Friday, December 31, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Best YA reads of 2010

In no particular order, here are my favourite YA reads of 2010:

SHADE by Jeri Smith-Ready is in this list too but I didn't have time to search for the cover, what with New Year's Eve preparations.
I've reviewed each of these books this year and many more, my tally of books read in 2010 reaching around 90.
So what have been your stand out books this year?

(I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy New Year. May 2011 bring you everything your heart desires and more! And a HUGE shout out to all my loyal readers. Thanks for buying my books and I love hearing from you!)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gems for writers

Regulars here know how much I like Larry Brook's StoryFix blog.

Well, he's made a list of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers.

Go check out the rest.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Enforced distance

Once a book is sold, there's usually several months of enforced distance, where you've moved onto writing a new book or taking a breather or whatever.

Then the proof edits land and you need to go over it again with a critical eye, picking up any mistakes, typos, etc...

I did this last night for GIRL IN A VINTAGE DRESS (hence the Rob Lowe pic. He inspired the hero Chase Etheridge. Not gratuitous posting of hot guy pic at all!)

I always find it amazing what a little distance from a story can do. Blatant word repetition or phrasing a few sentences apart or words that just don't fit.

And while this book had quite a few changes I picked up (including a head hopping scene for a paragraph, something I didn't write in the original) overall I loved Chase and Lola as much as I did when writing them.

Their resolution scene is one of the most honest and heart-string-tugging I've ever written, I loved it!

Come July, I hope you do too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cows, milk & little sausages

If you're as frantic as me in the lead up to Christmas, you'll appreciate this for a laugh.
(It was emailed to me by a very smart lady over 50.)

In case you missed it on 60 Minutes, this is what Andy Rooney thinks about women over 50:

As I grow in age, I value women over 50 most of all.
Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over 50 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, 'What are you thinking?' She doesn't care what you think.

If a woman over 50 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it's usually more interesting.

Women over 50 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 50.

Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 50 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.

Older women are forthright and honest... They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk, if you are acting like one. You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over 50 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 50, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress.

Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, 'Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage.
Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!

Andy Rooney is a really smart guy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Writing a home run story

Yes, I'm directing you over to StoryFix yet again, this time for the first part in a 2 part series on How to Write a Home Run Story in 2011.

The first point in this article that leapt out at me was:

Perhaps, in 2011, you should do something different.

I love playing around with ideas, writing new things outside my usual genre.
Which gets me will I shake things up in 2011?
How will you?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Waiting for the postman

If there was one book you'd stand by the postbox for in the lead up to Christmas, which would it be?

For me, it's this one.

Being released on Dec 21st, I've placed my order with the Book Depository and will be eagerly scanning my mail box daily for its arrival.

If you haven't read Barbara O'Neal (Samuel) do yourself a favour.
After glomming her last year, she's my favourite author. Her prose is rich, lush and thoroughly gorgeous.

Here's the blurb for her latest:

An unforgettable novel that celebrates food, family, and the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters.
In a story as warm and embracing as a family kitchen, Barbara O’Neal explores the poignant, sometimes complex relationship between mothers and daughters—and the healing magic of homemade bread.

Professional baker Ramona Gallagher is a master of an art that has sustained her through the most turbulent times, including a baby at fifteen and an endless family feud. But now Ramona’s bakery threatens to crumble around her. Literally. She’s one water-heater disaster away from losing her grandmother’s rambling Victorian and everything she’s worked so hard to build.
When Ramona’s soldier son-in-law is wounded in Afghanistan, her daughter, Sophia, races overseas to be at his side, leaving Ramona as the only suitable guardian for Sophia’s thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Katie. Heartbroken, Katie feels that she’s being dumped again—this time on the doorstep of a woman out of practice with mothering.
Ramona relies upon a special set of tools—patience, persistence, and the reliability of a good recipe—when rebellious Katie arrives. And as she relives her own history of difficult choices, Ramona shares her love of baking with the troubled girl. Slowly, Katie begins to find self-acceptance and a place to call home. And when a man from her past returns to offer a second chance at love, Ramona discovers that even the best recipe tastes better when you add time, care, and a few secret ingredients of your own.

So 'fess up.
Which book will you stand by the mail box for this Christmas?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

THE WRITE WHISPER: Steroids for writers

Yet another interesting article from Larry Brooks at StoryFix about how to give your story, every story, a major boost.

Putting your story on steroids.

Now, before you rush off and read it, let me say this.

I love 'how-to' stuff. Books and blog posts and journal articles on writing craft make me squee.
I devour them.
Then promptly forget them.

Yep, you read that right.

I love seeing how different people write, the different creative processes, but the thing is I've found what works best for me and I consistently do it.

A brief 2-3 page outline so I have a basic idea of the characters, a glimmer of a first scene in my head, then I sit down, start typing and off I go until the end.

No way could I plot a whole book using screenwriting tips (the one time I have, a complete mainstream I was buzzed about writing at the time, I haven't written. One fabulous chapter that made me cry and that's it. The idea languishes. Time factor, maybe? Or is it because I already know what happens?)

So I guess what I'm trying to say in my convoluted way is...with the posts I guide you to or stuff I find interesting is just that: interesting stuff to tweak your writing imagination but not gospel truth.

Find what works for you and stick to it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Readers' Crown contest

If you're a published author, you have to check out the Readers' Crown contest.

Loads of categories, including YA, and great exposure in all Borders stores if you win!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekend Book Club: To Be Read

I'm partially through a book this week so no review. Instead, let's discuss our To Be Read piles.

Here are the top 5 books on mine currently:

-Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
-Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
-The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
-Exposed by Alex Kava
-Edge by Jeffery Deaver

I have many more on this pile but it'd take me too long to list them here!

So what's the top book on your TBR pile this week?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Melting glaciers

Here's another snippet of the tension between Rhys and Jade in Alaska.

Surely she wasn’t the only edgy one yet there he stood, clutching his clipboard, master of his domain, cool, imperturbable, infuriating.
What she wouldn’t give to shake him up a little, test his mettle, see if work-focussed Ranger was as unflappable as he portrayed?
It came to her in that second.
She’d done the right thing over the last month, being the model employee, subduing her hurt at his rejection, agreeing to the emotionless terms he’d set. And where had it got her? His admiration for her job skills and little else. Uh-uh, time to change the status quo. Up the ante. He may have set the boundaries for their relationship but that didn’t mean she couldn’t push them, right?
Hoisting the heavy branch onto her shoulder for extra affect, she marched across the clearing and dumped it on top of the stack she’d already collected.
“That’s the last of them. What’s next?”
He didn’t glance up from his clipboard, his frown clear indication her jaunty tone pained him as much as her accomplishing another task in record time.
“Take a breather.”
“I’d rather keep going. Build up my stamina.”
He glanced up, his frown intensifying, while something unfathomable shifted behind those ice-blue eyes.
“You’ve done enough for today. Take the afternoon off.”
“Maybe Cody and Jack need a hand? Clearing undergrowth from the picnic area is a huge job. I’m sure they’d like some help—”
“You need a break. Take it.”
He swung away, but not before she’d seen guilt streak across his face. So the guy had a heart, buried deep beneath layers of self-imposed guilt and macho bravado.
She could do as he said, take the easy option. But their monthly supply run was coming up fast and this time it was their turn to head into Skagway. Things were tense enough now, no way would she put up with any more.
“I don’t need a break. I need—”
You. One little word, so simple yet so complex.
He swung back to face her, his expression wary.
Not willing to push that far yet, she pretended to examine her blistered hands.
“I need a manicure, badly.”
His relief was comical. “Can’t help you there.”
Spurred by a little mischievous imp residing in her brain, she stepped closer, rolled her shoulders.
“Maybe another of those massages you’re so good at?”
Heat flared in his eyes before he damped it with a deliberate blink.
“Pity, because I’ve got a really tight spot right about here.”
She lifted one shoulder before stretching it back, biting back a triumphant laugh when his gaze strayed to her breasts stretched against the cool wool of her crimson jumper.
“And here.”
Turning around, she pointed to her lower back, knowing where his gaze would end up—about a foot lower.
“Don’t push me, Jade.”
His gravely voice sent a shiver of yearning through her as she slowly turned back to face him, grateful it had come to this.
“Like how you’ve pushed me?”
“That’s different. It’s work,” he ground out, flinging the clipboard away and thrusting hands into his pockets.
Taking a step, another, she got right up close, close enough for her sensory receptors to hit overload the minute she inhaled his addictive outdoorsy scent.
“Is it?”
“Yes, damn it.”
His rebuke lost some of its force when she smiled, refusing to give an inch.
He took a step back, she took a step forward, spurred by the need to confront him and his crazy ideas of ignoring this thing between them.
“Here’s what I think.” She laid her palm against his chest. “I think you’re hoping I’ll crack. The harder you push me, you think the angrier I’ll get. Who knows, maybe you want me to quit?”
Her palm slid upward, rested over his heart, to show him she meant business. “Well, here’s a newsflash for you. I’m made of sterner stuff than that.”
Tilting her head up, she met his steely gaze unflinchingly. “I can handle anything you care to dish out and more, Ranger.”
He didn’t move, every muscle rigid, the hard angles of his face highlighted by the wan sunlight dappling the clearing.
She had no idea how long they stood there, toe to toe, each unwilling to back down, the silence amplifying every breath frosting the air between them.
Then a shift, a small one, as he angled his body towards her rather than stepping away, the corners of his mouth easing into a smile that snatched her breath and made her crave him more than ever.
“Maybe it’s time to ditch the Princess tag?” He gestured at the wood pile. “Perhaps Wonder Woman fits better these days?”
She chuckled, buoyed by his backhanded compliment.
“See this?” She touched his mouth, briefly traced his smile, before dropping her hand. “I want to see more of that in Skagway. Lose the angst. It’s not working.”
To his credit, he didn’t play dumb. “Focussing on business is easier than thinking about us.”
She snapped her fingers. “Well golly, Ranger, and here I was, unaware there was even an us.”
“Bit late for coyness.”
Patting his big, broad chest, she glanced up from beneath her lashes. “I’m not the one playing hard to get.”
He laughed outright at that and for a long, exquisite moment, when his gaze drifted to her lips, she thought he might kiss her.

If you're in the UK, you can grab a copy of WILD NIGHTS WITH HER WICKED BOSS off shelves now! Makes a great stocking stuffer or gift. :)

If you're in OZ/NZ, you'll need to wait until January.

In the USA? May. Though there's always online...!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Good Oil

I love picking up a book by random, having heard nothing about it, and discovering it's a joy to read.

GOOD OIL by Laura Buzo is one of those books.
The author's voice captivated me from the start with its poignant realism.
And throughout the novel, I knew exactly how 15yo Amelia was feeling: crush on an older, unobtainable guy, the buzz, the inevitable heartbreak. Many readers will identify!

Here's the blurb:

'Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.'

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the six-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

This is a great read and a fabulous first novel.
I'll be looking out for more YA novels from Laura Buzo.

What are you reading this week?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Wild nights

Here's a little taste of what Jade and Rhys get up to while cosied away in Alaska:

“Wait ‘til you see dessert.”
Jade gulped, unable to move as he reached over and took her plate, his hand brushing hers, sending sparks shooting from her fingertips to her toes. Their eyes locked and she could’ve sworn electricity sizzled in the air.
“Don’t move. I’ll be right back.”
Watching him stroll out of the room, faded denim clinging to his sensational butt, she wavered.
If she didn’t move, she was in serious danger of falling flat on her back and yelling ‘take me now!’ when he came back.
If she moved, she’d miss out on all the fabulous stuff that would happen if she did fall flat on her back and yell ‘take me now!’
Dilemmas, dilemmas…
He took the decision out of her hands, returning quickly with a platter of strawberries and melted chocolate.
“You sure know the way to a girl’s stomach,” she said, snaffling a strawberry and popping it in her mouth before he could set the lot on the rug.
He paused, sent her a sizzling look. “Maybe it’s not the girl’s stomach I’m after?”
The stomach in question belly-flopped at the intent in his eyes, her heart joining her tummy in an impressive somersault routine.
Thankfully, he glanced away to tend to the fire and she leaned back, propped on outstretched arms, content to watch, loving the way the muted firelight played across the sharp angles of his face, how it shimmered orange against his white Western shirt. Definite possibilities with that shirt, considering the pop buttons all the way down the front…
“That should keep us warm for a while.”
He sat next to her, his thigh barely inches from her own, a slow building heat radiating between them. Or was it just the heat from the fire, with her imagination working overtime?
His low, husky voice rippled over her and before she could launch herself at him with a resounding yes, he offered her the platter of strawberries.
“Thanks, my favourite.”
Before she could pick one he chose the plumpest, juiciest strawberry, whisked it through the chocolate and offered it to her, hovering a hair’s-breadth in front of her lips.
Guess this answered her earlier question of what was he doing. Every slow-motioned action, every glimmer in those too-blue eyes, every tilt of those sexy lips, screamed seduction.
After spending so many tense moments retreating from her, he’d finally decided to stop running. She should ponder why; why the sudden turnaround, why now, after he’d made it clear this wasn’t a good idea.
But as he brushed the strawberry over her bottom lip in a slow, sensual sweep, she wanted to lose herself in the moment and to hell with any questions.
Her eyes never left his as she slowly opened her lips, moved a fraction and enclosed her mouth over the deliciously smooth chocolate tip.
She moaned, her eyelids drifting shut as she bit into the strawberry, savouring the explosion of sweet tanginess mingling with the luscious chocolate, her senses on overload as she took the whole fruit in her mouth, her tongue flicking out, only to encounter a fingertip.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Hot in Alaska

I'd planned on posting an excerpt from WILD NIGHTS WITH HER WICKED BOSS today.
Instead, I give you the Australian/NZ cover.
While I love the new modern edgy covers, I love how this one encapsulates a scene from the book: hot tub/steamy stuff going on/snow capped mountains in the background.
Which cover do you prefer?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wild nights in December

Can't believe it's the 1st of December already!

I've been in revision stupor (finally finished YA revisions last night at 11.45pm and the manuscript is gone, back with my lovely agent) so the days have flown by.

December means I have a new release out in the UK!

More about this book tomorrow, when I'm awake.
Am currently floating in post-revision haze...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Christmas Wish List

This week, for the first time all year, I didn't read at least one book.
(YA revisions have taken all my time.)

So this weekend, we're shaking it up a little and discussing books you have on your Christmas wish list.

If you're anything like me, this list could go on forever, but here are the books I really, really want to read over Christmas:

-Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
-Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
-Torment by Lauren Kate
-Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
-Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Over to you.

What books are on your Christmas wish-list?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wendy the Super Librarian

Wendy the Super Librarian has just reviewed my RIVA launch book, DESERTED ISLAND: DREAMY EX!

Wendy (from The Good, The Bad and The Unread fame) is new to the Harlequin Romance series and is suitably hooked.

I love the way she expresses honesty in her reviews without being snarky.

Here's a snippet of what she had to say about my book:

This is the type of story where you spend a good portion of the book wanting to shake some sense into the characters, but between the excellent confrontation scenes (so fabulous!) and the growth they experience to get to the happy ending? It makes those moments where you want to smack them worth it.

I also liked how contemporary this story felt. Kristi has a thing for shoes, so we have some label dropping here. But the characters also live in a fictional world that includes social networking (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) and reality television. I’m not sure how well this book will “hold up” ten years down the line, but for now? It was rather refreshing. Especially since we got to read blog posts and tweets from Jared and Kristi.

This was a nice story, with plenty of tension, and a hard-won happy ending. I have a feeling both of these characters are going to have to continue to work to keep their happy ending on the rails, but that’s as it should be. Whoever said relationships were easy has obviously never been in one. B+

You can read the full review here.
Thanks Wendy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


A friend sent me this email, some made me laugh out loud.

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.
The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n), olive-flavoured mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that,when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, orchanging one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. ( that one got extra credit)
9. Karmageddon (n): Its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The colour you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Magic Pills of Storytelling

Yet another gem of a post from Storyfix today, discussing the 6 Core Competencies of storytelling:

1- concept
2- character
3- theme
4- structure
5- scene execution
6- writing voice

Plus other interesting stuff!

Check it out.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekend Book Club: The Perfect Evil

This is the book that started it all for Alex Kava's Maggie O'Dell series.

All I can say is 'wow' for a first book!

I've read her books before and have always loved them and this one was no exception.

A serial killer eludes an FBI profiler and a smalltown Nebraska sheriff in Kava's engaging debut, which manages to remain entertaining despite a fairly conventional plot line. As the story opens, recently appointed Sheriff Nick Morelli is as relieved as the rest of the citizens of Platte City that his predecessor, who also happens to be his father, has captured the child killer who plagued the town. But after the killer is executed, another child is discovered dead, and Morelli realizes that the convicted man was in fact a copycat killer, leaving the original criminal still on the prowl. Morelli gets some much-needed help in the investigation from FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell, but the hunt gets complicated when Morelli's sister, a journalist, leaks info to the media. Things become even stickier when O'Dell unearths a couple of unlikely suspects who've been dismissed by the police, and the search takes on a new level of urgency when Morelli's nephew is abducted and appears to be the next victim. Kava keeps her prose simple, but she does a nice job of setting up the chemistry between O'Dell and Morelli while balancing the various family issues Morelli faces in the investigation. She also makes good use of the smalltown milieu, tightening the tension by establishing that the killer is part of the fabric of the community. The result is a well-crafted page-turner involving the reader in the specter of murder in an intimate and disturbing fashion, with a plausible setup for a sequel. (Publisher's Weekly)

Suitably creepy, the ending makes you want to rush out to read the sequel.

As for the sparks between Maggie and Nick...phew, the sexual tension between these two just burns up the pages!

I love a good thriller with a splash of romance and this book delivered in spades.

What are you reading this week?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book 26 sold!

I'm thrilled to announce my retro book has sold!
Titled GIRL IN A VINTAGE DRESS in the UK, it'll be a M&B RIVA release in July 11.
These pics are just a few I used to 'get in the mood' for writing this book.
As soon as I have US title and release date, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

S.W.O.T. analysing your story

Another great post by the folks at StoryFix about using Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to evaluate your story.

The questions raised really help you think about the story you've written.

Check it out.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nurturing writers

Yesterday, I was an invited guest at the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild 20th anniversary celebrations.

Had a ball catching up with people I hadn't seen in years, some people I 'knew' via Twitter & Facebook, Haylee Kerans from Harlequin office in Sydney, and author buddies like Fiona Lowe, Joan Kilby, Anne Gracie and Ebony McKenna.
(MRWG head honchos Elvina Payet & Serena Tatti, with moi)

I'm a past member of MRWG, the group that nurtured me when I first started writing in 2001. While there are many new faces, the old ones (and I mean that in the nicest possible way!) are still smiling and happy and giving.

Long live writing groups like this.

(Elvina Payet, YA author Ebony McKenna, moi, Emmie Dark, Harlequin Super-Rom author Joan Kilby)

(PS. Serena, if you're reading this, thanks for saying you can see I've lost 3kg!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Theodore Boone

Doing things a little differently today.

I'm not reviewing this book, though I did read it last week (if anyone has read it, please feel free to share opinions.)

What I find interesting is the number of well known authors who are hopping on the YA bandwagon.
Yes, YA is hot at the moment.
Yes, YA is selling and selling well.
Yes, it makes sense for the author and publisher alike to make the most of a hot trend and get their big name authors out there in another subgenre. Money talks.

While big name authors are on bestselling lists for a reason, I don't think everyone can write with a convincing YA voice.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lessons learned from Harry Potter

I love finding nuggets of writing gold and here's another from Nathan Bransford (who I can't believe has retired from agenting!) with his post yesterday on writing tips from reading Harry Potter.

He elaborates on these 5 writing tips:

-You can accomplish amazing things with a third person limited perspective

-Don't be afraid to show your characters' flaws

-Making it look easy is really really hard

-"You might try and go easy on the adverbs when the emotion is apparent from the dialogue"

-Have fun with your world

It's a great post. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

THE WRITE WHISPER: Speed writing with a bullet

As many writers are working their fingers to the bone this month with NaNoWriMo, I thought this link might help speed things up a little.

From the fabulous Storyfix blog, the basic summary is this:

-you've written about 20K words & are finding the going tough
-stop writing narrative
-start writing story exposition bullet points
-keep adding bullet points till you know where your story is going/you're excited to keep writing it/etc...
-with these points already jotted down, you can write with added speed as each bullet defines what happens in a scene.

This method is called beat sheeting (each bullet=story beat=scene) and there's load more links in the article if you want to know more.

Happy writing!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Weekend Book Club: The Sleeping Doll

I only started reading Jeffery Deaver recently, within the last 6 months or so, and boy, am I glad I did.
I love a good thriller. It would be my first choice of genre to read (surprised you, huh?)
And Jeffery Deaver does thrillers very, very well.
Here's a blurb:
Jeffery Deaver is back with a dark and multilayered psychological thriller about a vicious killer's escape from a California super-prison and the mysterious and deadly quest he embarks on once he's free.
Making her first appearance in The Cold Moon (2006), special agent Kathryn Dance—a brilliant interrogator and body language expert—stars in The Sleeping Doll, where she and her partners at the California Bureau of Investigation hunt down escaped killer Daniel Pell, a self-styled Charles Manson.
Deaver's most frightening villain to date, Pell is a master of control, who mesmerizes, seduces, and exploits people for his own murderous ends. To track down Pell before he destroys more lives, Kathryn Dance must enlist the help of people from the killer's past: the three women who lived under his sadistic sway in the cult he once headed, as well as the young girl known as The Sleeping Doll, the only survivor of her family's slaughter at Pell's hand.
Filled with masterful plot twists: Jeffery Deaver creates plots with so many twists and turns they could "hide behind a spiral staircase" (People), and The Sleeping Doll has Deaver's trademark twists in spades. It is guaranteed to keep readers guessing right up to the breathless end.
This story is a ripper!
A page turner from start to finish, with enough twists to keep you riveted.
Thankfully, my mum bought Jeffery Deaver's latest, 'The Edge' last week. I'm hurrying her along to finish it!
What are you reading this week?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Writing in chunks

When I write, I don't follow any 'how-to' instructions.

I sit. I write. The story comes pouring out.

Yet I love, love, love reading about 'how-to' stuff, love reading writing text books, love having them on my shelves even if I only read them once.

In that vein, here's a great post on 'Storytelling in chunks'.
As I read it, I thought 'hey, I actually do most of this stuff unconsciously' and I'm sure many writers out there do too.

If you're like me and enjoy reading the 'how to' stuff, check it out.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Award nominee

I am rapt to announce that MARRIAGE: FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? has been nominated by Romantic Times magazine for Best Harlequin Presents 2010.

Woo hoo!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Masters Award

Had a lovely email from Masters Degrees Online, saying I've been awarded a Masters Award in Romance Writing for informative and helpful content!

Here's the complete list.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Dancing Backwards in High Heels

I mentioned last week how reading the first few chapters of this book made me miss the morning school bell.

Well, the pages kept turning from there.

Here are a few reviews for DANCING BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS:

'Written with panache and flair, this charming story captures that loss of identity that can come with marriage and children. Madeleine is 42 and, despite loving her family very much, she feels so isolated that she has to do something about it. That "something" turns into dance classes. The joy of music and dance transforms her, although as Madeleine discovers, the bump and grind of Latin can take you into dangerous territory …' (Australian Women's Weekly)

'Dancing Backwards in High Heels is an exploration of one woman's search for identity against the backdrop of being forty-something, a full time mother and wife, and living in a new country. It also examines the issues of family and marital relationships, and the impact of infidelity, both real and contemplated. Madeleine is a likeable first person narrator and the problems she is faced with are familiar for many women, and believable. An insightful exploration of one woman's complicated life.' (

From start to finish, this novel is a delight.
The characters are REAL, as are the problems they face.
Moral questions are raised and you turn the pages very quickly to discover the choices the characters make.
And the dancing is just sheer joy!

Absolutely loved it!

What are you reading this week?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Editorial week

Check this out at the Harlequin blog, starting Nov 1st.

Does your imagination run wild with vivid characters? Have you ever dreamed of becoming a USA TODAY bestselling author? Well, our editors want to make those dreams come true. We are hungry to find talented new writers for Harlequin Books. Through podcasts, blogs, and discussions with our expert editors and current authors, we’re going to help you understand the appeal of the romance genre. And there’s a special daily challenge with feedback that will give some great insights into crafting the perfect story. So for the next week, come by to hone your skills and get started on the path to publication. So you think you can write? Here’s your chance to show us!

The full timetable is here.
Looks fab!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pearls of wisdom

Nathan Bransford always has pearls of wisdom for writer-folk.

Loved this one yesterday on Goals and Obstacles in preparation for NaNoWriMo.

*ROB campaign update

-Weight lost this week: 0kg (considering it has been a BIG birthday week with cake, cake and more cake, guess I should be thankful I didn't put on!)
-Exercise: zumba
-Overall results: 2kg lost, tummy much flatter. Should've taken inches measurement before I started...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Layering lushness

When I write a first draft, the words pour out.
I know my characters: what drives them, where they want to go, where they'll be at the end of the story.

How they get there? Well, that's the fun of sitting down and just writing.

I'm almost at the end of my current WIP and stumbled across a whole load of pics I'd researched at the start for my vintage heroine.

They are so evocative, they instantly add richness to the story.
I'm going to use these pics while I layer during my next draft.

Which got me thinking...all you writers out there, how do you layer?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Spirit Bound

I reviewed another Vampire Academy book last month but SPIRIT BOUND demanded a review all of its own!

Here's the blurb:

Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong…

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and he's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won't join him, he won't rest until he's silenced her...forever.

The 5th book in this page turning series, I absolutely loved this instalment.

Each book builds up in the series and this one is by far the best.

Every page is filled with tension and the character!

While action-packed throughout, it's the emotional aspect that catches you unawares.

Loved every heart-stopping page and can't wait for the final VA book, LAST SACRIFICE, coming in December.

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting lost in a book

Parking at my kidlet's school is atrocious so I go early every morning (and afternoon) and read.

Never have I got so swept up in a book that I missed the school bell but that happened this morning.
I'm only 3 chapters into DANCING BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS but I'm thoroughly captivated.

Maybe because I can identify with so many emotions the heroine goes through, I'm finding it riveting and can't wait to devour the rest.

And in another first, I drove home with a lump in my throat!

Promise to do a review for Weekend Book Club once I'm done.

ROB campaign week 2

Exercise this week: zumba, body jam, tummy, tail & thighs
Weight loss: 1kg
Total lost: 2kg

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Agent expectations

Rachelle Gardner has a link to a great series of blog posts by Wendy Lawton, an agent at Books & Such, about agents and expectations of themselves and writers.

Really worth a look here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

THE WRITE WHISPER: The greatest gift

I love receiving fan mail.
It's such a thrill to discover people read and enjoy the stories I create.

I also love it when people take the time to comment here. The interaction and feedback is great.

Every author has regulars, lovely people who read our books and take time out of their busy days to let us know. You have no idea how uplifting it can be when you're having a tough day and the WIP isn't zooming along and the PC crashed and the dog ate your get the general idea.

Feedback is important.
Positive feedback also sells books.

So what's the greatest gift you can give an author?
(apart from a six figure advance on a 5 book contract?)

Word of mouth.

If you love a book, tell people.
Loud and proud.

Post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, Twitter, your blogs, wherever people will see them.
If you don't have time to post a review, 'star' the book.

Every little bit helps and the more sales an author makes from word of mouth, the more contracts they'll be offered and the more books you'll get to read from your fave authors.

Sounds self-serving coming from an author? Maybe, but I love recommending good books and my favourite authors, because readers buying books keeps the publishing industry alive and in the long run, that's a bonus for us all.

Plus I want you to enjoy curling up with a good book as much as I do :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Copycat

I've been picking up a lot of 'new to me' authors recently and Erica Spindler is one of them.

I love a good thriller and this one delivered.

Here's the blurb:

Five years ago, three young victims were found murdered, posed like little angels. No witnesses, no evidence left behind. The Sleeping Angel Killer called his despicable acts 'the perfect crimes.' The case nearly destroyed homicide detective Kitt Lundgren's career-- because she let the killer get away.
Now the Sleeping Angel Killer is back.
But Kitt notices something different about this new rash of killings-- a tiny variation that suggests a copycat killer may be re-creating the original 'perfect crimes.' Then the unthinkable happens. The Sleeping Angel Killer himself approaches Kitt with a bizarre offer: he will help her catch his copycat.
Kitt must decide whether to place her trust in a murderer-- or risk falling victim to a fiend who has taken the art of the perfect murder to horrific new heights.

Really enjoyed this book. The liberal use of red herrings throughout kept the pages turning and the main character, Kitt Lundgren, is so real, so down to earth, you instantly sympathise with her.
I love strong characterisation in a book and this one had it in spades.
Copycat certainly won't be my last Erica Spindler novel.

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Being a bridesmaid in Spain

Isn't this cover so romantic?
Looks like Spain has new covers too. Lovely.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Heist Society

I've been interested in reading this book since I heard it had been optioned for a movie by Warner Bros...before the book had even been released!

Ally Carter is well known for her YA series, the Gallagher Girls, about a teenage girl at spy school.

So what's Heist Society about?

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

This is an enjoyable, light-hearted romp around the world as Kat and her friends try to pull off a major heist.

A fun read.

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Good, the Bad & the Unread

Thanks to the power that is Google Alert, I've stumbled across a fabulous review today from the good folk at THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UNREAD.

I need to become addicted to another Harlequin series line like I need a hole in the head, but I think it’s now safe to declare that I’m hooked on Harlequin Romance. I think it was in a comment thread here at TGTBTU that someone dropped a Nicola Marsh suggestion in my ear, and if it was you: thank you mysterious commenter! What a delightful read this was!

The conflict that keeps this story chugging along is their past together, and their own personal baggage. There were moments when I just wanted them to sit down and really talk to each other, and they do get around to that eventually. When it does come spilling out into the open, it’s hard to not root for these two crazy kids, and be charmed by them. Lord knows I was.

Thanks to Wendy the Super Librarian!
Here's the full review.

And word of mouth truly is a great way to gain new readers. I recommend books I truly love to others.

What have been your recent book recommendations?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Uglies

I picked up this Scott Westerfeld book after he sent me a humorous tweet on Twitter.

Knowing nothing about the book, I flipped it over, read the blurb and was hooked.

Here are the basics:

Uglies is set in a world in which everyone has an operation when they turn sixteen, making them supermodel beautiful. Big eyes, full lips, no one fat or skinny. You might think this is a good thing, but it’s not. Especially if you’re one of the Smokies, a bunch of radical teens who’ve decided they want to keep their own faces. (How anti-social of them.)

The premise intrigued me and once I started this YA novel the pages turned themselves.
Loved Tally's braveness, her strength, her convictions.
Loved her developing relationship with David.
And the ending had me picking up the next installment, Pretties, immediately.

There's nothing like discovering new authors you know you'll revisit time and time again.
I'm really interested in reading Scott Westerfeld's adult novels now.

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week

I expressed my outrage here last week about the comments by a professor over banning SPEAK, a YA novel I read recently and now proudly residing on my keeper shelf.

So today, as part of Banned Books Week, I'm joining the list here to review a banned book. And with all the recent controversy over Speak, it felt kinda fitting to choose it.
(I'm actually surprised I didn't choose to review it as part of the Weekend Book Club...then again, I was reading several YA books a week for a while there so it may've been put on the back burner!)

Here's a blurb:

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

I can think of many words to describe this novel: funny, touching, strong, searching but I think thought-provoking sums it up best.

Laurie Halse Anderson uses strong characterisation to convey the thoughts of a teenager struggling to speak out.
The confusion, humiliation and ostracism Melinda faces as she battles her inner demons builds sympathy to the point the reader wants to scream the truth alongside her in the quest for justice.

SPEAK raises so many important questions and to have the book summed up by one person as 'soft porn' because of rape scenes leaves me shaking my head.
Rape is about violence, not sex.

As a romance writer, I've come up against the 'soft porn' accusation a few times.
It's an ignorance thing: porn is for titillation, sex scenes in a novel as part of the characters' emotional journey is about relationship development. Vastly different.

Do you have a favourite banned book?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Launching a new series

Mills and Boon is launching a new series in January 2011, RIVA.

RIVA will consist of the current Modern Heat series and some of the fun, flirty authors from the Romance series (which basically means all my books will now be RIVA books.)

My current Harlequin Romance release, DESERTED ISLAND, DREAMY EX! out in the USA, will be part of the Riva launch in the UK alongside Kelly Hunter, Jessica Hart and Kimberly Lang.

So hot off the press, here are the new covers.

Very, VERY different.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The subjectiveness of publishing

Publishing is subjective.

A book I might love/an agent might love/an editor might love/a reviewer might love (you get the idea!) will have a reader/agent/editor/reviewer who doesn't.

That's why I don't pay much attention to reviews (unless they're mine and they're brilliant!) and prefer to judge a book for myself.

Here's an example.
ALL ABOUT ROMANCE (home of the Desert Island Keeper and a notoriously tough mob to impress) just reviewed my current release DESERTED ISLAND, DREAMY EX!

Here's the general gist:

I’m a huge fan of reality television, so this book sounded like a surefire winner, with the hero and heroine stranded on a deserted island as competitors in a reality documentary. I was disappointed that the reality TV portion of the book was glossed over, but found it to be a light, generally enjoyable read.

The chapters begin with tweets and blog excerpts from their island experiences – the show’s way of having them communicate with the public. I felt these made the book feel current, but also provided insights into the different ways the two viewed the same experiences on the island.

The majority of the book was rather light, but entertaining. However, one thing I really liked is that they both show growth over the course of a very short book, and gained insights into the previous behaviors. They each realize that they both acted badly in the past. A lot happens after they leave the island, but the ending felt a bit rushed. I found myself wanting just a bit more. (LinnieGayl Kimmel)

Overall, what I would consider a positive review (the full review is here) with a C+ grading.

Which got me an author, what would I grade my books?
I'd like to think I'm objective, especially when it comes to my own work and I know for a fact my favourite books are usually reader favourites too.

Would be a fun exercise! Question is whether I should post my results here? Hmmm....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Shadow Kiss

I bought Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy earlier this year, read it, enjoyed it, but had so many other books I wanted to read I didn't read on into the series.
This week, I remedied that fact. I quickly read FROSTBITE, book 2 in the series, and was very glad to have SHADOW KISS, book 3 on hand ready to go.
If you don't know what the VAMPIRE ACADEMY series is about, here's a blurb:
Two races of vampires walk our world. One, the Moroi, are alive and wield elemental magical. The other, the Strigoi, are undead and evil--feeding on the innocent to survive. Rose Hathaway--a half-vampire with poor impulse control--is training to be a bodyguard for a Moroi princess. Learning to decapitate and stake is hard enough, but Rose's real danger may lie in an illicit romance with one of her instructors...
This is a strong series and each book gets stronger.
The characterisation is strong, which I love, and the action builds.
I also love a brave author who isn't afraid to kill off likeable characters.
If you want to check out the blurbs and excerpts on each book, click here.
Me? I'm off to grab Blood Promise and Spirit Bound to see what happens next!
Highly addictive reading.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Speak Loudly

I bought this book a few months ago in my YA binge after it came highly recommended.

It deals with teenage rape and the ramifications.

So imagine my outrage this week when I discovered someone (took me a while not to post something stronger) wants to ban it.

Here's my lovely agent's take on it.

And from the author herself.

Am truly left shaking my head over this.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Crafting a pitch

There was a great post by Rachelle Gardner yesterday on crafting a pitch.

She lists 11 questions to ask yourself when identifying important elements to make a good pitch.

Check it out here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Nineteen Minutes

I've only ever read one other Jodi Picoult novel, Change of Heart, which I bought after feeling very remiss at not reading her when the rest of the world was.

NINETEEN MINUTES intrigued me because I found it in the YA section.

Here's the synopsis:

In Sterling, New Hampshire, 17-year-old high school student Peter Houghton has endured years of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of classmates. His best friend, Josie Cormier, succumbed to peer pressure and now hangs out with the popular crowd that often instigates the harassment. One final incident of bullying sends Peter over the edge and leads him to commit an act of violence that forever changes the lives of Sterling’s residents.

Even those who were not inside the school that morning find their lives in an upheaval, including Alex Cormier. The superior court judge assigned to the Houghton case, Alex—whose daughter, Josie, witnessed the events that unfolded—must decide whether or not to step down. She’s torn between presiding over the biggest case of her career and knowing that doing so will cause an even wider chasm in her relationship with her emotionally fragile daughter. Josie, meanwhile, claims she can’t remember what happened in the last fatal minutes of Peter’s rampage. Or can she? And Peter’s parents, Lacy and Lewis Houghton, ceaselessly examine the past to see what they might have said or done to compel their son to such extremes.
Rich with psychological and social insight, Nineteen Minutes is a riveting, poignant, and thought-provoking novel that has at its center a haunting question. Do we ever really know someone?

While the subject matter of this novel horrified me (more so because it happens in real life and devastates families and communities) the book itself intrigued.

The characters were well-motivated and very real, building empathy to the point of wanting to see Peter, the main character, exonerated for his crimes. And that's the sign of a good writer, when the reader starts rooting for the bad guys!

The pages flew by, a sure sign of a winner.

I must add more Jodi Picoult novels to my TBR pile.

What are you reading this week?

Friday, September 17, 2010

25th book sold!

Several weeks ago, Harlequin sent me a lovely letter of congratulations and a silver pin with a twinkling ruby in celebration of my 25th book.

The book I just SOLD!

That's right, folks, SEX, GOSSIP & ROCK AND ROLL (how utterly fabulous is that title?) will be out in May 2011 as part of the new Harlequin RIVA series, launching in January.

(For those wondering, Harlequin RIVA will consist 2 Modern Heat titles a month, plus 2 from the Harlequin Romance series, authors with fun, flirty, contemporary voices eg. Liz Fielding, Jessica Hart, Jackie Braun and moi! So all my books in the UK will now be released under the one series.)

After the constant lurgies of the last few months and with how totally blah I'm still feeling this week, this news couldn't have come at a better time.
When I'm feeling better, I reckon we have a blog party.
What do you say? Up for it?

Monday, September 13, 2010

THE WRITE WHISPER: Creating hot heroes

In the reader questions recently, someone asked about heroes so I'm cheating and reproducing an article from my website here:

Great characters draw me into a story and keep me there, making me flick pages at a rate of knots and nothing signals 'page turner' more than a hot hero!

We all know the type of guy: strong yet gentle, commanding yet compassionate, in control but willing to bend to the heroine's will. Throw in gorgeous with a sense of humour and you've got me well and truly hooked!

So how do you create hot heroes in your writing?

Is your hero a take-control alpha guy or is more laid-back beta counterpart?
Remember, every hero is different and having an alpha hero in a Harlequin Modern Heat will be different to an alpha guy in a Romance or a Presents or a Desire.

Here are a few points to help you delineate between the two.

-Make him commanding: the alpha hero is always in control. He likes to call the shots - except when the heroine finally tames him...
-Arrogant? Well, maybe just a tad...the alpha believes in himself and the reach of his influence, totally - until the battle with his feelings for the heroine begins...
-He's passionate: sensual and sexy, the alpha uses his charm and power to get what he wants, though his need for the heroine may ultimately prove stronger.
-Status: impossibly wealthy, probably self-made; the alpha often has celebrity status in the media. The ruler of all he surveys, be it a company or a country. Perhaps a specialist in his field?
-Tower of Strength: the alpha has a steely core, is not easily manipulated and is uncompromising about the things that matter.
-Aspirational: an alpha hero is the guy with whom women aspire to spend the rest of their lives; definitely Mr Right.
-Code of Honour: the alpha has a strong sense of right and wrong, is reasonable and fair.
-Sense of Humour: the beta hero can laugh at himself and life.
-Follower: Betas are more followers where alphas are leaders.
-Self Aware: Betas have more nouse when it comes to what's going on and how they're feeling.
-Easy going: Betas are the laid-back hero whereas alphas are more driven.
-Outgoing: Betas are more sociable where as alphas are more reserved.
-Insecure: Betas may have self-doubts whereas alphas are secure in themselves and their place in the world. Alphas are confident, betas less so.
-Verbal: Betas aren't afraid to express themselves whereas alphas tend to be less verbal and more into the short command, totally used to having their orders obeyed.
-The 'Nice' Guy: Betas are perceived as 'nice' or 'funny' or even 'geeky' whereas alphas are perceived as aloof or unobtainable, even the bad boy.

Keep all these in mind when creating your very own hot hero but remember, your hero will be unique. He may demonstrate more of these characteristics than others. He may turn out to be more beta than alpha or vice versa.

And where does the gamma hero fit into all this? Gamma is a combination of alpha and beta, which would practically make him the perfect man. A tad too perfect for a written hero, perhaps?

Whatever you do, make your man the sexiest hero possible, the kind of guy we can't close the pages on until the last, satisfying scene.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Perfect Chemistry

PERFECT CHEMISTRY won the RITA this year for Best YA Romance novel and after reading it, I'm not surprised.

The book is fabulous!

Here's the blurb:

Get ready for a whole new take on star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, bad boy meets good girl...

At Fairfield High, everyone knows that south siders and north siders aren’t exactly compatible elements. So when cheerleader Brittany Ellis and gang member Alex Fuentes are forced to be lab partners, the results are bound to be explosive.
Neither teen is prepared for the most surprising chemical reaction of all – love. Can they break through the stereotypes and misconceptions that threaten to keep them apart?

As described on Simone Elkeles website, this story is Romeo & Juliet meets West Side Story but with a happy ending.

The characterisation is superb. Brittany and Alejandro are real, as are their problems. When the author could've taken the easy option, she doesn't, delving deeper into their conflicts and making me turn the pages at a rapid rate (and wishing the story didn't have to end.)

Would love to see this book made into a movie.

What are you reading this week?

Friday, September 10, 2010

THE WRITE WHISPER: The first 5 pages

Editors and agents read thousands of manuscripts a year and if you ask many of them, unless the first page doesn't hook them, let alone the first five, they won't read on.
So how do you make your first 5 pages memorable?
I'm a sucker for a great first line. It's a great hook to launch the reader into the rest of the story.
So how do you do it?
-raise a question
-introduce something unique/different
-reveal something unanticipated
-show something is about to change
Here are a few of my first lines to give you examples:
The bronze god was naked. (Overtime in the Boss's Bed)
"Come in and take off your clothes." (Big-Shot Bachelor)
Kristen Lewis had a thing for hotels. (Executive Mother-To-Be)
"You want me to do what?" (The Tycoon's Dating Deal)
Fleur Adams rushed into the café, trying to juggle a portfolio, laptop, umbrella and handbag while shaking raindrops from her curly hair and cursing the fickle Melbourne weather, a lousy public transport system and men, in that order. (Contract to Marry)
Maya Edison stood ram-rod straight, oblivious to the huge society crowd that had turned the funeral into a farce. (Inherited: Baby)
Each of these opening lines raises questions.
-who is the bronze god & why is he naked?
-why does Kristen have a thing for hotels?
-who is being asked to do what?
-why is Fleur cursing men?
-why is Maya so uptight, whose funeral is it & does she care it has turned into a farce?
Not all characters you create have to be 'sympathetic' or likable, but you need your reader to relate to the character so they'll continue to read the story.
Though many books deviate from this, introducing the main character in the first scene, making your reader care what happens to him/her, is a way to keep the reader hooked.
While the first line will hook your reader, it's the main conflict that keeps the reader turning pages.
Try to hint at the main conflict in the first 5 pages: a threat to the main character, an inner turmoil, something that makes the reader care.
May sound obvious but the first few pages should convey the general tone of the story. Try to give a sense of where the story is taking place without listing facts like a travelogue.
Avoid info dumping.
Avoid boring your reader with backstory.
Avoid excessive description (scenery, setting, world building, whatever)
When you submit your manuscript, you only have a few seconds, a few minutes if you're lucky, to grab that editor's/agent's attention.
Make your first 5 pages sparkle and you'll definitely have them wanting to read more.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Dialogue lover

I love writing dialogue.

Here's a snippet of Kristi and Jared having a chat:

“Done with the caveman routine?”
The organ he refused to acknowledge lurched as he glanced up, saw Kristi on her side, propped on an elbow, wearing that sinful green bikini and a reluctant smile.
She’d been frosty towards him over dinner, with more of the same since they’d arrived on the island, but under his constant barrage of teasing she was finally starting to thaw.
Not that he blamed her. From her angry outburst when he’d picked her up the other night, she hadn’t forgiven him for choosing his tennis career over her all those years ago.
But he’d had no choice. Not that he’d go delving into his reasons why now.
For their time on the island he wanted to recapture some of their old magic, wanted to make her laugh and fire back those scathing one liners like she used to, wanted to see her eyes sparkle just for him, for old time’s sake.
Hands on hips, he wrenched his straying gaze away from the tempting expanses of flesh on display. “Weren’t you the one who wanted to toast marshmallows tonight?”
“Did I say that?”
She pressed a hand to her chest and his gaze followed, shooting down his intentions to keep his distance.
“Do you even have any?”
She chuckled, lowered her sunglasses to stare at him over the top. “Maybe you should’ve asked that before planning to build a bonfire that can be seen in New Zealand.”
Adding another branch onto the growing pile, he feigned indifference.
“I’m surprised you could fit any marshmallows in your case, what with that mobile shoe shop you carry around.”
Her eyes narrowed, the corners of her mouth twitching. “Are you dissing my shoes?”
“Merely making an observation.”
With a little huff that was so adorable he wanted to kiss her senseless, she pouted.
“I’ll have you know it takes effort to look this good.”
His gaze raked her from top to toe, lingering on her curves, the hollow of her hip, the dip of her collarbone, remembering how he’d traced every inch of her once, how he couldn’t get enough.
Logically, he knew it would be foolish to resurrect the past, not when nothing fundamental had changed. Kristi was a relationship type of girl. He was a guy who had no intention of getting emotionally involved with anyone.
Physically, his body was on memory overload, sifting through every incredible, erotic encounter the two of them had ever had.
“You’re not looking at my shoes.”
Dragging his gaze to meet hers, he raised an eyebrow. “You’re not wearing any.”
She scooped up a spangly flip-flop, dangling it from a finger.
“What’s this?”
“Suitcase filler?”
“Heathen,” she muttered, sliding her sunglasses back into place and rolling onto her back. “Get back to your wood gathering. It’s what you Neanderthals are good at.”
“Sticks and stones,” he said, much more at ease with this banter than last night’s emotion charged discussion.
Pointing at the diminutive wood pile, she smirked. “More sticks. Less stones.”

If you really, really want to read this book (and you know you want to!) it's part of a special promotion over at eharlequin at the moment, where you can buy it at 40% off.
It's a steal!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Island in the stream

With DESERTED ISLAND, DREAMY EX! hitting US shelves this week, here's a snippet from Jared and Kristi's first day on the island:

“You ever use Twitter before?”
Kristi shook her head, trying to sneak a peek over Jared’s shoulder as he fiddled with his iPhone.
“No time. Work keeps me pretty busy. I email. Facebook page. That’s about it.”
His eyes never leaving the screen, he said, “You don’t know what you’re missing.”
Her scoffing snort had him darting an amused glance her way.
“What’s so special about informing the world what you’re up to in less than one hundred and forty characters?”
“It’s the challenge, to make your tweet interesting in so few words.”
Typing quickly, he finally laid his phone down, his stare loaded.
“Surely you know how much guys like a challenge?”
“Guys or just you?”
He chuckled. “Last time I checked I was a guy. Or would you care to verify—”
“Stop that!” she hissed, jerking her head towards one of the not-so-hidden cameras. “We’re live.”
Dropping his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, he leaned forward and spoke behind his raised hand.
“Viewers love this sort of thing. A bit of light hearted banter, flirting. Good for ratings.”
He wiggled his eyebrows until the unimpressed twist to her lips relaxed into a smile. “Sex sells, baby.”
Okay, so he was hamming it up for the cameras. Not that she could blame him. There was something so weirdly unnatural about all of this. As to why anyone would be remotely interested in watching the two of them have dinner or quibble over the last Tim Tam was beyond her.
But she couldn’t deny Elliott Barnaby was a genius; and the one salient fact, she was in this for the money, and the promotion.
Faking a huff, she tossed her hair over her shoulder like any screen heroine worth her salt.
“I’m not your baby.”
“You were once.”
He whispered it so softly the cameras wouldn’t have a chance of picking it up, her skin prickling with alarm as he scooted closer, his warm breath fanning her neck as he murmured in her ear, “Want to recreate some of the old magic?”
Her body made a mockery of her instant refusal, heat flushing her skin rosy as she inadvertently leaned into him, practically inviting him to slip an arm around her and cradle her close as he used to.
“Liar,” he whispered, his fingertips trailing across the back of her neck and sending a quiver of desire through her as he casually draped an arm over her shoulder, appearing to the whole world as if they were best buddies.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Latest release

This week sees the release of my latest Harlequin Romance, DESERTED ISLAND, DREAMY EX!

If you like reality TV, Twitter, social networking and hot tennis pros, you'll enjoy this book!

Insight into the 'behind the scenes' action to come.
Watch this space!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Maximum Ride, The Angel Experiment

James Patterson recently topped a list of the top 10 highest author earners.
He's sold an estimated 170 million books worldwide and the only author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on The New York Times adult and children's lists.
Incredibly, I think I've only read one James Patterson novel many moons ago.
MAXIMUM RIDE: THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT was my second and I'm hooked!
James' foray into YA, the story is an absolute page turner.
Here's the blurb:
Do not put this book down. I'm dead serious - your life could depend on it. I'm risking everything by telling you - but you need to know.

STRAP YOURSELF IN for the thrill ride you'll want to take again and again! From Death Valley, California, to the bowels of the New York City subway system, you're about to take off on a heart-stopping adventure that will blow you away...

YOUR FAITHFUL COMPANIONS: Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel. Six kids who are pretty normal in most ways - except that they're 98 percent human, 2 percent bird. They grew up in a lab, living like rats in cages, but now they're free. Aside, of course, from the fact that they're prime prey for Erasers - wicked wolflike creatures with a taste for flying humans.

THE MISSIONS: Rescue Angel from malicious mutants. Infiltrate a secret facility to track down the flock's missing parents. Scavenge for sustenance. Get revenge on an evil traitor. And save the world. If there's time.
Love the protagonist Max and her 'flock'. Love the non-stop action. And love the many questions raised which leave you hanging for the next installment.
Note to self: must glom Mr. Patterson.
What are your reading this week?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Foreign shores

This month sees the release of 3 of my books overseas.


I never, ever tire of seeing foreign covers. It's like getting first printing of a book in my hot little hands all over again!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NINC Blast

I belong to Novelists Inc (Ninc), the only writers organization devoted exclusively to the needs of multi-published novelists.
Ninc members include authors of all genres of popular fiction.

Ninc has a new newsletter, NINC BLAST, which includes information about our authors' new and upcoming releases, as well as a "Did you know?" feature with tantalizing, little-known factoids about some of your favorite authors.
To subscribe to NINC BLAST, please go to our Website.
Then scroll down to the middle of the screen, where it says, "Let NINC BLAST you."
Simply click on the pale blue envelope, then follow the protocols.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Close-knit community

The writing community is close-knit.
Thanks to the Internet, a solitary writer can make friends from all over the world, friends you chat to daily, more often than friends you've had a lifetime.

Recently, the lovely Jessica Hart visited Melbourne on her way to the RWAus conference.
I 'know' Jessica, a fellow Harlequin Romance author, via the Net so when I heard she was coming, I couldn't wait to meet her.

We had a lovely brunch at Southbank: sadly my boys only lasted 90 minutes otherwise we could've happily chatted books all day.

It was really lovely to chat to a RITA winner and author of 55 books, and hear her thoughts on writing and books. Very inspiring.

(An interesting aside: I'm carrying an extra 14 kg at the moment, mainly due to lack of exercise: bone tumour in left foot last year, lymphodema in right leg this year. I weigh the same now as I did after giving birth to my last child a few years ago. I don't like it. And it's not until I see a photo of myself, like this one, that it hits home.
With my leg finally stabilising, I now vow to do something about this situation.
Watch this space because in 4 months, I want to post a much skinnier picture!)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

I picked this book up because the cover grabbed my attention
(yes, despite my previous stance that I couldn't care less what was on a cover, I go for author name or recommendations.)

Then the title captured my attention too. It sounded so intriguing...light and fun yet that 'dark side' added a new dimension.

And scanning the blurb, I was hooked: a mathlete on the verge of turning 18 discovers she's betrothed to Romanian vampire royalty. Intriguing stuff!

Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say:

A romance involving a high school girl and a handsome vampire may sound a little too familiar, yet this first novel quickly bursts ahead of the pack of Twilight-wannabes. Down-to-earth mathlete Jessica Packwood is completely horrified when, a few months shy of her 18th birthday, a Romanian named Lucius Vladescu shows up on her doorstep, claiming that he and she are vampire royalty betrothed to each other since infancy—what's worse, her adoptive parents verify the betrothal story and explain that her birth parents identified themselves as vampires, too. Fantaskey makes this premise work by playing up its absurdities without laughing at them, endowing Jessica with a coolly ironic sensibility and Lucius with old-world snobberies that Jessica's girlfriends find irresistible. Jessica's laidback parents serve as foils for imperious Lucius (Can I ever again be happy in our soaring Gothic castle after walking the halls of Woodrow Wilson High School, a literal ode to linoleum? he asks sarcastically); a scene at a steakhouse where the vegan Packwoods meet the carnivorous Vladescus is first-rate comedy. The romance sizzles, the plot develops ingeniously and suspensefully, and the satire sings.

I absolutely loved this story.
The humour is fabulous, the characters intriguing, Beth Fantaskey's voice is fresh and extremely readable and Lucius...ah, Lucius is one seriously hot vampire!

It's not often I pick up a book knowing absolutely nothing about the story or the author. After this experience, I'll be doing it more often.

What are you reading this week?