Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Congratulations to Anne and her family

I forgot to mention this earlier in the year so I'm going to make this a double special announcement.

My dear friend Anne McAllister has been busy adding to her family this year. Not personally, but she has acquired two wonderful new grandsons in a very short space of time.

Henry (aka 'Big Hank' ) was born on April 20th and yesterday Solomon (Sol) the newest member of the family arrived rather earlier than expected. I was delighted to hear the news and to know that he was here safely, even if to my personal disappointment , his appearence in the world means that I won't get a chance to meet up with Anne at RWA National Conference in Washington.

So welcome to the world Henry and Sol - how wonderful for you to have a cousin born so close to grow up alongside in the future. You have a fabulous Grandmother to get to know too.

Congratulations to the Mum and Dad of each lovely little boy - I wish you great joy and fun watching your new sons grow up.

And to Anne and The Prof - have a wonderful time getting to know your new grandsons. I wish you many years of happiness and love with them and the rest of the crew.

And if you want to see photos of the newest arrivals (together with Ellie, one who was made earlier!) there are some great ones over on Anne's blog.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Awards and Community

The New Media Age Effectiveness Awards were announced on Saturday night at a glittering ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. Amongst the winners was romance publishing giant Harlequin Mills & Boon, who won the Retail category award for its newly redesigned website - http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/

'This is fantastic news,' says Tim Cooper, director of direct and digital marketing at Mills & Boon, and the brains behind the company's new digital initiatives. 'The new Mills & Boon website is a showcase for our new eBooks, and also offers an online community for romance fans.'

Since the launch of the new website earlier in the year, Mills & Boon has reported an exponential growth in monthly eBook sales and is leading the publishing industry in terms of online sales.'We are in an increasingly instant and on-demand world.

The new Mills & Boon website and eBook offering is our way of responding to the changing face of publishing and taking the lead - and we are receiving a fantastic repsonse from readers as a result.'

Do you visit the M&B site? And do you buy your books from there - or from the shops?

Are you buying lots of ebooks or sticking to the traditional paper and print versions?

And have you joined the M&B (or eHarlequin) Community yet? If so, what do you think? If not come along and join us.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coming soon . . .

I spent some time yesterday planning ahead for July. And I really need to plan this month.

As many of you know, July 15 - 18th is when the RWA national conference takes place in Washington DC. So on Tuesday 14th July I'll be flying out to Washington ready for that. Can't wait to meet all my old friends again and maybe make some new ones.

I get back on the 21st and then I have just five days to unpack, wash my clothes, repack and head for Wales and the wonderful Writers' Holiday where I'm teaching the course on writing romance. I'll be back from there on July 31st.

So I'm going to be away for a lot of July - but don;t worry - I have left you all in very good hands. There will be a lot of guest bloggers, lots to keep you ocupied and best of all . . .

The annual Tote Bag Full of Books Contest.

And this year - have I got a contest for you! It's really special, linked to the fact that this year Harlequin is celebrating its 60th year - and connected to the very special Spotlight for July.

And I'll be posting more details about that very soon . . .So watch this space.
For now - here's the tote bag, ready to be filled with books - and just wait till you see the collection of books I'm filling it with this year . . . .

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Photographing Sid

So the photographer from The Journal came yesterday and we were ready for him - just!

I had needed to do a mad dash round tidying the room, dressing in something presentable (Yes, we all know that real writers spend their days in well work jeans and tee shirts but this was for The Journal - and I had to do Sid proud). I even put on some make-up. At the last minute.

No idea what my photos will look like - I can only cross my fingers and hope - but Sid was a star. Of course.

He was a little shy at first - as he came to us as a stray and had obviously been badly treated wherever he lived before (if I ever got my hands on the oik who peppered his tummy with airgun pellets . . . .) - he's a little shy with men he doesn't know. But Paul the photographer soon got to know him. A few head rubs, and an assurance that he (Sid) looked very handsome (which of course he already knew) and soon he was sitting on my lap (Sid not the photographer!) and posing with his best profile towards the camera.

The trouble was that after that he got the media star bug - and wanted to be in on all the photographs. So the picture of me working on the computer and looking at the screen, was one of me sitting at my desk with my hands on the keyboard - and looking into Sid's face. (well, actually at first I was looking into a very different part of Sid - but we'll draw a veil over that.) And the photo of me with a pile of books in front of me was me with a pile of books - with Sid sitting on the pile of books. And the pictures of my very first published book (The Chalk Line 1984) and my next one out (Kept for her Baby) was a picture of those books buried somewhere under Sid 's imposing bulk.

And then there was the wonderful photograph of A Cat Of Superior Breeding staring right into the camera . . . close up.

Sir Sidney St John Willoughby Portly-Lummox, the Media star . . .

. . . well, he has been practising his poses on this blog for a couple of years ready for his moment in the spotlight.

He was tired out after all the activity though and had to rest for the remainder of the day.

Oh, and Jan and Lacey - he thanks you both for your
comments and says 'Of course!'. He sends his best purrs and waves an elegant tail to Merlin and Archer too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm excited - and so is Sid

It's been a busy week (are there any other sorts?) and it's been extra wearing as it's been so warm here but I think I'm finally catching up with things. I've crossed a few bits and pieces off my To Do lists anyway.

First of all, if anyone who came to my talk in Derby Library on Wednesday (was it really nearly a week ago?) is reading this, I just want to say Hello again and thanks for joining me then. And a special thanks too to Marie and Kirsty and all the other members of staff who helped make the evening so relaxed and provided the refreshments. I had a great time and from the feedback it seems that everyone else did too. Thank you.

So what's my exciting news?

Well, for ages now - ever since the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance was first published, I have hoped that one day I would be able to tell my American readers and would-be writers that they could buy the book direct in USA. I know that it's been available on Amazon.com, but not everyone likes to buy on-line, and some of you have had difficulty getting hold of it 'over the pond'.

The good news is that I heard today from the publisher that the first copies of an American edition, printed and published in Chicago, are being printed this week - as I write this in fact - and that means that you can easily order the book from any book shop and hopefully get a copy very quickly. That's the idea anyway.

So if you're wanting to track down a copy here are the details you will need:

ISBN: 978-1842851319
Price : $27.50
printed and published in Chicago by:

Studymates Publishing

Chicago Distribution Center

11030 S. Langley Ave.

Chicago, IL 60628

Phone: 773-702-7000

Fax 773-702-7212

This news means that there is also the hope that the book will now be on sale at the RWA Conference in Washington - if it isn't, it won't be for want of trying! So if you'll be at the conference please come and say Hi and if I can get the 12 Point Guide to be on sale there, I will.

Finally - why is Sid so excited? Well a couple of weeks ago I did an interview for a Lincolnshire Magazine called The Journal and tomorrow the photographer is coming to take the pictures to go with the article . (That's coming out in August to mark the publication of my next release Kept For Her Baby) When the photographer rang today to discuss times etc, he said that The Journal's editor has specifically asked for one photgraph of me with Sid, because he gets so much fan mail!

As the magazine is advertised as being 'For Lincolnshire homes of distinction' Sid, being A Cat of Superior Breeding, thinks this is totally appropriate.

I'll hope to get a copy of the photograph to show you but in the meantime here he is practising posing.
A certain Floozie Fora has had her pretty little nose put right out of joint.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

September - not August

Ok so Amazon got their facts wrong and as a result, so did I.

On Amazon.co.uk , they listed the upcoming publication date of my next book as August 21 and so that's the date I put on here and on my books page. As you 'll remember the way that the M&B Modern Romances are published is changing, with a new two week schedule coming up. Six of the books will be published on the first Friday of every month, and six more on the third Friday of each month.

So now, as well as knowing which month to look for a favourite author's books, readers need to be aware of the place in the schedule - first or third week - that that book appears. I'll always make sure that I give you the actual publication date just as soon as I know it. Or, rather, when I know I've got the right one.

Because Amazon was wrong when they listed August 21st as the publication date for Kept For Her Baby. The book is actually published on the first week in September date - ie September 4th. It was a good thing that I checked with my editor who confirmed this - and now apparently Amazon have changed the dates - they had everyone else's for that month on the wrong schedule too.

Oh well, I suppose it was to be expected that there would be a few teething problems with the new scheduling and everyone (authors included) will get used to it eventually

It's the same for American readers, though you've had the two week schedule - in a slightly different form - for a while now. There's the first week of publication when 8 books are published (2 of them UK Modern Heat titles) and then two weeks later there are the 4 extra books - Presents Extra, grouped in a themed collected. And that's where my American readers will find their copies of Kept For Her Baby - in the Presents Extra collection for October.

Clear as mud? Oh well I'll let you know when it's published - and as soon as I have the Presents cover I'll post it here too so you know what you're looking for.

One other thing - as I know a lot of writers aiming at publication with HM&B visit this blog - you should all be heading over to the I Heart Presents blog where there's an exciting announcement about the Harlequin Writing Competition 2009 that is just being launched.

And to go along with it there will be hints and advice from the editors to help you write your very best entry.

As you may remember last year Lynn Raye Harris won this contest and as a result her very first book Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge is coming in August. And Lynn is just one of the many fabulous authors who have given me prizes for my very special (and totally amazing) annual Tote Bag Full Of Books Contest which is coming up soon. This year's prizes really are fantastic. I'll tell you more about that soon - so watch this space!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sad News

I have just had a phone call from Michelle Reid giving me the sad news that one of Mills & Boons' long serving and popular Modern/Presents novelists - Diana Hamilton - died in May.

When I first started writing seriously for Mills & Boon I always looked out for a Diana Hamilton title. And I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of times at Author days and other events. She was a tiny woman with an infectious, live-wire personality. With typical professionalism she turned in her last book just a couple of months before she died.

She will be missed by her fellow authors and by her readers too.

Here is a bit more about Diana - taken from Fantastic Fiction

Diana Hamilton was born in a English town. Wanting to be a country child, her imagination came into play at an early age, transforming a neighbour's tree into a forest, a hole in a stone wall into a gingerbread house, a gas puddle into a fairyland, complete with mountains, lakes, and flower meadows. She loathed housework but made to do her share, to lessen the boredom, she told herself stories, in a very loud voice, featuring princesses and flower gardens, discovering that telling herself stories was almost as good as reading them in a book. She loathed school with an equal passion and got through it by pretending to be somewhere else. Even so she left grammar school with respectable grades.... And was sent to art college when she wanted to study to be a vet. This was nowhere as bad as it had seemed because it was there, at age 18, she first saw Peter.

He had returned from two years' active service in Korea to resume his studies, and Diana immediately fell in love with him. Gaining a degree in Advertising Copywriting, Diana worked as a copywriter and married Peter. They moved to a remote part of Wales after the birth of their second child, Paul, when their daughter, Rebecca, was three years old. There, Diana enjoyed pony trekking and walking in the mountains; and her third child, Andrew, was born. Itchy feet brought them back to England to the beautiful county of Shropshire four years later and they have been there ever since, gradually restoring the rambling Elizabethan manor that Diana gave her heart to on sight, creating a garden out of a wilderness of nettles, brambles, and old bedsteads.

In the mid-70s Diana took up her pen again to write stories to read to her three children at bedtime. These were never offered for publication but the bug had bitten. Over the next 10 years she combined writing over 30 novels, published by Robert Hale of London, with bringing up her children, gardening, and cooking for the restaurant of a local inn -- a wonderful excuse to avoid the dreaded housework! In 1987 Diana realised her dearest ambition -- the publication of her first Mills & Boon romance, Song in a Strange Land. She had come home.

And that feeling persists to this day as, around 30 Mills & Boon romantic novels later, she is still in love with the genre. She loves setting her novels in Europa, specially in England, because she was born here and love it, and in Spain, because it's fabulous and so romantic. She says: "I've visited the most romantic place in the word, Cadiz. Perhaps my next book..."

And you can read her bography and interview on her author pages on the Mills & Boon web site

Monday, June 15, 2009

Coming up . . .

One of the new plans I was talking about last week has now been finalised, so I can tell you more about it.

I was approached by a company called Residential Training who are starting a new venture near Southampton and asked if I would consider running a course on Writing Romance for them. We've been in discussion since and now we'v e finalised the details. And it won't just be me who'll be working with them.

So if you're in the south of England - ort anywhere within reach of Southampton, Hampshire, and you want to learn more about how to write Romance - or True Crime (with the Babe Magnet) how about this fabulous Grade 1 listed building as a place to stay- Well, the mews quarters of it, set in 32 acres of parkland -on a residential course? You'll also be able to use the swimming pool and it even has a tree house!

The Babe Magnet and I will be running a 2 day course there on 24th/25th April 2010. You can find the details here . Booking will start very soon. The details of Residential Training and contact information can be found here

Of course, if Wales is more accessible for you, I will still be running the Modern Romance course at Fishguard Writers' and Artists' Weekend in February (19th - 21st) 2010 with the wonderful Anne and Gerry Hobbs. That's at the Fishguard Bay Hotel in Pembrokeshire and full details of that event can be found on thr Writers' Holiday web site here.

And if you live in or near Derby, I'm hosting an event at the Central Library there this Wednesday
Here are the details:
Event: Reader Event – talk and Q&A
Date: Wednesday June 17thVenue: Derby Central Library Wardwick Derby
Time: 7-9.15pm, (Door open 6.45pm)
Telephone: 01332 641702 Enquiries and information
Complimentary drinks will be offered during an interval part way through the evening. Entrance is free but please ring to book.
There are more writers and readers events coming up throughout the rest of 2009 - details can be found on the Events page on my web site - where I'll be adding the Residential Training Southampton event details too just as oon as I can get organised.
Maybe I'll see you at one of them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One of those weeks

It’s turning into one of those weeks. One where I was determined to work on the l-o-n-g list of things I had to do, crossing them off as I went, and maybe even get to the end of them. But as soon as I crossed things off, I added more things to the list, so I still have exactly as much to do. . . if not more!

But some of it is exciting and most of it is interesting, so I’m not complaining. Take today as a typical example. I started off with the plan being a discussion on my next contract with my editor, talking about next book delivery dates etc. Then in the afternoon I had an interview for the Lincolnshire Journal – planned to come out when my August book Kept For Her Baby is in the shops in August. That was manageable, and left me plenty of time to do other bits and pieces. Like write out the book plan for the new idea I have (a Sicilian hero) ready to get that written by the deadline dates we decided. And write a blog – and even clean away some of the dust in my office before the interview started.

That was the plan. So I started my day with my usual walk, came home to find that the proofs for the Konstantos Marriage Demand had arrived – they come by email like so much these days. So there’s another job to add to the list.
Discussion with ed went fine – great. New books, yes please – delivery dates , great .. . but can the Sicilian wait a while? I’ve been asked to be involved in a new project that sounds fascinating . . and a bit of a challenge. And I’m delighted to have been asked. So yes, for the moment the Sicilian has to be put back in the queue – I still have his story all mapped out so I don’t think he’ll suffer too badly – while I work on a new Greek hero. I’ll tell you more when I can.

Then I’ve been approached about doing some more teaching. This would be another residential weekend on writing romance. And as I’ve had quite a few emails from people wishing that I could run some courses further south – or not over in Wales, I think this one should please a few of you. We’re still discussing and fixing the details – so again, more details when I can. And as soon as I can I’ll get the information up on the Events page of my web site.

Then I did manage to dust round the office before the interview – it really needed that! And the interview went wonderfully well. The reporter was fascinated by everything about my writing – she really hadn’t expected all the international editions and worldwide distribution etc. So we talked for quite a while. And Sid the Cat played the perfect host and came to say hello and keep her company while I made a pot of tea. He was charming and urbane and very affable. As always.

And now I’m finally managing to write a quick blog post to get myself up to date – for now. Because there are still the proofs to do, and I have to write my notes on the Sicilian so I don’t forget him. And make some new notes on the Greek project so that I’m ready to go forward with that . . .

It’s all go – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Haworth weekend

One of the interesting things about being a writer and having established my name and my publishing history, is that sometimes people find out about me - through my web site or my blog - and they ask me to be involved in bookish things that I don't expect. And that's what I was doing this weeked. I was in Haworth, West Yorkshire, appearing on a panel that was discussing the Bronte sisters - Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and their books - Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and all the others.
Some weeks ago, the Arts Officer of the Bronte Society had seen a blog I wrote on I Heart Presents about the way that part of Wuthering Heights had influenced my book Bedded By The Greek Billionaire and as a result that was why she asked me to be on the panel this weekend.

When I was at school, my classroom was in an old part of the building and often when there was a violent thunderstorm, the lights in the room would fuse. Because some of the girls in the class were scared of storms (not me – I’ve always loved the drama of thunder and lighting) the teacher would distract us by telling us a story. This would always begin by telling of how a rich landowner brought home a wild gypsy boy that he found in the streets of Liverpool. The boy fell in love with the landowner’s daughter but left when he believed she didn’t love him. Years later he came back to get his revenge. It was only later that I found out that this story was actually the beginning of Wuthering Heights. I always wondered what would happen in the rest of the story and later I read the whole book but the opening always stayed with me as a memory from these story telling sessions.

In some ways the rest of the story of Wuthering Heights was a disappointment to me. The wild gypsy boy who turns into dark, dangerous, powerful man, never ends up with the passionate fiery heroine. They each marry someone else and they most definitely do not live happily ever after. But from those long ago school days I’ve always wondered how things might work if someone was to take some of that famous story and change it round just a bit. Make it work a different way – and give the hero and heroine their happy ending. That's what I did with Bedded By The Greek Billionaire.

Being back in Haworth was a like a trip 'back home' to me as I grew up in Yorkshire, not too far from Haworth and this was the first time I'd been there for ages. It was wonderful revisiting places I'd loved - the Babe Magnet and I even managed to visit the little cottage where we spent our honeymoon w-a-y back when. We stayed in a lovely B&B at the bottom of the famous steep cobbled street that runs through the centre of the village and we had an amzing room, The Tudor room, complete with four-poster bed!

And we had time to visit the Parsonage Museum that was once the home of all the Bronte family and wander round at our leisure looking into all the rooms. This place is so atmospheric - small rooms crammed close together, looking out onto a view of the old church and the graveyard! And it is full or items that belonged to the sisters - samplers they embroidered, hats, gloves, even a dress that Charlotte once wore (she was tiny). And in one of the downstairs rooms there is the couch where Emily died in December 1848 at the age of just 30.

And the Babe Magnet was thrilled to see some of his books on Yorkshire history on sale in the Parsonage Museum Shop.

The event was on the Saturday night and I met up with some great authors to talk about the Brontes' books and their influence on romantic fiction. Unfortunately Justine Picardie who was to chair the panel was unwell, but Steve Dearden who stepped in at the last moment organised us wonderfully and kept the event moving along nicely. The other writers on the panel were Joanne Harris whose novel Chocolat was made in to a film starring Johnny Depp, Amanda Craig whose latest novel Hearts and Minds was published in May this year, and Jude Morgan who has just published a novel based on the lives of the Bronte sisters titled The Taste of Sorrow. So of course I came home with yet more books to add to my TBR mountain.

It was a great experience - amazing to combine all my skills/interests/studies in one go with discussing the Brontes and Romantic Fiction and writing. My thanks to Jenna who invited me to take part and to Sean, all the other writers and everyone else involved.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Show me the money . . .

One of the things I had planned for a blog post when I had time to breath was to look at the way that writers get their income - how they are paid for what they write. It's one of the least well understood parts of my job and one I'm always getting asked about. And as the twice a year payment of royalties has just been delivered to my bank account, it is rather on my mind.

But then, luckily for me, I spotted that my friend and fell M&B author Kate Hardy has written a detailed and comprehensive explanation of the intricacies behind an author's income - in more detail and with more clarity than I would probably have managed.

So I get let off the hook and I can say 'Go and see what Kate says' . You'll learn more and it might surprise you!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

They're back . . .

For all fans of The Hecks, the family of hedgehogs who live at the bottom of the garden - the warm weather has brought them out and about and they are clearly alive and well - and to judge from the excited grunting and snorting going on late in the evening - full of the joys of spring.

I'm not sure exactly how many hecks there are this year. Definitely two (the ones creating a Modern Romance with prickles out on the lawn at night) and poossibly a third who seems much larger than these two. But I've only ever seen these two together.

They were out tucking into leftover cat meat every night for the last few days.
We also have a new addition to the wildlife in the garden - or at leat we did briefly when I was in Ireland when the Magnet spotted Miss Flora playing with a fox on the lawn. Unfortunately it hasn;t been back again since but I live in hope of catching a photo of it one day.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Mills & Boon Makeover

I mentioned before that Harlequin Mills & Boon are revamping their books, giving some new covers, bringing others out in different formats, planning new publishing dates - and I promised to give you more details just as soon as I could.

Well, from June 1st there have been details of the new looks and some of the new schedules up on the Mills & Boon web site so you can read all about it here.

As I said, some of the lines are getting new designs for the covers and I've posted a few of them here. And there will be slightly different formats for some of the lines -

For example - From August 2009 Romance will be available in the shops as:
- 2 x 2-in-1s (£4.99 each)
These books will be available to buy in advance on the website from 1st July along with an additional 2 x single titles (£3.19 each).

And Medicals will be available in the shops as:

- 2 x 2-in-1s (£4.99 each) -

2 x single titles (£3.19 each)

These books will be available to buy in advance on the website from 1st July.

As I mentioned before, the schedule for Modern Romances is changing quite dramatically with publication twice a month.

There will be 6 new books available on the 1st Friday of every month and another 6 new books will be on the shelves on the 3rd Friday of every month.

These will include two of the Modern Heat books and will be at the same price of £3.19 each.

And to answer Rachel's query about buying on line - the announcement on the web site says that: These books will be available to buy in advance on our website from 1st July.

So I expect that means that all of them published in August - in whichever week - will be announced and available then.

And the covers for Modern Romance? Well, there's no difference there for now. These covers - along with some others, are currently being left just as they are. Which makes me pretty happy for now becuase I've just seen the paperback/Modern Romance version of the fabulous cover I showed you a few days ago - the one for my next release Kept For Her Baby. And for me this looks even better against the traditional blue Modern Romance binding:

The only thing that will be changing is that this book will be in the shops in the second set of publication - on the 3rd Friday of August.

So the date you need to be able to find this one is 21st August

I've been so lucky with the current set of covers with this and the one for Sold to The Sheikh - which reminds me - Mavis, I hope you enjoy the book as much as you love the cover!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Answering comments

So it's June. A brand new month. I've done my accounts (great relief) and the sun is shining. It shone all weekend too - while I was doing my accounts! So today I'm getting out into the warmth while it's still here and walking into town to have my hair cut.

But before I do I need to answer a couple of queries that came up in the comments section. I could have answered them there but they were a few days ago (sorry for being late on this) and one of themI thought other writers would want to know about.

So - the simple one first -

On the Cat Tales 2 post Linda commented:

Kate, she is beautiful. Her dad looks a great deal like my Maine Coon,
Justin. How much does Flora weigh and can you convert that to pounds for me
since I live in the States? Keep those cat stories coming. I love to hear about

Hi Linda! I love to hear about Justin too - he does sound a lot like Barney, Flora's Dad (how old is Justin?). Anyway it's taken me a few days to grab Madame Flora and weigh her - she's been out in the garden revelling in the sunshine while it's here. But this morning I managed it and she weighed in at 10.5 pounds.

The average weight of an adult cat is supposed to be about 9 -11 pounds but Maine Coon males can be over 18lbs, and females a bit under that. These cats don't reach full maturity until they are around four years old. Flora is just 18 months so she still has potential for growth! Most of this weight is bones and fur - there is very little flesh on her, and when you get hold of her, your hands go into all that fur so that you realise there's her ribs underneath.

It's going to be interesting to see how she fills out over the next year or so.
The second question I want to answer was on the post where Randall Toye described what makes a great series romance
Lorraine commented:
I have one question though - what was meant by 'payoff'?
To remind you - what Randall said was:
The key focus is a good story, well told. The basic building blocks? Character,
Structure, Pacing, Payoff. Easy to list. Not so easy to deliver. As one
author beautifully articulated: "Just because they're easy to read doesn't mean
they're easy to write!" Quite the opposite. The series romance, like a sonnet,
is a beautiful, disciplined, elegant, and demanding creative form.
Well, If you look up payoff in a dictionary you'll find:
noun 1. the payment of a salary, debt, wager, etc.
2. the time at which such payment is made.
3. the consequence, outcome, or final sequence in a series of events, actions, or circumstances: The payoff was when they fired him.
4. Informal. the climax of something, esp. a story or joke.
5. a settlement or reckoning, as in retribution or reward.
6. Informal. a bribe.
Obviously number 4 is what we're looking at here.
Now I'll admit, I don't think in terms of a 'payoff' for my books - or, rather, I don't think about it now. Long ago - back in 1982 - I received a rejection letter on one of my first submissions to to Mills & Boon and this commented that though they enjoyed my story it 'lacked emotional velocity and failed to reach an emotional climax' - in other words, the 'your story lacks emotional punch' criticism that so many writers get.
And from then on, writing 'an emotional climax' is what I've always aimed to do. That's the 'payoff' - it's what the reader is looking for. 'Pay off' is more a marketing term, rather than a writer's word. It's the same as when they ask authors 'what is the takeaway' from this book . ( Takeaway? Huh? I always want to answer 'number 42 with fried rice' )
But to me the payoff is the emotional climax. The point where the book 'peaks' so that it doesn't just fizzle out and end with a whimper. The point in the book when the reader gets the satisfaction from reading it and seeing the characters she has come to care about (we hope) resolve their conflict and turn towards the happy ever after ending. (At least that's what it is in romance.) So really 'payoff' is giving your reader satisfaction - the satisfaction they are looking for in the type of fiction you are writing.

The reader who buys a romance is looking for that emotional satisfaction and that's the payoff from a romance for me.

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