Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricanes and Heat

Firstly - Hurricanes -

Everyone in the path of the brute that Gustav has turned into is in my thoughtd. I hope that the next few days pass off as peacefully as can be and with as little damage and destruction as possible. I have reader friends in New Orleans and you will be specially in my thoughts.

And Linda - if Gustav damages your second copy of the 12 Point Guide again - I will make sure you get a replacement!

Heat - sadly, not here. Today has had the sort of torrential rain that has me thinking of building an ark, just in case.

No - the Heat in question is the Modern Heat line of romances.

As you may know, over on the I heart Presents blog, HMB have announced a writing contest for aspiring authors aiming at the Modern Heat line.

Because the Modern Heat books are published as Harlequin Presents in America, there has been quite a lot of discussion about why a 'MH' book is not a Presents and what makes the differences.

Discussion has centred on the type of hero and heroine and the description that editors once gave MH as 'Presents younger sister'.

Personally, I've felt that the descriptions and explanations given haven't really hot the mark in pinpointing just where the difference lies.

The point isn’t an alpha hero both series have that. The MH hero may be younger and perhaps on his way up but he's still alpha.

It isn't in the heroines - I’m not happy at all with the idea that there is a ‘Presents Heroine’ in a way that seems to imply that the Presents Heroine is passive, weak even, and lets the hero take charge, not matter what. the truth is that, as in any form of fiction, every heroine in every book is who she is in her own unique way. Some are milder mannered – some may take on the hero in a more confrontational manner. Some are sassy, some are uptight, some are sexually confident, some are not – some are assertive to the point of aggression – some need to take things in a less confrontational way. That's what makes each story different.

No the difference is that , to coin a phrase – the Modern/Presents book has an 'alpha conflict'. A high octane, fiercely intense conflict. It has a situation in which both the hero and the heroine have so much to lose that they can’t totally focus on anything else. There is so much at stake – outside their relationship and in – that they are driven to intense emotions that are not normally part of every day life – they are in a time of crisis and as people in crisis react they react in extremes.

Irresistible charm and humour are not the exclusive attribute of a MH hero. It’s the situation that the H&h of a Presents novel are in – both of them – that sparks reactions that sometimes don’t give time for charm or humour from either of them. It all depends on the book, the heroine, the hero – but most important of all it depends on the conflict.

And that, for me is where the big difference between an Modern and a Modern Heat story lies. A Modern Heat hero, or a MH heroine could probably be a Modern/Presents hero given the sort of conflict that a Modern/Presents author would put them in ....

As the editors are always saying – it’s all in the execution.

The official rules for the Feel the Heat contest can be found here.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Quick reminders

Locked in the writing cave (can you get locked in a cave?) with a brooding Italian - no you can't mention the dreadline!

But I just thought I'd better remind you that August ends this weekend ( and that's why you definitely can't mention this dreadline!) and so . . .

If you want to get your hands (or your email) on a free copy of Spanish Billionaire Innocent Wife delivered by email then tomorrow is the last day it will be on offer from to download for free. When September dawns this offer closes - so if you want to take advantage of it, then grab it now.

Apparently, DailyLit is celebrating the delivery of its 250,000th read to one of their 125,855 dedicated readers. That's a lot of reading in this new way of getting books electronically.

And don't forget the Super September Contest that I'm running jointly with the fabulous Michelle Reid - details are on my contest page .

There are two great prizes of a signed copy of Bedded By The Greek Billionaire and The De Santis Marriage together with a copy of the By Request 3 in 1 volume Her Passionate Italian which contains my A Sicilian Husband and Michelle's The Passion Bargain.

You have until September 5th to enter this.

Finally, the change around from August to September means that the books I have on sale also change - so this weekend is probably your last chance to grab a copy of The Alcolar Family Trilogy in one volume (By Request) - though the trilogy will still be available in the ebook bundle form over on - or the special Centenary novella, The Duke's Secret Wife.

But as those are taken off the shelves, my new title will be added as it comes out next week - and that, of course, is Bedded By The Greek Billionaire.

So hopefully that wil be plenty to keep you happy reading while I go back into the cave with Ricardo and hope to get him to his personal happy ending before too long . . .
. . . .just don't mention the D word!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Notebooks and notes

I went into town yesterday. I had bills to pay, food to buy, parcels to post .

(Note to all winners of prizes in the Tote Bag Contest - your prizes went in the mail yesterday so I hope they reach you soon)

I also went into WHSmith in the precinct and was thrilled to see that they had no copies of The Alcolar Family and only one copy of The Duke's Secret Wife left on the shelves.

They also had a stationery sale. For me, a stationery sale is a worse temptation than the serpent in the garden of Eden.

I love notebooks. They always hold such infinite possibilities.

Just think of all the amazing words, the wonderful stories that can be written in those pristine pages. The memories and images recorded for posterity . . .

And some of them at 75% off. I was so, so tempted . . .

. . . errr - I don't need any notebooks I have notebooks. I have a practical ring file pad that sits beside my keyboard where I scribble notes to myself as I work so that I dont forget important ideas.

I have a handbag notebook for ideas that strike me when I'm out and about.

I have beautiful notebooks that my friends and family have given me. Notebooks so lovely that I don't dare to sully them with my scribbles. They paralyse me - but I love them.

So why do the really important notes - the ones that come in a flash of inspiration and mark points on which the plot of my book, the development of character, the intensity of emotion always end up on the tattiest piece of paper, along with yesterday's shopping list?

<- Like this.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Transition time

It's the last week in August. Summer seems to be coming to an end. Though here it suddenly seems to be starting up again as the temperatures climb a bit higher than before and the rain has eased off a bit.

Talking about the rain - a certain young Maine Coon does NOT like the weather and the other night when there was a severe thunderstorm and a torrential downpour was, as far as she was concerned, just too much! Her long fur is easily soaked and she came in from the garden looking like a drowned rat. Her loud complaints were clearly meant to tell us to turn that wet stuff off - right now!
Even the comfort of a nice big bowl of meat failed to appease her.
So she's been very happy to see some sun recently.

But the summer holidays are ending. Tomorrow the Offspring goes back to teaching, the schoolchildren will start walking past my window in the mornings and the new term will officially have started.

And when September starts I will have a new book - Bedded By The Greek Billionaire - out in the shops. Knowing the way some shops put the books out early, it might even be out this week.

And then in other places, The Alcolar Family will still be on sale for this last week.

Meanwhile I'm busy with a brooding Italian hero called Ricardo who is dealing with the fact that his errant wife has just reappeared in his life and he's none too happy about it. So, like the month and the weather I feel sort of in between different stages of my writing.

But the one I need to really concentrate on is Ricardo. So I'll be busy with him for a while. But I have the prizes for the Tote Bag Contest all packed up and they will be one their way to the lucky winners just as soon as I can get to the Post Office now that it's reopened after the Bank Holiday.

And if you didn't win a prize in that contest - I do have some news of another one that I'm running with a very special friend of mine to celebrate the fact that we both have books out in September.

Kate Walker and Michelle Reid's Super September Contest

As you may know, Michelle Reid is a great friend of mine and a favourite author too. It's not often that we have books on the shelves together but this September we do - in the UK at least.
Bedded By The Greek Billionaire and The De Santis Marriage will be published as Mills & Boon Modern Romances. The De Santis Marriage will also be published in Harlequin Presents, and Bedded By the Greek Billionaire will appear in Presents in November.

But we're giving you the chance to win a signed copy of each of these great books
in advance. There are two prizes of a signed copy of Bedded By The Greek Billionaire and The De Santis Marriage together with a copy of the By Request 3 in 1 volume Her Passionate Italian which contains my A Sicilian Husband and Michelle's The Passion Bargain.

What do you have to do?
Just answer this simple question:
What are the names of the hero and heroine in each of these September books?
Send the name of the hero and heroine of Bedded by The Greek Billionaire and The De Santis Marriage to me at the email link on my web site.

Please put the title Super September Contest in the subject line.

Closing date is September 5th after which I'll get Sid the Cat to pick out my winner.

You can enter this contest from both my site and from Michelle's site so that you will have two chances of winning this great prize.

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 Draws 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 one of the random draws. 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?

Oh yes - and a special message for Carol Townend (thanks again for contributing to the Tote Bag of Books, Carol) who wrote, in yesterday's comments section -

I am curious, does Sid get to eat the other crunchies, later on? (After all he did work very hard with his choosing)

Carol - the answer is a definite yes. The first few crunchies that Sid picks count as the winners for any contest but then he gets his reward for all his hard work by being free to eat as many of the crundhies as he can manage. This is why he's always very pleased when there are lots of entries for a contest.

So don't forget to get your entries in and make a hardworking cat very happy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tote Bag Contest - And the winners are . . .

Well Sid The Cat has been hard at work again choosing the winners of the Tote Bag Contest. There were a lot of entries so he had to take his time over it and was really picky about which crunchies he chose.

But the decisions have been made now and the winners are:


Lois M from New Jersey USA

Zoe J from Hertford UK


Alice L from Michigan USA
Joanne C From Hull UK
Fatima from New Zealand

The main winners win all these books in this year’s summer tote bag prize:
Run Amongst Thorns by Anna Louise Lucia
Falling for Mr Dark and Dangerous by Donna Alward
Bought For the Frenchman’s Pleasure by Abby Green
Outback Boss, City Bride by Jessica Hart
Stage by Stage by Jan Jones
The Novice Bride by Carol Townend
My Lady Innocent by Annie Burrows

And to add to this great selection and celebrate the publication of The Alcolar Family Trilogy, I’m adding a signed copy of the collected Alcolar stories to the bag.

The runners up each receive a signed copy of The Alcolar Family Trilogy.

Congratulations to the winners. And if you didn't win , don't forget that all these great books are still available on Amazon - .com or - the M&B site where they often have backlist books if you put in the author's name, - or where you can find most Harlequin titles either as print or ebooks.

And of course The Alcolar Family Trilogy is still on sale in UK shops in the By Request print edition, or as an ebook bundle on eHarlequin.
Oh yes- and if you didn't win - you'll have another chance at a prize very soon as I have another great contest coming up, this time sharing with a very special friend. I'll announce that this week or if you can't wait to find out then check out my Contest Page for details.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tote Bag Contest

Don't forget that today is the last day to enter the Tote Bag Full of Books Contest.

Tomorrow Sid will be picking the two winners of all those wonderful books!

So get your entries in before midnight today!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Looking ahead

It must be the start of new term effect or the fact that for years of my life September always meant new beginnings - new term, new school, new courses - and then when I went to university etc new places to live . . . But I always feel more like a new start around the beginning of September than I do at the turn of an old year into a new one.

Updating my web site (with the help of wonderful Heather from We Write Romance) has made me look forward at what's coming up for me. And as I know that some of you want to know about courses, workshops etc that I'll be running, I thought I'd let you know about some events that are on my calendar for the future.

First of all, there's Guildford Book Festival. This runs from 16 - 25th October.

I've been asked to take part in a panel discussing the appeal of romantic fiction together with the fabulous Katie Fforde and Matt Dunn - with Jane Wenham-Jones (who you will know about from my reports on Caerleon Writers' Holidays) acting as compere and asking the questions.
This event will be on 17 October at the Electric Theatre. Time: 7pm

I've also been asked to run a workshop based on the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance - the details have yet to be finalised, but I expect that the workshop will be on the 17th as well - and it will last for about 2 hours. As soon as I get more details, I will post them here - and on the Events page on my website.
A couple of other teaching events I have been booked for are coming up in 2009. The first of these is in February - Februrary 20th - 22nd to be precise.

And that's when I will be teaching on the Writers' and Artists' Workshop Weekend at Fishguard. As many of you know, I have taught in Fishguard before, at the Winter Novel Writers' Weekend but this is a slightly new departure for me. I will be teaching a course on The Novel, not just Romance and I'm really looking forward to the challenge.
And if anyone wants to learn more about writing poetry, then I should let you know that the Babe Magnet will be adopting his poet and Creative Writing Lecturer hat and joining me in Fishguard to run the Writing Poetry Workshop.

You can find more details about this weekend in February here. And as this weekend is run by the fabulous Anne and Gerry Hobbs who run the Caerleon Writers' Holidays then this will be a welcoming and fun event as well as a chance to learn more about writing.

And talking of Caerleon - although being in San Francisco this summer was wonderful, bit the Magnet and I were really sad that the dates for RWA and Caerleon clashed and in order to be in SF we had to miss being in Wales.
But we will be back at Caerleon in 2009 - and I'm already looking forward to it. The Writers' Holiday this time will be a really special one as it is their 25th event.

The Magnet and I will both be teaching a full course (that's 5 one-hour sessions ) at this Writers' Holiday - where I will be teaching Writing Romantic Fiction and The Babe Magnet will be running a brand new course called Writing the Past - this is a course for those wanting to write creatively from the past - biography, historical non-fiction, and fiction. It covers research, writing techniques and writing for publication.
(And if you should want to take both our courses, you can as we are teaching in different parts of the week so the teaching hours don't clash.)
You can find out more about Caerleon Writers' Holidays - and all the extras that they provide as well as the courses - on the web site here.
So these are the teaching events I have coming up in the future - so far. If anything else crops up, I'll let you know. And you can always find these and any further details you need on the Events page on my web site where I'll post anything and everything I'm doing as I get to know about it
And maybe I'll see you at one of these events - if so, please do come and say hello.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book round-up

The postman is starting to give me those looks again. The ones that mean he's having to carry parcels of books to our door again - and again and again.

Some weeks can go by without packages of books - new publications, foreign editions - arriving. Other times they seem to arrive in quick succession, sometimes more than one a day. And this has been one of those weeks.

So far I've had Italian and Portugese editions of The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge, a Greek translation of Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride, The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife in German and one of those wonderful books - a Japanese reprint of a 'classic'. This time it's the 2001 book His Miracle Baby - though you'd never have guessed that from the cover.

And then today I've received the Indian edition of my next title - Bedded By the Greek Billionaire. I found the change in the cover image of this book intriguing as they obviously felt they needed to change if from the original (on left) to this one ->

And this is just my contribution to the postman's bag. The Babe Magnet has had his own set of newly-published books arriving day by day - starting with Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Dublin.

Which was followed by Heroes Villains and Victims of Bradford.
He's been doing signings for this last one andwhen I went with him I've been thrilled to discover that there haven't been any copies of this month's By Request release The Alcolar Family Trilogy in the shops in various parts of the country - that made me smile.
Another 'grim and gruesome' book arrived yesterday too - Hanged at York. I think that's it for a while for him I'm sure the postman hopes so.
Oh yes - and one thing I must mention before time runs out - don't forget that up until the last week in August you can still get hold of a free copy of Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife in an email version that you can download from the Daily Lit site.
This special offer runs for the rest of this month and after that I assume the book will go back on sale again.
I'll bet the postman would love to think that all my books could be delivered by email!
And on the subject of books, Anne McAllister is talking about reading for enjoyment as opposed to reading Worthy Books - that's over on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs. I agree with her completely - though right now I just wish I had some spare time to read. Instead with a dreadline looming way to close, I have to concentrate on writing instead.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tote Bag Full of Books 4

Important announcement on the closing date for the Tote Bag of Books . . .

Because of the delay in announcing this contest while I was in San Francisco, the closing date has been extended (yes, Dina - you read it right!) and the contest will now end not on August 18th (ie today) on August 23rd.

So you still have time to get your entries in.

Today I need to tell you about the final two books included in the Tote Bag full of Books this summer.

The first title is one that arrived a little too late to be included in the main photograph that illustrates these posts, but it's definitely going in the prize when I send it out.

This is another great Historical romance and it's written by one of the newer authors in Historical Romance - Annie Burrows. Annie's book is My Lady Innocent

Innocent bride or treacherous temptress?

As the nobility jostles for the new King's favour, Maddy is all alone. Landless and friendless, she is now beginning to suspect that someone wants her dead . . .So she accepts a bridegroom she has never met, intending to find peace at home.

But peace is in short supply when Maddy marries Sir Geraint, a powerful protector and a passionate man. Fiercely loyal to the King, Geraint cannot trust his Yorkist bride - but neither can he resist her innocent temptation.

Annie's next book Captain Fawley's Innocent Bride is out in paperback in UK in December, and then there is a novella in a Christmas anthology in the States in November. One Candlelit Christmas. Annie's contribution is called The Rake's Secret Son. And the 3 authors involved in the anthology will be running a competiton on their websites, to win all sorts of Christmas goodies, and that will run from October 1st - so look out for that. Check out Annie's website for more details. You can also see the great covers of her upcoming books on there.

And the final book in the tote bag this time is of course my own contribution - the 3 in 1 By Request edition of The Alcolar Family Trilogy.

This one volume book contains

The Twelve-Month Mistress
Made to be his mistress...
Joaquin Alcolar has a rule—never to keep a mistress for more than twelve months. Cassie knows that her time is nearly up, and to save her pride—and her heart—she decides to jump before she’s pushed.
However, when an accident leaves Joaquin with amnesia, he cannot recall Cassie ending their relationship. And, on doctor’s orders, Cassie can’t tell him the truth.
So is she back where she started—in Joaquin’s bed—until her recovers his memory . . . and the clock starts ticking once more . . ?

The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife
The convenient solution is to marry her!
Ramon Dario desperately wants the Medrano company. But the deal has a shocking condition - marriage to the notorious Estrella Medrano. Ramon won't be forced into anything, least of all into wedding a scarlet woman!
But Estrella is not what he imagined. Ramon can't get her gorgeous body out of his mind. He even starts to believe she may not deserve her reputation.
A marriage of convenience - and desire - might be a good deal after all...

Bound By Blackmail
He'll make her his mistress for revenge...
Jake Taverner has never wanted a woman as much as he wants Mercedes Alcolar. So when she rejects him in the most painful way, Jake's hurt pride demands the most pleasurable revenge...
...his mistress for a month!
Jake traps Mercedes into a fake engagement as he embarks on his skillful seduction. She'll share his bed for one passionate month. But though he can bind her by blackmail...can he keep her?

And don't forget that there are two signed copies of The Alcolar Family on offer as runners-up prizes too.

So that's all the books - get your entries in by the end of the week and you could be in with a chance of winning this wonderful Tote Bag of books.

Details can be found on the Contest Page of my web site - and if you go there you'll also now find the details of my new Super September Contest that I'm running with my great friend Michelle Reid. I'll tell you more about that later.

Good luck!

Oh - and as a PS - in my role as PHS Columnist, today I'm also posting over on their blog when, writing about a very special Male on Monday, I'm letting you in on just what the Babe Magnet got up to in San Francisco.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tote Bag Full of Books 3

August 14th must be a good birthdate for romance writers because yesterday I missed mentioning my lovely friend Donna Alward whose birthday was also on the 14th.

But as today is the day that I'm featuring her book in the Tote Bag Contest, I hope she won't mind my belated- but heartfelt - Happy Birthday wishes. And I want to add some very special Congratulations to Donna for winning this year's Booksellers' Best Contest in the Traditional Category with her novel Hired by the Cowboy.
But the book that Donna has put into the Tote Bag this time is her very latest release Falling for Mr Dark and Dangerous. (She also put in a signed personal copy for me - thank you Donna! I can't wait to read it.)

A handsome stranger on her doorstep...

Tidy. Sensible. Safe. That's how Maggie Taylor wants things.
Until she opens the door of her tiny Mountain Haven Hotel to a tall, dark, and very dangerous stranger.
Nate Griffith offers a world of pleasure in his strong arms. But the lawman isn't looking for a peaceful retreat - he has a job to do.
It scares Maggie that Nate puts himself in the line of fire every day, and so she tries her hardest to resist him. But even a heart as closed off as Maggie's can't stay immune for long...

Falling for Mr Dark and Dangerous is out now in the UK and America.

Donna's next book is The Rancher's Runaway Princess which will be published in January 2009

The other title I'll tell you about today is one of two great historical novels there are in the Tote Bag this time. And this is another of the books I managed to cajole out of authors who were at the RNA Conference with me this year. Jan Jones was persuaded to part with a couple of copies of Stage by Stage and on the same afternoon I persuaded Carol Townend to hand over a couple of signed copies of The Novice Bride. (I love the cover on this one.)

Innocent bride, conquering husband.

As she is a novice, Lady Cecily of Fulford's knowledge of men is non-existent. But when tragic news bids her home immediately, her only means of escape from the convent is to brazenly offer herself to the enemy . . . as a bride!

With her fate now in the hands of her husband, Sir Adam Wymark, she battles to protect her family. Suspicion and betrayal are rife, yet their convenient marriage offers Cecily much more than comfort in her knight's arms. . .

Wessex weddings - Normans and Saxons, conflict and desire!

Carol's next book out is An Honourable Rogue, out in UK and America in September 2008

Don't forget you can find the details of how to win this fantastic collection of books in a Kate Walker tote bag by answering the simple questions in the Alcolar Family Contest on the Contest Page on my web site.

And as the attempt to set blogger to post while I was in SF didn't work and everyone lost a few days, I'm extending the contest time setting the closing date a bit later.

So you now have until
September 23rd to enter this great contest and win 8 wonderful books!

Don't forget I will post the prize to anywhere in the world (I must be mad - but I will) Good luck!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tote Bag Full of Books Contest 2

Before I start today I have to wish a Happy Birthday to another fabulous Harlequin Presents novelist. Today is the birthday of the brilliant Robyn Donald. I was lucky enough to meet Robyn and her lovely husband when I was at the Romance Writers of New Zealand Conference four years ago, And I know that Robyn is at the Conference right now. How I wish I could be there with her.

Happy Birthday Robyn!

Now I have two more books that are part of the prize in the Tote Bag Full of books to tell you about.

First is the debut novel from a very special friend of mine - someone who laughingly calls me her Cyber Mum. I first met Anna Louise Lucia through the message boards at Then we met in person at an RNA conference and we've been friends ever since. I was lucky enough to be sent one of Anna's submissions for the RNAs New Writers' Scheme and as soon as I read her unique, distinctive voice I knew that one day she would be published.

I was right and this year I've been able to celebrate as Anna's very first novel Run Among Thorns (Medallion Press) was published. In June, on the book's official launch day, Anna sent me a personal copy of this book (thank you Anna) and I was hooked - it was one of those 'I know it's late but I don't want to put this book down' times. And I hope that you'll enjoy this story just as much as I did.

A man does not run among thorns for no reason. Either he is chasing a snake, or a snake is chasing him.

How can you trust your heart, when it calls your enemy, “lover”?
In a crisis moment of her life, Jenny Waring did something exceptional.
Now the authorities want to know how and why she killed three armed men.
Kier McAllister’s job is to break Jenny Waring. He’s asking a lot of questions, and he isn’t asking nicely. But it’s his job to find out why she could take out the bad guys like a seasoned agent.
McAllister’s thinks he’s in control. The balance of power is shifting, however. It isn’t his job to care about how he achieves his goal. Yet Jenny’s accusing eyes are starting to hold for him, and that isn’t good at all. Not when the people he works for aren’t about to leave her alone.

She started out being his job. Will she wind up being his redemption?

Anna's next book, Dangerous Lies also from Medallion Press is out in June 2009

The second book I have to tell you about today is written by Jessica Hart who, like me last year, is currently celebrating her 50th title being published and she's running a special celebration 50 Heroes, 50 heroines, 50 Happy Endings over on her web site. (I'll be guest blogging over there in September). I was also able to there at the Harlequin party in San Francisco when jessica was presented with her gold Harlequin pin to celebrate this special milestone title. Many Congratulations Jessica.

Jessica is also the winner of a RITA - in 2005 her novel Christmas Eve Marriage won this prestigious award for Best Traditional Romance.

The book that Jessica has donated to the Tote Bag of Books is Outback Boss, City Bride and it's part of the Bridegroom Boss duet.

Meredith and Lucy are two sisters as different from each other as they could be. Meredith is sensible and dependable, and doesn’t take risks. Lucy is fun and craves adventure and romance. Throughout their lives they’ve stuck to their family roles – and to each other. Meredith is perfectly happy with her life in London until fate takes her to the Australian outback in search of Lucy. It’s the last place she’s ever wanted to go, and she’s horrified by the conditions until Hal Granger makes her realise that it’s the only place she wants to stay!

Jessica's next book is Last Minute Proposal which is out in October

So there are two more great books that you can win as part of this fabulous Tote Bag collection.

And don’t forget there will be two signed copies of The Alcolar Family Trilogy as runners’ up prizes.

So what do you have to do?

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning this great prize is to answer these simple questions —

1. What are the titles of the books in the Alcolar Family collection? (Remember that although the By Request Collection is the Alcolar Family Trilogy, there are in fact four stories in the whole of the collection.)


2. What are the names of the hero and heroine in each of the four books you have listed?
Put your answers in an email and send them to me below.

Make sure you put Alcolar Family Contest in the subject line on the email.
Closing date is August 18th when Sid the Cat will be given the task of choosing the winners as usual.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Celebrating friends

I'll be continuing to talk about the books I'm giving away as a prize in the Tote Bag Full of Books Contest soon but today I want to post about a special day for a special friend.

One of the great things that my career as a romance writer has brought me - apart from all those books on my shelves and money in the bank, has been the unexpected and very welcome gift of some very special friends.

Friends who think along the same lines as I do (does this mean that they are crazy too?). Friends who 'get' romance in the way that I do. Friends whose books I love to read. And, bless them, friends who like to read my books too.

More often than not, I have found these friends because I have read their books, enjoyed them and thought that I would love to meet the woman who wrote those stories. This is how it has been with two very special friends in my life.

Back in 1997 I read a book called Finn's Twins and I loved it. I loved the hero, New York photographer Finn MacCauley. I loved the heroine Izzy. I loved the author's voice, the sometimes dryly humourous tone. It had an emotional intensity but one that didn't come from anger and revenge but a believable situation between believable people. Since then I've read almost everything else that author has written (the book was a RITA finalist, so obviously I'm not alone in my admiration of it) - and I wanted to meet the woman who had written that book.

A few years later I achieved that ambition when,as a result of an on-line discussion about visiting castles in England (something that never came off but I'm so glad that she asked) I invited her to come and visit when she was in this country. She did and Anne McAllister has been in my life ever since.

One of the real highlights of being in San Francisco for the RWA Conference was that I could also meet up with Anne again. Or rather that we could meet up I should say because as you'll know the Magnet and Anne's husband the Prof get on so well together that they start talking as soon as they meet, never stopping until they finally have to say goodbye as one or other couple heads reluctantly for a plane or a train.

We don't meet often - I doubt if we've spent more than a couple of months in each others company in all the time we've known each other. But it doesn't matter. We just pick up things where we left off. And we leave them off in so many different places. This last time we were trying to remember just how many cities or towns we've shared in the course of our friendship - it's quite a roll call. It goes from Doncaster to Denver and Dublin, Sydney to San Francisco, and so many points in between. Like the Magnet and the Prof we've never run out of conversation topics and I always look forward to the next meeting.

And of course there is the special Feline Friendship that Anne shares with The Cat himself. Sidney the Cat of Superior Breeding always has a specially warm welcome for his Lady from Across the Pond when she comes to visit. He even sends her emails and she was the receipient of his special Sid Calendar (taken from the pictures I posted on here last year) at Chrismas. She is coming over the pond again in September and Sid is already checking out the bed. He will, if she's good (the she in this case being Flora the Maine Coon) introduce the newest kit on the block to TLATP but only if she realises that he has first call on all the head rubs because Anne knows just the best way to rub a furry head, right behind the ears. The Hecks will also, hopefully make an appearance because it was after all Anne who named them on another visit a couple of years back.

I'm thinking of Anne specially because today is her birthday and I want to celebrate that special occasion as well as celebrating our special friendship that is such an important part of my life. So why don't you go on over to her blog and give her your best wishes for today?

So Happy Happy Birthday Anne

I hope you have a wonderful day. Sir Sidney sends his best purrs and head butts. and he's so looking forward to seeing you again. We all are. And Flora can't wait to meet you.

And while I'm on the subject of special writing friendships, as regular blog readers will know, another really great friend of mine and a writer I also really admire is another Modern/Presents author, Michelle Reid.

It's not often that we have books on the shelves together but this September we do - in the UK at least.

Bedded By The Greek Billionaire and The De Santis Marriage will be published as Mills & Boon Modern Romances next month. And so Michelle and I have got together with a joint Super September contest so that you can win signed copies of each of these great books - together with the July By Request Collection Her Passionate Italian that contains my A Sicilian Husband and Michelle's The Passion Bargain.
We still finalising things but the full details of the contest and how to enter will be going up on our web sites very soon. So look out for that. On my site you'll find the details on my Contest page which is where you will also find how you can enter my other contest and put yourself in the running to win a Tote Bag Stuffed with Books too.

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