Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another sold out and an upcoming event

I had a great thrill yesterday when a reader wrote to let me know that my November book The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife has a big Sold Out sticker across it over on I went to check and it's true. It's an amazing feeling to know that a book had sold out. So with that and the first edition of the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance being sold out too, I'm feeling pretty happy right now.

I understand that Amazon and Barnes and Noble on line still have some copies of TGTUW so if you missed out on a copy, you can still find it there.

This weekend is totally devoted to Santos and hopefully getting him to his happy ever after (you didn't think writing was an 'office hours' job did you?) but before I roll my sleeves up and get down to sorting him out, I thought I'd give those of you who are in the UK advance warning of a couple of events that are coming up if you live anywhere near Lincoln.

The Lincoln Book Festival is getting together with Mills & Boon to help them celebrate their 100th birthday and I've been helping them organise the two events for this that are part of the Festival which runs from May 9th - 18th this year.

Both of these events are on Saturday May 17th, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

The first of these is a workshop that I'm giving to launch the second edition of the 12 Point Guide.
Start time: 2pm - 4pm
Location: Lincoln Drill Hall
Admission cost: £6/£4

The second is an evening event and for this I will be joined by several of my friends who also write romance for a Question and Answer, discussion and book signing. Here's what the official Book Festival programme says about this:

100 Years of Romancing Readers
Start time: 6pm - 7.30pm
Join in the festival's celebration of 100 years of Mills and Boon and meet romance authors Kate Walker, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley and Kate Hardy.

Location: Lincoln Drill Hall
Admission cost: £5/£3

Full details of both these events can be found here and if you want further details about the Lincoln Book Festival itself then al the details are here.

Maybe I'll see some of you there?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

79,999 and counting

When I checked my blog this morning the total of visitors was 79,999 - that's quite some total! Those are visitors from 129 differrent countries. And it made me think how fantastic it is to be able to chat with so many people from so many places and know that you're all out there, reading this and, hopefully reading my books too.

So I just wanted to say a special thank you to you all for being there. I wish I could know just who would be visitor 80,000 but it doesn't really matter. You're all important!

Today I'm still fighting my recalcitrant Spaniard but I'm hoping that the end is in sight. So I'm not staying around long - but I do want to have a small celebration of a friend's good news.

A couple of times on this blog I've mentioned a fabulous writer - and a lovely friend - Natasha Oakley. Last year was not a fun year for Natasha, fate seemed to have decided to throw everything it could at her, and how. It was a year I'm sure she wants to forget.

But luckily 2008 has been a better one so far and yesterday she had some fabulous news. She learned that her book The Tycoon's Princess Bride is a finalist in the Contemporary Series Category in the RITA awards contest run by the Romance Writers of America.

And quite frankly I'm not surprised. I read this book when it first came out and I loved it. It has Natasha's trademark deep emotion, believable, sympathetic characters, great dialogue and that extra special tug-at -the -heartstrings touch she has in every book. I blogged about this book when I read it, I was so impressed by it. I'm thrilled by the book's success and so happy for Natasha that she's getting the reputation she deserves.

And I'm extra specially happy because right at the beginning of her career, before she was ever published, I had a tiny part in helping her along the road towards that success. When she submitted a book to the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme, back in 2001, I was the reader who was sent that manuscript to read. ( I blogged about this when Natasha was one of the authors whose books were in my Christmas Stocking contest in 2006.) And I'm proud to be able to say that I spotted the strong potential in her writing then. It's a wonderful feeling to have been there at the beginning for someone and to see them grow and flower in this fabulous way.
CONGRATULATIONS Natasha! Many, many of them.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I have a publication date . . .

I've just heard from the publisher of the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance and the official publication date for the 2nd edition is now confirmed as April 8th (just ignore the fact that it says April 30th on
The second edition is revised and expanded with an extra section of tips and advice from over 20 currently published authors.
You can pre-order this book here on , through Central Books or from any good bookshop.
In America you should be able to order it from Barnes & Noble, Borders, Chapters/Indigo - just tell them to order it through Transatlantic Publishers (

Or get one of the bookmarks I've mentioned and take it in to the shop.

Australian readers can order it through Dymocks and other bookshops.

The details you'll need are:

12-Point Guide to Writing Romance
(Studymates Writers Guides)
By Kate Walker

2Rev Ed edition Pub April 8th
RRP: £10.99
Publisher: Studymates Ltd;
ISBN: 978-1842851319

I'll be holding a launch party for the 2nd edition at the beginning of April, with the Writer's Q and A - don't forget to send in your questions for that - and hopefully some prizes too. So come back closer to April 8th for that - when, hopefully, the current book will be on my editor's deak and I'll be free to enjoy myself and launch the new edition in style. And maybe I'll be able to get some of those authors along to help me celebrate too.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white . . .

. . .Easter!

We have had very little snow this year, but this is what my garden looked like when I woke up this morning

Flora was not impressed. So she and Sir Sidney have decided to stay snugly inside and snooze next to the radiators.

And seeing as I haven't had a cat calendar this year, I thought I'd mark Easter Sunday with brand new portraits of Sir Sidney demonstrating the new windows.

And Mademoiselle Flora who was helping - sort of - with the filing.

Dylan, who doesn't care about the weather has disappeared into the snow and hasn't stayed around to have his picture taken.

Happy Easter!

PS And welcome to my first visitor from the 129th country on this blog. Now I know where Moldova is on the map.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Parties and prizes and heroes

The editors have read and judged the Instant Seduction (first chapter and synopsis of a Harlequin Presents novel - all 600+ of them - and yesterday they announced the winner over on the I Heart Presents blog. So if you haven't heard the news, head over there and find out what's been happening. There are a couple of runners-up too.

I'm really intrigued to read the winning entries so I'm looking forward to seeing those chapters posted up there, and the editors' comments.

(I have a reputation for this blog being one of the main sources of visits to I Heart Presents so if you click over to there from here you'll be adding to that!)

Today is my MIL's 80th birthday party so we're heading out into the snow - yes, the promised 'White Easter' has arrived - to meet up with 4 generations of the the Babe Magnet's family to celebrate so I'll be gone all day.

But if you want something good to read, take a look at Anne McAllister's blog where she has a great post about a favourite topic of mine - the much discussed, often totally misinterpreted, alpha hero. And if you want to read a great alpha who is just as Anne discusses, then pick up her One-Night Love Child which is out now in Presents and in April in the UK

I'll be taking my current alpha (Santos) along with me to work on in the car awhile the Magnet drives, and I'll have several copies of Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife to give to the family.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Coming soon . . .

I'm deeply involved with a certain brooding Spanish hero - Santos Cordero - who has finally (finally!) decided to stop brooding and start taking action. So now I'd better let him have his head while he's in this mood.

But I thought I'd give you an couple of updates on books coming out later this year. One I knew about and hoped would happen soon - the other is totally unexpected.

So the first of these, the one I knew was coming up because I'd been working hard on it, is the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. The one that was sold out. Totally sold out now as far as I can see. and Noble, The Book Depository . . . all have no copies left - so, as I said, the publisher and I have been working to bring you a 2nd edition of this book so as to get it back in stock just as soon as we can.

And not just a 2nd edtion but a revised, updated and expanded second edtion with even more information and help for those of you who want to write romance for publication. And the good news is that I've just heard from the publishers (Studymates Limited) that it has finally been sent to the printers ready to get it on the shelves. It will also have a new, slightly different cover which you can see on the right, and it will be in a slightly smaller format from the first edition.

All this is aimed at getting the book out to more people who were looking for it before but couldn't find it in shops, only on the internet, It seems that bookshops prefer this slightly smaler edition so hopefully that means more of them will stock it. And - most importantly - for everyone in America who has written to me to say they can't get hold of it - it should mean that you can order it more easily and maybe even that it could appear on the bookshop shelves just to pick up if there's enough interest. Barnes & Noble are considering taking some to stock in their shops which would be great for everyone who has had such a problem getting hold of it before now.

At the moment you can preorder it on but I haven't spotted it on yet. Later, I'm hoping that The Book Depository will stock it because they have great deals and free delivery worldwide on books they stock. I'll keep you up to date on this.

But I've come up with an idea that might help make ordering it in America easier for anyone who's interested - and if there's enough interest by word of mouth then that might persuade B&N or other bookshops to stock it. Thanks to lovely Lee Hyat at Author Sound Relations, I've had some bookmarks made which have all the details you'll need - the ISBN, and the USA distributors so that any bookshop should be able to order it for you.

If you're in the USA and you'd like one of these bookmarks - and a free Kate Walker pen - then
send an SASE (USA postage naturally) to:

Lee Hyat

Kate Walker Goodies

4411, 76th Ave. West # 2

University Place,

WA 98466

If the envelopes are addressed as above, then Lee will know what you're interested in.

And as I get more news about this second edition, I'll let you know. At the moment, the publication date is officially 8th April - though Amazon has April 30th - but as soon as I know more I'll pass the news on to you.

And as I've already said, I'll be running a special launch party for this 2nd edition with more details about the book and that special Writers' Q&A when I have the actual launch date confirmed. So keep sending in those questions. And thank you to Jacqueline, Lorraine and Johanna who've already sent in their queries.

The other news I have is that I just learned that another of my older titles is being republished in the By Request collections here in the UK. At the moment, I only have the title of this collection and the date it's published (July 2008) I don't even know for sure which of my books is in this collection, but as the title is Her Passionate Italian , I suspect that it will be my 2001 book Her Secret Bridegroom as that's the oldest of my Italian books - of course it could be The Italian's Forced Bride being reprinted already, but I think Vincenzo's story is more likely. Unless of course, one of the earlier Sicilian books is the Italian they mean. I'll let you know as soon as I find out!

I'm thrilled to discover that one of the other authors in this collection with me is Michelle Reid who is one of my favourite authors and favourite people in the world. We're shelf mates in November too, so I can look forward to seeing our names side by side several times this year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Books downunder

I sometimes feel that when I'm posting about my books, that Australian readers get a bit of a raw deal. If I'm not careful I talk about when boks are out in the UK and when they appear in the Presents edition in America - and I tend not to say very much about the fact that they always come out in Australia in the month after their release in UK.

So in this post I'm remedying that a bit and I'm giving a special mention to all my wonderful Australian fans who are so supportive and buy and read my work - and many of them write and tell me how much they enjoy it too. Perhaps I should say G'day to all of you - and thank you! Special wave to Cindy, to Dawn, if you're reading - and to all the wonderful Aussie writers, Trish Morey, Annie West, Ally Blake, Nicola Marsh, Yvonne Lindsay, Anne Gracie, Marion Lennox . . . and I'm sure I've forgotten someone. And a hello to anyone I met when I visited the RWAus and RWNZ conferences - those memories are truly special to me.

I was thinking about my Aussie readers particularly because I've just seen the Australian M&B Sexy cover for my latest book Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife - and I was thrilled by it. The cover of the UK edition is nice enough and the upcoming Presents one is , of course, the same image in the circle on the front cover. But the Australian cover has a bigger expanse of the artwork and that was what made me really happy.

Because it shows how much the artist has taken the trouble to reproduce the scene from the book in the cover artwork. The hero and heroine were pretty well portrayed already, but now I can see that the room they are in is as I described it, that Alannah is wearing the right colour dress, if not exactly as I'd pictured it. And, most important of all, there is a huge bunch of roses on the chair. Those roses are important. They are a vital part of that scene and they can;t be seen on either of the other two covers. So I'm really happy to see them in all their glory on the Australian cover.

Another reason why I wanted to mention the Australian readers is that when I was browsing on the Mills & Boon Australia web site - which is where I spotted the cover of Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife, I also discovered something that I knew nothing about until now. And that is this reprint - The Price of Passion - in The Greek Collection. It's a reprint of my 2000 book, Constantine's Revenge (that book just keeps coming back and back) and it's in this reprint together with Lucy Monroe's The Greek Tycoon's Ultimatum.

So if you missed out on Constantine the first time round - or you want to replace a lost copy. Now's your chance. The Greek Collection is available on the M&B Australia site this month.

Getting back to normal

The house is so quiet!

There are no workmen banging and thumping and drilling at the wondows, my MIL and my neice have gone home after a lovely weekend visit, Flora is no longer confined to one room and is running happily around the house (OK, that it isn't quite so quiet!) and I'm back in my office, now clear of dust sheets and looking forward to getting back to work.

I have a date with a hot blooded Spaniard. Santos has tracked down Alexa after she ran out on him and he's not in a very forgiving mood, so sparks will fly - at least I hope they will as this book is supposed to be on my editor's desk in time to be a reading Easter Egg for her. But I'm so enjoying just having the house to myself and peace and quiet in which to work again.

Over the weekend when we toook MIL and Niece out and about I was able to see just how that other Spaniard, Raul's book , Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife, was doing in the shops. Very nicely indeed seems to be the answer which made me smile. It's a wonderful feeling to know that readers all over the country are buying my books and hopefully enjoying them. And before you ask, no, after 53 books, it's a feeling that, thankfully doesn't get any the less wonderful. Each new book is a new project and every time a new title is realeased I just hope that everyone enjoys it. The nervousnesss about sending in a submission never eases but that is more than compensated for by the glow of knowing that people are picking my title off the shelf and taking it home with them. Thank you!

And talking of submissions, the hard-working and very busy editors have been working extra hard recently as they ploughted their way through the 600 entries to the Instant Seduction contest which closed recently. And over on the I Heart Presents blog today they've announced that:

We have now made our decision as to who the victor is and also the runners-up and we will be contacting them to tell them the good news in the next week. We aim to make an announcement on the site before Easter. In April, we also hope to run the winning entries with critiques as to why they made it to the top and editor Suzy Clarke will also be posting a blog for those who weren’t successful with a few tips on general successes and mistakes, so that you can take something forward for your future writing endeavours.

I'm so looking forward to seeing who has won and to reading the winning entries. To come first out of 600, the winner must be something special. If you want to read more about the judging and see just how many piles of entries there were, then take a look at Tessa Shapcott's report at I Heart Presents today.

Finally, my own contest over on My Tote Bag ended at the weekend. Leena has drawn the winners and the two (rare) copies of the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance go to:

Marian S. of Buda, Texas

Stacia H., of Bedford, OH

So congratulations to Marian and Stacia. and I hope the book helps you with your writing. This contest had well over 100 entries so obviously there are a lot of people out there wanting to write romance and hoping to get their hands on the 12 Point Guide. To those who didn't win, my commiserations but I will have some good news for you and for anyone else looking for this book very soon. And according to my publisher we are getting very close to the time when I can actually make an announcement - so watch this space!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

From under the dust sheets

I've managed to unearth my computer from under the dustsheets for just long enough to post this - another half an hour and the men are back finish the windows in my office, seal the french foor and the windows in the living room and then I'll get my house back - no bangs, no drills, no dust - no kittens going crazy because they are locked in one room - and the Santos and I can get back to work.

But in the meantime I have visitors - my Mother in law is here to celebrate her birthday. And our niece, the Magnet's sister's daughter has come with her, so I just have time to mention a couple of things before I leave the computer to the dust sheets again.
One is that we never quite decided on a collective description for massed group of romance novelists gathered together. Yes, there was the word 'a cleavage' bandied about - but that was just the group I was with at the time. But, no matter what you call them - here is the official photo (courtesy of Philippa Gedge Photography) of almost all the M&B authors who were at the 100th Birthday party in London last month.

Also, if you are in the UK and you live anywhere near Oxford - the next stage of the 100th birthday celebrations are coming up in April:

To commemorate its centenary, Mills and Boon is sponsoring an event at the Oxford Literary Festival. UK-based writers Joanne Harris (Chocolat, Blackberry Wine), Katie Fforde (Wild Designs, Paradise Fields), Nicola Cornick (HMB historical writer) and Matt Dunn (The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook, From Here to Paternity), will be discussing How Heroes and Heroines have altered over the past 100 Years.

Their chair is Daisy Goodwin, who presented and produced last year’s BBC 4 documentary Reader I Married Him that covered this very topic (although she went back further than 100 years).

The event takes place on Thursday, 3rd April at 6.30pm in the Marquee at Christ Church college and costs £7.50 (including a glass of wine afterwards). So if you already live in the UK or plan to come here during the month of April, come to Oxford and spend a great hour or two with fellow romantic devotees. Bookings are via this link.

Finally, just to remind you that the contest over on My Tote Bag to win one of the last remaining copies of Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance closes today so if you want a chance to win you need to get your entry in today. If you're not lucky, I did spot that has a few copies left, but Amazon.UK is sold out.

But rest assured that the publisher and I are working very hard to remedy that fact and I'll have more news coming up very soon - I hope! In the meantime don't forget the Writers' Q&A here on my blog. This will be coming up in April but obviously I have to have some questions to answer if I'm going to run it.

So if you have any writing questions you'd like me to answer then email them to me. Please put Writing Q&A in the subject line. And then I'll answer them on my blog - or maybe on Tote Bags n Blogs in one of the 12 Points

Oh no - that isn't the final thing - the final thing is to say a great big thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of my current release - Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife. It was back at #1 on the Amazon list of bestselling Mills & Boon romances this morning. So thank you all!
Right, time to put the dustsheets back and go back to my hostessing duties. At least having visitors here has distracted Flora from the fact that she's confined to one room.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

12 Points

Today I'm blogging over at Tote Bags 'N' Blogs - for the 12 Points on the 12th and today I'm talking about Prologue and Epilogues.

I've also announced some news. And so I'll share that with you here too.

I spent this weekend working with the publisher of the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. Ever since we had the fantastic news that the first edition of this book had sold out, we've been planning a second edition and that will be coming very soon. And in order to launch it I will be running a special week long (or perhaps a bit longer if there's enough interest) Writers' Q&A here on my blog.

This will be coming up in April but obviously I have to have some questions to answer if I'm going to run it.

So if you have any writing questions you'd like me to answer then email them to me. Please put Writing Q&A in the subject line. And then I'll answer them on my blog - or maybe on Tote Bags n Blogs in one of the 12 Points.

And don't forget - the contest to win one of the remaining of the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance is still open over on My Tote Bag. Lee has two copies to give away together with a Kate Walker tote bag and some other goodies. Entries need to be in by March 15th, so get your entries in today.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Holed up

So today's the day.

I'm sitting here in the one room in the house that has any curtains up - my office. The plan is that this room will be the last one to have the windows done, hopefully when I have to be out anyway.

Everywhere else, the curtains are down, the furniture moved and covered and I am holed up in the office with Sid and Flora (Dylan is out patrolling the grounds) waiting for the window men to arrive.

I'm just thankful that the weather has calmed down since yesterday, the wind and lashing rain seem to have eased for now and the sky is bright clear blue. Hopefully this will allow for good and fast progress with the window replacements. Perhaps I should have said that I'm here with Sid, Flora and the awkward so and so Santos who I am hope is going to be a little more cooperative so as to distract me from the thumps and bangs and crashes in the rest of the house.

Other news is that I had my first review for Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife yesterday. This came from lovely Julie Bonello who reviews for Cata Romance and she gave this book a fabulous write-up:

If you want to read the very best in category romantic fiction, then pick up Kate Walker’s latest Modern Romance, Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife.

Alannah Redfern wasn’t looking for love when she fell for Spanish aristocrat Raul Marcin, but pretty soon the virginal English girl found herself enraptured by the gorgeous Marquez’s charm and sophistication. However, as an ordinary girl, Alannah knew that she was no match for a titled billionaire, so reluctantly she left Raul and Spain and returned to England to nurse her broken heart and to try and move on with her life. But fate had other plans for Alannah and Raul because two years later, they meet once again…

Raul is shocked when he claps eyes on Alannah again. Two years may have passed, but his attraction towards her hasn’t waned. However, Raul cannot trust Alannah again – not after she dumped him without a backward glance. Still, that doesn’t prevent him from seducing her all over again…

Alannah knows that she should reject his advances, but she has never been attracted to someone in the same way that she was attracted to Raul. Sexy, charismatic, rich and absolutely gorgeous, Raul is like no man she has ever known before, and the only thing that she wants to do, is to lose herself in his embrace and let him make love to her all night long.

But has too much water gone under the bridge for the two of them to pick up from where they left off? Is theirs destined to be merely a convenient sexual arrangement? Or will this reunion bring them closer together in and out of the bedroom?

Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife is Kate Walker at her mesmerizing and absolute best!

Gripping, dramatic and written straight from the heart, Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife is an emotional rollercoaster ride written by a novelist who is at the very height of her powers.
Compelling, absorbing and enthralling, Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife is a stirring contemporary romantic novel by a novelist readers all over the world just cannot get enough of!

4.5 stars Jullie

Thank you so much Julie! Your review had me smiling all day long yesterday

One other bit of news - I was working hard on a different project at the weekend, one that will be interesting for all would-be authors reading this. I'll be posting over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs tomorrow when, ion my regular 12 Points on the 12th, I shall have more news on this . And this ----->

If you're interested in writing romance you'll want to check this out as I have news of a week long Writers' Special coming up soon to mark a special celebration.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Storms and Big Cats

As I write this, the storms that the weather men had predicted are battering the UK. Outside my window, the rain is lashing down onto the garden and the wind is 'wuthering' in the trees. It's a sneaky wind that has found its way in through any tiny crack or gap it can find and there are some fairly spectacular draughts, including on the just hits you as you get into the shower.

But in a way, I'm sort of enjoying that as tomorrow morning the men arrive to take out and replace every single window in the house. Two/three days of chaos but then I hope the end result will be wonderful. So I'm noting the draughts and thinking -'End of the week and that'll be gone- - and it makes me smile. And that feeling will get me through the chaos. I'm not sure how I'll manage to keep Flora the Floozie indoors with great holes where the windows should be, but I'm sure it'll all come right in the end.
But these storms are predicted to be really vicious, particularly around the coast, with huge waves whipped up by the high winds, so I hope that everyone stays safe and warm while they rage. And I'm sending the same message to all my friends and readers in America who have been enduring heavy, feezing snowfalls. I hope you and all your loved ones keep safe.

I realised that although the home cats have had plenty of exposure on the blog recently I hadn't mentioned my adopted Big Cats - Roque the tiger and Achee the lioness. These two have been joined now by the adoption of Zeudy the beautiful female tiger that was a Christmas gift to me from The Offspring. I recently has an update letter from the Born Free Foundation about all these wonderful creatures and was delighted to know they are all thriving.

Sadly, Zeudy's mate Royale lost his battle with kidney problems last year, but she is now very intrigued byher new neighbour, Masti. Masti was rescued from a poacher's trap but as a result he has had to have the lower part of his left foreleg amputated. He is now living well and happily in the Tiger Sanctuary in India.

It's stories like this that reinforce my delight in being able to help even in such a little way. Particularly when I read on the Born Free web site of the rescue of two small lionesses who were found abandoned, starving and dehydrated in Romania and are now recover
ing in Guernsey until they can make the journey to the Shamwari Wildlife Reserve in South Africa. But perhaps the most powerful point is made by the before and after pictures of Brutus, the lion from a French Circus who had been held in one cage for four years without ever coming out. But who now can run free for perhaps the first time in his life under the African sun.

These photos say it all, really - don't they?

Saturday, March 08, 2008


I nearly forgot to say that I'm not blogging here today - but over at the Pink Heart Society Blog.

Wearing my hat as a PHS Columnist, I'm writing about what romance means to me and why I love writing it.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Great Minds Think Alike

Anyone reading this blog can't have missed that Anne McAllister is one of my great friends. In spite of the fact that she borrowed Hugh-in-a-towel so often on our visit to Australia and New Zealand that some people there tend to think that he's HER H-i-a-t. Which of course he is not.

But we share. Friends can do that.

In the same way that it now seems we are sharing another hero - after I showed her my inspiration for Santos she went off and did some more research and now her Sebastian has morphed into Santos (or the guy who inspired Santos). But he won't become a combination of the two - a Santostian - they'll be totally separate heroes and each will be distinctly an Anne McAllister hero and a Kate Walker hero.

But last month when I was talking about Anne's great current book, One Night Love Child, I forgot to mention the one hero we share and who always remains exactly and undeniably himself - a hero who along with Flynn Murray plays a very important part in the book. But he was not the Groom so I couldn't mention him in the posts when we were talking about Here Come the Grooms. This Alpha Hunk appears in several of Anne's books, he also appears a lot in my life (though he has had his nose put out of joint by a certain Flora the Floozie just lately.)

He is of course Sid the cat - sorry - Sid The Cat. The capital letters are important.

And Sid has a starring role in One Night Love Child. He is, he would say, the second lead. The First Cat as you might say. And Sid would like me to point out to you that this is another very good reason for buying Anne's book. He has had walk-on roles, even a small speaking role, in other books, including the book that started of Sara and Flynn's story way back in 2002 - The Great Montana Cowboy Auction. And he was very pleased to find that his starring role in One Night Love Child had not been edited out. He didn't expect that it would be because, of course he is the perfect Presents Cat - tall, dark and alpha - and very very handsome - just ask Flora. Sid is also very glad that Flora does not have a role in Anne's books (yet). He likes the fact that Elmer, Montana, is his own very special place where he can go without being followed (and bounced on) by pestiferous floozies.
He gets about in Elmer, he has lived in various houses in that town, but when Flynn goes back to find Sara after he finally receives her letter, he finds not only Sara but his five year old son - and Sid who is now living in Sara's house.
Sid hasn't yet appeared in one of my books. Perhaps I'm too close to him to portray him properly. Or my characters live in countries he's not sure he wants to visit . He's not keen on the heat and prefers to stay in the shade in summer, so he wasn't too sure about being sent to Spain to appear in Spanish Billionaire. Innocent Wife. But he's sort of considering he might like to branch out a bit, travel further afield.
I told him that if he was to make his home with Santos then he might end up being called El Sid. He liked the sound of that.

And those minds thinking alike? Well, when I got up this morning with this post in my head, I checked out Anne's Blog - and guess who's guest starring over there as well - along with Santostian?
El Sid himself. But then of course Anne has very good taste in cats as well as heroes.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Inspiration - a crow swatter

Talk about the Crows of Doubt and it strikes such a chord with other writers! Thank you to everyone for the emails and the comments and the phone calls. Oh and special thanks to Liz Fielding for her lovely comments on Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife on her blog. When a writer you admire gives you a compliment like that it's the equivalent of being handed a machine gun to blast those crows. Thanks Liz!

Special thanks too to Anne McAllister for the very practical reminder of the need for lots of research and inspiration in writing. In the comments section yesterday she asked to see Santos -

Have we seen a pic of Santos? she said. Maybe we need a pic of him. I, for one, don't remember what he looks like. Hmmmmm?

And later in a phone call she repeated the demand. So I sent her my inspiration - a photo I've been keeping for a while.

Now Anne is a novelist who really likes to do her research. She works hard at it. She's even blogged about it once or twice. And once she'd met Santos she decided she needed to research him a little more.

So we spent an enjoyable - ahem - concentrated and deep and meaningful - time with me generously sharing my research and Anne studiously and conscientiously making notes in case this inspiration might be needed in her own work later.

So we checked out Santos the businessman - in very much the Presents style.

And there was Santos in more relaxed mode - but this is a man who's never really totally relaxed. His past has made him like that. He doesn't trust easily - in fact I'd say he doesn't trust.

And there's Santos the lover

And then - well - just because - there's . . . Santos.
Actually, that back makes me think of Anne's latest cover - the one for her fabulous One-Night Love Child. Although I know this guy wasn't the model for that book, he could have been.
It was a great research session. There's not much that's better than sharing important and meaningful research with a great friend who is also a writer and who understands totally the - esthetics - involved. And the need to get just the right image for each different mood.

And I came away re-inspired and with my writer's brain invigorated and my imagination dusted off - another great big machine gun to fire at those pesky crows.

So here I am, armed against the nasty black flying things, snug inside on a nasty cold snowy, icy day - ready to do battle with any crow that dares to venture near. And if they do start flapping I have a little extra inspiration to study so that I don't have to look at them

Research, it's a wonderful thing - and so are the fabulous friends I have in this writing life. Thank you all!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Shooting crows

My latest book is on the shelves in the bookshops, I have reprints of other books coming out later this year, another new one out in November. These new one are my 52nd and 53rd books. I know what I'm doing. Dammit, I've even writing two How To Write handbooks telling other people how to do this. And of course, as everyone tells me, once you're accepted it's all so simple and straightforward from then on.

And yes, when I look at the books on the shelves they all look so straightforward. You open them, the story starts - it goes through from A to Z - and the story works, the characters come alive, the conflict is there, the resolution, the happy ending . . . Simple, straighforward storytelling. I've done this before and I can do it again - I hope.

Because, as any writer will tell you, sometimes The Crows of Doubt descend and you wonder if your last book was really your last of if the Great Pretender Syndrome has finally shown itself and people are going to say 'Hey - you can't write at all! Why did we ever think you could?' Sometimes you think you know the characters, you know the story, but life is interfering or something is missing and you find that writing just s-l-o-w-s down and all that lovely inspiration, the stuff that fires you up and gets you going has got lost in the fog somewhere and suddenly the Crows are pecking at you hard, like bullies at school, going 'See - told you - you're not a writer . . . '

I have a wonderful book on my shelves. It's called Snoopy's Guide to The Writing Life and it's full of great cartoons featuring Snoopy 'Dogstoievski' the writer. One of my favourites has a picture of Snoopy sitting on top of his dog kennel, ready to start to write, fingers (paws) poised over the typewriter. The next picture is him still sitting there -

Sometimes, he says, when you are a great writer, the words come so fast you can hardly put them down on paper . . .'

Next picture, Snoopy is still poised, still waiting for inspiration . . .

Next - Snoopy looking totally despondent (or crow-pecked) . . .'Sometimes . . . '

Writing's like that. I'm not the only one who has to contend with the Crows. Julie Cohen wrote about the same problem on her blog this week, Trish Wylie has let us in on her struggles with a book from hell - or two - and many of my friends feel this way often - maybe even with every book. Not for nothing is writng a book often compared to giving birth - in the same way, you forget the hell you went through when you see the result.

And what do you do to handle it? Well, apart from bursting into tears, tearing your hair, declaring 'I'm finished, I'll never write again!' - here are some things I try - going away and leaving your desk totally for a while, walking and thinking work well together. Watching a good film - or even a not so good film - or having a soap-fest - seeing stories taking place in front of you - filling up the imagination banks.

Brainstorming - on paper or aloud - I sometimes sit the Babe Magnet down with a mug of coffee or a glass of wine depending on the time of day and the place and start telling him the story - planning on getting to asking him a quesion - but sometimes I don't get to that question because I've talked myself back into the story and I know the answer. But sometimes I have been known to sit in a cafe and say 'So - you married this girl a year ago and she ran out on you and now you discover that she's going to marry someone else . . . .' And then I realise that at several tables nearby, faces are turned my way, ears almost visibly cocked to hear what I'm going to say next. And they think what I'm talking about is real.

And one of the things that helps is reading my own work. I picked up Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife in paperback - because the hardback library editions dont seem like real romance books - the romance I read are the M&B paperbacks and so that's how I feel at ease with them. And reading through those pages I reminded myself that I was a writer, I remembered how I dealt with situtaions in that book, with those characters - and while I enjoyed the way the story flowed I also remembered how it didn't just flow in the writing - how I struggled with this bit here and I didn't know what was going to happen next there - and there's the bit where I swore I hated this book and it was never going to come right . . . Because most books have these sticky points. The ones that don't - the ones that flow from start to finish, are a dream to write and never cause any struggle are, as the saying goes, rare as hen's teeth.
All that blood sweat and tears don't show in the book. But it does remind me that I've been here before - and I'll probably be here again. And no, after 50+ books it doesn't get any easier. Because each book is different - or it should be. And that's the other thing about the Crows - one tiny bit of me welcomes them because they mean that I still care about what I'm writing. I'm not just going for the easy option - of which there are several. I'm not just going to manoeuvre my characters into actions that I want them to make because if they're sticking at this point it means that those aren't the actions that are right for them. I know that if they're sticking here it's because there's something I haven't quite got to the heart of. And I need to go back and take a look at these two more closely and find out what it is.

And after some time of cursing and swearing and tearing my hair, I think I might see light at the end of the tunnel.

So as the Magnet and I have to go into town to do some bits and pieces of jobs, I'm going to take him into our favourite coffee shop, buy him a large cappucino and say . . .'So if you wanted this girl but she . . . ' And with any luck I'll find I'll be able to answer my own question.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

And the winners are -

So Sid the Cat, Gunnar the Dog and - er - Liz the human . . . have done their jobs and picked the winners. (Actually I think Anne roped Flynn in to help Gunnar)

And the winners are:

Alison Bond Manchester UK
Jane Squires Missouri
Carol Woodruff New Jersey

Each of you will receive a copy of :

The Bride's Baby by Liz Fielding

One-Night Love Child by Anne McAllister

Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife by someone called Kate Walker

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who entered. Now that we've done this twice, I think that has made it very definitely a tradition so, hopefully - the Grooms will be back next year (yes - Anne and Liz?)

And those who didn't win - if you get your hands on Anne and Liz's books then you'll still be winners as you'll have some wonderful books to read.

More contests soon - watch this space.

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