Wednesday, 18 February 2015

ON TOP OF THE WORLD

This has been an amazing week, so far.  My 95th book was accepted.  My March/April 2015 release has been chosen as a Romantic Times TOP PICK.  Oh, and I was on holiday in Cornwall.

Picture the scene.  It's February.  It's England.  The worst cold snap in aeons.  Yet I get this...



Beautiful, isn't it?  The photo was taken at the Lizard which is a secret backwater,  an area of outstanding natural beauty - and the most southwesterly point of the British mainland.  



It is also the stunning backdrop for the eagerly anticipated new series of Polldark, starring Aidan Turner.





So, not exactly on TOP of the world - but feeling pretty damned good.


All I want to know is how that bat has managed to fly onto my left hand without me noticing...

Monday, 26 January 2015

I'M HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

The UK cover for my April 2015 release arrived today and the jury is still out...
There's no sign of sexy Alek Sarantos, the powerful Greek billionaire hero - and the heroine is wearing a rather dodgy dress.



So I ask, do you like a book cover without a hero?






Or do you prefer the more conventional US version of the same title?



Monday, 19 January 2015

NEW BEGINNINGS

Recently, an editor asked me to complete a Q&A for a new blog and one of the questions she asked was:  Which is more difficult to write - the first line of a book, or the last?

I didn't have to think about it for more than a nano-second.  For me, the end of a story practically writes itself.  By that stage you know your characters inside out and you've shared every step of their unique journey.  You've witnessed all the heartache and heartbreak and all the different highs and lows along the way.  You need to tie up all the loose ends in an emotionally satisfying way and you also need to leave your reader wanting more.  To have them think:  "I like the way this writer tells a story."

But the beginning?  That tantalising first line we call The Hook?  Now that's a completely different ball-game.
There are almost too many choices to make about how to open your story.  Do you start from his POV?  Or hers?  Do you use narrative, or dialogue?
As always, it depends on the characters.  Ask yourself who has the most to lose and then put yourself in their skin and try to convey some of their fears.  Hook the reader right in by getting all those big emotions and feelings on the page, so that they can experience them vicariously.  Create characters who have real guts.  Give them a heart and a soul, as well as all the frailties and flaws which make us truly human.



With SEDUCED BY THE SULTAN (I've shown the yummy French cover above) the story starts from Catrin's point of view.  She's is the ordinary girl who has undergone a Cinderella-type makeover so that she's worthy of being the mistress of a hugely wealthy King.  The story starts when she realises that she's broken the number one rule of being a mistress - by falling in love!

I used narrative to convey Catrin's innermost thoughts and turmoil.  There was no way I could have started the book with dialogue since she is alone in the Sultan's luxury apartment and I'm not crazy about characters who talk to themselves (because it makes them sound crazy!).

It seems like an impossible love-affair and those are the ones I like best.  So that love can do the thing it's supposed to do and conquer all.

Think about the most memorable first lines you've ever read and then analyse why they've stayed with you.  For me, "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents." is one of my favourites.

What's yours?



Thursday, 1 January 2015

NEW YEAR: NEW COVER! (Plus reasons why being a writer is A Fabulous Job…)

Meet Alek Sarantos and Ellie Brooks.  He's a ruthless Greek tycoon and she's the innocent waitress who inadvertently captures his interest.  Ellie is way out of Alek's league and they both know it.  A night of powerful sexual chemistry is one thing - but a lifetime of commitment?
The fireworks start right here….



And the reasons why being a writer feels like being sprinkled with fairy dust?

1.  Everyone knows that writers can wear their PJ's to work - but what about dusting off those sequins or feathers which now seem a tad too trashy/daring to wear outside?  Feel like a movie character within the comfort of your own home!

2.  Sitting staring out of the window can be classified as "research".  

3.  Make your general nosiness legit.  Most people will answer questions if you tell them you're a writer.  Some are kind enough to let you "shadow" them for the day and take you somewhere nice for lunch.  

4.  Writers never stop learning.  This morning I learned about water resources in Saudi Arabia and the healing properties of fire-berry cream*.

5.  You can improve your writing skills all the time.  Sometimes you can even do this in a gorgeous setting like Tuscany.  (Now follows a shameless plug for the Posara writing course I'm teaching at the Watermill in May 2015).  So if you fancy a week of writing and joining the ranks of the other now-published writers who have attended, why not book your place in the sun

And I'll leave you with a lovely image of the Tuscan hills and the famous donkey - with Rachael Thomas, who now writes for Harlequin Presents.



*which I invented

Thursday, 11 December 2014

STOCKINGS





Just look at that magnificent skyline, bathed in the clear golden light of a setting winter sun...




If you like Christmas trees, and Christmas - then I have just the book for you. 


Alannah Collins seems to have struck lucky... 
So what are you hoping to find in your stocking?


Monday, 1 December 2014

AND FEATURING….

How lazy I have been about blogging.  My only excuse is that I've been travelling around and collecting lots of inspiration on the way.
I've been to Umbria, Venice and beautiful Ireland.

And today I'm celebrating the publication of my shamelessly emotional Christmas story called CHRISTMAS IN DA CONTI'S BED.

It's the featured book at the Harlequin offices in Toronto and seeing this photo gave me an uber  (does anyone know how to get an umlaut on a Mac?) big thrill!



If you'd like to read some more about the book - and how I tackle characterisation before I begin writing - you can go over to iheartpresents

Do you love Chrismas?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

VENICE, CELEBRATION & AN UNMISSABLE FILM

Last week I went to Richmond to have lunch with my editor, which is always a treat.  It's one of the few times when I feel like a "real" writer and a professional - instead of someone who just sits in a room in her PJs. making up stories.
At some point I must have mentioned (wistfully) to our editorial team that when I signed my first contract, there wasn't any kind of celebratory party - which has become a lovely tradition for today's new authors.  
So as I walked into the offices I was delighted to see this:



All the hard-working team gathered round for a toast!
(I am the one with the extended leg and my editor of many years - Bryony Green - is standing beside me).  


A close-up of the board shows a mock-up of my April, 2015 release CARRYING THE GREEK'S HEIR and it's a really gorgeous cover.



Look closely and feast your eyes on a photo of Ireland's finest actor David Wilmot (if you haven't already seen SHADOW DANCER, then go and watch it right now.  You won't find a better film).  There's also a photo of me on a dance floor in San Francisco but the less said about that - the better!

Oh, and to top it all I heard that my 94th title has been accepted.  Set in Venice and Cornwall, it features sexy, former bodyguard Loukas Sarantos a man who is now wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, and Jessica Cartwright - the only woman to ever reject him.  It will be released in October, 2015 - title to follow.

What was the last thing you celebrated?