Friday, December 28, 2007

Romantic Times


Reviews are subjective.
A book I might absolutely adore you might hate.
(Some RITA winners can vouch for the fact that books which were canned by reviewers went on to win the RITA!)
And as many authors will tell you, lap up the great reviews and kinda ignore the bad ;)
With that in mind, I'm going to shout the news from the rooftops that my first Harlequin Presents, PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE, out in Feb 08, has just rated 4 stars from Romantic Times.
Here's what Cindy Himler had to say:
Kate Hayden and Tyler James were lovers years ago. Now a magazine writer, Kate sees Tyler at a bachelor auction and, on a bet, bids for his attention for a week. When she wins, Kate has no idea what to do. Then her retiring editor offers Kate his job if she writes about her week with Tyler, so she throws herself on Tyler's mercy. What follows is an enjoyable story about the rocky road to love. Kate and Tyler are likable characters, and the side story of Tyler's friend, Mary, and her work at an orphanage makes a nice addition to the main plot in Nicola Marsh's Purchased for Pleasure (4)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

COVER TO COVER: As time goes by.


In an earlier COVER TO COVER post, I talked about "Letting your manuscript stew."
At that point, I'd just finished writing my last Harlequin Romance and had forced myself to walk away from it for a week before getting back into the layering and editing process.
It's tough walking away from your story.
At least, it is for me.
The minute I finish I want to go back over it, read it again, see how far my characters have come, refresh my memory of plot points I may have missed or loopholes that need to be closed.
But I don't. I let it stew. Fresh eyes are essential for picking up all sorts of bit and pieces.
So imagine how surprised I was when I recently re-read my next Modern Heat, TOYING WITH THE BILLIONAIRE BOSS. Why surprised?
Well, I finished this one in August and it was one of those lovely books that flew off my fingertips.
I thought it was pretty special at the time.
Then deadlines changed and this one is getting to sit a while longer so I threw myself into writing my next Romance, secure in the knowledge I had a first draft sitting there just waiting for me.
Well, 4 months definitely brings perspective, more than I could've ever thought possible.
Don't get me wrong, I still love the story and think it's pretty spot on but on the first read through, quite a few things leapt out at me.
I needed to layer much more.
I needed to alpha up the hero in a few places to be consistent with his behaviour in the rest of the book.
I needed to qualify the heroine's crazy scheme which is the crux of the book.
It all seems so crystal clear with the benefit of time, even the perfect words falling into place to replace my green highlighted ones.
It's rare to get this much time if you're published, as deadlines loom consistently for all of us. But here's a tip if you're on the road to publication.
Make a pitstop. The longer the better.
Leave your manuscript for as long as you can. (Work on your next while you wait!)
Trust me, you'll see it in a new light with time on your side.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In the beginning...

Margaret Mayo got me thinking about beginnings yesterday.

How we first started writing...what we knew or didn't know...who helped us on the road to publication...

So continuing with that theme, I'll tell you a bit about the first romance I ever wrote.
It was a Harlequin Medical, with a doctor hero and a physiotherapist heroine.
Working as a physiotherapist at the time, I thought it would be easy (and no! It wasn't based on real life experience!) 'Write what you know' and all that...

Well, that book is the only one I've never finished. It sits languishing at around 25K words.
So what happened?

Apparently, working in the medical profession and writing about it were TOO close for me! I started to get bored. I didn't want to write about what I knew. I wanted to escape from all that, from the everyday reality of patients and orthopaedics and cardiac rehab and hydrotherapy.
I wanted to let my imagination roam free.
So I did.
And started writing plots I wanted to write, plots that came to me while mulling over yet another report, while flicking through a magazine at lunch time (my first book, THE TYCOON'S DATING DEAL, was born from a magazine article on speed dating while I was on a short lunch between patients).

So how did you all get started?
What inspired you to write?
Who inspired you to write?
Would love to hear your stories.
And there's a book in it for a randomly chosen response (numbered responses with a bit of scrunched paper picked out by my preschooler!), just because it's Christmas and I'm getting into the swing of the giving thing. :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

A kindness never forgotten

When I first started writing, I joined the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild.
I had no clue about publishing.
I didn't know what a synopsis or a partial was.
All I knew was that I wanted to write a book.

So after plugging 'Melbourne' and 'Romance writing' into google, I came up with MRWG, contacted them and traipsed off to my first meeting feeling like an absolute fraud. And very nervous. It was like my first day at school all over again.
I wouldn't know anyone.
I knew next to nothing about the main reason I was attending.

At this first meeting, I sat next to a lady who made me very welcome. She chatted to me, she encouraged me and as I couldn't help but stare at her arthritic-riddled hands and wonder how she penned so many novellas, I admired her.
This lady was Joan Hunt, who has just passed away.
I've never forgotten her kindness to me when I took the first step along my road to publication.
RIP Joan.
And as a fellow MRWG member said, "may you write in peace, every author's dream."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

For career mums out there...

Paperbacks arrived for EXECUTIVE MOTHER-TO-BE and here's the back blurb:

From employee to mommy-to-be...

Career-girl Kristen Lewis is at the top of her field.
She's driven, sensible-and her spur-of-the-moment decision to have one perfect night with sexy Nate was totally out of character! She puts it behind her...until she's faced with two shocks: she's pregnant...with her boss's baby!

Nathan Boyd, one of Australia's leading entrepeneurs, buries himself in work to forget his private torment. But now he's faced with a dilemma: the first woman to tempt him in a long time is his employee.

For readers who enjoyed Carissa's story in WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED, and Tahnee's story in TWO-WEEK MISTRESS, Kristen's story rounds off the Lewis sisters' trilogy.
I loved placing a 35 year old career woman in a situation she thought she'd never find herself in.
And Nate is the kind of hero we'd all like to have around...

Hope you enjoy it :)
It's out in Feb though will be available online in 2 weeks.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Good news & bad news

The bad news first...
if you're trying to buy my latest Sexy Sensation release in OZ, PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE, and it has sold out on the shelves, you won't be able to buy it online at eharlequin.com.au anymore.
TPTB tell me it sold out online very quickly, and when they tried to locate extra copies from other areas, they couldn't, as all sold out there too. So the links to Purchased for Pleasure have vanished from the OZ eharlequin site and I'll update all of mine asap.

The good news is you can buy it online here!

Or enter my current website comp to win a copy.

And speaking of comps, you only have a few more days to sign up for my newsletter and be in the running to win the 'Aussie special' 4 book pack!

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Black Moment

Kirsty asked:

I am about to write my first Black Moment and would be grateful for any advice you have.I'm happy with how it's progressing so far. Both characters have GMCs that have lead them to this crossroads so it (hopefully!) doesn't seem contrived. But I would love to hear any hints you have for making these scenes impact the reader.

Okay, when I said you could ask questions, I didn’t mean tough questions!! ;)
Just kidding…

In fact, I’m not a very good ‘how to’ writer (which means I just sit down and write instinctively without getting caught up with characters arcs and acts and the general technical side of things.)
It also explains why I've recently spent a month doing loads of research on characterisation and ordered 4 'how to' books. Writing instinctively is good to a point but if you want to take your writing to the next level, it pays to put in the hard yards and check out the technical stuff. Which means I'll probably post more technical blogs too. Scary!

So answering these questions is really making me think. Which is a good thing, trust me!

Kirsty, it sounds like you’re right on track. With both characters’ goals, motivations and conflicts leading them to the BLACK MOMENT, you’ve got them to the point of no return.

So, how to make an impact at the black moment?

Ensure the black moment is when the stakes are highest for your characters. This scene should be the point where all seems lost and their goals cannot be achieved.

Everything should hang in the balance, make it seem like your hero and heroine can’t ever work things out.

At this point the danger (most often to the characters’ peace of mind) is at its worst.

Make the characters draw on new strengths or lessons learned. This plays into the characters’ growth arcs and how they’ve grown/changed during the story. For maximum impact, it helps to make this growth/change occur due to the relationship between hero and heroine.

Does that help oomph up the BM scenes a bit? Hope so. :)

I really must get my act together and put up a series of articles on my website. When I get a spare second…ahem…!

Last but not least, thanks to Mary who said this about PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE:

"BTW, I live in the U.S. but I ordered Purchased for Pleasure when it was released in the U.K. (a patient girl I am not!) For those awaiting the U.S. release, let me just say, you don't want to miss this one! Tyler is to die for!"

Awww....thanks Mary :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Instant seduction!


Ever dreamed of writing for Harlequin Presents?
Well, here's your big chance!
Harlequin is running a fabulous competition so here's the goss:
INSTANT SEDUCTION

A brand new writing competition from the world’s best-selling romance series is about to hit the blogosphere!

It’s an exciting time for Harlequin Presents: from January 2008, there will be 12 of our intensely passionate romances available every month. And with this increase of titles comes a great opportunity for aspiring authors – we will be looking to buy more books for publication!

The old saying goes that first impressions are lasting impressions – and when it comes to reading a Harlequin Presents, that certainly holds true. If the first chapter doesn’t immediately grip the reader with its pace, passion and intensity, then she won’t continue to turn the pages.

So Presents is inviting unpublished writers to show us how they can grab the attention of our readership with first chapters that really sizzle. The INSTANT SEDUCTION competition offers prizes that are chances of a lifetime for the lucky winner and runners-up:
*First prize – win yourself an editor for a year!
*Two runners-up will be given editorial critiques of their first chapter entries and also a personal telephone consultation about their writing!

Visit the Iheartpresents.com blogsite for full details of the competition – and the chance to prepare for publication with an exclusive series of writing tutorials prepared by the editorial team at Harlequin Presents, including advice on First Chapters, How to Write a Synopsis, Loving the Alpha Male and Generating Emotional Conflict.

Entries for the competition will be accepted as on-line submissions only from 1st January until 14th February 2008.
Entries should comprise of the first chapter and a synopsis of a previously unpublished/unsubmitted novel aimed at Harlequin Presents.
Address for entries: instantseduction@hmb.co.uk

Sounds great, huh?
For more info and for loads of writing tips direct from the Mills and Boon editors, visit www.iheartpresents.com regularly.
And good luck!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Book giveaway!

This month, I'm running a special book giveaway comp exclusive to my newsletter readers only.

It's an Aussie special, where I'm giving away 4 brand spanking new books: Barbara Hannay's Claiming Her Family (her 2007 RITA winner), Melanie Milburne's Bought for the Marriage Bed, Fiona Lowe's Pregnancy on Arrival and Two-Week Mistress by moi :)

To be in the running, sign up for my newsletter by emailing me with 'newsletter' in the subject and I'll forward you a copy so you can enter. Easy-peasy.

The comp closes on Dec 16th, so hurry. And remember, you have to be in it to win it!

Monday, November 26, 2007

On Aussie/NZ shelves this week



I have a frantic week of appointments for the kidlets ahead, so thought I'd do a quick reminder of what's about to hit the shelves cos you never know when I'll make it back here!!

PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE, my sexy SEAL book, will hit Aussie and New Zealand shelves later this week so make sure you rush out and grab a copy of my 3rd Sexy Sensation. Are you rushing yet? ;)

(And no, Ty isn't a teenager or doesn't have long hair, as we've already established in a previous discussion :) )

For US readers, this book will be my first Harlequin Presents on sale from Jan 28th so not long to go now...

Friday, November 23, 2007

The award I forgot about

Breaking news!!!
I've placed 3rd in the Laurel Wreath 2008 with WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED.
This award is judged by booksellers all over America so I'm thrilled.

And the best bit?
It's in the Short Contemporary category, which means the book went up against Harlequin Presents, Americans, Medicals and Silhouette Desires (and other publishers)

So it's a win for me and for the Harlequin Romance line! Yay!
Will give more details once I get them.

Funny thing, I'd forgotten I'd even entered this comp so it was a lovely email to wake up to this morning. :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

An addiction

I'd like to pose the question: do all writers have a stationery addiction?

I do, and I know several others who do too.
Let me loose in an Officeworks and I'm in heaven!
I can never leave the place with the one item I need.
Oh no, uh-uh. Instead, I come out with a whole range of stuff I'll use 'one day'.

I can't help myself.

I love all those brightly coloured hard back notebooks (yes, I have several gorgeous ones just waiting to be used.)
I love those free-flowing pens.
I love the coloured note blocks.
Those gorgeous storage boxes...filing credenzas...labels...I could go on and on but you get the picture!

The other day I ran in there for a few envelopes and came out with a purple binder and matching notebook, which I'm about to put to good use with the new Harlequin Romance I'll start shortly. I tend to have my notes for a novel shoved into a clear plastic sleeve so this is definitely a step up. Tidy mind makes tidy work? We'll see!
Also picked up way too many envelopes, manila folders, a mini-ruler, stickers and a penguin stamp (my preschooler tossed those last 3 into the basket. A writer in the making, perhaps?) :)

Any other stationery addicts out there?
Come on, 'fess up. You know you want to.

Monday, November 12, 2007

COVER TO COVER: How much is too much

Rach asked a great question in response to my layering/editing post:

Just wondering about how long your mss are when you finish your first draft! And whether that means adding words or taking them away.

I'm a bit of a perfectionist so my first draft is pretty much close to the finished product.
What I mean by this is that I write the book consecutively, from start to finish, without jumping around to various scenes.
I try to make it the best it can be, without getting stuck on the exact word or making sure a description is spot on.
For these, I highlight in bright green so when I start the layering and editing process, my eyes are instantly drawn to the word that needs to be tweaked or the paragraph that needs more description.
Then I go through a rough mental checklist (many of the points I listed in the previous post) to really tighten the story.

So my first draft tends to be pretty much spot on with word count. And it usually means adding words with the layering.

Please remember this is only one person's viewpoint.
I know authors who move from scene to scene, who might write the end of the book before the middle, who get inspired by a particular scene and will write that first before the beginning.

I'm a bit of a plotter and like to have the book roughly outlined while I'm writing, sometimes before I start (see earlier Cover to Cover post) so for me, writing in chronological order and having the book pretty close to my outline tends to make the book flow and not need a lot of tweaking.

Whether you have to cut words or add them to your first draft, it doesn't matter. Making the story the best it can be is what it's all about :)

Friday, November 09, 2007

New cover

I've been waiting for my hardback copies of my next Romance EXECUTIVE MOTHER-TO-BE to arrive for a few weeks...and nada!

Well, thanks to Trish who pointed me towards Barnes and Noble today, I now have the cover :)

What do you think?

Nate and Kristen are both very business oriented in this book, and Kris is an older heroine who never thought she'd have kids so the cover is pretty spot on.
I wish it could be a little more romantic though...both Trish Wylie and Fiona Harper have books out in Feb too and their covers are absolutely gorgeous!!!

Baby is sick again so my intentions to do a Cover to Cover post have been delayed again. Sorry! I'll finish editing COURTING CUPID tonight and will pop the post up here tomorrow. Hopefully...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mouse problems!

I'm thankful to say, they aren't real mice, thank goodness but my PC mouse went kaput yesterday. My second in the last year!
So had to troup to PC shop, buy new mouse and keyboard, wait whole day for it to charge...and here I am.

Loads has happened.
My baby post the other morning must've got things moving for my bud Ally, as later that day I got a text message saying she's had a baby girl!
Congrats Ally, I'm thrilled for you!!!! And can't wait to meet the gorgeous girl :)
I have over 170 emails to get through.
I have a book to finish editing.
I have a Cover to Cover post to do here.
I have to participate in an online course which I signed up for but haven't got the time to make full use of yet.
I have to send off an interview I've done for that magazine I mentioned a while back.
I have to tidy house for fab writing friends to descend on Sat morning (our first meeting in months!)
Life is busy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

And they're off!

Today is the running of the Melbourne Cup, the race that stops a nation.

Over one hundred thousand will flock to Flemington racecourse, frocked and suited up, to socialise and have a flutter or two.

The Spring Racing Carnival has become a huge social event in Melbourne, so much so it inspired a book around this time 2 years ago: INHERITED: BABY, featuring my horse strapper heroine and set at Flemington. If you haven't read it, check it out (enter the comp on my website and you can win your choice of a book from my backlist!)

Speaking of babies, can you believe my bub is 6 months old now?
Time has flown.
There is so much to love about him...
-his gorgeous sweet milky smell
-his loud chuckles when I snuggle my nose into his neck
-his loud chattering...even in the middle of the night!
-his good morning smile
-his hands reaching up to explore my face
-his screwed up expression when tasting food for the first time yesterday
-his wide-eyed amazement when his brother does something new

I could go on...and on...and on...
Being a mum is the greatest gift in the world. :)

Writing-wise, started editing COURTING CUPID last night. Very nice surprise to find I'm 69 pages in and the book is a lot tighter than I anticipated. Looks like all my research on characterisation paid off! Will blog about it towards end of the week.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's official: book 15 sold!


I now have a title and release date for my 4th Modern Heat (and 15th book!)

HOT NIGHTS WITH THE PLAYBOY will be released in June 08 (yes, another simultaneous release, as my Harlequin Romance THE DESERT PRINCE'S PROPOSAL also hits the shelves in June!)

The title is spot on: Judd Calloway is a photographer who has spent the last 8 years travelling the world (and has a teensy weensy playboy reputation) and when he meets up with his best friend, Abby Weiss on a Whitsunday island, there's plenty of steam, loads of hot nights...

When I get a spare minute (ha!) I'll be popping the usual excerpt and 'under the covers' (behind the scenes goss) on my website.

Hopefully some time this weekend...or not...

Will try, promise!


Friday, November 02, 2007

The launch!


The book launch for SIZZLE, SEDUCE & SIMMER last night was absolutely fantastic!!
Dymocks bookshop in the heart of Melbourne is huge and the perfect venue for a launch.
About 100 people turned out for this event and it was fabulous to be surrounded by so many author friends who contributed to the book.
As Marion Lennox says in the intro, this is a friendship book.
It started from the regular lunches we have as a group and developed from there.
It's truly satisfying to see our collective work in one, fantastic book. And the recipes are yummy! I've already tried the Sinfully Delicious Seed Slice...twice!!
(Pity in my rush to bundle baby and sick mum out the door and into the car last night I left the slice in the fridge rather than taking it to the launch where it was supposed to be!!)

A great evening was had by all. And I had my first taste of a book signing on a larger scale...was great fun!!
Here are some of the talented, wonderful authors who feature in this book: (from left to right) Fiona MacArthur, moi, Bronwyn Jameson, Fiona Lowe, Amy Andrews, Valerie Parv, Marion Lennox, Anne Gracie, Stephanie Laurens, Trish Morey, Carol Marinelli and Keri Arthur.
Aren't the pinafores cute?
I'm so proud to be a part of this book.
Thanks to everyone who turned out last night (and who bought copies of the book as gifts for their friends.) Remember, it would make a fabulous Christmas present: romance and recipes in one book, what more could you ask for? :)
(Pop back tomorrow for news of my 15th book. The title is fab!!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Where am I today?



The start of another month...and how many days till Christmas? Sheesh! Where has this year got to?

I'm blogging at the PHS society about why I love the Harlequin Modern Heat series. And yes, there will be the usual sexy hero pics. Need you ask? ;)

Tonight, I'm off to my very first book launch at Dymocks in the city, at Australia on Collins.

I was thrilled to be a part of SIZZLE, SEDUCE & SIMMER, the fabulous short story and recipe anthology collated by Marion Lennox.

Hope to see you there! If you can't make it, pick up your copy here. It will make a great Chrissie present!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Life Happens


I should be busy trying to get this guy, Blane Andrews, and this girl, Camryn Henderson, together.
Well, okay, they are together considering I've finished the first draft of COURTING CUPID but in my mind, they won't officially be together till the book is polished, edited, done, dusted and sitting in my editor's inbox waiting for a read!
I had grand plans to start the layering process this week.
But like all grand plans, they suffer setbacks when life gets in the way...
I have a household of sick boys (and yes, including hubby in this because I think men tend to regress to boys when they're sick...not being mean here, just truthful!!)
Boys who are coughing all night, boys who need their noses blown, boys who are teething and scratching because their eczema is out of control...yes, I love my boys but right now, I could do with a moment (or ten!) to myself.
The interesting thing when 'life happens' is that writing is my saviour.
Writing keeps me sane.
Writing keeps me focussed.
Writing gives me a distraction from the everyday stuff.
Writing gives me an escape.
And life does happen.
No matter how well you plan, how much time you set aside for your writing, something will always pop up.
So deal with it.
But keep your mind fine tuned by thinking about your characters/story/next plot.
Jot down a word or two between baby feeds and nose blowing.
Look forward to that peaceful hour next week when you can dive back into your story.
Most of all, dose up on Vitamin C and garlic.
Those boys have a happy habit of sharing their germs around ;)

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Lurgy is back

Yes, the dreaded cold lurgy has hit our house again with a vengeance.
Kidlet 1's b'day on Saturday a fizzer, as he was too sick to want to do anything.
Bub has caught it too, so very disgruntled and clingy and generally unwell.
Hubby coming down with it.
As usual, Mum is the last one standing... ;)

Must admit, this is the reason I push myself when I have a deadline to meet. With kids, you never know what's around the corner and I'd hate to feel extra pressure with a book to finish and kids to nurse.

That said, I have to get back to editing COURTING CUPID. Maybe a little later than I first anticipated!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New release dates!


For readers in the USA, I've got some great news.
Release dates for my first 2 Harlequin Presents have been moved forward.
PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE, previously scheduled for April, will now be out in February 08 (the same month as my next Harlequin Romance, EXECUTIVE MOTHER-TO-BE)
And MISTRESS TO THE TYCOON (titled BIG-SHOT BACHELOR in the UK) will be released the month after in March rather than July.

Looks like a few bumper months of releases coming in early 2008! And I'll post the new covers as soon as I get them.
In other lovely news, I found a wonderful 5 star review for Purchased for Pleasure on Amazon by Marilyn Shoemaker.
Here's a snippet:
Kate's character is smart, sexy, charming and very spirited. She gives as good as she gets but she does not want to loose her heart again....Have a box of tissues ready, there are times you will need them. However, this charming couple will have you laughing with their banter, sexy smiles and their journey at rekindling their love; it is absolutely an incredible love story, one you will not want to miss! Tyler James has two secrets you will learn and they both will tug at your heart. This sexy Seal loves to tease but underneath, he is tough and does not want to loose his heart again to Kate. She is like a magnet but he is determined to leave at the weeks end and not break Kate's heart.......wrong, he shatters it! Kate and Tyler's journey is up and down and at times you will want to knock their heads together. However, you will come away realizing what a talent Nicola Marsh has with spinning and weaving her sensual story in such a way, you will want to read more. Personally, I cannot wait for Nicola's next book!
Thanks Marilyn :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Letting your manuscript stew



Take one first draft.
Well done.
Leave to stew for a week, minimum.
Then take one pair of fresh eyes, one pair of eager hands with itchy fingers to type and a fresh perspective, re-open and start the editing process.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Wrong! If you're like me, it's hard to walk away from a manuscript, especially one just finished. Though exhausted, your mind is still buzzing with ideas, you're still in the characters' heads, the setting is still vivid and you want to get this baby off to your editor ASAP.
Instead, let it stew. The longer the better. There's nothing like tackling a first draft with a completely fresh outlook, and with the benefit of time away from the story.
It's too easy to get caught up in your plot or too close to your characters and after a while you can't see the pitfalls, the holes and the glaring mistakes. This is why time away is essential, especially if you don't have a critique partner to pick up a lot of this stuff for you in later drafts.
Fresh eyes brings fresh perspective, an eagerness to layer, and the all important clarity to make your story the best it can be.
So do what I do. Immerse yourself in the rest of your life. Keep busy. (You can give the sleepless nights a miss!) Read. Have fun.
And then take those itching fingers back to the keyboard and start the writing process all over again!!
(More on layering next week, when I actually get stuck back into COURTING CUPID.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Book launch!


In everything that is going on here, I'd totally forgotten to post this invite here!
SIZZLE, SEDUCE AND SIMMER is a fabulous short story & recipe book anthology I was lucky enough to be a part of and it's officially being launched on November 1st at Dymock's in Melbourne.
All details on the invite above. Please book directly with the bookstore.
Hope to see you all there!
The book would make a great Christmas gift so if you can't make the launch, buy online here.
Will bring you more info about my contribution on my website and here early November :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Reaching 'The End'

With the bulk of my books, once I'm heading towards the end scene, the words are tumbling out so fast my fingers can barely keep up.
My characters are aching to get their happily-ever-after.
They need resolution.
And I want to tie up all those niggly loose ends I've created throughout the book.

So what's happening with COURTING CUPID?
Strangely enough, after writing half the book in a fortnight, the end is coming slowly. Very slowly. Try 2500 words all week when I usually write that in a night.
Now I'll explain why.

Ever had that feeling right before an important exam where you've studied your heart out, know everything there is to know, yet just before you enter the exam hall or turn the exam over, your mind goes blank?
Well, that's what has happened to me this week.

I've been so wrapped up in maintaining tension throughout this book, upping the stakes with each scene, that now I've reached the end and Blane and Camryn have the opportunity to resolve their differences, my mind has blanked.
There is so much that needs to be tied up all nice and tidily in one neat book that my brain is refusing to co-operate.
So how to get around it?

Step 1: Write.
May sound simplistic but that's exactly what I have to do: write. Let the words flow. Do what I've done for the rest of the book. I can always go back and fix and layer later. Can't fix a blank page, huh?

Step 2: Focus on obvious resolution.
Work on one problem at a time. Don't stress about tying up the rest of the loose ends. Leave this for the first revision pass, where you can jot down the threads that need tying as you re-read the book and follow up at the end.

Step 3: Think happy thoughts.
My characters have waited all book for this, all 50 000 words to get their HEA. Don't cheat them. Make this scene a cracker so you leave your readers craving more (and rushing out to the bookstore when your next release hits the shelves!)

Step 4: The fantasy of romance.
We all love sigh-worthy romantic endings but if you've had a strong conflict throughout the book, resolving differences isn't always easy. Therefore, concentrate on making this final scene real. If all can be solved with a simple conversation, then the odds are your conflict throughout the book hasn't been strong enough. Hence my difficulty in getting Blane and Camryn on the same page here...a good thing with regards to conflict, a frustrating thing when I want this book finished!

Step 5: Finish at all costs.
I like my books to flow in one, cohesive block. I don't jump around from scene to scene (though many writers do.) I write the first draft in one go then go back and layer.
With COURTING CUPID, now that I'm a tad 'stuck', I want to go back and read the whole lot again before finishing the book, but I won't. Why?

I want the ending to be instinctive, like the rest of the book has been. I want it flow on from the last scene, and not be contrived from something I've written earlier. I want it to be a natural resolution of everything that has happened before.
Plenty of time to tweak later.

Hoping to put all this into practice and finish the book tonight. But don't worry, that's not the end of this series. Plenty more to come!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Reality versus imagination


In this series I've already done a post on setting, so consider this an adjunct to it.
In COURTING CUPID, Blane takes a leave of absence from his high flying career to build his own house.
He wants a sea change. It's the first step in his dream.
I needed a small town about an hour or so drive from Melbourne(essential to tying in with city girl Camryn's conflict) and it had to be coastal.
My initial choice was Torquay, closely followed by Cape Schank, then Inverloch.
As fate would have it, I couldn't book accommodation at any of those places so I did a search on quickbeds and came up with Barwon Heads.
I knew Barwon Heads was down near Torquay somewhere so it would be perfect. (Little did I know how exactly right it would be!)
Now, I won't bore you with the details of a nightmare trip down there yesterday which took 4 hours instead of 1.5 (babies with eczema do NOT travel well!!!) or how totally drained I was when we finally arrived, but the place was perfect.
Stayed in a condo on a golf course but did the bulk of the research this morning in town...snapped many mental images, got a feel for what Camryn and Blane see, took a drive along the ocean coastal road, immersed myself in the ambience...perfect for the layering process I will commence in the next few weeks.

So my point behind all this?
When I was having accommodation hassles ages ago, I almost gave up and decided I could always create a fictitious coastal town. (After creating a fictitious Arabian desert country Adhara in THE DESERT PRINCE'S PROPOSAL out June 08, I knew how much fun it can be!)
While using creative licence is fabulous (just ask the great paranormal authors out there at the moment, or the talented authors creating wonderful sheikh and royalty books), in some cases nothing beats placing yourself in the setting of your book.
For me, the setting is interwoven with the conflict so I really needed to make it a focal point of the book, therefore walking a mile in my heroine/hero's shoes was crucial and very productive. I'm pleased to say that Barwon Heads proved a gold mine and my characters will be eternally grateful!
And the spooky bit?
After I booked the condo and checked out the town on line, I learned it was the place where they filmed the TV show...Seachange!
Had to be fate that Blane chose it for his very own seachange...

Friday, October 12, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Staying motivated

Marcy asked a great question in answer to my previous post on Motivation.

How do you keep motivated when you hit a section that is just not working for you?

This is when staying motivated is crucial to finishing the book.

We all know the feeling well: the first chapters fly, maybe the whole first half of the book, then we get hit by the sagging middle (and no, I'm not just talking about my post-baby belly!!)
So how do you stay on top of it?
How do you get past the roadblock to creativity?

For me, I focus on that last word: creativity.
I sit with a blank sheet of paper and pen, and let the ideas flow.

Where can my characters go from here?
What can up the stakes?
Why are they behaving this way?
What will propel them towards the happily-ever-after they deserve?
Who has the most to lose?
What events can conspire against them?
What events can bring them closer together and up the tension?

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking.

I always find pen and paper extremely useful for 'unblocking'.
When I use this method, I also tend to end up outlining the rest of the book, even if it's only a line or two for each chapter and you'd be amazed how much easier it is to finish the book with something solid to refer to when your mind (or characters!) start wandering again.

Hope this helps get you past those mini blocks :)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The great cover...up!


Take a look at the cover for PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE on your right.
In the UK version currently on the shelves, Navy SEAL Tyler James is gorgeous, with the broad (bare!) chest I credited him with.
And SEALs have short back and sides.
And Ty is 6 ft 4".
And in his 30s.
Now take a look at the Aussie cover for the same book(out here in December.)
Is it just me or do these two look like a couple of teenagers? As for that hair...
I'm not going to say anymore.
I'll leave the comments up to you!
(For Aussie readers, this is one of my favourite books of all time so don't let the cover fool you...It really is a very mature story!!)

Monday, October 08, 2007

New website launch!

We have lift-off!

A new website is born…yes, the Modern Extra authors have banded our sassy butts together to create a new group website and its fabulous!

Want to know about ‘a day in the life’ of an author?
Maybe a… ssshhh…a secret or two?
How about booklists, bios and hot guys?

You’ll find all that and more over at SENSATIONAL ROMANCE so check it out!

And stay tuned for a monster book giveaway…

By the way, in case you haven’t heard, from January 08 Modern Extra will become Modern Heat in the UK, and will be released monthly as Harlequin Presents in the US. Great news, huh?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Working in waves

I'm working in waves at the moment.
One day I write like a maniac, the next I'm procrastinating.
Of course, it may have something to do with the sheer volume of stuff I have to do over the next month or two, mostly involving family and the kidlets, that my mind tends to wander all over the place.

This is where paper plotting comes in handy. No matter how rough, even if you've jotted down one or two lines as to what's happening in the next chapter, you can easily pick up the thread of the story.

I've got a lot of writing stuff on my plate too over the next few weeks: I'm being interviewed for an international magazine feature (and I'm going to be on the cover!), the short story and recipe anthology I'm involved in for MIRA is being launched, I've been approached to write a short story by an American magazine, several libraries have contacted me via my website for talks, I've got loads of Harlequin news to blog about...hectic, huh? Of course, that's with a deadline looming in there too...

Promise to give you all the goss about the stuff mentioned above as it happens!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Research

You’ve plotted your book.
Developed the characters.
Devised a rock-solid conflict.
Identified key scenes.
Now what?

Research!

This is the fun part where you can get to be as creative as you like, from a one-on-one personal interview with an expert in their field (wish I’d done this for my Navy SEAL!) to using the Internet.
Google will bring answers to your fingertips in a jiffy and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your desk.
Though if you’re like me and need to get a feel for a place if using it in a story, you schedule a visit.

The bulk of my books have been set in Melbourne (and yes, I’ve already raved about how it’s such a vibrant, cosmopolitan city in an earlier post) so doing first-hand research is enjoyable, accessible and fun.

With COURTING CUPID, I set the book in New Quay, Docklands, the newest hip precinct in Melbourne-and somewhere I hadn’t been yet! The Internet provided a veritable feast of information and pictures, so I had a pretty good idea of my book’s setting before I started.

However, I wanted to walk in my heroine’s shoes.

I wanted to feel what it’s like for her on a blustery Melbourne spring day as she looks out of her apartment, what would she see, what would be on her left and right as she strolled down the boardwalk.

So I made the trip into the city on Sunday. (Nice that it doubled as a family day out too!) Had breakfast in a swank hotel, followed up by a short drive to New Quay where we strolled, had a leisurely latte and soaked up the atmosphere.

(Should've taken a few more water shots!! I'm sure you'd rather see that than moi!! Was too busy snapping hubby and kids in front of the great water views.)

I have my book pretty much plotted on paper, rough as it may be, but it’s amazing how a simple stroll can spark off a fresh scene, a different point of view and best of all, give depth to the setting.
It’s all about perception, and recreating the feel of a place for the reader with words and doing first-hand research can enhance your layering, bringing your story alive.

When setting your story, it’s worth considering what’s closest to home. We often crave exotic locations or write about some place we’d like to visit when in fact, taking a look in our own backyard (figuratively!) can open up a host of research possibilities you never imagined.

(Note: I tend to do a lot of first hand research in Melbourne, especially restaurants and cafés!!)


And remember, if none of the above works for you, inventing your own stuff is part of the fun of being a writer :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Building

You've written the first few chapters of your book.
If you're anything like me, the first 3 chapters are a breeze: all brand-spanking new, exciting, the characters just bursting to tell their story with loads of pizazz and dazzling conversation and building attraction.

Then it hits.
Chapter FOUR!

How do you keep the pages turning when the initial buzz is starting to wear off?

First up, work out what you want to achieve from the next 3 chapters or so.

The tension must build.
There must be a turning point to galvanise the characters into action.
The stakes are upped.
The conflicts developed.

This is what Jenny Crusie refers to as ACT TWO in her Basic Linear Four Act Plot, where everything BUILDS.

We want to throw our characters off course a tad, get them thinking beyond the initial attraction, throw them a few minor curve balls but nothing to drastic yet. Plenty of time for that later!

In COURTING CUPID, there are several major revelations in the story, revelations that will bring Blane and Camryn to absolute, seemingly unsolvable conflict. He wants marriage and kids, she doesn't, she craves the excitement of city life, he craves a sea change.
Layered into these big conflicts are clues, hints given that build towards the revelations that will drive them apart.

So when you hit chapter four and your enthusiasm flags as it inevitably does, concentrate on building.
The tension, the stakes, and the wordcount will follow!

(For a full explanation of Jenny Crusie's Four Act Plot Diagram, visit her website and check out the notes under her Aussie conference.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Location, location, location!

Creating the perfect setting can be instrumental in bringing a story to life.


Have you ever been so swept away by a book you can see the setting in your mind? Smell the frangipanis on an island? Feel the sting of dust in a desert? Hear the vibrant voices of gondoliers?

By citing those three examples, I bet you got an instant image of a setting.

Words are powerful tools and when we use them to craft a setting we can evoke feelings, memories, sympathy, empathy…you get the picture!

I’m sure some of the attraction of sheikh stories is the setting: sweeping desert sands, lush, verdant oasis, stone palaces standing the test of time…
And royal stories: opulent palaces, marble interiors, immaculate grounds…

The beauty of being a writer is being able to create a setting to compliment your plot, to create a world the reader would love to live in, whether fictitious or otherwise.

For me, I love setting my books in Melbourne, the city I live in. It’s a hip, cosmopolitan city with a vibe all its own and I deliberately choose cultural icon areas to highlight the city’s appeal.

From Acland Street, St. Kilda (FOUND: HIS FAMILY), home of the best cakes and pastries on the planet, to Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (BIG-SHOT BACHELOR), boho central, from Lygon St, Carlton (PRINCESS AUSTRALIA) Melbourne’s ‘Little Italy’ to the thrill of the Melbourne Cup at Flemington (INHERITED: BABY), I hope to bring small pieces of this vibrant city alive.

For that very reason, I’ve set COURTING CUPID in Melbourne too, in the newest trendy area, New Quay at the Docklands.

I want my readers to get immersed in the café culture there, to feel the sea breeze on their faces as they sip a latte, to make their mouths water with the delicious food served at the many restaurants, to sit back in a cosy corner of a bar and admire the pretty night skyline.


And I briefly move the book to Southbank, another trendy spot on the banks of the Yarra River, where Blane has a penthouse on the 88th floor of the new Eureka Towers in Southbank (see pic above!) It's brand spanking new, ultra modern and the place to live!

Are you getting a picture?
If so, I’m doing my job.

So get creative. Search the Net for pictures to stimulate your imagination, whether it be of a country, a house, a garden, a room.

Use descriptions, adjectives, make the setting you choose leap off the page.

Make it the type of place any reader would want to be.

What brings a setting alive for you?
(To get a feel for some of the cultural areas of Melbourne I mentioned above, click on the title links, which will take you directly to my website pages for those books, where you'll find more pictures depicting the areas in the 'under the covers' sections.)


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Hip heroines


Writing heroines can be easy...and tricky!
I want my heroines to be the epitome of the strong, modern woman, with the world at her feet and a shoe wardrobe any of us would be proud of.
I want my heroines to have the street smarts to distinguish between a Prince and a frog.
I want my heroines to be bold, sassy, slightly flawed and human.
Quite simply? I want my heroines to have it all!
When I write my heroines, I particularly focus on that last point: make them human.
If she's too perfect, readers won't identify with her (or will want to poke her eye out with envy!) Give her a sympathetic flaw or two, a problem or conflict we all deal with or might have dealt with in our past. That way, as readers we can stand by her through the whole book, cheering her on from the sidelines along the bumpy road to her happily-ever-after.
I find casting heroines not as essential as heroes, because I 'think' like the heroine. I'm inside her head a lot more than the heroes so her words, thoughts and actions flow from fingertips to keyboard much easier.
My editor has said several times that my books are strongly heroine-driven, featuring women she'd love to be best friends with and I take that as a great compliment. This says these women are real and if you can achieve that in your writing, your reader will want to keep turning the pages to discover what happens to your heroine in the end.
In COURTING CUPID, the minute I knew my heroine would be headstrong, a tad prickly and very cynical, Sandra Bullock sprang to mind. Think Miss Congeniality: the tough, headstrong cop with prickles galore!!
However, I don't always cast an actress or someone famous in the role of heroine. I've been inspired by an expression by a model in a magazine before, by a tilt of the head, by the smile.
And there's no surprise that my heroine folder is a lot less jam-packed than my heroes. I don't go looking for heroines, whereas a gal can never have too many heroes... :)

What do you find the essential ingredient for a fab heroine?
Any particular favourite heroines?



Friday, September 14, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Hot Heroes


Choosing characters is a wonderful part of writing.
(Though sometimes the characters choose us, I think!)

It's always an absolute pleasure casting the hero in my books. As soon as I get an idea of his personality and looks, I tend to match him to an actor/model/sportsman/etc...
And then the fun really begins!

Doing a google search to find suitable images has to rank right up there with eating chocolate and reading in the bath as pleasurable activities.
Just plug in the name of the man you want to find in google images and away you go!

For COURTING CUPID, I had a fairly good idea of the type of hero I wanted. He had to be suave and gorgeous, of course, but he needed to be a little rough around the edges (eg. the stubble) which is an essential part of the story.
My first choice was David Annable (who stars in Brothers and Sisters) but he seemed a tad young for Blane and suddenly, Matthew Fox came to me in a flash of inspiration. And google images did the rest!
(That's David on the left. Pretty similar to Matthew, huh?)

These are only a few of the many pics I saved of Matthew and they really do encapsulate Blane: rugged, focussed, gorgeous...I could go on and on but you get the drift.
My advice in casting heroes is to create a folder and whenever you see a guy you think is potential hero material (eg. film, TV, magazine) do a search and save the pics there and then. That way, you'll always have an inspirational hero just waiting to leap into your story!
This can also have the advantage of getting the creative juices flowing if you don't have a story: in PRINCESS AUSTRALIA, the entire story sprang from an expression on a guy I'd never heard of before (Adrian Grenier, from Entourage fame.)

So go out there and find your hot hero.
Trust me, he's ready to leap into a story coming to you soon...

Anyone have a recurring favourite potential hero? ie. pics you've saved but haven't used yet?
I have quite a few stashed away!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm an Aunty!

Just got the phone call to say I have a brand new baby niece!!
Her name's Zoe (which I love and was going to use for a heroine one day) and she's 6 lb 1 oz and that's about all I know for now!

Ooh...I love babies :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Collaging

They say a picture paints a thousand words...
would be nice if my collage could add the odd thousands words or so to my current WIP!

So, I have my characters and my plot (divorced city girl heroine and workaholic financier hero looking for a seachange), and in order to bring the story alive for me I decided to collage it, which involved looking for specific pictures to capture the essence of both the characters and the story.
The city of Melbourne, the cappucino, the wine, the chocolate and the cafe all belong to Camryn, while the pick-up truck, the hammock, the sneakers and the bed with the killer ocean view are all Blane.
What do you think? Does it evoke the mood of the book from the brief description I've given?

This is my 4th attempt at collaging and I tend to like matching pictures to the story though I find an odd picture leaping out at me as I search and, lo and behold, that picture often finds its way into the story. Collaging doesn't have to be done this way though, and can involve sitting down, selecting random pictures, pasting them together and creating a story from there!

For a full run down on collaging, check out the interview on my website with Barbara Hannay, who conducted a workshop on this topic at a RWAus. conference. There's also loads of fab collaging info on Jenny Crusie's website (who likes to collage on computer too. Check under her notes for the Aussie conference.)

So get cutting and pasting. It's loads of fun!


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

COVER TO COVER: What's in a name?

For me, naming my characters is crucial.
If the name doesn't fit I struggle with 'seeing' that person as real.

I tend to go for unusual names for my heroines on the whole: Amber in THE WEDDING CONTRACT, Fleur in CONTRACT TO MARRY, Keely in IMPOSSIBLY PREGNANT, Carissa in WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED, Maya in INHERITED: BABY, Ariel in BIG-SHOT BACHELOR, Tahnee in TWO-WEEK MISTRESS. All very different names from the norm and I intended them that way because each of those heroines are unique and strong-willed and very individual in their own way.

In contrast, I tend to go with more traditional names for my heroes and once again that's deliberate, as I see my heroes as a lovely foil as well as a great match for my heroines. Some of my heroes have included Matt, Steve, Dylan, Darcy and Lachlan.
Not to take anything away from those heroes, who I like to think of as divine in their own right, for other heroes I've gone with slightly less traditional names because the characters warranted it: Brody (brooding ex cop), Riley (older brother comforting his dead brother's fiancee), Bo (Bogart-reclusive childrens' author), Cooper (go get 'em property developer)

Are you seeing a theme here?
The name fits the character and in turn, affects the names of their family and friends, depending on their motivations and upbringing.

So what's in a name? Plenty!
On a practical note, here's a fabulous site to get you started: NAMES
And if you're like me and start to forget names you've used and are at the risk of repeating them, I've made a file of index cards, where I write down first and surnames I've used, secondary characters and names I like but have yet to use. Took a bit of time at the start but worth it to avoid repetition. If I was more computer literate I'd probably put the whole lot on Excel? Maybe one day...

In COURTING CUPID, my heroine's name is Camryn. (I chose this because she's very strong-willed and I liked the thought of giving her a feminine form of a male name, which implies strength.)
My hero is Blane, a tad unusual perhaps, but it just popped out at me when looking through my index cards.
As for naming the cafe she runs, I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who gave me ideas. They were fabulous! For now, I've chosen Cafe Niche (which fits in with Camryn's conflict very nicely.) My mum actually came up with that one after looking at the pics.
I say 'for now' because it's one of those things I'm still not 100% happy about and I'm hoping the perfect name will leap out at me while I write the book.

Are names important to you?

Monday, September 10, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Who's that shady character?

Now that I've established COURTING CUPID would be character driven, I needed to flesh out my divorced heroine and my laid-back hero.

To do this, I came up with 4 adjectives that would describe each of them:

HEROINE: headstrong, tenacious, prickly, cynical

HERO: confident, laid-back, protective, romantic


For me, this instantly evoked an image of both characters and I proceeded to match my image of the hero and heroine to pictures. As you can see, I think the pictures give off the vibe of my description too.

Sandra Bullock was the perfect choice for my headstrong heroine and Matthew Fox the laid-back hero.

I will use these pics to encapsulate what my characters are like at a glance, so as I'm writing I can take a quick look at them to get a feel for their personalities. While finding these pics, I saved loads more and there are a few of Matthew Fox which showed my hero EXACTLY as a I pictured him (on a beach, with business shirt sleeves rolled up, loosened tie-my hero is a workaholic after a sea change) but more on this when I show you the collage.

So now that I have the basics, it's time to flesh out even more. To do this I've tried a new method for me, the character interview. This involves sitting down with a piece of paper and a list of questions and doing exactly that: interviewing your characters. Discovering their greatest fear, worst thing that could happen to them, the single event that would throw their life into turmoil, etc...

I did a fair amount of research on the Internet for characterisation and made a compilation of resources I now refer to. Well worth the time invested as you get many authors' viewpoints on this broad subject. And you get to gather the info you think will be most relevant to you.
Some people use character charts (I used to when I first started writing), some people delve into the elaborate world of their characters' psyche. My advice would be find the method that works for you.
Though the character interview seems like a lot of work at the start, I'm finding it helpful to refer back to any time I need to get a handle on my characters' motivations. And to up the ante.

Next up, the names.
Which is another topic in itself for tomorrow!









Friday, September 07, 2007

COVER TO COVER: In the beginning...

Welcome to my new series COVER TO COVER, a 'how to write a novel' snapshot taking you through from start to finish of the Harlequin Romance I have just started.

I decided to blog about this process because I'm using a new technique to write this one and feel like it's my first book all over again! So bear with me...

By far, the most common question I get asked as an author is 'where do you get your ideas?'
My standard answer is everywhere! That's not being trite, it's so very true: a newspaper headline, a magazine article, a facial expression on an actor's face...ideas spring from everywhere. (They also tend to spring most often in that drowsy state between sleep and consciousness so always keep a notebook by the bed!)

Until now, my story ideas have been PLOT driven.
That is, an idea for a plot will spring to mind and I invent the characters to fit the plot.
For example, in my recent Harlequin Romance PRINCESS AUSTRALIA, I saw a newspaper article featuring concierges from major Melbourne hotels and knew I had to write a book centered around a hotel plot. Then I thought 'wouldn't it be great to have a heroine in this role...but she actually owns the hotel...and who would she meet at the hotel to really turn her head...oh, I know, a prince!'

With INHERITED: BABY, the book was written around Melbourne Cup time, the horse race that stops a nation, so I had an entire plot right there.
In BIG-SHOT BACHELOR, my first Harlequin Modern Extra, I made several trips to Brunswick Street, Melbourne's boho centre, and knew a plot featuring this amazing cultural experience was just waiting to be hatched.

So you get the idea? (no pun intended!) I choose a plot first, then match the characters to that particular plot.

With COURTING CUPID, my new work in progress, I've reversed the process and started with the characters first. Why? Because I like a challenge, I want to add depth to my characters, I want to take my writing to the next level, and because my editor suggested it! (always a good reason for a change!!)

In COURTING CUPID, I wanted 2 characters who are in such total opposition with their goals and motivations that they had no option but to be in total conflict, and a conflict which will deepen as the story progresses.
So I thought 'what could be more difficult to overcome than a cynical, divorced heroine pitted against a laid-back, romantic hero who wants a family above all else?'
From this original idea, I have fleshed out the characters, spent time interviewing them and collaged them (more about all these processes under 'characterisation' early next week.)
The characters have come alive. I can see them. I'm inside their heads. I know what they're feeling.
And the plot has developed from there.

So which method do you use? Are your stories plot or character driven?

(PS. Thanks for all your fabulous suggestions for naming my fictional cafe. I'll let you know the results early next week!)


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Desert Prince is sold!

Remember this guy?

He was my sheikh who morphed into a prince and needed to be 'tweaked' even after he morphed!
Well, had a chat with my lovely ed tonight and the book is SOLD!!
Yay!!!!
Number 14 for me and I still can't believe it. I swear it feels like I've only just sold my first yesterday...

No title as yet but I've given her a whole heap all with 'Desert Prince' in them just because I love it. And she said the oasis scene was so fab she really wants that on the cover!
A tentative June 08 release so will have that confirmed over the next few days.

So time to rest up, right?
Wrong!
Next Romance deadline has been moved up so I needed to have new proposal to her like yesterday (just did it and emailed off), write the book in 9 weeks, AFTER I do the revisions for PICTURE PERFECT she just sent through and wants back shortly.

Yes, I'm feeling a tad flustered, stressed but exhilirated. I tend to thrive under pressure but that's usually with more than 4 hours broken sleep a night. Hmm...could be an interesting few months ahead.

And what am I going to do about Beth and Aidan? Their story was flowing so beautifully and know I'll have to leave it aside. What I'd really like to do is finish it before I start the next but I'm just not going to have time.

So, anyone invented a 48 hour day yet?




Saturday, July 21, 2007

I'm a Presents girl!



Aren't the Harlequin Presents covers gorgeous?
So dramatic, so bold, so passionate...and I'm getting some of my very own!!!
Yes! For those readers who have contacted me asking when my Modern Extra books will be released in the US, I now have a few dates for you.
First up we have PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE (coming to the UK in Oct, Aust Dec) featuring my sexy SEAL will be out in April 08, followed by MISTRESS TO THE TYCOON (released as BIG-SHOT BACHELOR in the UK and Aust) out in July 08.
I really, really can't wait to see my covers for both these books but I guess I'll have to...rest assured, I'll pop them up as soon as I get them! :)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fearless, feisty and proud of it


Some great comments posted in relation to my question about feisty and how much is too much.

Suzy gave a great example in J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas, who I also enjoy, especially because she does have a softer side. And Margaret raised an interesting point about our personalities possibly reflecting that of our heroines. Hmm...am I as fearless and feisty as Beth?

I'd like to be but unfortunately I'm one of those people who think up the great come-back line to say about ten minutes after the opportunity has passed! And even if it did come to me on the spot in a flash of inspiration, I'm the shy and retiring type who hates to rock the boat ;)

For me, I think one of the great things about writing romance is being able to create characters with little bits of personality we may long for ourselves, and to put ourselves out there, to do things we'd never do or only dream of doing. That's why I love feisty heroines, the type of gals who know what they want and go out there and grab it with both hands.

So watch out, Aidan Voss. Beth Walker wants YOU!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The definition of feisty



This ModEx story is scooting along, another 3000 words last night. Mind you, writing was the last thing I felt like doing when finally sat down at the computer at 9pm last night but it's like I always say, even if you can only write a page or so a day, make yourself do it for the more you write, the easier it becomes. I hadn't written for a few days, hence the difficulty in getting back into it but once I started the words flowed. And before I heard the baby crying for a feed, I'd clocked up the words.
Hmm...now to my dilemma. Well, not actually a dilemma but something I'm a tad concerned about.
Beth, the heroine in this book, is way too feisty. Even when she should be quaking in her boots at getting fired-in fact, even after getting fired last night-she has a quick come-back for her boss. Sure, he can more than handle it but she gives him heaps...all the time! I love that about her but in reality would someone be that much of a smarty pants? Mind you, there is a reason for her behaviour, all tied up to her motivation, but what do you think?
Do you like feisty heroines? And if so, where do you draw the line? All opinions appreciated :)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Next week's mystery guest



Okay, by taking one look at this stunning cover, it's no mystery as to who my guest is next week.

It's Margaret Mayo, a fabulously talented author who has written...wait for it...over 70 books for Mills and Boon over 30 years!!! How incredible is that?

I love hearing from readers, it's such a thrill, so imagine my smile when Margaret took the time to contact me a few weeks ago saying she'd read and enjoyed TWO-WEEK MISTRESS, my 2nd Modern Extra.

It's slightly scary writing a book and having it 'out there' for everyone to read, let alone fellow authors, hence the big smile :)

So to get the low-down on what it's like writing for Modern/Presents, what romance means, Margaret's favourite book and what she's currently working on, make sure to pop back early next week.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

A fab book!

I adore reading.
And I read a lot. About 100 books a year, 80% of those mainstream fiction so I come across a lot of authors.
I love trying new authors so picked up an Adele Parks book a few years ago and have been well and truly hooked ever since.

Now, as soon as her latest hits the shelves I'm there, so picked up my copy of Young Wives' Tales from Borders a few weeks back and devoured it in 3 days this week.

Adele is one of those gifted authors that can bring her characters to life and make them leap off the page and into your life. You feel like you know her characters intimately and are super frustrated that you have to leave their lives when you finish the book.
This one is truly fabulous and her insights into motherhood are so spot on I guarantee they'll bring a tear to your eye.

This book is a sequel to Playing Away, though you don't need to read it to appreciate this one. Though to find out about Connie and John's affair before this book, go for it!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The collage version of 'plotter vs. pantser'

This is a great question posed by Rachael in the comments to my last post so let's chat about it:

I know others have blogged about this and written articles on the like, but how do you collage. Do you start with a general idea about characters and settings and go hunt for them or do you just pick up a mag and go hell for leather? Just wondering, as I'm hoping to finish my wip soon and I've got three ideas to choose from for the next one and I thought doing some collages may help me clarify, which idea I have the most to give to at the moment. Am I making sense??

You're making perfect sense, Rachael, and in fact, you really made me think about how I go through the whole process.
I'm a plotter, so before I start a book I usually have an idea and work from there. Once I have a vague vision of what type of people my hero and heroine will be like (eg. suave, rugged, conservative, sassy, whatever) I flip through my hero/heroine file or a magazine to find an image to go with my idea.
Similarly, I always know where my book will be set so search for pics to symbolise that place or to give an ambience.
That said, once I get the main pics for hero/heroine sorted, I let my imagination run wild and flick through a magazine, cutting out anything which might suit the story. This is a great way to get the creative juices flowing, as I usually incorporate these strange/quirky/unexpected pics into the story somehow and it leads me in all sorts of new directions.
In the collage above (for PICTURE PERFECT, my 4th Modern Extra) I had a very clear idea of setting so most of the pics show it. That said, I didn't use any 'quirky' pics in this one, and I found I didn't use the collage as much when writing.
With my desert prince collage, pics like the opal, glass tea set and feet washed have all been incorporated into the story as I found myself much more immersed in the collage and thus the story.
So hope this helps, Rachael. My advice to you would be try both methods (hunting for pics to suit the story VS. going hell for leather!) and see which works best for you.
And for more 'how-to' advice, check out my interview on collaging with Barbara Hannay here.
Have fun!!


Sunday, June 17, 2007

So who's a yummy mummy?

Okay, so I'm a day behind.
Isn't that normal for frazzled mums?
I blogged about being a 'yummy mummy' over at the Pink Heart Society yesterday, a post I scrambled together this week one night after changing a nappy and before indulging in a bowl of delicious 'cookies'n'cream' icecream.
It really got me thinking...what makes a yummy mummy? (read my post to find out !)
Yesterday, I took my 2 boys out for lunch at a local cafe and as I sat there with the sounds of smooth jazz playing in the background, my 3 year old happily colouring and my new baby lying fast asleep in his pram, I was overcome by one of those intensely happy feelings which pop up at the oddest of moments.
Yes, I'm tired and run off my feet and never have a spare second to myself but having these two little boys makes me the luckiest woman in the world :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

A tale of two princes

So you've met Dante Andretti, the prince of Calida in my current release PRINCESS AUSTRALIA.

No, this isn't him. This is my other prince I'm currently revising, Prince Samman al Wali, desert prince and ruler of Adhara. More about him next week...(until then, try not to drool over yet another sexy pic of Rodrigo Santoro!)

My editor loves the setting in this one. Here's a tiny taste:

Bria’s breath caught at her first glimpse of the royal residence. Nothing could’ve prepared her for the splendour of white-washed domes and spires silhouetted against the golden desert sands stretching to the horizon where the sun, a fiery purple and magenta ball, dipped and slid slowly from view.

Monday, June 11, 2007

More Than Magic

I've just received news that INHERITED: BABY was placed 2nd for Best Traditional Romance 2007 in the 'More Than Magic' contest.
Place getters were:
1st Falling for Dallas by Carolynn Carey
2nd Inherited: Baby by Nicola Marsh
3rd Rescued by Mr. Right by Shirley Jump
I've had a lot of feedback about this book from readers and it's great to find the judges liked the book too!
To celebrate my three Harlequin Romance releases finalling in competitions, I'm giving away all three books in my June Newsletter contest.
This giveaway is exclusive to my newsletter subscribers so if you'd like a chance to win all 3 books (plus a few other goodies!) make sure you sign up for my newsletter by clicking here.
(The contest only runs for a fortnight so get your entry in now!!)


Friday, June 08, 2007

The trifecta!!!!!


Have woken this morning and stumbled to the computer bleary-eyed (can one baby really feed so much?) to discover some wonderful news.
I've finalled in the BOOKSELLERS' BEST AWARD 2007 in the Best Traditional category with WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED!
This is my 3rd contest final this year, with the 3 different releases I had in 2006. And considering I had so many doubts about those 'darker, more emotional' books last year, I couldn't be happier!
I finalled in this award last year too, and it went to the fabulous Lucy Gordon. This year, I'm up against Lucy again, along with Linda Goodnight and Holly Jacobs. It still comes as a huge shock to me to see my books up alongside big names. Is this real?
The Bookseller's Best is a particularly great award to final in, as the books are judges by the people who get our books onto shelves and who recommend our books to readers and I really am thrilled beyond belief to final.

Can't stop grinning :)




Monday, June 04, 2007

Meet the bad-boy prince


Meet Dante Andretti, the Prince of Calida in my current Harlequin Romance release PRINCESS AUSTRALIA.

The idea for this story sprung from one picture, that of a scruffy, unshaven Adrian Grenier (of Entourage fame). I hadn't heard of him nor watched the show but the minute I saw that picture I thought it screamed 'bad-boy'.

Now, bad boys are more suited to the Modern Extra romances I write but I really wanted to use this inspiration to write a Romance so what did I do? I thought of what would be the opposite of a bad-boy...and came up with an uptight prince bound by responsibilities!
Once the idea for my prince gelled, the rest of his profile followed.
Dante is a guy about to be crowned prince of his tiny country off the coast of Italy (my fictitious Calida) His bossy mother, the queen, is pushing for him to take a bride and solidify his position in the monarchy but Dante needs a break and travels to Melbourne, supposedly on business, but in reality wants to visit his sister Gina and 2 year old nephew Paolo.
Dante plans a week of blessed anonymity and to do this, he enlists the help of the concierge at Telford Towers, the hotel where he is staying. (More on the concierge and the Towers later this week!)
For me, Dante is ruffled, sexy and charismatic (and yes, definitely inspired by the pic above!) Romantic Times describes him as a 'dashing hero' and I have to agree :)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Doh!

I must be more sleep deprived than I realised.

As Mary kindly pointed out in the comments following my last post, she can't find PRINCESS AUSTRALIA on the shelves in the US yet. And she went to 2 bookstores!!

Of course, silly me forgot that following the merging of the Harlequin Romance and Silhouette Romance lines, the new Romance series only hit the shelves in the US mid-month! (Sorry Mary!)

So if you want to read about the concierge and the bad-boy prince, you'll have to wait till mid-June. Or you can always get it now at eharlequin or on Amazon.

I'll start posting tit-bits from this book over the next few weeks leading up to the release, just to whet your appetites... :)



Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Are you addicted to your library?

I visited my local library yesterday.
Bad move.
Before bub was born, I'd been raiding their shelves for the past 2 months, so I could stock up the books I'd bought on my 'to be read' pile for after baby arrived.
Well, that pile has diminished and as I was walking past the library yesterday, I ducked in and came out with 5 great books.

Why is this bad?
Last night, instead of writing or sleeping, I read. And read. And read.
I'm hopeless. Give me a good book and I can't put it down. Almost finished the first one, 4 to go. Then of course I have to return them, which involves going back into the library and past all those wonderfully crammed shelves again...oh, how I love books!!! And my own TBR pile is growing again too!

Speaking of which, my one and only Romance release for the year is coming up. PRINCESS AUSTRALIA hits the shelves in June so watch this space for all the 'behind the scenes' goss on this book.
Romantic Times gave it 4 stars: "...dashing hero...sparkling dialogue..."
And here's a snippet of the 4 star review it received at Cataromance:

"Princess Australia is a charming story of strength and conviction, with a hero and heroine that must trust each other before they can really appreciate their unique relationship. I loved Dante and Natasha, their stumbling around trying to trust each other without either knowing it and then having someone try to destroy their budding romance without a care in the world, it made me want to knock the offending party out. I enjoyed reading about this relationship, even when they were both pigheaded and the ending was a tender way to cement their romance. Ms. Marsh is a skilled author and leaves me staggered with her writing because Princess Australia is a feel good, happily ever after story that I want too."