Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Free Blush

In all the excitement of my RBY win last week, I forgot to announce my newest release!

For fans who enjoyed Jess and Jack's romance in BRASH, you can now read about Adele and Reid's tale in BLUSH.

What's even better for you?
BLUSH is free for the next few days on Amazon.

So go grab your copy and tell all your friends.

Monday, August 26, 2013

GUEST AUTHOR: Adite Banerjie

Today I'd like to welcome Adite Banerjie to my blog.

I first met Adite online, through Facebook and Goodreads, when she reviewed some of my books.
She was always encouraging of my work so imagine how thrilled I was to spot recently that she'd sold to Mills and Boon India!

Congrats again, Adite.
Now, over to you...

An Alpha Indian Tycoon, Anyone?

Tall, dark, handsome billionaires, sexy, spirited heroines and spectacular settings are stuff that romantic fantasies are made of. There is an Alpha hero for every romance reader – the hunky cowboy, the suave tycoon, the sheikh with the six-pack abs and even the hot-as-hell vampire. It’s little wonder then that zillions of women all over the world can’t do without their fix of romance reading.
And here I was, a newbie romance writer, taking on the challenge of creating a hero who could go mano-a-mano with all the beloved Mills & Boon Alpha hunks.  Scary prospect. But it had to be done. After all, my short story entry to the Harlequin India Aspiring Authors Auditions had been declared a winner and I had a 50,000-word story to write! 
Holy cow! The thought was daunting enough to freeze my fingers on the keyboard.  There are legions of Alpha heroes that I admire and some. Here’s just a small selection: the brooding and passionate Rick Blaine of Casablanca, the awesome and arrogant Rhett Butler, the suave and sexy Edward Lewis (played to perfection by Richard Gere) in Pretty Woman and Bollywood’s charming and playful Raj in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.
And who can resist the Mills & Boon playboy tycoons... the Greeks, the Italians and Russians? The all-powerful, proud, protector heroes who have the world at their feet; feared by their rivals and revered by their loyalists. But of course, when the right woman comes along they reveal that behind that gruff and devil-may-care exterior they are real softies! As Annie West, romance author writes: “Above all, the Alpha Hero will stand by her (the Heroine) when she needs him, he will be a loving, loyal partner. And if the road to happiness is a little rocky to begin with, all the better. After all, we want our romances with a little spice, don’t we?”
Perhaps it was time to give the Tycoon a cultural makeover. Add a little Indian spice! As I started writing my book, the Hero Krish Dev began to take shape. He turned out to be the quintessential Alpha Male—the aloof and reluctant heir to his father’s business empire—who holds true to his beliefs and is steeped in Indian values. Clearly this tycoon would be more than a match for my feisty, revenge-driven Heroine, Maya Shome.

Here’s a sneak peek at what happens when they first set eyes on each other…

She scanned the Ballroom looking for her quarry and couldn’t help notice that the choice of floral decoration was the exquisite lavender rose.  A sharp pang twisted through her, reminding her of Papa, who had perfected the art of growing these beautiful, exotic flowers. She reached out to touch a delicate petal. The presence of Papa’s special flower was like a good omen; as if he was watching over her. She felt lucky tonight.
“Beautiful!” drawled a deep, gravelly voice.
Maya’s eyes darted towards the man standing a couple of feet away from her. Awareness zinged through her as her eyes clashed with a pair of dark, dancing eyes set in a face that was all sharp angles, framed by thick cropped hair. It should have made for an all too severe effect but for the deep cleft that dented his chin. His lopsided sexy smile had her pulse doing a crazy dance. He left her in no doubt that she was the object of his appraisal.
Flustered, she dragged her eyes away from his sexy cleft chin and tried to gather her scattered wits. “It’s a shame to present such beauty with so little imagination.”
“You would have done it differently?”
She stole a quick look at him. The light stubble only accentuated his chiselled jaw while his cream-coloured silk shirt parted ever so slightly to reveal a superbly toned body.
“Maybe,” she replied, annoyed at herself for being so easily waylaid by his sex appeal which he no doubt regularly used with deadly precision on women at parties like these.
“You’re right.” He turned his mesmerising dark eyes on her again. “Exotic beauties need to be treated with more delicacy and…”  He gave her a slow look-over, “imagination.”  Her body thrummed with awareness.
 He smiled knowingly, almost as if he’d felt her instinctive jolt of reaction, and held out his hand, “I am Krish.”
“It will be a pleasure to get to know you,” he murmured almost to himself, as he turned the handshake into something less formal, more intimate, touching his lips to her fingers. Maya felt the tremor of awareness go up a notch higher on her internal Richter scale.

You can read Krish Dev and Maya Shome’s story in The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal which releases in India in September. And I hope you will enjoy their story as much as I did, writing it.
Adite Banerjie

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Still celebrating

I'm still celebrating my RBY win!

This lovely bouquet arrived from Harlequin Australia, and the irises are just blooming.

Along with the congratulatory mega bouquet and choccies from hubby, I'm feeling very spoilt.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My latest newspaper interview

Yesterday I was interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald following my RBY win.

If you're in Melbourne, it's in The Age newspaper today or online here.

My kids are impressed! :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I won the RBY!!!

I'm absolutely THRILLED I won the RuBY!!!!

Or more precisely, my heroine Ruby in Marrying the Enemy won the RUBY!

Sadly, I was unable to attend the awards ceremony so the very gracious Anne Gracie accepted the award on my behalf and delivered my acceptance speech.

I've been sick for the last few weeks, so was curled up on the couch glued to Twitter as the announcements rolled in...and was stunned to see my name pop up as the winner!

I'm so stoked that readers loved this book as much as I do.

Now, to make space in my office... :)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Awards night

Tonight, this book that won the National Readers' Choice Award recently is up for a RBY award (RWAust. Romantic Book of the Year.)

Sadly, I'm not at the awards ceremony but I'm keeping everything crossed!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wicked Heat

I'm thrilled to reveal the first book in my new series for Entangled Publishing's Brazen books...

WICKED HEAT is the first in a series of hot contemporary romances set on glamorous islands around the world.

Releasing September 2nd, it is now available for pre-order!

Barnes & Noble

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Busted in Bollywood releasing in India!

Received an exciting email yesterday from Entangled Publishing...Mills and Boon have licensed foreign rights to publish BUSTED IN BOLLYWOOD in the Indian subcontinent!

So early spring 2014, this favourite book of mine will be releasing in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Busted in Bollywood is going to Bollywood, woohoo!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Guest Author: Christy McKellen & her naked 'call' tale!

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Christy McKellen to my blog.

Christy recently sold to Harlequin Kiss...after pitching on my blog contest right here!

Congrats Christy, now over to you...

The Naked Call 

It’s been a long time coming, this Call. I’ve been writing all my life, but only seriously started trying to write for publication about six years ago after having my second child (I have a grand total of three now – I know, I know, crazy right?)

Like many aspiring authors at the very beginning of their journey, I wrote a lot of drivel and every now and again I’d sent it off to Harlequin Mills & Boon headquarters and receive a very polite – and not altogether surprising - form rejection back each time. I feel so sorry for those poor editors now, wading through my purple prose, weak characterisation and complete lack of conflict.

I didn’t give up though; I’m stubborn like that. I kept writing. I kept reading. I read everything I could get my hands on about the publishing industry as well as the craft of writing. There’s a plethora of fabulous blogs, books and websites out there – too many to keep up with – but after a while I honed down a list of the ones that spoke to me and kept reading and learning.

I entered the competitions that HM&B offered up every year (and didn’t win, or even get a request) but met some fabulous people though on-line forums and Facebook pages, some of whom became my fabulous – and essential – critique partners. Finally I wasn’t writing in the dark any more, I had feedback!

About a year ago, I had a break-through. A new American e-first publisher offered me a contract for a book I’d written that wasn’t quite right for the Mills & Boon line I wanted to write for – KISS, soon to be Modern Tempted in the UK – and I was away. I began to build my web presence: Twitter, Facebook, blog and immersed myself in the heady world of marketing. Exciting times. But I still yearned to have something accepted by HM&B; they were my mecca.

There’s a romance writers’ festival in the UK called the Festival of Romance that will be in its third year this November, which I went to last year. It was brilliant! Not just because I got to meet and grill some of my favourite published romance writers, but because there were opportunities to meet Mills & Boon editors face to face, including the fantastic Flo Nicoll who edits the line I wanted to write for. Gold dust. I pitched a couple of ideas there, but I knew deep down at the time they still weren’t quite right for the line. But I’d met Flo – who was so friendly and encouraging - and now I was even more determined to get it right. The challenge was on.

I had a manuscript I’d been working on for a couple of years, but the characters hadn’t clicked with me – or I hadn’t clicked with them – and I’d given them a bit of time to stew in my head. Finally, FINALLY they let me in and I was away. This story was much better suited to the KISS/Tempted line and I was so excited about it. I managed to mostly complete it before the next stage in the ‘Saga of Christy’s Long and Twisting Route to Publication’.

And that’s where the lovely Nicola Marsh comes in. As you know, this fabulously talented lady has now been published for ten years – ten years, man! She very kindly organised an online pitch session on this blog where writers had to sum up their story in three sentences in the hope that it would capture Flo Nicoll’s interest. If it did, she might pick it to be one of two lucky winners who would have the first three chapters of their manuscript read and critiqued in one week. I know, more gold dust, right. Anyway, there were some absolutely fantastic pitches and I didn’t win one of the coveted prizes. “Oh well,” I thought, “never mind, I had a go and there are other ways to get your story seen.” Then I received an email from Flo saying I was one of a few lucky writers whose pitch had stood out and even though it hadn’t won, she was still interested in seeing the full manuscript. Happy? I nearly passed out with excitement.

So I polished the manuscript up, sent it to my wonderful critique partners, polished it some more after their feedback, then pressed send. Gulp!

Five weeks later, my husband and I were in the South of France celebrating his birthday. My kind parents were looking after the children for the week so we could have some much needed hubs and wife time so I was in total holiday mode. I didn’t check my email for long periods, (I’m talking hours here – I’m sure anyone who’s ever submitted a story will understand why that’s a big deal though). I woke up on the morning of Friday 5th July, logged on to the very dodgy Internet connection in our hotel and waited for my mail to download onto my phone. I had one email. Expecting it to be a regular mail from one of the blogs I subscribe to, I was amazed to see Flo Nicoll’s name. I opened it with shaking fingers. It was a lovely email saying she’d hadn’t finished reading the story, but what she’d read she really liked and she hoped to have some feedback for me by early the next week. Excited? Moi? Feedback from a Mills & Boon editor is what I’d been dreaming about for all those years. Checking the time of the mail, I noticed it had been sent some time the previous day, so I sent one back saying sorry for not replying sooner (I know, twelve hours is not a long time to wait for a reply, but I was excited, okay!) and that I was in France with a dodgy Internet connection and I was really pleased she liked what she’d read and I looked forward to reading her feedback the following week. Great. One happy bunny. I woke up the hubs, squee’d for a bit, then went for a shower.

When I came out my phone was ringing. I got to it just as it rang off and saw it was a London number. Assuming it was my brother ringing from work, I waited for the answerphone message to beep then listened to it. It was Flo. She wanted to call me and was asking whether there was a landline number she could get me on. My brain went into overdrive. In the back of my head a little voice whispered, “The editors at Mills & Boon only call to offer you a book contract”, but the sensible, more cautious side of my brain said, “Don’t be silly, she’s probably just missing the end of the document and needs you to resend it or something.” I was shaking. I had to know, IMMEDIATELY. I found Flo’s direct line number from her email and called it. I must point out at this stage I was still fresh out of the shower and… completely naked. A lady picked up the phone at the other end and I explained who I was and was hugely excited to find I was talking directly with Flo herself. She asked if there was a landline, but I explained there wasn’t one in my room (I didn’t mention I was too naked to leave the room and find one) so we continued the conversation on my mobile. (So yes, I made my own Call). Basically, she told me they really liked the story and they wanted to offer me a two-book contract. I stood there, still dripping water from the shower, my whole body shaking now and muttered something like, “Oh my god, I’ve wanted this for so long, thank you so much, yes, yes, I would love a two book contract,” while my husband stood there with tears in his eyes. He knew how much this meant to me, he’d been there with me on the journey through all its ups and downs, so he KNEW. I somehow managed to finish the phone call with Flo without sounding like a complete loon and just started at my husband in shock. It took a celebratory gin and tonic by the hotel pool and a LOT of talking and pinching of skin for it to finally sink in that I’d SOLD MY MANUSCRIPT TO MILLS AND BOON. The rest of the day – and the rest of the week to be honest – was spent celebrating. The photo is of me, the day of The Call, dancing for joy on the beach. A good day. The best.

Anyway, thank you for sticking with me this long. It’s been quite a ride, I can tell you.

And the moral of the story? Keep writing, keep reading and never, NEVER give up.

Holiday with a Stranger will be published in March 2014 within the KISS/Modern Tempted line by Harlequin Mills & Boon.

B.K. (Before Kids) Christy worked as a Video and Radio Producer in London and Nottingham. After a decade of dealing with nappies, tantrums and endless questions from toddlers, she has come out the other side and moved into the wonderful world of literature. She now spends her time writing flirty, sexy romance with a kick (her dream job!).

In her downtime she can be found drinking the odd glass of champagne, ambling around the beautiful South West of England or escaping from real life by dashing off to foreign lands with her fabulous family.

Christy loves to hear from readers. You can contact her at:

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

GUEST AUTHOR: Nina Harrington

Ten Questions with Harlequin KISS and Carina UK author Nina Harrington

It gives me great pleasure to welcome award winning Harlequin Kiss author Nina Harrington onto my blog today to talk about her new adventure - romantic mystery. Nina is the author of Recipe for Disaster released July 31st from Carina UK.

1) Have you always been a writer?

I vaguely remember writing down short bedtime fantasy adventure stories to tell to my two younger brothers when they were small so I do believe that I have always been a writer.  I certainly have always been an obsessive reader of both fiction and non-fiction.

2) Do you have a particular writing process? 

Since I am now a full time writer I know how important it is to keep a writing routine so I head to my office straight after breakfast and spend the morning creating new words.
The afternoons are for social media, admin and spending time out of the office to let my subconscious brain work on story problems.
If I am on deadline I will probably spend another couple of hours working on the manuscript in the evening but otherwise I love to read for pleasure and watch drama and movies.

3) Is there a particular book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?
Oh what a tough question. Lois McMaster Bujold and her Miles Vorkosigan series. But Susan Elizabeth Phillips comes a very close second.

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?
Can I have two?

“Follow your heart but listen to your head” – Steve Jobs.
And ‘Carpe Diem’ – Seize the day. Life is short. This is not a dress rehearsal.

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

*I love to travel and for my 40th Birthday I climbed an active volcano on the Indian Ocean Island of Reunion.
*I have a research doctorate in nanoparticle technology.  Which is no help at all at the supermarket or when writing intimate contemporary romance scenes. 
*I have a healthy respect for the open water and even after 7 years of lessons I still cannot swim.

6) Congratulations on your release of Recipe for Disaster. What made you turn to Romantic Mystery?

I love to read commercial crime and romance fiction for pleasure, so when the story idea and characters for a mystery set in an Italian deli came into my head and refused to leave, I knew that I had to tell Bunty and Fabio’s story. And have some fun along the way.
If you enjoy reading Jennifer Crusie, Janet Evanovich and Susan Elizabeth Phillips this book might be just what you are looking for.

Bunty Brannigan makes the best cannoli in London!

London chef Bunty Caruso Brannigan has no time to celebrate her 30th birthday. She is working every hour to create a menu for an award ceremony, and to keep customers coming through the door of the Italian deli she has inherited from her parents.
Bunty’s life was complicated enough when all she had to deal with were her best friends from convent school, and the students in her baking classes, but then reformed bad boy, lawyer and Italian stud Fabio Rossi gives her a birthday present with a difference and things begin to really spin out of control.
What will happen when all of the Caruso family secrets are out in the open?
Will her Italian godmother sort things out from beyond the grave in her special way?
Will Fabio make Bunty change her mind about dating Italians?
Will the convent girls be forced to go back and tell Sister Teresa the truth about the visiting choirboys and the missing communion wine?
And how much chocolate do you choose to create a life size man part?
Let the mayhem begin. And don’t forget the cannoli!

7) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?

Bunty glanced up across the tables spread out around the room. It didn’t matter that she looked a mess. Not to her friends and family who had come out on a cold January evening to help her celebrate her birthday.
She grinned across at Maria who was carrying out yet more plates of more lamb and roast potatoes. Her friend replied with a jaunty wink as one of the catering students patted her bottom the second the plate hit the table and Maria pretended to squeal, and then sat down heavily on his lap and wrapped her arm around his shoulders.
These were her real friends. Her real family. Girls from the local convent school she had known all of her life and their husbands and boyfriends, pals from the local shops, students she taught at the catering college. All loud, boisterous and having fun. And that was precisely how she liked it.  No false pretences here. Real people who shared her life each and every day.
She was so lucky to have them.
A warm glow of happiness and contentment spread from deep inside her like a furnace that pumped the heat from her heart to the very ends of her fingertips.  She had never felt so safe and secure for years. Protected. And cared for and part of a very special community of friends who looked out for one another.
Maybe turning 30 was not so bad after all when she had friends like these in her life. So what if she didn’t have a mega TV career like her cousin Luca? She had something much better.
Bunty leant sideways and rested her head on Alex’s shoulder. ‘Have I said thank you yet for pulling this all together? It’s amazing and I love it.’
Alex laughed out loud and gave her a one armed hug. ‘Several times. It’s the wine you know. Causes short term memory loss in older women. I have built up resistance over the years so it takes a lot longer to kick in.’
Then Alex started rubbing her hands together and humming the last verse under her breath. ‘Now. Back to the important stuff. What totally outrageous thing have you decided to do before the end of the day? Remember the rules – it has to be spontaneous, the opposite of what you would normally do, and fun! Points will be awarded for the most ingenious solution!’
‘Dance on the table? Bunty suggested then shook her head and waved her arms around. ‘No. Forget that one. The table legs wouldn’t cope with my current body weight and this food is too good to waste and it would only lead to spillages... Something outrageous. Um…’
Then she looked over Alex’s shoulder back towards the entrance to the restaurant and her breath caught in her throat.
Standing not three feet away from her was one of the best looking men that she had seen in her life. She was 5ft 9ins so he had to be at least 6 feet 2ins in his very shiny slim smart black shoes. Her gaze tracked up his body before the sensible part of her brain clicked in to stop it.
Slim hips. Broad shoulders. A hand made cashmere and silk business suit in a shade of midnight blue which was so perfect it made her drool. A tailored white shirt open at the neck just enough to draw attention to his natural tanned skin at the throat. Dark chestnut brown hair that curled into neat waves which simply begged to be touched.
‘Hello,’ he said in a rich deep male voice which crossed the air space that separated them and reverberated inside her head. ‘I’m looking for a Bernadette Caruso Brannigan. Have I come to the right place?’
He was Italian mixed with a delicious topping of American English. And he had come looking for her.
‘Bunty whipped around in her seat before Alex caught her open-mouthed staring at the top three buttons on his shirt, which were unfastened, revealing a hint of tanned skin with dark chest hair. Taunting her.
If he dressed like this in January, August would be interesting.
For some reason her breathing had become irregular and she suddenly felt remarkably warm.
Oh Alex,’ she breathed in a low hiss of appreciation. ‘I owe you big time.’
‘This is so true? But what particular thing have I done now,’ Alex replied between mouthfuls of garlic bread.
‘You didn’t tell me that you hired a male stripper.’
‘Who? What?’ Alex looked up and whirled her head around like a meerkat before it froze in the same direction Bunty was focusing on.
‘Oh. I see what you mean,’ she coughed. ‘Girl, I don’t know who he is, but I think you have just found your challenge. What are you waiting for? He is all yours. Go get him.’

8) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now?

I’m lucky enough to have a three-book contract with Carina UK to write romantic mystery so I’m working on my second novel with my editor right now.  But this time it is set in the Mediterranean and features hunky coastguards and a heroine who makes Lara Croft look like Tinkerbelle.
I am also writing contemporary romance for Harlequin KISS/ Modern Tempted.

9) Plotter or pantser? 

Plotter.  Nerd girl and proud.
10) Digital books or print books?

Both. I adore print books and embarrass myself and my family by sniffing new books the moment I buy one, especially non- fiction books.
 But the closure of so many book shops and the limited range they sell means that the convenience of having instant access to wonderful fiction at the click of a screen from anywhere in the world is like a siren call. Irresistible.

Thank you so much for taking part, Nina.
To discover even more about Nina Harrington, and to keep up with her latest projects and shenanigans, you can visit her at:
Facebook     Twitter     Website

Buy it now…