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 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:

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 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:

Sounds great, huh?
For more info and for loads of writing tips direct from the Mills and Boon editors, visit 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!