Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Brides are coming . . .

So here's a little bit more about one of those 'things I did on my holidays':

I mentioned working with Anne McAllister and Liz Fielding on a joint contest.
This started because all three of us realised that we all have books coming out in February with the word Bride in the title. So we decided to create a "Here Come The Brides" contest to celebrate the publication of these books beginning January 1st.
From the start of the New Year, details of this contest will be published on each of our blogs and our individual web sites - visiting each author will give you another chance to win not one, but three brand new titles from Anne McAllister, Liz Fielding and myself.

Watch this spot for info about all the books and contest details!

And keep calling back because once this contest starts - you never know what might happen.

Look out for posts with the buxom bride picture in them and you'll get all the information you need.

The Brides are coming . . .

What I did in My Holidays

When I was in school, way back in prehistory, whenever we went back into class after a holiday period, like the last week or so, we would be asked to write an essay. And at the beginning of each term you could just about guarantee that the topic of the essay would be ‘What I did in My Holidays’. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve written something with that title.

So, to continue the tradition – here you are
What I did on my holidays Christmas 2006

1. Relaxed at the thought that the as yet unnamed Greek Pineapple book had been bought

2. Slept – very necessary after tweaking the above G P book

3. Visited family and friends – went out to dinner with one couple, spent an evening with another, had two very enjoyable visits with the Offspring and his partner and even made it over to Leeds to visit the BM’s family. Also caught up with friends on line and by phone. All of which was v. necessary after the total concentration needed to deal with G P book.

4. Celebrated glorious joyful news of one special Christmas baby we were waiting to hear about. The lovely and talented Julie Cohen had her gorgeous son on December 23rd. I’m extra partial to little Capricorn boy babies as The Offspring was one, once upon a time, so welcome, welcome to the world dear Nathaniel.

5. Celebrated more good news when the young mother I mentioned in November as being so desperately ill, came home to her husband, newborn son and little daughter on Christmas Eve after weeks in hospital. And again toasted the wonderful relief when a very special and dear friend received an all clear after a major health scare. These are the sort of things that are real Christmas presents – the ones that matter.

But yes, I did receive some lovely Christmas presents too. One that DH and I are still trying to find the perfect actual thing for – and another an experience that I just know I will love – coming up in April. And anticipating it will be part of the enjoyment.

6. Ate – not too much actually. I didn’t buy in any chocolate or many biscuits etc. And it’s true, if you don’t have it in, you don’t eat it. So although the inevitable ‘need to lose weight’ resolution has to be faced, at least I didn’t add on anything extra this year.

7. Read – not enough but I have reduced the TB R pile by 3 books

White-Hot by Trish Wylie – a great friends into lovers story that was one of the books in my Christmas Stocking Contest

The Italian’s Future Bride by Michelle Reid – well you should all know by now what I think about Michelle Reid – not for nothing is she at #1 on the Waldenbooks bestselling Romances chart this week.
Never Go Back by Robert Goddard – a perfect stocking filler gift. I always admire his detailed plotting, even if his characters don’t fully come alive as real living people. But a new RG is always a Christmas reading treat for me.

But then I was given – count them 5 - no 6 new books as gifts and treated myself to a selection from the new January romances out now. Lovely Liz Fielding sent me her new book (out in February) – of which more later – so I haven’t actually lessened the pile at all . . .

8. Enjoyed filling up my storytelling/imagination banks with a self-indulgent soaps-fest and a couple of thoroughly enjoyable films – introducing the BM to fabulous Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean, admiring the beautiful and brilliant Judi Dench in Mrs Henderson , and last night the absorbing The Hours where the acting is just stunning.

9. Organised a special New Year contest for members of my Newsletter list – there’s still a chance for you to enter this if you’ve signed up for the Newsletter – Sid will be picking a winner on Monday.
10. And talking of Sid – he and I are working on a project that will hopefully continue throughout the year and become a feature of this blog so watch out for that.

11. Finalised the revamping and updating of my web site with its totally new look. In this, I have been superbly helped and supported by the brilliant Heather and Terescia from We Write Romance who have helped to bring to reality the ideas I had and have produced a site that is professional, attractive, informative and welcoming. Thank you so much Heather & Terescia – you’ve been fantastic.

12. And two other fantastic women I’ve been working with recently are Anne McAllister and Liz Fielding. As I’ve already mentioned, the three of us have been planning a joint contest together. And it’s almost ready to unveil. More on that very soon.

13. And finally - because I have to meet the next deadline, and just in case 13 is unlucky for some, (and in case my editor is reading this as I know she does occasionally) I’ll add as a final point the fact that I’ve also been thinking/working/planning on a new book with a handsome, proud Spanish hero growing in my mind. More details when I have them (or should I say, when he lets me have them)

So there you are – what I did on my holidays. You can expect further developments from some of these later this week.

Friday, December 29, 2006


So what day is it again? It’s Friday. . . I think.
It’s not Christmas Day – we’ve done that.
It’s not New Year’s Day – not yet.

It’s somewhere betwixt and between.

And betwixt is sort of how I feel as well. After getting the Greek Pineapple book finished and tweaked and accepted (still no title yet) and then going straight into Christmas preparations, I had a sort of conveyor belt type of feeling – one thing about Christmas – and a almost missed deadline – is that they focus the mind wonderfully. No chance of thinking of anything else. They both demand total attention and you don’t have a chance to think of anything else much. You have long lists of things that must be done and that’s what you reach for when you wake up in the morning. What you do all day long and what you think of last thing at night as you mentally add more things to the list as you fall asleep.

I’m good on the ‘must –dos’. Must dos get done. It’s the things that I know should/could be done. The things that would make my life a little easier, a lot more enjoyable, more organised, that I don’t quite get a grip on. I usually muddle through quite well – I wrote my contracted 3 books this year plus the teaching etc that I was committed to do - and I had a life as well but there were things I didn’t do as much as I wanted to. Or as easily and calmly as I could.

So along comes the New Year in a few days time and everyone is talking about resolutions. But the trouble with resolutions is that everyone tends to grab at the obvious – must lose weight (yes) be more organised (yes) Exercise more (yes) . . . One thing I’m SO glad I don’t have to do is resolve to give up smoking. I did that 17 years ago and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. One of the toughest too, but I knew I had to do it. Now if I had still to give up smoking, then the idea of resolutions wouldn’t be quite such a problem – the smoking would have to go and that’s all that needed to be said. But I don’t have anything that stands out so strongly these days - just what seems like hordes of things that I ‘could do better’ or ‘would like to do more ‘ - and I don’t want to just jump in and say I’ll do this this and this . . . because then my brain starts whirling. Too much choice. Too many options. And my thoughts overload as I try to think which ones matter most. I need to prioritise.

Some years ago I bought a book called Your Best Year Yet by Jenny Ditzler. This book is based around questions. Questions that make you look at your life and see not just what needs doing, but what areas are working really well. It makes you look at achievements as well as problems. Answering the questions shows you where your life is in balance and where it’s not. It’s the perfect book for Twixtmas week – the week betwixt Christmas and New Year. It makes you look at what has happened in the past and decide how you would like the future to be – and what you should do about it.

So today I’m going to pull that book off my shelf and spend some quiet time answering the questions.
Well, I will just as soon as I can find it. You see when I reorganised my office a couple of months ago, I had new bookshelves built. That meant I had to pull all the books off the shelves and pile them up - then put them all back again. And I had a deadline so I just piled them back again on the shelves in no particular order . . .

Resolution one – be more organised!

But then, it was a pretty old and well used edition of the book – I’ve had it for five years or more and used it a lot . . . Amazon has a nice new clean edition . . .

No – Resolution two – not to impulse buy from Amazon until I’ve read some of the books in my TBR Mount Everest (and the ones I was given for Christmas)

I really need that book
Resolution for today – find the damn book! (Which probably means sorting out the bookshelves)

What about you?

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Cat Christmas Countdown - 4

What can I say about Sid that hasn't already been mentioned? Way back in February, when I started this blog, he made an appearance in a posting and made sure that everyone knew about him.He has also muscled in on Anne McAllister's blog every now and then - and on Anne herself when she visits here. I suspect that Ms McAllister who would catnap Sid ACOSB in the blink of an eyelid if I didn’t check her luggage for purring each time she leaves after a visit. It's the same with Anna Lucia who has enough cats of her own but has been known to describe Sid as The King.So let's recap on what I said in February. I never intended to have four cats. Some years ago I had three and 3 is a nice number. There’s one for my lap and one for the BM’s – and one left over for any visitor (like Anne or Anna) who wants a lapwarmer. But cats decide who they’re going to live with. And one night we opened the door to let the cats in and in came Bob, Dylan, Spiffy – and Spiffy brought a friend with him. A handsome, big (very big) black and brown tabby who just about announced that he lived here and would I please show him where the food was. (Actually I don’t believe he said please – just 'Lemmme at the food!’)

And so Sid came into our lives. We tried to keep him out in the hope he would go home, but he just sat outside our patio doors and yelled and yelled and yelled. We couldn’t sleep. The neighbours couldn’t sleep and Sid was not moving. So we let him in. We tried to find his previous owners at the start - but then when we found that he had half his whiskers pulled out and air gun pellets in his stomach, we decided they weren’t worth looking for. We called him Sid because of an ancient radio comedy programme called Round the Horne which had a character named Rambling Sid Rumpo in it. Rambling Sid suited the wanderer. At first he was a rather pathetic creature. He was nervous and panicked if anyone went near him, he slept with his eyes open and twitched and moaned in his sleep. His head and his tail – a wonderful, thick, richly furred tail - stayed down. He didn’t even have enough spirit to lift his tail for the first five months he was with us.

But once he was secure in his chosen home, Rambling Sid turned into A Force in Fur. He lost the ‘Rambling’ part of his name and gained a knighthood. As TS Elliott says, cats have many names – and this is certainly true of The Force - his full title grew until it became Sir Sidney St John Willoughby Portly-Lummox ACOSB (A Cat of Superior Breeding). Anne McAllister has added to that by awarding him the honours of Earl of Hellions Bumpstead and Lord of Blubberhouses. (And for those of you who are laughing at those ridiculous names, I assure you they are real, genuine English village names the first in Essex, the second in North Yorkshire.)

Since his arrival Sid has become A Personality (note – I resisted the temptation to say A Purrsonality). He now regularly appears on my web site – where he often gets more fan mail than I do). He is the one who ensures total fairness in the choice of all the winners of my contests. I put all the names of the entrants on pieces of paper, top each one off with a cat crunchie and the one Sid eats first is the winner. If this was the 1600s and not the 2000s, he would probably get me accused of being a witch and having him as my familiar as he rarely leaves my side. He sleeps on my bed (well – he sleeps on me!). He sits on my lap, and if get up he follows me. And during the day, when I’m working, he sleeps on my desk, curled around the computer keyboard. He’s there now – dozing contentedly and occasionally reaching out a paw to pat my hand as I type. If I pause to think then he senses the silence, lifts his head and pushes it under my hand so that I have to stroke him. As an aid to thought it’s pretty good. He just wonders why it took us so long to realise this was where he belonged – he knew this was home from the moment he saw it.

The only fly in the ointment - or cat in the way of the firespot, is Dylan. Dylan and Sid will never be friends. So that’s Sid – or, as he’s usually known to my readers Sid The Cat. The capitals are important. In his mind, he’s The Cat and no one else gets a look in. Oh well, four cats is a very nice number - there's one for the BM's lap and two for anyone visitors. There's no room at all on my lap - that's Sid's territory and only his.
four cats is a very nice number - there's one for the BM's lap and two for anyone visitors. There's no room at all on my lap - that's Sid's territory and only his.And in the hero stakes, who is Sid? I asked two of his greatest fans, Anna and Anne - and Anna suggested Vin Diesel might just match him for size and presence . Anne had no doubts

How can you ask? she said. He's Hugh Jackman. With perhaps a little Sean Connery
thrown in.

Which of course he is. Tall, dark handsome, with real presence and charm to spare.
And can't you just hear him saying 'The name's Sid . . . Sir Sid'?

Which just left one problem It's Christmas - and would A Cat Of Superior Breeding allow himself to be photographed wearing a Santa hat in order to celebrate the festivities.

The answer? Well - yes - but only if it's worn at a very rakish angle.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Angels Part 2 - For Anne McAllister

When I wrote about my new Christmas angel, I mentioned my old Christmas Angel - one I had made myself years ago when the Offspring was a small boy. asked to me take a picture of this elderly angel and post it for you to see. So I've done that.

Here is my little felt angel that I made all those years ago when I had time to do such things and wasn't writing or tweaking Greek heroes in the week before Christmas.

There were a couple of other little felt tree decorations I made as well that year - a star and a Christmas stocking and these two who hang on the tree with the angel - Father Christmas with a wonderful beard (you can't see the details but each of those sections of beard end in a curl of white

And Frosty the Snowman with his jaunty hat and scarf, a very red nose, and a red and green broom in his hands.

These 3 are now hanging on the tree together and that always makes me feel it's really Christmas.

Oh yes - and talking of that tweaked Greek - my editor's Christmas present to me was a note to say that the tweaking was fine and the Greek book had been bought , ready for publication in November 2007. No title as yet so it's still just known as 'Andreas's Story' - but as soon as it has a publication title, I'll let you know.

Cat Christmas Countdown 3 - revisited

One of the things I forgot to mention about Dylan is that if he is outside and wants to come inside, he will go to the french doors and beat his paws against the glass of the windows until we let him in. As he also leaves his claws out and scrapes them across the glass , the resulting sound is horribly unearthly.

And if you take a picture of Dylan doing just this - as I did today - just as the dusk is gathering, he looks pretty unearthly too.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cat Christmas Countdown 3

The first cat I ever had of my own was a grey and white kitten called Misty who was my seventh birthday present. Sadly, she died of cat flu after only a couple of years, but I have loved grey cats ever since. So when I learned that the RSPCA had a grey and while kitten looking for a home, I knew that home had to be with me.

I might have gone to the RSPCA looking for a Misty type of kitten - what I got was Dylan aka Dyl the Vill (short for villain) and Misty he is not. Where Misty was petite and very feminine, a sweet natured cat, Dylan is a street fighting thug with a great interest in working men! If any electricians or plumbers come to the house to do repairs etc, Dylan is there like a shot, playing the ' I'm just a small, injured cat' look to perfection so that he gets their attention and, hopefully, strokes. He is not very good at purring - his purr sounds rusty as if it doesn't get used all that much - but when he gets stroked by men who work with their hands, he loves it. He also loves being stroked by Anne McAllister - not that I'm saying anything about the size of her hands - but she does know just the right spot on his head to rub in just the right way.

Dylan also gets attention because he is small - though as ' his girl' Biddy points out he had powerful shoulders which mean that he walks with a real swagger, like some gunslinger heading into the OK Corral. He also only has one eye that works because of a dose of cat flu (what is it with grey cats and cat flu?) that meant one eye totally sealed up and now has only partially opened again so he always looks like he's winking at you. He is by far the smallest of all the cat but he is the fierce one, the one you don't want to tackle on a dark night, the hunter who will tackle a pigeon as large as himself and will climb the tallest tree to go nesting.

He is also a cat who will follow his humans anywhere - if I leave the house and he is in the garden, then he sets off down the street with me. Which is fine if I'm only going to the post box, but not so great if, as happened once, he follows the BM right to the door of the local 6th form college where he (the BM that is) was teaching an evening class. As a result, Dylan is the most educated of our cats because he has attended a lesson on writing poetry.

Hero-wise, Dylan would like me to claim that his is the Tom Cruise of cats, small but perfectly formed, but the truth is that in character and behavious he is much more like Jack Nicholson, with that roguish wink, the swagger, and a charm all of his own.

Dylan also occasionally has ideas above his station - these are the result of his first trip to the vets, when a very new lady vet labelled him a'silver tabby' when he is in fact just as grey tabby - not silver at all. He is also Sid's Nemesis - the pair of them have never settled into any sort of affection and barely tolerate each other. Dylan however is the cat who always gets the firespot and once winter comes, he will remember the delights of the fire and head straight for the spot in front of the fireplace where he will sit and wait, knowing with absolute certainty that a fire will appear - because he wants one.

He is also brilliant at mind control. If the other cats need to go out in the night, they will come to our bedroom and scratch on the foot of the bed or throw things at us from the nightstand - but Dylan just sits in the hallway and thinks. And suddenly I will wake up and realise that downstairs a cat is waiting . . .

He can also do this in reverse by sitting on the lawn outside my bedroom window and sending 'let me in' commands to wake me up.

And as you can see from the first picture of Dylan in this post, he is also a cat who still believes in Santa - though he is a little worried about him coming down the chimney and disturbing him, because, of course, he already has the firespot.

Welcome to . . .

I've finally unearthed my list of countries from underneath a smug cat and just in time as overnight the count has gone up to 67.

So today I welcome - and Wish Happy Christmas if you're celebrating it - or just happiness, whatever point of the year you're at to The Russian Federation ->

South Korea

Bahrain ->


Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you'll come back again

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Interview with HMB Editor

Those of you who visit this blog because you want to be writers and who are aiming at publication by Harlequin Mills & Boon, you can have a unique insight into what goes on behind the scenes at this major publishing house and learn all about their selection procedure, the 'slush pile' etc.

Over on the Pink Heart Society blog, HMB editor Jenny Hutton has spent the last two days blogging about her job, what it's like to work in Editorial and all the new and exciting projects the company has coming up in 2007. She's also been answering questions that have been sent to her by members of the PHS.

So if you're interested, why not visit the PHS Blog and read all about it. And while you're there, take a look at the other posts - there's always something of interest to read.

Christmas Contest

No - not mine - my Christmas Stocking Contest is over - but over on Romance Junkies, there's a big Winter Wonderland Contest with lots of prizes to give away from lots and lots of your favourite romance authors

So why not check out this contest and see what you can win?If you want to find my contribution, it's in the toy store - and I love rocking horses!

Cat Christmas Countdown 2

Ivan is a cat with two names. His official name is Ivan - given to him by the Offspring when he arrived here - from the RSPCA - all our cats are rescued (well - Sid rescued himself - we opened the door and then he just walked in and said he lived here and who are we to argue?)

But Ivan was rescued from the RSPCA where he had been taken when he was rescued from being drowned in a sack in the river, along with his four brothers and sisters. He was named Ivan, but along the way he was also described as a Spiffy little cat - and so Spiffy he became by name too.

He is, according to the proper description a handsome 'bi-coloured, magpie cat.' ie he is black and white. He is also a perfect gentleman and has quite the sweetest nature of all the cats. If Bob is Robert Redford, then Spiff is the Cary Grant of cats - or perhaps the James Stewart. He has that sort of old-fashioned gentleman approach to life. Always polite, always diffident. It comes from arriving in the house when there was already a redheaded Alpha Cat in situ. And so, Spiff knows his place.

A couple of years ago, we thought Spiffy was on his way out of this particular life. He was desperately ill and didn't look likely to recover but thanks to a vet called Michelle, who now has a very large place in Spiffy's big heart (And ours) he is still with us and only a year younger than the Alpha Cat - at 16 and a half .

Spiffy being the gentleman that he is, he is the one cat who will put up with the necessity of posing for Christmas pictures at this time of year. So he is also the cat who ends up wearing a silly hat.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cat Christmas Countdown 1 (Amended)

There have been protests - and sit-ins in my house! It has been pointed out to me that there are more cats in this household than SID!

And this is true - there are three other cats. All of them have been mentioned but they are complaining that Sid has been over-exposed. It's true, I'm afraid, that he has been getting a very big head and, I'm sorry to say, an Attitude (or should that be a Cattitude?) as a result of the attention he has been getting in Blogland.

So to redress the balance - in the Countdown to Christmas, I will have to show you the other cats who are all taking part in the celebrations too. They will appear in order of Seniority which - as Bob points out - means that Sid who is the baby of the family will appear last.

So here is Boss Cat - the Alpha Cat (and never let it be whispered that a redhead cannot be an Alpha hero - at least not in Bob's presence!) He is the Damian Lewis of cats.

Well - no - not really - you see, Bob is short for Robert Redford and his official name is Redford. That is because when he arrived at our house he was a tiny bundle of strawberry blond fur with big blue eyes. And so he was named for the star of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Bob would like to think that he is in fact the Sundance Kid. He has the same narrow eyed look as his namesake in the picture here. He is very definitely the cat who rules the roost and even though he is now the advanced age of 17 + he is still the Boss Cat and even Sid wouldn't risk challenging him.

Two years ago, Anne McAllister gave all the cats an Advent Calendar (well - she said she gave it to me but as you can see, it says 'Santa I've been a very good cat - so it's obvious who it's really meant for. She also provides 'greenies' as cat treats to go in the little pockets for each day. I don't know quite what's in the greenies but I do know that Bob adores them - he would rip your hand off to get them. So here in today's Cat Countdown picture is Bob - going for the greenies.

PS In the comments on this posting there was a protest of the Feline sort - from Mr R Redford (the furry one - not the film actor) pointing out that his picture did not show his full handsomeness but only an ear and the back of his head. I havem therefore, added a further picture of The Alpha Cat to show that he is indeed an very handsome red head.

Catching up 2

Well, the Greek Pineapple is tweaked and back on my editor's desk - so I hope she still loves him. I've actually written and sent cards - the parcels to post are also on their way. I'm actually beginning to feel as if I might have something organised for Christmas

I've also been keeping the postman busy with the prizes from my 12 Days of Christmas contest - Sid has now picked all 12 of them and they are on their way to the winners.
The second batch of winners are:

Linda Gates from Missouri who wins a copy of Their Secret Baby
Cynthya Petzen from Indiana who wins a copy of Bound By Blackmail
Di Anne Cummings from South Carolina who also wins Bound By Blackmail
Mina Gerhart from Pennsylvania who wins The Married Mistress
Sandy Yashnyk from Ohio who wins The Married Mistress too
Joanne Major, who lives just down the road from me in Lincoln UK wins At The Sheikh's Command
And Deidre Peake from Southern Australia wins a copy of The Married Mistess

For my newsletter members, I will be running an extra New Year contest - details will go out to list members this week.

I've been very busy with the lovely ladies from We Write Romance, polishing the last stages of the brand new web site which is to be unveiled on January 1st 2007. So if you really want to be able to see the difference - or if you just want to get a last look at a historic web site - check out the old version now. The new one will be very different!

And of course the new site will also have the details of the brand new HERE COME THE BRIDES contest I'm running with Liz Fielding and Anne McAllister so look out for that.

Oh and I'm also nursing the BM who has Lesser Spotted Yellow Mountain Fever - ie the common cold - and that's taking some doing! Now you know what I've been up to all week - and it's only Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Catching up 1

While I was tweaking the Greek pineapple, Kate Hardy tagged me with the '4 things . . . '

I've cheated and just copied this straight from the time I did this for the Presents Authors web site.
If you haven't visited there, you might like to take a look - and you can find out how the other Presents authors answered this and other 'tags'

4 jobs I've had in my life:
Children's librarian – this was my other 'proper' job – the one I trained for and had qualifications in and did for more than a few months.
Toffee factory worker – A vacation job when I was a student. You could eat as much toffee/chocolate as you liked – after the first week I'd had more than enough.
Bookshop assistant. Here's where I learned to read books without ever bending or cracking the spine – then they could go back on the shelves!
Civil servant – interviewing claimants for benefits at the Dept of Health and Social Security . I hated it.

4 museums worth visiting:
Bronte Parsonage Museum – for anyone like me who loves Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre etc – this is where Charlotte, Emily and Anne actually lived and died.
National Portrait Gallery – all those faces of real people.
Jorvik Viking Centre – in York. Not exactly a 'museum' – more an experience. You can hear, see, and actually smell what Viking life was like.
Trinity College Dublin where the fabulous illuminated manuscript Book of Kells (dating from approx 800 AD) is on display

4 places I've lived:
Newark Nottinghamshire where I was born
Halifax West Yorkhire where I grew up
Aberystwyth, Wales where I went to University and met my husband
Lincolnshire where I live now

4 tv shows I love to watch:
Coronation Street – the original and best UK 'soap'
Most Haunted - because I just hope that one day the investigations will prove that there are ghosts
2 Pints Of Lager and A Packet of Crisps – very rude and very very funny
Coupling – brilliant comedy and brilliant observation of male/female relationships

4 places i've been on vacation:
Madeira (I have a thing about islands)

4 websites I visit daily:
Well, the only ones I visit daily are
And various Blogs of friends:
Anne McAllister
Kate Hardy
Liz Fielding

(that was then - now I'd have to add the Pink Heart Sociaety into the mix)

4 of my favorite foods
Vegetables –any - (honest!)
Fish and chips –( they taste best, eaten with your fingers from the paper when you're very hungry on a cold dark night)

4 places I'd rather be right now
In bed – asleep (well I've just finished a book on deadline) (nothing changes! I wrote this in May 2006 but it applies now as well - and there's been another book, another deadline in between)
By the sea – anywhere
On the settee – reading a good book

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tweaking a Greek Pineapple

Irish author Trish Wylie has the perfect phrase for a book that takes a lot of writing. A book where the hero (in this case a Greek) proves recalcitrant and unco-operative. (OK, more recalcitrant and unco-operative than usual) She describes them as being like giving birth to a pineapple.

Yes, I can relate to that.

This having been the case with Andreas and his story, I had labelled the book my Greek Pineapple. And I had fully resigned myself to the fact that the book might need revsions when I finally sent it in. However, it seems that the blood sweat and tears haven't affected it too badly, and my lovely editor (who is a woman of great taste as well as a dab hand at cracking the whip very gently) has fallen in love with Andreas despite his pineapple tendencies. She merely wants a tweak to bring the book to the sort of perfection she demands (and she is very demanding).

So that is what I'm doing this weekend - tweaking the Greek pineapple. I just have my fingers crossed that an editorial 'tweak' translates into an authorial tweak and doesn't become a total unravelling of the whole Fairisle Knitting Pattern of the book.

Or is that mixing a metaphor too far?

Meanwhile Sid has chosen the last few winners of the Newsletter 12 Month of Christmas Contest - winners will be notified this weekend. And then I will set up a new Newsletter Special for New Year - after which you can watch out for the special HERE COME THE BRIDES contest that Liz Fielding and Anne McAllister and I have been hatching between us - and that took a lot less struggle than a Greek pineapple.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Angels or Fairies?

So what do you put at the top of your Christmas tree? When I was little, we always put a star - to remind us of the star that led the Wise Men from the East to the stable in Bethlehem in the story of Christ's birth.

Then, later, when my son was small and I had a rush of blood to the craft-making side of my head, I made some felt decorations to go on the tree and one of those was an angel who always lands on the top of the tree once it's decorated. She's looking a bit worn and grubby now, after umpty-ump years of service at the top of the tree - but tradition is tradition and when I unpack the decoration boxes this weekend, there she'll be.

I don't normally go for fairies. Angels are one thing - my images of angels if they exist, would be great glorious, strong, almost frightening creatures - William Blake sort of angels, not cherubs or pretty pretty blonde girlie angels in pink. My Gabriel, Michael etc would be like my heroes, strong, stunning - awesome.

And for me, fairies are even less appealing - well, the traditional Christmas Tree ones. Fairies with sparkle and glittery frou-frou dresses - blonde curls, and big eyes. But yesterday I found and fell for a fairy - and a fairy in pink, what's more. If anyone had told me it would happen, I'd never have believed it. But this is no ordinary fairy - she's gold wild, corkscrew hair, her dress is a mess with jagged bits and glittery things stuck on here there and everywhere - best of all (to someone who can rarely cram her feet into fashionable 'womens' shoes' - she has big feet in clod-hopping boots. And she's reading a book. (Well, okay - going by the other fairies who all had musical instruments, she's probably supposed to be singing - but she has a sort of a book in her hands)

So I couldn't resist her. I bought her and brought her home and, no she's not going on top of the Christmas tree - but she looks perfectly at home on my mantlepiece.

In fact, I loved her so much that I bought a second one - exactly the same for a very special friend who will love her just as much as I do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Smug cat . . . and more countries

So I booted the Greek out the door and sent him to entertain my editor.
Great, I thought - I have some free time - and some lovely books to read and . . .

And someone pointed out that they put Christmas on December 25th and didn't tell me.

I have presents but they're not wrapped, I have cards but they're not written. I have a tree but it's not decorated . . . You get the picture?
I do have smart hair though - today's visit to the hairdresser sorted that out - and tomorrow after a visit to the dentist I shall have wonderfully clean and polished teeth.

So I can dazzle people with my smile and my hair and then maybe do you think they won't notice that they haven't got a card - or their present isn't wrapped??

Matters are not helped by the fact that a certain smug cat is telling me that he has done all his cards - finished them days ago, in fact! Hmph! He insists I post the evidence too. So here you see Sid hard at work on his Christmas cards.

And while I was busy with the Greek-who-did-not-want-to-be-written I found that my country counter was sneaking upwards. And somehow it's got to 66 countries. So now I have to go and check which are the new countries so I can welcome them properly. But first I have to find the list of the countries I already had - it's here somewhere - maybe under the pile of presents waiting to be wrapped - or the bundle of cards waiting to be written . . . .

Or maybe it's under a certain smug cat who has done all his cards already!

PS One thing I did manage to do is to pack up the Christmas Stocking prizes and get them in the post - and the Newsletter 12 Days of Christmas prizes that Sid has chosen so far (along with doing all his cards!) so prize winners - look out for them. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And the winners are . . .

Fanfare and trumpets . . .
. . . and a loud, contented burp from Sid . . .

and I can announce that the two winners of the Christmas Stocking Stuffed with books are:

Shirlene Nguyen, Arkansas
Jenny Teo Singapore

Shirlene and Jenny win :

Christmas, Kids and Kisses - Kate Walker et al
Accepting the Boss's Proposal - Natasha Oakley
The Italian Doctors' Bride - Margaret McDonagh
Chosen as The Frenchman's Bride - Abby Green
White-Hot - Trish Wylie
A Mistress for The Taking - Annie West
Blind-Date Marriage - Fiona Harper
The Italian Millionaire's Virgin - Christina Hollis
Lord Greville's Captive - Nicola Cornick

Congratulations to both winners. Your prizes will be on their way just as soon as I can get them into the mail.

And if you didn't win this time, there are lots of other opportunities to win coming up

Firstly there's the 12 Days of Christmas draw on my Newsletter list. The same answers as the Christmas Stocking Contest will get you an entry to this - but you must be a member of my Newsletter mailing list. (see sidebar or my web site for details)

Sid has already picked out winners for some of those 12 days -

Christy Hawkes, Utah - who wins a copy of The Married Mistress
Minna Puustinen Finland - who wins a copy of The Married Mistress
Judy Theis Pennsylvania - who wins a copy of The Married Mistress (a popular choice!)
May Schultz Virginia - who wins a copy of At The Sheikh's Command
Aisling Durnan, Co.Louth, Ireland - who wins a copy of Desert Affair

All winners also receive a special Christmas decoration.

This contest still has 7 more days to run - and there will be plenty more special contests just for my Newsletter readers in 2007.

And don't forget to look out for the great new contest coming in January when together with
Anne McAllister and Liz Fielding I will be running


to celebrate the February publication of

Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride by Kate Walker
The Santorini Bride by Anne McAllister
The Valentine Bride by Liz Fielding

Look out for details of that posted on web sites and blogs in the New Year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Watch this space . . .

The Christmas Stocking Contest is now closed.
Sid is busy working on picking a winner - well he will be when he wakes up from his post-breakfast snooze! I will post the names of the winners here just as soon as I know them.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Stocking Books and Authors - 9

Ooops !
I said I'd listed and detailed all the books that are going into the Christmas Stocking prize - but I haven't. Because, as someone pointed out to me last night - I didn't tell you about this one:

The Christmas Baby's Gift by someone called Kate Walker.

They married for passion and the desire to have a baby, but not for love. One year later, Peta realises that she has fallen in love with her husband of convenience, Liam.
But there is still no sign of a child, until a baby girl is left on their doorstep just before Christmas.

This book orignally came out in December 2002 and it had one of my least favourite covers only in the UK - which you can see here.

The American one was better - but it still gave a 'happy families' image to the book which was not really representative of the story. Perhaps that was why it was mistakenly labelled a 'Sweet' Romance in the
Christmas Pack it came out in in Australia.

I'm glad the book is getting a second time around. It got some lovely reviews when it first came out -

Kate Walker, who is in my own personal opinion one of the greatest Harlequin Presents Authors ever to grace the line, is back with another unforgettable romance, The Christmas Baby's Gift, a romance so full of heartfelt emotions, incredible passions and fiercely captivating characters that readers will be planning its location on their keeper shelves long before they've ever even finished reading it. Diana Tidlund - Writers Unlimited

Kate Walker once again shows why she is the diamond in Harlequin's crown of authors. Her talent for pulling the reader into the story and making them feel every outrage, hurt, and ounce of joy her characters experience is unsurpassed. I read this book voraciously cover to cover without coming up for air. If you need a little Christmas magic in your life, this should be an automatic buy. Romance Junkies

The other stories in this special Christmas 3 in 1 By request anthology are:
The Christmas Child by Diana Hamilton
Gift-Wrapped Baby by Renee Roszel
And if you don't win the Stocking (Closing date Midnight tonight - whenever midnight arrives latest in some timezone) it's on sale now in the UK - or on uk or on the M&B site.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Stocking Books and Authors - 8

So we come to the last of the books that have been donated to the Christmas Stocking Contest. This book is Lord Greville’s Captive by Nicola Cornick and it’s the only Historical Romance in the stocking.

But I’m thrilled to have this particular book in the stocking, and I was delighted when Nicola agreed to donate one of her titles to the contest. Unlike so many of the other books which are by new or newer authors, Nicola has been writing Historical for some years. Her first book was published in 1998 and she has been writing for HQN books and historical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon ever since. Nicola’s books are always great reads and she has had books in the Finals of both the RITA and the RNA Romance Prize awards.

Nicola and I have known each other through the RNA for years, but as we are both so busy and we write for such different lines, we rarely get a chance to sit down and really talk. Most of our communication is through email and tends to be about the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, which Nicola has organised for the last few years, a task that she has now handed on to another RNA Officer.

And that’s a pity as we share a lot – in background and interests, we both has a fascination with Prince Rupert, nephew of Charles I, and his dog Boy, we both love the books of Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer – and we both grew up very close to each other, but never knew it until romance writing meant that we met.

Nicola Cornick was born in Yorkshire, England, within a stone’s throw of the moors that had inspired the Bronte sisters to write Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. One of her grandfathers was a poet. With such a background it was impossible for Nicola not to become a writer.

Nicola went to school in a former stately home. It was the sort of school that taught girls how to find a rich husband and how to get in and out of a Rolls-Royce gracefully. Unfortunately Nicola did not pay enough attention to the bit about the rich husband and has therefore never had the chance to practise the bit with the Rolls- Royce. She is extremely happy with the husband that she has got, however, and with her gorgeous cats and dogs! Nicola studied history at London University and has done a variety of jobs, from sticking price tags on shoes in a factory to serving refreshments on a steam railway. She lived for seven years in a cottage haunted by the ghost of a cavalier. It was here that she wrote her first historical romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon. Since then she has written 15 books and 2 novellas for Harlequin, and been nominated for a number of awards including the RNA Romance Prize, (for The Earl’s Prize) a RWA RITA (for The Wayward Widow) , and a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award.

Nicola’s book, Lord Greville’s Captive is a change from her Regency titles as it’s set in the time of the English Civil War. It was published in the UK in July this year and is out in America in Harlequin Historical this month. (but don’t worry – if you didn’t manage to get hold of a UK copy – you can pick up a USA one from Amazon!)

Let me tell you a bit more about this book:

A peaceful courtship
Years before, he had come to Grafton Manor to be betrothed to the innocent and beautiful Lady Anne – a promise that was broken with the onset of war. . .

A prisoner of war!
Now, Simon, Lord Greville, has returned as an enemy, beseigining the manor and holding its lady hostage. Simon’s devotion to his cause swayed by desire for Anne, he will not settle for the manor house alone. He will have the lady – and her heart – into the bargain.
Yet Anne has a secret that must be kept from him at all costs . . .

As I’d expect, Nicola is already getting some really great reviews for this book – how about these –

"(An) intense and sensual story of honor, trust, courage and love." Romantic Times Bookclub 4 star review.

"A darkly passionate, edgy tale, LORD GREVILLE’S CAPTIVE holds you hostage until the last page is turned." Romance Junkies 5 blue ribbon review.
LORD GEVILLE'S CAPTIVE is what historical romance should be and much more besides. CataRomance

And if that doesn’t tempt you to pick up this book – well, I promised to let you know what Nicola herself calls Lord Greville’s Captive - this is what she said when I asked her to join in the Christmas Stocking Contest

I'd love to participate in your Christmas Stocking contest. . . I'll send a couple of copies of my US December release, Lord Greville's Captive, or Cavalier in Bondage as it is affectionately known for the love scene!

How can any romance reader resist a book nicknamed ‘Cavalier in Bondage? I have this book on my own TBR pile and I've been managing to resist it - then Nicola sent me the lovely USA editions and I had to peek at the first few pages . . . BIG mistake . I had to force myself to put it down. That's another treat I've promised myself for when this Greek is out the door.

Nicola’s next book out in the UK is a book that has already been out in America where it was published in July this year. Deceived will be published as a Mills & Boon Historical in February 2007. Nicola has sent me a copy of the UK cover which I’ve posted here but I much prefer the USA cover – which you can see here - or in a larger version on

If you want to know more about Nicola, visit her web site which has lots of fascinating detail about the books, extracts from them and Nicola’s notes about how she came to write them. You can also read about the research Nicola does before she writes a book, and details of some of the historical events that have formed the background to her stories.
And if you’d like to chat with her about her interest in history, with special reference to Christmas, she’s doing a Q&A on eHarlequin about Christmas customs throughout history next week, so you could join in that. I don’t have a link for the Q&A but as soon as I do, I’ll post it here so you can find it easily.
And that's it - I've now told you about all of the books that are included in the Christmas Stocking Stuffed With Book prize. I hope you'll agree that there is a wonderful assortment - with lots of great reading from every line and in every style. The contest is still open for about another 48 hours - it closes when December 10th is over in all time zones! - and after that I'll let Sid loose on the crunchies and see who he picks as the two winners of this bumper bundle of books.
If you haven't entered yet, make sure you get your entry in - details are on my Contest Page - and Good Luck
And a great big Thank you to all the wonderful authors who contributed books to the prize. You've helped to make it very special indeed. I just wish that I could win!

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