Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Age old tale

I now understand the hype behind Twilight.

I've read the book, watched the movie, and enjoyed both a lot more than I expected to.

I'd heard so many reviews, most of them not good, that I suppose I'd lowered my expectations so was pleasantly surprised.

For me, it's not about the writing.
Not about the plot.
Not about the paranormal stuff that I don't usually read.

The catch for me is the age old love story between star-crossed lovers.

Whatever happens in the plot, I want to keep reading to follow the relationship between Bella and Edward. I'm hooked on their romance. Simple as that.

And yes, I went out and bought New Moon the day after finishing Twilight. It has moved to top of my towering TBR pile.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Romantic Times Top Pick!

I've received a lovely early Christmas present!

My current release in the UK, MARRIAGE: FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE?, out in the States in Feb, has received 4 and a half stars and Top Pick from Romantic Times!

Here's what they had to say:
It's been 10 years since Brittany Lloyd left New Zealand after bad boy Nick Mancini refused to go with her. Now she's on the cusp of a major career breakthrough but needs his help. She's in for a surprise -- he's now the multimillionaire owner of an international hotel chain. While the attraction is still there, so are the memories of how things ended. Nick says he'll help her if she'll help him -- by marrying him so his business associates will take him seriously. But how long will the marriage stay in name only?

This lovers-reunited tale is awash in passion, sensuality and plenty of sparks. The terrific characters immediately capture your attention, and from there, the pages go flying by.

Hot on the heels of A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON scoring an award nomination for Best Harlequin Romance, I love the fab folks at RT!

(An aside on the review...the book is set in Noosa, Australia, a fave holiday spot of mine.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Manga magic

Much excitement when I brought in the post yesterday...I received a Manga copy of THE DESERT PRINCE'S PROPOSAL.

I was so enthused, I scoured it several times cover to cover, and ended up accidentally leaving the book at my folks, hence I can't scan it for you.

I get super excited by manga editions of my books, for the simple fact I can follow every scene through pictures! It doesn't matter that I can't read Japanese, the book is laid out beautifully.
I particularly love finding key scenes and how they are portrayed.

I think this is my 4th Manga translation, yet the only copy I've had to date is this one, for THE WEDDING CONTRACT.

I was never a cartoon fan as a kid but discovering my books laid out in picture form makes me a convert!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

RT Award nomination!


I'm thrilled to announce A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON is a Best Harlequin Romance 2009 finalist in the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards.
You all know how much I adore this book, it is a favourite, so to be nominated for this award (my first RT nomination!) I'm absolutely thrilled!
Fellow Romance finalists are Fiona Harper (Invitation to the Boss's Ball was released in the UK in the same book as my Tycoon, so if you want to read 2 finalists for the price for one, go grab it via the BookDepository, free delivery worldwide!)
Jessica Hart
Myrna Mackenzie
Melissa McClone
Fellow fab Mod Heat authors Kate Hardy (who delivered the exciting news to me!) and Trish Wylie are finalists for Best Presents.
Smiles all round!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Special release!

This month, my May 09 release, THE BILLIONAIRE'S BABY, is available in a special pack, alongside my buddy Fiona Lowe, and Aussie icons Margaret Way and Meredith Webber.

RRP is $30, but you can buy it here for AU$22.40. Bargain!
Would make a great Chrissie present!

Monday, November 30, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: Dreaming


I've mentioned on several occasions that I get many of my ideas/titles/first lines/characters in that half drowsy/half awake state just before dropping off to sleep.
In fact, if I need to ponder a plot point or a conflict that isn't quite working, I'll take to bed, close my eyes and let my mind wander.
It's a great technique and often works. (Drifting off to nap is a bonus!)
Imagine my surprise when I recently discovered there's a technical term for this.
There is a naturally occurring sleep state called the HYPNOLOGIC STATE.
As I've already described, it is the phase of sleep right before you drift off and right before you wake up, and is a state of altered consciousness.
Apparently it's a highly fertile time for creative people!
The trick is to utilise this phase.
Ask yourself a question before you lie down. eg. What is the main obstacle keeping my characters apart?
Close your eyes.
Let your mind drift...doze...
But you must remember what happens in this state.
I've heard a recommendation to hold one arm up in the air, as the tension required to hold the arm up will keep you on the verge of that sleep/awake state, and as the ideas/concepts/connections come, you immediately write them down.
For me, I close my eyes, let the ideas flow, and jot them as soon as they arrive.
It's a tried and trusty plotting method for me.
Writers out there, have you tried it?
Does it work for you?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: Sprinting


You know about me and exercise...so no, I'm not talking about sprints of the running variety.
Lately, I've been seeing the term sprinting springing up everywhere in relation to writing.
I happened to be on Twitter 2 weeks ago on a Friday night, about to start writing, when I noticed RWAus and a few Aussie authors were doing a 15 minute sprint.
Basically, it involves writing as fast as you can in that time frame, non stop.
Similar to pacing yourself against an egg timer, I'd say, which I heard recommended by Stephanie Bond once.
The interesting thing is, I've been doing natural sprints for the last fortnight.
I have a short deadline.
I have loads of words to write.
So I write: early morning, toddler nap time, late at night.
The result?
Huge increase in productivity. Not just from the actual time spent writing, but sprinting increases your speed. Truly!
Go ahead, try it.
I've written 14000 words last week, over 10000 the week before.
It has been a long time since I've done that, because I'd slowed my writing, aiming for 4-8 pages a day. Now, I'm doing 6-8 in one sitting.
Along with faster fingers, I think your mind loosens, gets in tune with your story, knowing you need to pour the words out to meet your self-imposed time limit.
Practice your sprinting.
You'll be pleased with the results.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New digital publisher

In case you haven't heard the news, Harlequin has entered the digital publishing arena with a new company, CARINA PRESS.

Carina Press are actively taking submissions so check them out here.

The move has resulted in loads of discussion from both new and established authors.

Personally, I love their catch cry: WHERE NO GREAT STORY GOES UNTOLD.

Cool!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From across the ocean

It's always lovely to meet people you've heard about, especially fellow writers, so it was great for me to have lunch with author Kaye Kelly last Sunday.
Kaye hails from across the ocean, in New Zealand, and has published 2 books with Random House over there. Love the sound of this one.
(And before you say anything...no, I'm not jaundiced, just the sun reflecting off the paint. And yes, my face is rounder than usual.
15kg rounder to be precise.
Courtesy of the bung foot and operation this year, I've stacked on the weight. Never been this big. Don't like it. Haven't had to diet before. Not too keen now.
Any miraculous ways to shift the kilos? Apart from the obvious like exercise & don't eat chocolate?)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Single titles

I use the fabulous CataRomance for reviews and now, one of their sites has had a facelift.

SingleTitles.com has a whole new look.

They have hundreds of book reviews, interviews, and lots of great excerpts.
Plus, they’re now featuring thrillers and mysteries.

Check them out at http://www.singletitles.com

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: Stellar settings

Last month, I wrote an article for RWAustralia's monthly journal, 'Hearts Talk', on Stellar Settings.

The article is now live on my website so if you want to make your next setting come alive, go check it out here!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Taking advantage?

Halloween isn't celebrated much in Australia.
Very rarely when I was growing up.
Then we've had a few 'trick or treater's knock on our door the last few years.

Now this.

Went grocery shopping earlier this week and was absolutely amazed at the range of Halloween paraphernalia on sale. Front and centre store displays. Aisles of the stuff.

First time ever I've seen that here...shops taking advantage of an increasing commercial angle to a festival we Aussies know little about?

I could google Halloween to discover its true meaning, but am very busy, so going to be lazy and hand over to all of you.

What is Halloween all about?
Why should we celebrate it?
Any special traditions associated with it?

Guess the cynic is me is a little creeped out by the fact we spend so much time instilling 'stranger danger' into our kids, and the dangers of taking lollies from strangers, yet this festival involves sending kids out to doorknock strangers asking for lollies?

Maybe I'm the Halloween grinch?
Please enlighten me. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Putting in some serious overtime

The excerpt for OVERTIME IN THE BOSS'S BED (May 2010) won't be up on my website until next week, so thought I'd give you a little preview here.

The bronze god was naked.
Gloriously, eye-poppingly naked, every muscle flexing and bunching and glistening as he carried a tray laden with cocktails and champagne flutes through the crowd.
“You can close your jaw now, before it hits the floor.”
Starr Merriday blinked once, twice, the spell broken as she tore her reluctant gaze away from the waiter and frowned at her best friend Kit.
“It’s your fault. You brought me to this den of inequity.”
Kit wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, her chuckles positively wicked. “Yeah, and you’re loving every minute of it.”
“It does have its benefits.”
Starr’s gaze strayed to the ripped waiter again, lingered on his pecs, the light smattering of dark hair across his broad chest, dipped to his navel, at the arrowing of hair beneath it…
“Jeez, what does a girl have to do to get a drink in this place?”
Kit smirked. “Bit hot under the collar?”
“More like hot all over,” she muttered, thankful the waiters were clothed from the waist down, beyond thankful Kit had chosen one of her entrepreneurial mother’s infamous cocktail parties for her farewell.
Nothing like a roomful of semi-naked guys to get a girl’s mind off the fact she was jobless, homeless and penniless.
“Don’t look now but I think he’s checking me out.”
Kit’s subtle head jerk towards Mr. Pecs had her darting a quick glance in his direction, in time to see him stumble, the tray skating on his palms like a penguin on ice, sloshing cocktails everywhere, the bulk of it landing on the guy next to him.
Sympathy warred with mirth as she watched the waiter try to mop up his mess, the guy in the suit waving him away with a frown.
The cocktail-wearing-recipient looked out of place, suited and buttoned up in a roomful of semi-naked guys and she grinned as he fiddled with the knot on his tie, straightening it, aiming for cool despite having several Mojitos and a magnum of champagne dumped on his Armani duds.
“Yeah, he was definitely checking me out. Just one look and the guy does that. Back soon, hun. Off to mingle, find me a less clumsy one.”
Kit headed for the bar—and a tempting conglomeration of buffed waiters—while she found her gaze drawn back to the suit.
She’d been too busy ogling the waiters to notice the other guys in the room but now she had…slick guys in suits weren’t her thing but there was something about this guy…the way he stood, tall, proud, indomitable despite a cocktail dousing, his class obvious, his imperious gaze scanning the crowd…clashing with hers.
Startled, she dropped her gaze, surprised by the lick of heat lapping her skin after their momentary eye lock.
The smart thing to do would be to quickstep out of here. Considering the shambles her life was at the moment, she hadn’t done the smart thing in ages.


I love the dance theme woven throughout this book. I had an absolute ball writing it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New blog

Seems like this week is Harlequin week with all the plugs I'm giving, so here's another one.

Harlequin have just launched a brand spanking new blog!

Donna Hayes, CEO, has posted first, with a chance to win books if you leave a comment.

Go check it out here!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Do blondes have more fun?

That's an interesting question, considering Britt, my heroine in MARRIAGE: FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? has undergone a radical hair dye job for the US cover (out in Feb 2010.)

In the book, Britt is quite clearly a redhead. Nick, the hero, has nicknamed her Red since they were teenagers. And that is clearly depicted on the UK cover.


Now don't get me wrong, I love this US cover, it's gorgeous!

But why the hair colour change?

Hmm...guess it must be true. In the States, blondes do have more fun. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Diary of a multi-tasker

My week has been crazy but lovely with the extra anthology deadline.

Now add some more craziness to the mix.

Remember the last book I revised and handed in a month ago, THE TYCOON'S LIVE-IN LOVE?
Well, heard from my lovely ed requesting a final tweak, which is fine...except the book is scheduled for May 2010 and needs to be at the copyeditors ASAP!
So this needs to a be a priority.

Thus yesterday looked like this:

5.45am. Roll out of bed, stumble to computer, scan emails, write 1000 words on Rom Com.

6.45am. Shower, rouse the troups, brekkie, make school lunch, peak hour drive to school.

8.45am. Indulge stressed self in favourite brekkie at fave cafe, shop for 2 hours for birthday presents, grab a Max Brenner Italian milk hot chocolate to go.

11am. Warm up PC to start work when toddler naps. See email from editor, requesting urgent tweaks. Eeek! Swoon, have mini panic attack before printing out email and knuckling down.

Midday. Toddler naps. I work for an hour before falling into bed for more 'plotting' time (see yesterday's post.)

2.00pm. Rise and shine, get cracking for next school run.

4pm. Boys playing at my feet, I speed write short story for as long as they let me. 1000 words done.

5-8pm. Dinner rush starts. Cook, eat, clean, make hubby's lunch for tomorrow, bath time, read books.

8-10.30 pm. Start work, tweaks on last book, 60 pages in, eyes closing...

I'll need to follow this diary for the next week.
Nothing like 3 short deadlines to get the creative juices flowing!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When opportunity knocks

I could've put this post under the 'Write Whisper' series for maintaining a current, professional website...but I'm too excited and just want to blab so here goes!
Was checking inbox at 6am yesterday when a very interesting email lobbed in, from an editor asking if I'd be interested in contributing to this.
Considering I'd be included among award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors for this short story anthology, you bet I was interested!
This all came about via my Navy SEAL in PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE, and the editor checking out my website/excerpts (hence the importance of always having a current site).
I'm absolutely thrilled to be a part of it!
The downside?
A very short deadline.
2 weeks! Eeek!
Minimum word count is 6500, so doable, right?
Luckily doc gave me antibiotics for my tonsillitis yesterday.
With two tight deadlines, I'm going to need all the health I can get!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Resolving issues

Chapter 6 of ONE INDIAN SUMMER, my weekly online read at eharlequin is now live!

Truths are being revealed.
Plans are being made.
The black moment is upon Harrison and Khushi.

Khushi can't leave India.
Harrison must return to Australia.

I wonder what happens next...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Don't be an ostrich

October is Breast Cancer month in Australia.

Rather timely considering what I've just been through.

Yes, I had a rough week, with an odd, tender spot in right breast. As soon as I felt it, I worried for a few days before making a doctor's appointment. She immediately sent me for an ultrasound, which I had on the weekend.

The young guy who did it asked me how often I did breast checks, then tried to scare me by mentioning I was having the ultrasound to check for cancer.
Well duh!

Though he hummed and ahhed a bit, I got the general gist that everything was okay. Have no idea what the problem is, but it isn't anything 'nasty.'

I walked out numb, relieved, but numb. Made me think of all those women who aren't so lucky.

I, for one, will be more vigilant in checking from now on.

So ladies, please, please do regular breast checks. Better to catch something early.

For more information, visit here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Switching POV

Another interesting tip while revising your manuscript: switching point of view can make all the difference.

During the black moment of THE TYCOON'S LIVE-IN LOVE, I had Starr seeing red and losing her cool with Callum.

In the revised version, I need Callum to push her away so rather than slashing the scene, I changed POV.

Amazing how powerful it can still remain with just a few tweaks, adding new dialogue, changing things around a bit.

So before you cut that scene you love completely, see if it works in an alternate POV. You may be surprised with the results.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New cover

I love getting a first glimpse of my covers.

Here's the UK version of MARRIAGE: FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE?

Britt is spot on with the red hair, Italian Nick is sexy, and the room is perfect (the French Suite in Nick's hotel which features prominently in several scenes!)

Nice, huh?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Slashing scenes

When I first wrote Starr and Callum, I had such a clear idea of who the heroine was.
Fun, flirty, sassy, resilient.

Yet there's a scene where she stops a scintillating kiss from Callum.
I need her to do it yet it doesn't fit in with her character.
This is just one of the dilemmas facing me as I tweak this Modern Heat.

I'm a third of the way there. Have slashed scenes (which always kills me!) and tweaked others.
Aiming to have this done by the end of the week...hopefully!

And Chapter 5 of ONE INDIAN SUMMER is now live at eharlequin. Enjoy. :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Areas to concentrate on

While tweaking Starr and Callum's story, here are the 3 main areas my editor wants me to focus on:

1. Characterisation and emotional conflicts (so the reader can follow their motivations and behaviour every step of the way.)

2. Reworking the plot so that it showcases their personalities in the most exciting, pacy, intense way possible.

3. Upping the sensuality levels-steam up the page at every opportunity.

I posted these because it's amazing how as a writer, you may think you have everything covered, yet all it takes is one, small change (in Callum's instance, changing who died in his past and his role in their death) and the rest of the book needs an overhaul.

I revised 4 chapters last night, nothing major. The nitty-gritty stuff is about to start.
Changing his motivation has changed quite a bit.
And that sensuality stuff? They've been too good, keeping their hands off each other.
All about to change...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Half way

For readers following my weekly online read at eharlequin, the 4th chapter of ONE INDIAN SUMMER is now live.

Interesting comments in the discussion thread, where readers don't know where it's going.

Guess what? Neither do I!
I'm reading weekly along with everyone else.

Yes, I wrote the thing, so I do know where it's going to finish but as to each chapter, I'm resisting the urge to re-read the rest on my PC and am waiting along with everyone for the next weekly installment. Willpower, huh?

I'm dying to give people hints but am keeping my lips firmly zipped.
Though there's a favourite scene coming up when Harrison takes Khushi to...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm so not here!

I managed to spend more hours out of bed than in yesterday, so it's an improvement on the weekend.

But head still stuffy, body still hurts, chest rattling with awful cough and no appetite.
Have lost 1kg, so not all bad. But can think of more pleasant ways to do it...

I did write some words yesterday on Alphie. Some, not a lot, but the ideas are flowing.

Now have more revisions for Starr and Callum's story too.
Hmm...head hurts too much to think about how much work I seriously have to do over the next 6 weeks or so. Throw in 6 family birthdays. Weekends away.
I refuse to get stressed.

Challenge is good, right?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Knocked for a six

Been a while since I've been this sick.
In fact, can't remember the last time!

If I pick up the kids' bugs, it's usually the odd cough or cold, because I don't have time to be sick!

This weekend, I was knocked for a six.
Yesterday, rarely made it out of bed, the whole day! Even my eyeballs hurt!
Throw in a toddler with croup (again!), sleepless nights, and I'm wrecked.

This is why a wise writing buddy, Fiona Lowe, always recommends building in extra time for meeting deadlines. You never know what's around the corner.

With my stagnant word count, tight deadline and still throbbing head, wish I'd listened...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Feel-good reviews

I have the flu, so before crawling into bed, I'm going to post 2 new reviews for A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON that have cheered me up.

"A Trip with the Tycoon is a wonderfully evocative, highly poignant and thoroughly mesmerizing romantic read which I found absolutely impossible to put down. Nicola Marsh has not only crafted a spellbinding tale of taking chances, new beginnings and breathtaking romance, but she has also managed to meticulously recreate the sights and sounds of India so well, that I felt as if I was right there with Ethan and Tamara, surrounded by the exotic beauty of this magnificent country.
Warm-hearted, engrossing and deliciously romantic, A Trip with the Tycoon is another feel-good smash hit by the fabulous Nicola Marsh!"
(CATAROMANCE)
"Nicola Marsh's latest Harlequin Romance, A Trip with the Tycoon, is a magical tale of new beginnings, second chances and happy endings set under the beautiful Indian sky.

A Trip with the Tycoon is absolutely wonderful! It's fresh, witty, sassy and feel-good, but also poignant, tender and moving. Nicola Marsh never fails to make me care and emphatize with her characters and in A Trip with the Tycoon, she has created a wonderful heroine and an absolutely gorgeous hero!

Set against the majestic Indian landscape and full of charm, pathos and romance, A Trip with the Tycoon will delight and enchant readers everywhere!"
(PHS REVIEWS)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

On shelves now!

The time has arrived for my double release in the USA!

Both A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON and TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED are out in the stores now, so indulge your whim for armchair travel and grab both books.

If a trip to India isn't exciting enough, a South Pacific cruise with a very sexy sailor should ramp things up a bit!
A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON is also out in the UK , with the new pale pink cover.
And Chapter 3 of ONE INDIAN SUMMER is now live on eharlequin.
There endeth the plug.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Another Waldenbooks bestseller!

I've learned that TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED has been on the Waldenbooks Top 10 Bestseller last for the last fortnight. Cool!

Here's a snippet:

He tapped the stack on his desk, beckoned her over. “Believe me, when you take a look at these you’ll be thanking me for filling them out here. I’ve helped employees through the rigmarole before, we’ll get it done in half the time.”
Okay, so he was being helpful. Then why did it feel like the Big Bad Wolf lending Red a hand before gobbling her up?
“Right, let’s get to work then.”
She plopped on the chair opposite his, drew the forms towards her.
He stilled her hand by placing his on top, setting her pulse racing as she stifled the urge to yank hers away.
“Not much intimidates you, does it?”
She raised an eyebrow. If he had any idea how her heart thumped, her lungs seized and her insides quaked at his simple touch, he’d withdraw that statement.
“I can usually handle stuff.”
Professionally, that is. Anything else and she was as poised as a toddler on ice-skates.
“Think you can handle me?”
His voice had dropped seductively low, the smouldering flame in his eyes warming her, warning her that she was in way over her head with this one if she thought for one second a small boost in confidence could cope with the likes of him at his tempting best.
“I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard.”
She almost bit her tongue in frustration, unwittingly adding to the wordplay as heat suffused her cheeks, wishing she had the spunk to toss her hair over her shoulder not duck her head like the blushing virgin she almost was.
His grin had tension strumming her taut muscles. “You’re very assured when you want to be.”
Using her brain to fend off his quick retorts, maybe. Easier than admitting she was lousy socially.
“Mainly when putting guys like you back in your place.”
He leaned forward, close enough to whisper in her ear. “Guys like me?”
Resisting the urge to jerk back from his proximity, she settled for a subtle slide of her hand out from under his instead.
“Overconfident. Smooth. Charming. Used to getting your own way.”
Rather than being offended, he laughed. “Guilty as charged.”
He leaned into her personal space again, crowding her, overwhelming her, confusing her.
“So is it working?

“What?”
“My charm.”
“Not a bit.”

She crossed her fingers behind her back for the little white lie.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

September translations

This month, THE BOSS'S BEDROOM AGENDA is out in Holland, available here.

And PRINCESS AUSTRALIA is out in Germany, in a collection with Julia James, Sharon Kendrick and Amanda Browning, available here.
I love seeing all the different covers for translations.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

When ignorance is bliss

Bad reviews.

We've all read them for other books and cringed.
We've all had them as authors and just ignored them.

Many prolific, fabulous authors have advised me their books that tanked in reviews usually topped sales, some even winning RITAs!

But bad reviews still suck.
Especially when you think it's the best book you've ever written and the book has received rave reviews from everyone else who's read it.

Interesting how one person's POV can be so different from everyone else.

I look for the positive, in everything.
So here's the snippet I'm going to use from a prolific site's review:
"I was interested in some of the sites Tamara and Ethan visited in India, and the descriptions of Indian food made my mouth water. The Palace on Wheels, the luxury train they took through India, fascinated me."

So how do you cope with bad reviews?
Ignore them? Chocolate? Alcohol? Print and tear? Please share :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another Top 10 book!

The last fortnight, A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON made it into eharlequin's list of Top 10 Road Trip books.
This week, TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED is in the Top 10 Reasons to Believe in Love list. Awww....


Both books are available online now and hitting US shelves shortly!

Last night, I hit the wall.

Apparently, I can't do 5.30am starts and 11pm finishes with running around all day. I felt blah, so went to bed at 9pm.

Need a new working plan...

Friday, August 07, 2009

New look

Author copies of this arrived in the mail yesterday.

It's my first up close and personal look at the new UK M&B covers.

I like the 'mainstream' feel to the books and I like this cover.
But nowhere does the cover give a real 'feel' for the book.

By my constant raves, you all know what A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON is about. Exotic, mystical India. And yes, the Taj Mahal features in several scenes so seeing it on the cover is like a little preview snapshot.

So while this UK pic is lovely, do you think it gives the reader choosing from many books on a shelf in a limited period of time a quick glimpse into the book?

I'm looking forward to hearing reader feedback.
And hope sales show a positive response too!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: Sample synopsis


I haven't written a category romance synopsis for a while, so dug around in my archives and voila!

Here's the synopsis I wrote for PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE, my 3rd Modern Heat novel (released as a Harlequin Presents Extra Feb 08)


An interesting exercise for me to read back over it.
The book stuck to most of my outline but veered in different directions on several points.

Those of you who've read the book will find this particularly interesting!

Kate Hayden, 30, is the feisty senior editor for the thinking woman’s magazine, Bella, based in Los Angeles. She has worked her way up at the magazine, eager to prove that she can make a life for herself, without the help of family money. Her first story, “Military Men”, introduced her to Tyler Jones, a cocky Navy SEAL with attitude. After several enthralling encounters, Kate obtained her story and walked away from the sexy SEAL, berating herself for falling in love with a guy who obviously played the field.

Ten years later, Tyler Jones, 35, re-enters her life. At a charity Man Auction the magazine is sponsoring, Kate sees Tyler standing on the stage and is goaded into bidding by her colleagues, suddenly eager to dispel her stodgy and work-focussed image. What harm could it do, when she wouldn’t be the highest bidder? Unfortunately, she is the one and only bidder. As the gavel falls, she has acquired a male slave for one week and he happens to be the last man on earth she would want to spend time with.

At the conclusion of the auction Kate is handcuffed to Tyler, who later teases her into removing the key from his pocket. She refuses, denying their previous attraction and he reawakens her memory with a scorching kiss. This sets the tone for a dynamic week together.

Tyler has donated one week of his annual leave to raise money for his favourite cause. The Ramirez Orphanage, his home during childhood, is low on funds and may close. He is desperate to raise the orphanage’s profile and this is his main motivation for being sold as a slave. When Kate buys him, he recognises the potential for publicity and wants her to write a series of articles for Bella to highlight the orphanage’s plight and hopefully raise more money.

Kate soon discovers that acquiring Tyler as a slave is set to rock her world all over again. Sparks fly whenever they are within two feet of each other, soon leading to fiery combustion, with Tyler reneging on the deal. However, Kate swallows her pride and convinces him otherwise, as she needs him to secure a promotion. Her boss, set to retire in a month, believes that ‘purchasing’ Tyler was a stroke of genius on her part and the ensuing publicity has been a windfall for the magazine. He wants to capitalise on it in a feature on his senior editor with the SEAL. In return, she will become Bella’s chief editor, a position she has long coveted.

Kate is unaware that Tyler is an orphan and falsely believes his interest in the orphanage revolves around Maria Ramone, the beautiful woman who runs it. Tyler grew up with Maria in the orphanage and sees her as a sister. He is guilt-ridden at not following through on his childhood promise to get her out of the orphanage. If he can raise the profile of the orphanage, Maria may have a chance to leave it behind and make a life for herself, just as he has done.
Kate is jealous and advises him that the orphanage story would be unsuitable for the magazine. However, with the promise of the ultimate promotion, Kate needs Tyler to participate in her feature article, so she runs the articles on the orphanage in exchange for his co-operation, a win-win situation for both. However, she omits to tell him the real reason behind her feature article and ultimately, threatens their future happiness.

Kate and Tyler complicate this simple arrangement with an irresistible sexual attraction that soon develops into a sizzling physical relationship. She revels in their encounters, convincing herself that it’s one week of impulsive pleasure out of her organised, well-planned life. After all, she knows Tyler is a man with similar expectations: independent, living for the moment, able to walk away at the end.

Tyler believes the rich princess from Beverley Hills is slumming it for a while with the orphan from downtown L.A. No harm done, when the mind-blowing sex is everything he imagined... and more.

Neither are prepared for their emerging feelings, the yearning for love and stability which was not present in their respective childhoods.

At the thought of losing Tyler, Kate is prepared to take a chance. However, before she can profess her love for him, he discovers the truth about her promotion and the price he paid to secure it. He feels used, betrayed and abandoned, just like his childhood. The woman he has taken a chance on and grown to love has deceived him. Rather than discussing his possible re-assignment to Puerto Rico with her, he flings it in her face, wanting to hurt her as much as she has hurt him. Kate is convinced that the SEAL she loves will never change and is devastated in the process.

In a hurry to leave the orphanage, where their final confrontation has occurred, she bumps into Maria, who sets the record straight. Kate knows her only chance to convince Tyler of her love is to prove that her job and lifestyle are not the most important things in her life. She arrives on his doorstep with her suitcase, ready to follow him to the ends of the earth if needed.
Tyler is convinced that Kate is the woman for him. He professes his love and their relationship is secured. Though the handcuffs are removed in their initial encounter, they are now bound by the welcoming shackles of love...

Now, comparing the synopsis to the proposal I posted last weekend, you'll see the key differences.

I know which I prefer: the proposal is quick, to the point, an outline of the book at a glance.

There are loads of 'how to' articles on synopsis writing available.
Read a few.
Make notes.
Play around.
Find your niche.

And write the best darn synopsis you can so an editor is begging to see your book .:)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

More good news for my Tycoon

More good news for my favourite, A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON.

Not only did Romantic Times award it 4 1/2 stars, Romance Reader at Heart awarded it a Top Pick!

Here's what Kay James had to say:

Nicola Marsh has another wonderful escapist adventure in A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON. It reads like a breeze and is the ideal romantic tale for any armchair traveler...While I have never read a book by Nicola Marsh that I didn't enjoy, I have to admit that I enjoyed this one more than the others. Why? Because experiencing India on the "Palace on Wheels" with Tamara and Ethan was so vivid and enchanting, I felt as if I was actually along for the ride.
India's sights, sounds, aromas, and foods all come alive on the pages, making this romance an absolute delight. Well done!


And my Tycoon is in Harlequin's Top 10 Road Trip books!

Also, to round off a day of good news, the new UK cover featured in an article for the UK's 'Campaign' here.

I think I'm seriously in love with this book :)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

August already?

Tell me how we're in AUGUST already?
Seems like I just blinked after Christmas and here we are.

August promises to be an exciting month!

I can't wait for my online read, ONE INDIAN SUMMER, to launch at eharlequin on August 24th. I may not be attending the RWAus conference in Brisbane this year (have had loads of people ask me!) but I'll be online daily, chatting with everyone.

And if you can't wait for the release of A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON and TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED, both are available right now online. Click on the titles, you'll go straight to the respective pages. Both have 'special offer' tags, the price is a steal!

In Spain, I have the release of THE BILLIONAIRE'S BABY.

Before I dash off for the day, a quick adjunct to my weekend post on proposals.

Usually, publishers/agents/editors want to see a synopsis, which encompasses all the details of a proposal but in a free-flowing format.

I wouldn't call what I posted a synopsis. I'll try and scrounge up one of mine and post it here so you can see the difference.

Yes, published authors can get away with stuff like the proposal I use. In fact, I'd love to hear what other authors use to sway their editors to let them write the book they really, really want to write! :)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: Proposals

In the comments to my last post, Lacey asked a pertinent question: how long are my synopses/proposals?

So to give you an idea how I work, I'm posting the proposal for my recent release, THE BILLIONAIRE'S BABY (Harlequin Romance, May 09.)



HEROINE: Camryn Henderson fled her old life in a small country town to start afresh in Melbourne and is finally living the life she always dreamed of, as a city girl running her own café in Melbourne’s hippest new precinct. Thanks to the love of her life deserting her, she’s a cynic when it comes to romance and Valentine’s Day is the worst day of the year. However, this Valentine's Day promises to give her a shake up she never anticipated.



HERO: Blane Andrews is a wealthy CEO of his own construction company. It has taken him six years to get where he is today and now he’s successful, stable and has something to offer, he’s back in Melbourne…to claim his wife!
STORYLINE:
Camryn grew up in Rainbow Creek, a small country town. While working in her parents’ coffee shop straight after leaving high school, she dreams of leaving town to run her own café in Melbourne. She’s always craved the excitement of city life.

When the gorgeous Blane breezes into town on a building job, she’s smitten. For the sheltered 19 year old, her life has been sedate, mundane and she’s always done what was expected of her playing the dutiful daughter until the 21 year old nomad rocks into town, she falls for him and the two elope. However, the marriage doesn’t last long when Blane leaves town after 3 months and Cam revamps her life by quitting her job and purchasing a café in Melbourne, something she’s always dreamed of doing.

(Another reason why she leaves town and doesn’t look back: her grandmother died, left her money in a trust fund her parents said wouldn’t mature till she was 21, but she discovers they lied and she was entitled to the money at 18. When she learns she’s legally entitled to the money, she uses it to purchase her café and start a new life in the city.)

She adores Melbourne’s vibe and sets about making her café one of the hippest places to be, throwing herself into work, not caring about her lack of social life. She tries to locate Blane to serve divorce papers but soon tires after a year of not being able to find him.

Through her failed marriage she has become a cynic where romance is concerned and has a particular dislike of Valentine's Day in all its commercial kitsch.

This year, she has worked hard the entire day and is tired of seeing all the lovey-dovey couples, reminding her of what she once had all too briefly. All she wants to do is head home to her apartment and eat chocolate when in walks a builder, a scruffy handsome guy, who happens to be her husband!

Blane is a man on a mission: to win back his wife.

He fell head over heels for Camryn when they first met but believes he was selfish in marrying her (a fact reinforced to him by her parents. They thought she was too young and didn’t want her to leave town, he wanted to take her on the road with him wherever he got building work.) She adored him but he couldn’t help but think he took advantage of her age and naivety, and when she shared her dreams of settling in Melbourne and running her own café, he knew he had to let her go. He didn’t want her giving up her dreams for his.
Also, the more they got to know one another, he wondered if she really loved him or was he her escape route out of Rainbow Creek, a way to rebel against her parents? Sure, they had passion but was it the young, intense love that inevitably changes with time?

Now, Blane is CEO of his own construction company. He has a lot to offer and when he discovers Camryn has pursued her own dream, he knows it’s time to set about winning her back.

When Camryn meets Blane again, she’s thrown by how he’s still the same guy she fell in love with yet so different. He’s mature, responsible and settled, and is relentless in his goal: to reunite.

Camryn doesn’t want to take a risk on Blane again. What if she opens her heart to this wonderful, amazing man second time around and he leaves her again?

Blane wants to woo his wife, to show her how good they could be together given half a chance. He proves he’s committed to their reunion by showing her the house he’s building for them. He has dreams of them being a couple, a family, with kids in their future.

Camryn has had problems with pelvic inflammatory disease over the last few years and is unsure whether she can conceive or not. The docs advised her it would be difficult.

They discuss the ramifications of this, of what it could mean for their future and Blane says it doesn’t matter she’s all the family he needs. But Camryn sees how he is with his nieces and nephews, she sees how much he loves kids and she returns the favour he gave her all those years earlier (he has told her why he left): she will set him free to follow his dream, of kids and a family with someone who can give him that.

CONFLICT/MOTIVATION:

Camryn’s greatest fear? Taking a risk on love again.

She loved Blane and he left her. She’s happy in her life now: confident, career-focussed, successful. If losing him the first time left her heartbroken, she’s too scared to contemplate what losing him this time will do to her. He’s so much more charming, addictive and compelling now. He has been honest in why he left first time around and seems genuine now but can she trust him not to leave again? Especially if she can’t give him the kids that are a part of his happily-ever-after scenario?

Blane’s greatest fear? Regret.


While Blane has ridden the pinnacle of success in his business, emotionally his life isn’t complete. While his motives for leaving Camryn six years earlier were genuine, he has regretted it since. When he discovers she has followed her dreams he sets about reuniting with Camryn. He wants a proper marriage. He wants the whole package. He comes from one, big happy family and that’s what he wants for them. When Camryn says she loves him, has never really stopped, he’s the happiest man on the planet. And when she tells him she may not be able to have kids, he’s ready to face that too.
But can he convince her to take another chance on him? He won’t live with regret again. He’s going to give this his best shot.

Camryn is cynical, career-focussed, content yet vulnerable…to Blane.
Blane is confident, laid-back, protective and romantic.

Camryn craves the fulfilment running her café once brought her…until Blane showed up and made her want more.
Blane craves a life with no regrets, a life he’s always dreamed of…with his wife.

Camryn is reluctant to take a chance on marriage again.
Blane wants his wife back.

SETTING:

New Quay, Docklands, Melbourne.


This is a snapshot of what I give my editor for every book: a basic outline of 3-4 pages, based on the heroine, the hero, the storyline, the conflict and the setting.

Every author has a unique way of presenting a proposal, and what I've posted here isn't necessarily 'the' way to do it, it's one way of doing it.

It works for me.
Do what works for you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Romantic Times double!

I'm stoked!
Both my September releases have done well with stellar reviews from Romantic Times.
My favourite, A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON, was awarded 4 1/2 stars!
Here's what Catherine Witmer had to say:
A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON (4.5) by Nicola Marsh: Looking for a fresh start, widowed food critic Tamara Rayne takes the trip to India she'd once planned with her deceased mother. It's supposed to be a solo journey, but restaurateur Ethan Brooks, a friend of Tamara's late husband, decides to go along, allegedly on business. Ethan's wanted Tamara for years, and now that she's free, he's determined to win her. But Tamara's still nursing wounds inflicted by her verbally abusive and unfaithful husband ... wounds that Ethan's unaware of.
Sterling characters, an exotic setting and crackling sexual tension make for a great read. The realistically paced romance is also refreshing.

And Sandra Garcia-Myers had this to say about TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED:
TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED (4) by Nicola Marsh: After Lana Walker is passed over for a major promotion, she takes a two-week cruise to get away and let it all hang out, so to speak. Shipping tycoon Zac McCoy, who's undercover as the PR director, is on board to catch a culprit who's been causing trouble on different trips. But it's Lana who catches his eye. When the flirting starts, Lana throws caution to the wind. After all, what could happen in two weeks?
This fun and flirty shipboard romance features an entertaining twosome who will charm readers.
Don't you just want to run out and grab both books right now? :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hot in Germany

I love discovering foreign translations of my books, especially when they arrive in the mail.

Yesterday, I received copies of my current French release of THE BOSS'S BEDROOM AGENDA, German copies of PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE and German copies of HOT NIGHTS WITH A PLAYBOY.

Set on a Whitsunday island, I thought the cover was perfect!

And I'm featured here. Wish I could read it!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: Tricks of the trade


These days, there are so many resources available for writers, it can be confusing.
What works?
What doesn't?
And what works for one person might be another person's version of personal hell?
Lately, I've been doing a glut of online courses (my personal favourite for learning new techniques...but that's another upcoming post entirely!) and during one of these courses, the use of recording data came up.
There are loads of fancy software programs out there (Writersblock, Powerstructure are examples) but what got me really interested was the use of spreadsheets.
Some people use them religiously for every book, plotting anything from word count per chapter, who appears in that chapter, to precise details like weapons used, animals, supporting characters, time, day, season, etc...)
Some use them as a rough plotting device while some use them while writing, filling in as they write the book (eg. at the end of each chapter) so that they can tell at a glance what has happened in their story and what needs to be filled in.
I've never used one but am intrigued.
For a mainstream book, I think I could be tempted, keeping track of all those extra characters and places and events...
Have you used anything like this with your writing?
Care to share?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Calling all unpublished writers!

Harlequin Mills and Boon have just launched a new writing competition.
Details below.
Good luck!

Have you always dreamed of writing for Mills & Boon Modern Romance?

Do you feel you have a passionate story to tell, with characters that leap off the page, and emotional conflicts, drama and excitement that will keep the reader turning the pages?

Then we have the perfect competition for you!

The Mills & Boon ModernTM Writing Competition for first chapters is your chance to win an editor for a year!
For those of you who are familiar with our previous contests Instant Seduction and Feel the Heat, you will know that we have had a high calibre of entries in the past.
So high in fact, that we have since bought our two winners: Lynne Raye Harris and Lucy King! Lynne won the Instant Seduction competition and her winning entry, and debut novel, Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge is published in Mills & Boon Modern, August 2009.

Lucy King won our second competition Feel the Heat, aimed at Modern Heat editorial. Her winning entry and debut novel Bought: Damsel in Distress will be available from Modern Heat in October 2009.
But the successes do not stop there! Earlier this year, we were thrilled to buy another talented new author, Tina Duncan, who first caught our eye when she entered the Instant Seduction competition in 2008. Although she didn’t win,or even place as a runner-up, Editorial saw her potential and kept working with her until we finally bought her book, Da Silva’s Mistress, which will be published in December 2009, in Mills & Boon Modern. Could you be our next competition winner or catch our editors’ eyes as a potential new writer?

Details:
This competition will be run from 1st July as The Mills & Boon Modern Writing Competition 2009 in the UK and The Harlequin Presents Writing Competition 2009 in North America


You can enter online at millsandboon.co.uk or iheartpresents.com

The competition entry must consist of either the first chapter and synopsis of a Modern or Modern Heat novel

The WINNER receives an editor for a year

TWO RUNNERS-UP will be given critiques of their first chapter entries and an editorial telephone consultation

The competition will close on 2nd November 2009 and the winner will be announced in December 2009 on this page of the website and www.iheartpresents.com where you will also be able to find full details and terms and conditions of the competition.

The competition will be supported by blogs on I Heart Presents by previous winners, authors and editors

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ooh la la!

One of my favourite books, THE BOSS'S BEDROOM AGENDA, is out in Italy and France this month.

Aren't those covers something?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pleasure in Germany


My sexy Navy SEAL is out now in Germany!
PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE is available online here.
Hot cover, huh?
I love receiving translations of my books in the mail (apparently Princess Australia is out in Manga too, so I'm dying to see that!) and checking out the covers is half the fun.
I've been lucky with PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE. Every cover depicting Ty has been super hot!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Going Dutch

My 'HOT NIGHTS WITH A PLAYBOY' (Modern Heat, June 08) is out now in Holland.

Or you can buy it online here.

(I still think this is one of my hottest covers ever!)

And apologies about my website.
With the new PC, the web program I use is refusing to cooperate so my updates for June won't load.
I'm working on it, hoping to resume normal broadcasting shortly :)



Tuesday, June 09, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: By hook or by crook


At some stage in the not too distant future, I'm going to do a post about hook themes in category romance.
Today, I'm talking about hooks of a different nature: how to hook your reader and keep them turning the pages. Or not as the case may be in my following example.
I'm a huge fan of the Keifer Sutherland show '24'.
Have watched every series religiously.
And while I don't find Keifer remotely sexy, there's just something about his sheer dogged alpha-ness (with loads of underlying vulnerability) that makes him more attractive with each series.
In the current series, there has been the usual non stop spills and thrills, with every episode ending on a fabulous hook.
It's what I try to do at the end of each chapter: give the reader a reason, a darn good one if you can, to keep turning the pages in the desperate need to discover what happens next.
The writers of 24 are good at doing this and I'm usually left sitting on the edge of my seat at the end of an episode, waiting for the next.
Then we arrive at this week's episode.
Jack, the hero, has been infected with a bioweapon that has no cure, he will die.
Tony, a lifelong friend and co worker for many of the early series, was a baddie at the start of this series, then we discovered he was working undercover with secret organisation of goodies to capture baddies.
We are so entrenched in this belief, as the writers have done a stellar job in showing us through his actions how good he is.
We're hooked on his character, hooked on his motivations.
Which makes the abrupt about-face of this character so unbelievable.
*WARNING: SPOILER ALERT*
At the end of last night's episode, Tony has stolen a bio weapon canister, tried to blow up and kill loads of FBI agents (after killing with his bare hands one of the main FBI characters the week before) and is standing over Jack, watching him die by depriving him of a treatment.
All this time, because of what the show's writers achieved in entrenching Tony's goodness into me, I keep expecting him to be doing all this to try and get the ultimate baddies.
But having him watch his close friend potentially die isn't a good hook.
If I wasn't such a fan of the show, it would've lost me, because Tony's abrupt change has me questioning the believability of everything he has done in the show.
His motivations are now questionable.
I have doubts, big doubts, as to plausibility.
And the writers have thus lost me.
In our writing, we can't afford to do this.
I guess it all stems back to my initial post in this series about motivation, and making your characters motivation real and believable.
So keeping your readers turning the pages is great.
But in your efforts to use brilliant hooks, be careful not to lose readers along the way.
For we may want to know what happens next, but only if we care enough about the characters and believe in them.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Opinions?

The Harlequin Mills and Boon Romance covers are getting a revamp in the UK, starting August.

And 4 books per month are being released as 2-in-1s.

My 'A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON' is out in September and here's the brand spanking new cover.

I have my opinion but I'd love to hear yours (then I'll share!)

So come on, 'fess up. What do you think? Honestly?

Monday, June 01, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: The Colour of Money

Have you ever asked anyone you've just met 'how much do you earn?'

No? Well, I haven't either but you'd be surprised how many people feel it's okay to ask an author how much he/she earns. Crazy, huh?

In society, it's impolite to discuss wages. We just don't do it.

But I'm here to give you a bit of an idea about author wages, for I believe it's a burning question for unpublished writers and newly published trying to work out whether they should give up their day job to pursue their art.

In a nutshell, asking how much an author earns is like asking how long is a piece of string.

The variables are many: author (Joe Bloggs might write 2 books a year, Nic Nac might write 4), publishers, advances, available slots, extra opportunities (eg. anthologies, novellas, short stories), reserves, returns, exchange rates (Joe might get paid in US dollars, Nic in UK), distribution, print runs, countries published, translations...

Getting the general idea?

It's impossible to compare all these variables between any two authors.

So here's my brief rundown of an author who started writing for Harlequin Romance.

You get paid an advance (Brenda Hiatt does a feature on 'Show me the Money' where the average advance for different publishers/series is outlined.)

An advance is exactly that: an advance on money the publisher needs to earn back before you get paid royalties.
So if your advance is $4000 for Book A, you need to sell X number of copies before you start earning money on that book.
Your advance may be paid in increments: on signing the contract, on acceptance, on publication.

Once your advance is earned back and Book A continues to sell, you start earning royalties.

In my first year (2004) I had 3 books on the shelf. The first one in March, the next August, the next Oct.

I didn't see any royalties for the first period (Jan-June 04) and that's normal.
Your publisher will wait to see the number of returns on a book, will hold money in reserve, money you will get in your next royalty statement.

With Harlequin and the extensive translation and distribution into overseas markets, you can receive royalties on books years later. I'm still receiving royalties on my first book, 5 years later.
But remember, every author is different and you can't bank on royalties (no pun intended!)
Royalties are nebulous, can be fabulous, can be downright depressing and being paid twice a year, you need to budget. Well.

So back to the eternal question...should I give up my day job?

Speaking from experience, it took a few years and continually producing 2-3-4 books a year for a steady, regular income to kick in.
I need to work.
I need to pay bills and school fees and mortgage.

Other writers may have the luxury of only needing a part time income, in which case you can give up your day job sooner.
You may have one of those billionaire playboys I write about helping to support your household, in which case, ditto.

Know your budget.
Know your earning potential (eg. how many books a year can you produce realistically, building in holiday/sick/family time?)
Know how much you need to earn to maintain the lifestyle to which you're accustomed.

Then go for it!

I hope this has helped a little.
Feel free to fire off questions...as long as it's not 'how much money do you make?' ;)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Keeping the passion

Quick drop in at the folks to post this because I'm still on a high.

Library talks give me a buzz.
Enthusiastic readers and writers eager to hear about romance writing make me smile and I love discussing my passion.

Especially exciting when there are writers targeting M&B in the group and last night, I had the pleasure of meeting a lady targeting M&B Sexy. We discussed loads and she thanked me for the helplful writing articles on my website.

Really hit home how much shared knowledge means to people.

So if you're out there and reading this and have a burning question to ask me, fire away (in email if you're shy.)

I might eventually get to respond when I'm back online!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The cover fairies have been kind


In all my computer angst, I've discovered the cover for my Indian book up on Amazon.

Isn't it GORGEOUS?

Absolutely my favourite cover in encapsulating some major scenes in the book. I'd hoped for the Taj Mahal on the cover and looks like the cover fairies have granted my wish.

And Tamara looks spot on, half Indian half Australian.

Ethan isn't exactly like Hugh Jackman but a gal can't have everything, right? ;)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Babies and romance

Remember this cover?

Well, this month all the books in Harlequin Romance are baby focussed and it got me thinking...are babies romantic in fiction?

To check out my thoughts, visit the Harlequin Romance Authors blog today.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Foiled

Today's post should've been named men being contrary rather than yesterday.
Or should be 'boys being contrary' more to the point.

Last night was a mums' night out from school, our first dinner for the year.
I don't get out much. Can't think of the last time I went out without the kids. So was looking forward to it.
Felt a bit bad leaving toddler, who has my awful cold but he was happy enough. Prep kid had a mild rash on his cheek but was otherwise okay.

So what happens?
I'd barely set foot in the restaurant when the phone rings. Prep kid's rash has spread to his back and chest and he can't stop itching.
I issued instructions to head off to chemist for an antihistamine (obviously an allergic reaction to something, we haven't figured what yet) and to keep me posted.
But I couldn't do it, sit there in the restaurant and chatter while worried about kidlet.
So I left, after ten minutes.

I always put my kids first and never begrudge being with them 24/7.
But as the wonderful Barbara Samuel told me during a chat at last year's RWAus conference, I need to refill my well, take some me-time. I don't do it often enough.
I'm aiming to change all that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Reviews are in

Hot off the press, the latest reviews for THE BILLIONAIRE'S BABY.

"The supremely talented Nicola Marsh has written a wonderful heartwarming story that had me laughing and crying in equal measure. Fast-paced, romantic and thought-provoking, once you read the first page of The Billionaire’s Baby, you soon realize that putting the book down is not an option! Tender, emotional and true to life, poignant romance does not get any better than this!"
(CataRomance)

"Heartwarming, emotional and believable, The Billionaire’s Baby is the latest page-turner by talented Mills and Boon Romance author, Nicola Marsh!...The Billionaire’s Baby is just a wonderful story of second chances, new beginnings and the sheer strength of the human spirit. Nicola Marsh writes wonderful stories about modern women who know what they want and smart and sexy heroes her readers cannot resist falling in love. Romantic, engrossing and realistic, The Billionaire’s Baby shines with pathos, charm and heart and readers looking for a story they can lose themselves in shall certainly not be disappointed."
(PHS Reviews)

Now doesn't that make you want to snap up a copy right this very minute? ;)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Chuffed


I'm thrilled to announce my Harlequin Romance EXECUTIVE MOTHER-TO-BE is a finalist in the Best Traditional Romance category for the 2009 Golden Quill Awards.
This is the book that begins with a one night stand...highly unusual for one of my books and for the hero and heroine.
Nate is brooding...enigmatic...grieving.
Kristen is a 35 year old career woman at the top of her game.
Needless to say, an unplanned pregnancy shakes up both their worlds.
I'm thrilled the judges loved this book. Apparently it is an extremely close contest with the slimmest of margins between books and many judges commented on how hard it was to choose their favorites.
I know two finalists are fellow Romance authors Fiona Harper and Donna Alward, waiting to hear the other finalists. Tough field!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My 20th book!

I'm still pinching myself about that...my 20th book!
I swear it feels like I only just sold yesterday...but 5 years passes mighty quickly when you have 2 babies in that time!
This Modern Heat was slotted into December 09 a while ago but I've been waiting on the title and now I have it!
MARRIAGE: FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE?
This book features my Italian bad boy, Nick Mancini and career-oriented London gal Brittany Lloyd.
Considering they were teenage sweethearts, you can imagine the sparks flying when they reunite ten years later...and Nick has a proposal for Britt that blows her mind!
I've tried to upload an excerpt to my webpage but after that part of my PC got fried in the lightning strike, it's refusing to work.
Much gnashing of teeth will ensue, I fear.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My blog in the Top 50!

I've discovered my blog is in the Top 50 Aussie Writing Blogs, as determined by Jonathan Crossfield, Marketing Manager of NetRegistry.

He used figures from Technorati, Google Page Rank and Alexa, plugged them into a formula, and there I am, sitting pretty in the Top 50!

Mind you, I can't understand a word of all that gobbledygook, but I guess I just keep doing what I'm doing. Post daily, interact with you fabulous followers and keep it interesting.

Which brings me to my next question. If there's anything you want covered here, just shoot me an email and I'll try to do a post on it.
Reminds me...I'm due for another 'Write Whisper' post too...

Friday, April 24, 2009

'Those titles'.

A snippet of a recent review got me thinking about titles.

"As a reader, I tend to cringe when I see titles such as The Billionaire's Baby. I like series romances, but in recent years I've been reading them in spite of their titles, not because of them. Still, that being said, once I got past the ridiculous title, I found a mostly entertaining and heartwarming story."

When I give talks, one of the things I mention is the fact authors don't usually choose their own titles or covers and people are surprised.

Harlequin Mills and Boon titles are chosen with the hook of the book in mind.
So that a reader knows at a glance what the book is about.
The marketing department are highly skilled at their job and know what sells so next time you see a title with too many hooks, don't be put off. Bet the story between the pages is fabulous!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blowing off steam

Had a lovely Easter, a really enjoyable family day.
So with kidlets in bed last night, thought I'd do a bit of research for current WIP.
Before I started, I whizzed through my emails to clear my inbox and discovered a nasty snake curled up there...in the form of a Google Alert for my latest Harlequin Presents.

What's so bad about that?
'The Boss's Bedroom Agenda' was freely available on an illegal download site!
A reader had uploaded it last week and the book had been viewed 248 times already.
As you know from my posts here, a lot goes into writing a book. Loads of blood, sweat and tears. If you enjoy my books, I'd hope you'd shout it to the world: tell your friends/family/dentist/grocer/librarian/everyone to go out and buy copies of my books. Lend them to friends. Spread the word.
What I'd hope you wouldn't do after enjoying one of my books is upload to a site where hundreds of people can download it for free.
As Trish Wylie succinctly put it in her post here, it's stealing.
Our books are copyrighted.
When I lose out on sales, my sales figures go down.
My sales figures continue to go down, my publisher doesn't want to buy any more of my books and you don't get to read any.
That's the way it goes.
This blatant disregard for respecting authors' work makes me mad.
Yes, I spend a small fortune on books but I want to keep reading my favourite authors.
As for the steam coming out of my ears...every time I find one of my books being illegally downloaded from the Net, I have to report it to Harlequin.
It's a pain.
It's time-consuming.
And I'd much rather be writing.
Wish these darn download sites would disappear into cyberspace forever...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: Mind Maps

I stumbled across Mind Maps when I did a creative writing course years ago. It was at a time where the first stirrings of my itchy fingers started, when I wanted to pick up pen and paper and start writing.

I can't remember much of the course other than the teacher bringing in weird and wonderful objects each week and asking us to write a short story about them. Stories I recently re-read when I stumbled across the folder from the course, stories I'm sure won't ever see the light of day!

An interesting aside caught my attention as I flicked through this folder.

Mind maps.

I'd done one for each story, done one for my current release TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED (though I didn't know it at the time!)

Stupidly, I threw them all out, otherwise I could've scanned one for you to see here. And the mind map I created in Word last night especially for this blog won't upload (so if anyone wants a copy of it, you can email me at nicola@nicolamarsh.com and I'll forward it to you.) I'll try and describe it for you now.

Mind mapping is basically concept planning.

You take a central theme and collect ideas in different categories around it.
I guess you can say it's a diagramatic form of brainstorming.

Possible elements of a story map include:

Central theme/title
Characters
Setting
Time period
Uses of theme
Useful catch phrases/symbology/etc...

To create your own mind map, go into Word, click on 'Insert', then 'Diagram', then choose 'Radial Diagram'.
You'll end up with a central circle and loads of circles branching off from this like tentacles.

Then you can start having fun!

With the book I'm currently plotting, I had the heroine's job as the central theme because it's highly unusual. From there, my branches included: brief emotional descriptions of hero and heroine, secondary characters, setting, time period. Basically, you can include anything!
I used colourful crayons too, just for something different and it was strangely liberating.

So get those minds mapping.
You never know what gem of an idea may pop up.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Overseas

I have 2 foreign releases this month.

My desert prince from THE DESERT PRINCE'S PROPOSAL is out in France, available here.

And my Navy SEAL in PURCHASED FOR PLEASURE is out in Brazil.

(I adore the French cover, much sexier than the original!)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

It's all fiction, I tell you!

Here's my 'Dear Reader' letter for TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED.

Dear Reader,

There's something about cruising...the choice to do everything or nothing, the delicious food, the excitement of sailing the seven seas (maybe indulging the odd pirate fantasy or two?), the brilliant eye candy factor with all those guys in uniform...
Ahem, where was I?

Can you blame a girl for having her head turned by a strong, sexy sailor? The type of guy to sweep you off your feet, to romance you in the style you deserve?

Lana Walker doesn't know what hits her when suave shipping magnate Zac McCoy does exactly that, turning on the charm until the shy curator doesn't know whether to succumb or jump ship and swim for shore.

What would you do? Give into a spellbinding romance no matter how brief or settle for the safe option?
I've been in this position and believe me, taking the romance was worth every magical second!

I hope you get swept away by Lana and Zac's enchanting romance too.

Happy reading,

Nicola


Now, after baring my soul and making that comment about taking the magical romance onboard a ship, I wonder how many people are going to wonder how much of this book is autobiographical?

Well, let me tell you, categorically, right here and now, there is only one scene loosely based on fact.
The first person to correctly pick the scene definitely deserves a prize ;)

Friday, February 27, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: A gem of an idea

One of the most common questions I'm asked as an author is 'where do you get your ideas?'

The answer?

Everywhere! A glance, a couple holding hands, a newspaper headline, a magazine article or often in that strange half-awake/half-asleep state where I scramble frantically for a pen and pad in the dark and scribble down that nebulous idea/opening line/title before it fades (I'm always scared I'll forget it by morning if I don't write it down!)

Right, so you have your idea.
Where do you start?

Last year, I wrote an article for Romance Writers of Australia's monthly journal on 'What Drives Your Story?'

The article revolved around plot driven stories versus character driven stories.
For me, I'd come up with an idea and immediately dive into the plot, imagining what my characters would do in such a scenario.
For others, the characters strut into their mind larger than life and a plot develops from there.

As writers, we all have tried and true ways of doing things. You'll know if you're a plot or character driven writer; it's what comes easiest to you. That is, after you come up with an idea, which do you find easier, coming up with a plot or the characters?

So what happens when we shake things up a little?

Next time you have a gem of an idea, try this:

If you're a plot driven writer, let your characters drive the story.

If you're a character driven writer, play around with the plot first.

You'll be amazed at how a fresh approach can inject a bit of 'oomph' into your writing.
And we're always learning, right?

Ideally, every story we write needs to be character driven.
We want to create believable, real, compelling characters that keep readers turning pages long into the night.
And that comes back to motivation, mentioned in an earlier post.

Whether you're a plot or character driven writer, motivation is what drives our characters, what keeps them believable, what makes them leap of the page and into the readers' hearts.

But in the early stages, when that new, nebulous idea has shimmered into your mind, play around, shake things up and see where your gem can take you.

That's my 'write whisper' for this week.