Friday, January 30, 2009

Writing Courses Coming Up

I just heard from the organisers of the Fishguard Writers' and Artists' Workshop Weekend about the people in my group for the workshop I'm running there and sending me their submissions for me to read for the one-to-one sessions. So now I'm looking forward to that.
I've also had several enquiries about the workshops I'm runnng this year so I thought it might be a good idea to remind people who are interested in writing and learning more about it just what I have coming up while there is still time for you to join me if you'd like to.

At the moment here are just two writing workshops planned for 2009 - but the year is young yet so there might be more, you never know. And these two are both in wonderful settings with lots of concentrated time to study - and enjoy yourself.

First of all there is the

Fishguard Writers' and Artists' Workshop Weekend
20th February - 22nd February 2009

I will be teaching The Novel course on this residential weekend. This course will not specifically concentrate on writing Romance but on writing book length fiction. Of course plenty of what I have to say will relate to writing romance but it will also cover much wider ground than just that.

Details and booking forms can be found here.

This course consists of six one hour workshops spread throughout the weekend, starting after dinner on the Friday evening up and going through until lunchtime on the Sunday.

Each guest will be sent a special questionnaire to answer to find out what you want to gain from ther course and what you feel you need most help with.

Although this course is a general one on The Novel, if the majority of the group are interested in writing romance/romantic fiction I will be able to deal with that in more details.

This is a superb, small, friendly and intimate event you’ll love from the time you arrive in Fishguard until the day that you have to leave. You can bring your partners for a leisurely weekend where they can enjoy the unspoilt walks - or just relax and soak up the ambient atmosphere that Pembrokeshire instils in its guests.

There’s nothing extra to pay - the organisers will even collect you from Fishguard or Haverfordwest Railway stations and return you there at the close of the event on Sunday afternoon. They’ll provide a choice of single, double, or twin roomed, all en-suite accommodation (even taking the trouble to guarantee that you’ll have a room next to your friends), and excellent full board plus (vegetarian choices) hospitality for the duration of your stay. Fully inclusive, the only extra expense will be in the bar during the weekend, or if you wish to purchase a book or souvenir from the Bookroom.

Save £10!!

If you want to join the Fishguard Writing Weekend for this course then adding my name next to yours on the booking form ( will give you a £10 discount on the cost of the weekend.

Any poets amongst you - the Babe Magnet will be teaching the Poetry Course at this weekend too. But unfortunately you can't sign up for both courses so you get one of us only.

Then in summer - July 25-31, 2009 I'll be at:

Writers’ Holiday at Caerleon

Once again I’ll be going back to one of my favourite places and taking part in the Writers’ Holiday at Caerleon 2009.
This year is a very special year as it marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Caerleon Writers' Holidays by Anne and Gerry Hobbs who still host this - and the Fishguard event with their own inimitable warmth and generosity. I've always enjoyed every minute I've spent at Caerleon and this year promises to be no exception.

I will be teaching a five part course on The 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. This one will speciifcally concentrate on Writing Romance.

And at this event as you can choose two courses throughout the week, you can have a chance to sign up for

Writing the Past
A new course for those wanting to write creatively from the past - biography, historical non-fiction, and fiction. Covers research, writing techniques and writing for publication.

This course is run by none other than the Babe Magnet wearing his Historian and Crime Writer hat as opposed to the poetic one for Fishguard.
Further details and booking forms can be found here

Other than the course leaders, main speakers include :

Iris Gower
Jane Wenham-Jones
Lucy Mangan
Katie Fforde
Teresa Chris
Zoe Sharp

I do have one more appearence coming up - hopefully in June -though this will not be a writing workshop. It's something invoved with where I grew up and one of my great interests. So I'm really looking forward to that. More details when I get them

And I just booked to go to the RWA National Conference in Washington in July too. It's going to be a busy year again.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Harlequin

As you'll know, 2008 was a special year for Mills & Boon with special publications, celebrations ons, exhibitions throughout their centenary year. This year it's Harlequin's turn as the company marks their diamond anniversary! And they plan to celebrate in style with publishing initiatives and exciting events planned throughout the year.

There's a special site that gives details of all the celebrations that are coming up, the lines that will be in the spotlight in each month - and right now you can download your choice of 16 books - for free! That's a total value of $60. This site launches today and you can find more details here at Harlequin Celebrates

In February, the North American spotlight is on Harlequin Romance. There is a competition for readers to win a diamond necklace. Visit the website and take a look at for more details.

The Presents line has its turn in July and the latest continuity, the Royal House of Karedes, will be on sale in July both at home and abroad as part of Harlequin’s sparkling celebration. July of course is also the month for the Romance Writers Of America's National Conference so that event will be special for those of us attending.

Here in the UK, Mills & Boon is now launching its rugby-themed International Billionaires mini-series in Modern, developed in partnership with England’s Rugby Football Union. The RFU feels the link with romance is ‘a fantastic way to encourage more women and their families to get involved with the game.’ For us, it’s a wonderful opportunity to sample our editorial and M&B will be handing out 20,000 sample chapters at the England v Italy Six Nations game at Twickenham in February.

Watch out for more events and celebrations throughout the year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Here Come the Grooms - the result

I really should never go away. I enjoy the trip - I had a wonderful time in Dublin, and spending time with Abby Green is always fun - but by the time I get home and unpacked and the washing done and caught up with emails and phone calls, it seems as if I've been away for ages instead of just a few days.

Anyway, as I said, Dublin was fabulous. Freezing cold but sunny and we even managed a trip to the sea to walk along the shore at Bray. The Babe Magnet researched ghosts, we spotted copies of Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Dublin in the bookshops, and we relaxed over wonderful meals and bottles of wine and talked books and writing and life with Abby who is now in London helping to launch the new continuity that links romance and rugby.

The important thing I must do is announce the winners of the Here Come the Grooms Contest - I finally got Sid to stop sulking because I abandoned him and choose the winner for me.

So the result is:
Anne McAllister's winner (ie PJ's winner) is Karen from North Carolina

Liz Fielding's (Jago's) winner is Rachel from New Zealand
and my winner (Santos's winner) is Lynn from Florida

These three lucky readers each get a copy of the three books:

Antonides' Forbidden Wife by Anne McAllister
Wedded in a Whirlwind by Liz Fielding
and Cordero's Forced Bride by Kate Walker

I also ran a special Newsletter additional contest to mark the publication of Cordero's Forced Bride and the winners of that prize draw are:

Dina from Wisconsin

Ronda from Texas

Carol from New Jersey

Thank you to everyone who entered. I've been chatting with Anne and Liz and we are already planning the next Grooms' Contest - probably around this time next year. After all, you have to keep up a great tradition.

Oh - and many, many thanks to everyone who has already been out and bought a copy of the Presents edition of Cordero's Forced Bride. I've had an amazing week with it being on the eHarlequin Top Ten, the Top Ten ebooks and now on the Waldenbooks Top 10 too. Wonderful

Which reminds me - if you like to buy your Presents novels in ebook form, then Cordero's Forced Bride is still available at a special sale price of 25% off on eHarlequin now and Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife is offered with a 10% discount too in the Best of the Best ebook offer. And in the Winter Sale on the Mills & Boon Site, The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife is still on sale at just £0.99p. Don't miss out on these bargains while they are still available.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

'I have a dream. . . '

I'll admit that I'm pretty cynical about politics and politicians but yesterday I spent a lot of my afternoon glued to the television and the sights and sounds of the inauguration of President Barack Obama. (And in some ways I still can't quite believe I'm writing that.)

No matter where things go from here, yesterday was an important and an exciting day and one that I personally have hoped to see for many years. As someone who's old enough to have been around when the words were first spoken, I kept thinking of the words of Martin Luther King and they were ringing in my head as I watched yesterday's ceremony.

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but
by the content of their character.

It was wonderful to be able to see the pinnacle of that dream finally coming true.

Today is the final day for entries to the Here Come The Grooms Contest. It will close when January 21st ends wherever the last time zone is. I may be a little late in getting Sid to pick my winner as early tomorrow I'm heading for the airport and a trip to Dublin so that the Babe Magnet can research ghosts and crime and I can meet up with Abby Green and talk books.

I'll be back on Sunday and either then or Monday morning I will post the names of my winner and those whose entries on Anne's and Liz's sites have won the copies of the three books:

Wedded in A Whirlwind by Liz Fielding
Antonides' Forbidded Wife by Anne McAllister
Cordero's Forced Bride by Kate Walker

You still have time to get your last minute entries in - so what are you waiting for?

If you've missed the details or have onl;y just discovered this contest - here's what you need to know:

Here Come The Grooms

Groom #1 is Anne McAllister's hero, P J Antonides in her book Antonides' Forbidden Wife.

No one knew PJ Antonides had a wife! Sometimes PJ barely remembered it himself. He'd married Ally Maruyama in another lifetime on the other side of the world. He'd been doing her a favor then. They'd both moved on.Now Ally is back! And she says she wants a divorce. Suddenly PJ wants anything but . . .Ally isn't sure she trusts PJ or these new ideas of his. And heaven help her if she falls in love with him all over again!

Groom # 2 is Kate Walker's Santos Cordero in Cordero's Forced Bride.

Alexa Montague is mortified. She's had to call off her sister's wedding, and now the ruthless, arrogant groom, Santos Cordero, is demanding that shy, ugly duckling Alexa, takes her sister's place!

The Montagues have stolen his money and his convenient bride, so Santos will enjoy taking Alexa instead. For Santos does not - cannot - love. But his body burns for Alexa as it has for no other woman before. He'll keep her captive in his bed until she's begging to be his.

And finally Groom # 3 Nick Jago in Wedded in a Whirlwind.

Trapped in the dark, certain she's about to die, Miranda Grenville believes things can't get worse. She's wrong. She's trapped with Nick Jago...

Miranda is a survivor. Her rare beauty masks the scars of an emotionally deprived childhood and self-destructive youth; the protective barriers she’s built against hurt.

Desperate to escape a surfeit of “happy ever after” family events, be alone for a while, she grabs a flight to the remote island paradise of Cordillera where “alone” takes on a terrifying new meaning when an earthquake hits. Trapped deep underground in the total darkness of an ancient temple, her first encounter with an embittered Nick Jago is not promising but to escape they must co-operate and as they embark on a life-changing journey towards the light their protective layers are peeled away, every truth revealed. But once free will they go their separate ways or will that very special bond of trust lead to something more lasting?

Okay, you've had a taste of what's in store for three lucky winners of these three books. Now here's what you have to do.There are three questions and to win you have to answer all the questions and email your answers to Anne, to Liz and to me.

Each of us will pick a winner and that winner will get a copy of each of these three books.

Here are the questions:

1. PJ left New York after he graduated from high school. Where did he go?

2. Who was Santos supposed to be marrying?

3. What scent did Jago recognise?

You'll find the answers on our websites and you've got until January 21 to send in your answers.

Got it? You'll find "contact me" links on all our websites. Use those to email us -- all three of us with all three answers, don't forget.
And good luck!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Here Come the Grooms - Anne McAllister's Groom

This is turning into one of those days - not it a bad way, just a hectic sort of - 'I thought I knew exactly what I was doing today but things keep cropping up and I'm losing my grip on the reins' type of day.

So, I meant to have written this hours ago and got it posted all ready for you to read. . . and things started to intervene. Not that I'm complaining. There have been some interesting and rather exciting developments happening behind the scenes, one in particular that I'm really delighted about -. But nothing's finalised so I can't say anything yet. I will when I can - but for now I'll continue with what I had planned.

And what I had planned was to write about the book I've just been reading - and enjoying. And that's Anne McAllister's contribution to the Here Come The Grooms Contest, Antonides' Forbidden Wife.

Lovely book. I really enjoyed this one - an Anne McAllister classic. I'd say it was a keeper but then all of Anne's books are keepers for me. In much the same way that she's a keeper as a friend. But the best thing about this book is the important lessons that it has for would be writers.

Let me go back a couple of steps. I recently had an interesting conversation on a separate loop with some not yet published authors who were discussing the way of writing for Presents. And some of these writers had, as many of the would-be Modern/Presents writers I talk to have - strong opinions on what a Presents novel 'should be'. As many of you know, I read for the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writers' Scheme (have I got all those apostrophes in the right place? I hope so). Anyway, many of those writers too have the very definite opinions on what a Modern Romance writer should write. They tend to be fixated on the wham bang impact of the novels - and I do NOT just mean sex here - they look at title buzzwords like revenge and forced and blackmail and unwilling and focus on the flash and anger and explosions of some of the stories. And the sex.

But the whole point about a romance is that it is about the emotional journey. It's the story of two people finding each other - and finding themselves along the way. And the word in EMOTION. Not revenge. Not anger. Not sex. Not even passion - unless as a passion. One of many passions. The range of Modern Romance - of all romance - is (and in the cases where it's not, it definitely should be) bigger and wider than the 'angry' emotions and the melodramatic moments that sometimes seem to dominate the stories - they certainly seem to dominate the stories that I get to read and critique.

Melodrama isn't emotion. Passion - sexual passion - isn;t an emotion. It's what that creates that is the emotion. The things, the responses it triggers off inside the mind of the hero or heroine. An alpha hero - we've been here before - isn't a bad, cruel, hard wicked man who has to be 'redeemed' by the discovery of love. He is a strong, powerful, hard, man who is sometimes driven by circumstances, by mistakes, by events, to make the wrong judgements and maybe even be cruel as a result. But he is above all a man of honour. A man who is capable of love (even if, like Santos in Cordero's Forced Bride, he doesn't actually believe it himself). He just needs to learn the way to get past the obstacles that keep him from recognising/believing in/expressing the love that is already there in him.

On Michelle Styles' blog today, she makes an interesting point about putting emotion into a novel:

It is the old 10 percent rule -- the vast majority of readers will only get 10 % of the emotion you put in the book.

It's my experience that the emotions most readers do get are of the flashing lighting and banging thunder sort. Sometimes these drown out the softer, deeper, gentler - but infinitely powerful emotions that are what really make a romance what it should be - a love story and a relationship story. An EMOTIONAL story.

Which is where, to come back to the point of this posting, I would want to say to would-be writers - read Anne McAllister. Because it's in those emotions that Anne's writing excels. She creates wonderful strong, powerful, loving human beings in her heroes in particular. She doesn't write much - if at all - about revenge or blackmail or anger - but the emotions her heroes feel are strong and deep and very very masculine, very alpha, all the same. She creates honourable, strong (that word again) emoitonal men who are in conflict with themselves often as much as with their heropines. And the emoitonal reasons why they can't come right out and declare their love are as deep and important and powerful as any other more dramatic events.

Because very often the thing that keeps them quiet and hold them back is love itself.

Antonides' Forbidden Wife is a perfect example of this. You might start of wondering why on earth PJ ever let the past happen - but as the story goes on you begin to see exactly why he did. Exactly what his motives were. And you see that, just as conflict or strength sometimes shows itself in the quiet, deeper things rather than the storming thunder and lightning, so too love can show itself in a deep moment of silence, of giving that is stronger than passion.

I wish more of the would-be writers of Presents would study Anne McAllister's books and see the reasons why she's published in Presents and what her characters and stories add to the lione. A little more of that and little less clash and anger would add a great deal more emotion - and as the editor once said -

There are three things that sell - emotion, emotion, emotion.
Thanks for a great read Anne.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Here Come the Grooms


Santos here. That's Santos Cordero from Kate's book Cordero's Forced Bride.

Forced, hmm? Well, I might have to have words with Kate's editor about that. I didn't exactly have to use force. A certain determined persuasion perhaps - but not force. I've never forced a woman in my life. And I certainly didn't plan to start with mi belleza Alexa.

I have finally managed to get to this blog while Kate is immersed in another book about another groom - this time the one about PJ Antonides - Antonides' Forbidden Wife by Anne McAllister. It's certainly holding her gripped so I have a chance to talk to you.

And no matter what one Nick Jago will tell you, it was no mistake on my part that my chosen bride 'did a runner' on our wedding day. If the truth be told that was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I took one look at her sister and knew she was the woman for me. Which is more than Senor Jago can claim to have done because he spent his first night with his Miranda without ever seeing her face.

Though I believe that she really can claim that - as they say 'the earth moved' that night.

Ah well, it seems that poor Nick has got his just deserts. Checking his child's head for nits, indeed! Something of a comedown for an Indiana Jones type like him. The things we'll do for love.

PJ now, he's a very different sort of guy - or so Kate tells me. A man who has turned his life around, moved from beach bum to head of Antonides Marine. But then that life is turned upside down - in a different sort of way from Nick's, but with much the same sort of whirlwind effect - by the unexpected arrival of the wife he hasn't seen in five years. Yes, that would throw you - I can see that.
I'm not sure how I'd handle something like that - so I'm waiting for Kate to tell me how PJ does it. I really do not know how you put a woman like Ally Maruyama out of your mind, even if he did marry her in another part of the world from where he is now. And I'd find it even harder to deal with the reasons why she's turned up in his life all over again.

Of course if you want to find out what happened to both these other grooms then you're going to have to buy - and read - the books so you can find out the full stories. Or of course you can enter the contest and hope to win one of three signed copies of each book that are on offer.

To do that you have to answer all the three questions and email your answers to Anne, to Kate and Liz. All three of them if you want three chances to win.

Each of them will pick a winner and that winner will get a copy of Cordero's Forced Bride, Antonides' Forbidden Wife and Wedded in a Whirlwind.
Here are the questions:

1. PJ left New York after he graduated from high school. Where did he go? (That's the other side of the world bit - where he found his 'forbidden wife')

2. Who was I (Santos) supposed to be marrying?

3. What scent did Nick (I can make the earth move for you) Jago recognise?

You'll find the answers in excerpt on their websites -- you'll find "contact" links there -- and you've got until January 21 to send in your answers.

Buena serte!

Oh - and if you read my book you'll find that it's dedicated to Helen. That's the lovely lady in Kate's Offspring's life. Apparently when she read it she wept over one bit. She has a soft heart. Perdon Helen - didn't mean to make you cry.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Belated Happy Birthday

. . . . to Jean Macleod.

This year I'm celebrating 25 years as a published author. But that - as they say - is 'small potatoes' when compared with this wonderful lady

Jean Macleod is setting out on her 71st year of being published by Mills & Boon. And no that is not a typo. This lady had her very first book published in 1938 and now - at the age of 101 years young - she is looking at writing her 130th book.

Now there's something to aim for. If you want to read the whole article then you'll find it in the online version of the Daily Mail here

All I can say is Happy belated Birthday for Tuesday, Jean Macleod.
And here's to many many more.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reading a Whirlwind

Santos was supposed to be here today.

That's Santos Cordero the hero of Cordero's Forced Bride. He was supposed to be playing his part in the Here Come the Grooms Contest as the Groom in question in that book (the groom twice over in fact as the book starts with what is supposed to be his marriage to someone else). So he was supposed to be here telling you all about what happened and how he ended up not marrying that bride and being someone else's groom instead. He was looking forward to it too - but then he's been feeling pretty smug for the last week or so. Ever since he discovered that the ebook version of his story has been at #1 on the eHarlequin ebook bestseller list and the print book is in the Top 10 Bestsellers on ths site and as I write this they both still are.

So Santos was quite happy to come and tell you a bit about himself. He was even going to sort out Nick Jago - the Groom from Liz Fielding's book who has been taking the mick out of him and PJ (Anne McAllister's groom) over on Liz's blog.

But things change. And Santos is going to have to wait his turn. I thought he might be peeved by this, seeing as it's that Nick Jago I want to talk about. But that #1 slot has made him pretty happy - and being married to 'the right Montague daughter' has made him even happier. So he's let me have the blog today.

Things have changed because life happened last night - well, in the early hours of this morning. Yesterday I must have eaten something that - er - disagreed with me and, let's just say that the early hours of the morning were not pleasant and . . .well, I don't need to go into details. Suffice it to say that when the Magnet got up to leave for work, doing the same was the last thing I felt like and so I took a therapeutic rest - and stayed where I was with a book for company.

Now I have a confession to make. Liz Fielding sent me a copy of her Wedded in A Whirlwind back in November when the book actually came out. I wanted to read it then but life, book revisions, Christmas etc all got in the way. Then yesterday Anne McAllister were talking about the Here Come the Grooms Contest and I thought that I had better read Liz's (and N Jago's ) book so that I knew what I was talking about. So Liz's book was the one I picked up this morning.

And I don't think I could have picked up a better read to distract me from the miserable way I was feeling. I've read quite a few books recently - many of them romances - and I'll admit that some of them have been a disappointment to me. Not that they are bad books - just not books that didn't work for me at all. It's a problem with the job. Sometimes hard to lose yourself in a romance and not start editing it or critiquing it as you read.

No such problem with Liz's book. As soon as I read the first few pages, I was hooked and once 'Nick Jago slid onto a stool . . .' I didn't want to put the book down until I'd finished it. I read on and on . . .

If the Liz Fielding books you know (and probaly love) are her light and lovely, witty romances then this book will surprise you. But then if you've read The Bride's Baby or The Marriage Miracle you'll be aware of the wonderful talent she has for taking your heart in her words and twisting it till you hurt - but you wouldn't want it any other way. So don't let the lovely - but way too light-hearted and pretty image on the cover decive you. This is no soft-centre romance but a book that takes its hero and heroine on a heartfelt emotional journey that changes them for ever.

Trapped in the dark, certain she's about to die, Miranda Grenville believes things can't get worse. She's wrong. She's trapped with Nick Jago...

Miranda is a survivor. Her rare beauty masks the scars of an emotionally deprived childhood and self-destructive youth; the protective barriers she’s built against hurt.

Desperate to escape a surfeit of “happy ever after” family events, be alone for a while, she grabs a flight to the remote island paradise of Cordillera where “alone” takes on a terrifying new meaning when an earthquake hits.

Trapped deep underground in the total darkness of an ancient temple, her first encounter with an embittered Nick Jago is not promising but to escape they must co-operate and as they embark on a life-changing journey towards the light their protective layers are peeled away, every truth revealed. But once free will they go their separate ways or will that very special bond of trust lead to something more lasting?

I'll admit that when I knew that WIAW had Miranda Grenville as its heroine I was a bit concerned. Remembering her from Reunited: Marriage in A Million, I wondered just how Liz would take this spiky, at times difficult to like woman and turn her into a sympathetic, appealing heroine. I needn't have worried. Manda reveals her true vulnerable and lovable self to the reader just as she does to the wonderfully sexy archaeologist Nick Jago - Indiana Jones with deep wells of strength, understanding and vulnerability himself. And yet at the same time she keeps the very real parts of herself that make her essentially the woman we read about in the first book, but now understand why they are there.

One of my favourite romances was a book by Day Leclaire - unfortunately I can't recall the name of it now - that begins with the hero and heroine trapped in a lift when the elecrticity has failed and they can't even see each other. I was impressed by the way that the attraction, the start of the relationship developed so well in spipte of/because of the fact that they couldn't see each other. In Day's book this lasts for almost three chapters. Liz manages this feat for very nearly ten chapters. In many ways, the 'action' is almost non-existent - trapped underground, Manda and Nick try to find a way out of their captivity. But the emotional 'action' is huge, deeply involving and absorbing. As a reader I was hooked, caring about these two wounded characters, wanting to see them edge closer, learn more about each other, open up to each other, The mere hours covered by the first ten chapters or so cover the growth of an emotional lifetime. And as a writer I was full of admiration for the ability that made those hours pass in such a 'whirlwind' of emotion.

I have always been a fan of the way that Liz Fielding writes, but this book added a new depth to my admiration of her as a writer. I'm really proud to have my book offered as a prize in a joint contest with such a wonderful story as Wedded in A Whirlwind. I'm only sorry that I got to reading it so late instead of in November when it first came out so that I could encourage you all to go and buy it, read it - and enjoy it.

You still can of course. It's still available on or .com. On the Mills & Boon site or eharlequin as a print or an ebook. If you're one of the three lucky winners of the Here Come the Grooms Contest then you'll get your own signed copy of this great book. And if you don't, then put Wedded in A Whirlwind on your list for the next time you go book shoppping.

If this book doesn't end up on some award shortlists in 2009 then I'll be very very suprised.

So to have a chance to win enter the Here Come the Grooms contest now - details are on the Contest page of my web site.
Closing date is January 21st

Next I'm going to read Antonides' Forbidden Bride . . . Poor Santos may have to wait even longer for his chance to post!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Princess Flora

I had meant to come back before now and introduce you to some of the Grooms for the contest but family commitments and a set of proofs that have to be done hadve taken up my time and energies - so instead of a hero, for now, I'll just give you a heroine.

Most of the time Flora lives up to her nickname of The Floozie. Most of her days are spent jumping on Sid and Dylan, climbing trees, chewing ears, fingers and toes (mine or the Magnet's) knocking things off the table - if she would just return the ring she chased off the coffee table and into oblivion then I would be really happy.

But just occasionally she decides to live up to her pages long pedigree, remembers she is the daughter of Kassaro Barneymagrew and Rockingstones Louysyana. And that although she may only be a Princess Flooziebelle at the moment but she is destined to grow into a beautiful and mature Queen.

And then - just occasionally - she looks like this:

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Here Come The Grooms again

It's back!

The 3rd Annual Here Come The Grooms! Contest starts today January 7, 2009 and runs through till January 21, 2009.

What does this mean to you? Well - do you want three chances to win three great new books?

For the last three years Anne McAllister, Liz Fielding and I have had Grooms from our books come and take over our blogs -- not to mention our lives -- in January. It all began when we all had books out in February 2007, and they all had the word "Bride" in the title.We thought our brides would like to host a "Here Come The Brides" contest on our sites. And they did.

But they had so much fun that the grooms decided they'd get into the act, too. So they pretty much hijacked the month. They ran their own contest -- and their successors, the 2008 grooms, came back and did it again last year. Not to be outdone, this year's heroes - PJ Antonides (Anne's guy ) from Antonides' Forbidden Wife, Nick Jago (Liz's guy) from Bedded in a Whirlwind, and Santos Cordero the hero from from my Cordero's Forced Bride, have been lurking around waiting for their turn.

Their turn has come.

We'll be introducing you to each of them in the next few days. And I expect that if they're really folowing in the tradition that those original grooms started, they'll be along to blog once or twice too. In the meantime, you can find out how to enter and the questions you need to answer on the Contest page of my website. The other grooms' questions are there, too.

Just click on the tab there and answer the questions (look in the excerpts or on our blogs or web sites for the answers) and you will be entered in Santos' drawing which will be after the contest ends January 21.

Do the same thing on Liz's and Anne's websites and you have THREE chances to win.

And the prize? 3 signed copies of each of these great books are up for grabs. So three lucky readers will each win:

Antonides' Forbidden Wife by Anne McAllister
Wedded in a Whirlwind by Liz Fielding

Cordero's Forced Bride by Kate Walker

Or if you've already bought yourself a copy of one of these - because you're all readers of great taste so you might well have done - then the winner can take a pick from a selection of backlist books instead.

Send in your entries now! Good luck!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

For Jan Jones

By special request because my friend Jan Jones wanted to see the lunacy that resulted when Flora had her first encounter with catnip over Christmas - here are some photos of the event.

Unfortunately I can't show a video of this otherwise you would see both cats (yes- Sid included ) totally losing all sense of dignity or decorum. They sniffed, ate, rolled in the stuff with total abandon and occasionally Cat Wars broke out when one snaffled a little bit too much of the other's stash.

A video would show this so much better - but these still photos are close enough - and daft enough.

Jan - enjoy.

RNA Romance Prize

Romance Prize celebrates shorter fiction alongside the Romantic Novel Of The Year

The Romantic Novelists’ Association, who will announce the shortlist for the Romantic Novel of the Year award on 13th January, is also honouring writers of shorter romances such as those published by Harlequin Mills and Boon.

“Although both awards celebrate novels with a high romantic content,” explains Catherine Jones, Chairman of the RNA, “the Romance Prize honours the most memorable stories set around a single theme that concentrates on the developing love affair.”

The Romance Prize will be presented at the RNA’s Awards Lunch on 10th February 2009 at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington.

The winner will be selected from the following books:

What's Love Got to Do With It? - Lucy Broadbent (Little Black Dress, Headline)

The Wild Card - Beth Elliott (Robert Hale)

Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure - India Grey (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Sold to the Highest Bidder - Kate Hardy (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Saying Yes to the Millionaire - Fiona Harper (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Promoted to Wife and Mother - Jessica Hart (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Fiona Harper has been short-listed before, and both Jessica Hart and Kate Hardy are past winners. Kate Hardy, who won in 2008 with Breakfast at Giovanni’s, had this to say: "Winning the Romance Prize has been the highlight of my career to date, and it's certainly opened up opportunities. I'm very proud to have won the award and to be part of the RNA - and have been delighted by messages of support over the year. I even had a personal letter of congratulations from the chancellor of the University of Leicester!"

The shortlist will be judged by Margaret James, creative writing teacher for the London School of Journalism and regular columnist with Writing Magazine; Paul Reizin, writer, producer and journalist; and Linda Leatherbarrow, prize-winning short story writer, reviewer and MA lecturer at Middlesex.
Many congratulations to all the authors shortlisted

Monday, January 05, 2009

Blogging around

As well as my personal blog here, I have two other regular blogging spots around the internet.

One is with Tote Bags 'n' Blogs organised by the lovely Lee Hyat of Author Sound Relations. I will be blogging there on the first Sunday of every month. So that's where you'll find me on those days.

And of course I still have my role as the columnist for the Pink Heart Society. My dates each month for this will vary, depending on the topics I've been asked to write about. But I'll let you know when I'm over there instead of here. Today I'm writing in the Male on Monday slot where I'm writing about the man who inspired my second ever book published. And that was a good few years ago!

Just a reminder to those of you who are aiming to write for publication. The Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme opened again on January 1st and places are filling up fast. There are only 250 places available on this scheme and they are allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis - so if you want a chance to have your manuscript assessed by a professional, make sure you get your application in now! You can find more details here.

And just to add a great big thank you to everyone who has already bought a copy of my February book Cordero's Forced Bride from the eHarlequin site, keeping it at #2 on the ebooks bestseller list and on the overall site Bestsellers list all last week. Thank you!

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