Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who knows where the time goes . . .

It’s WHAT day?
No – it can’t be Wednesday - it just can’t! I’m sure it was Sunday only a moment ago. I was just in here answering questions and then I got a little busy . . .

And it’s suddenly Wednesday May 30th.

How did that happen? I know I had plenty to do – no – I’ll spare you another of those lists (mainly because I wrote one and then erased it by accident – it’s been one of those days) - but I know I did some exciting things like digging in the garden – planting petunias and French Marigolds – and removing snails and other sundry ugh things. Actually the snails I don’t mind too much - you can grab them by the shells and sling them in the direction of the hedgehog house. The Hecks are very fond of a nice chewy snail of two. But as there are rather a lot of snails around at the moment, obviously Great Heck and Middle Heck are not doing their job properly. Perhaps we’re feeding them way too much cat meat and they’re not inclined to go to the bother of hunting for their own dinner. Rations might need to be cut down now it’s mild and they won’t starve. Believe me, with this number of snails around they won’t starve.

No, the thing I dislike when digging is finding Dylan’s cache of dead mice. Yeuch! He likes to hide them under the lavender bushes once the fun of playing with them has worn off – cats! Actually, the Hecks are not averse to a nice mouse either - we run a pretty efficient recycling scheme in our garden – the cats get the cat food and what they don’t eat goes out for the Hecks – who will also deal with the slugs/the snails and the discarded dead mice. And what the Hecks aren’t interested in then the magpies will come along and clean up.

So apart from the dead mice and the snails I spent some happy time in the garden (between downpours) and now have lovely hanging baskets and garden pots filled with all sorts of beautiful blooms (well – okay they will be blooming soon – the baskets are flowering well but the pots are at that just planted and so looking bedraggled stage.

The other thing that confuzzles me about it being May 30th is that I keep seeing my book – the book – the famous 50th book – all over the place in the shops. (If you find one with a bookmark in, that means I was there before you!). Officially this book isn’t supposed to be out until June 1st but as I’ve observed before, the publication date is a moveable feast, specially on Amazon. So here I have to thank all the lovely readers who put The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge straight into #1 position on the Best seller list yesterday.

So the book is out but I’m not quite ready. The updates on the web site are almost done. Hopefully the last bits and pieces will be in place by tomorrow – and the for June 1st (which is the official publication date!) we can start the celebrations.
And I’ll try and get a bit more organised – and catch up with myself - answer some more questions maybe . .
Back soon (I hope!)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Questions and Answers

Annie West said –
I've been thoroughly enjoying the pics of your covers. They've brought back memories, though I was particularly intrigued by the half-a-heart ones, which I'd never seen here in Australia. I wonder how it feels to have a library of your very own books!

It isn’t exactly a question, but it was in answer to my questions post – so I’ll just say that the truth is, Annie that I never ever tire of the thrill of seeing those shelves filled with my books. And it’s still a wonderful thrill when a new box of books arrives and I can add to the collection. I have my author copies of The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge – and it won’t be too long before the hardback editions of my November release – The Greek Tycoon’s Unwilling Wife – will be arriving – and now there’s the prospect of the first 2008 book to look forward too. It’s like having a birthday or some such special day several times through the year. You’ve been enjoying some of that with your books Annie – I hope you continue to enjoy more and more,(And to all readers out there – Annie’s book The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride is a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed that one. )

Question two:

Nicolette said:

Hi, Kate. More of a practical question from me.How on earth do you keep cats off the keyboard and flicking, flirty tails out of your face, when you're trying to write?My kitten Magic insists on helping me write...!

Ah yes – I know this problem. Sid spends a lot of time on my desk and he often ‘helps’ me write too. Though most of the time that involves chasing my fingers as they move over the keyboard and occasionally pouncing on them and so adding *&$! Nsvxhjf! **76%^JBU&S! to my manuscript.

I thought I’d pass your question over to the expert here – Sid – what’s your advice?

Dear Nicolette
Sid here. I would just like to say Hello to Magic and send her a gracious purr. It sounds to me as if she is still a young kitten and so a bit flighty yet. I would also suggest that it is because she is a young lady cat that she is so flirtatious. As a Cat of Certain Age and also A Cat of Superior Breeding, I rarely indulge in these flirtatious posturings these days. I greet My Mum first thing, naturally, and we spend some quality time together when she tells me how handsome I am and how intelligent a creature I am. Then it is Breakfast Time.

Afterwards, My Mum will settle at her keyboard and I will jump up on the desk to help her. She gives me several good strokes (top of the head r-i-g-h-t down to the tip of my tail), an ear rub or two, and a head scratch and then we settle to work. I have another important job to do, you see – I have to sit on the window sill and be available to my public. The schoolchildren walk past the house and they are all delighted to see me looking out of the window at them. This is why My Mum has prepared a special blanket on the window sill where I can sit and keep an eye on the world and make sure that it is being run correctly.

Perhaps Magic does not have the important duties that I have to distract her. But I would suggest that you give her the right sort of attention and then firmly push her away. And continue to do so until she learns. You see, although it pains me to admit it, sometimes even My Mum has to concentrate on her writing. I would much prefer it if she didn’t do so, but, as she once explained it to me – no books, no money – no money – no salmon! No salmon! Under those circumstances, then even I am prepared to relinquish a little attention in return for more important things. No salmon! The idea is unthinkable.

I suspect that this is a problem that a little maturity will help ease.
I hope this helps. I must leave you now as it is a very important moment in my day – My Mum has just announced Tea Time.

With warmest purrs and head butts Sidney St John Willoughby Eamon Portly-Lummox

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Catching up - or trying to

I swear that something is eating my time. I got up today with the normal amount of hours ahead of me and suddenly it's all gone - well, not quite all but a lot of it. And I'm sure I only blinked between my first mug of tea and now . . . (And yes, Kate Hardy, yesterday I spent yakking to fellow writer friends - but not today - I didn't have time !)

But it's been a productive, if hectic day - so let's see what's been achieved .

1. Five loads of washing including clean sheets for Irish visitors (Abby Green and Trish Wylie) due here June 7th -they;re coming over for special celebrations - the countdown begins now

2. Make a list of lists I need to make between now and then - when the countdown has - well - counted down

3. Change hairdresser's appointment, dentist's appointment, visiting friends appointment . . .

4. Supermarket expedition - the cats need food or they're leaving home . . and so do the hedgehogs

Yes- the Hecks are back! So far I've just seen one small prickly personage out in the middle of the lawn, chomping on discarded cat food. But there should be more - I hope there are more. The problem is, apart from size, it's very hard to tell one Heck from another. But it's obviously Spring officially in the Hedgehog calendar as they're out of hibernation and foraging at their usual hour of about 10.30 -11pm. Which means that we needed extra cat crunchies for the extra mouths.

5. Major web site updates - the mammoth task of adding all the backlist of books is complete now, so you can, if you so desire, check out any one of the 50 titles and see the covers (UK and USA where appropriate), read a summary and find out when the book was published. (Very special thanks to Heather of We Write Romance for all her hard work on getting these details up to date so fast.) You will need these details for the special 50th book celebration contest which will be starting in June.

You can also read some details of this contest on - surprisingly enough - the Contest Page on my site. There you'll see a photo of the Major Prize and you can find out all about the 50 book giveaway that I'm running together with lovely Lee of Author Sound Relations. This will be starting at the beginning of June too - just as soon as I get organised.

The Events pages has been updated too - so if you're interested in any of the writing courses I run or want to know about a library talk in Doncaster in July or Caerleon Writers' Holiday - then this is the place to visit.

And don't forget that also coming in June is the Great Big Blog Party - which will have so many visiting posters that I've lost track of exactly how many - but there will be lots of interesting people to meet and lots of giveaways as prizes. Don't forget that if you join the Newsletter then you will also be able to enter the special extra prize draw I'm running there - more prizes, more chances to win.

6. Back to today . . . In the afternoon I headed for Lincoln to do a different sort of shopping - I have been looking for a very special outfit for a very special occasion and today I found it - cost me at least 2 arms and one leg but it was worth it. Pictures will be posted in - oh, about 2 weeks time.

And while I was there I discovered to my surprise that the copies of the June book - The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge - are already out on the shelves. I wasn't expecting them till next week, but they're there already - the 50th title is actually published! It's quite a feeling. I still get a great thrill to see my new books out on display and this one is obviously so very special - plus it was the first chance to see all the new design covers out on display. They did look fresh and new - just that bit different enough to draw attention.
7. Coming back home I had more phone calls, emails to do - and then I realised that I hadn't actually got round to blogging - poor India Grey will not be able to settle until she's had her fix.
And now
8. It's time to relax - the BM has finished his stint on another Grim and Gruesome book for tonight and it's time for us both to settle down with a glass of wine
Oh, no - before I do that it's
9. Teatime for the cats who are yelling protests from outside my office door, declaring that you just can't get the staff these days . . .
10. Time to put out the extra cat - I mean hedgehog crunchies to nourish the Heck family when they come wandering out into the dusk.
So that was today - tomorrow's To Be Done List is twice as long - and I promise I'll try to answer some more questions as well.

Friday, May 25, 2007

That was the week that was . . .

Hang on a minute - wasn;t it Monday just a moment ago?

I've no idea what happened to the time or where it went - I just know I've just looked up and found it's Friday

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible - but in the meantime, I thought I'd just share with you the latest rock band sensation that it set to storm the charts.

Kate Hardy and India Grey, with your love of music you should enjoy this - tho Kate you may have to wait until the Broadband delivers.

In the meantime - everyone else - enjoy The Zimmers -

Check out YouTube here

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Answering questions 1

While I was away in London, I asked you to post questions you'd like me to answer about my time writing Romance to reach this 50th book and some of you very kindly did that. There are some great questions and I'll answer them as and when I can - but I promise I will answer them all.

Kate Hewitt asked a great one about how the books/plotlines/characters have changed over the years and that's one I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into but it's a meaty question so as my time is limited at the moment, I'm going to start with a slightly easier one:

juliemt asked:

The question I'd like to ask is this: You've been with the Presents line for quite some time now, but do you ever wake up with a story for Romance? And if you do, do you make it more "Presents" or forget about it?

Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while - and who've taken a look at some of the older covers I have posted - will have noticed that in the past I used to write for Romance as well as Presents. In the early days I had two different writing voices - and the truth is that I didn't really realise that! In fact I was just discussing this with my editor when I met up with her and I was saying how I didn't see the differences in those 'voices' because I didn't consciously write any differently. I just write - I write as the characters dictated, as their story had to be told. I wrote the books as they just had to be.

And then editorial divided them up into Presents and Romance when they went to America. In the UK they were simply published as M&B Romances. Take a look at my web site when wonderful Heather has finished uploading all the backlist (a major undertaking!) and you'll see how the books appeared in both lines right up until 1995 when, with No Holding Back, I moved into Presents full time.

These days the lines are not as different as they might seem. The Billionaires/Spaniards/Sheikhs etc of the Presents titles are the fantasy element that split Romances from Presents - in the same way that themes like Revenge and Blackmail can be toned down or toned 'up' to fit a different intensity. And I suppose that it's that intensity that now comes much more naturally to me.

The real truth is that it always did. I had a tendency to tone it down which is why the books ended up in Romance. When I realised I could - and should - let rip then for me there was No Holding Back and no looking back. I write more naturally - more happily and am more fulfilled as a writer working on those emotionally intense themes and conflicts.

Another thing - another word - that came up when I was talking to my editor is important for me as a writer - and that word is 'ambiguity'. I'll come back to this when I talk about the dedication to my 50th book - but I have alway always loved abiguous heroes - one's where it's in doubt whether they are the hero or the villain. And that needs a Presents level of intensity
and theme to carry it off.

It's not about sex either - though yes Presents/Modern are the most explicit of the lines - why else would they be called M&B Sexy in Australia? But it's not writing sex that makes a Presents novel it's passion - and passion can be there in spades without any action between the sheets - or anywhere else for that matter.

So, to answer your question Julie - I don't think I think in terms of anything but Presents plots these days. Of course when the seed of a story slips into my head and plants itself in the fertile soil there, then just as a newly created embryo has the potential to be male of female, this always has the potential to be a Modern/Presents or a Romance. But after that it's how I feed it, how I nurture it, how I develop it that turns it into the novel it will become.

I suppose that this part of it is something like the way that Donald Maass looks at writing in his Writing the Breakout Novel - I look at my plot to see how much I can get out of it. How can I make this more intense? How can I make things matter more to my hero and heroine? How can I increase the Emotional Pace of the story - or, as my dear friend the wonderful Michelle Reid always says 'How deep can I dig the hole - and how the heck can I get myself out of it?' So if I start off with a seed that could be a plot then I work on it and add to it and intensify it until it just has to be a Presents for me to write it. Writing for today's Romance line is a very different sort of skill - still deeply emotional but not with that intensity - heart wringing rather than heart wrenching. I truly admire the authors who can do that so well.

Some stories appear like melodramas - complete with near pantomime 'heroes' coming close to twirling their moustaches and snarling savagely - to my mind, you don't need to do this sort of posturing and pantomiming - there are enough emotional conflicts in life to fill a hundred Presents novels and then more.

When I started out as a writer I didn't realise there were these distinct lines - because, as I aid, in the UK there wasn;t the split between them. And I always enjoyed the good writing that went into all the books I chose - But I did know which books I preferred on an emotional level - the ones that reached out and grabbed me. They were written by the people I now know as the Presents authors and I'm so proud to be one of them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

London report

A lot of people seem to think that being an author is a glamorous life. Hmm . . . Seeing me today back at my desk, tee shirt and tracky pants, no makeup, list of jobs as long as my arm to complete - you’d doubt that. But some days make it feel very different.

And sitting in the sunshine in the courtyard of a lovely restaurant, eating great food (red pepper salad, skate with tomato and cucumber and – mmm – honey ice cream if you want to know – and I suspect that you do) talking to the lovely editor who had her whip hidden in her handbag and didn’t bring it out to crack over me in public – has to be one of those days. Specially when you get nice news.

Nice news 1 – remember this guy ? Well Raul is now officially the hero of my newest book – title Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife which will be out in March 2008 – my first title in the important centenary year for Mills & Boon. I also had some other good news about certain Italian and another Spanish hero but I’m waiting for the official say-so before I’ll let you in on those.

And at least that day I was sensible and wore shoes that were comfortable instead of going with vanity and choosing brand new, not yet ‘broken in’ shoes which looked elegant but were not the most comfortable footwear. Which is the mistake I made on Saturday when I headed for Borders in Charing Cross Road and the launch of Wannabe a Writer. My lovely Spanish leather embroidered shoes looked wonderful and felt fine to start with but by the end of and hour and a half wandering along Oxford Street and then another 3 hours standing talking to everyone at the book launch were creating agony with every step.

Jane Wenham-Jones & Me

But in spite of this I enjoyed the afternoon tremendously. As always, when Jane is involved in anything, the whole event went with a swing – the publishers (Accent Press) provided refreshment – wine, water, orange juice, nibbles – there were large numbers of books on display – written by the authors who had contributed to Wannabe A Writer by answering Jane’s questions and now had their comments in the book and their names in the index.
I was delighted to find that I had no less than 7 listings and it was interesting to read what I’d actually said – most of which I’d forgotten, I’ll admit. Katie Fforde and Helen Lederer

Then there were the people – lots of friends to catch up with – Hi Biddy, Liz, Victoria . . .writer friends and acquaintances – Jane W-J herself of course, Katie Fforde, Lesley Cookman, Sue Moorcroft, Bernardine Kennedy, Lynne Barrett-Lee. And lots of other writers to make into new friends – Judy Astley, Adele Parks, Karen Howeld, Sophie King, Alice Jolly, actress and comedian Helen Lederer (who bought a copy of Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride – thank you Helen) , Tamara McKinley, Emily Dubberley, Daniel Blythe, , Margaret Kaine, Martin Davies, Kate Harrison, Ray Allen, Victoria Connelly, Erica James & Maria McCarthy . . .

Lynne Barrett-Lee, Sue Moorcroft and Martin Davies

I talked myself hoarse, laughed a lot and managed to forget about my feet until it was time to walk – ahem – hobble – back to the hotel. It was an afternoon I wouldn’t have wanted to miss and well worth enduring a blister or two was a result of my shoe vanity.

I’m including some of my own photos of the day and you can see more of them here on the Wannabe a Writer website itself. You can also read more about the book and its many contributors here as well. Erica James and Kate Harrison

Oh and as I mentioned that our hotel was right next to the Palladium – I should have said that each evening we were treated to rousing choruses of Climb Every Mountain or How do You Solve a Problem like Maria from the cast of The Sound of Music which is on stage there – and was an unexpected bonus to our stay.

So now it’s back to reality with the ‘To Do’ list, and a bed to prepare for the visitor tonight from the

Monday, May 21, 2007


Yes I'm back - but why is it that every time you go away that something happens over the weekend that needs sorting out and more things pile up in the time you were away than should really happen in such a short space of time.

Not to mention the washing that breeds in the suitcase while you're travelling home . . . and the visitor I'd forgotten is arriving tomorrow. . . and the car that needed servicing . . and the MOT. . .

Welcome back to the real world, Kate!

So - it was wonderful and warm and sunny in London, the meeting with my editor was great, the book sigining in Borders ditto - report and pics tomorrow - the hotel was just beside the Palladium so I was able to watch the red carpets being rolled out for the BAFTAs last night - and I've just realised how little I slept because I sat down after lunch and woke up an hour and a half later.

So now I have even more to catch up up.

Thank you to everyone who left me a question on my last blog - any more?

I'll be back tomorrow and I'll be able to tell you all my news then

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Covers 3 and a Question

In my discussion of the look and styles of covers so far there’s one look I haven’t talked about – and that was the infamous ‘half a heart’ image.

Back in 1994-6, just before all the books turned blue (in cover terms that is – not the contents . . .though maybe some of that as well!) someone came up with the idea of putting the image on the cover inside half a heart – on one cover it would be the left side, on another, the right one. The idea was that when lined up together, left and right, the two halves would make a whole. You can get something of the idea if you look at the cover of Flirting with Danger and consider it matched up to any of the others – Shattered Mirror for example - then you’ll see how the whole heart appears.

Not that many bookshops bothered with the idea. I remember that most times I looked at any displays of romances then, they were all just displayed any old way with half hearts here there and everywhere. It never had the sort of impact the designers were aiming for.

This was just before the books split into separate lines - in the UK at least – they’d been split that way for a long time in America. I remember the discussion of the split coming up and how my editor of the time told me that they didn’t quite know what to do with me – I could write for both lines, selling well in both Romance and Presents in America. My response was that I wanted to go with Presents – Modern Romance was then called M&B Presents - as I felt there might be restrictions on what I wanted to write if I was in Romance (which then went by the peculiar label of ‘Enchanted’ and suffered from some strange grey and white striped covers – nothing like the wonderful rich rose colour used today).

So I was added to the Presents/Modern line up and I’ve been there ever since. It means I’m writing to sort of romance I like best – but it does mean that I have to concentrate on that, even if a ‘Romance-type’ story appeals to me.

One of the other things that these ‘heart’ covers show is the way that in the past the covers were in a kind of colour code where the darker the cover, the more intense, more
Presents/Modern style the story was. So if you check out the progression from Shattered Mirror, through Calypso’s Enchantment, to No Holding Back and Flirting with Danger – you’ll see the point at which I was told I was never writing for Romance again. The warning that I would then be up against huge stars like Charlotte Lamb, Penny Jordan and Carole Mortimer didn’t put me off – I was where I wanted to be and I’ve loved writing for Presents ever since.

The new design covers that are coming out are interesting – the phase for the photo covers seems to have passed . Personally, I was never truly happy with it. There’s something about putting real people – however attractive - on the covers of a romance that doesn’t quite work. Take that cover for The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge and all that controlled sensual menace in it – and try to imagine that with a real man and woman in the picture. It might work if it was a still from a film – with the hint of the storyline in it – but I would much prefer a painted image – even if it was
obviously taken from real life models. These ‘new’ covers are almost a reversion to the older designs. But then nothing is really new is it.

I’m off to London today for contract discussions with my editor – and then that Readers and Writers Day in Borders’ Charing Cross Road - so I’ll be missing until after the weekend. But while I’m away I have a question that I’d like to ask you to think about.

As you know, I’m celebrating my 50th book – and quite a few years as a published author that led up to that. I have plans for the Great Big Blog Party which will be coming soon – and a Great Big 50th book Contest too – but what about you? What would you like to know about my writing career – about all those 49 other titles that went before this special book – about how I wrote ion the past, what the books were like then . . .

Any questions? Anything you’d like to know – or would like me to talk about or discuss? If there is anything you want to ask then leave a comment and I’ll start on some answers when I get back.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

C is for Covers (and Cats) 2

Cats and covers – that seems to be the theme of my days at the moment.

Covers to be scanned and posted on my web site – and on my blog.

Cats to be taken to the vets.

But at least yesterday’s vet visit was a matter of routine - Spiffy (under his Vet-surgery-visiting-official name of Ivan – don’t ask!) needed his annual booster injections and Sid – poor Sid - needed his regular steroid dose to heal his mouth. He is one of those cats whose own teeth have a sort of auto-immune reaction against his gums so in spite of having all said teeth out he still gets regular and painful attacks of gingivitis. So painful that he doesn’t like to eat – and for a cat who lives to eat this is a major problem!

But one bonus of this visit was that the appointment was with Spiffy’s special vet – the wonderful Michelle. Michelle saved Spiffy’s life two years ago when he was definitely a
very sick cat and he – and we - have never forgotten her. So there was a joyous Spiffy and Michelle reunion and lots of fuss and lots of strokes which meant that Spiffy who is moulting left lots of white fur on the surgery table. Spiff is two years older than when he was under Michelle’s care in the vet hospital and he is starting to look his 16 years now but - like Bob - he refuses to admit that he’s getting older. And, as Michelle says, at this age a cat’s happiness is what matters – and Spiff is a picture of happiness. Specially when he’s purring so hard that she can’t hear his heartbeat properly!

So that was the cats - now the covers.

Special note to Karuna – I haven’t yet been able to find out who the male model on the cover of The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge is – but I will be asking my editor when I have lunch with her on Friday and if I find out anything, I’ll let you know.

The approval of the cover of The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge is pretty unanimous – everyone seems to love it. Even the BM though he was heard to remark that ‘there are a lot of ladies being held against walls on the covers of your books.’ He was thinking of this Sicilian book
and the USA/Aus/foreign editions cover of The Italian’s Forced Bride – which shows up specially well in this Spanish edition and is another cover which I love.

In her comment on yesterday’s blog, new author Kate Hewitt commented that the ‘the covers have changed over time--much sexier now’ – well, yes they are – the covers are much sexier – but I have a personal preference for the more subtly sexy approach than the blatant clinch – or the in bed clinch - image. As in the writing of a book – specially the writing of a lovemaking scene – then the build up to it, the sense of foreboding and building of tensions tightening, growing – like the moments before a storm breaks – are the most exciting, fascinating and intense ways of getting those pages to turn – rather than the actual act itself. Think of a scene in a film or a TV drama when you just know what’s coming – that first kiss – first touch – and you’ll know what I mean.
So that’s one of the reasons why I love these covers - because they are about anticipation and build up. And that means they’re about that all important element of writing romance – the often talked about ‘emotional intensity.’

As a dear friend and talented writer – and, luckily for me, a fan of my work – Anna Lucia said when she saw the cover for The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge for the first time - there is ‘so much delicious menace and highly charged non-touching’ in that picture. And it’s the fact that they’re not touching that gives it the ‘highly charged’ and menacing effect.

Finally as you’ve no doubt noticed, the cover of The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge is one of the ‘new look’ covers that will start appearing on the bookshop shelves from June. Starting with the June titles, there will be a re-launch of all the Mills & Boon series in the UK with new covers across the lines.

Revitalising the covers is something HMB do periodically to keep the books looking fresh and to keep our readership interested. They also hope that the new image will introduce new readers to the books.

The new looks will be a fresh variation on a similar theme with all the lines keeping the same colours for the easy recognition of the familiar favourites – Modern Romance with its rich blue, the Romance line with the deep rose pink, Historicals will still have the purple tones and Medicals the turquoise green that marked them out before. But the covers will be set out differently and there will be more use of artwork in most of the lines instead of the photographic images that have been used before.

From June 1st the new look will be introduced for these lines and then in the second half of the month ( from 18th June) Desire, Special Edition, Intrigue and Superromance will all have the new look covers too. If you’d like to see more of the new look covers and see the way all the different lines will look from June onwards, then they’re all on display on the Mills & Boon web site now

So why not visit and see what’s coming up?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

C is also for covers . . .

Yesterday I spent a lot of time scanning past covers and writing up the back blurbs so that more titles could be added to my backlist pages on my web site by the wonderfully efficient Heather of We Write Romance. That was a real trip down memory lane – looking at older books and reading snippets here and there. Reminding myself of stories I’d partly forgotten. Characters I hadn’t revisited in way too long. And like meeting up with old friends, as soon as I glanced at a page or two I was deep in ‘Oh I remember . . .’

The covers were fascinating too – the styles that changed and developed over the years. The look so similar and yet so very different from the covers we see now. There were the covers I hated – like the one for The Golden Thief where I had described the hero as looking like Robert Redford (the human one – not the cat!) at his glorious, golden best. And instead I got Robert Redford’s older, fatter rather lecherous cousin.

Or there was the cover to Man of Shadows which I loved because for once in their lives (and believe me it wasn’t all that common in 1987) the people then responsible for selecting the artwork actually read my descriptions of my hero and heroine and came up with some thing that looked like the way I'd described them.

Here's my hero - Jordan Sumner – “. . . this man’s face had character, rather than the superficial veneer of handsomeness. . . The touch of steel was there all right; it showed in the tightness of the muscles of his jaw and was emphasised by the way that the thick brows were drawn slightly together as if his habitual expression was a frown rather than a smile. Under the straight nose, the firm mouth looked as if it rarely curled into anything other than the hard line that made it look as if his lips were clamped shut against some biting comment. . .

In spite of his thinness, he was broad at his shoulders and chest under a heavy sweater and he held himself with a sort of easy, well knit power that spoke of trained muscles and, before illness had taken its toll, a perfect physical fitness. Crisp hair of the shade that would bleach gold-blond in the sun, but was now the rich colour of liquid honey, was cut close against his well shaped head, the no-nonsense severity of its style clearly meant to impose some order on a rebellious tendency to wave if it grew and inch or so longer."

And, even more unexpectedly, my heroine Madeleine, who describes herself as “average height, average build, with perhaps a little too much curve at breasts and hips for the current fashion” actually has those curves rather than appearing as a stick insect, no matter how she’s described inside the book.

I loved this cover when it appeared – it fitted my characters and the setting of the book perfectly. I even tried to find out who the cover artist had been – I would have loved to have a copy of the cover as a print on my wall – but even though I asked, the search drew a blank.

But looking at it again yesterday reminded me of a long ago trip to Toronto (my sister lived there at the time) and a visit to Harlequin offices at Don Mills where I talked to the head of the design team – I remember telling them how much I loved the Man of Shadows cover. And how much the cover to Jester’s Girl – with a hero in a flat cap and a tweedy jacket – with a yellow handkerchief in the breast pocket! – had made me laugh. I couldn’t help wondering why some Canadian artist had really believed this was just what a young man – a man who was in fact a satirical comedian – would wear to walk on the Yorkshire moors with his girlfriend. That girlfriend too looked old enough to be his mother . . .

Some of these covers are now like historical documents, detailing the style and the images that appealed (more or less!) in the past decades of my writing career. So it’s rather appropriate that my 50th title which is coming out next month in June should also be one of the first titles to appear in the freshly launched ‘new look’ covers – which are not so much a total new look as a reworking of the same theme. I’ll talk more about these tomorrow but I will say that with the cover to The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge, I have very definitely struck lucky – as lucky as I did with Man of Shadows – not a flat cap or a handkerchief in sight! Not all that much clothing in sight really!
And Vito Corsentino is very definitely just the way I imagined him.
Perhaps I might stand a better chance of hunting down a copy of this cover . . .

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Cats, Contests, Countries and Centuries


Bob report:
Mr Robert Redford (the cat one) thanks everyone who has written showing concern and sending Get Well wishes since I mentioned that he had a sore paw. He appreciates every message.

The problem, it turns out, was a rogue claw that had grown overlong and curled back on itself so that it was sticking into the pad of his paw and this had become infected too. One careful manicure later plus a long lasting antibiotic injection and he was on his way home. I was deeply grateful for the 'long lasting' part of the injection. This means that I don't have to risk life and limb by trying to get a tablet into him this morning. He may be elderly but as I said yesterday he's all Alpha Male. He's been Boss Cat around this house for almost 18 years and that isn't going to change. Yes, the vet may have felt she needed to say 'he's getting on - for a cat.' We know that when around 10 is considered 'old' for a cat, his 17 3/4 years make him geriatric - but he's also, 'getting on' with life quite happily - except for the irritation of a sore paw and humans who don't understand when he yells at them to hurry up with the crunchies.

Even last night, with the claw removed, the antibiotics working he set out into the garden to check on things and this morning he patrolled his territory (crossing the road to do so) came back, ate a hearty breakfast and is now asleep with his head on my foot underthe desk. I can hear him purring from here. 'Getting on', but getting on very nicely thank you for a while yet.

Ciao - Domenico Parrisi here -

It seems the Grooms are back. Theo (The Santorini Bride) is busy organising things over on Anne McAllister's Blog and he's roped Max (The Valentine Bride) and me - Domenico (The Italian's Forced Bride) in to help him again. Apparently he wants to celebrate the birth of his & Martha's baby. Well, yes - and Alicia and I have a baby to celebrate too and Kate tells me that our book was the one that went to #1 on the Waldenbooks listing and it's still in the Amazon bestsellers, 3 months after it came out in February. Naturalamente - it's a great book and a great love story between myself and bella Alicia.

Theo's offering a copy of a great Anne McAllister book - The Antonides Marriage Deal, and Max has persuaded Liz Fielding to hand over a copy of her fabulous new title The Secret Life of lady Gabriella so I have had a word with Signora Kate and persuaded her to offer a copy of one of her new books with another Italian (OK - Sicilian) guy - as a hero. The next book isn't out until June but she says that before you read that you might like to read Guido's story - seeing as they're brothers, these Sicilians - Guido and Vito Corsentino. So one copy of Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride is on offer from me - OK - from Kate If you've already read this one, then Kate will offer you your choice from other boks on her backlist.

So once again you get the chance to win three signed books by three fantastic writers. So check out Theo's - scusi - Anne's Blog - for details of her contest.
Oh yes, and Kate says would I say Ciao to all the wonderful Italian readers who have been visiting recently.

Apparently not only my book has appeared in Italy recently – under the title of Il Paradiso Perduto, but there has also been a two-in-one Harmony Vedo Grande with reprints of The Groom’s Revenge (L'Uomo Dei Desideri) and Wife For A Day (Il Giorno Della Verita'). So benvenuto to all my compatriots.

OK Kate you can have your blog back now.

Thanks Dom!

Finally – COUNTRIES and that CENTURY
I haven’t commented on the growing figures on my Neo Counter for a while. Mainly because I’ve been too busy and to be honest a couple of times while I was away, I missed recording when new countries and new flags appeared. But this morning I logged on and found that the record of the number of countries that my visitors have come from have reached the magical total of 100.

I’m not sure which visitor from which country it was that moved the total from the nearly-there 99 to the final 100 – it was either the Domincan Republic or the Cayman Islands – but whoever that visitor was you are so welcome. All my visitors are welcome – from every country in the world.

Thank you for dropping by and I hope you come back often.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Contests, Cats and Catching up

Yesterday it rained. Real rain. Real steady soaking rain. And I for one was so glad to see it. There has been so little of any proper rain, the sort of stuff that would actually water the gardens rather than just drift over the surface and evaporate again that my plants have been wilting and shrivelling in misery.So yesterday I spent time – too much time – simply watching the water fall from the sky and revive everything. This morning everywhere looks refreshed and green and glowing. And it reminds me never ever to take for granted something as simple but as vital as clean, clear, life giving water .

I’m one of those people who always has to have a bottle of water on my desk (Sid’s curled round it at the moment!) and I drink lots and lots of it as I write. I remember once reading an article on Feng Shui that told you how to organise your desk for efficiency and success and it said that you should have a glass of water by your right hand – well, I have that but the rest of the clear, clean spaces is – er – a little untidy. Must do something about that. (That’s one good thing you can say about Sid – he covers a lot of mess when he’s lying on my desk.)

I had an interesting moment looking at yesterday. Remember that list of the Top Ten Kate Walker Novels? Well, looking at my books in bestselling order for that day, I noticed that some books had suddenly jumped up the listing - The Hostage Bride, 12 Month Mistress, A Sicilian Husband, Bound By Blackmail, Rafael’s Love-Child, Their Secret baby, The Sicilian’s Wife, Wife For A day, Desert Affair, His Miracle Baby, Constantine’s Revenge, The Antonakos Marriage. Of course this probably means that only one copy of each had been sold but it did make me wonder If someone had read my blog and used the Top Ten listing as a shopping list. If that was you I really hope you enjoy all those books!

Remember The Grooms – when Domenico, Theo and Max came and blogged and ran a contest? Well over on Anne McAllister’s blog, Theo is back and he’s looking to organise another contest - but he needs ideas. Any suggestions?Talking of contests, I love sending out the prizes and hearing from winners to know that they’ve arrived. Last week I heard from Emily S who won over on My Tote Bag and this morning I heard from Stephanie in Iowa who won one of the Irish bookmarks in my recent contest to celebrate the publication of Sicilian Husband Blackmailed Bride. Stephanie won the special prize offered to members of my Newsletter. It was great to hear from my winners but – oh dear – Ruby (India Grey’s cat) now has competition! Stephanie’s beautiful cat Lily has sent him pics of herself. I don’t know – that cat gets so much more fan mail than I do!

Talking of cats – I have to take the eldest – Redford (Bob to his friends) to the vet today. As I mentioned, he has a sore paw and it’s not getting any better he’s hobbling about very slowly so he clearly rest and recuperation is not helping it. He might be struggling a bit and be very elderly but it hasn’t doused the spark of his personality. Yesterday, because he was hobbling into the garden – having refused to use the litter tray – that’s for cissies and indoor cats! - I helped him by carrying him to a patch of soft earth in the shrubbery. He took a look around – glared at me, clearly deciding that my choice of spot was just not good enough – and hobbled several yards to find one that suited him. That’s my Alpha male!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

8 things . . .

Apparently Tessa Radley has tagged me to reveal 8 things about myself – I’ll have to take her word on my comments section because for some reason her site and her blog adamantly refuse to open so I can read for myself.

As this is just after my birthday and I’m thinking in this way, I thought I’d reveal 8 things that are coming up for me in this ‘new year’

1. Saturday May 19th – Readers’ and Writers’ Day – Borders Charing Cross Road 12- 4pm. This is to launch Wannabe A Writer by Jane Wenham-Jones and many of the authors who have contributed to the book will be there, meeting people and signing copies of their own books.

2. As you all know already – that 50th book. Officially June 1st is the date for the UK publication of The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge though I’ve noticed that it’s already riding high in the hourly bestsellers list – and yesterday they claimed they only had one left in stock. I received my own author copies of the book the other day and I love the cover. Which reminds me, I meant to talk about covers . . .

3. June and July are the months for The Great Big Blog Party – to celebrate the publication of that important book . The last time I looked, I had 32 visitors and guest bloggers lined up to come and chat with you and offer prizes – all you have to do is to come along and join in the fun. You might win a great prize – you’ll get to meet a lot of fabulous authors. And I’ll be willing to bet that your book-buying fund will start to groan under the pressure as a result.

4. June 9th is the real party – the launch party for The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge. Again lots of my very special friends from all parts of my life – the authors I’ve met, friend from home, my sisters, editors, people from Caerleon Writers’ Holiday - even my university tutor are all coming to help me celebrate the publication of my 50th title. I wish I could invite you all - but I promise you there will be reports and photos just as soon as I can get them to you.

5. July 6/7/8 I’ll be at the RNA Conference in Leicester. For the first time in 6 years I’ll not be doing anything - no teaching, no speaking . . . (You promised Jan!) So all I have to do is to enjoy myself, meet up with old friends and hopefully make new ones. If you’re going to be there, please come up and say Hello.

6. 29th July – 3rd August - Caerleon Writers’ Holiday. I’ll be there again for a wonderful week in Wales, meeting other writers and would-be writers, talking , laughing, eating (just a little bit!) sharing a few drinks (just a few) and oh yes, giving a talk to earn my keep. I’m not running a Writing Romance course this year – I did that last year and maybe next ? – but I am doing a talk and so is the BM who is also running some evening classes on the grim and gruesome books - Writing and Researching True Crime and Crime History. His talk is on Writing the Past - how to write and publish historical writing. Again, it you’re going to be there, please come and say Hi and introduce yourself.

7. Back to Leicester! Beyond the Hearts and Flowers –to run the residential course Writing Romantic Fiction, with Julie Cohen (17-19 Aug). I’ll be putting up more details on this on my web site – just as soon as I can get myself organised - but for now here’s what the publicity leaflet says - Write Away courses are held at University of Leicester, in accommodation within close proximity to the Harold Martin Botanical Gardens, a quiet haven of sixteen acres. Easily accessible by road or rail the venue provides en-suite single rooms and full catering for all participants. And I’m posting a photo of the setting – I’m so looking forward to this.

8. Another thing – another course – I’m looking forward to is of course going back to Fishguard to run the Contemporary Romance section of the Fishguard Novel Writing Weekend. I had so much fun last year when I ran this course that I can’t wait to do it again. A weekend in a comfortable hotel by the sea, with wonderful food, enthusiastic students, lots of conversation . . .I don’t think I set foot outside the hotel all the time I was there – I was so busy teaching and discussing and talking – and drinking a little wine! This time I’m going a day earlier so that I can see more of the area.

One other event that I don't yet have a date confirmation for yet is that I'll be speaking at Doncaster Central Library - probably the afternoon of August 11th.

Phew! I can hear another Kate making some comment about post and kettles after she’s read this!

And then I suppose I should add in the publication of another book – The Greek Tycoon’s Unwilling Wife – (aka Andreas’ story for those who remember him) in November – and of course the small matter of at least another two novels to write to make sure I maintain my 3 books a year output into 2008.

Because of course 2008 is going to be a very important year for Harlequin Mills & Boon as we celebrate out 100th anniversary. More on that as I get it.

And there’s also going to be the 2nd edition of Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. I’m busy working on that right now – revising and expanding it to make sure it will be out towards the end of 2007.

So there you are – 8 things about me – 8 things coming up for me this year. It’s going to a busy time - I was going to say a busy year but then I realised that all these events are in the next 6 months! Make that a ‘hectic time’! But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

PS Now there's a coincidence. Just as I finished writing this, the mail arrived and in it was the letter giving all the details for Caerleon Writers' Holiday 2007. This gave me the news that there are already less than 20 places left on this year's holiday - so if you were thinking of booking a place, then do so now. Every time I've been to Caerleon, the holiday has always been totally booked up. I mean- where else can you get 5 nights' single room, en suite accomodation, 3 cooked meals a day, tea and coffee - and intensive writing tuition on TWO different courses. Plus the main speakers, the 'after tea' sessions AND an afternoon trip out - all for £379?

It's the same with Fishguard - Friday/Saturday night in a comfortable hotel, ensuite accomodation, all meals, concentrated tuition - 8 sessions - one on one discussion of your work - long late night talks with your tutor - and I mean LATE night talks! And that's for £199. (if you're in the RNA there will be a report on Fishguard in the coming issue of Romance Matters - and RNA members will get a £10 discount)

Yes - I'm biased but I love these events. Maybe I'll see you at one of them?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Top Ten Titles

I meant to blog about something else this morning - and then again this afternoon - but life in the form of too many emails to answer and too many other things to do (including giving Sid an Unbirthday treat of Salmon to appease him and soothing Hopalong Redford whose sore paw is now improving and talking to friends and sisters - that's the lovely thing about birthdays, lots of people ring up - the only unfortunate thing is that I didn't have time to really spend with each and everyone of them as when I was chatting to one then someone else appeared at the door . . . and that continued into today)

So the blog I meant to write vanished under a heap of Things To Do and never got written so instead I've done as I promised and unearthed the Top Ten Titles of my novels as voted for by my readers when I was celebratign 20 years of being published.

Well, actually no - for some reason it's the Top 28 Titles. Don't ask me why 28 - all I know is that this is the last detailed list of titles that I cold find as the result when all the votes were in and counted.

  1. The Twelve Month Mistress
  2. 2. The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife
  3. 3. A Sicilian Husband

4 . The Sicilian's Wife
5. Wife for a Day

6. Desert Affair

7. Their Secret Baby

8. Bound by Blackmail

9.The Christmas Baby's Gift

10.The Groom's Revenge
11.The Hired Husband

12.The Hostage Bride

13. Constantine's Revenge

14. His Miracle Baby

15. The Married Mistress

16. Her Secret Bridegroom

17.Saturday's Bride

  1. 18. The Unexpected Child

  2. 19. Game of Hazard

  3. 20. Give and Take

21. Rafael's Love Child

22. No Holding Back

23.The Chalk Line

24.The Antonakos Marriage

25.Fiancée By Mistake

26.Flirting with Danger

27.Hers for a Night

28. Man of Shadows

It's an interesting list. This was compiled from votes sent to me at the end of 2005 and so The Twelve Month Mistress and The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife are up at the top of the list because The Alcolar Family triolgy had just come out and I expect that the books were still clear in readers' minds. But there are plenty of older books too - The Chalk Line is the very first book I had published, Game of Hazard is the second and the first of my boks ever to be published in America.

There are a couple of Sicilians in there -but these are the fist set of Sicilians (stepbrothers rather than brothers) . I wonder where the latest Sicilian Brothers would appear now - or Domenico in The Italian's Forced Bride which is still in the Amazon daily bestseller lists.

Funnily enough this 28 is not to far from being half of the number of titles I've now written.

So how many of these have you read? Which ones would you put in your Top Ten? Which is your favourite Kate Walker novel ever? And the four next?

Let me know - email your answers to me with the heading Favourite Book in the subject line and I'll start compiling the newest version of the Favourite Kate Walker Novels ready for the 50th book Great Big Blog Party.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Birthday blog Part 2

Thank you to everyone for the birthday greetings . I've had a lovely day. Lots of cards, afternoon tea, and some lovely gifts.

I've discovered that even when not pointed in the direction of something and told 'That is what I would like for my birthday' the BM can still find something very special as a present.

And now I'm going to share a bottle of wine with the BM, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. Well, OK 2 of them are on the DVD that the Offspring gave me . . . I'm so dedicated to this job I'm even doing research on my birthday!!

And as it's my birthday and I can have what I like - and because I've been so so good and not eaten any cake - here's a little icing on the cake that you can share with me. What better excuse - not that I need an excuse - for

Hugh in a towel


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