Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Operation Auction - a way to help

A few weeks ago something horrible happened to someone who has worked hard to promote the reputation of the romance genre. Fatin is a wonderful ambassador for the  genre and a fantastic reviewer, so when news arrived of a family tragedy where Fatin's husband was taken in a senseless act of violence, leaving her with four daughters to raise on her own.people in the industry knew we had to do something to help.
And so Operation Auction came to be.

It's going on now over on ebay  I have some items I've donated  up for grabs:
Signed copies of Claimed by The Sicilian (a 3 in 1 collection that is not available in America) containing: The Sicilians Wife, Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride The Sicilians Red-Hot Revenge .
The Konstantos Marriage Demand.  The Award winning title of mine!
Bedded By The Greek Billionaire

 You can see the items on ebay as well as browse through hundreds of other items - from meals with editors/authors to signed books to critiques and all sorts of fun things - and for readers and writers alike.

The proceeds are going in a trust for the girls.
You can find my lot here   Bids close on April 1st - so get your bids in now!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Time for some good news

Life, and this blog reflecting it, has been decidedly downbeat lately so  I'm really happy to be able to share some much better news with you  - some really great news.

I've been holding on to the secret though I was almost bursting with excitement because I had to wait for the latest edition of Romantic Times Magazine to come out so that the news could be announced officially. Now that the latest issue is up on their web site I can tell you . . . .

My book The Konstantos Marriage Demand won Best Harlequin Presents Extra 2010 in the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards!

I am so thrilled by this. I  have been nominated for the Best Presents/Presents Extra three times now but this is my first win and it really made my day when the email came through. Thank you to all the RT reviewers' for this wonderful  honour.

And special congratulations too to my friend Anne McAllister  whose book The Virgin's Proposition won Best Presents.

And still connected with RT, I was really delighted to see that my newest release in America - that's the Presents Extra  edition of The Proud Wife -  has been awarded 4.5  stars in their reviews. I don't have a copy of the review yet but as soon as it's available I'll let you know.

But I have been asked to contribute a post about The Proud Wife to the Romantic Times  blog for this month,  The topic was on Lovers Reunited and The Proud Wife fitted perfectly into that theme. I've just heard that the blog is up now on the Romantic Times site  so  I hope you'll visit there as well and read all about it.

It's so lovely to have some really good news to report.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Have Your Say

There's a new section over on the Mills & Boon web site - ir's called Have Your Say - and here editor Flo Nicholls explains all about it -

The eagle-eyed community regulars amongst you might have noticed a new banner on the Mills & Boon home page, intriguingly called Have Your Say. But what’s it all about, and why should you check it out?

Well, some pretty major technological advances have actually been going on behind the scenes at Romance HQ in the last few months. Some of you might remember the Mills & Boon Monitor Panel, where we asked you to submit your monthly thoughts on our books. We’re pleased to announce that, after a brief disappearance to allow for its snazzy makeover, the monitor panel is back up and running, this time online, and with the brand new name of Have Your Say.

But why is your opinion so important to Romance HQ?

Mills & Boon is unique in being the only publisher that corresponds directly with its readers to actively solicit feedback. Not only do we love to know what you make of the books (we have a monthly departmental meeting largely dedicated to assessing reader feedback, it’s completely fascinating), we also use this information to shape our editing strategies: after all, we want to make sure we’re delivering books you actually want to read!

In short, Romance HQ would be nothing without its fabulously loyal and passionate fan base! We’re also 100% dedicated to asking for, listening and hopefully catering to your romance-reading wishes. So, the message this week is simple - visit Have Your Say, enjoy the easy step-by-step reviewing process and share your thoughts! From the amazing variety of responses to this blog, you’re clearly all readers with strong, interesting and constructive opinions – exactly the type of feedback we want to be getting.

What are you waiting for?! If you fancy playing a part in shaping the Mills & Boon books of the future, log on  and get reviewing!

And on a personal note,  while you're visiting the Mills & Boon web site - take a look at the Top 10 bestsellers list. At the beginning of the month The Proud Wife was up there at #1 for several weeks and now, at the end of the month, it has jumped back in at #4 again!  And it's never been out of the Top Ten M&B books over on Amazon all month!

All I can say  to the wonderful readers who have bought my book to put it on the list  is - thank you!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thank you

Thank you all so very much for your lovely messages of sympathy and care - so0me on my blog, on Facebook and some private ones. I have been truly touched by each and every one of them - and so appreciated the fact that you took the time and trouble to write.

The Babe Magnet  too has read every message and they have made him smile and say  how kind people have been - and you have! I always knew my readers and fellow writers were wonderful - you all just proved it. And you helped to make a stressful and difficult week so much more bearable knowing you were thinking of us.

I think Quillers put her finger on things when she said:

I was struck by the words 'Joy has been part of my life for the last 40 years'. It says it all really, doesn't it? It sounds as if she was aptly named.

So true - Joy was actually named Joyce but no one ever called her that. We won't have her physical presence and joy in our life  - but there will be plenty of joy in our hearts and memories

Thank you again

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A sad loss

Joy Young 1928 - 2011

Thank you all for your kind words about Dylan  -  I really appreciated  them.  But if I'm honest, I was posting the blog about my cat because  - sad though I was to have lost him - that was the thing I could talk about at the time.  There has been another, far greater loss to our family  this past week. 

This time last week I learned with much sadness that my dear Mother in Law,  had died suddenly.  She was almost 83 and a little frail, but still we hadn't expected it, and it came as a real shock to everyone.  Saturday should have been her 83rd birthday and she was supposed to be coming to us for a special weekend.   We put up her cards anyway to mark her special day.

Joy had been part of my life for the last 40 years. She is going to leave a great hole in my heart.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dylan . . .

Blogging will be a bit irregular for a while, but I've had a number of concerned emails  after I said  that Dylan had gone missing and then  - because of other circumstances - left you all in suspense about him.

I've been in suspense too, hoping and wishing that he would come home, sauntering into the house with the swagger he had even though he was such a small cat.  But sadly he hasn't been seen for over two weeks now. 

I've hoped that someone thought he was a stray and took him home. This has happened before when a group of schoolgirls saw how tiny and thin looking he is  - in spite of the fact that is wonderfully fed and spoiled -picked him up and were heading home with him. But sadly I also know that he was round about 17 - being a rfescue stray we never knew exactly how old. And elderly  cats do go away from home when their time has come  and die quietly elsewhere.

We asked everyone we could think  off, posted  flyers through doors in the nieghbourhood - nothing. So I'm very  sadly resigned to the fact that he's gone.  He was a free spirit, and as The Offspring said, always in charge of his own fate so I have to accept that he's  done what he needed to do.

We miss him  of course.  So much. He survived a lot - the most vicious dose of cat flu I've ever seen any cat suffer and still survive. The blindness in one eye and the way it had closed up so every time you looked at him it  seemed as if he was winking at you.

He was a literary cat,  one who once followed the Babe Magnet to a Poetry Class and ended up staying for two hours. He loved  writer friends - like Anne McAllister who had a generous hand with cat 'greenies' that he loved.    And he was a special favourite with my Mother in Law, always heading strainght for her lap as soon as she sat down. And that's made this week just that bit extra hard.   And if Biddy Coady visited then we had to check her luggage before she left just in  case it was purring . . . .

He also loved  workmen - plumbers, electricians,  repair men. He would supervise their work and get as many strokes from men with big hands as he could manage, purring his rusty 'doesn't quite work properly' purr as he did so.  And small cat he might be  but the first spot was HIS.  I'm glad that the last days he was here it was cold enough to  light a fire and let him snooze in front of it.

If you want to know any more about Dylan - or Dyl the Vyl as he was affectiuonately known - I gave him his special write up a  few years back that you can read here. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Get your bids in . . .

Just a reminder that the Authors for Japan Auction is still open but it closes at 8pm tonight (UK time)

My lot is #110

 I’m offering signed copies of THE 12 POINT GUIDE TO WRITING ROMANCE and my novels; CLAIMED BY THE SICILIAN (3in1 collection of The Sicilian’s Wife, Sicilian Husband Blackmailed Bride, and The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge), THE GOOD GREEK WIFE and KEPT FOR HER BABY.

Claimed By The Sicilian – Three proud, fiery Sicilian men who won’t be denied! Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride Dark, proud and sinfully gorgeous, Guido is determined to reclaim his wife! Amber looks untouchable, but Guido knows the passionate woman inside. One kiss and he’s certain she’ll give him whatever he demands! The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge Emily and Vito shared one night of passionate lovemaking. Then, in the cold light of day, her secret tore them apart. Now Vito has come back – and he’s determined to have his revenge! The Sicilian’s Wife Cesare fell for Meg from the moment they met. He has waited for her to become an adult, but now Meg tells him she is pregnant by another man. Will Cesare still make her his bride?
The Good Greek Wife – 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? The Greek Tycoons Legends are made of men like these

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blogging elsewhere

I'm late posting this  - but it has been a  pretty tough week for our family.  So new blogs might be a bit scarce for a few days while  we cope and adjust.

But today is the 3rd Friday in March so I just wanted to say that it's  my day for A Date With Kate over on the Pink Heart Society - so my post there is up now.  I'm talking about  one of the many reasons why I'm proud to be a member of the romance writing community

Not sure when I'll be back to regular blogging - but  like the Terminator I will be back!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kate's Corner

I'm a bit late with this - yesterday was a day of problems and I was hardly at my desk - plus I thought that the Authors for Japan auction was very important to broadcast.  
So I forgot to say that as it was  March 15th, it was my day for my Kate's Corner blog over on We Write Romance.  But as I was late getting that organised too, it wouldn't have been much good telling you about it till it was up! The blog is up now so I can tell you that I'm over on We Write Romance, in Kate's Corner, talking about  how tough times make me appreciate why I write and read romance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Authors for Japan - Bidding is open

Along with many other authors I've contributed a lot  - thats  a'lot' not a lot of stuff! -  to the Authors For Japan auction

This is -  pretty obviously  - a way to raise funds for the people whose lives have been devastated in the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Bidding is now open  for so many wonderful lots (150 when I last looked) - signed books, critiques - other goodies. So why not take a look, make a bid - and you can get your hand son something fabulous and know  you are helping a great cause too.

My own lot is  #110  -   I’m offering signed copies of THE 12 POINT GUIDE TO WRITING ROMANCE and my novels; CLAIMED BY THE SICILIAN (3in1 collection of The Sicilian’s Wife, Sicilian Husband Blackmailed Bride, and The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge), THE GOOD GREEK WIFE and KEPT FOR HER BABY.

Please visit the site - and please bid ! Those reports coming out of Japan this week show just how much your help is needed.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thoughts of Japan

I have lots of wonderful readers in Japan - thousands of them. People who buy and read my books so often  that just about all of them have been reprinted at least once - some more than once  - and have also been brought out in the amazing Manga editions.

I've even been privileged to meet some of these enthusiastic,  lively, warm and giving women when, some years back, I was lucky  enough - and honoured - to be  in a chosen group of authors who were invited to meet a special group of the Japanese Mills & Boon Readers' Club who had come to England to visit  and to  get to know some of their most favourite authors. 

Along with  - I think - 14  - of my fellow writers from all the lines, I had lunch at the fabulous Leeds Castle, talked with the readers, had my photograph taken what seemed like endlessly. And all the time there was this fabuolus buzz of excitment and sheer delight in which the problems of language and differences in cultures  completely dispapeared under a  wave of open joy in sharing the romance stories that were what had brought us together. I came home with my mouth aching from smiling so much.

Every single one of those ladies brought  gifts too, small, beautiful items - fans, chopsticks, I even sat entranced as one reader created just for me with nimble  fingers  a tiny, perfect origami bird  that flapped its wings if you pulled its tail. I still have that bird - and the fan, the chopsticks, the stamps,  the beautiful cloth ..  .  I  took them out of their box this weekend  as the news about the terrible earthquake in the country they came from worsened from minute to minute,  and looked at them - and I'm not ashamed to say my eyes filled with tears as I did so.

I didn't just meet with readers that day. I made some friends and several of them - one lovely lady in particular  - has been writing to me and sending me Christmas gifts ever since.  She always tells me how much she loves my books and we share a warmth that no distance can reduce. Only last week she sent me a note  and a beautiful little zip up pouch for pens or makeup brushes. Ihave it here on my desk as I write this.

I sent a thank you to Junko - but heaven only knows if it will arrive.  She lives in  Tokyo  and I have no way of knowing if her address still exists.  I pray that it does.

So if  by any chance you're reading this Junko - and Keiko - know that you are so much in my thoughts. As are all your families, friends, loved ones - your whole desolated country in this dark time for you all.   My heart aches for the suffering, hardship and loss you are enduring and I pray that these terrible days will ease for you and for everyone in Japan  soon.

Thank you for being part of my international 'family' of readers. I'm so glad that  my books gave us a connection we woudn't other wise have had.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Just for fun . . . .

I'm having a rather complicated week.  One where as soon as I  get one thing done then something - or two somethings -  new takes its place.  Yesterday I felt as if I was spinning a bit and  a worry about  a dear old pet (Dylan the eldest of our cats is missing ) is adding to the feeling of not quite getting a grip on things.  So I've been struggling a little.

One of the things that's being planned is loosely connected to the upcoming Royal Wedding - now you can't have missed that!  So I was really  rather  delighted when I spotted an article in one of the daily papers  that announced 'Knit your own Royal Wedding'.  Years ago, I would have loved to do just that. I knitted  toys for the Offspring and then for craft sales for charity - starting with Humpty Dumpty, moving on to snowmen, clowns, dolls . .. 
I have no time at all for this sort of thing now - though I was tempted when I saw that I could knit myself the Queen, Prince William and Kate  - not to mention a couple of corgis!  ButI have a dreadline, and the prospect of several unexpetced  extras coming up  so I'll have to pass on this particular souvenir of the royal event.

I may be involved in  working with M&B to help celebrate it in other ways . .  . but I'll say more about that when I know fully.

One thing though, looking at these cute kn itted dolls and remembering the  time  the ones I used to make always took to put together, I think that these two interests of mine  are sort of linked - in that as with writing romance, no one ever quite understood the concentration to detail that went into making the craft toys either!

I do think they are fun though - so I thought I'd share them with you.  If you want to see them in more detail or read more about the individual figures then you'll find the full article here.

PS And also in the newspapers, I just found this interesting article on a project I helped a bit with last year and the one before. when I  talked with Julie Moggan about her documentary Guilty Pleasures and was several events that she was filming.  It will be fascinating to see the finished result - and she gives my name as one of the writers whose books she enjoyed!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

And the winners were . . . .

Winner of the 2011 Romantic Novel of the Year – recognising the best of the year’s novels exploring the deep mysteries of the human heart – is Jojo Moyes for her book The Last Letter from your Lover.
Also honoured  at the Pure Passion Awards were two of the world’s best-selling and much-loved authors - Josephine Cox and Penny Jordan. Both authors were presented with Outstanding Achievement Awards for their contributions to the ever popular genre.

Author of 43 novels in the last 23 years, selling 24 million copies in the UK alone, Josephine Cox has had six number one, and sixteen top five, Sunday Times bestsellers since 2004. Josephine Cox said: “I am thrilled and delighted to be receiving such a prestigious award. It’s something I never expected and I would like to thank all those concerned for thinking I am deserving of it.”

Penny Jordan was first published by Mills & Boon thirty years ago in 1981, after entering a writing competition run by the RNA. Since then her books have been translated into 26 languages and have sold 85 million copies worldwide. “To receive this award from the RNA – the organisation that helped me toward my first publication via its New Writers’ programme – reinforces for me everything that the RNA is and does for the writing community,” Penny Jordan said. “I am thrilled and honoured to be recognised with this award”

The RNA Pure Passion Awards celebrate the very best in romantic fiction, encompassing the breadth of the genre. Three further and equally coveted awards were presented – the Historical Novel Prize, Romantic Comedy Prize, and Love Story of the Year.
Winner of the Historical Novel Prize was Elizabeth Chadwick with To Defy a King, published by Sphere. The judges all agreed that “the history is deeply felt and conveyed, and is essential and integral to the plot.”
The Romantic Comedy Prize went to Jill Mansell with her book Take a Chance on Me, published by Headline. The judges said the book has “beautifully understated humour” and is “an utter delight.”
Winner of the Love Story of the Year for a shorter romance with a strong emphasis on the developing central relationship was Louise Allen with The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst published by Mills & Boon.

Katie Fforde, Chair of the RNA said: “Once again, in our 51st year, the Romantic Novel of the Year Award has produced a sensational winner. Of Jojo Moyes’ The Last Letter from your Lover the judges unanimously agreed that ‘this novel combines exquisite writing, a truly romantic yet original theme and a blissfully satisfying ending. A worthy winner in a very strong list.’”

Of the outstanding achievement awards, Katie Fforde said: “Penny Jordan has written over 180 novels for Mills & Boon, selling 85 million copies worldwide. Her wonderfully crafted novels bring happiness and romance to millions of women every year and she is truly worthy of this award. Josephine Cox, another recipient of our special Outstanding Achievement award, is a legend. From humble beginnings she fought her way to become a writer of 43 books which not only sell in millions but are among the top of the ‘most borrowed’ list in libraries. It’s likely that she’s the favourite author of more people than any other writer.”

You can see a selection of photographs of the event here.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Covers Contests and Kudos

I posted about covers over on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs yesterday, showing the UK  and the USA cover of The Proud Wife, and Nas very kindly connected me to the Australian cover which is   a much fuller version of the USA  Presents Extra cover and  actually the one that best represents a scene in the book - the board room setting, the passion between the hero and heroine. The purple dress is all wrong - that's just not the impression that my heroine Marina was trying to give - but  you can't have everything!

Anyway, I thought I'd share it with you all here.

Kudos - well, I'd completely forgotten - I've been  so busy that the fact that it's March 7th hadn't registered. So today is the day that the RNA's Pure Passion Awards are handed out. And right about now in London the ceremony is  under way. I have no idea yet who has won anything but as soon as I do know, I'll pass the information on to you - and I'll raise a glass in a toast to all the winners - and all the entrants - later tonight.

If you missed the lists of the books nominated for each of the Pure Passion Awards  then you'll find it here.

And finally - contests -

One of the things I've noticed is how many of you are trying to collect up past books of mine, from my backlist.  The Advent Calendar giveaway created a lot of interest and people were trying to win copies of the older books that they'd missed or didn't have  copies of. So  to celebrate the publication of The Proud Wife - and to mark that 3 weeks at the #1 slot - I've got together with Lee Hyat of  My Tote Bag.

In the run up to the USA publication of The Proud Wife ( April 12th I think!)  we're running a series of contests where the prizes are collectable backlist books of mine. Each  contest, there will be a chance to win different title.   This time the books you can win are: 

A copy of Cordero's Forced Bride & The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge.
You will find the details and the question you need to answer here.  Please respond to Leena and not to me!

And look out for more such contests coming up - I'll let you know too.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Blogging around

It's the first Sunday of the month so today, as on every first Sunday of the month, I'm blogging over on Tote Bags 'n' Blogs

Hope to see you there

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The best feeling

I've been feeling  really good this week, with  the UK edition of The Proud Wife still at #1 on the Mills & Boon site bestseller list.  It's also been riding high in the Amazon  charts - print  book and kindle editions.

The over on the  site, the ebook version is also now available and being picked up fast and selling well.

But there's really no substitute for the moment of going into an actual bookshop and seeing the print editon of the book on sale for the first time.  It's one part of being a published author that never goes away.

This week, because I've had a couple of events in different places, I've been able to enjoy this feeling over again. I went to Lincoln for the Book Festival launch on Thursday - got the date right this time!  - and spotted The Proud Wife in the shops there. Then today I was in our local W H Smith branch and saw that it was being put out on the shelves - Friday was the official publication day so that was when it was officially on sale.

Now I'm heading for Doncaster with the Babe Magnet to celebrate World Book Night in Waterstone's bookshop there - and I'll plan on taking a quick peep into the WH Smith branch too on the way! And each new siting just reminds me of the very first time I ever saw my book on sale - maybe it's not quite to reallly huge thrill it was back then - but it's still the best feeling ever. And one that never goes away, even on this, the 58th time it's happened!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What day is it again?

I knew I was  busy - get caught up  after getting home from the Fishguard course, then things start happening again. Some exciting things  on the horizon - possibly - that I'll share with you when I can.

(I'm still smiling S-O-O widely though because The Proud Wife is still at # 1 on the Mills & Boon web site sales list!  That's three weeks now.  And the ebook version on eHarlequin has already appeared in their bestsellers list.)

Maybe that was what blew my mind because today I was totally convinced that I had an appointment this evening - if you've checked out my Events page, you'll see that I'm appearing with the Babe Magnet at Lincoln Book Festival in May- doing our Crime and Passion talk.  So there was to be  a reception to launch the Book Festival programme and everyone appearing at the festival was invited . . .

Lincoln - 7.30  . . . 

So we worked everything round that.  Clothes to wear, makeup (for me!) someone to feed the cats - check, check, check.

All organised and planning to set out and spend some time in Lincoln  . . . when I thought I'd better check the invitation . .

It's for tomorrow! 

Oh well, we had a trial run. 

So I'll be in Lincoln tomorrow.   And if you're in Doncaster or anywhere near it, then the Magnet and I will be at Waterstone's helping  them celebrate World Book Night   on Saturday evening
That's Saturday 5th March 6pm - 8pm 

Maybe I'll see you there  -  Unless I get the day wrong again!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Happy St David's Day!

It's March 1st which is the feast  day of Saint David, the Patron Saint of Wales.  As I've just come back from teaching in Wales  - and enjoying a chance to  renew my love  of that country, I thought  for St David's day, I'd share with you some of the reasons why I love Wales so much

1. My childhood family holidays were spent there  - first in a small village called Nevin where we stayed on a farm. I was too young to remember much about it as I saw most of Nevin from my pram!

2. More family holidays - ones I do remember  - were  spent on Anglesey where we rented a house right near  the beach in  Treaddur Bay - yes the place where Prince William and that other Kate  visited last week on  their first joint official  appearence

3.  I went to university there - at University of Wales Aberystwyth.    I loved the Old College, living by the sea, my first flat.

4. I met the Babe Magnet there  - my last year, his first -he came to Aber as a 'mature' student.

5. I got my degree and then  my MA there

6. The Babe Magnet proposed and we got engaged there

7. With my new family -  Babe Magnet and The Offspring - I had a couple of  lovely return visit family holidays in   Aberystwyth and Treaddur Bay

8. The Babe Magnet and I were invited to speak/run courses at  Writers' Holiday in Caerleon. We grabbed at a chance to revisit Wales, had the best time at the first Writers' Holiday we went to, met the fantastic organisers Anne and Gerry Hobbs - and Caerleon has been an important   and valuable part of our lives ever since.

9. As a result of Caerleon I was asked to run the Contemporary Romance course at the Fishguard Writers and Artists' Weekend  -  started with the basic course - ran The Novel course one year  and then got asked to create The Advanced Romance Writing course  for this years' Fishguard - and  will be running it again  next year . . . .  As  a result I've met some great writers, great students on the courses, and I hope one day (soon?) to add to the number of new writers I've been able to help towards publication - fingers crossed.

10. I love dragons!  And daffodils and Welsh Cakes  . . .   and I have some wonderful fabulous friends who are Welsh or live in Wales . . . .

I'm already looking forward to going back to Caerleon in the summer. Maybe I'll see you there?

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Dedwydd!

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