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?


Sunday, 5 October 2014

I FLIP WHEN A FELLA SENDS ME FLOWERS....

Gotta love Rogers & Hammerstein, and this deliciously corny song


That this was a precursor to South Pacific is easy to see.  Shades of the fabulous (and very corny) Honey Bun


Sigh.  Don't you just love cheesy musicals?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

You write a book.  You struggle and curse as you attempt to get the tortured emotions of your hero and heroine onto the page and help them work out the stuff which is keeping them apart.  But when you press *send* and deliver your manuscript to your editor - your story is pretty much out of your hands.

You can send in a detailed form, saying how you imagine your characters will look and what you'd like the setting of the cover to be, but it's very much the imaginative baby of the artwork team.  As it should be, because they're the experts.

I've just received the UK cover of CHRISTMAS IN DA CONTI'S BED - and I love it.  Niccolo is one of the Sultan of Qurhah's three great mates.  The other two are the deliciously naughty  Luis Martinez - and the Greek billionaire Alek Sarantos, whose story is coming out in April, 2015.

But back to Niccolo.
He's intense.
He's sexy.
And Alannah's expression tells us that she's knows what a lucky girl she is.
Or is she?



This is a picture which tells a story.
What does it tell you?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

SWEET TREATS FOR HEROES

No, they aren't rather flat looking mince-pies, but a sweet South American treat called Alfajores which are deceptively light and filled with spiced dolce de leche.  To find out why I'm posting random pictures of them, go and take a look at iheartpresents


And in other news, I've just had a book accepted - woot, woot!
CARRYING THE GREEK'S HEIR will be out in April, 2015 and it's about a man named Alekto Sarantos who is one of the most complex and gorgeous heroes I've ever written.  At times I felt myself wishing I was Ellie Brooks - the woman who has the tough task of taming him....

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

DO YOU LIKE TO WIN?

No, I'm not advertising a self-help manual, but giving away three copies of my latest book on Goodreads.   It's very simple.  All you have to do is to write five hundred words on whether the UK should leave the European Union.
Not really.
Just press a button here and soon you could be losing yourself in the story of seriously sexy world champion Luis Martinez and the dowdy housekeeper who has the misfortune of working for him (she doesn't look so dowdy on the cover, does she?).



Tempted?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

ANGEL HEART

It was one of the best films I ever saw (and one of the scariest) and the only reason I watched it was because it starred Mickey Rourke, who I considered one of the finest actors of his generation. 
(And yes, in those pre-surgery days he was also very easy on the eye). 


I've just been watching a clip and even though it's been a long time…  gulp!




Have you seen ANGEL HEART?  Or is there a film which scares you more?

Monday, 30 June 2014

WHY ARE CAROUSELS SO….

SCARY?
I recently went to see the play 1984 (completely brilliant) and afterwards walked along the South Bank.  It was a busy, sunny day and everything seemed bright and normal and innocent when I came across this carousel.  My heart pounded.  Immediately, I started thinking about clowns and spooky figures hiding in the shadows.  I was sure I could hear the sound of mocking laughter…


Of course, Carousel is my favourite musical and the one which gave birth to the haunting anthem which has been adopted by Liverpool football team.  And so I leave you with YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE


(And it was a serious question: why ARE carousels so scary?)

Monday, 16 June 2014

DALLA SUA PACE*

One of the golden highlights of my summer is a trip to Syon Park to hear opera performed around a grand piano, by a brilliant company called Diva.  This year, it was Don Giovanni and it was BLISS.  
Don Giovanni was played by the amazingly charismatic Changhan Lim and it was easy to understand why women fell so easily beneath his spell.  The danger and the devilishness in his eyes gave me lots of ideas for future heroes!
The evening was full of sunshine and laughter.  There was delicious food, shared with dear friends.
And I got to wear a posh dress, liberally sprinkled with golden sequins.


Sigh.  If only life could always be like this…

*my peace depends on her peace.  Don Giovanni's first aria.

Friday, 30 May 2014

VIVE LA FRANCE!

Rosa Corretti gets much more than she bargains for when she begs autocratic Sheikh Kulal to take her home with him…
Her strict Sicilian family are trying to find her and Kulal is doing his best to get rid of her.
It's one hell of a mess and when Rosa's reputation is compromised, there's only one direction this relationship can go….towards the altar!



I love this cover, though I'm not quite sure why Rosa and Kulal appear to be standing in front of a carpet ...

Thursday, 29 May 2014

TEMPTED BY TUSCANY


I'd planned to write about Tuscany and my writing course which takes place every May.
I thought about mentioning the impossibly cute little villages which look as if they've been commissioned from Central Casting.  Or the roses which bloom next to the wine-veranda.  I could describe the crystal clear water which rushes past, making its own particular kind of music.  And the unforgettable trips to the Disney-esque Cinque Terre, or the beautiful city of Lucca.


But in the end, I thought I'd just let the mountains and the sunshine speak for themselves…



And somewhere behind me, you can hear the Angelus echoing out over the valleys….


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

MYSTERY & INSPIRATION

Today I'm over on http://www.iheartpresents.com  where I'm talking about inspiration and mysterious lakes like this

And I'd like you to drop by and tell me about places which inspire you...

Monday, 17 March 2014

HAPPY ST PATRICK'S!

I love St Patrick's Day.  When I was little, a brown paper package ("tied up with string") was sent over from Ireland, containing masses of shamrock.  For some reason it doesn't grow in England - though that didn't stop us trying, year after year.  
I also had a brooch in the shape of a beautiful golden harp ("The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls").
So I'll leave you with that particular tune, which I guarantee you'll know….



HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

"A LITTLE PIECE OF HEAVEN"

One of the most beautiful places I've ever visited is the Cinque Terre - consisting of five exquisite little villages which cling to the rugged coastline of the Italian Riveria.  
It's difficult to access by car (which I love) - but the train takes you straight there, and after that you can board one of the boats which hop from village to village.  
(Read some of the quotes about this magical place here)

This is Vernazza, which you can also reach by foot - to be greeted with a view like this….

Make your way down into the Central Casting surroundings of the village and feast on fresh fish, as the sun warms your skin and your eyes focus in dazed disbelief on the dazzling view.  

If you're interested on a day-trip like this - sandwiched in between learning how to write best-selling romance while sitting in a rose-garden beneath the mountains - then go to www.watermill.net/ where you'll find a couple of places left on my northern Tuscan course, May 2014.

Go on.  Get booking.  You'd be mad to miss it…

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

FAMOUS FOOTBALLERS LIKE FIGO


I have always loved the flair and style of Portugal's ace footballer Luis Figo and have used him as the inspiration for many of my heroes.  For the controversial PLAYBOY SHEIKH AND THE VIRGIN STABLE-GIRL, he was the template for the deliciously wicked Prince Kaliq.  You can see why, can't you?

Sportsmen and women are easy to admire….all that talent and discipline make for a potent combination.  Who is your particular favourite, and why?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

MY SEXY HALF-RUSSIAN HERO...




….wants me to show his picture.  So here it its!

Sometimes book covers are a million miles away from how you imagined the characters to be - and sometimes they are spot-on - like this one.  This IS Gabe Steel.  Every steely, honed, hard and muscular pore of him.
Princess Leila in her wedding dress is pretty accurate, too (she rejected white, in order to wear cobalt blue.  Felt that the virginal colour would be a mockery!).  The only thing missing are the crimson roses she carried…

SHAMED IN THE SANDS is out right now in the UK and North America 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

TEMPTING TUSCANY

Want to write a novel which sells?
To be inspired by mountains and Central Casting cities, and delicious food?
Would you like to step off a plane, knowing you won't have to worry about a thing - except soaking up the atmosphere and creating a story?


Then what are you waiting for?
There are still a few places left on my May 2014 Tuscan writing course.  Come and join the band of rapidly growing published authors who have attended in previous years, and have yourself the experience of a lifetime… 
You can find details here:
A presto!

Friday, 31 January 2014

SHE LOOSED THE CHAIN….

Today I'm over at iHeartspresents, talking about the inspiration for my latest book.
And here it is…



A copy of the painting used to hang on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager, and I used to imagine that I was The Lady Of Shalott.  
It wasn't much of a life, was it?
Pacing that small room.  Looking in that mirror and seeing the reflection of the man she loved, who didn't even know she existed.  Giving into the irresistible temptation to feast her eyes on him properly and then listening to the sickening sound as the mirror cracked from side to side and the web flew out, like a horrible dark spectre of a curse.  
I imagined the east wind straining as she made her way down to that boat, probably freezing cold in that lovely white dress and getting mud on her delicate slippers (though we're not actually sure what she was wearing on her feet).  I thought about how heavy the chain must have felt as she picked it up to loosen it, before laying down on the hard wood, with her blood growing cold in her veins as she floated down the river….

And do you know what used to make me madder than anything?
The fact that Lancelot - the man she had died for  - could give such a wimpish response when he saw her corpse bobbing its way into Camelot.
  But Lancelot mused a little space;
  He said, she has a lovely face;
  God in his mercy lend her grace,
  The Lady of Shalott.

I was like, IS THAT ALL?

Anyway,  the book it inspired is called SHAMED IN THE SANDS, and you can read more about it here


So what inspires you?

Friday, 3 January 2014

KITSCH, CHEATING & CUTE

Wonder if it's cheating to lie soaking in a bath brimming with detox bath salts while drinking strong coffee.?
(Oh, well).
The tree is naked and sitting outside the front door, waiting to be recycled.  Kitsch Santa (carrying a flock of robins, while having a golden candle stuck in his back) is back in his  permanent home in the loft.
And I've had to pack away the unbelievably cute music box, which I bought in the Christmas Shop in Padstow and which is well worth a visit if you're down that way.
So for one last time….



video
Hope your Christmas had bells on!