Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cat Calendar August

Great Big Blog Party 50 - Joanna Maitland

Today's Guest Blogger - just a day late (my apologies to Joanna) is another friend I've met through being a member of the RNA. Though it was only an accident of timing that meant I met her first at the Conference rather than later at some M&B event. My first nervous venture to the RNA Conference in 2001 in Cheltenham was made a lot easier and enjoyable by meeting up with M&B Historical novelist Joanna Maitland.

She had just had her first novel - A Penniless Prospect - published in May that year and we shared the new experience of the RNA Conference. And in the years that followed she offered me warm and generous support and friendship during some particualry difficult times in my family life - Thank you for that Joanna! It meant such a lot.

Since then Joanna has become a very important person in the RNA. As their Treasurer she handles all the accounts, balances the books and organises all financial matters with an efficiency and calmness that makes it all lok easy - though I know it isn't, At the same time she has continued her writing career with another five wonderful historical romancesa. Her latest book - Bride of the Solway is out in August and is already on my teetering TBR just waiting for a moment to be able to get to it.

I met Joanna again at the RNA Conference at the beginning of July and we were able to grab a few moments to talk about her latest novel - still in the revisions stage. This book has an unusual premise - one that grabbed my imagination so hard that I've been thinking about it ever since and I just can't wait to read it- Please get those revisions done fast, Joanna! I just have to know how this book works out.

And myabe if I'm lucky I'll be able to persuade Joanna to donate a couple of copies for my Bag of Books Contest (more on that soon) or the Christmas Stocking Stuffed with Books contest - depending on when it comes out.

In the meantime, I'm going to relax with Bride of the Solway. It's been quite a while since I read a Joanna Maitland book and I'm so glad there's a new one in print.

So here's Joanna Maitland

Many congrats to Kate on reaching the 50-book milestone with The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge. I’ve read it -- got my copy signed at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference -- and it’s a stunner. Your fans will be drooling, Kate. I certainly was.
I was so sorry to have missed Kate’s 50th Book party. Had to go to my husband’s birthday party instead. But I was with you all in spirit.
In my mind’s eye, I visualised Kate dressed head to foot in glowing gold, and gleaming at all the guests with the warm smile that reflects her immensely kind heart.Like many other authors, I was one of those RNA New Writers who was helped by Kate in the early stages and I’ll always be grateful.
I’ve got quite a long way to go before I get to 50 books – another 43 to be precise! – but with friends like Kate to encourage me, I may yet make it before I hit the bath chair!
It’s not a 50th book, but I have a milestone to celebrate, too. After a very long spell of not writing, I’m back in the groove. And discovering all over again just what a joy it is to write historicals. I even have a book out, to prove it.
Bride of the Solway is the first book I’ve set in my native Scotland. The hero, Ross, is running away from a broken heart and is determined to have nothing more to do with women, especially ones who need rescuing. The heroine, Cassie, is running away from much more immediate danger -- her half-brother has offered her a stark choice between being sold off in marriage and being confined to the lunatic asylum for the rest of her life. Perhaps not surprisingly, she doesn't fancy either. So she tries to escape across the Solway Firth to safety in England.
It doesn't quite go according to plan. For either of them.
If you want to know exactly what happens when they first meet, there’s an extract on my website: http://www.joannamaitland.com/books.html
love Joanna
I’m getting more adventurous with settings. My next three books will be set in St Petersburg in Russia, Vienna in Austria, and Lyons and Paris in France. What location would tempt you to read a Regency Historical? And why?

Signed copy of Bride of the Solway, my August 2007 release.

Another Kate Bit from Sunny Wales

That's right - that's what I said

Sunny Wales!
It's lovely here today. The rain has stopped, the sun is shining, and it's getting warmer and warmer by the minute. So I think it's a huge sacrifice that I'm actually sitting here in the computer room, writing a blog for you and getting ready to post another Guest Blog.

But I'm already behind with the blogs I promised. And - can you believe this - this Blog Party has now been going for nearly two months! I started out hoping I'd get 50 Guests and today we reach that magic number of 50 - and I'm still going!!

So I'm sitting inside, slaving over my blog instead of getting out into the sunshine while we hace some. The things I do for you all.

Yesterday was busy as Caerleon always is - there was the courses in the morning. After breakfast. Then there was lunch - the food is wonderful at Caerleon and there is always so much of it. So I have to pace myself or I'd roll out of her like a little butterball. After lunch, the BM did a talk on Writing History and ended up magnetising babes as usual - I shall bring home photos to prove it. Then there was tea and biscuits, the After Tea sessions - the - more food dinner - and after dinner I did my bit with a talk entitled How NOT to Write A Romance.

After which we all gathered to drink Champagne (celebrating my 50th title and my lovely friend Kathy's birthday) and I collected to signed book from Iris Gower which I'll be giving away as her prize just as soon as I can show her all the entries and get her to choose a winner.

And now I've just had breakfast - and I'm here writing my blog between breakfast and coffee time . . . It's a tough life!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 49 Jenny Haddon/Sophie Weston

I used to think that today's Guest Blogger - was a really scary person. In her persona as Jenny Haddon, that is. A formidably intelligent and capable lady, the Chair of the Romantic Novelist's Assoication no less )for the past two years), she is extremely well read, extremely efficient and very witty with it. Then, as Sophie Weston, she has written some wonderful Romances - Books like The Bedroom Assignment or The Millionaire Affair - and there's another one that I loved - and darn it I can't remember the title. Because I'm in Wales and it's at home in my 'keeper' box, I can't even go and take a look to see what the title is.

Oh, I've found it on Amazon - The Wedding Effect - that's the one.

So there I was, meeting Jenny/Sophie for the first time at a special PR meeting that HMB had organised and I was decidedly nervous - until we started talking about cats - or more properly perhaps - Cats, seeing as we were both under the paw of some very characterful felines - I'll let Jenny tell you all about that in her post. But it's amazing how being subject to something with four paws and fur can unite people. I've never looked at Jenny in the same way.

These days Jenny's two year tenure of the Chair of the RNA is over, and she is about to relaunch her writing career with a romantic comedy that I hope some intelligent publisher will snap up soon. She has also written, with Elizabeth Hawsley, the brilliant Getting the Point - a panic free guide to punctuation for adults. I think ever writer should have a copy of this on their reference shelf - for those dreadful moments when your mind goes blank and you just can't remember exactly where the apostrophe goes!

Jenny is still everything that scared me - but she's also warm and wonderfully generous hostess, a great cook, an even better friend and writer - and a great appreciator of the domineering feline. Sadly, she is currently living in a cat empty house. Jenny - you need some kittens!

BIO Jenny Haddon writes mostly romantic fiction, mostly as Sophie Weston, lives in London and reads compulsively. She has been known to go to Handel opera, Scottish dancing, and South America. With drink taken she has to be restrained from reciting Albert and the Lion.

So here's Jenny - or maybe it's Sophie Weston.

When I met Kate Walker it became rapidly apparent that she and I shared a rare burden - we both lived under the iron paw of a Strong Minded Feline.

Well, several. But in both households there was no doubt who was Top Cat.

Hers was Sir Sidney Portly-Lummox, a gentleman of decided views and considerable acumen, well known on this blog.

In those days, mine was a dim-witted promiscuous fluffball, with a taste for the high life, called James Bond.I say he was dim-witted, and he was certainly slow to learn anything useful like not lying in the middle of the stairs when people were going up them blind, carrying a mountain of washing. But he got his own way quite as much as Sid.

'Does he sit on your manuscript?' I asked Kate.

She nodded.
'When he's just come in from the garden and his paws are muddy?'

'And then he turns round and round on it, clawing the pages into a comfortable jumble? And leaves unspeakable brown stains all over it? And the smell of wet socks? Old wet socks?'

'Yup.' She paused, coughed, didn't quite meet my eyes. 'Er- how long does James stay there?

I strove with myself. After all, there are things that high-achieving women with enterprise, determination and a good career don't readily admit, even to each other. Like being outgunned by four feet and fur. It was a struggle but in the end I told the truth.

'The rotten toe rag sits there until I either throw his champagne cork for him to play with or coax him off with food. People food, of course. He doesn't get out of bed for Whiskas. Gruyere cheese. Smoked salmon. Or raspberries Romanoff - that's the one with cream spiked with brandy - will usually do it. '

Kate let out a long sigh.

Our eyes met, half ashamed, half relieved to have it out in the open at last. I had found a sister!

Not only a sister, but a kind friend,practical counsellor and all round good egg.
Her Twelve Point Guide to Writing Romance is a wonderful aid to navigation to writers when you've backed yourself down a dark alley. And her glamorous, intense heroes are a dream.

Jenny sent me a link to a pic that looks like her James Bond - but I'm not able to upload it here. But if you want to see it you can find it here

Which hero would you most like to be marooned on a desert island with and why?

Signed copies of my desert duo In the Arms of the Sheikh and The Sheikh's Bride.

A Kate Bit - Catch up from Wales and an apology

I'm not sure what happened to yesterday - travelling to Wales was one thing and then getting here to Caerleon and meeting up with everyone - and talking - and talking - and talking - and dinner- and the after dinner lecture . . . .
So by the time I got to the computer room it was locked and my chance to do the Blog Party entry was gone

So firstI have to apologise to Jenny Haddon aka Sophie Weston for not getting her blog post up yesterday as I had said that I would. I never got the chance!
But as it's now Monday and all is quiet(er) with everyone at their courses for the morning, and as I don't have any teaching myself until this evening, I'm going to try and catch up. And so i'll probably post not one but two Guest blogs to make up for yesterday - and to keep up to date. Then if I don't get back to the blog for the rest of today, it won't matter. So don't miss out - check back for not one but two lovely guest bloggers - once I've checked that I'm ok with posting anything from here.
So here goes . . .let's press SEND . . . .

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 48 Marion Lennox

Today's Guest Blogger is Marion Lennox and she gave once me a very special thrill when I was at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Coogee Beach, Sydney.

She let me touch her RITA. Well, she can afford to be generous - she has won two of the little golden ladies. (Not so little actually!) I was able to stroke my fingers over the coveted golden statuette - the closest I've ever got to having one for myself. But maybe the good luck will rub off on me.

Hmm - no - the truth is that I don't think there is any luck to the fact that Marion has won two RITAs! The reason she has won those two - and been nominated millions of times (well - it feels like it as she's nominated almost every year, and often for more than one book!) - the reason for that is quite simply that she is a wonderful writer. Her books have a fabulous voice and a brilliant quality that I can only describe as heart. Fabulous, vulnerable and sympathetic heroines, strong, honourable and oh so loveable heroes. She even manages to write Medicals ( being honest - they're not my most favourite line) in a way that grabs me and makes me want to read on.

I first met Marion at the RWA Conference in New York - and after the first moment of thinking, you're so tall - the next thing I noticed was how beautiful her eyes are and what a wonderful smile she has. We were supposed to have met before - when she came on a trip to England - but a set of unfortunate events in my family life meant that we kept missing each other. She would phone and I would be out.We tried to connest through the internet - but there were no internet cafés for her . . .

I was disappointed. And when we met in NY, I was even more disappointed in retrospect because I'd missed more time with her, which I would have loved to share. We made up for that in NY and then in Sydney - and she shared that wonderful breakfast that Anne McAllister, Anne Gracie and I enjoyed on the very last day there. I still have the little kangaroo bookmark she gave me - and some wonderful memories - one of which includes a very very good seafood platter in a seaside café.

Great conversation , laughter - wonderful food - great conversation and fantastic books. Is it any wonder that I'm so happy to have Marion Lennox as one of my guest bloggers.

Here'a Marion -

Fifty books? Fifty books!!!! If you laid them end to end, they’d circle a room.

If you laid out the books Kate’s sold you’d practically cross England!

Yay for Our Kate.

This coming year is a special one for Harlequin Mills and Boon – they celebrate a hundred years of publishing. They’ve accomplished that because they’ve searched the world looking for the best writers of romance they can find.

Kate is the best of the best.Kate’s known and loved internationally. Her books are eagerly awaited, retained as `keepers’, and extend the company’s literary reputation as a guarantee of a good night in. The reputation of her books spins off to us, her fellow authors.

Even though Kate’s written fifty she can’t keep up with the demand so readers are forced to put up with the rest of us :-)I’m proud to be sold on the same shelves as Kate. She’s a magnificent writer, producing one sexy, fun read after another.

Congratulations Kate on your fiftieth book. I’m already looking forward to your hundredth.

With much loveMarion Lennox
Marion will give away a signed copy of one of her books - probably her newest release - His Miracle Bride to someone who posts a comment on this question:
Marion L writes for 2 lines- Meds and Romance - which of all the romance lines is your favourite Harlequin line and why?
You know the drill - answers in the comments section, please

Great Big Blog Party #44 Winner

Hi from Malvern!

I'm halfway to Wales and as usual have stopped here for the day. We passed the signs of the floods on the way here - flooded fields all around Tewksbury. It looked dreadful. Everywhere was sodden and great pools of water stretched as fer as we could see. My heart went out to the poor people still stuck there and haing to cope with it all.

I'm writing this on my wireless laptop and it's all abit new to me so I'm hoping all will be well as I have a winners' announcement to make.

Yes - winners!

The lovely Day Leclaire has announced her winners and she is giving away three fabulous prizes.

So Scarlet - you have won a copy of The Royals Trilogy - lucky you! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did

And Day has two other prizes on off - a copy of either Old Flames New Sparks (NASCAR) or The Billionaire's Baby Negotiation.

And the two winners here are:



Christina H

So ladies, please let Day know your snail mail details - send your address to Day@DayLeclaires.com - please cc your message to me so that I'll know you've claimed you prize even though I'm on the road!


Friday, July 27, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 47 Bernardine Kennedy

Today's guest blogger is another friend I've gained through the RNA - specially the Conferences. But I was 'introduced' to her before that when another of my bloggers, mutual friend Lesley Cookman, told me about the publication of Bernardine's first book - Everything is Not Enough in 2001.

On Lesley's recommendation I bought the book and was hooked. I think it was the following year that I met Bernardine herself. She was also one of the authors who was happy to meet up with my Virgins in the Meet an Author arrangement. And we've managed to keep meeting enough at Conferences to keep up to date - just.
And after this year's conference guess where a copy of her latest book Old Scores is - on my TBR mountain

It was at this year's conference that I have to give Bernardine the credit for finding the most fascinating story in the weekend papers. That was the one about a psychiatrist who in court for having an unsuitable relationship with one (or perhaps that should be 3 ) of his patients. The lady had multiple personalities and he had a different relationship with each one. As writer, my mind was teeming with possibilities for a getting a book out of that - but I don't think it would fit into Modern Romance.

I'd offer good odds that Bernardine could manage it though.

Oh yes- and, Bernardine - I'm totally with you in being Forever Fifty . . .

Bernardine Kennedy writes contemporary ‘gritty’ women’s fiction. Her first novel EVERYTHING IS NOT ENOUGH was published in 2000 and her seventh SHATTERED LIVES is nearly complete. PAST CHANCES is out in paperback in October.
So here's Bernadine Kennedy

FIFTY BOOKS PUBLISHED. WOW. That is some achievement Kate, Huge Congratulations, I’m completely in awe. No Work Displacement Activity issues for you then?50 is a milestone figure in anything, but especially age.
Once upon a time (!) 50 on the age scale seemed hard for me to imagine; actually it’s still hard for me to imagine but from the other side now! Do I wish I was 50 again? In many ways yes I do! 40? 30? 20? Not a chance.
Never mind 16, 18 and 21, I see 50 as a coming of age birthday, especially for women.It often heralds a certain freedom and the chance to be defined as your own person, even if the neck does start to wobble a bit! Yes, 50 is good.

Therefore I have decided to be forever 50 but, unlike Kate, I will never achieve 50 books.
Happy Fiftieth!

Bernardine's Website is at: www.bernardinekennedy.com
If you were out in the middle of the ocean on a life-raft which celebrity would you want in the raft with you and why? Who would you NOT want in the raft and why?
signed copy of Old Scores or in October, a signed copy of Past Chances.

A Kate bit

I just found this little snippet of news on Yahoo and I just have to say, I know the feeling.

Hecks - tone it down!!

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police called to investigate unusual noises in the garden of a Bremen house late on Monday were surprised to find that a pair of amorous hedgehogs were to blame.

After illuminating the garden with spotlights, officers discovered the animals making love beside the pond.

"The pair were loudly engaged in ensuring the continuity of their species," said Bremen police spokesman Ronald Walther.

"All those spectators did not worry them in the least, indeed they even intensified their activities, so the officers turned off the lights," he added.
The hedgehog breeding season runs from April to September and their lovemaking is typically accompanied by very loud puffing and snorting, usually by the female as she tries to ward off the male.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 46 - Phillipa Ashley

Today's Guest Blogger is Phillipa Ashley - and she's a new writer to me in all sorts of ways. Although I'd 'met' Phillipa on the eHarlequin boards I'd never met her in person until the RNA Conference at the beginning of this month. But I knew all about her as the winner of the RNA's Joan Hessayon trophy for the New Writers' Scheme this year. That was for her first book for Little Black Dress - Decent Exposure. At the Conference, Phillipa kindly gave a copy of the book - which - you guessed it - is on my TBR mountain. So many books so little time!

Many of you will also have 'met' Phillipa in her other personna as 'Lord Alfred' in June when she won another Guest Blogger's Julie Cohen's challenge to celebrate one of my heroes in rhyme with her ode to Jake and Mercedes - which I think I'll repeat here for anyone who missed it.

Take a smouldering hero called Jake
And Mercedes who made his heart ache.
He nicked her silk thong,
Which was seriously wrong.
But his harshness was all for her sake.

They finally fell into his bed
When her mother’s voice rang in her head.
“I’m a virgin,” thought she,
And Jake doesn’t love me!
So I’ll wait until after I’m wed.

Being Alpha, Jake got his own way,
He blackmailed her into a stay,
In his flat – they both fell
In love. (Just as well
She was having his baby.) Hooray!

Welcome Phillipa - and I'm delighted to have you here on the blog.

Phillipa Ashley writes romantic comedy for Headline Little Black Dress. Her first novel, Decent Exposure, won the 2007 Romantic Novelists Association Joan Hessayon award. Her second book, Wish You Were Here is out in paperback in September 2007.

I asked Phillipa for a photo of herself - instead she sent this for your delight -
"Richard Armitage: my inspiration for starting to write romance and much prettier than me!"

Phillipa's Post:

I’ve probably ‘known’ Kate for the shortest length of time of anyone on her blog party so I was thrilled when she asked me to join in. Although I’ve followed her advice and career via cyber space since I started writing in 2005, I actually hadn’t met her in person until the RNA Conference a few weeks ago.

Recently, I posted a poem on Kate’s blog, in tribute to my all-time favourite Presents novel: Bound by Blackmail aka Jake, Mercedes and The Thong. I called myself ‘Lord Alf’ as I was too embarrassed to admit the poet was me…Fortunately, Kate has a sense of humour. Not only was she friendly and welcoming to ‘Lord Alf’, but the BM insisted on carrying my stuff to the car after the conference. (My books were also laid out on the same sale table as hers which must be a good omen.)

Early on in my writing career, I bought Kate’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. It was a revelation in its advice about character, plot, structure and most of all: about developing and loving your own writing voice. I thought: if Kate says it’s OK to ‘be yourself’ then it must be a very good thing.

In realizing this, I gave myself permission to write the books I needed to write. I learned that while I loved emotional intensity, sensuality and alpha heroes, my own books also need generous helpings of irony and humour. It must have worked because my first book sold to LBD.

I’m now writing my third novel: if I ever get the chance to write 50, I’d be about 95, so I know I’ll never match Kate.But who could

Phillipa's web site is at:



My new book, Wish You Were Here, is about a holiday romance so my question is: which hero would you choose to share a romantic meal overlooking the ocean?


A signed copy of either Decent Exposure or of the paperback of Wish You Were Here when it’s published in September.

Great Big Blog Party #41 - and # 43 - Winner - and a Kate bit about next week

I've heard from Anne Gracie that Hunkthighs and Shoulderman have chosen their winner

Troy Hunkthighs was very taken with a pome that talked about a lay in the hay - any idea of laying and hay gets his vote - but Clint wanted to go with pulling a name from his hat - and in the end, for fairness that's just what they did

So the winner of a copy of The Perfect Rake is Cherie J

Congratulations Cherie if you could send your details please. For speed you can send them direct to Anne and cc them to me to be sure

This is because for the next week or so I shall be on the move - going to Caerleon Writers' Holiday starting with driving to Malvern tomorrow. (Though with the rain still coming down we might be swimming!) . I'll be trying to log in every day if I possibly can and I hope I have all the blogs for the last few days of the Great Big Blog Party already lined up ready to post. But things can go wrong . . .

So if I miss a day, I apologise in advance and I'll make sure that I post all the guest bloggers as and when I can - and the collecting of addresses and sending them on to winners might bet a little delayed - but even if I can't keep as up to date as when I'm at home, everything will all be sorted out in the end - I promise!

Unless of course I end up trying to post from underwater in Wales

PS - I just heard from Amanda Grange - who was unfortunately away on holiday while her post was up . (Was it a very wet holiday Amanda?)

But now that she's back she has chosen a winner - here's the message she posted on the Comments section announcing her choice:

Thanks to everyone for dropping in! They're all great heroes, but I'm going to pick Anne McAllister as the winner because she reminded me about Max Ravenscar, one of my favourite Heyer heyeros! If you send me your snailmail details, Anne, at amanda_grange@hotmail.com, I'll put a signed copy of Mr Darcy's Diary in the post for you.Thanks to everyone for entering! Amanda

Congratulations Anne! I hope you enjoy reading Mr Darcy's Diary. I think we'd all love to know what was going on inside that particular hero's head!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 45 Katie Fforde

Today's guest blogger Katie Fforde is one of the fabulous people that the RNA brought into my life. Katie says she doesn't quite remember where we first met - but I remember exactly when I first saw her. It was at the RNA one day seminar in Bath - I think that was 1997. Katie was a speaker that day, talking about her route to publication. I had already 'met' her through her novels - Living Dangerously and The Rose Revived.

Later we met in person and I soon learned that being with Katie, wherever you are, is always fun. She is charming and witty and so easy to talk to. When I first set up that RNA Virgins scheme, I also organised a Meet An Author arrangement so that a conference newcomer could meet and chat with an author of their choice. I remember that lots of the Virgins wanted to meet Katie and she was unstintingly generous with her time - everyone of them who met her loved the experience.

We don't meet up enough - the Conferences and the RNA Awards lunches just keep us in touch - but Katie is one of those people for who quatity doesn't matter - it's the quality of being able to pick up as if we've never been apart and to laugh, joke, share a glass or two - or three - of wine. Being with Katie is always easy. She's like her books. Not for nothing are her novels described as 'Witty and generous romance — Jilly Cooper for the grown-ups!’

That witty and generous accolade could be awarded to Katie herself - though she's much more glamorous than Jilly Cooper - and I'm really delighted to welcome her to my blog.

Here's how Katie Fforde describes herself :

Katie is currently finishing (yes she is!) her fourteenth novel - published one that is. She lives in the Cotswolds with her family and some of her children and her two Cavalier King Charles spaniels. She plays a lot of Spider patience.

And here's her blog.

I can't remember quite when I met Kate for the first time but I'm fairly sure we were had glasses (mugs, cups, vases) of wine in our hands. We were drawn to each other by this as well as by having more or less the same name. I reckon she must have started writing her novels while in kindergarten or how has she fitted that many in? Even Kate has to eat and sleep, after all. And she does run the occasional writing course. She's a marvel! For those of you who've never met her and think she sounds fun from this blog - she's EVEN MORE fun in real life. And that takes some doing.

She's a wonderful woman. I'd say worthy of the halo she nearly got to wear when she looked after conference newbies a couple of years ago. But if she wore a halo, would she be such good company?

Big love, Kate!!!!

Katie oxoxo

The prize is a signed copy of Paradise Fields - my favourite book.

My giveaway question is -
What is the scariest situation you can imagine a Katie Fforde heroine could be in? But remember KF herself has to do everything she puts her heroines through and she is a wuss.

Katie's web site is at
And her latest book - Going Dutch came out in paperback on June 7th

A Kate Bit - quick catch up

It's raining again. And we really really don't need any more rain. And the forecast for tomorrow is thunderstorms and more rain - 'torrential' rain this time.

Is there anyone out there who can do an anti-rain dance?

Or someone who knows a way to send all this to some country that really needs it - that would be wonderful. Again, to all those who have asked - right now, we're fine - but spare a thought for the people of places like Tewkesbury (see pic) who are totally cut off. At least now they have their electricity restored but - here's the awful irony of this situation - they have all that water everywhere - and no fresh water in the taps to drink!

The water from the rivers further North is now heading south as the floods drain away slightly - so the next risk is the Thames apparently. And these are now officially the worst floods on record - worse than 1947 which was previously 'the worst'.
Yeuch! So to cheer ourselves up - let's have some good news.

In a change to my normal pattern of posting Guest Blogs up here, today I'm the guest blogger over on Donna Alward's blog while Donna relaxes - hopefully in the sun - and does some catching up on her reading while on holiday with her family.

And guess what I'm blogging about - the Great Big Blog Party of course! You've all made this such a wonderful success that I keep hearing from people who say 'Your Great Big Blog Party ' is going brilliantly - everyone's talking about it. And the numbers on my stat counter are going through the roof - so thank you again to everyone who has been a Guest or visited or entered a giveaway contest.

And there's more still to come . . . . The guests keep on sending me posts and offering prizes - they just keep coming - Just like the rain . . no - we're not going to think about the rain any more! But I just hope I can get to Wales at the end of the week. I'm heading for Caerleon Writers' Holiday - and you know how much the BM and I love our week there. So we're praying no roads are closed or places flooded en route.

And finally in some Book News -

If anyone didn't manage to get their hands on a copy of Their Secret Baby when it was published back in 2004 when it was first published then it's being reprinted in a 3 in 1 By Request bestellers anthology by Mills & Boon in August in the UK.

And the cover is really rather nice - unlike the first UK edition which was affectionately known in this household as The Headless Wedding.

Which do you prefer? I like the colours and the photo on the reprint much better - and there's no rain in the picture.

There's no rain on The Headless Wedding either - but that's about all you can say in its favour!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 44 - Day Leclaire

So who can follow Hunkthighs and Shoulderman into the Great Big Blog Party?

It's not an easy task but I have a brilliant writer who I think can live up to the challenge. Her name is Day Leclaire.

Those of you who've been reading for a while will remember that back in February I wrote about a Great Day For Romance - and I really can't do much better for my introduction here to copy from that post.

Here's what I said:

Ten years ago if you’d asked me to name my favourite category romance writers, one name would have been right there on the list without a moment’s hesitation. The name of an author who wrote truly magical romances with gorgeous, sexy heroes and bright, appealing and totally individual heroines. An author who’s ‘tag line’ is Books that leave you laughing through the tears! – and she certainly accomplished that. Her books always had that – well I’m going to use that word again – that magical quality that turned them into modern day fairytales – not fairy stories note - and yet still had such believable, vibrant real life elements that you totally believed they could exist in the modern world – and at the same time made you wish that the real world could be as magical as these books made them out to be.

Day wrote over 30 books the came out in Harlequin Romance , Special Releases, a Single Title and the Forrester Square continuity. She was nominated for a RITA award no less than 10 times and won numerous other awards for her writing. I loved her books, looked for each new one eagerly, snatched it off the shelf, devoured it in delight

But then real life intruded into Day’s writing. She became ill, diagnosed with breast cancer almost six and a half years ago. Anyone who was lucky enough to know her then knows that she faced the disease with a grace, courage and humour that for me at least was truly inspirational and frequently brought tears to my eyes. At the time the BM and I were going through some tough times but knowing that Day was going through worse, and still picking herself up and carrying on, helped me such a lot. She came through the illness, and although the treatment was successful, as she says in her blog, afterwards “ I found that my creativity had gone to sleep.” The writing dried up. The books stopped appearing and fans like me could only go back to their collection of ‘keepers’ and remember.

But then the great news was that Day was back – and back with a vengeance. I read her Royals Trilogy - OK – the word here is devoured. I devoured her Royals Trilogy with every bit of the enjoyment I remembered in reading a Day Leclaire story and I am so looking forward to her August and September releases. I know she’s been busy on revisions and other things so I’m specially happy that she’s find the time to come and join us at the Great Big Blog Party today.

So - welcome – Day Leclaire

I think women, in particular, are outstanding at celebrating special moments. We women excel at recognizing not only our own achievements, but more often the achievements of those around us. And there's a reason for that. I believe women have an innate understanding of the importance of these fleeting peaks in our existence, and how they mark our progress through the transient joys of life. In real life, versus in the fictional worlds we writers create, those joys can sometimes be all too brief, all too infrequent, and often cut short. That makes them all the more important to celebrate...and celebrate well! So what a wonderful reason Kate Walker has offered us, so that we can all stand up and cheer her success!

Kate has created some of Harlequin Presents' most cherished stories, full of warmth and passion and intense conflict. Can anyone say, A Sicilian Husband? She's created a wonderful legacy...a body of work that is a treasure-trove of emotional journeys, overcoming adversity, and validating the existence of "true" love. That's quite an achievement. I can only hope that a few years down the road I'll be celebrating her 100th release with as much delight as I celebrate her 50th. Congratulations, Kate! Keep 'em coming!

Love, Day


USA Today bestselling romance author, Day Leclaire, has published more than 40 books and has been nominated for Romance Writers of America's most prestigious award, the RITA, an impressive 10 times. She's described by Harlequin as "...one of our most popular authors ever!"

Old Flame, New Sparks, August 2007 Release, Harlequin/NASCAR books
The Billionaire's Baby Negotiation, September 2007 Release, Silhouette Desire

Web Address/Email:



( From Kate: Day has been amazingly generous with her prize giveaway - I'm not sure whether this is all for one winner of if she's going to spread the prizes over a couple of you - but I can tell you one thing - you'll have to get in line behind me for The Billionaire's Baby Negotiation - I've already met Joc in the Royals Trilogy - and I want to read more!)

An autographed copy of Old Flame, New Sparks
An autographed copy of The Billionaire's Baby Negotiation (when released)
Autographed set of The Royals trilogy for one lucky winner.


I suppose I liked books from an early age, but there was one, in particular, that cemented my love for the written word. We had a teacher who read books aloud to us and one of the books she chose to read was Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. I was utterly captivated, and more than anything I wanted to be able to read that book by myself. As soon as the teacher finished it, I went to the library and checked it out. I devoured every word. That was the true beginning of my love for books and reading. I returned to the library the next week and checked out a half dozen more books. After that, my nose was permanently glued to the pages. So here's my question...
What book inspired you to be a true reader and why?

Great Big Blog Party 39 - Winner - and a Kate Bit

Well, Hunkthighs and Shoulderman got you talking - as I thought they would. I was so glad to see these two wonderful hunks back in circulation - it's been too quiet without them! Welcome back Clint and Troy!

I hope that soon either Clint or Troy will pick a winner of Anne's prize - but in the mean time, I have another winner to announce for you.

Elizabeth Oldfield has read all the answers to her question and she emailed me with her response :

I thought the responses to the blog were all interesting - and I agreed with so many - but my choice as winner is Yvonne Lindsay. I still have a copy of Mary Wibberley's 'To Writers With Love' on my book shelves, together with classics by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Daphne Du Maurier. There's a wealth of literature out there

So Yvonne - congratulations - you win a copy of Vintage Babes. Please contact me - I think I still have your address somewhere but if you could send it to me then I'll be sure I have exactly the right one. (and for those who didn;t win Vintage Babes this time - I have a second chance to win coming up soon)

I too have a copy of Mary Wibberley's To Writers With Love on my shelf - on I was thrilled to have her sign for me personally when we both were at a Writing Day in Eccles where I was giving a talk. It's a writing book that's fun just to read as well as passing on information. I haven't read it for a while so I don't know if any of that information has dated since it came out in 1985 - but there's one thing that hasn't dated and that's her list of excuses (a 'Baker's Dozen' ) for not writing a book when you say you want to. Each and every one of them is dealt with and demolished.

And there's a point in there where she says 'What are you doing reading when you should be writing. Put this book down now - at once- and write!' It used to work every time.

Finally - thanks to Lidia and many others who have emailed me privately to check that the BM and I - and the cats of course - are still OK in spite of the deluges and floods that we have been experiencing in the UK -for ever it seems though it's probably ju st a month or so.
Luckily, where we live in Lincolnshire we are on the top of an escarpment and so safe from the waters of the River Trent and the electricity and the fresh water supplies have been fine so far - fingers crossed for the future. Many many people have not been so lucky and my thoughts are with those who are facing the ruin of their homes or are enduring life without power or fresh water. What a summer! Luckily today the sky is blue and clear and the sun is shining in it - so there will be a little respite from the rain and hopefully a lowwering of the dangerous water levels - I hope!

Perhaps we could send in Hunkthighs and Shoulderman to join the rescue efforts - I'm sure they'd be wonderful.

Any excuse to show the pic of these two great hunks!

And as someone over on the comments section suggested a 'towel-off' between Clint and Troy and another rather attractive Aussie - what better excuse for:
Hugh in a towel

Monday, July 23, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 43 Anne Gracie

I can't tell you how thrilled and honoured I was when my round robin 'would you like to post in my Great Big Blog Party' request resulted in today's post. When I asked my friend Anne Gracie for a contribution I hoped she'd respond - what I never anticipated was a very special post, one that raised the ugly spectre of jealousy in another friend - Anne McAllister - normally the most generous of people but who in this case was reduced to muttering enviously 'I want that . . .'

I know how she felt - I'd have felt exactly the same. A post from Anne with her warm, witty style, her love - a love we share - for atrocious puns - and her knowledge and understanding of writing and the publishing industry would have been just great. I never dreamed that I would get my very own Hunkthighs and Shoulderman story!

I first heard of Anne Gracie when my then editor told me that she had spent the evening before reading Tallie's Knight for the third time. Knowing the taste in books that this editor and I shared, this was enough to send me hunting for the book - and when I found it I devoured it at a sitting and then went and found Anne Gracie's other Harlequin Historicals - Gallant Waif and An Honourable Thief. And I loved them all. At the same time, Anne herself had joined a M&B loop that I was on and her posts often reduced me to tears of laughter as I read them - it was either that or nodding in agreement with something she said that was so full of knowledge and common sense.

Then in 2004, when I made the trip to Australia and spoke at the RWAus Conference in Coogee Beach, I was able to meet Anne herself in person - and found her to be as warm and witty and wonderful as her posts had been. Our time at the Conference passed way too quickly, but I have truly special memories of a shared breakfast with Anne G, Anne McAllister, Marion Lennox, and the BM of course, in a café overlooking the sea and feeling that I had come to know these women so much in the short time we had available that they would always be part of my life even though they were thousands of miles away.

These days Anne no longer writes for Harlequin - but Harlequin Historicals' loss is single titles' gain - her Perfect books - The Pefect Rake - The Perfect Waltz - The Perfect Kiss - The Perfect Stranger are all available to delight fans of her work (amongst whom one Sid the Cat counts himself as you'll see from the picture of him in this blog). Her newest title The Stolen Princess will be on sale from January 2008.

And Hunkthighs and Shoulderman?

Well I'll let Anne herself tell you about them. Just let me say that I couldn't be happier to have these two hunks grace my blog - it's a thrill almost equivalent to the possibilty of a certain Hugh-in-a-towel wring a post for me.

Here's Anne:

Some years ago, when I was a very new and green author, I was invited to join the Harlequin Mills and Boon authors' loop. On that loop, I met the most wonderful group of women -- some of the most famous and much-beloved names in romance writing. It was extraordinary how warm and welcoming they were to an obscure beginner from downunder, one who, moreover, wrote historicals. (I was the only historical writer on the loop at the time.)
But those women became my friends. We shared heaps -- we laughed and cried and ranted and soothed. It was on that loop that Hunkthighs and Shoulderman were born -- I have a silly streak a mile wide, and from from time to time something would strike me as funny, and I'd write a story, just for the loop.
Kate this one's for you. Congratulations on the 50th book.
Anne Gracie

What Women Want

"Women are a mystery!" Troy Hunkthighs tossed his money down on the bar and ordered a beer. "A complete mystery!"

His best mate, Clint Shoulderman looked up from something he was writing. "Yeah, Hunk, you're right," he said morosely, and returned to his scribbling.

"Whatcha writing, Clint?"

"A pome."

"A pome? Oh, jeeze mate, not to--"

"Yeah, to The Babe. I figure women like pomes, so if it's a good one, she might take me back."

"Mate,she dumped you a year ago." Hunkthighs frowned. "And didn't you take that girl, whatzername, out last night? The hot blonde."

Clint gave him a gloomy look. "For a start she gets me name wrong. All night she calls me Lint. And then she ups and brushes me off, just like a piece of fluff on a black jacket! I ask you, Hunk, is that any way for a girl to treat a guy?"

"Terrible, mate. No heart at all." Hunk said brightening as a group of Hot Young Things arrived in the bar.

"Yeah," Clint said. "So I'm trying again for The Babe. If I can just get this pome right..."

"Yeah, mate, you go ahead and write it. I'll go and do some research into women for ya."

Hunk hitched up his jeans and rocked on over.

"G'day, ladies. Yuz all look real hot. Anyone wanna get it off with me?" he said, the height of coolth.

"I'll think about it," a girl wearing a moulded-on lepardskin dress said carelessly. She sipped her Raging Orgasm. "Is that your friend over there? What's he doing?

"Don't worry about him. I'm the fun guy around here. He's just writing a pome."

"A pome?"All the girls stared. "What for?"

"Oh, to some woman who broke his heart."

"Awwww, that's so sweet," the women cooed and hurried over to soothe Clint Shoulderman's broken heart.

"Hey, wait for me," Hunk said.

"Rack off, this is women's business," Miss moulded-on lepardskin dress told him sharply. "Your friend is the Sensitive Type. You wouldn't understand. He needs a woman's touch."

"Hey, I'm sensitive. I need a woman's touch, yez can touch me anywhere," Hunk called after them, but it was too late. The women were swarming around Shoulderman.

Depressed, Hunk decided to drown his sorrows. He'd forgotten how good a broken heart was for attracting chicks. If only Miss Pouty Luscious, the love of his life, was here to see how she'd broken his heart.

He'd show them all who was the sensitive type. He pulled out an old envelope and started composing a poem to Pouty on the back of it.

Oh Pouty with your lips so red,
I think of you each night in bed.
Your bum looks great in tight blue jeans-

"What rhymes with jeans? Beans... means... steams... Nah, scrub that line." He chewed on his pencil a moment, then wrote,

Your bum looks great in tight white pants,
It jiggles when you try to dance.

Yeah, that was it. Women couldn't resist the sensitive poetry writing type. He looked around for the moulded-on lepardskin dress to read his pome to her, but they'd all gone, taking Clint with them.

"Damn," he said to the barman. "Waste of a good pome. Who understands what women want anyway?"

"Other women," the barman replied. He slid a cautious look around the bar to see if anyone was watching, then leaned forward and whispered, "But if ya really want to understand women I've got something that'll help."

Hunk leaned forward and whispered back. "Sure mate. I'll try anything."

"OK." The barman looked around again, then slid something across the bar to Hunk, fast. "Here ya go, keep it outta sight. "

Hunk looked down. "A book?"

"Not just any book, stupid. It's a romance, one by Kate Walker. Now put it away quick before anyone sees you with it."

Hunk managed to read the title before he pocketed the book. He nodded. He could fancy himself as a sheikh. "And you reckon this will help me understand women."

"Yeah. Make your hair curl, that book will."

Hunkthighs stared at the barman's bald head.

"Damn, it must really be hot!"

"It is mate, it is!"

Hunk drank the last of his beer. Despite his failure with Miss moulded-on leopardskin dress, he was pretty pleased with himself. He was onto a sure thing from now on. Finally he was going to understand women. And get his hair curled. Who'd a thought you could get all that from a book?
Anne has a signed copy of The Perfect Rake - the first in the series - to give away.
The question is from Hunkthighs -- what is it that women really want from a guy?
If you can give poor Hunk a little advice - post your answers in the Comments section and you could win

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 40 - Winner

I have another winner to announce.

Nancy the Cat Slayer's cute dog Arrow has picked out some winners for Nancy's prize and here are the results:

Well, ideally Arrow would pick Liz Fielding because she, too, would like to go anywhere with Lindsay Davis.
Arrow's runner-up is Ilona because she would like to go anywhere with any writer so she could research all the great smells along the way (and any rabbits would be a definite bonus).
Good choices Arrow!
Liz - I don't know if there are any Kate Walker and Anne McAllister books you don't have! But I'll be in touch to discuss that.

And Ilona - I'll send you a list of the titles I have available for you to choose from.
Congratulations ladies.
There will be more Guest Blogs and more prizes coming up. The contests for Elizabeth Oldfield, Amanda Grange and Iris Gower are all still open - so post your comments now. And make sure you come back tomorrow when not only is there a wonderful Guest Blogger - but there's a real treat of a post from her for you all to read.
Call back on Monday to find out

Great Big Blog Party 42 Iris Gower

It's a special delight and honour to introduce you to the fabulous lady who is today's Guest Blogger. Those of you who have visited here often will know that I make no secret of how much the BM and I enjoy our visits to Wales in the summer - and how much we love taking part in the wonderful Writers' Holidays in Caerleon. We've been back so often now that it doesn't seem like work, even though we've both run courses or give a Main Lecture while we're there. But what we love most about Caerleon is that it's a writers' event with heart. And at the heart of Caerleon are three special people - the organisers Anne and Gerry Hobbs - and the hugely successful Welsh novelist Iris Gower.
I invited Anne and Gerry to blog here but they are always so very busy at this time of year - organising this year's Caerleon event which starts again on July 29th. And Iris is not at all used to blogging. But I managed to persuade her to write me a small message and offer one of her great books as a prize as part of the celebrations.

Iris Gower was born in Swansea and she draws the inspiration for her books from the rich history of the sea side town she loves.

Iris had her first best seller in 1983 with the publication of COPPER KINGDOM a tale of hardship in the gruelling heat of the smelting works on the Hafod Bank of the river Tawe. It was a book of human passions, of poverty despair and finally triumph and it continues to be reprinted and held in the libraries. Iris is the only Welsh writer in the top ten Welsh library list of lends and in the national list Iris is solidly in the top hundred.

Folllowing the sucess of Copper Kingdom Iris went on to write a best selling book every year and so established her reputation as a writer of excellence in her genre both here and overseas. Iris's sales run into millions of copies. Iris's latest book ACT OF LOVE about the old time music hall in the Palace Theatre in Swasea. The paperback edition is due out in July as is her new hardback BARGAIN BRIDE.

The writer of historical fiction was honoured for her impeccable research by the awarding of two honorary fellowships one from the University of Wales Swansea and one from The Institute of Higher Education in Swansea. Iris is now working on her new novel entitled 'Fool's Gold' that deals with the goldmining history of Wales.

I met Iris on my very first visit to Caerleon - a pint sized, flame haired lady who is full of life and spirit that I only saw dimmed when she suddenly and tragically lost her beloved husband. But three years later, when she met Peter, the brilliant smile came back to her eyes and her lips . I was thrilled and honoured when Iris and Peter made the long journey from Swansea to Lincoln to join my Writers' Weekend and 50th title celebration last month. With typical Iris style she charmed everyone there including my twenty-something Offspring! I'm so looking forward to the end of next week when once again I'll be heading for Caerleon and a week at Writers' Holidays - and I'll be meeting up with Iris and Peter and everyone else again.

As I said, Iris is new to web sites and blogging, but I was delighted when she wrote a small message and offered a prize as part of my Great Big Blog Party.

Hi to all Kate's reader and to mine I hope. Iris Gower - me - has a new book out and that will be free to any reader who sends me the most interesting comments on my wonderful country of Wales. Act of Love came out on July 2nd and is in paperback right now.
Congtatulations to Kate for the publication of her 5oth novel I think I have only written 30! Now not being a wizz kid like Kate I'm not sure if my website address is http://www.irisgower.com/ or http://www.iris-gower.com/ try both. I hope to hear from readers soon I'm new at blogging and need the practice!

Love to all,


Iris Gower

Note from Kate - Iris's web site is HERE

IRIS'S GIVEAWAY: A copy of Act of Love - which I will personally get Iris to sign when I'm with her in Caerleon next week
GIVEAWAY QUESTION: What does Wales mean to you - if you've visited this beautiful country, what do you love best about it, or if you've never been to Wales what would you like to see most - where would you like to visit? And what images do you imagine when you think of Wales?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 41 - Amanda Grange

I first met today's Guest Blogger Amanda Grange at the RNA Conference in Durham in 2002. While not actually one of the the 'Virgins' she was at her first Conference there and a little out on a limb until she joined the original four and I in the bar and became part of our small group. Later, she was to take on the welcoming of the Conference First timers when the Conference was set in Egham in 2005.

Amanda writes adventurous historical romances set mainly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But she has also hit on the brilliant and original idea of writing Jane Austen's novels from the heroes' point of view. Mr Darcy's Diary is already out, with Mr Knightley's Diary due in October 2007.

Amanda's publisher, Hale, usually only publishes hardback, library editions in the UK which means that her books have until now only reached a limited audience. But just lately Amanda has had the great news that the paperback versions of Lord Deverill's Secret, Harstairs House and Mr Knightley's Diary will all be published by Berkley in 2007. Scheduled release dates are October for Mr Knightley's Diary, November for Lord Deverill's Secret and December for Harstairs House.

Wishing you every good luck with those, Amanda!

Another side to Amanda's talent is her ability to write great humour, combining her love of Jane Austen with her knowledge of the current popular market. Check out her vision of Jane Austen trying to make a pitch for her novels in todays publishing climate - you can find it here. I think it's brilliant

So here's Amanda Grange

The fact that Kate has hit the big 50 sums her up in one word - inspiring.
I first met Kate at the RNA conference in Durham about five years ago. It was my first conference and I was immediately drawn to her because Kate exudes a warmth and energy that attract people like a magnet. She'd hit upon the idea of organising a meeting for the conference first-timers, which shows you exactly what kind of person Kate is, because it can be scary walking into a conference and realising you don't know a single soul there. I was soon part of the group and I met a number of other fabulous writers like Julie Cohen and Amanda Ashby who have since gone on to great things, encouraged by Kate. Kate must have helped more people on the path to publication than anyone I know.

But it doesn't stop there. As Kate's 50th shows, getting published is only the first step along the way. I know I'm not the only writer who thinks, 'How fantastic!' and feels inspired to reach the big 50 myself. With 15 books under my belt, I've only got 35 to go! And by the time I get there I hope Kate has reached her 100th so she can inspire me to hit those heights, too.

So thanks, Kate, for the inspiration. Thanks for the conference at Durham, which would have been a lot less fun without you, and let's hope we both make it to 50 conferences as well!




Who is your favourite historical hero and why?

Signed copy of Mr Darcy's Diary


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