Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kittens and polls

It's a long time since I had a kitten in the house. Sid has been with us for 10 years and he was about 18 months old when he walked through the door and into my life.

Dylan arrived as a five month old kitten but he was sick with cat flu and we had to nurse him through that so he wasn't really a playful kitten when young. So it was Spiffy who was the last young kitten who came here. That was 15+ years ago! Back when I was writing Something Missing and No Gentleman was on the bookshop shelves!

So I'd forgotten how crazy a kitten can be - and what fun. I'd forgotten how they can pounce on your fingers when you're typing so that your carefully planned words become %$!"**&GX^&%% instead. And I'd forgotten how kittens can get into all sorts of places and attack your toes as you walk past. Or do this -

But then there is the delight of a small furry thing scrabbling up on to the bed in the middle of the night and squirming close, pushing a little head under your hand so that you have to stroke it - all the time purring so hard you feel sure she'll burst with happiness.

And at other times she's quiet and sleepy and then she curls up in a corner and looks so small and sweet - the butter wouldn't melt image . . .

And then of course there is the picture that you all wanted to see - the Alpha Male softens just a bit . . .

Sorry to India's Ruby - and to Madeline's Sadie, but it looks like little Miss Flora is working her way into the Big Guy's heart! Do you think M&B would let me write a book with a hero called Sid and a heroine called Flora?

Can I just remind you that the poll for your votes for the present I should buy in my readers' names from the Oxfam Unwrapped catalogue closes on the last day of the year - in 11 hours from now. So please check out the poll in the sidebar and vote for your choice.
So far it's looking like those essential medicines again - it was a good choice last year and it's still a good one this year. But the water tank is popular too- if you haven't voted yet, please do so today.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A very special present

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with lots of love, good things to eat, fun and a few treats under the tree to delight you. Above all else, I hoppe you had a truly happy time. I know I did.

Remember how, back on December 15th, I said that I'd had news of a very special Christmas present, one that definitely was not going to be put into a parcel?

Well it arrived yesterday and made my Christmas 2007 really really special.

I should say SHE arrived yesterday because my special present is a little lady. Knowing how much I missed dear Bob since he died in September, and knowing that I had always dreamed of having a Maine Coon cat, the BM (bless him!) A 12 week old female silver tortoiseshell Maine Coon kitten. We went to see her just before Christmas, fell in love - and she finally came home to live with us yesterday.

So I'd like you all to meet Flora the newest member of the furry family around here.

So far she has settled in very well. Mandy, who bred her, says that she's wicked - and that's perhaps just as well as she has the big boys, Spiff, Dylan and of course Sid to contend with - and she doesn;t seem to be too over awed by them. Respectful and cautious but not over-awed. (Not awed enough, Sid would say - but he's keeping out of the way.)

She met the grandad Spiff (who is now the oldest)at16+ and they had a caustious greeting. Dylanjust stared from a distance. And Sid has disappeared back to his bed in the hope that that thing - whatever it is - will not be around when he next wakes up.

She's eaten well, found and used the litter tray, she slept well through the night and doesn't seem to miss her litter brothers and sisters at all. Perhaps the fact that there are other cats around has helped with that - or perhaps it's the fact that she has so much more space to wander about it and lots of interesting things to investigate in it.

She was fascinated by the television - never having seen one before and thought that the nice running horses on it were there just to entertain her. She's chased the ball around the room, chewed the squeaky mouse, upended the waste paper basket and investigated the contents and now she's fast asleep under my desk, just by my toes - which is where Bob used to sleep and a space that has seemed so sadly empty until today. Sensibly she hasn't tried to intrude on Sid's spot on top of the desk or - as my friend's Maine Coon kitten has done several times - leapt into the bath when it's full of water. But there's plenty of time for that sort of adventure yet to come.

So I expect that you'll hear more about her as she settles into family life and, hopefully, gets to know Sid better when he condescends to come and say hello - at the moment he's being the typical Alpha Male and being distant, difficult and unapproachable. But I'm sure that will change.

And it feels really lovely to have something furry sleeping under my desk again so that I can reach out and feel the soft warmth on my bare feet. I've missed that.

Oh - and I have to include a photo of Flora's Dad just becaus ehe is so spectacularly handsome - she won't grow to be as big as this but he is gorgeous.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas

Happy happy Christmas to all my friends, readers and writers across the world.

I hope you have a truly special day that leaves some wonderful, happy memories for you

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Christmas 'card' to you

I'm late with this this year - I usually do this at the beginning of the month. But the Christmas Stocking Contest (prizes have now gone out) and the 12 Days of Christmas Contest have taken up my time - and there have been family preparations as well.

So by this time in the year I've usually organised, got the votes in for the Christmas 'Card' that I send on behalf of my readers and for my readers to somewhere where it does the most good. Instead of sending each and ever one of you a card - which I'd love to do - but which would be such a huge enterprise, and it would really use up money that could be put to more good - last year, instead, I sent a gift in your name through the wonderful Oxfam Unwrapped Catalogue

Last year this was organised and sent in time for Christmas but as I'm running late this year I've decided to make it a New Year Gift - so that's why I've set up the poll (see the sidebar) to run until the end of this month so I can send the gift for a fresh start for someone in the New Year.

Last year we sent essential medicines for a village. I thought that was a great choice so I've included it again this year.

Other possibilities are:

A water tank - these tanks hold 45,000 litres of water and can be used in major emergency situations - they are in use in Chad and the Sudan right now.

Build a loo - make sure that schoolchildren and people in emergency situations are never far away from a clean, hygienic toilet. Provide the tools, the training, the labour – everything people need to build their own disease stopping convenience.

School supplies - provides books, equipment - and trains a teacher - to work in the most remote and impoverished villages to give the children - and adults basic education skills.

Provideu shelter in emergencies - A major requirement in emergencies is shelter, and this gift will ensure the tents, mosquito nets, tools and materials to build emergency life-saving shelters in any disaster zone.

Working women - the chance to help women start their own small businesses. From book-keeping to basket-weaving, watch women work their way out of poverty (try saying that a few times!). We’ll help groups learn how to start, market and manage their businesses, so they can make the most of their skills, to earn a decent living.

So please vote in the poll that I've set up in the sidebar of this blog. Let me know which of these gifts you want me to buy and send in your name - because this wouldn't be possible without the way that my readers buy my books all over the world every year. It's the best way that I can think of to say a great big Thank You and to send a very special - and very practical Christmas Card out into the world in your name.

So please vote and let me know your choices - and thank you for all the support that enables me to do this.
Happy Christmas - and a wonderful New Year

Thursday, December 20, 2007


So Sid has done his job and there are two lucky prizewinners who have won a Stocking Stuffed with books
The winners are:
Julie M from Perth in Scotland
Dawn M from Oklahoma
(Obviously Sid had the letter M on the brain today)
Congratulations to Julie and Dawn - and to everyone who didn't win, there will be other contests coming up soon. The first of which will be the now traditional Valentine's Contest run by myself, Anne McAllister and Liz Fielding. I don;t know if the grooms will take over the blogs again - or what will happen - but I know there will be three great books involved in that one.

And one of them will be Liz's very special 50th title for M&B. Right now she's celebrating her 50th book (there were some with another publisher) so The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride is this landmark book and that's out in January. Dawn and Julie will get their prize copies soon.

And in February Anne, Liz and I will be celebrating the upcoming publication of:
The Bride's Baby - Liz Fielding
One-Night Love Child - Anne McAllister (if you want to see the great cover for this book check out Anne's blog here)
and my own
Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife
Now if only I'd had a baby in my book we could had planned a Here Come The Babies Contest - but don't worry, we'll think of something.

Look out for that in February.

The book that started it all

Amongst the Christmas cards and other mail pushed through the door yesterday was a jiffybag that obviously contained a book so for a moment or two I thought it was another gift of a book by one of my author friends. Usually I'm pretty good on recognising people's handwriting or the date stamp gives me a clue as to where it's come from but this time I wasn't able to recognise either.

When I opened it I realised that I'd forgotten about a book I'd ordered several days ago - just shows how hectic the days have been.

But this book was a real thrill as it was - as the heading to this post says - the book that started it all.

When I was growing up in Yorkshire, as I've said before, my mother had a friend who wrote for Mills & Boon as Margaret Baumann, and she gave my mother her books when they were published. I read some of those and quite enjoyed them but they seemed quite mild to me when I was interested in stronger emotions, more passionate stories. (It has always intrigued me that my mother was thrilled to see me reading Wuthering Heights with it's story of passion, betrayal, death and hateful revenge but she didn't like the idea of my reading contemporary romance!) So after I left home and went to university I stopped reading Mills & Boon novels for a while. I was studying Children's Literature as part of my degree and I turned to that for my fix of good, straightforward storytelling.

But then when my son was very small, on an impulse I picked up a book that appealed to me and when I read it I remembered the old romance I had read - but this one did reach out and grab me. It was set in the North of England with a dark, saturnine hero and a young innocent heroine. I loved it and it sparked myinterest in romances all over again. I read more and, recalling how Margaret Baumann had written her novels while looking after 2 young children, it spurred me on to write my own first (and pretty dreadful) attempt at a romance.(I hadn't read enough of the current output to really understand what editors were looking for so I made the classic mistake of not understanding the genre properly.)

Over the years, that first book had got lost, mislaid in several house moves, and as my career progressed I kept wishing I could remember just which book it had been. I knew the author - Anne Mather (still writing today) and I remembered that the hero and heroine had been called Jake and Ashley and that she had lived in the local small hotel of pub. And I knew that when I'd bought it it had been a Bestseller reprint, not the first published edition. I kept looking though and takjed to author friends about it - but no one could recall the book I was talking about. Sadly, I have never met Anne Mather so that I could tell her of this book and ask her which one of her many novels it was.

But last weeek, having a little spare time to myself (I should have been writing Christmas cards or doing the ironing but neither of those appealed) I decide to have one last go at finding this title. With the help of the database over on Fantastic Fiction and a vague idea of the date, I worked through all their synopses for Anne Mather titles of that time. And eventually I found it

- there were the names Ashley and Jake, and the small hotel. And it had been first published in 1974 which would mean that it could have been reprinted in about 1981.

And the title was Witchstone

When young Ashley Calder's father died she travelled north to make her home with her uncle and aunt in their small hotel. It was while helping them there that she met Jake Seton and her whole life changed yet again. For Jake Seton and her whole life yet again. For Jake was unlike any other man she had ever met, and beyond her reach in just about every way. Althrough a man of immense and undeniable attraction for her,- he was far too old and sophisticated for her, his social sphere was far removed from her own-and above all he shortly to be married to his fiancee the glamorous Barbara Forrest. So why did he persist in making it clear to Ashley that the attraction was by no means only on her side?

Armed with this information I found a secondhand copy of Amazon and this was the book that came through the letterbox yesterday - and to my delight it was the Bestseller reprint edition that I originally remember buying. That was published in December 1980.

So one of my Christmas treats will be to sit down and reread this and see if it still has the impact I remember. I've already had a quick glance at the first chapter and found that the heroine first appears in her school uniform! (She's 17) And first her aunt lights up a cigarette when she's finished her baking, then Ashley's uncle lights his pipe and finally at Jake Seton's first apearence he hands round a pack of cheroots. Can't imagine that happening today.

Oh - and thinking about this book and knowing that I'm about to set off into town to have my hair cut ready for Christmas reminded me that it was exactly this week, after just such a trip to the hairdresser, that I arrived home to find a box of my very first published books had arrived. That was The Chalk Line and it was published in December 1984. So that makes it an exact four years from the moment I picked up the book that inspired me to start writing romances to the day I held a copy of my first published title in my hands. 23 years ago today (roughly)
Right - I can hear Sid stirring and looking for food so it's time to go and get him to select a couple of very lucky winners for the Christmas Stocking Stuffed with books - it'll take me a while to put all the names on all the pieces of paper -I had over 100 entries. So I'll be back when I have something to report.

Watch this space

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

EHarlequin Posting Party


I nearly forgot - over on eHarlequin they are holding the annual Christmas Open House today

Lots of your favourite authors (around 100 the last I heard) all chatting or joining in the Post Party - and there will be prizes and giveaways on offer too.

So why not join us and celebrate ?

Final Day to Enter . . .

Yes, I know I said the 18th was the closing date on the Christmas Stocking contest but I meant to get in here and remind everyone that it was the last chance to enter and I've been so busy that I just never managed it - so I'm posting that reminder today and letting you know that the contest is closing when the 19th of December ends everywhere in the world.

Just to remind you of what you have to do - here are the details:


The contest, as always, is to win one of two Christmas stockings that I have stuffed with books from lots of author friends of mine who have very kindly donated signed copies of their novels. Some of these were donated back in the summer when I planned to do the Tote bag full of books - but then the Great Big Blog Party took over and there were more than enough prizes on offer so I held over the generous donations for this contest.

So far I have these titles to give away: (in no particular order)

You Had Me at Halo - the brilliant debut novel by Amanda Ashby - complete with your very own halo as an extra gift!

Vintage Babes the brand new novel by Elizabeth Oldfield who used to write great romances for HMB and now has launched this new book with Accent Press

Also from Accent Press, One Glass is Never Enough by my Caerleon Writers' Holiday fellow addict and tutor Jane Wenham-Jones

Bedded By A Bad Boy is the debut novel of Modern Extra (now Modern Heat) author Heidi Rice

Rich Man's Revenge is a Silhouette Desire release by up and coming Author Tessa Radley

Confessions of A Party Crasher or Dashing through the Mall come from my lovely friend and great writer Holly Jacobs

I also have the wonderful The Boss's Wife For A Week, Spence and Sadie's great story by Anne McAllister

Then there’s A Christmas Wedding Wager by Michelle Styles . A great Historical romance

Their Christmas Vows by Medicals author Margaret McDonagh in the Christmas Weddings Trilogy

Kate Hardy's brand new Modern Heat - One Night, One Baby (which Kate says doesn't have a Christmassy title but "Oh boy, the Christmas pressie"!)

And finally - a pre-publication exclusive - a copy of Liz Fielding’s brand-new, not yet in the shops, The Sheikh’s Unsuitable Bride

My contribution will be a couple of copies of the Mills & Boon Annual for this year containing - amongst others - my short story Wife For Real which was the very first part of The Alcolar Family Trilogy.

It's a GREAT prize and one I wouldn't mind winning myself, sadly I can't enter.

What you'll need to do is:
To check out my web site for the names of all of the books that I have published this year - there are four of them. (I'm talking about my separate titles - not any of the By Request Anthologies or reprints.)

When you have the list of four titles, I want to know the names of the heroes and the heroines of each book.
So your entry should read:
Title One - hero's name - heroine's name
Title Two - hero's name - heroine's name
Title Three - hero's name - heroine's name
Title Four - hero's name - heroine's name
Have those ready and the email them to me with the heading Christmas Stocking Contest in the subject line.
Please make sure you put that heading otherwise your entry may get lost - I get a lot of emails!
One entry only per person. Any extra entries will be eliminated.
Tomorrow morning I will get Sid to pick out the two lucky winners and the great collection of reading will go to them

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Parcels

I know it's Christmas and so - hopefully - parcels are to be expected as part of the celebrations but this last week both my own postie and the local Post Office have been fantastic as they've delivered or helped me send on their way large bagfuls of gifts or prizes to all parts of the world.

The poor postie must wish I didn't have so many friends who are writers and he must sigh with relief once he has pushed through the letter box all the packages of books that my wonderful writing friend have sent me. They all seem to have books published now or very soon and so this week I have been lucky enough to receive books from Michelle Styles, Liz Fielding, Margaret McDonagh, Kate Hardy, India Gray . . . (I hope I haven't missed anyone out) and that's in addition to the books donated for the Christmas Stocking Stuffed with Books. I had actually reduced my TBR mountain by a couple of books recently - now I've added more than I've read! Thank you so much to everyone for all the new titles I now no longer need to add to my list for Santa.

There were also several copies of my own books - translations from Greece, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France. I love the Greek edition of At The Sheikh's Command with its gold background. I've had a few of these 'special' editions recently and they really make me feel that bit special. As did the books from Norway, Sweden, etc - four book collections with my name second only to Norah Roberts!

And then I have staggered to the Post Office with my own gifts to post, and some prizes too. Sid has chosen the winners of my Newsletter 12 Days of Christmas and the contest over on My Tote Bag is coming to a close so I have had signed books to pack up and send off. And a couple of winners of the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance, plus the winner of the Pink Heart Society monthly hamper too.

There are some winners who haven't yet claimed their prizes - so if you read this blog and see your name here, please email me.

Kim Christie
Mary Grieves
Joan Koko

Of course the Christmas Stocking Stuffed With Books Contest is still running - you have until December 18th to get your entry to me - see the details on the Contest Page of my website.

And as there have been visitors from so man different countries to this blog over the past few days - USA, Canada, Sweden, Israel, India, Spain, Austria, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, South Africa and Norway to name a few - it's perhaps time to remind you all that I will send out prizes to winners anywhere in the world.


I may curse and mutter when I see the cost of postage - but I have readers everywhere in the worls, and so everyone is eligible to enter my contests and I will mail out your prize wherever you live.

Finally, on a personal note, I had some news last night of a Christmas present that is most definitely not going to be put in a parcel. It's still being organised so more news of that when I have some - hopefully soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Busy . . . Busy . . Busy

Busy with things like cards and presents (as opposed to Presents) and visitors . . .

But I've left you something to read over on the Pink Heart Society blog where today I'm blogging about why I love writing for Presents .

So I'll see you over there?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Stocking Contest - Final Book details

It's a bright and crisp day here - but very cold. I've been out putting suet blocks on the bird table and soaking mealworms to feed the young robin who has visited several times.

It's beautiful and bearable - but I've been thinking of friends and readers in America who are suffering much much worse conditions in the ice storms sweeping the country. Take care and I hope you and your families keep safe and warm.

So today I have the last few books from the Christmas Stocking to tell you about.

First up is one of two titles by a lovely friend and writer, whose name is very appropriate for this seasonal contest - and that's Holly Jacobs. Holly sent me two titles - one a trilogy that she shares with Sherryl Woods and Darlene Gardener called Dashing Through the Mall. Holly's story in this volume is Deck The Halls.

The other book is Confessions of a Party Crasher -
Sneaking in is the easy part. But living it down is tough.
One corporate pink slip, and Morgan Miller is back in Pittsburgh bunking next to her mother. But when Morgan agrees to attend a posh wedding reception for fabulous 'Penny and Sam', she's appalled to learn her invitation is far from legitimate.

Though her friends agree that party crashing is a superlative way to meet men, Morgan's life is becoming completely unmanageable. Wedding photographer Conner Danning keeps shooting her swoon-worthy glances and Morgan's ex is trying to de-ex himself.

She can't wait to run home to SanDiego, but maybe living life as an 'unofficial guest' is better than no invite at all!

Holly's great book The House on Briar Hill Road (you might have read about it over on the Pink Heart Society Blog) is still available working on Amazon and eHarlequin, she's working on "my second book for my new American series " ...coming up is Everything But a Groom, Avalon Books, 12/08.

Tessa Radley's book on offer in the stocking is her June 07 Desire release Rich Man's Revenge:

He'd make her pay . . .
Hell-bent on revenge, Italian businessman Rico D'Alessio would stop at nothing to destroy the Sinclair family. Taking eldest daughter, Danielle Sinclair as his bride was a start. Making her pregnant with his heir would prove the ultimate payback. But falling for his bride of revenge? Even this most cunning of rich men had not counted on that turn of events or the secrets such a shocking union would reveal.
Tessa's current book, The Desert Bride of Al-Zayed was released in Novemer, and coming up in February 2008 is Pride and A Pregnancy Secret.
Finally, there is my own contribution to the stocking - the Mills & Boon Christmas Annual which contains a print copy of my internet story Wife For Real.

Wife for Real is the story of Alex Alcolar, the first of the Alcolar brothers, and this story started off the trilogy The Alcolar Family. This story hasn't been in print in the UK before and so hasn't been easy to find for readers who wanted to complete there collection of Alcolar Family stories.

But if you're able to download ebooks from the eHarlequin site, then it can be found there as well and it only costs $0.99. You can find it here if you're looking for it.

So that's it - all the books on offer this year! there are 12 of them - a book and great reading for each of the 12 Days of Christmas.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to go to the Contests page of my web site, answer the easy question you'll find there - and send your answer to me with the heading Christmas Stocking Contest in the subject line of the email.

You have 6 days left. On the 18th December, I'll get Sid the Cat to pick the two names from all the entries and two lucky people will have all these books sent to them as a special Christmas present.

But you have to be in it to win it - so get your entries in now.

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Stocking Contest - More Great Books

I should know better than to try and run a big contest at Christmas - right?

I'm busy enough as it is and there are so many other things that need to be done. But then Christmas is always a busy busy time - and I lov e running this contest. It reminds me of how many great books there are in the world (too many!) and so many of them are written by my great friends - and the prize is being offered to my great readers.
So that's a lot to celebrate.

OK - so here are some more of the great books on offer:

Amanda Ashby's You Had Me at Halo is her very first book , published in August this year. It's not a traditional romance - it's actually one of the most original and fun books I've read this year. One of the most original books I've read ever. And a synopsis will give you an idea why.

She's halfway to heaven . . . and she's just been pulled over

Holly Evans has just seen her own body laid to rest, and if it had been up to her, she wouldn't have chosen that particular polester dress for the event. Still, she could live with that (so to speak) if it guaranteed a quick jump to Level 3 of the afterlife, which she hopes will feature both reruns of Friends and reunions with lost loved ones.

But Holly has some mortal baggage to unload first, starting with the matter of how she died. Yes, she drowned in her bathtub under suspicious circumstances, but she did not kill herself. Holly had too much to live for, from her recent promotion to taking the next big step in her relationship. OK, her life had a few loose ends but whose doesn't? Holly's heavenly shrink isn't buying it. He says she has to return to Earth to straighten things out. The problem is, she'll need to borrow someone's body to do so, and the body in question belongs to none other than computer geek, Vince Murphy. Oh, and although Vince was supposed to have vacated the premises, he apparently never got the memo.

Now Holly has 48 hours to resolve her issues while sharing arms, legs, and . . . other things with a guy she barely noticed while she was alive. But the real surprise is what life has to off when you have only two days to live it.

And this book actually comes with your own personal free halo!
Don't believe me? Well, check out Amanda's blog where you can see her wearing hers!

Amanda's next book will be the equally original Zombie Queen of Newbury High, a Young Adult book. Coming Spring 2009 (Puffin)

If you read this blog when I wrote about the RNA Awards lunch in April this year, you'll remember that I met new Modern Extra author Heidi Rice there. Heidi has given me two signed copies of her very first book too - Hers is titled Bedded By A Bad Boy.
A tough loner - with a past . . .

Monroe Latimer is a drop-dead gorgeous Harley-riding bad boy who doesn't do commitment. No way; no how.

One look at Monroe and feisty English girl Jessie Connor knows he's about as Mr Wrong as a guy can get, but there's one great big problem. He's sexy as hell, he fires her blood like no other man ever has, and his killer bllue gaze is focused right on her. His look says he'll bed her - but never wed her . . .

Is Jessie the one who can tame the untameable?

Bedded by a Bad Boy is out in the US in January under the new title Bedded by a Playboy in the Harlequin Special Releases Presents collection Pregnant Mistresses. Heidi's second Modern Extra The Mile High Club was out in the UK in November, is due out in the US in March under the new title The Millionaire's Blackmail Bargain. Her third book was accepted last month and is out in the UK in July as The Tycoon's Very Personal Assistant.

Finally today, there's One Glass is Never Enough by Jane Wenham-Jones, who, as you'll know from my posts on the subject, shares my love of and and teaches at Caerleon Writers' Holiday which is where I met her:

Three women, one bar and three different reasons for buying it.
Single mother Sarah needs a home for her children, Claire's an ambitious business woman. For wealthy Gaynor, Greens Wine Bar is just one more amusement. Or is it?

On the surface, Gaynor has it all - money, looks, a beautiful home in the picturesque seaside town of Broadstairs, and Victor - her generous, successful husband. But while Sarah longs for love and Claire is making money, Gaynor wants answers. Why is Victor behaving strangely and who does he see on his frequent trips away? What's behind the threatening phone-calls? As the bar takes off, Gaynor's life starts to fall apart.Into her turmoil comes Sam - strong and silent with a hidden past. Theirs is an unlikely friendship but then nobody is quite what they seem in this tale of love, loss and betrayal set against the middle-class dream of owning a wine bar. As Gaynor's confusion grows, events unfold that will change all of their lives forever.
So if this makes you want to enter the contest and you haven't already, then check out my Contest Page on my web site for the details of what you have to do.
Contest closes 18th December 2008

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas Stocking Contest - more Great prize books

I hope you're keeping warm and dry - here in Lincolnshire it's cold and wet and miserable. The wind is howling around my windos and battering sleety rain hard against the glass. All the cats are cureled up snug in their beds beside the radiators, the Hecks are hibernating at the bottom of the garden, and inside with a good book is the only place to be.

So, talking of good books, here's a couple more of the great prizes on offer in the Christmas Stocking Stuffeed With Books.

First is one of my personal favourites - I read this book when I had a chance to take a reading break when I'd finished writing the Black Angel ( now known as Bedded By The Greek Billionaire) and I loved it. But then, if you've read this blog in the past, you'd expect that as this book is by another of my dear friends and favourite writers - Anne McAllister.

And the book is Anne's October release - The Boss's Wife For A Week aka Spence and Sadie's story.

Tycoon seeks wife for one week's employment.
Spencer Tyack needed a wife. Not forever. Just for a week. A wife he could show off in public and share a room with in private. But who could fill the position? Certainly not his buttoned-down, efficient assistant, Sadie Morrissey . . .
But Spence was in for a big surprise. Not only was Sadie sensible in the boardroom, she was sensual in the bedroom.
But what would happen at the end of the week?

This book is classic Anne McAllister and if you haven't already read it, then you are in for a treat.

And if, like me, you're waiting for the next Anne McAllister book to hit the shelves then luckily you don't have to wait long -

One Night Love-Child is out in March USA and April UK.

This is a book that I have a proprietorial interest in as it's the book that Anne was planning and writing when we went on our writer's tour of Ireland last year. So I will know some of the places she had in mind when she wrote it. It's also Flynn and Sara's (The Great Montana Cowboy Auction) story some years on.

And this is the book that Anne will be talking about when she and I and Liz Fielding have our traditional Valentine's contest coming up soon.

The second book in the Stocking is one that you might remember from the Great Big Blog Party in the summer - when I talked about Elizabeth Oldfield.

Elizabeth used to write great HMB romances and then about 8 years ago, she retired from writing romance, and oh how I missed her books. But now Elizabeth Oldfield the author is back. Her first book for some years - Vintage Babes - is published by Accent Press this month. It's not a straight Romance but - well, here's the 'blurb'

Divorced, fifty-plus and a reporter on a small-town newspaper, Carol has just one grumble – the way friends and family will try to fix her up with a Mr Wonderful.

No thanks! She’s perfectly content on her own. Then life shifts into the kick-ass mode. Steve, a tyrannical new editor, arrives: her elderly father morphs into a babe magnet: her daughter and granddaughter land on her doorstep, and black hairs sprout from Carol’s chin.Jenny, Carol’s meek plump housewife friend, is eager to find herself a job, but her husband disapproves. Tina, a glamorous recently-widowed gold-digger, has one major problem – she hates getting older.

When the three women workout together with Max, an erotic personal trainer, all their lives are changed.

To enter this contest and have a chance to win these great books and more- check out my web site Contest Page for all the details.

And that's where you'll find the 12 Days of Christmas Contest details too.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Just to say . . .

. . . that the lovely Heather from We Write Romance has updated my web site so that not only are the contest details up, there's also the covers of the newest book - Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Bride - and the By Request Trilogy that has the reprint of my His Miracle Baby in - coming in January.

And I may have forgotten to say this before - but if you want a second chance to win a signed copy of the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance - then hurry over to Tote Bags 'n' Blogs where I was blogging this week and you can be in with a change to win a copy just by answering the question in the comments there.

And you'll be able to read about a new project that Leena and I have planned for the New Year - we've called it 12 Points on the 12th and hopefully it will interest all you would-be romance writers out there. That will be starting in January 2008.

Christmas Contests

My lovely web designer Heather from We Write Romance has updated my Contest Page over on my web site so that now all the details of how to enter either the 12 Days of Christmas Contest or the Christmas Stocking Stuffed With Books Contest are up.

Everything you need to know is there - except for the details of the books. And you want to know more about those - don't you?
Yes, thought so.

I've talked about two titles already - scroll down to here to read about those. And today, as I've just had confirmation the final donation to the stocking, I thought I'd talk about that.
Actually, I'm talking about them as yesterday I heard from another great writing friend who ofered her latest title - so there are two more books going into the stockings. Which means that each stocking now has 12 different titles in it. A dozen brand new books with a value of over £45 - that's some prize!

OK - so the first of the newest donations comes from Scary Kate - aka Kate Hardy. Kate actually has two books out this Christmas - in two different lines. (That's why she's scary!) Her other book is a Medical - The Doctor's Very Special Christmas - but the book she's donated to go into the stocking is her brand new Modern Extra - One Night, One Baby.

Kate tells me that this "doesn't have a Christmassy title but oh boy, the Christmas pressie"

Here's the back blurb for this great book -

Pregnant – after one hot night!
Everyone seems to have forgotten her birthday- but meeting handsome brooding stranger Mitch Holland gives Jane good reason to celebrate… The attraction between them is intense, but Mitch puts a strict limit on their time together – he can offer her one night only.
Jane can’t resist the opportunity to spend a night with this magnificent man! After all, she’s not looking for a relationship. But a few weeks later Jane is still struggling to forget gorgeous Mitch – and their unforgettably sexy night together. Then she discovers she’s pregnant…

Books Kate has coming out in the new year: (ie more evidence of why she's scary)

Jan - The Pregnancy Ultimatum (Presents Collection in US, aka In The Gardener's Bed from UK)
Feb - One Night, One Baby (in Aus)
March - Sold to the Highest Bidder (my country house book)
April - The Doctor's Royal Love Child (part of the Brides of Penhally Bay continuity) (and also In Bed With Her Italian Boss - aka Breakfast at Giovanni's - in Present Collection in US)
August - The Spanish Consultant's Love-Child

If I start reading now, I might catch up with her output by Christmas - 2008!

The second book I had donated yesterday is a real coup - this one isn't even published yet! And it's special in another way too. One of my favourite Harlequin Romance writers. Liz Fielding has a book out in January and she's given me two signed, advance copies of this to go in the stocking. And The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride is Liz's 50th book. Not her 50th M&B - that's coming up in 2008 (and I'll be sharing another contest with her to celebrate that!)

But in the Christmas Stocking you can win an advance copy of this great book. So here's a blurb to whet your appetites:

The single mum's new job: chauffeur to the Sheikh!

Zahir was surprised to find he had a beautiful new driver. This chauffeur did not blend into the background. Oh, no. Diana Metcalf talked. She laughed. She took him on unplanned detours. And he had more fun than he'd had in years.

But back in his desert kingdom a dynastic marriage was being brokered for Zahir. Crazy though it seemed, he wished that this wonderful, vivacious, thoroughly unsuitable woman could be his bride instead...

Liz tells me that my personal copy is on its way to me - I can't wait

And also by Liz Fielding coming up in 2008 Are:

The reprint of The Billionaire Takes a Bride in a By Request anthology - Bride for a Billionaire

that 50th M&B - The Bride's Baby - April 2008 (watch out for the now traditional Valentine's contest that Liz, Anne McAllister and I share - remember last year when the Grooms took over the blogs?)

The Temp and The Tycoon - a special novells publication as part of the M&B centenary celebrations.

And if you need a Liz Fielding fix right now then her lovely A Surprise Christmas Proposal is out in another By Request anthology Brides For Christmas - in the shops right now.

And if you haven't entered the Christmas Stocking contest yet - what are you waiting for> YOu only have until December 18th to be in with a chance of winning this great prize.

Details of how to enter - and a list of all the books - on my website Contest Page.
And don't forget the 12 Days of Christmas Contest too!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Here We Go Again

I was going to put up a post about an article in today's Guardian newspaper - an article entitled : Mills & Boon: 100 years of heaven or hell?

You can find the article here if you want to read it in full - and of course I suggest that you do that before you comment, which is more than most critics do for Mills & Boon.
Because of course with a title like that you can tell what's coming can't you?

Though, to be fair - again unlike some! - the first part of the article is a well written, balanced, articulate and intelligent discussion of the 'pros' of Mills and Boon. I'd expect that though as it's written by M&B author Abby Green in her real-life guise as Daisy Cummins. I know that she's worried that what she actually wrote was cut to ribbons, but I don't think she should worry. She came across as intelligent, thoughtful and someone who at least knows her subject .

Unlike - and you were expecting this, weren't you? - unlike the writer for the 'cons' - against M&B -Julie Bindel who of course takes the lazy wayout, writing about 20 books she read 15 - that's 15 years ago and dragging out the tired old quotes from Violet Winspear in 1970 and Hilary Wilde, writing in1966 . So that's over 40 years back now! Oh, and treating those titles that we all love to hate as if they were actual true descriptions of what happens in the books. Her other 'evidence' means she's done nothing more than look at the back-blurb of three current releases. Blurb, incidentally, which isn't even written by the author.

Doesn't she realise that simply quoting opinions that were out of date even when she was doing her research in 1992 only shows her up rather than proves her point?

I could go on - but to be honest such lazy, biased, inaccurate ranting just isn't worth it. Though I do wonder at her qualifications for even commenting on this topic.

And anyway, another intelligent, articulate and balanced set of comments has already been made on this article here - comments I can't really better so I'll just direct you to read them if you're interested.

They're written by another intelligent, talented and articulate writer - Natasha Oakley. She's said just about all I'd want to say - she even grabbed the same headline.

Hmm - two M&B authors who actually take the time and trouble to read this article before commenting on it - 3 if you include me - more if you read the comments on Natasha's post - doesn't that tell you something?

Having read Natasha's comments on Ms Bindel, I see that along with her focus on sexual violence, transexualism and other delights, she also hates vegetarians. Well, that's me doubly damned then.

Do I care? Not a bit.
To be honest, earning any of Ms Bindel's approval for anything I did would have me worrying about myself.

Christmas Stocking Contest

I managed to get in touch with two of my lovely writer friends - so I can now confirm that thanks to their generosity there will be two more very special titles going into the Christmas Stocking Stuffed with books, along with all the other titles, to make up a truly special prize.

The first of these is from Michelle Styles.

Michelle, as regular readers of this blog know, writes original and exciting historical novels, often picking unusual time periods in whihc to set her books. She has recently set books in Ancient Rome and coming up soon she has a set of books about Vikings. But the book she is donating to the Christmas Stocking is set in more recent Victorian times. In this case, in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1846.

Michelle has offered two signed copies of A Christmas Wedding Wager - the USA edition of this special Christmas story. In the UK this book is published as part of a special duo titled Christmas By Candlelight together with Wicked Pleasures by Helen Dickson, but it is the separate edition of just A Christmas Wedding Wager that is going into the Christmas Stocking this time. So it's that cover that I'm posting here today.

I was lucky enough to be given my own copy of this book by Michelle, so here's the blurb from the back:

Lovely Miss Emma Harrison has turned her back on the frivolities of the Marriage Mart and dedicated herself to helping her father. But this Christmas everything changes – ruthless and unforgettable Jack Stanton is back! As the Yuletide festivities throw Emma into his company, she can’t help but wonder if she made the wrong choice seven years ago...

The web site Dear Author recommends A Christmas Wedding Wager as one of its December reads like this:

Styles showcases the Victorian period and the emerging freedom it brought to young women. Emma, the heroine, escapes her stifling Victorian well-to-do lifestyle to become a civil engineer and while she enjoys her position, it is not without a price. Jack Stanton was rejected by Emma years ago and must suppress his hurt pride and resentment in order to work with Emma on a bridge project. Set against the backdrop of northern England Christmas revelries, this is the perfect book to get a romance reader in the holiday mood.

If you love Michelle Styles's stories then there's plenty to look forward to because coming next year are these great titles:

Taken by the Viking -- US May 08 (this was an October UK release and still available on
Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife UK June 08 (linked to Taken)
An Impulsive Debutante UK Sept 08 (linked to ACWW)

The other special Christmas title donated yesterday is from lovely Margaret McDonagh who is making a name and a career for herself in the Medical Romance line. The book Margaret has donated is a Christmas trilogy with the title Christmas Weddings. This contains stories by Carole Mortimer and Shirley Jump as well as Margaret's own heartwarming story Their Christmas Vows

Here's the blurb (the book actually has the hero's surname wrong on the back so Margaret has kindly corrected it for me - and added an extra couple of lines to the rather brief summary!)

Frazer McInnes is strong, caring, and loyal to his friends. He also has a reputation as a fun-loving Romeo. But he's serious about his beautiful colleague, Callie Grogan. Serious enough to vow to love her forever, if only she'll be his Christmas bride.
Callie has a difficult journey to make because the impact of her past experiences make it hard for her to trust. In Frazer, has she found a man she can believe in? Can she trust him – and herself – and step towards a happy and loving future?

Coming up in 2008, Margaret McDonagh has these new titles to look forward to:

An Italian Affair - (a Medical in the Mills & Boon Presents anthology with Annie West [Modern] and Annie Burrows [Historical]) - April 2008
Virgin Midwife, Playboy Doctor - book 8 in the Brides of Penhally Bay series - July 2008

Dr Devereux's Proposal - book 12 in the Brides of Penhally Bay series - November 2008

So look out for those great Medical stories.

And tomorrow I'll be back with more details of the other books I have stuffed into those stockings just waiting to give someone an orgy of reading pleasure over Christmas!

Oh - and as a PS to Margaret McDonagh's donation - I had to smile when I saw the cover of the Christmas Weddings trilogy.

Take away the Christmas Tree and the decorated mantlepiece - and it's the UK cover of my December 2005 book - The Antonakos Marriage!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Contest Details

So now the wonderful Lee has organised everything and put up all the details for the 12 Days of Christmas Contest and she's sent me a direct link for you all to follow so that you can find that and enter.

Remember you need to go to the My Tote Bag Web site to find the contest - and lots of others - so that you can enter. And you enter there, not from my site.

Here's the direct link:

Good luck!

Oh, and if you live in Australia and missed the first part of the Sicilian Brothers duo - Guido's story Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride, I just learned that it's available once more on the site leading a 'European Sexy Pack' with other titles by Anne McAllister, Cathy Williams and Lynne Graham. It's currently on sale here at a 33% reduction.


Right, so the 12 Days of Christmas Contest is organised.

Leena Hyat of My Tote Bag has all the details and is setting it right away. Hopefully that will go up later today or tomorrow at the latest.

I have all the details of the Christmas Stocking organised too - I just need to get them up on my web site Contest page - but for readers of this blog, here's a little advance notice.

The contest, as always, is to win one of two Christmas stockings that I have stuffed with books from lots of author friends of mine who have very kindly donated signed copies of their novels. Some of these were donated back in the summer when I planned to do the Tote bag full of books - but then the Great Big Blog Party took over and there were more than enough prizes on offer so I held over the generous donations for this contest.

So far I have these titles to give away: (in no particular order)

You Had Me at Halo - the brilliant debut novel by Amanda Ashby - complete with your very own halo as an extra gift!

Vintage Babes the brand new novel by Elizabeth Oldfield who used to write great romances for HMB and now has launched this new book with Accent Press

Also from Accent Press, One Glass is Never Enough by my Caerleon Writers' Holiday fellow addict and tutor Jane Wenham-Jones

Bedded By A Bad Boy is the debut novel of Modern Extra (now Modern Heat) author Heidi Rice.

Rich Man's Revenge is a Silhouette Desire release by up and coming Author Tessa Radley

Confessions of A Party Crasher or Dashing through the Mall come from my lovely friend and great writer Holly Jacobs

I also have the wonderful The Boss's Wife For A Week, Spence and Sadie's great story by Anne McAllister

My contribution will be a couple of copies of the Mills & Boon Annual for this year containing - amongst others - my short story Wife For Real which was the very first part of The Alcolar Family Trilogy.

And I have been offered contributions with a suitably Christmassy theme by Kate Hardy, Michelle Styles and Margaret McDonagh - but I need to gey back to these generous ladies before I finalise the details and let you know exactly the titles they are offering.

It's a GREAT prize and one I wouldn't mind winning myself, sadly I can't enter.

This contest will run for the next couple of weeks - until the 18th December when, hopefully, I will still have time to get the prize to the winners (there are two complete stockings on offer)
As I said, I will post the details of how to enter on my Contests page just as soon as I can - but if you're desperate to get started on your entry, then what you'll need to do is:

To check out my web site for the names of all of the books that I have published this year - there are four of them. (I'm talking about my separate titles - not any of the By Request Anthologies or reprints

When you have the list of four titles, I want to know the names of the heroes and the heroines of each book.

So your entry should read:
Title One - hero's name - heroine's name
Title Two - hero's name - heroine's name
Title Three - hero's name - heroine's name
Title Four - hero's name - heroine's name

Have those ready and the email them to me with the heading Christmas Stocking Contest in the subject line

Please make sure you put that heading otherwise your entry may get lost - I get a lot of emails!

One entry only per person. Any extra entries will be eliminated.

Good luck!

PS And don't forget that simply by staying on my Newsletter list you are also in the running for the special Newsletter 12 Days of Christmas Contest where you don't have to do anything - or answer any questions, just stay right where you are and you never know, Sid the Cat might pick your name in his bumper Christmas Bonus Prize Selection. That's just one of the extra benefits you get for being one of my extra special readers! So why not sign up today and join the Newsletter Group? (see the link in the sidebar)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Wonderful weekend

I'm trying to catch up with everything again. I didn't have time to do very much in the run up to the weekend and over the weekend itself and that's because I was celebrating an early Christmas with some very special friends.

I love Christmas. I love the way that it brightens up the dark, cold (well, it's cold here in the UK - and wet!) days of December with decorations and celebrations, I love the way that, when it's celebrated right, it brings together loved ones from near and far, puts you in contact with people you don't connect with the rest of the year, and brings friends and warmth into your life and home.

I just had my traditional early Christmas with a group of very special writer friends who all come to stay at my home for a long weeked. They only left yesterday afternoon, and then I needed to catch up with some much needed sleep! That's why I'm a little late writing this blog. We ate a lot, drank some wine, visited 'Christmas World' in a nearby village. We played silly games, laughed a lot, some of us had things they needed to shed a tear or two over as well. And we talked and talked and talked . .

There were different generations gathered together too - one of my friends couldn't make it last year because the birth of her baby was very close. This year, her almost one year old son joined us for the weekend - hopfully the first of many such visits by him and other new members of the 'family of friends'. The Offspring and his lovely girlfiend joined us too, and everyone blended together brilliantly.

For a time, for various reasons, I'd been feeling too stressed to think of Christmas without worrying but this weekend has brought home to me just what it's really all about.It's about sharing. About reaching out to other people and letting them know that they are important in your life. And that includes my readers. Every year as Christmas approaches, I run several contests to involve my readers in my Christmas celebrations. To reach out to them and let them know how much I appreciate them and how grateful I am to all the readers who buy my books and so keep me writing and published next year and for years (hopefully) to come.

Like this post, I'm a little late with organising this but now I'm in the Christmas mood I'm organising my 12 Days of Christmas contest and the details will go up on my web site just as soon as I can get them there. And then over on My Tote Bag Leena will be running my 12 Days of Christmas contest.
Every day for 12 days leading up to Christmas I'll be giving away a signed copy of one of my books and a little extra Christmas Gift to all the lucky winners. So why not keep chekcing out my blog or my Contest page on my web site soon to see when the contest is starting?

The other thing I do is ask my readers to help me with my Christmas Charity Card. I would love to be able to send you all a Christmas card to wish you all the happiness of this special season, but the planning and organising of all that is just impossible - so I'm going to be doingwhat I did last year, and that is to give a real, practical gift to those in need instead of cards. Last year's gift was a batch of essential medicines for a whole village - that was the choice voted for by most of the visitors to the blog. So this year I'll be running the poll again and I hope you'll drop by and vote for your choice of special gift that I'll be sending this year. It is, after all, in place of a card to say thank you to each and every one of you for your support for me all through this year.

And as I did last year, I will be posting up a special cyber card foryou all on my web site from December. I have at least got that organised and it's up on my web site from today so I hope you'll come by and see that.

And I have the Christmas Stocking contest to announce too - phew! I'd better get on with it!

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