What do you think? Do you enjoy seeing the underdog come out on top?  Or stories about a reformed bad boy? Or do you prefer stories (like the sheikh stories I enjoy) where the hero was born knowing he carried the weight of duty as well as privilege on his shoulders.
If you're interested in checking out SEDUCING HIS ENEMY'S DAUGHTER here's a taste

Donato Salazar can’t forget his tragic past and he has no intention of forgiving the man responsible. Jilting his enemy’s daughter will be the icing on the cake of his revenge, and beautiful Ella Sanderson is certainly sweet enough.

Except Ella isn’t the vacuous socialite he expected and she refuses to marry him! Her rebelliousness only makes Donato want her more, so he’ll have to persuade her…touch by breathtaking touch.

But soon Donato finds himself enthralled by their magnetic connection. As their fake wedding day approaches, one question weighs heavily on Donato’s mind: to love, honor…and betray?

and a few links:
Barnes and Noble
Annie's Website

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Time, the Place by Joanne Walsh

As a reader, editor and writer of books, I’ve always found that backdrops and settings are important to me.  I’m a lover of context—of place, time and even seasons—and also of atmosphere. When textures and flavours, period details and neat social observations provide an effective and rich yet unobtrusive background that tunes into the senses, anchoring, enhancing and even explaining the characters and their storyline, it’s such a satisfying experience.

I write romance and I find seasons and holidays make great components in relationship stories. Spring is for creating a fresh, blossoming romance that ends in a wedding, while a sultry summer setting is perfect for a passionate affair.  Fall acts a symbolic backdrop for relationships that are rekindled: it’s a time of reflection or a last bout of golden-ness as the year begins to die. While Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year offer the best opportunities for getting together and the most romantic scenes of all when it comes to proposals!

My latest novella, Taming the Italian Bad Boy, is set mostly in summertime on the beautiful Sorrento coast—with lots of opportunity to explore the delicious scenery, architecture and cuisine of the area, while also experiencing a sizzling romance under a hot sun (with a gorgeous Italian hero for extra spice)—and it ends happily on November 5th in England, during the traditional celebration of Bonfire Night: there are fireworks galore!

Taming the Italian Bad Boy by Joanne Walsh is available on digital platforms now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Post-Deadline Recovery aka I Missed So Much TV!

For the lasts weeks of September, I was chained to my desk* trying to finish the book that was due on October 1. As the summer ended and autumn began, I was writing for 10-12-15 hours a day and was not allowed to watch tv.  So, as all the new shows began and the old ones returned, I had to listen to my hubby laughing at BIG BANG THEORY or BLACK-ish or MODERN FAMILY and especially at THE GOLDBERGS!
It was not fair! Simply not!

 I turned in my book - BLAZING EARTH - and then moved into the recovery phase that follows my deadline binges o' manic writing. Now, when I was younger, in college, I could pull all-nighters and live to tell about it the next day. As I near one of those significant birthdays that end in "0", gosh, it's really hard to bounce back! I've found it takes two or so weeks to finally get back on my regular life schedule, catch up on sleep, read all the books I've piled for R&R reading. . . and WATCH TV!!

Now, I've begun catching up with our joint favorites - like SCANDAL and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER. First or next, I need to finish up my summer series like DOMINION (they've cancelled it!), CONTINUUM (last season), STRIKE BACK (holding onto last episode to savor it) and SLEEPY HOLLOW awaits!

Then I'll turn my attention to trying a few of the new shows, like BLINDSPOT
and a promising couple of shows like LIFE IN PIECES

So, how's it going for you? Any new favorites or promising shows? Any of your past favorites returned or, alas, been cancelled? I'll be giving away two copies of RISING FIRE: Book 1 in the Novel of the Stone Circles series to two people who post and share their guilty pleasures aka tv shows here!  

 Terri has just finished writing BLAZING EARTH (book 3 in the series) while celebrating the release of RAGING SEA (book 2 in the series) and while also celebrating that RISING FIRE (book 1 in the series) just won the NJRW Golden Leaf award as Best Paranormal Romance!  Wooohoooo! She'll be signing at Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro MD on Halloween (along with Nora Roberts and others) and has some other events in the works. FMI - visit her website or FB profile or FB Page or Tweet her!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Procrastination or Saving a Life with Heather Boyd

Hi everyone. I’m Heather Boyd, regency romance author from down under. I’m visiting Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs to celebrate the release of my latest regency romance. Miss Merton’s Last Hope, the fourth and final book in the Miss Mayhem series, came out last week.

Book release weeks are a stressful time for authors no matter how many stories we have shared with the world. It’s like giving birth (without the screaming) We pace, lose sleep, and occasionally get snappy with those closest to us. The first and third habits I mastered long ago. Actually I mastered those before I became an author… every time I’ve had to speak in public I’d almost have a meltdown. There are many ways to cope with stressful events but since I’m not a big drinker or exercise fanatic I’ve had to become creative with my calming distractions to keep my mind occupied during release week:

Option one: Movie Marathons – I ran through a few Fringe episodes, the Loki Trilogy (Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World) and then dove into a Jane Austen marathon. There were others, but you don’t need all the titles do you? 

Option two: Baking – while watching movies. Choc Chip Cookies, Scones and even a Chicken and Spinach Quiche. The family happily gobbled up the food while I cleaned up the mess.

Cleaning up unfortunately didn’t stop the butterflies.

Last book release I cleaned out the kitchen cupboards and rearranged the linen press. Oh the exciting life a full time author leads.

In desperation I turned to Option three, the one thing more frightening than the book launch, even worse than public speaking.

I did my quarterly taxes.

Bye, bye butterflies, hello headache! I really must remember to time my future book releases to these quarterly tax responsibilities. Such a good distraction and, if it didn’t make me entirely calmer, I was pleased I had accomplished more than just refreshing my Amazon book page over and over.

Everyone copes with stressful events in his or her own way. Tell me when you’ve got a big event you both long for and dread at the same time, how do you keep calm?

About Heather: Bestselling author Heather Boyd writes sizzling regency historical romance that skirt the boundaries of propriety to keep readers enthralled until the wee hours of the morning. She has published over twenty novels and shorter works. Catch her latest news at

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Chooo Chooooo!!!!

Years ago...and I mean YEARS ago, I would scour my favorite author's websites for book signings and figure out how I could get there. We didn't have social media where we could friend authors and hope they would friend us back or even acknowledge us. We had to go to book signings and wait in line with a rapid beating heart, anticipating our turn to tell the author how much we love their work, yada-yada.... heart dropped when my favorite author gave me a snide smile and pushed my book to the side without a thank you or even eye contact. I couldn't believe it!

When I became an author I knew I wasn't going to be like THAT author. I was going to make sure I took the time to thank each and every one of my readers. Something small and intimate. I wanted them to feel appreciated and know my gratitude.

Along came social media and it was game on for me! Not all authors are social, but when they step into the public arena they need to be somewhat nice. Social media has been a game changer. It was my opportunity to take my dream of connecting with readers the way I wanted to connect with my favorite author (who was no longer on my TBR list!).

Over the years I have been able to connect on a more personal level using social media and make sure my readers have the opportunity to hang out when I'm doing live events. I have hosted tea parties while away at conferences, I rented a cupcake shop while on book tours, and I have hosted coffee parties at various coffee shops around the U.S. January I had an idea. What if I made my own annual weekend reader event, invite another author each year to join me and host it in a different city each year?

I was off and running! I had decided I wanted to do something with mystery since the first four in the Ghostly Southern Mystery Series, published by HarperCollins, was being released this year. I found a few murder mystery theatre trains. After making a few calls, I picked The Old Dinner Train in Blissfield, Michigan which is outside of Toledo, Ohio. Then I called a hotel to reserve a block of rooms, and the closest Barnes and Noble to book my own signing.
(Yes...I do have a publicist at HarperCollins and she was like What? Wow! when I told her what I had done.) I called another mystery author, Duffy Brown (because she is low drama and always up for anything) and we unleashed the graphic.
(me and Duffy Brown)
The tickets sold out within hours! We couldn't believe it. It was January and the event wasn't until October!

The weekend exceeded all my expectations! The train's max was forty readers and it was intimate enough to be able to talk and spend time with each of them. The readers loved it and instead of the typical giveaway of a book bag, I had gotten them spa kits with the weekend logo stamped on the kit along with a donated book from author friends.

The last night of the event, I announced 2016's event and what authors I had picked to come along. Another mystery train, only in St. Louis, MO! I opened up the registration that night and the tickets sold out! I will continue to host a yearly, small, intimate event for my readers! I want them to know how much they mean to me and how grateful I am for them.

Have you attended your favorite author's events? Leave a comment and be eligible to win the first FOUR novels in my Ghostly Southern Mystery Series!

For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been self-publishing her numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plotlines and quirky characters, but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans. HarperCollins and Witness Impulse is thrilled to be publishing this insanely talented and wildly successful author for the first time with her hilarious and spooky Ghostly Southern series.

Check out Tonya's Website and sign up for her newsletter for a free ebook download! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Christmas Spirit Sampler

Shhh. I know it's a bit early to talk about Christmas, but look. This is the most amazing deal!

I'll admit I have started thinking about Christmas. Usually I put it off until after Halloween at the very least. Heck, I'll procrastinate as long as possible, but my daughter lives away now. We had to start thinking about what it would look like so she could ask for time off work.

Not that we're planning anything exciting. I love the idea of spending Christmas somewhere tropical, but we usually stay home and do low-key things like play games and go for walks. I grabbed these photos from last year:

You could be forgiven for thinking this is Monopoly, but it's actually a game called The Gambler. As far as I recall, you don't have to know when to hold 'em or when to fold 'em.

My daughter loves Family Game Night and forces it upon us whenever we're together. We always have fun, which is why we succumb to the pressure. Pictionary is a big favourite, but sometimes we mix it up with something like Boggle, or, in this case, something we don't even remember how to play.

I'm a big walker, so that's always my choice if given the option. This is about a five minute drive from our house:

Yeah, we pretty much live in paradise.

Then, of course, there is turkey dinner. But on that topic... last winter I was organizing some paperwork with Canadian Customs so I could bring swag in from the US and avoid the duty. I went to visit their office, which is about five minutes beyond this gorgeous view, and when I came out of the building, these creatures rushed me.

I'm not afraid of birds, especially not dumb ones like wild turkeys, but when they all came running at me, it was fairly startling. I realized after the fact that someone must be feeding them, but for one second I had that panicked thought that I wouldn't make it to my car before they 'got' me. Of course, my second thought was, "Free. But looks like tough eating." Ha! As if I could pluck a bird myself, let alone 'get' one.

What does your typical Christmas look like? Are you ready to start thinking about the holidays? If you need a dose of spirit, I highly recommend this collection. Pre-order now and it will automagically deliver to your reader on the 20th. (Four short days away!) You'll be able to read one a week all the way into December. Preorder here:

Amazon: US | CA | UK | Aus 
Nook | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

#Suffragette -- a must see film for women

Sometimes films are not easy entertainment but powerful statements about humanity. Suffragette, the recent release about the struggle for British women’s equal rights is such a film. It is the first major film to examine the issue and long overdue. Until now, the stereotypical image of a suffragette is Mrs Banks parading up and down the hall, singing and then requiring Mary Poppins to rescue her and her children.  It is a film every woman (or man for that matter) should see, preferably with their daughter or their mother. Women account for 50% of the human race give or take and it is easy to forget how hard one sex had to fight for basic human rights. And the fight (which isn't fully over) took place less than a hundred years ago.
The film went on general release in the UK on the 12th. It is going on limited release in the US on the 27th of October. It is worth tracking down to see it.
The subject is not an easy one. The struggle for equality was not peaceful in the UK. But there again, the stakes were high. Women were the property of men. They did not have the right to vote, to look after their own money or indeed have any say about their children. Such things were considered beyond their capacity.  The film makes this abundantly clear. They were also not taken seriously until they started to misbehave.

The film follows Maud, a worker ( Carey Mulligan) in a laundry who has few prospects. She was born out of wedlock, and the laundry has been her home. She is married with a son but it is clear that she still is being abused by the manager. At the start of the film, she is not interested in politics but by the end, she is committed to the cause of improving women’s status in society. There were parts of the film which made me cry and parts that had me literally sick to my stomach. There were a number of times I wanted to punch various men in their smug over-bearing faces.
One of the most poignant parts of the film was at the end when the list of countries and the year when women gain suffrage happened. In 2015 Saudi Arabia promised, only promised mind you, to give some women the right to vote.  And because of this film, one can easily imagine the difficulties that those women suffer.
The film highlighted the big injustices as well as the petty ones. For example, a well to do suffragette asks her husband who is an M.P. to post bail for the five other women who were arrested with her. She in part feels responsible for the predicament Maud is in because she was the one who encouraged her to take part and to give her testimony to parliament. He refuses. She says in a low tone but it is my money and he still refuses, saying she shamed him. The larger injustices such as a man being able to put children for adoption without consulting his wife is also highlighted.  Giving women equal rights to their children in the UK only happened in the 1920s. So the struggle was not just about voting, but also about how women were treated in society. There is no love interest. Maud’s husband who seems decent enough at the beginning has no epiphany. But that is fine, the film is powerful and shows Maud’s growth. Helena Bonham-Carter is excellent as the woman who married a pharmacist so that she could use her intelligence.  And Meryl Streep has a brief cameo as Emmeline Pankhurst. (Something which is not brought out in the film is that Mrs Pankhurst had she not died, would have stood for election as a Tory, not a Labour candidate. Labour came late to the woman’s movement as they were formed to serve the working class man.)
After the film finished and the credits started to roll, my fellow movie-goers and I sat, no one moving and then someone started to clap. The applause echoed through the cinema and then people started to move. My daughter and I had a lively discussion about women and their rights after the film. I suspect that once the film is out on dvd, many high school history teachers will acquire it to show their students.  But it is important to support this film so that more films are made about the same subject.
The struggle for equality does continue today and it is easy to forget the price many women paid so that women living in Britain can enjoy certain freedoms, freedoms we often take for granted.  Women have obtained/regained many rights but they were hard won. One of the things I know from my own research is how women lost some of those rights and had their freedoms curtailed.  We have to be vigilant. And some of that can start by seeing this film.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods. Her most recent book was Summer of the Viking published in June 2015. You learn more about Michelle and her books on her website –

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Christina Hollis—Good News!

Thanks to so many people making their voices heard in the initial voting stage of The Romance Reviews Readers' Choice Awards for Winter 2015, the first two books in my Princes Of Kharova series for the Wild Rose Press, His Majesty's Secret Passion and Her Royal Risk, have both made it through to the final round in the Contemporary Romance category. 

Now it's a case of whichever book in each category gets the most votes, wins. I had a great time writing both books, so it's impossible for me to choose between them. It's lovely to know readers are enjoying them, too!

I'd be really grateful if you could spread the word about The Romance Reviews Award shortlist for me, and if you enjoyed my books, then I'd love you to vote for them both in this second and final round.

You can vote for each book by clicking on the following links:

For His Majesty's Secret Passion, the link is:

And here's the one you'll need to vote for Her Royal Risk:
Again, thanks so much for your support.  I really appreciate it!

On my blog this week, I'm canvassing opinions about the ways writers keep in touch with their readers. If you'd like to have your say, please visit here, and leave your comment.

My own Autumn newsletter will be going out in the next few days, with news of what I've been writing, and what I've been doing in the kitchen, garden and among the bee hives during the months since my Summer newsletter was issued. You can sign up for my newsletter by joining my mailing list.  

When she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping, Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women.  Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she’s sold over two million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at her blog, on Twitter, and Facebook and see a full list of her published books here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The PUParazzi are HOUNDing us...

My dogs, Ethel Merman and Ella Fitzgerald, have been a bit full of themselves the last few months.  Okay, so longer than that.  They were the inspiration for Curie and Clara in Everything But a Dog.  And when I was asked about covers, I sent the picture on the left along and the cover artist came up with the cover on the right.

Everything But a Dog
Every since they became cover models, they've been convinced they're celebrities.

I thought I finally made them realize they're just dogs, when there was a piece in USAToday's Happily Ever After Blog, a couple weeks ago.  They felt that proved that the PUParazzi were indeed hounding them.

According to my daughter, the dogs and I might be having a bit too much fun with their second brush with fame!!


PS.  Watch for my next novella, 13 Weeks, on October 26 and my next novel, These Three Words, November 24!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Song for two heroes - or heroines . . . Kate Walker

I’m  on a deadline right know. OK, to be honest, I’m rather over that deadline.  I have too little ti
me left and too much book  to write – so I’m fairly pressured for time. Add into that the fact that I’d forgotten to add in the time I needed to run a writing retreat in Swanwick, Derbyshrire  (that’s pronounced Swannick Darbyshire in Brit English of course, not the way it looks on the page!)

So I’m a bit late getting back  home, unpacked, sorted out, and at the keyboard  to write my blog.  And then of course I had to think of something to write.

Now there’s a problem – I’ve been writing blogs -  my own, Tote Bags, Pink Hearts . . . for so many years that sometimes it’s really hard to think what I should talk about. What would be interesting? What would be current? What would readers Actually want to read about?

It’s a bit like the eternal ‘where do you get your ideas from’ question that  writers are asked so often.  That’s the question I usually answer ‘from life’ when I’m asked it.  Well, it’s true -  life is the  one great source of inspiration that comes at us day in and day out, bringing new events, new people, new possibilities for stories, or blogs – sometimes.

I have an idea for my current story, obviously, which is a good thing  - because of that deadline, obviously, but I’m really a bit apprehensive  about getting to the end of this book , this deadline, and starting tom look around for another brand new  exciting and interesting  idea for next time. 
Because I don’t just have to find an idea for this book, but  this one and another one as well.  Because when I was in London last month   for the annual author party, I was talking to my editor about what
might be coming up and she said ‘I’d really like to see a duet.’  And before I knew what had happened I’d opened my mouth and said ‘Fine. I can do that.’

Fine? What’s fine about it? A duet is two books. Two linked books.   I have to think of not one story that excites me and makes me want to write it. One idea  ‘with legs’ that  will have enough interest and depth to develop into  a full length book – but two s
uch stories – and they have to be linked in some way so that they create a ‘duet’.  Eeek!

I have written duets – and a trilogy before.  So I know it can be done. 

There was The Alcolar Family (just republished as   The Notorious Alcolars in Australia). That came about by accident. I was asked to write a free on-line story for the Harlequin web site  so I created Alex Alcolar  and at the end of his story his two half-brothers  Joaquin and Ramon and his half-sister Mercedes appeared and everyone wanted to  know their stories it seemed. So I set to and The 12 Month Mistress   (Joaquin’s story) , The Spaniard’s Inconvenient Wife (Ramon)  and Bound by Blackmail  (Mercedes).  The link between them was  easy – they were all from the same family.
Other connected books – duets have happened  almost by accident.

I wrote The Sicilian’s Wife in 2002 as a standalone story. But in the closing chapters of that story, the hero’s  half brother Gio appeared  and soon he was demanding his own story. I wrote it –(he didn’t give me much option – he wouldn’t go away until I did!) And so A Sicilian Husband appeared a year later.

Then there was  the Sicilian Brothers duet  which was actually planned as two linked books. Guido and  Vito Corsentino were inspired by a some emails from an American fan who told me about her brothers  with those names and the names were so great – such obvious ‘hero’ names that I had to write their stories. They appeared in Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride and The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge in  2007.

So now I need some new ideas for a new duet. I’d better move away from any more Sicilians – they seem to have had their fair share of  linked stories for a while – do you think?  And Spaniards. The Alcolars have had four books after all.  

But how should I link them?  I’ve done several brothers or half-brothers stories.  There’s even a sister in there.  Family links obviously work well -  but should I write about heroes who are brothers or heroines who are sisters?  Then there’s the possibilities of heroines who work together  - or work for each other. Would that - er  work?  Or heroes who  are best friends – or twins – or . . .

My mind is almost spinning with possibilities but I’m having to shelve the real work on coming up with these new plots until I finish the current story and send it off to my  editor. Then I can start really planning and thinking and imagining.
What about you? Do you like linked stories that form a duet? Or do you prefer a standalone story?
And what sort of links do you like to see in a linked series of books? Family connections?   Brothers? Sisters?  Twins? Friends? Enemies?  Or is there something else entirely, something new that you’d just love to see in a pair of linked books?  Any clever ideas?

In the meantime I’ll  keep my nose to the grindstone and work on – and hopefully finish very soon – this new story. And then I’m going to be brainstorming ideas and plans to see what to write next.  

I just hope I can come up with something soon!

(And if you have any ideas or questions that would create interesting and new blogs, that would be great too!) 

 . Coming next  Destined For The Desert King  which is published in December this year.
Then there's the  12 Point Guide to Writing Romance, the newest edition of which is available on Kindle or a revised and updated paperback edition now available on and

Kate Walker's web site is here   and the up-to-date news can be found on her blog or her Facebook page.