Wednesday, April 30, 2008
When life gets hectic, there's nothing I crave more than quiet, and space, and peace. We're moving soon, and while I may not have a travel budget for a while, I've said many times that the ability to sit on my deck in the morning, listening to the birds, drinking coffee and booting up the laptop will be a teensy bit of heaven. Lucky for me, that's in the cards for the future as we're moving to a whole new part of the country and have bought a lovely house where I'll have room to breathe.
So perhaps it sound strange to think that I'm also very broad minded. I have a lot of interests. And I can do both - just because I don't want my life "cluttered" doesn't mean I'm not curious, or intrigued by things.
I think this is a common plight of many writers. Many of us are introverts - we get our energy from solitude, rather than crowds. It's why we're good people watchers. It doesn't mean we're shy, or don't like people at all, it just means we don't need the hustle and bustle to be happy. Even when I was a stay at home mom, I never got cabin fever. I loved being in my little corner of my universe.
At the same time, there are so many things I find interesting. I'd love to own a restaurant. I'd like to learn to ride a motorbike. I want to travel...to see and learn new things. The problem is, with interests that varied, it would be impossible to actually DO it all, wouldn't it?
Well...this is why writing is the perfect profession. I can explore all those new things without necessarily having to leave my home. Even doing research first hand, it means an afternoon or day or two away, not a whole career change. I get to meet new and exciting people, and I truly do enjoy talking to them about what they do. Closeting myself in a room and working on a book doesn't translate into me putting all my eggs in one basket, just the opposite! What it does is gives me the freedom to explore rather than doing the same job day after day after day. It spawns ideas, sometimes so many I can't possibly keep up.
I go to my office and write each day, but one day I might be a single mum trying to do her best for her daughter, like in The Soldier's Homecoming, or a widow running her own business, like Maggie in Falling For Mr Dark and Dangerous. I can be a reluctant Princess determined to have one last bit of normalcy in her life, like in my January 09 release, The Rancher's Runaway Princess. The first book I ever had published - The Girl Most Likely with Samhain - let me explore how fun it would be to own a restaurant. I can be a rancher, a soldier, or a Marshal...I can be anything, as long as I put myself in the shoes of my characters. The very idea of going to work and doing the same thing day in and day out simply terrifies me! What other profession lets you live quite so vicariously?
I suppose the exception would be acting, but luckily I can work in my yoga pants and hair elastics and not have to worry about my looks as it's all in my mind, lol!
Anyway, my point is that the craving for peace and quiet does not mean a still mind...in fact I'd argue it's an overactive mind needing the quiet to balance it!
What about you? Are you a hermit? (Please don't tell me I'm barking mad!) What's your perfect prescription for that balance?
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I sense a flurry of shudders. But fear not. My heroes and heroines have all of their teeth, bathe regularly, eat cabbage only when integral to a scene, and are young and attractive. Especially the heroes. This is, after all, a romance novel.
Take Dominic de Terre from A Knight's Reward, book two of my Knight's Series; the first book, A Knight's Vengeance, is the story of Dominic's best friend and lord Geoffrey de Lanceau. Dominic is a strong, handsome alpha male (my favorite to write!) with a wry sense of humor and fierce loyalties. A knight who fought on crusade, Dominic knows how to vanquish opponents in battle. But, the true romance hero must also win wars of the heart—and I give him one for which he must fight dearly. While on a mission to find a stolen cloth shipment belonging to de Lanceau, he sees the only woman he every loved but lost when he left for crusade: Gisela Anne Balewyne. Now he's found her again, he's determined to win her love, this time forever. However, she's married and has a young son. And, for some reason, she's afraid to trust him.
Gisela still loves Dominic, but she's no fragile, swooning damsel. She's a hunted runaway who fled her abusive husband to protect her child, who Dominic later discovers is his illegitimate son. Gisela's a scarred survivor, a warrior in her own right, who puts her love for her child and Dominic above her own needs and happiness. I think she's one of the strongest heroines I've written, and the most forthright. She knew how the climactic scene in A Knight's Reward must play out and told me so very early on in the writing process.
Would her story really have ended as it did in the late 12th century? Part of the fun of writing romance is exploring the possibility of "what it?" And since, as an author, I have my own pair of rose colored glasses that see nothing but happily-every-after endings, I let Gisela have her way and let Dominic win her heart.
And no, there was no cabbage-eating involved.
For more information on Catherine's medieval romances, visit her website
Monday, April 28, 2008
Hello, dear readers...
I have a book coming out this week (woohoo!), and there’s nothing that excites an author as much as the arrival of their “baby.” My little bundle of joy, DANGER’S KISS, will arrive on May 1st. I hope you’ll forgive me if I gush like a new mother.
If you’re as much as fan of medieval romance as I am, you know the plots often involve Lady So-and-So being forced to wed Lord What’s-His-Name for political gain. But what about the rest of the folk--the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker--the commoners who were free to marry for love?
Sometimes, instead of Brad and Angelina, I’d like to hear about the courtship of John the trucker and Mary the Kindergarten teacher. That’s what inspired me to write DANGER’S KISS. I wanted to weave a tale I could relate to, where the hero and heroine don’t live in an ivory tower, don’t dine on sweetmeats, and don’t always play nice.
DANGER’S KISS is sort of a Sheriff of Nottingham meets The Artful Dodger adventure in which Nicholas Grimshaw, upstanding officer of the law, living happily alone in his thatched cottage, makes the mistake of taking mercy upon a beautiful scam artist by the name of Desiree and, instead of hanging her for her thievery, indentures her as his servant.
Sleight of hand and sleight of heart ensue as the two clash over what’s right versus what’s just, and moral lines become blurred as lawman and outlaw fall recklessly in love. Yet in the end, these two simple folk prove more honorable than their superiors as they work together to foil a nefarious noblewoman’s treacherous scheme.
To research DANGER’S KISS, I mingled with a great bunch of peasants--medieval reenactors with fascinating “lives” who were delighted to share their stories. In fact, a marvelous magician named Silvermane showed me the clever sleight of hand tricks that Desiree uses in the book!
Here’s my trailer. Turn up the volume, and enjoy:
I hope you find DANGER’S KISS an earthy, refreshing glimpse into medieval times, and I’m wagering the romance and adventure will keep you up all night! Let me know if it did at www.sarahmckerrigan.com.
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007
DANGER'S KISS - Flirting with trouble May 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Now first off, there is something particularly unseemly about being a voyeur to rat fornication. On so many levels. Not the least of which is because rodents having sex = more rodents on the horizon. And those rodents will then have sex, and so on and so on. Having fended off my share of mouse infestations in my day, I do believe that anything involving rodent procreation should be vigorously avoided at all costs.
But also, ick! Little teeny rats (or worse yet, large fat black ones like from the movie Ben), doing the nasty in a laboratory simply evokes a sense of repulsion in me. Especially when I learned that one of the tests they performed involved the rats donning polyester pants---miniature rodent disco-wear!---so that researchers could determine the effect of polyester on sperm count.
I wonder who drew the short straw to have to count the rat sperm? And probably worse yet, who had to ensure there was rat sperm to count? I know I'd have volunteered immediately to whip up a few dozen pair of the tiny pants on my sewing machine at home---far, far away from the lab---thus assiduously avoiding the rat-wanking job.
In case you were wondering, polyester did decrease sperm count. So there you go, Tony Manero Rat. Disco must be dead for a reason.
But the test that most amused me involved rats in the midst of doing it---in the heat of passion, if there is such thing as rodent ardor---only to have the scientists introduce a diversion.
So there the mice/rats/whatever were, in lock-and-load mode, when the researchers dropped in some yummy cheese to see what would happen. While the boy rats just kept on doing the nasty, the girl rats? Well, consider it the "filing-your-nails-while-in-the-missionary-position" tactic. Yes, they were far more girls interested in chomping cheese than getting some lovin' from their man. They walked away in flagranto delicto! Talk about coitus interruptus! All for a little Velveeta.
I suspect we human females have something in common with our rodent cousins. And it's not whiskers (as long as there's electrolysis at our disposal), nor twitching pink noses, nor a long icky tail. None of that. And we don't particularly crave cheese. You see, women don't want a wham-bam-thank-you-rat experience. They want to be wooed. Wined and dined, made to feel wanted, to feel as if they are the most important thing in the world to their man. Sure, any old creature can get it on. But copulation without representation is not the goal. Well, you know what I mean. Sex without passion, without amore, without a modicum of emotion, (dare I say) adoration, and certainly respect. I'd say most of us would take the cheese over that. Most days, at any rate.
Any old rodent can have a quickie on the petrie dish (that would be the rat version of doing it on the kitchen table). But when it comes to making love, perhaps a lot of men can learn from this rat survey, and figure out how to appeal to the cheese-lover in us gals.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Which is why I can’t even remember how I got along without the internet. I know, know. Much of the info online is suspect. Take Wikipedia. Great stuff there. But you have to keep in mind that anyone can add onto any page at any time. Yes, Wikipedia has people fact-checking constantly, to be sure any given page hasn’t been maliciously falsified. But still…
You have to be careful out there.
I am. Honestly. I try to check and cross-check any info I'm going to put in a book and call a fact. Still, I know stuff gets by me. Sorry, I do my best to get it right. But it’s the nature of the beast that now and then we stumble.
And you know what? Even with the above caveat, I’m still in love with the things I can find out online. I have a folder in my Favorites links devoted to Research and Reference. That folder has a hundred addresses of places online to find out stuff. That folder should be better organized.
One of these days… (hah!)
And my Research and Reference folder isn’t the half of it. Every book I write gets a Favorites folder and then there are sub-folders within the main folder. For Settings and Flora and Fauna, for information about my hero or heroine’s profession, for things like how to kill someone with digoxin or Spanish slang and idioms. It’s all quite dizzying.
And my very favorite research sites—I mean aside from the basics like Ask.com and Wikipedia and About.com?
The ones about time and the phases of the moon. I love this site: Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day. You go there, you fill in the blanks, you can find out sunset and sunrise anyplace in the world on any given day. And the phases of the moon on that day. I love the whole moon phase thing. Sorry. Just do. It’s something I really need to know so my H/h can look up in the sky and see the moon as it really is in that place. On that day.
Weird? Maybe. But all writers have their weirdnesses and this is one of mine.
Love this one, too: http://www.timeanddate.com/ Tells me the time and date—right now—anywhere in the world. I need to know that! I really, really do.
And there’s my friend, Betty Sanders, a member of my local RWA chapter. She keeps a blog that’s a…reference of reference sites. Everyone needs that. So here you go: http://bettysanders.blogspot.com/
What about you? Favorite info sites I should know about? Share, share!
Monday, April 21, 2008
by Jennie Lucas
Doing research for The Spaniard’s Defiant Virgin, I discovered that
When I wrote the story, I was pregnant, busy with a toddler, and it was Christmastime. I remember that it was snowing outside, but I still felt hot all the time! And I was always eating, gaining about five pounds a week—which you might be able to tell from the creative mention of food in the plotline. Just thinking of Marcos’s enormous sandwich still makes me hungry. And then what he does to Tamsin with the ice cream…YUM!
But thinking of The Spaniard’s Defiant Virgin makes me think of my baby. My book was due on January 1, but I finished it early and handed in the revisions on Dec. 22nd. Thank goodness, because although my baby wasn’t due until January 8th, he arrived ahead of schedule—on Christmas Eve!
And now, almost a year and a half later, he is walking. He’s looking at me now, standing on the bottom stair, mischievously swinging the open baby gate back and forth with a throaty baby chuckle. How did he grow up so fast? How?
I’ve been feeling a bit wistful for the past few weeks—since he finally gave up crawling—knowing he’s my last baby. Two is the perfect number of children for my family, and yet….Many of you moms probably understand the wistfulness I’m talking about.
But I can take comfort in knowing that although I’ll never be pregnant again myself, or never be up all night with a brand-new baby, I can still dream about pregnancies and brand-new babies in my stories. All the fun, without the exhaustion! I'm about to start a baby story, probably set in
When did you realize you were done having kids? Were you happy? Sad? Relieved? Wistful? How did you channel the creative energy? Reading books? Writing them? Having a career? Scrapbooking or creating a really warm, beautiful home?
And another question: have you ever thought you were done...only to find out you weren't?
Jennie Lucas’s book The Spaniard’s Defiant Virgin will be out in the
Sunday, April 20, 2008
I needed to be efficient and incorporate a plan. Maybe a character bibliography? Describe the home in which they live, the cars they drive ... even better, employ the visual and search magazines for pictures. This was fun, searching for the actor or model with the right facial features to depict each main character, external and internal pictures of the house, a romantic scene, a sailboat on a glass-smooth lake. Choosing the season.
Incorporating a brief page with this is a story about ... who wants ... but ... because.
Prep work. Over the years I've refined and defined it to suit what works for me. I tried pictures pinned to a cork board ... the cat became fascinated with the drawing pins and pulled them out with his claws (should I mention I'm a cat person with two beautiful Birmans who like to sit on my desk as I work?). Next came folders I could close (and cats couldn't open), except one of the cats chose to sit on it. Okay ... a stand-alone display folder did the trick beautifully. It was only occasionally the cat head-butted it over the edge of the desk. Firm words were said, and we reached a mutual agreement ... he could occupy space on the desk, but the display folder stays.There's a clipboard between keyboard and monitor (check out the photo with cat sitting on same) with printed bibliography on one side, and proposed high points for the work-in-progress on the other. Plus notes, both handwritten and printed.
When I sit down at the computer, it helps to take me there, into the story, the characters ... a delightful fictional world where everything takes shape and form, acquires colours and moods as the characters speak to me.
Of course, there are times when the Muse goes AWOL and I have to prise each word as if chiseling stone ... (but that's another thread!)
So how do you prepare? What methods do you employ to begin?
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I never thought much of it until I heard an interview with Brenda Chin, Senior Editor for Blaze, who said most Blaze readers buy based on author. My own experience as a Blaze author supports that, given the comments I hear from readers who liked my first book. And I found that really interesting.
For me, even authors I like a lot need to get past my "blurb filter". I've only got one that I can think of, and that's Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who I will buy no matter what the topic. But that's a rarity for me.
So I guess that makes me a full-fledged Blurb Buyer, and it got me curious to know how other people make their book buying decisions.
What about you? Do you have a number of favorite authors that are auto-buys for you? Do you buy based on imprint, blurb, cover, recommendations from friends? What's the most likely trigger that will get you to pick up a book and take it home?
Friday, April 18, 2008
Whenever I read a book, I always read the dedication and wonder why. Or what is the reasoning behind that. Sometimes, it is obvious, sometimes less so, but I thought I would share a bit of the why behind the dedication -- to my sister Kate, med elske
The reason for the dedication is that my six years younger sister speaks Norwegian and has a special place in her heart for that country.
Basically I went to Girl Scout Camp and loved the experience of being out under the stars, cooking over camp fires, hiking etc. My sister was less than keen on the prospect. By the time my sister was old enough to go to camp, my mother had discovered Concordia Language Villages. My maternal grandfather was half Swedish and half Norwegian. My sister chose the Norwegian camp over the Swedish one because a flashlight was not required. Anyway, she loved the total immersion and subsequently ended up going to the University of Oslo for her degree. When she returned to the US, she became active in the Daughters of Norway. My eldest niece is going away to the Norwegian village for the first time this year.
In fairness, as the years have rolled along, my sister has come to appreciate the joys of camping and is now also very active in Girl Scouts and regularly takes her troop camping. She informs me that she does own several flashlights and can cook over a campfire...
Anyway, when I told her that I was going to write about Vikings, she explained how disappointed she was with most of the portrayals of Vikings. We had several long chats on the subject. She explained her point of view on the Viking era and suggested background reading material, including the Icelandic sagas.
When I finished the book and was asked to supply the dedication and the Dear reader letter, I had a problem. I wanted to say something Norwegian for the dedication, but also I did not want my sister to know. Luckily my sister had given my eldest a copy of Ole Brum (the Norwegian version of Winnie the Pooh) and had written something in Norwegian when he was a baby. I was able to lift the med elske -- with love -- from that. And thus, she had no idea about the dedication until I sent her a hardback copy last year.
Luckily she liked the book.
You can read an excerpt here.
So that is the reason behind this particular dedication. Does anyone else wonder about dedications?
My contest this month is for a signed copy of Taken by the Viking. It is the US version as I love the inside cover and I also think the colours on the cover are warmer. To enter please send an email with Totebag contest in the title to me with the answer to the following question: what is the name of the heroine of Taken by the Viking? I will draw the winner on 25 April.
UPDATE: CHERYL C has been drawn out of the hat. I have sent an email and the book will be on its ways to her shortly. Many thanks all who entered.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
But just because she’s never felt it before now, does that mean she’s incapable of feeling it? She’s been raised to think so yet there’s something inside her that wonders; something that has led her to the deal she’s made with her father.
To win her freedom from Hell, all she needs to do is claim the soul of Jed Caine, his crazy sister-in-law, and the baby she’s carrying. Easy as proverbial pie, right?
Well. . . maybe not.
Jed is reluctant to let Lucy into his life. She might be sexy as hell, but she’s not the type of woman he’s looking for. He needs someone who’s strong, sensible and ready to work - and Lucy is obviously none of those things. But given his sister-in-law’s present condition, no other person in town will come near them, so Lucy is his only option.
Things get off to a bad start and quickly get worse. The harder Lucy tries to wear Jed down, to seduce his soul out from under him, the harder Jed resists. He wants her, he wants her bad, but he wants so much more than just her body. As for Lucy. . .the more time she spends with Jed, the more confused she becomes until she’s no longer certain what it is that she actually wants.
And when push comes to shove, what Lucy wants most could be her own undoing.
I have posted an excerpt on my website and hope you'll enjoy getting to meet Lucy and Jed.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
My upcoming Guardians of the Night release, HUNGERS OF THE HEART, is one of the latter kind. (Actually, the book before it, SHADOWS ON THE SOUL, was the same, but it’s not as freshly in my mind at the moment.) Something about that book made it very, very hard for me to write. And I sure wish I could identify what that mysterious “something” was. (I’m not sure I could eliminate it even if I did identify it, but that’s a whole different issue.)
I have not gotten tired of the Guardians of the Night world. Nor have I gotten tired of the characters. In fact, Drake, the hero of HUNGERS OF THE HEART, has been one of my (and my readers’) favorites from the beginning. I had no trouble getting myself enthused about the book, and I got excited when I thought about all the possibilities. And yet, whenever I sat down to write, I’d invariably get stuck. I had to fight to keep myself in the chair. Suddenly, it seemed terribly important that I get that laundry done, or got out to the gym, or played a game of Civilization on the computer. I was in serious writing-avoidance mode.
I don’t know what it is about that particular book that made it so hard, but let me tell you, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally made it to The End. I hope that it came out all right despite the fact that it was such a struggle. I’m too close to it now to tell. Of course, as I said, I had a lot of trouble with SHADOWS ON THE SOUL, too, and it ended up earning my first Top Pick from Romantic Times, as well as a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award nomination. (So did THE DEVIL INSIDE, which for whatever mysterious reason came easily.)
What this tells me is that the ease with which I write the book has little or nothing to do with the quality of the end product. Which is in some ways a good thing. I was able to remind myself of that fact repeatedly while I was struggling with HUNGERS, and it did give me some level of comfort. Still, I must admit, I like the easy ones better! (Especially when I have a tight deadline!)
Monday, April 14, 2008
Hi all -- Many thanks to Lee for the invitation to blog today. My name is Anya Bast and I write for several different publishers, including Berkley, Ellora's Cave and Harlequin.
Witch Blood tells the story of Isabelle Novak and Thomas Monahan as they hunt a rampaging demon that has been killing of witches...Isabelle's sister included. Thomas was a secondary character in the first book of this series.
When I’m writing a series like the Elemental Witches, I don’t always know which secondary characters might intrigue me enough to get their own story. But as soon as Thomas Monahan appeared on the page while I was writing the first book in this series, Witch Fire, I knew I wanted to get to know him better. In fact, I was so intrigued by his character that I knew almost immediately the next book in the series would be his.
Thomas was so buttoned up, so uptight, such a workaholic. Like the element he commands, he’s very stable and steady–good qualities, though Thomas takes them to an extreme. In Witch Fire, his character was in dire need of a night absolute reckless abandon, something to get him to loosen his tie a little. What he really needed was a woman who wasn’t afraid of him, someone to ruffle his hair and turn his world on end. In Witch Blood, I needed the right heroine to make that happen.
Enter Isabelle Novak. Emotional, chaotic, impulsive and unpredictable, Isabelle is ruled by her heart rather than her head. And like the element she commands, she is changeable, flowing and, if you’re not careful, can slip right through your fingers. She is everything that Thomas is not and everything he needs–even if he doesn’t know it. On the other hand, Thomas provides a stability that Isabelle can benefit from. Her life has had little constancy and she’s suffered for it.
On the surface, Thomas and Isabelle seem like the worst possible match, yet they fill up each other’s empty places and they are explosive together. From the first time they meet there is a chemistry between them they can’t deny. They both know they’re taking huge risks by falling in love and both of them, Isabelle especially, fight it. But the attraction they share and the qualities they possess–qualities the other needs–keep drawing them together.
And a demon keeps drawing them apart.
In Witch Blood, Thomas, Isabelle and the Coven will face a threat even more dire than the Duskoff warlocks, a threat that wants to ensure that Thomas and Isabelle never get that happily-ever-after they’re working toward (despite themselves).
Both Thomas and Isabelle will have to reach way down deep inside themselves for strength not only of the physical, but of the emotional, to meet the violent challenge that a loose demon on Earth offers…and to save themselves.
Come along with Thomas and Isabelle and delve further into the world of the elemental witches. I dare you to go head to head with an Atrika demon.
~ Anya Bast
Sunday, April 13, 2008
One of the exercises was to list all the things you’d like to achieve before you die. I thought meeting and falling in love with my husband was the ultimate prize – he’s the answer to all my dreams - but I duly wrote out my own ‘bucket list’ and it was fun. It concentrated my mind to the point where I’ve actually managed to tick off a few more ambitions along the way, including the one that was originally at the very top of my list. That was to get The Italian Billionaire’s Virgin published, which happened for me last year. More recently, I’ve been tackling the entries ‘keep chickens’ and ‘start beekeeping’. The poultry was a bit of a cop-out – we’d hung on to all the equipment from the last time we had a flock, and the children have been hankering for some pets. They’re thrilled with our new hens, and have even taken on some responsibility for looking after them. In a few weeks time they’ll get the thrill of collecting eggs warm from the nest as a reward.
Spring is such a lovely time of year, and a good time to try one of my other ambitions - beekeeping. This is much more of a challenge. I’m absolutely terrified of getting stung, but apparently honeybees are in real danger of dying out here in the UK. It’s important to get as many people as possible caring for them, as health problems in wild colonies mean they never last long. So as I want to help stop their decline, I have to fight my phobia. Luckily, the course I’ve been taking has been mainly classroom based. The only time we students have been let near to the bees they’ve been calm and didn’t sting anybody!
To celebrate spring and all these new beginnings, I’m holding a competition on my website, http://www.christinahollis.com/. It runs until the end of May and for the chance of winning some signed books (including my next release, Her Ruthless Italian Boss) and other goodies, all you need to do is email me at email@example.com with a list of five things you’d love to achieve. To get you started, here’s a selection from my current list:
To hold a traditional Christmas party, including all my extended family;
To become an established author,
To meet a reindeer;
To plough with horses and
To get de-stressed (ha!)
Put ‘competition’ in the email’s subject line, and I’ll be selecting a winner after the closing date of 31st May. Good luck!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
But I also decided that if I was going to bring out a second edition, it was going to be an improved and expanded new edition as well as a revised one. I know a lot about writing romance but there are some things that only the authors who write for specific lines really know about.And so I decided that the best way to make the book even more helpful would be to include advice from the horses' mouths so to speak. Only I didn't call it that - I called this new section From The Authors' Desks. I sent out questionnaires to lots of my wonderful friends who write romance for many different lines - and 21 of them answered.
But I'm thrilled to be able to say that the new edition is not only revised and updated, it also has this 40+ pages extra with advice and tips from 21 currently published authors. Authors like Michelle Reid, Anne McAllister, Sandra Marton in Presents, Liz Fielding, Natasha Oakley, in Romance, Trish Wylie and Julie Cohen in Modern Heat (Trish in Romance too!) - and Kate Hardy in Mod Heat and Medicals - along with Gill Sanderson and Margaret McDonagh. And in Historicals there's Nicola Cornick and Michelle Styles. . . and that's only as a taster.
No, this new expanded edition will be exactly the same price as the first edition - that's £10.99 in UK money.
(Studymates Writers Guides)
But if you want a chance to be one of the very first people to own a signed copy of this brand new edition, then I have one that I'm offering as a prize here on this blog.I don't know if you've ever visited my web site then you'll know that the way I pick the winners for my contests is that I don't pick them - my cat Sid does! I put all the names on pieces of paper with a cat treat on the top of each one, and the first one that Sid picks is the winner.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Like when you discover an author or a series you enjoy, then you have the pleasure of reading the other stories in the series. Or when the present you receive isn’t a book but a collection of books. The promise of more to come is so appealing.
If I’ve enjoyed a story it’s wonderful to discover linked books where a theme, location, quest or characters carry on into other titles. Similarly I love anthologies – collections of stories by a favourite author, or by various writers. There’s something so luscious and satisfying about knowing you can dip straight into the next story when you’ve vanished the first one!
I started young. One of my first books was a fairy tale anthology. Large, hard bound in red, with wonderful evocative illustrations. I still have that book. As a child it seemed almost magical – as if there was a never ending supply of exotic, exciting tales between the covers. Even when I’d read them all I kept going back, poring over favorites and finding new details to enjoy.
Later I discovered other anthologies. Dr Dolittle, whose fantastic adventures kept me spellbound, and compilations of adventure stories. I read my way through series too, such as Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew. Every so often I discovered new authors in anthologies and I had a ball. There was the glorious anticipation that one book wouldn’t have to be enough. More were waiting. I worked my way through Tolkien, Austen, Wodehouse and EF Benson (love Mapp and Lucia).
Then I discovered romance...
Harlequin Mills and Boon books presented a never-ending series to be explored. Then there was Georgette Heyer, with a whole new world of regency-set romantic comedies to read. Mary Stewart too, whose stories of romantic adventure and suspense enthralled me as a teenager. My favourite was a huge anthology of 3 stories. I read it everywhere, even walking between classes. The first story I loved, and then there were two more waiting for me between the covers! Joy. I barely looked up for days.
These days I read anthologies of romances, or a series of them. Lots of reading pleasure to look forward to!
Now, to my delight, one of my stories in appearing in an anthology. My 'Billionaire's Bought Mistress' is released in the UK this month in a special centenary edition called 'Mills and Boon Presents...'. The collection of 3 full length novels aims to showcase some of Harlequin's new authors. As well as my story there are romances by Annie Burrows (regency historical) and Margaret McDonagh (medical). I hope readers enjoy this collection as much as I enjoy delving into anthologies.
Do you have favourite book collections/series/anthologies? I’m offering a book from my backlist to someone who contributes a comment.
Happy reading, everyone!
To celebrate the launch of the anthology, Annie, Annie and Margaret are running a contest in which one lucky reader can win three personally signed books. Details on the contest page of Annie’s website.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
What? You mean you didn't know I was in Field of Dreams?
Well, I was. That was me walking down the street away from the camera when Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones were crossing the street to go to the newspaper office and talk to Burt Lancaster.
Admittedly, you had to look quick or you'd miss me (my mother missed me, though the librarian at the public library stopped me one day and said, "I saw you in Field of Dreams last night!" which might tell you the relative amount of time I spent in the library as opposed to visiting my mother in California, but I digress. . . )
As I was saying, when I was in Field of Dreams there were two taglines for the film which we all knew. One was Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa -- which goes without saying, of course.
The other was If you build it, they will come.
That was what the voice in Ray Kinsella's head was telling him about why he ought to build a baseball diamond out in the middle of his cornfield.
To say it didn't exactly make sense was, um, putting it mildly. Not even Ray himself exactly understood what compelled him to hear the voice, much less do what it said.
But he did -- over considerable opposition and quite a lot of heads shaking in disbelief -- and, guess what!
The ball players came. Shoeless Joe Jackson came. Ray's long dead father with whom he'd never really connected came. All because Ray listened to that voice and more than listened, put his body where his ears were and built that field.
He didn't just think about doing it. He showed up.
There are a lot of people who want to write books or be baseball players or engineers or astronauts or architects or dancers or deep sea divers. They have dreams, hopes, aspirations.
I'd be willing to bet that virtually everyone hears something, feels some drive, some desire, some need to accomplish something, to use their talents, to give something that only they can give to the world.
They hear something inside their head that says, "Do it."
But the question is, Do they?
Or do they just simply think it would be a good idea if only they had the time or the opportunity or the education or the strength? Do they get started and then stop, shrug, decide it's not such a good idea after all? It's raining or it's icy or it's too hot or their pencil lead broke or they sprained their thumb.
Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, says he believes that "most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us."
Ray Kinsella began to lived that 'unlived' life when he showed up and built his baseball diamond, when he tapped into something he didn't quite understand but learned to trust and believe in.
Choreographer Twyla Tharp lives that life every morning when she gets up every morning at 5:30, puts on her workout clothes, leg warmers sweatshirts and hat, then goes outside her Manhattan home, hails a taxi and tells the driver to take her to the gym where she works out for two hours. There she spends two hours stretching and weight training. But that isn't the ritual that has given her the life she wants to live. The ritual, she says in her book, The Creative Habit, is the cab.
She takes the step, makes the commitment. She shows up.
Every time I start a new book, I have to think myself into the characters, into the story, into the scenes. It's new and interesting and different for every book. It's also intimidating and I can always think of LOTS of other things I should be doing.
Not, you notice, that I would 'rather' be doing, but that I 'need' to do -- feed the dogs, clean the oven, fold the clothes, shovel the snow, call my mother, peel the carrots, write a book review.
But if I give in to those things I 'need' to do, I'm dead.
The book is dead. It will be hard enough to write just because books are. Characters don't always cooperate. Plots meander (well, mine do). It will be impossible if I don't show up. Books never write themselves!
So every day I have to show up. I have to sit down and boot up the computer and call up the file and stare at what they were doing yesterday. I have to stare and stare and think. And I have to put words on the paper. Any words to begin with. First drafts are just that -- first, not last.
It's the way every book gets written at my house -- and so far there have been 60 of them.
It's the way one of my sons plays baseball. He goes to the gym. Every day. Every day. It's the way another one studies land use issues. He's got his nose in property records, tax records, records I didn't even know existed. Every day. Every single day. It's the way my mother-in-law created well over a thousand pieces of art in her life. It wasn't just that she was 'an artist.' She painted. She drew. She sketched. She collaged. She etched. Art was -- every day -- what she did.
Anne LaMott famously quoted her father telling her brother how to write his 5th grade report on avians. "Just take it bird by bird, buddy," he said.
It's the best advice I've ever read.
Show up. Do your job. Build it. They will come.
Now, excuse me for dashing off, but I have to get back to the book!
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Share it here and you'll be entered the drawing for a copy of my most recent Harlequin Presents, One-Night Love Child. I'll announce the winner at the end of the comments tomorrow and on my blog as well.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
I've had a very exciting month and to cap it all off, I found out at the end of March that both of my books finaled in the RITA Award Best Regency Historical Romance category. The RITAs are like the romance Oscars and they're awarded every year by Romance Writers of America at a huge and very glamorous ceremony that marks the end of RWA's annual conference, which this year is in San Francisco.
Of course I'm going to be there and of course I haven't got a dress yet! When I was an unpublished author, I used to dream about one day maybe having a book in the running for a RITA - which was saying something as I had to cross the barrier to publication first and that seemed completely impossible at times! Now both CLAIMING THE COURTESAN and UNTOUCHED have been nominated. Pinch me! I don't believe it's real!
Congratulations and good luck to my fellow finalists and also to the unpublished writers who finaled in the Golden Heart, the world's most prestigious contest for unpublished romance manuscripts. You can find a complete list of RITA finalists here and a complete list of Golden Heart finalists here. I'm so looking forward to cheering for all these great writers in July!
This week, I got to celebrate the news with some local writer friends at the lovely Stamford Plaza Hotel right on the river in Brisbane. Here are a couple of photos. Photo one, me! Photo two clockwise from left: Allison Rushby, June Monks, Anna Campbell, Tina Clark, Amy Andrews, Rowena Cory Daniells, Sandy Curtis, Denise Rossetti.
Apologies to all those people who tried to enter my Great Spring Cleaning Contest after my blog here last month. There was a hiccup (all my fault!) and details weren't yet up when I posted my piece on luck. The details are well and truly there now, so I hope you'll come over, answer a simple question and enter. It's a great prize this month - four signed books, Annie West's FOR THE SHEIKH'S PLEASURE, Marion Lennox's RESCUE AT CRADLE LAKE, Christine Wells's SCANDAL'S DAUGHTER and Stacey Kayne's BRIDE OF SHADOW CANYON. Good luck!
Have you had any wonderful news to celebrate lately? Let us know so we can celebrate with you!
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
My tour is today at 9:00 a.m. So after I get back, I’ll pop back in and tell you how it went! I’m sure you’re dying to know all about how a sand quarry works!
Jasmine Haynes, The Fortune Hunter, available now.
Don’t miss my monthly website contest going on now!
Monday, April 07, 2008
Sure, I have a few songs from this decade and the last. I also have a few 70s classic like the Eagles, Abba and the BeeGees. I'm almost embarrassed to admit to those last two, but if you ever need to do a dreaded task, put on Dancing Queen or Staying Alive and they get you motivated. Trust me.
I don't know why all my music is in the 80s. I'd like to think it's because the music was better, but after listening to some of the really lame lyrics of Wham!, I'm going to say it's because they are the songs of my youth.
Is anyone else stuck in a decade? Have a favorite song or band that everyone else thinks is weird?