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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Getting to Know... Lindsay. J. Pryor!

Today I am welcoming the lovely Lindsay. J. Pryor to my blog. Lindsay's debut, Blood Shadows, is already making waves in the book world and deservedly so. For those of you who haven't heard anything about it, it's a paranormal romance that breaks so many cliches it's in a class of its own. Before I move on to the interview, I wanted to write a little something about the book.

Lindsay has created a world set in the city of Blackthorn, a city divided by species. Although we are introduced to a variety of the species that inhabit this dark, wet city, Blood Shadows focuses mainly on the vampires  - in this case, Kane Malloy, a Master Vampire. Tasked with hunting him is the human Caitlin Parish a Shadow Reader and a member of the VCU (Vampire Control Unit). In a nutshell, Vampires do not have souls - they have shadows. I'll give a special Brownie Point to anyone who can guess what special talent a Shadow Reader has...

I loathe reviews that give too many plot points away, so plot-wise, the only thing I will add is that although natural enemies, Kane and Caitlin need each other for their own personal - and deadly - reasons.

Blood Shadows is a wonderful book - for a debut author it is first class. There were moments when I was reading it that I could smell the oil on Kane's hands and swear I heard the rain dripping against the window pane. Lindsay sucks you into Blackthorn so you're right there with them, living this deadly moment with them, and she keeps the suspense and atmosphere going right to the very last page.

Blood Shadows is available to purchase via and

And now for the most exciting part of the blog - the interview! As Lindsay has written such a dark, atmospheric book, I thought I should ask questions that perfectly encapsulates Blackthorn. And then I thought, 'nah', that would be boring!

Q) If you won the lottery (and we're talking mega-money, not a trifling million), what would you spend it on? And don't say anything worthy about 'sharing it with my family' or 'donating a portion to charity'. Unless that charity is the Michelle Smart Hardship Fund.

A) No family or charity at all? Hmmm. I’d probably indulge in books, lingerie and chocolate. And not necessarily in that order. Maybe a tree house. Oh, and a car – my husband just wrote off my last one so I don’t have one anymore. I’d have a black Audi convertible with the Blackthorn logo somewhere. Hang on, mega money? Ah, let’s just go for a Batmobile. In fact, I’m going to buy Wayne Manor. Bruce can stay if he likes…

Q) What was your favourite book as a child, and why?

A) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I read it countless times during childhood (accompanied with regular visits inside my wardrobe – I even had a schedule to increase my chances of getting to Narnia). I loved the story because of the adventure, the talking animals and all the scary stuff with the queen turning characters into stone, let alone the idea of a parallel world being that accessible. And all that snow! I love snow.

Q) What was your favourite TV show as a child and why?

A) The Little Vampire (I should have guessed ha ha ha!). I was fascinated by another world co-existing furtively alongside ours. I adored the costumes and the setting. It was so beautifully gothic. I’d probably look back at it now and cringe because it wasn’t exactly a high-budget show, but I loved it at the time.

Hmmm, the other-wordly thing is becoming a theme here…

Q) If you were stranded on a desert island and were allowed only one book, what would it be and why?

A) I’d take Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian * (an update of Dracula), quite simply because its been on my TBR pile for about three years. I keep putting it off until I have some time to indulge in it properly. I’d hate to think how many books I’ve read in-between – I should have just got on with it! It’s either that or Calvin and Hobbes. They crack me up.

*Lindsay originally wanted to take a note pad. Tut tut. The cheat.

Q) You're still on the island - what is the one music record you would want and why?

A) It would depend on what mood I’m in. Am I on my own? That means I can sing at the top of my voice. I’ll go for My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade in that case.

Q) You're still on the island - if you could have one fictional man there with you, who would it be and why (and he has to be a character from a book)?

A) Still on the island? This is turning into an episode of Lost. A book that’s been published already… Kane! * Surely I don’t need to tell you why.

* She cheated again! Going for her own character is against the rules so I'm taking Kane away from the island and sending Hurley from Lost in his place.

Q) What's your favourite smell?

A) Do I go with soothing smells, sexy smells, invigorating smells…? I like cinnamon. And pomegranate. Oh, and woodburners. Old paper – I love the smell of old bookshops. Okay, we’ll go with the latter. Excellent choice Lindsay!

Q) What's your one money weakness?

A) Eating out. I LOVE eating out. I’m obscenely cautious with money but will eat out at the drop of a hat. Italian (my favourite!), Chinese, Indian, Mexican… any excuse.

Q) What's your favourite joke?

A) A vampire bat returned to his cave late one night, covered in fresh blood. He was just settling down in the roof to get some sleep when all the other bats smelled the blood on him. Soon they were all pestering him about where he got it from.
He told them to leave him alone and let him get some sleep, but they kept on at him. Eventually, he gave in.
‘OK, follow me, he said, and flew out of the cave with hundreds of his fellow bats behind him.

Down through a valley they went, across a river and into a forest full of trees.

Finally he slowed down and all the other bats excitedly milled around him.
‘Now, do you see that tree over there?’ he asked.

‘Yes, yes, yes!’ the bats all squeaked in a frenzy.
‘Good,’ he said. ‘Because I didn’t.’

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lindsay for agreeing to the interview (even though she did cheat more than once - did I mention she tried to get out of doing the joke?). Lindsay, it's been an absolute pleasure and I wish you and Blood Shadows and your wonderful publisher Bookouture every success in the world.

Take care all xxx

Friday, 30 November 2012

Titles & Congratulations

Looks like I've been a bad blogger again - so bad, even my husband has been nagging at me for the past fortnight to write another post (I have no idea why as he never reads them!).

Since my last post and that wonderful visit to Richmond, life has been rather busy, to say the least. November is always a busy month for me but this year it has been busier than normal - having half-term during the first week didn't help. Still, it has been fun.

Ok, onto my news. I am currently at the tail-end of my last few revisions for my debut Harlequin Mills & Boon. These revisions are just a case of adding a few sentences here and there to clarify certain things. The best bit of news though, is I have a title for it. Yep - my very first HMB Modern/Presents book will be called The Rings That Bind. I am over the moon with it - it is perfect for the story. It has been scheduled for release in August 2013. I have to admit to releasing a few (alright, a good dozen) squeals when my lovely editor told me. Two and a half months on from receiving The Call, it still feels as if I'm having an out-of-body experience. Having a title and release date makes it feel slightly more real - a little more solid.

Another person who will be experiencing these very same emotions is the hugely talented Jennifer Drogell, who was announced yesterday as the winner of this year's So You Think You Can Write competition. Eagle-eyed blog readers will recall I named The Divorce Party, her winning entry, as one of my personal favourites in the first round. Yes, I will take some of the credit (it's all about me!!!). So, huge congratulations Jennifer - I am delighted for you.

Another writer I am full of pride for is the wonderful Lindsay. J. Pryor, whose debut book Blood Shadows released this week. I've already brought and read it and cannot recommend it highly enough. I'll be reviewing it properly in the coming weeks when I interview Lindsay for this blog.

That's all from me - as I seem to promise every time I write a post, I'll do my best to be more frequent with my updates!

Take care all xxx

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Meeting the Editors!

Yesterday, on Friday 19th October, exactly one month to the day that I received The Call, I went to Rom HQ in Richmond. When I reached HQ, I admit to feeling a teensy bit of disappointment. In my head I'd imagined a bright pink building with glitter on the doormat! Instead it was just an ordinary meeting.

I was nearly half an hour early and caught them on the hop (oops) but they were wonderful about it. Honestly, I never noticed the boxes on the floor they had intended to put away before I arrived...

Inside, I met my editor (the lovely Charlotte Ledger) and the rest of the editorial team (pictured below is Carly Byrne, Joanne Grant, Charlotte, me, Lucy Gilmore and Sally Williamson). I couldn't believe how tall and beautiful they all were - I'm really glad I wore my heels!

This picture may show the six of us, but all the other editors and marketing staff welcomed me too, including  Linda Fildew and Tessa Shapcott, the latter of whom has just celebrated twenty five years at Mills & Boon. I was given the grand tour of the editorial office (it's open plan for those who like to know these things) and then they opened a couple of bottles of champagne.
After that, I was whisked off to a purple room with Ali from Marketing and Charlotte to do a podcast about being a new Modern/Presents author. If the podcast ever sees the light of day I shall apologise now - I'm a giggler and completely incapable of showing professionalism. I dread to think what the finished article will look like (poor Ali has some serious editing to do).
Charlotte then took me up to the Library. All I can say about the library was 'Wow'. Every category and single title book produced by Harlequin over the past five years or so were on those shelves (once the shelves are full the books are archived, freeing space for the next generation of books). Honestly, it was a romance junkie's idea of heaven.
By that point it was time for lunch, so Charlotte and I said our goodbyes and headed off to a restaurant called Rock & Rose. I swear the owners of this restaurant knew there was a building full of romance junkies around the corner when they opened it. I would go so far as to say it was exactly how I picture Rom HQ itself (I'm seriously considering taking a can of pink spray paint and a suitcase of glitter if I'm ever invited there again!).
The food was wonderful, the cocktails were divine and Charlotte was... I don't think there are enough superlatives to describe how lovely she is.
All in all, it was a fantastic day. The Mills & Boon staff are a fantastic bunch - all incredibly welcoming and lovely, and so enthusiastic about the books they produce. I can never thank them enough for making me feel so spoiled and wanted.

Take care all xxx

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Getting to Know You.

In all the time I've been doing this blog I have rarely strayed from the topic of me. Me, me, me, me, me! Well not anymore. Today I would like to introduce you to a debut author who I am certain will soon be a tour de force in the romance industry. She also happens to be a good friend of mine, so, without any further ado, allow me to introduce you to Aimee Duffy, author of The Monster of Fame.

Now, for those of you expecting an in-depth interview on the writing process blah, blah, blah, I apologise. I'm only interested in the, well, interesting stuff!

Q) How many pairs of shoes do you own?
A) I have a cupboard for my shoes, a shelf at my front door and I have shoes in boxes. If I was to hazard a guess, I’d say somewhere around 30 pairs. Funny thing is, I don’t own trainers!

Q) If you were stuck on a desert island and could only choose one book, one film and one album, what would they be and why? Also, what fictional man would you want there with you (he must come from a book) and why?
A) One book. Really? Okay, I’d probably choose something really erotic (since I’m gonna be there with a hot guy. We could try out the scenes). The film would be Lord of the Rings, the second one. Orlando Bloom is lush as a blond! I’d have to take U2’s Joshua Tree, cause I can’t go any length of time without Bono. I’m in love with that man’s voice! The guy would have to be Gideon Cross from Bared To You. I love a tortured hero and he’s way hotter than Christian Grey.

Q) If you could have any superpower for a day, what would it be and why?
A) Is x-ray vision a perverted answer? I’d like to have the ability to change the weather, like Storm from X-men. Then I could be warm all year round without moving ;)

Q) Does it always rain in Scotland?
A) For the most part. It also snows and you get big hailstones. This is why I want the ability to change the weather.

Q) What was your dream job when you were five years old? (personally, I wanted to work on a till in a shop!).
A) I wanted to be a vet, then realised animal blood makes my stomach churn. Plus I don’t think I could cope with watching anything die, so doctor and nurse was ruled out quickly.

Q) What was your favourite childhood book and why?
A) I loved the Goosebumps books, especially Welcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine. It freaked me out, but I couldn’t get enough of it. I was obsessed with ghost stories, and as a result slept with the light on. Drove my mum nuts.

Q)) If you won the lottery (and we're talking squillions not a paltry million or two), what would be the first thing you would buy after a magnum of champagne?
A) The first ticket out of Scotland. Seriously. I want to travel the world and after handing out a big chunk to all my family and friends, I’d be off. Preferably Vegas first, but I’m not fussy ;).

Q) What's your favourite drink?
A) It’s a toss up between vodka with diet cola or Jagerbombs.

Q) What's your favourite joke (be as rude as you like)? *
A) How do you make a potato puff?

     Chase it round the garden.

Q) If you could go back in time and talk to your ten year old self, what advice would you give and why?

A) I wouldn’t know where to start. I was a terror. I used to climb trees and my friends and I spent our summers in the woods, breaking things (mostly bones from falling out of trees), getting hurt after pinching hammers and nails to build tree-houses (I have the scars to prove it!) and when it rained, we weren’t discouraged. I’d have probably said to listen to my mum and look after my clothes because I always came in covered in mud. Oh, and I’d have said to stay away from the River Forth. Falling in was the most unpleasant experience of my life. I’d have taken a broken leg over that any day!
* I would like to point out that Aimee was a nightmare to get a joke out of as she only knows rude jokes and refused to share one of those beauties in case of offending anyone. I'm very disappointed in her quality of joke and if anyone out there has a better one please leave it as a comment.

Thank you Aimee! And all the best of luck with your debut book, The Monster of Fame.

Can the voice of an angel heal a tortured soul?

As a general rule I do not write reviews. If I like a book I shout about it from the rooftops but reviews? Nope. Quite frankly I am pants at them, so I will try to keep this one short but sweet.

The Monster of Fame is a love story set around the ficitional reality show Do You have What It Takes? Think X-Factor meets The Voice featuring a sexy Simon Cowell without the Botox or moobs, and with an actual personality. And a heart (although this is kept well hidden from the world).This would be Miles, our gorgeous tortured hero.
Then we have our heroine, Anna, a sweet Scottish girl with the voice of an angel and the self-confidence of a dustpan.
I'm not going to tell you what happens or give any spoilers (you'll have to read it for yourselves to find out!), but suffice it to say, I adored this book. Aimee's writing is so fluid you get sucked right into the story and right into a showbiz world that rarely has substance behind the floss - The Monster of Fame has substance aplenty. There were moments when I laughed out loud and, I am not ashamed to say, moments of despair that made me cry.

All-in-all, this is a cracking debut and a book I will gladly shout about from the rooftops.

(The Monster of Fame can be purchased via , and Barnes & Noble

Take care all xxx

Saturday, 29 September 2012

So Much Talent (SYTYCW 2012)

(scroll down for update)

Approximately ten days ago I was doing my best to fight off flu. I was working on the book I wanted to enter So You Think You Can Write, Harlequin Mills & Boons competition where the winner gets a book contract with them. I am now ineligible! (I'm sorry, I'm still struggling to come to terms with being a bona-fide HMB author and keep squealing at random intervals). Having entered New Voices in 2010 and 2011, I know all about the craziness that can take you when entering a competition of this magnitude, and while I am relieved I can no longer enter, a part of me is jealous that I'm missing out on all the camaraderie that occurs between the contestants. At least it means I can read the entries without constantly comparing the writing and storyline with my own and trying to second guess the judges. I can read them simply for the pleasure of reading, and it really has been a pleasure. For me, the only disappointment with the competition is the lack of facility to leave comments on the entries - there are some fantastic entries out there and I would have loved to shout it out to the world what I loved about them. Instead, I am providing the links to the ones I particularly enjoyed.

So, without any further ado, here are my recommended reads:

Joanne Cleary (Catherine Coles): The Midwife's Reluctant Family

Aimee Duffy: Flirting With Trouble

Amalie Berlin: Mountain Man MD

Joanne Ryves (Jo Fereday): The Sweetest Gig of All

Fiona Marsden: After the Funeral

Jennifer Drogell: The Divorce Party

Incy Black: Sins of the Fathers

Jennifer Stroka (Jennifer Faye): Her Cowboy Hero

Update 2nd October 2012:

Unfortunately I have not had the time to read many more entries but here are a couple more of my recommended reads:

Jennifer Satterfield (Edie Danford): Maid by Day

Jane O'Reilly: Once a Bad Girl

I really wish I had more time to read some more - unfortunately stupid life keeps getting in the way of my reading pleasure! There's a few I want to read tomorrow but I can't guarantee I'll be able to put any more recs up. If anyone wants to post the link to their entry in the comments below then please feel free and hopefully your chapters should find some new readers.

To those of you who don't make it into the top 28, please, try not to be too dejected (it's hard, I know). I entered New Voices 2010 and 2011 and got nowhere. Nada. The slush pile worked for me and it can work for you too.

I wish you all the very best of luck.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Call!!!

As I'm sure the whole world and its cat knows by now, yesterday I received The Call. Yes, Harlequin Mills & Boon want to give me a two book contract for the Presents/Modern line. Naturally, I turned it down... Not!

I am over the moon! I have wanted to write for them since I was fifteen years old, and have spent the past five years actively trying to get published with them. This really is a dream come true.

The actual call came out of the blue. I knew my editor there was moving on to a different position and would no longer be my editor. When she emailed me last Friday to confirm this, she said she would be in touch early this week with her thoughts on my ms and promised I wouldn't be left stranded. I was gutted at the news but delighted for her. I sent her a card to congratulate her and to say thank you for everything she had done for me. Then, yesterday just after 5pm (I so wish I'd looked at my watch) she called me. First of all she said thank you for the card. Just as was thinking how sweet she was to call me about  a card, she followed it with "and I want to offer you a contract." At least I think that's what she said. It's all a bit of a blur!

Suffice it to say, I've been offered a two book contract and appointed a new editor to work with, who everyone tells me is lovely. If you want to read more details of The Call, you can find it on the eHarlequin site - go into forums, then writers circle. There you will find the party thread.

This really means the world to me and to my family (my kids are already asking for iPads the cheeky sods). Thank you all for your support and I promise (again!!!) to keep this blog updated more frequently. I'll certainly try my best to share my journey through to publication with you all.

Take care, xxx

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

School Holidays and Tropes.

It dawned on me a couple of hours ago that if I waited another day it would be a whole month since my last post. In many respects this is understandable: the kids are off school for the summer holidays so every scrap of spare time (when they're sleeping) has been spent writing. But now I no longer have that excuse. My mum has taken them away for the week so I'm not limited to writing in the evening. In fact, my time is my own and I celebrated it this morning by staying in bed until 10am (I would be grateful if nobody mentions that to my husband who left the house for work at 7.30am).

On the whole, the past month has been productive. I sent my Kickass Cinderella book to my Entangled editor and I finished my M&B book for my editor there too. Now it's a matter of the waiting game. I know my M&B ed will have *lots* of revisions for me to get stuck into. Being weird, I'm looking forward to them. All I can hope is that she doesn't get to the end then blow a big fat raspberry at me and tell me to try again. Or worse, shuttle me back onto the slush pile.

So now I am turning my thoughts on to my next book. As I write contemporary books that rely heavily on tropes, I am busy thinking of what the next main trope should be. I should clarify at this point that until a few months ago I had no idea what a trope was. It transpires that tropes are what I have been unknowingly writing for ages. When I started writing my latest M&B sub, which is about a marriage of convenience, I didn't know that a MoC was a trope. Tempted by Trouble, my book being published by Entangled has an Enemies to Lovers trope.

Are there any tropes any of you, my lovely readers, particularly adore? I'd love to hear them. My particular favourite has to be Secret Baby! Which has got me thinking... *scuttles off to brainstorm secret baby trope*.

Take care all xxx

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Belief in the Story

A posting on the excellent A Pleasant Book blog got me thinking about how important belief is in a story, both for the reader and the author.
In many books the reader is invited to suspend disbelief. For example, Stephen King book Lisey's Story (a fantastic book for anyone who hasn't read it - if you are planning to read it skip the text directly after the close of this bracket as it contains a spoiler) asks the reader to believe in an alternate universe. In fact, every Stephen King book asks the reader to immerse his/herself in disbelief. Mills & Boon Modern / Harlequin Presents books regularly invite the reader to believe that gorgeous billionaires with a social conscious exist and will fall in love with an ordinary woman as opposed to falling in love with Giselle Bundchen.
Ah, you may be thinking - on what planet could Stephen King ever be compared to a Mills & Boon? I'm sure Stephen King could create such a planet! My admiration for his story telling skills is infinite*. The man is a genius. It doesn't matter how other-worldly a particular story may be, at the root of them - especially those published in the past ten years - his books contain an enormous dose of love and heart. Most importantly, when I am reading his books, I believe. He draws me into the worlds he creates. And so do the vast majority of Mills & Boon authors.
I am not going to lie, there have been some stinkers published under the Harlequin brand. There have been books where I have ground my teeth all the way through because the characters were, for me, awful. There have been heroines so pure and good I want to puke. The hero can treat them exactly as he likes and they put up with it and fall in love with him anyway! Naturally, these heroines are virgins. The good news is these kind of Harlequins are becoming relics of the past. I don't mean the virgin heroine. There are still a few of those dotted about in the monthly releases and, luckily for my grinding teeth, even the virgins have the balls to stand-up for themselves. But where I used to adore the virgins, now I need a damn good reason to believe that a fully grown twenty-something woman would, in the twenty first century, be a virgin. Which is where the author's skill comes in. It is the author's job to make me believe. And the only way the author can do that is by believing in her (or his) characters, to bring them to life and make them breathe.
So far I have not written a virgin heroine. One day I would love to write one but before I can do that I need to come up with a reason that I can believe. Then, and only then, will I attempt to write one. Because let's face it, if I the author do not believe, what chance does the poor reader have?

*Except for the Dark Half, Christine, Pet Sematary and the Dark Tower series, all of which I loathed. Sorry!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Writing as a Hobby

This post has come about over something my sister said when she described my writing as a hobby in which I am, hopefully, going to be able to earn some money from. In many respects she was right. When you look at it from an outsiders perspective, it's easy to see it like that. My husband for example, loves playing golf and would give up his job in a heartbeat if it meant he could play professionally. I love to paint. I'm not too bad at it, for an amateur. But I am not good enough to be a professional and nor would I want to be - it does not fulfil me in the same way that writing does. Painting is my hobby.
For me, writing has never been a hobby. To me, it is a necessity. It is my life. One way or another I have always written (regular readers of this blog will know I used to be a business journalist). And I have always read. The two go hand in hand. But it was only four or five years ago I decided to give writing romance a proper go. By the time I had finished my first book - which, incidentally, was crap - I knew there was nothing I would rather do. I was bitten. I could not stop. Even on holidays where my husband bans me from taking the laptop, I will take a big notebook and write by hand whenever I get the chance. My characters are always with me, whether I'm driving the car or cooking dinner or simply trying to fall asleep. And I think this is true for most other writers. For me it's not a case of 'having to take my writing seriously'. That would be like saying 'take the air we breathe seriously'. It just is.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Edits Gone!

First let's start with my apologies for letting it go three weeks without an update. Sorry!

I received my first batch of edits from my new super-duper editor and guess what? Yep, wholesale revisions. I should have guessed. But (and yes, there is a big butt here), the edits/revisions actually took me back to my original story, the one I had in my heart when I first wrote it over two years ago. Three rounds of revisions with M&B had made it a fundamentally different story and, with one round with Entangled, I got the core of my story back.

I'm not going to lie. These edits were hard work. Maybe I could have cheated and cut and paste a number of scenes from the original but my writing has evolved tremendously over the past two + years and I wanted to do justice to it.

With these edits I have learned a great deal too - namely how to use Track Changes! I have also learned that using Track Changes gives me a headache.

Anyway, the edits have gone. I should expect the second round in a fortnight or so. Which means I have time to put my feet up... Erm, no. A couple of days before I completed the edits I got an email from my M&B editor with her thoughts on my partial for them (everyone keeping up?). Luckily she really liked the way the story was progressing but she thought it needed a bit more spark - my hero wasn't really reacting to the situation and thus my heroine could not react to him. With one teensy suggestion, it's changed the whole dynamic of the book and got me out of the pickle I had got myself into. My hero and heroine are both damaged, repressed people and, 30,000 words in, I had reached the stage where I could not see how they were ever going to get it together. I had hit the proverbial brick wall. I figured there was no point in carrying on until I had heard from the ed and luckily, that one little suggestion has helped me no end. I need to revise (ok, rewrite) everything I have done and send the 30,000 words to her in a fortnight. Just in time to receive my second batch of edits from Entangled...

I also need to complete my Cinderella Zombie Killer story if I am going to get it finished in time for the call-out deadline.

Oh yes, and the kids break up for the summer holidays in three weeks.

Do you every wish there were an extra couple of hours in the day?

And do you know what? I'm loving every minute of it!

Thanks for reading - I promise to try not to leave it so long before my next post. xxx

Saturday, 9 June 2012


Yes, this post is all about knickers. Or, if you are American, panties. Because knickers and panties are one and the same thing, divided only by the Atlantic separating the UK and the US.

Last night, whilst on twitter, one of my American friends posted a tweet about her husband's friend turning up at her house forcing her to run upstairs and put some pants on. Cue much hysterical laughing from me and an English friend. In England, pants are the male version of knickers. Boys wear pants and girls wear knickers. After much merriment we all agreed that in our next blog posts we would have to drop the word 'knickers' in it.

I decided to take the challenge one step further. After an email from my Entangled editor the other day, the language barrier between the US and the UK had been playing on my mind, and this twitter hilarity solidified it for me. We speak a common language but there are many occasions when we might as well be speaking Martian to each other.

My editor stressed that they are keen to preserve the authenticity of the voice, which in my case is English. I am English, I think in English and I write in English (apart from a couple of books I have written in which the heroines are Irish - in those books I thought and wrote in Irish. Which is English but with it's own living quirks). I go to the cinema to watch films, my kids wear trainers (although my eldest referred to them once as sneakers. Only once mind. He never made that mistake again ha ha ha) and when I was a kid I had a fringe. When I was a kid I also devoured Sweet Valley High books. It was through these books that I first became aware that, despite sharing a common language, there were many words I did not understand. What the heck was a twinkie? And a jock? And a barrette?

So here is my (brief) rundown of commonly different words:

English              American

Knickers           Panties

Pants                Jocks *

Trousers           Pants

Fringe               Bangs

Trainers            Sneakers

Film                  Movie

Fag                  Cigarette

Sweets             Candy

Crisps              Chips

Chips               Fries

Courgette         Zucchini

Aubergine        Eggplant

Hairclip            Barrette

* Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that one as I know a jock in America is also a sporty-type.

I would love to hear about any I have missed, not forgetting the other countries that also have English as its common language, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Language is a wonderful, fluid, living thing and we should celebrate it in all its forms. But I should stress now I will never watch a movie, my kids will never wear sneakers and when I was a kid I did not have bangs.

Thanks for reading and take care xxx

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Power of Four

I've been tagged by the incredibly lovely Aimee Duffy (honestly Aimee, I don't hate you at all!). I have to answer a bunch of questions and then tag four other unfortunates, ahem, I mean lucky peeps.

So here goes:

Four places I have worked:

1) Behind a bar. I did a lot of bar work from 18 - 20 and I loved it, especially as this was fifteen years ago when smoking and drinking whilst on duty were not frowned upon. I could talk and gossip to my heart's content. Oh, happy days.

2) In a chocolate kiosk in a bus-station when I was a student. This lasted for the grand total of two weeks. The owners of the kiost were the most horrible, nasty, self-righteous w***ers I have ever met. I took great delight in stuffing as much chocolate down my face as was humanly possible the second their backs were turned. I never handed my notice in either. I wonder if they're still waiting for me to turn up for my shift.

3) At a business publishing house. This was my favourite job evah (apart from writing books obviously). I worked as a journalist on the company's four trade magazines. My editor had once worked at Fleet Street when it still was Fleet Street, and as a result had a tendency to spend hours in the pub every day. He was lovely and supportive, and always willing to buy me a pint!

4) Alas, the publishing house went bust. Luckily my dad needed an extra pair of hands in his will-writing business and I'm still there doing a whopping four hours a week. He let's me boss him around and makes me lots of coffee. And he never complains when I use the office printer to print a 188 page manuscript. He's not really counting the days for me to hand my notice in!

Four films I could watch over and over

Ok, my tastes are a little varied but, in no particular order...

1) Grease
2) Dirty Dancing
3) The Day After Tomorrow
4) 28 Days Later

Four Telly Programmes

Don't watch much tv at all but ones I do happen to love are:

1) The Apprentice
2) Once Upon a Time
3) Heroes (gutted it was cancelled)
4) Family Guy

Four authors I enjoy

This is probably the hardest question for me to answer as there are so many authors whose work I love:

1) Stephen King
2) Jilly Cooper
3) Minette Walters
4) Marian Keyes

Four places I've travelled to

1) Australia
2) The Seychelles
3) Thailand
4) Norfolk

Four websites I visit daily

1) eharlequin
2) The Passive Voice
3) BBC News
4) Facebook

Four favourite foods

I am a pig. As I write this I am eating a bowl of popcorn. Asking me to chose a favourite food is like asking me to chose my favourite child.

Four places I'd rather be

1) The Seychelles
2) Tuscany
3) Sweden
4) Disney Land

Four people I want to tag (Sorry - please don't hate me. Blame Aimee. I am.)

1) Catherine Coles
2) Charlotte Phillips
3) Lacey Devlin
4) Lindsay Pryor

That's quite enough waffling about me.

Thanks for reading and take care xxx

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Ever since I was a little girl, I've adored fairy tales. I once owned two volumes of encyclopedia-sized fairy stories and would dip in and out of them as the mood took me, right through to late adolescence. One of the biggest regrets of my life was giving them, at the age of nineteen, to some neighbour's kids, along with my enormous collection of Enid Blyton and Sweet Valley High books. I wish I had just let the kids borrow them until they grew out of them and then had them returned to me. Still, never mind - we live and learn.

Yet no matter how much I adored those stories and books, from as far back as I can remember I used to wish those princesses and fair maidens weren't quite so... wimpy. I had the same problem with my Enid Blyton books - if ever you find an old battered Famous Five and discover various scrawled insults to Julian inside them of the 'sexist pig' variety, it's safe to assume that book once probably belonged to me. But I digress.

At the weekend I had reached the dreaded middle section of my wip. As I am still waiting to hear from my editor at M&B, I was reluctant to write my way out of the impasse because, for all I know, I might be heading in completely the wrong direction. I was also still waiting to have an editor assigned to me at Entangled (I have to say, Entangled Publishing are an absolute joy to work with and I sincerely hope that Tempted by Trouble is only the first of many books I publish with them). Then I saw a call-out on Twitter - Entangled were after Halloween novellas. And one of the call-outs were, specifically, for fairy tales with a zombie twist. As soon as I looked into their requirements in more detail I became so excited I was bouncing around the house. At last, I had it in my power to take one of my beloved fairy tales and turn my princess into a heroine with balls! And thus, what I call my 'Kickass Cinderella Zombie Killer' was born. I don't think I've ever had so much fun writing anything - I'm having an absolute blast. And the fact that it's a novella means that I should, hopefully, be able to write it around my edits when I get them, and my M&B story when I hear back from my ed there.

And now comes the serendipitous moment. A couple of days ago I received an email from Entangled confirming who my editor would be - I had been assigned to Adrien-Luc, the very same editor who had done the Halloween call-out, the very same editor that Kickass Cinderella Zombie Killer will be winging its way to when it's all done and dusted. There then ensued some more bouncing!

Obviously this does not mean my Halloween novella will be deemed suitable or good enough but I'm not too bothered by that - I'm writing this one for me.

Thanks for reading, and take care all xxx

Friday, 18 May 2012


In my last post I put in a little teaser about my rejected MS.

Well tease no more - I can now confirm that my book, the book I dedicated a whole heap of blood, sweat and tears to, is going to be published by Entangled Publishing.

I've been sitting on this for weeks (they requested I keep my big mouth shut until the contract was signed). I don't know about anyone else but I am terrible at keeping my own secrets. But now I can shout it to the world and tell those of you who are interested how it all came about.

I had a feeling in my gut that M&B were going to give it the thumbs down, so I started researching alternate publishers. Entangled were my first choice (I've got a different full ms with them that was the result of a pitch challenge, and no, I haven't heard about it lol). The impact they've made and the authors they've signed and the editors who are working for them... well, it was a no-brainer really. As a contingency I selected two other publishers. When the big 'no' came, I queried one of the others, who shall remain nameless, who got back to me straight away with a request for the full. Being nice and obliging, I submitted it. Twenty four hours later, less than a week after my R, I got an offer to publish. I was delighted, but...

But I had my heart set on Entangled. I emailed Liz at Entangled, who had had the other MS (I hadn't sent them the new book by this point because I know protocol states one at a time) and explained the situation. I honestly thought it would take months to hear from the other publisher and by then I was hoping to have an answer on the other MS with Liz. By the way, is everyone keeping up? It's jolly confusing, especially for me! Anyhoo, Liz referred me to the wonderful Alethea who read it and decided she wanted it. Except being a bit green, it took me a couple of weeks to realise that she did actually want it - I had to email her for clarification, doh. Since then, we've been sorting out the contract and today I signed it.

Anyway, I'm going to sign off from this post now - my lovely hubby's finally brought us a bottle of champagne to celebrate and I want to drink it!

I just want to thank all my followers for your wonderful support. The romance community is the best!


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Partial Gone

I sent the first three chapters off to my editor yesterday, so now it's inbox stalking time! I finished drafting it last Wednesday but it wasn't until I was halfway through re-reading it that I realised what had been niggling at me. When we were bouncing ideas around for this story, there were two possible routes available for the hero and heroine's back story. In the grand scheme of things these routes were very minor threads to the actual storyline and the editor was happy for me to choose which particular path to follow. I chose what I thought was the most suitable for the characters. Oops. And then I realised I had taken the wrong route and this 'minor' thread turned out to be a major. It involved a complete re-write. Doh.
The main thing is, I am very happy with it and very happy with the direction it is going (jeeze, I sound like a talking map). I can only hope the editor feels the same way but I am preparing myself to be shot down in flames!

In other news, I hope to be able to give an update on the progress of the 'rejected' book in the near future... That is all.

Thanks for reading, and take care xxx

Saturday, 28 April 2012


I didn't want to write another post until I knew what was happening and thus has something to talk about, but today I received an email from my ed (yes, I am allowed to call her my ed, squeal) giving me the go-ahead on my new idea. And yes, it is a Saturday!
As she had promised, she phoned me a couple of weeks ago (less than a week after sending me the rejection email), and we chatted for forty minutes, discussing a whole range of things. I'd sent her three story proposals and there was one particular aspect of one that caught her attention. We talked some more and eventually came to an agreement of what the trope for the new book would be and discussed ideas to make it more twenty first century. She encouraged me to write character sheets for the h/h and I can honestly say they were a revelation to me (something for another post). Anyway, having sorted out my characters and the background of the story, I emailed her my main idea... and it was shot down in flames! There was little old me nibbling at the invisible barriers of the Presents/Modern line and the ed wants me to smash the barriers with a sledge hammer! Ok, maybe I've exagerated a little...
As usual, she was full of excellent suggestions which sparked further ideas in my brain. This time when I sat down to write the background to their relationship, I was buzzing and could see the h/h and their complexities with perfect clarity.
So, today, I got the go-ahead and a couple of pointers on aspects that could be a potential problem with regards to the h/h's motivations. She's taking a week off now and has asked me to get the first three chapters to her for when she returns and then she is going to call me that week to discuss my progress. As I get extremely angsty if I go for any length of time without writing, ie three hours, I had already made a start (figuring if this version was shot down in flames too, I would simply scrap it and start again) so that gives me plenty of time to finish the third chapter. I can then sit down and make sure that my h/h are coming across on paper as I envisage them in my head.

Thanks for reading, and take care all xxx

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Rejection but no Dejection

Last night I finally received an email from the editor with my full - they're passing on the book. Both the ed and the senior ed love my voice and writing style but unfortunately they felt the hero wasn't fully fleshed out and the heroine had a tendency to come across on occasion  as immature. The good news is, they want to work with me on a new story putting into practise everything I have learnt. And, through the three rounds of revisions, I have learnt so much - when I wrote this book (well over two years ago!) my focus was very much on the heroine - in a way, the hero was merely a foil. Since I started the revision process, I have learnt that the hero deserves as much care and attention as the heroine, and right from the very beginning of the story. I can't just plonk a big alpha male in the story and expect him to bring himself to life - that's my job! Luckily, I have written a further two and a half books with heroes that, at least in my own head, are fully formed. I know them as intimately as I know the heroines.
The editor wants to call me after Easter to discuss ideas and deadlines and has asked if I have any material she can look at in the meantime. I have duly emailed back with a brief synopsis of the two and a half books, so hopefully she will tell me which she likes the idea of the most and we can take it from there.
At some point over the next week I'll get a synopsis of the rejected book done and start subbing it elsewhere. I also have a full with Entangled (I won a pitch competition in February and they requested the full) which I am waiting to hear back from so it's by no means all doom and gloom. If anything, I feel surprisingly cheerful (was a bit down last night but hey ho, you have to take the knocks).
Thanks for all the wonderful support you have given me during this - it really is appreciated.

Take care all xxx

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Eleven Things About Me

The brilliant Aimee Duffy has tagged me in her blog. I've got to answer eleven questions about myself, so here goes:

1) What is your favourite kind of romance and why?

A big thing for me is humour. I love books that have the ability to make me laugh as well as making me cry. I love feisty heroines. I love big alpha men that have a real human side  (Maisey Yates and Sarah Morgan always manage to strike this balance perfectly). More than anything, I love a book that pulls me into its world and where I feel every emotion - for me, a good romance makes me ache (and not always in a pervy way!)

2) If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want there?

Easy-peasy - my husband.

3) What is the last thing that made you feel all warm and fuzzy?

That was a couple of hours ago when my hubby and two boys brought me breakfast in bed and the Sunday papers. Believe me, this is by no means a regular occurrence! I keep waiting for it to back-fire into an April Fool.

4) If you could read minds, whose thoughts would you want to listen to and why?

I would love to read the mind of the editor who has my book! And maybe use some mind-bendy stuff to prod her into getting in touch!

5) If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?

As above! If I could be the editor for a day I would definitely give me a rolling four-book contract ha ha ha.

6) What's your favourite holiday destination?

The Seychelles. I went there for a wedding last year and it's the most beautiful place on Earth.

7) Who is your idol?

In a literary sense it would be Stephen King. I adore his books, especially the stuff he has produced over the last decade or so. There is so much heart in them and, for all the 'out-there' stuff, a great deal of love.
In a personal sense it would be my sister (but don't tell her in case she gets a big head). I'm just so proud of her and everything she has achieved.

8) What is your bravest act in life so far?

I wish I could put something down like climbing Mount Everest or doing a trek through the Amazon, but I'm the biggest wuss in the world (although I have done a bungee jump). I would say that getting married at twenty-one was probably the bravest because I married knowing everyone thought I was too young and too wild and expected us to divorce within a year. But if there is one thing guaranteed to make me do something it is when someone tells me that I can't or that I shouldn't! We've just celebrated our fourteenth anniversary so yah-boo to all the doubters!

9) Your favourite pet?

We had two dogs when I was growing up called Brandy and Sheba, and I adored them. I would love to have a dog and am slowly talking my husband round to the idea.

10) What is your favourite fairy tale and why?

I used to have a giant book of fairy tales and my favourite was one about a princess and her maid. They were travelling to the princes house when the maid overpowered the princess and forced them to swap roles so that the maid could marry the prince. I remember how angry I would get reading it but then how happy I would be that the prince, able to see past her new lowly status and recognise the goodness inherent in her, fell in love with the real princess anyway. I just wish I could remember its name - it was something along the lines of the Goose Princess if there is anyone out there who can confirm it for me?

11) Morals. What does that mean to you?

People should be free to live their lives as they choose, so long as they are not directly hurting someone else through their actions. I truly believe that if everyone treated each other as they would wish to be treated, the world would be a much better place. Live and let live, that's my motto.

Apparantly I'm supposed to ask eleven questions too but its Sunday and I want to get back to the papers. Instead, all blog readers are invited to answer the same questions Aimee posted to me - please let me know if you do!

All the best xxx

Friday, 24 February 2012

And Send...

Last night I pressed the dreaded 'send' button, After two weeks spent hunkering down in the revisions cave I was finally happy with them. Of all the revisions, these, the third set, have been the most challenging. After mulling over the ed's revisions, I sent her an email with how I wanted to incorporate her suggestions and, luckily, she went with it. She also had a few more of her own which were genius.
I didn't have to change the story or its running order but from around chapter seven virtually every conversation between the hero and heroine had to be altered, along with their reactions. The hero's conflict was upped dramatically and I was given free-rein to make the heroine's back-story even more of a car-crash (think Linsday Lohan without the freckles or the jewellery stealing) and these filtered throughout the story.
And now I am happy with it. Really happy with it. Whether or not the ed will be too is another matter. After all, I was happy after finishing my first revisions. And my second...
Before I sign off I want to thank, in alphabetical order, Aimee Duffy, Catherine Coles and Sri Pammi for all their generous help, encouragement and support while I've been doing these revisions. Before I started interacting with other wannabe romance authors I had no idea how incredibly friendly and supportive the romance community could be and these three in particular have made all the difference.
So now for the dreaded wait. Someone pass the silver bucket!
Take care all

Saturday, 11 February 2012

More Revisions!!!!!

Last night I received an email from the editor (she must work crazy hours) with the latest batch of revisions for me. As you may recall I had an email from her a couple of weeks ago promising she would be in touch 'next week' but what I never mentioned was that she also told me it had been passed on to the Senior Editor for Modern (Presents) and it would be the senior ed's thoughts she would be passing on as well as few of her own. To say I was cacking myself would be an understatement - what if the senior ed hated it???? Luckily she didn't. She said I have 'great potential', a 'very readable voice' and 'a sexy story'.
When I saw the actual revisions they wanted though, my heart sank. It went on for so long it felt as if I had taken a step backwards. But then I reread them this morning and I realised they were not as bad as I first feared. Basically, my hero needs a lot more fleshing out - there are times when he's coming across as cruel and the underlying motivation behind it isn't coming through. As the ed said, by the halfway point in the book, the reader does not really know him. Also, my heroine, at a few points, comes across as a walkover. There was then a list of fourteen specific examples highlighting these points, and a couple of suggestions as to the hero's motivation.
Now, in the (very) cold light of day, I can see exactly where they're coming from.  They've asked if I can get it to them by the end of the month which is completely doable. My ed also said: 'If you have any queries please just let me know - I'm here to help you do the best job possible and would love to see you bring this all together.' Methinks she might regret that when I start bombarding her!
I already know how I'm going to fix it but what I don't know is if I'm going to be able to pull it off. I have a feeling that this time, the revisions are a case of do or die.
I shall be heading off to the revisions cave now, and will let you know when I've got them done.
Take care all xxx

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Crossing the River

The good news is that I haven't ditched my wip. I nearly did. Until last Sunday I had completed nineteen thousand words. From Monday to Friday I managed a grand total of three thousand (actually I probably wrote double that but I kept ditching chunks). My problem, at the time, was what I often refer to as the 'river crossing' - I can see the other side of the river, I need to cross it, but there's no bridge in sight. In this case, I had completed the first section of the story and I knew what my characters needed to do next but - and here's the big but - they needed to get there in as natural a fashion as possible. It's like the river analogy: in an imaginary world I could have a giant bird offer me a lift to the other side but, because I want to keep my fiction as plausible if not realistic as I can, that would be cheating. So I spent the week tapping out random words and far-fetched scenarios whilst waiting for the bridge to show itself. And guess what? It did. In fact, the bridge had been there all along, right beneath my eyes. I could kick myself. It involved having to rewrite parts of the first completed section (and ditching another couple of thousand words) but I am much happier for it. Now I can plough on into the 'other side' and see where the journey takes me.
So I suppose you're waiting impatiently for me tell you my bad news. Well there isn't any (yet). A week ago last Friday the ed with my full had emailed in response to me chasing to say she would be in touch 'next week'. She never actually clarified which next week so I tried to keep my disappointment to a minimum when Friday came and went with an empty inbox. I say empty but the spammers were having a wonderful time bombarding it. I say tried to keep my disappointment to a minimum and I really did try. And I really did try not checking my inbox every couple of minutes. I know she will get back to me as soon as she can and all I can do is be patient. Unfortunately, as I tweeted just a few days ago, if patience is a virtue then my virtue must be shot!
Take care all xxx

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Me Bad

The regular readers among you may recall my excitement a few weeks back when I started my new WIP. The whole story had arranged itself in my mind and, though I knew Alex and Freya would divert from the vague path I had chosen for them, I could not wait to go on their journey.
Naturally, they chose their own path and in the process they BORED THE TITS OFF ME! (my apologies to anyone not familiar with this charming English phrase and please be assured that my mammary glands are still intact).
Twenty thousand words in and I was doing anything and everything to avoid going near the laptop and actually writing. I became topscorer on Diamond Quest and Bubble Speed and I finally got in the top three of Bejewelled Blitz. Happy days. And then I had a brainwave - rather than continue writing a book that was boring me, I could start a new one. After all, I'm not under contract with anyone. At the moment my writing is all for me and for my own pleasure. I can write whatever I like.
In my head I have fixed Alex and Freya's story and one day I will go back and rewrite it, but only when I get that spark that insists that I must.
I'm wondering how many authors get to the stage where their story is boring them so much they would  rather watch paint dry than go back near their characters. This has only happened to me once before. I got halfway through a story and literally could not figure what to do next with the characters. I put it to one side, wrote another MS and then went back to it and fixed it. And submitted it. And it is now patiently awaiting a yay, a nay or another tweak from M&B.
So now I have started Catherine and Jovanni's story (one day I will write a post about the inspiration for this one) and and have written eight thousand words over the past three evenings and one snatched afternoon. Again, I am letting them take their own path but their story is already breaking my heart. I couldn't turn it aside if I wanted to.
Take care all xxx

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Goodbye to a Legend

I thought long and hard about writing this post but then decided I should - because without Penny Jordan there would be no post.

By now I am sure all my blog followers will know the sad news that legendary romance writer Penny Jordan passed away on the 31st December 2011 at the age of sixty five. I never met her or exchanged any form of correspondence but her death affected me profoundly. You see, she has been a part of my life since I was twelve years old. I remember it vividly - my great-aunt Myra came to stay for the weekend and brought her usual cache of romances. Already a voracious reader (I was coming to the end of my Sweet Valley High addiciton) I snuck one of my aunt's books to my bedroom and read by torchlight until the early hours. The book? It was by none-other than Penny Jordan and let me say, that book awoke me on many different levels. I have never forgotten it and managed to read it a second time before sneaking it back into my aunt's room. Because of that one book, I fell in love with romance. The next time my aunt came to stay, she caught me trying to sneak another of her books out and gave me a couple to keep - one of them I still have: Man-Hater by Penny Jordan. Now, twenty-three years later, I must have read thousands of Mills & Boon (and thousands of other books in genres from thriller to horror) but, for me, Penny Jordan remained the original Queen.

Over the years I forgot the title of that very first M&B but I remembered the plot and the characters vividly. When I heard the sad news of Penny's death, I was tweeting to another M&B author about it (the equally talented and extremelly lovely Maisey Yates) and decided to track it down. And I did. I went through her bibliography and started systematically googling the titles until I found the one I wanted. My very first M&B, my very first Penny Jordan book, was called Blackmailed. And a copy of it is winging its way to me as I write.

So now I am going to sign off by saying a massive thank you. Thank you Penny Jordan for all the years of joy you have given me and thank you for making me fall in love xxx

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year... Same Goals

First let me wish all you lovely blog readers a very Happy New Year. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and over the festive period I sincerely hope you ate too much, drank too much and made a fool of yourself on at least three occasions. I was only a proper drunken fool once - on Christmas night my brother-in-law and I had lost three games of Trivial Pursuit in a row (I blame my mother for 'helping' my sister and my hubby). Ignoring their yawns and whines about needing sleep, I set the board up again. And played all by myself. Am pretty sure I lost that game too but to be honest it's all a bit of a blur. Other than that I was a model of good behaviour...

I had promised myself I would not blog again until I had finished my WIP. I completed the first draft a few days before Christmas and then immediately started on the second draft. Am very happy with it bar the ending, but have decided to let it rest for a while. Thus, I have now started a new book and am 3,000 words into it. It's one of those marvellous occasions when the whole premise - everything - comes to you in a flash. I know perfectly well that Freya and Alex, my h/h, will divert from my chosen path for them but that's half the fun in this writing malarky. When this book is finished I will then look with fresh eyes at the 'resting' one. Hopefully the ending will make itself clear to me then.

And so we come to the dreaded New Year's Resolution. I've never been one for making resolutions just because I'm supposed to and this year will be no different. My goals haven't changed. I love, love, love writing and the dream is still to be published by M&B. If the book with them (no, I haven't heard anything but thanks for asking) is ultimately rejected then so be it - I will simply bombard them with the next one. And the next. And the next. And the... you get my drift.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope 2012 brings you much joy and happiness xxx