Saturday, July 31, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Meridian

My love affair with YA novels continues.

Because books like this fuel it.

Devoured MERIDIAN in just over a day. Loved it.

Here's the blurb:

My name is Meridian Sozu. I am a Fenestra. I have always shared my world with the dead and the dying. But I really didn't understand what that meant until I turned sixteen and glimpsed my own mortality. . .

Sixteen-year-old Meridian has always been surrounded by death. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders burrowed into her bedclothes to die. As she grew, the animals got bigger, and soon they were finding her at school to die in her presence. Meridian became an outcast, labeled by her classmates as Reaper, Gravedigger, and Witch. Each death she witnesses weakens her body, and loneliness weakens her spirit.
On her sixteenth birthday, she witnesses a deadly car crash. Though she’s untouched, Meridian's body explodes with the victims’ pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she's a danger to her family and rushed to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. It's there that she learns the secret her mother has been hiding her entire life: that she is a Fenestra, the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. It's crucial that she learn how to transition human souls to the afterlife and preserve the balance between good and evil on earth. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos. Dark, lovely, and lushly romantic, MERIDIAN introduces a powerful heroine who will entrance readers.

The writing is evocative, the characters are wonderfully real and the supernatural stuff is eerily thought-provoking.

The pages couldn't turn quick enough but I was sad when it ended, a definite sign of a keeper!

Can't wait for the sequel!

What are you reading this weekend?

Friday, July 30, 2010

The importance of fans

How many of us take time out of our busy lives to contact the authors whose books we love?

I never used to do it until I started receiving fan mail of my own and realised how much it meant to me. So whenever a book blows me away, I contact that author and tell them. Some respond, some don't. But that's okay, I've let them know how much their book meant to me.

So for all you avid readers out there who think authors are too busy to hear from you or you don't want to bug us...think again.

The author whose book you just read and loved may be having a very bad week.
She may have had her 25th book rejected.
She may have massive revisions.
She may have had a lousy review.
She may have a tight deadline, sick kids, a house falling apart, whatever.

Your email can make her week.

So to the lovely Kerrin, who regularly comments here, I thank you for this:

If you aren't a Mills and Boon reader that's okay, I wasn't in the past. They are a fantastic quick read. Right to the story, good characters, great story line, all about passion and heart and conflict - well depending on the line you choose of course :)

I just love Nicola Marsh. Her stories are fun, fast paced and... well you just have to read them to know what it is! She has that something about her stories that, despite the small size of the book, they really pack a punch!

I am traditionally a single title lover - you know the 100,000+ word novel. But her books are fantastic and this!

Starr and Callum are hot, sassy and so good together you root for them right from page one! Go and buy it, you won't regret it!!

Kerrin took the time to review OVERTIME IN THE BOSS'S BED on her blog.
She made my day and brought a smile to this author's face!

When readers take the time to comment on our books, the author usually knows. Google Alert is a wonderful thing :)

So to all my fans out there, silent or otherwise, I thank you!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Comfort reading

I don't need much of an excuse to snuggle up with a book.
Whenever I'm not running around after the kids or writing or doing general life stuff, you can find me curled up on the coach or snuggled under the covers with a book.

This week, I've managed to get another sore throat/head cold bug, which makes me crave comfort even more, so I've read 3 books!

'HUSH, HUSH' by Becca Fitzpatrick, one of the big YA books of 2010.
'MERIDIAN' by Amber Kizer, which I saw in the Borders catalogue recently and liked the blurb.
'BEAUTIFUL MALICE' by Rebecca James, an Aussie author who hit the big time when this book went for huge auctions all around the world.

I'll review these over the next few weekends for the Weekend Book Club, but suffice to say I read Beautiful Malice in a day, Meridian in two. Devoured them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Totally epic contest

One of my agency buddies, the lovely Julie Cross, is running a Totally Epic Summer Contest this week in conjunction with Roni Griffin.

Details are being revealed daily but from hints dropped, there are book giveaways, crits on offer, agent and editor interviews.

So go check it out!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Make your readers love you

Found a really interesting article on 'Make your readers love you: 5 lessons from Pixar.'

In short:

1) Be consistent and build trust.

2) Take the time to do things right.

3) Tell a story that connects.

4) Know yourself, your product and your team.

5) Now, make it your own.

To read explanations of the above points, check out the full article here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Bleeding Violet

Another riveting book sent to me by the fabulous Suzie Townsend.

Straight off, the blurb of Dia Reeves BLEEDING VIOLET intrigued me:

Love can be a dangerous thing….

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna’s tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.
But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she’s far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

It was so refreshing to have a YA heroine with mental health issues.

I got sucked into the story immediately with Hanna's unique voice and the pages keep turning from there.

As the book progresses, the weirdness factor increases.
To the point I was left wondering 'huh, what could possibly come up next?'

One of the reviewers for this book summed it up well. "It's about embracing your inner freak."

What are you reading this weekend?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

YA for boys

There has been a lot of discussion recently during YAlitchat and kidlitchat on Twitter about there not being enough YA books for boys.

And a concern that boys leap from MG books straight to adult, and are missing out on YA.

Agency-sister Hannah Moskowitz has a great post on this topic today.

Go check it out.

Makes for interesting reading (and she says it so much better than I ever could!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The truth about titles

Last week, 'anonymous' posted this comment in relation to my post on book covers.

Could you come up with more interesting titles for the books. Most of the time they are variations on the same 5 words.

I've been asked the title question many times and every time I do a library talk and divulge the truth about Mills and Boon titles, people are genuinely surprised.

Listen up, people.

I don't choose the titles of my books.

Yes, I have a working title (something that absolutely must encapsulate the book for me) but when I sell the book to M&B, they choose the title.


Because M&B have a very savvy marketing team, along with very smart editors, who know what sells.

'Hooks' sell: bride, baby, millionaire, billionaire, tycoon, wedding, bridesmaid, rancher, family...
These are just a few and yes, you'll see them recycled in different forms on different books because that's what sells.

And if my book sells well, I'm pleased, my editor is pleased, the company is pleased.

So now you know. :)

Besides, if you're anything like me, it's not about the title or the cover, it's the words on the pages that count.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

End of the line

Hey, if you're in OZ or NZ, my current release (along with Mira Lyn Kelly's debut) are the last SEXY SENSATIONS ever!

That's right, as of next month, the UK Modern Heat series will be released as straight SEXY in OZ/NZ, so go grab your bit of history today :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Personal Demons

Thanks to the fabulous Book Fairy, an ARC of PERSONAL DEMONS arrived in the mail this week.

After hearing so much about this book on Twitter, I was dying to read it.

And read it I did, in 2 days! For a busy mum and writer, that's saying something.

Written by my lovely agency-sister Lisa Desrochers, here's the blurb:

Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She's spent years keeping everyone at a distance—even her closest friends—and it seems her senior year will be more of the same...until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can't seem to stay away from him. What she doesn't know is that Luc works in Acquisitions—for Hell—and she possesses a unique skill set that has the king of Hell tingling with anticipation. All Luc has to do is get her to sin, and he’s as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance.
Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and the angel, Gabe, is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Luc doesn’t get what he came for. And it isn't long before they find themselves fighting for more than just her soul. But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay…for all of them.

I've read a lot of YA books over the last six months and this one is a real page turner.
It's fun, entertaining and the chemistry between Frannie and the two boys in her life sizzles!

I'm unashamedly Team Luc after reading the book, though Gabe has a place in my heart too.

The ending has a nice twist and leaves you hanging out for the next installment.

Look out for Personal Demons this September!

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What makes you buy a book?

When I buy books, I go for author name over covers.
I couldn't care less what's on the covers, it's what's between them that count.
It got me thinking though.
Here's my recent release, THREE TIMES A BRIDESMAID, with several different covers.
Which one would make you pick up the book?
Which do you like best?
And do you buy a book based on cover? Author name? Reviews?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Short fiction contest

If you write short fiction, the 11th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition is now open to entries.

1500 words or less
Open to writers all around the world.
Closing date: Dec 1st

And check out the prizes!

Full details here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weekend Book Club: The Darkest Kiss

I'm ashamed to say, this is the first Gena Showalter book I've read.
I know, I know, but I read a lot and widely across genres, so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
I grabbed this book on a quick mission to a new bookstore, with toddler grumbling for food, so I added it to a pile of 9 books in my arms and ran for the checkout.
Only later did I discover it's actually book 2 in the Lord of the Underworld series. But I didn't want to wait to read book 1 so I dove straight in.
And loved it.
Here's the blurb:
She has tempted many men… but never found her equal.
Until now.
Though she has lived for centuries, Anya, goddess of anarchy, has never known pleasure. Until Lucien, the incarnation of death—a warrior eternally doomed to take souls to the hereafter. He draws her like no other. And Anya will risk anything to have him.
But when the merciless Lord of the Underworld is ordered by the gods to claim Anya herself, their uncontrollable attraction becomes an anguished pursuit. Now they must defeat the unconquerable forces that control them, before their thirst for one another demands a sacrifice of love beyond imagining.…
Anya, the goddess of anarchy, more than lives up to her name and Lucien, the incarnation of death, is a wonderfully scarred hero, both physically and emotionally.
And the sparks they create...phew! This is one SEXY read.
There are loads of secondary characters whose stories we get snippets of throughout this book, so loads more Lords of the Underworld books to come!
In fact, there are 12 books in the series. You can see them all here.

Friday, July 09, 2010

THE WRITE WHISPER: The question you must answer

We've all heard the terms 'premise' and 'theme' bandied around.

And if you're anything like me, having to label my story kinda freaks me out.

If I had to do it, I'd say many of my contemporary romances have been stories of second chances.

But there's something more important than figuring out theme while you're actually writing. Answering the all important STORY QUESTION.

So what is a story question?
It's the question that drives a reader to finish the book or watch a movie.

eg. Will Bella and Edward overcome all obstacles to be together?
Will Woody and Buzz save their toy mates and get played with in safety?

Interestingly, the answer to the question isn't often in doubt.

We know Bella and Edward will overcome all obstacles to live HEA.
We know Woody and Buzz will look after their mates and save the day in the process.

But what's important is getting your reader to care about the story question.
And to do this, we need to get our readers to care about our characters.

Both Bella and Edward are fish out of water characters. They don't belong. They're outcasts/strange in their respective worlds. And Edward is 'out' of this world. But Bella's desire for the vampire is strong. She'll let nothing stand in their way of being together and a powerful desire makes a character more compelling.

Along with getting your reader to care about your characters, your reader should be in doubt how your story question will be resolved. (Even though the ultimate outcome is rarely in doubt.)

eg. Though we strongly suspect Bella and Edward will end up together, they face enormous obstacles in getting there. Jacob, the Volturi, Victoria, their families, the list goes on.

So want to write a great story?

-Create a compelling story question.

-Create a character reader's will root for

-And a reason why they'll support that character through to the end.

-Create obstacles, make it look like that character can't obtain what they want.

-Try to answer your story question in an unexpected way.

Happy writing!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Dirty dancing

Here's another snapshot of Callum and Starr in OVERTIME IN THE BOSS'S BED:

“Let’s dance.”
Just one quick spin around the floor. She couldn’t stand much more of the tension, nor the constant nagging inner voice that continually whispered ‘you’re in too deep’.
He stopped dead, his serious expression belied by the naughty gleam in his eyes.
“I lied to you.”
He bumped her gently with his hip, pointed to his shoes. “I don’t have two left feet.”
“Proof of the pudding and all that.”
“I was junior state ballroom dancing champion for two years straight in high school.”
“You can
His self-effacing smile merely added to his charm. “Don’t sound so surprised. Do I look like a clumsy oaf to you?”
What he looked like was the ultimate dreamboat, every girl’s fantasy come to life.
“Now you’re just fishing for compliments.”
Tossing her hair, she took his outstretched hand. Could he be any more perfect? Next he’d be saying he adored sushi and funky jewellery and long, decadent baths.
With a toe-curling smile, he said, “Is it working?”
“I have a feeling you know exactly how good you are.”
“Hey, a guy can never have too much reassurance.”
“Come on, Mr. Ballroom Champ, let’s see what you’re made of.”
Tugging on her hand until she was plastered against his chest, he said, “I’m up for the challenge if you are.”
“I’m up for anything.”
She pinned him with a sultry stare, leaving in little doubt to what she meant.
Brushing the barest of kisses against her lips, he murmured, “Then let’s make this dance quick and get out of here.”
finally, they were on the same page. Trouble was she knew what the next chapter held but what about the one after that? And would this page-turner have a happy ending?
As the sexy soulful music filtered through the club, Callum held her tight, his feet never faulting as he guided her through a perfect rumba.
She should’ve been in her element, oblivious to everything but the music taking her to the special place it always did but with Callum’s arms around her, his body deliciously close, all she could focus on was him. Only him.
As the music changed he released her, tipped up her chin.
“Care to rate my performance?”
“On a scale of one to ten?”
Trailing a fingertip down his cheek, she said, “Nine point five.”
“What did I lose the half point for?”
“Doing the dance upright.”
His eyes widened, darkened, at the innuendo and before she could lose the advantage along with her bravado, she grabbed his hand and made a break for the door.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Latest OZ/NZ release

I've been so laid back since I got back from my week away, I forgot I have another release in Australia/NZ this month!
Here's what a lovely reader on Amazon had to say:
To me this is one of the best HQ books I ever read, truly different from the regular themes and plots.
Very refreshing, extremely witty, deep, and it really touched my very romantic soul :) Highly reccomended!
If you aren't in OZ/NZ and still want to grab a copy, order here from the Book Depository for free worldwide postage!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Adult fiction contest-Twitter style!

If you're not following the QUERY TRACKER blog, you should be.

Loads of great publishing information and now, they're running a great contest in conjunction with my fabulous agent, Suzie Townsend.

The genres to be judged are:

Adult Science Fiction
Adult Fantasy
Adult Urban Fantasy
All subgenres of Adult Romance
Adult Thriller

For more information, visit here.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Brazilian

TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED is going Brazilian this month.

Can you believe we're already into July?
Half the year gone?
Have you achieved your goals? Set new ones in the lead up to 2011?

I'm not a goal setter as such. I just sit down at my keyboard and get the job done.
Which is kind of nice when I look back over a year and realise how much I've written.

While I've just started writing my next Modern Heat and another YA, I have a major idea bubbling away in the back of my brain.

Time to grab a pen and paper and brainstorm, methinks...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Weekend Book Club: Untameable Rogue

While I write category romance, I don't read a lot of it these days.
I'd love to, but just don't have the time. When I do, some of my favourite category authors are Liz Fielding, Ally Blake, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley and Sarah Mayberry.

Kelly Hunter is another.
With good reason.

She has a unique voice which leaps off the page, her Asian settings are evocative and her heroes are the most gorgeous men on the planet!

She's currently nominated for a RITA (and was nominated 2 years ago).
If she doesn't win this year, she'll win next year, with Untameable Rogue.

Without a doubt, it is my absolute favourite Kelly Hunter novel.

The sparks between CEO Madeline Delacourte and disarmament specialist Luke Bennett burn up the pages. Their chemistry sizzles in a big way!
(I've been to Singapore several times, wish I'd met a Luke there!)

And the secondary characters made me smile.

This is the first category romance I've reviewed here, with reason. It's a stand out.

If you've never read a category romance, do yourself a favour and pick up this one.
You won't regret it.

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Strolling and scones

Last stop on the roadtrip was Echuca, a gorgeous old town nestled on the banks of the Murray River.


-catching up with my parents, who came up for the weekend and stayed in our apartment. (and brought copious amounts of delicious food so I didn't have to cook!)

-strolling through the Moama Market on Sunday morning and discovering a wooden toy kidlet had but toddler didn't (because it was purchased at Eumundi market in QLD years ago) and buying it.

-tasting and buying too much at the Echuca Chocolate Company. All handmade, all delicious!

-discovering the BEST SCONES EVER at WistariA. Melt in your mouth, light, fluffy, we visited several times, holed away in their cosy private rooms with open fires. And the lattes were fab too!

(Hmm...there seems to be a recurring pattern on this roadtrip...too much food!)