Monday, January 31, 2011

Voice - answering Jane's Question

Over on Facebook, Jane posted this question:
I attended a library workshop with a couple of m&b editors yesterday and had a general chat with Flo Nicoll, in which she was very firm that 'it's all about the voice.' Have you any advice on developing/identifying/pushing your voice to maximise its potential?

So, although I've titled this post  'answering Jane's question' the truth is that this  really trying to anser - more liike a set of thoughts about what makes up a writer's voice and how to work on and with that.

Writer’s voice is a literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice is a combination of a writer’s use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a body of text. Voice can also be referred to as the specific fingerprint of an author, as every author has a different writing style.

• Voice is the author's style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author's attitude, personality, and character;

• Voice is the characteristic speech and thought patterns of a first-person narrator; a persona.

Because voice has so much to do with the reader's experience of a work of literature, it is one of the most important elements of a piece of writing. Young writers are often urged to find their own voice in fiction, but many teachers believe that voice is something that emerges naturally as a writer develops.

So how can you develop and polish your own voice to make sure that as Jane asked – you are developing/identifying/pushing your voice to maximise its potential?

Let's start by identifying a few things voice isn't. Voice is not style. It's not technique. It's not branding. It's not a decision to write in first or third person.
So what is it? Your writer's voice is the expression of YOU on the page. It's that simple—and that complicated. Your voice is all about honesty. It's the unfettered, non-derivative, unique, authentic blend of your thoughts, feelings, passions, dreams, beliefs, fears and attitudes, coming through in every word you write. Voice is all about your originality and having the courage to express it.

Fiction that doesn't have a "voice" that captures the reader usually feels derivative, i.e. similar to other works of fiction rather than seeming fresh and coming from life. Instead of truly creating stories and characters of your own, you may be unwittingly regurgitating stories and characters you've read and seen in thousands of hours of reading and TV/movie watching in your life. This means you are not being your unique self, but a composite or a mirror of the writers you have read in the past.

So how do you find your voice? You can't learn it. You can't copy it. Voice isn't a matter of studying. You have to find it. And the only place to find it is within you. It's a process of peeling away the layers of trying-to-be-something-you're-not self, the trying-to-sound-a-certain-way self. allowing the real you to emerge. It’s telling your story your way.

Voice is the expression of you on the page—your originality and the courage to express it. Voice is what you develop when you practice writing what you know. It's the unfettered, non-derivative, unique combination of your thoughts, feelings, passions, dreams, beliefs, fears and attitudes, coming through in every word you write.

So how do you find your voice? You can't learn it. You can't copy it. Voice isn't a matter of studying. You have to find it. And the way to do that is by writing, and experimenting, and seeing what kind of response you get from others, and writing some more.

You can rarely be truly original when writing romance but you can be authentic – be true to yourself and write the story your own individual way. Don’t copy another author’s lines, phrases, scenarios - M&B are not looking for a ‘new Kate Walker’ or a new Michelle Reid or anything like that. They already have one of those! Don’t repeat images or descriptions just because they ‘always’ appear in a romance. Think about the way you actually see these things, how would you describe them for yourself - when talking to friends etc.

If you see someone with, say, green eyes do you instinctively describe them as emerald? Or would you use moss as an image? Or grass or olive? Use images and similes that mean something to you.

If you have never actually seen a king cobra, don’t compare your hero to one unless you can maintain the image. Take a look at the way established authors with distinctive voices deal with a very basic moment – the  description of the hero for example:


When he sat opposite her like this, with his back to the windows, he was little more than a dark silhouette, black against the gloomy sky outside. The surprisingly pale eyes in his carved face were all she could really make out. Not that it mattered. The truth was that every stunning feature, from the broad, high forehead down to the surprisingly full and sensual mouth, was seared into her memory, impossible to erase. And if she let them then those memories were threatening to destroy her hard-fought for composure, take her back to the time when she had worshipped the ground this man walked on. To the time that had almost totally broken her.

Kate Walker The Proud Wife 2011


At the sight of the man now standing at the far end of the room, her heart kicked over in her chest. All she could do was stare.

It wasn’t Gerard.

Not even close. Gerard was smooth, refined and cosmopolitan, the personification of continental charm, a blend of 21st century sophistication and nearly as many centuries of royal breeding.

This man was anything but. He was hard-edged, shaggy-haired, and unshaven, wearing a pair of faded jeans and a nondescript open-necked shirt. He might have been nobody. A beach bum, a carpenter, a sailor in from the sea.

But he was Somebody – with a capital S.

His name was Demetrios Savas. Anny knew it. So did everyone else in the room.

She could see for herself that he was absolutely fine. More than fine. The glasses had disappeared years ago, along with the bad hair, bad clothes. He’d never be muscular, but he’d filled out as he’d matured, his shoulders had broadened and these days were clad in the finest bespoke tailoring.

He wasn’t just fine, but gorgeous. Mouth-wateringly scrumptious, in fact. The chocolate nut fudge of maleness.

Consider these, not with a view to copying them, but to see just how differently the same topic can be approached. Which one is more your style? What sorts of descriptions/images would you use? How about that chocolate nut fudge description – what might you use instead?

Don’t write to impress, particularly not to impress other authors. Write to connect with your readers. Your writer’s voice builds a better bridge to your readers. It’s your fingerprint, it’s your individual writing style, and it gives your writing soul

“Style is an expression of self, and [writers] should turn resolutely away from all devices that are popularly believed to indicate style – all mannerisms, tricks, and adornments,” write Strunk and White in The Elements of Style.

Learn the difference between good writing and voice. Developing your writer’s voice doesn’t mean you can wax eloquent for hours, ignore punctuation, or forget about editing. Learn and practice the rules of good writing, and you’ll free your voice. “As you become proficient in the use of language, your style will emerge,” say Strunk and White in The Elements of Style, “because you yourself will emerge…” The more comfortable you are with the rules for good writing, the more your writer’s voice will shine. And then you can take risks, break those rules in order to say something the way you want it. There’s no need to follow the rules slavishly if the way you break them gives a line, a paragraph the impact you want.

Stop comparing yourself to other writers. You have natural strengths and weaknesses — and so do other writers. Comparing how you write or your writer’s voice to other writers is destructive and suffocating. So, admire other writers’ styles but nurture your own. Focus on ways to improve your confidence as a writer.

Picture one specific reader. Don’t just focus on writing for the editor or the agent – picture one specific reader — one that I’m not trying to impress – and just communicating with her. You are telling that reader a story and you want to get over to her the drama, emotion, sensuality, pain etc of your story – not shine as literary star.

But don’t panic – I asked around amongst my friends and fellow authors and very few of them could actually define their own voices - or how it came about . I couldn’t really define mine – and I know I have a different one for when I’m writing romance, or a blog, or a teaching article!

Kate Hardy said:

I can never see my voice and had to be told what it was. . . I guess I'd say "put yourself in your character's shoes and think how you'd react in that situation and with that background" - and what comes out is you as that character, i.e. your voice.

Anne McAllister said:

I'd say, for VOICE, if you're worried that you don't have one, read your stuff aloud to yourself. If you can 'hear' a voice, there's one there. If it sounds cobbled together from a lot of different voices, you've got a problem. How to get one -- well, I guess you start reading and listening in childhood and presumably one develops. Mine is a combination of things that I've learned from others as well as what sounds right to me. How I came by it is a mystery, but I recognize it as mine, because I can always - ALWAYS -- tell when an editor or a copy editor has changed something. If I don't recognize that I could have written it, it's not in my voice. C S Lewis says that people who don't have voice, don't have ears. That seems about right to me, but how you "get ears" is something I'm not too clear about. Again, reading and listening.

The only “trick” to developing your writer’s voice and style is to relax and let it flow. Your writer’s voice can’t be learned. It has to be freed.

Friday, January 28, 2011

That Debate - My Contribution

Thank you all for your responses to the being unfaithful question both here and over on the M&B site. I really appreciated the fact that you all posted and discussed the topic – and I think that in the end most of the responses were what I expected.

I didn’t give my own opinions because I didn’t want to sway the issue one way or another – but you’ve all been so open, I should do the same.
I have to say that when I read the article my immediate response was two pronged

My first response – as a reader - was just like so many of you - Oh no, no! That’s not what I want in my romances.

And my second response – as a writer was IAITE - It’s all in the execution.

So I’m going to nail my colours to the mast and say I have a real problem with a ‘blanket’ question like Infidelity: the world’s best emotional conflict or the last taboo of romance?

Because the only possible answer is - it all depends on the circumstances for the characters whoever they are, whatever happens to them, how they react and why – and how well the author creates that situation and those responses in the book so as to get those feelings across to the reader.

But - deep down, I’m going to admit that my problem is right there in the title of the discussion article . Because it’s headed Cheating: The Last Taboo and cheating is a nasty, sneaky, immoral, mean word for a nasty mean sneaking lying immoral act. And those are not words I want used to describe my hero or my heroine.

Now we have plenty of romances that work on the theme of belief in infidelity and the characters feel the pain of those suspicions badly enough. In the end it generally turns out that the unfaithfulness didn’t happen – so that the hero and heroine can work through the problems that separated them – and the problems that led one of them to believe that the other was capable of being unfaithful without actually having to endure the heart-breaking agony – and I cannot possibly even consider that cheating would result in anything less – of knowing that the person they loved/who had vowed to be faithful had broken those vows and deceived them and cheated on them. Even if it's not the hero or the heroine they were unfaithful to - it  damages the integrity of  the character, shows that they are prepared to hurt other women/other men - so does this make it OK because the other person was not 'the one' - the soul mate?
I have often said and I’m going to come out and say it loud and clear here - that for me the hero of my books has to have a sense of honour. Lidia reminded me of this only this last week when on another topic she quoted my words at me:

For me, the point about an Alpha male is that he is rich, powerful, etc. because he got there as a result of his intelligence, his integrity, his ability to manage people, his innate sense of morality and his sense of caring about the important things that matter. When that sense of honour comes up against some things he truly believes to be wrong then the strength that made him what he is can also make him a hard and implacable enemy. But the true Alpha is the ultimate nurturer — a man of honour. A man with no honour, no integrity and no intelligence could never be a hero to me.

And it’s that honour that makes me recoil from the idea of cheating. My heroes may be flawed – deeply flawed - some readers find them too strong – too forceful, too ruthless, too determined, too domineering – but this is because they believe they are in the right. I work hard on my books to make sure that, for me at least, my heroes do not step over that line between dicing with danger and the actual fact going too far into the wrong. Of being unforgivable. That’s what makes them heroes for me. Some readers might not be convinced by the arguments I put forward, the situations I put them in the explain/motivate/justify them - but I can’t write them unless I do that to convince me. And I’ll admit I’d have a real real problem to justify someone cheating on their wife/partner/lover

But let’s not just talk about heroes - and here I have to acknowledge a personal point. In The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge the heroine is married. Just barely – technically, pinch it till it squeaks ‘married’. She had actually put divorce proceedings in place to end her desperately unhappy and abusive marriage. The divorce process was almost complete - her freedom was in sight and then a series of terrible strokes damaged her husband’s brain, wiping the memory of their separation, the divorce proceedings from his mind. He never signed the divorce papers was so ill that she went back to help care for him. And on her one desperate day of freedom from nursing – on the day when her divorce should have come through – she met Vito the hero and fell into his arms and into his bed.

Some people couldn’t get past that. One reviewer wrote that Emily broke her marriage vows and said there was never any justification for doing so. But in Emily’s mind – and in mine – the marriage was over and had been for ages. The formalities had been delayed, prevented from completion by the man’s illness.

So – as a writer I have to answer it all depends on why. On how the author creates the story. It’s all in the execution.

And I’m well aware of the fact that this is not a hero or a heroine just straight cheating on someone – or cheating on each other. That last one worries me. A romance is a story that asserts the value and the power of love. It’s about learning about people and coming to love them as they are – and I have friends, family, who have endured that sort of desperate damage and survived it and gone on to build a long – apparently successful marriage. But as someone in the discussion on the M&B site quoted the Emma Thompson character in Love Actually - the question is always there: "Would you stay, knowing life would always be a little bit worse?" And whenever I seen that scene my heart always bleeds for Karen(Emma’s character) knowing she gets her husband back but she doesn’t ‘t get the man she believed in, the man she thought he was. The trust between them is damaged, the wedding vows are broken. And I do feel that in this age of wedding vows where ‘till death do us part’ can mean 70+ years or, in the case of some celebrities not even a year a romance about - what can I call it – ‘real love’ -– true love – where soul mates come together – needs to offer the hero and heroine – and so the reader – the belief/hope of a once in a lifetime love that does mean Happy Ever After.

The fall out from infidelity is so savage, so destructive that it will take an exceptional author to deal with it in a short, 50,000 or thereabouts word romance. And as I mentioned when talking about Kept for Her Baby, if I create a deeply emotionally painful plot I won’t do it unless I feel I can tackle it properly and give it the gravity and attention it deserves. It’s not something that can be sorted out and healed in a ‘but I love you’ ending.

Just to mention a couple of books that have been discussed on the M&B site where the characters involved are not single/free - Bridges of Madison County. For me this was never a ‘HEA relationship.’ It as a moment out of time, a bubble of heated passion that needed to be tested against reality to see if it was for the rest of their lives.

And Jane Eyre? Mr Rochester . . . . I first read this when I was about 13 and adored Mr Rochester, cheered for him wanted him to be able to be happy with Jane . . . Then I grew up. And I looked at the way that man treated Jane – the woman he claimed to love – he lies to her, deceives her, manipulates her almost into a bigamous marriage. A marriage that in those days would have ruined her in a way she and her reputation would never recover from. And in 1847, with the double standard there was, Jane would have been held to be the worse sinner – because she was a woman and women were meant to be pure. That's the man Charlotte Bronte created, the man that Jane stands up to and declares that  she won't be treated this way.

Yes, Edward Rochester has been badly deceived himself. He’s been treated badly, lied to, trapped in a terrible situation - but there’s that saying - Two wrongs don’t make a right. And the way he was deceiving Jane is just playing on her innocence, lying to her in a way that is every bit as bad – worse - than the way he was treated. This is one of the reasons why the wife (Or it could be a husband) in a coma plot where the other character then falls in love with someone else isn’t one I’m happy with. I understand – but they still lie to the person they say they love and will love for the rest of their lives. 

I’ve gone on long enough - it’s a fascinating topic. I’ve spent a long time thinking about it I’ve enjoyed reading and appreciated all the contributions to the debate that have been posted – but it the end I come back to where I started. It’s a double-edged sword. As a person, as a writer, I might understand exactly why someone could feel trapped and would be unfaithful - but cheating is not behaviour I can square with my belief in a hero as a man of honour. Yes, the results of such behaviour can show the strength and resilience of what I am trying to write about in a romance – the power of love to overcome all odds and still remain strong. But the whole subject goes so deep and slashes so fiercely at the heart of the people involved – even if they are only characters in a book - that it would need one hell of a lot of work to create a romance novel that explored it deeply honestly and strongly enough. It’s not a theme to be easily used – or dealt with except in the most powerful of circumstances and then – as the editors have always said It’s all in the execution.

But for my money that execution had better be honest and strong and exceptionally skillful.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'd like to know . . .

I'm working on a post about  Voice -  developing/identifying/pushing your voice to maximise its potential as asked by Jane on Facebvook but while I'm doing that - I was reading another post this morning and I'd really really like to know your thoughts and opinions on it.

So - over on the Mills & Boon web site  editor Flo Nicholls has a great regular column - and right now she's asking an interesting, provoking and possible controversial question -

Cheating: The Last Taboo?

This is a topic that was raised  briefly at the RNA Conference in  summer and I just kew it wold come back again. So now Flo is opening up the discussion  and she's asking these questions -

+ Can infidelity work as a romance theme for you, and why?
+ What would cause you to lose or retain sympathy with the protagonists?
+ Does it make a difference if it’s the hero or heroine cheating?
+ What actually constitutes cheating – sex / kissing / emotional infidelity?
+ When and where have you seen it work well before – think TV / films / books?
+ And, most crucially to us, is it something you want to see tackled more often in your M&B books?

I have my own opinions - and I'll discuss those later - when I get a moment - and I also don't want to influenced anyone right now.   But  I really would love to know what you think.

On the M&B site  you have to join the community to answer Flo - though that just takes a couple of seconds and you'll be able to join in any of the other discussions too.  I'm sure Flo will appreciate any contributions to the discussion.

Or you can answer here - or both! If you do post a response in either [place please let me know because I really would like to know what you think.    

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Courses and such

I'm inundated  - more than usual - at the moment.  Normally wyhen I'm heading for Fishguard Writers' And Artists'  Weekend in  February, I already have most of the teaching prepared and grab my  box of handouts etc and head for the Welsh Coast.

This time it's the new Advanced Romance Writing Course so there is a whole new course to prepare - and   the submissions from each of the students to read and comment on. (And it would have helped A LOT if the post  hadn't lost two scripts on their way here!)

I should also mention  that I've had a question from  Jane over on Facebook who as asked a great quesiton about voice  - I'll hope to post an answer to that so everyone can   see the answer too.

So while I'm sorting that out,  for anyone else who wants to learn more about writing and won't be coming to Fishguard,  I'll leave you with the link to a great post. If you don't already know this,  Harlequin  Romance wrtiter  Donna Alward is running a regular Writing Wednesday spot each week. Today's post is  titled  Only at the End Can We See the Beginning - and it's well worth a read. You can find it here

And  Happy Birthday greetings go to Michelle Styles  whose special day is today.

PS  Thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday's post both here and on Facebook - I'm so happy to find that it cheered up so many  of you. I've been told that Monday 24th January is supposed to be the hardest, most depressing day to get through so I'm glad that I was able to add a day brightener to follow it

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

5 Reasons why I love my job . . .

1. Yesterday  a big box was delivered - brand new copies, hardback library editons and the first actual paperback copies  of my new novel - The Proud Wife. Nothing brightens up a grey, cold Monday morning like holding your latest book in you hands for the very first time.  It's a delight that never gets stale, believe me, and these are my first books with the new style cover so I was thrilled to see them. (Waking up with a ginger and white kitten chewing your hair and purring fit to burst  right in your ear is pretty special too - but not exactly work related.)

2. You can help  causes you care about - like
donating  books to the RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal or the Brenda Novak Auction  and know that not onloy are you helping the cause but you are also  - hopefully - giving pleasure to readers who either are given  books as a result of these appeals or who buy the lots in this auction   and others like it.  Or  - as in this photo - you can send books to libraries where their book stock  needs a boost. This lovely lady is Nas who helped me give some books to her local library in Fiji where they can't get hold of very many M&B titles and  so my small donation has helped to widen their selection. You can read more about this on Nas's blog here.

3. You can share in the joy of bran new authors who have just had their very first title accepted.  Last year at the RNA Conference I met a lovely lady called Susan Wilson who at the time was working on her  Medical Romance that  had  won her the attention of a M&B editor  but which needed revisions -  and then more revisions . . . She's worked really hard on this and last Friday  she  finally received 'the call' to hear that her book has been accepted and will be published in Medical Romance. You can read the story on her blog.  Congratulations Susan - I'm so happy for you. It maye be 26+ years since I got my 'call' - it was a letter back then,  my first editor didn't ring me up - but I still remember the thrill of that moment.

Incidentally, I first 'met'  Susan when she won a copy of Kept For Her Baby in a contest I won . I didn't know at the time that she was  actually a Health Visitor who had worked with many women who had suffered from post natal depression and the darker, rarer form of post natal psychosis which  is the background to the story in this book. I was thrilled whne she took the time to write to me to let me know that the way the subject was handled in the story  "gave credibility to the fear the women have of harming their children, how jumbled their thoughts can be, and how difficult it is to explain their feelings" - Seeing as I had told myself that I woldn't write the book unless I could treat the subject properly that made me really happy.

4. You get to share your books with people from all over the world. Yesterday I learned that I now have had visitors to this blog from a total of 157 countries when my very first visitor  from Albania came by. All the readers and visitors are so welcome - wherever you come from. I hope you enjoy the blog and will keep coming back often.

5. As well as readers all over the world, I have friends who are fellow authors worldwide - and I get to combine the two when I share contests and celebrations with the fabulous award winning authors Anne McAllister and  Liz Fielding in our now traditional   Here Come The Grooms contest - this will be our 5th year of running this joint contest when you can win  one of three prizes each of a signed copy of all three of our books. We're finalising the details right now  - so watch out for the Grooms coming soon!

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Beginnings

I'm  starting a new project today - over on the Pink Heart Society I have the first of my my brand new monthly columns - A Date With Kate.

These will appear on the PHS blog on the third Friday of every month.   I'd love it if you could join me over there.
And I'd also love it if you have any topics you'd like me to talk about - writing or otherwise - if you'll let me know in the comments.  With 3 regular columns on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs,  We Write Romance, and now The Pink Heart Society,  I need plenty of ideas to consider!

I've also noted the questions about writing that some of you posted - and I'll get round to them just as soon as I can. Right now I have  a full  Romance Writing Course (Advanced) for Fishguard  next month to complete, not to mention  a new book  . . .so I'm just a  bit busy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Classic Story

 No, I'm not claiming 'classic' status for one of my books   but I did say that I would tell you a bit more about The Return of The Stranger which  is the  book I just had accepted before Christmas and which will be my next new title after The Proud Wife in March.

Like The Good Greek Wife? this book is part of a four book mini series that I was specially asked to contribute to  but this time, instead of being  rewokrings of Greek Myths, this  is a set or reworking and Modernising classic lov e stories from  English Literature.

You may remember that a while back - in September -  I asked  if  you had favourite bok of romantic fiction when the M&B editors were discussing their favvourite reads.  In that coollection the obvious contenders - Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre ,Wuthering Heights were all mentioned. And these are the Classics that will be included in this new mini series. 

The whole series is titled The Powerful and The Pure - When Beauty tames the brooding Beast!

You'll probably have seen the first book in the series out in the shops if you are in the UK - Sharon Kendrick's The Forbidden Innocent  (Jane Eyre)  was publkished in January. Coming up  are  Pride and Prejudice  and Emma  (by- I think Cathy Williams and Kate Hewitt) and then my book The Return of The Stranger which is a reworking of Wuthering Heights.

If you remember my comment back in September when I was talking about the greats of romantic fiction you'll remember that I said  this:

And I have to admit to putting my vote in for - from this list - Jane Eyre, Devil's Cub, These Old Shades . . .Not Wuthering Heights? I can hear the questions already. I love WH as a novel - But for me it's is not a love story - passion, possession - yes - but love?? There is a love story in the second half - young Cathy and Hareton but most people don't think of that. The book is the story of Cathy and Heathcliff - but for me it's not a love story.

So  - have I managed to turn it into a love story?  Make it a romance? It took some doing. I tried to keep the essential elements of the original story but take the wild, strong-willed  Cathy and the dark, brooding dangerous Heathcliff  and  let them learn about love so as to give them give them the  happy ending  Emily Bronte’s  original story could never have had.  I hope I've succeeded for a book that has been so  impoirtant to me personally throughout my life.   You'll be able to decide for yourselves when The Return of the Stranger comes out in September this year.
And I'll talk a bit more about writing it then

But before that there will be  The Proud Wife and as February is coming up , It will soon bee time for the now traditional Here Come the Grooms contest that I shall be running again with my lovely friends and fabulous writers Anne McAllister and Liz Fielding  - so look out for that.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Coming up

 I've been getting  enquiries about new books coming up - and the titles of the novels that are being reprinted in the collections  that are published in the first half of this year.  Up until now I wasn't quite sure  of the exact detaiols, but after a  bit of a research and a confirmation email from my editor, it now seems that the line-up  goes like this:

New title: -
The Proud Wife - modern Romance  March  4th 2011 - and Presents Extra  in April

Meditrranean Tycoons  - includes  The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife
After losing his memory, all Andreas remembers is his passionate affair with Rebecca. But what will happen when Andreas recalls throwing Rebecca out of his house a year ago for reasons only he knows?
Also has novels by Michelle Reid and Sarah Morgan
Published 4th Feb

One Night in Madrid  - includes Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife

Raul wanted Alannah the first moment he saw her. Her unique combination of purity and passion intrigued and intoxicated the proud Spanish aristocrat. And Raul Esteban was a man used to getting everything he wanted.

Also has novels by Jennie Lucas and Chantelle Shaw

and finally - my editor has just confirmed the title and ther schedule date of my latest novel -
The Return of the Stranger - September 2011
This book will be part of the special mini-series The Powerful and The Pure  - I'll tell you a little more about that  very soon - hopefully tis week.

And that, I think, is it until after September.   Meanwhile I'm getting on with the next one . . .

Oops - forgot one!
If you are using ebooks to catch up on any backlist titles you've missed then His Miracle Baby  (2001)  is being re-issued in ebook  format this month.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal

Here's a message from the Romance Writers of Australia
You'll see a lot of copies of this post all around the web - at least I hope you will -

We’ve all seen the devastation the recent Queensland floods have wrought and have wondered how we can help. We know that for many affected families, books will not be high on their priorities list for some time to come.
We also know how valuable books can be in providing time out when reality gets tough.
With the aid of some wonderful volunteers, we’ve put together a Romance Writers of Australia Flooded Communities Book Appeal.

What we need?
FICTION BOOKS! Romance books, children’s books, young adult books, genre books, whatever – either new or in sparkling condition.

Please send them to:

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal
PO Box 1717
Noosaville Post Office
Noosaville BC
Queensland 4566

When to send them?
Now! And any time over the next few months. The books will be boxed and delivered to the appropriate libraries/schools/neighbourhood centres/community centres in batches as soon as the communities are ready to receive them. We’ll be liaising with councils, libraries and schools to ensure this is done appropriately. Feel free to pop a note inside, or if you’re an author, sign it.


If you have a question about donations, email Jess Anastasi:

If you work in a library / council / community centre / school in a flood affected area, email Rachel Bailey:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Where did the week go?

I could have sworn that I missed out a few days here. One moment it was  Monday - then I blinked and . . .is it really Friday?

What has happened to the week? Let's see -

Two interviews - check

Wallpapering - yes, wallpapering. This was one of those plans that the New Year inspires in you.  Freshen up the bathroom and the cloakroom . . .  That lost me a couple of days

Plan new book - well that was OK. I could plan a new book and match wallpaper patterns at the same time. This is something the Babe Magnet admires. He can't do the matching wallpaper thng at all!

Celebrate the Offspring's birthday - check. But I'm a little worried as to how I ended up with such a  grown up son.  I was a child bride and a child mother  - honest!

Write a Dear Reader letter for latest accepted book - check (more on this  soon)

Read - I promised myself for New Year that this would be the year I'd read  more. I've kept to it - so far

Prepare course for Advanced Romance Writing at Fishguard  Writers' and Artists' Weekend in February  - this has been interesting.  The basic course is  taken straight from the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance.  The Advanced Course is for students who've already done that . . . .much thinking involved. And reading and assessing of scripts the students have submitted

Take cats (Sid Flora Charlie) to vets for booster injections  etc

Write blogs for Kate's Corner over on We Write Romance and prepare for my new monthly column on the Pink Heart Society  blog - A Date With Kate - coming
up on the 23rd.

Oh yes, so that's where the  week went!
And as it's the 15th today then  I'm blogging over on We Write Romance where I'm talking about trying to get - and keep  - some better balance into my life!  Wish me luck - and maybe I'll see you there?

Monday, January 10, 2011

January Sales and other shopping

If you live in America, did you miss getting your hands on a copy of  The Good Greek Wife? 

If you did then here's your chance  to grab a copy in the eHarlequin January sale  - at 40%  off! I just noticed that over on the eHarlequin web site The Good Greek Wife - and  lots of other books are currently on offer at the great sale price of $2.85   - if I lived in America I'd be tempted myself!

The return of the proud Greek husband...

He was declared missing at sea – but now notorious Zarek Michaelis is back and ready to take control! First he’ll see to his business, and then to his wayward wife...

For two years Penny has struggled to come to terms with Zarek’s disappearance. But enough is enough. It’s time to move on… Her proud Greek husband is still as darkly handsome as ever, and the attraction between them is just as potent. But Penny can’t trust Zarek’s motives – does he just want her body and the fortune he left behind…or to try again?

This is the book that's sold out in the UK over on the M&B site - but I think there are still some copies around on Amazon or the Book Depository  (it's on sale there too - not 40% but still a reduced price)

And talking of shopping - I was out in the January sales at the weekend where I bought - or so I thought - a cuddly soft toy  that you can warm in the microwave to keep you cosy at night for the small daughter of a friend who is having a brithday today (Happy Birthday Kelsey!) .  I also bought 2 pairs of leggings.
When I reached home and checked the receipts it turns out that what I actually bought was  a 'lying hottie' and some 'casual bottoms'.

Which just gave me the perfect example for the point I was trying to make in an interview - that one of the things I have most needed to make sure of during my 25 years of writing  - is that my writing/my language stays contemporary and  doesn't date and age me and my  books.

So as I get back to work  on what I think my be my 60th title (need to check on that!)  that's something I need to keep in mind.   Can't help thinkikng though that theres a story in that 'lying hottie'!

Thank  you all for your comments about possible writing  posts - I will hope to get to them as soon as I can. But for now -
Jane -  you asked for notes on Conflict. Where were you last year when  I did a whole series on it?  Put Conflict into  the search  box on this blog and you should get  loads of  posts that might help.  Around July/August last year.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

New Year New Book

Well, that's what it'll  be for me . . time to get back to the desk and putting words on the page/screen

But what about you? 
Is one of your New Year Resolutions the determination that this year you will  write that novel - maybe even get it published?

Well if that's the case then I - and several fabulous author friends  - have some help for you. 

First of all, there's Donna Alward,  author of  lovely  emotional  books for the Romance/Cherish line - books like  Her Lone Cowboy  or  Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle (out USA in Feb) is running a weekly Writer Wednesday post on her blog.

The there's scary Kate  - Kate Hardy - who write for both Medical and the new Riva - A Christmas Knight (Medical UK) and Champagne with a Celebrity (USA  Jan 2011)

Finally  there's RITA winning Jessica Hart    writing tutor and  romance writer whose Juggling Briefcase and Baby is one of the new launch titles for RIVA this month,  and whose 3 in 1 collection Convenient Engagements  is out  in January too.

What do all three have in common? 

Well this week  to help you get your New Year - and your Writing Resolutions off to a great start - they'[re all offering you  a chance to win a brand new copy of the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance.  All you have to do is to read their blog, add a comment . . .  and you'll be in with a chance of winning.

And on the  subject of writing and craft -   if I do some more craft posts/ special workshops/Q&As on writing - what would you like me to talk about? Anything you really want to ask? Something you'd love to have explained?  Anything you just don't 'get'?

Now's your chance. Just post your queries in the comments and I'll note them for future posts.
And who knows - maybe this year will be YOUR year!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Charlie's Diary

My Mum (ie Kate) tells me that people have been asking about me and how I'm getting on so as she's busy with stuff (preparing the Advanced Romance Writing Course for Fishguard) I thought I'd come by and catch up on things.

Well, I knew I was going to like living here - but I didn't realise how much! It's ace! The best home ever.

What's so good about it? Well there's the grub - lots of it. And with three other cats, I often get to finish up what someone (usually Grandad Dylan) has left behind. Sometimes I have to fight with Sid for it, but I still get lots. Yesterday I managed to get three breakfasts - my Mum came down early and fed me and Sid, but then went back to bed. (They've all had the sneezles here.) Dad - the Babe Magnet came down later and I yelled that I hadn't been fed so he gave me another breakfast. Then later Flora came in from Outside and she got her breakfast . . . and I helped a bit.

I have ace toys here as well - even Flora admits that. She was a bit stand-offish at first but then she came round. I say it was because she wanted to play with my ball in a tube - she loves that. So I let her share it now. We have great games with that. And with The Box. I love The Box.

But the best toy they have here - well, they have it sometimes - is The Tree. The Babe Magnet said it was for Christmas but I knew it was a special toy just for me. Imagine - your own life-sized tree - indoors! It was ace. I could climb up it and there were these glittery balls and things on it that I could knock off with my paws. But it's gone away now. I hope I get my Tree back.

I also like helping my Mum with her work. She has a computer that has fun things on the screen and I like to chase them - and then I really help by walking on the keybvoard and writing for her - things like 18ndr76t5hbgliosewdjhw1.

Oh - and I get to sleep on The Bed. Not just a bed, my bed is nice enough and cosy but I get to go up the stairs (did I mention that I love the stairs?) and then jump on to The Bed. Sometimes I have to share it with My Mum and The Babe Magnet but that's OK cos it's extra cosy that way. But sometimes in the night I leave The Bed and have fun chasing Flora up and down the stairs. That's ace - but My Mum doesn't like that so much in the dark. Don't know why.

Anyway, I love it here. The only problem is they don't yet let me go Outside - but then there's cold white stuff called snow out there so maybe I'll stay inside a while yet. And there's always grub . .. My Mum says I'm growing like a weed . Well, that's a good excuse to eat.

So I'll go and see if there's anything in the bowls . . . . Back soon.


Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Year New Cover

I promised that I'd share the new cover of my next book just as soon as I saw a copy of it - well, here it is, from Amazon.

It's . . .different. I'm not sure about the books with just the heroine on the cover. And to be honest, I'm not at all sure what this elegant lady has to do with my fiery, red-headed Marina. Very differetn too from the Presents Extra cover - which does at least have the red hair my hero should have.

What do you think?

How are you liking the new UK covers?
Today is the first Sunday of the month so I'm blogging over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs - with some thoughts sparked off by this new cover. Maybe I'll see you over there?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all
I hope that 2011 brings you lots of peace love, and joy
Happiness, success, some fabulous memories
and of course some really great books to read!
Thanl you for sharing 2010 with me
I look forward to being with you in 2011

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