Thursday, July 24, 2014

Read-a-Romance Month

August is Read-a-Romance month. 

Every day three great romance authors will write an essay on what romance fiction means to them, recommend writers they love and give away copies of their books. We're talking writers like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susanna Kearsley, Jane Ann Krentz, Kristan Higgins, Susan Mallery and Nicola Cornick.  How great is that?

Here's a link where you can see the entire list of participating authors.

Bookmark the page and put your feet up in August with some fabulous writers.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stephanie London talking about writing her first book

I'm absolutely delighted to welcome Stephanie London to my blog this week as she launches her debut book, Only the Brave Try Ballet. Check out that cover!
Over to you, Stephanie! 
Things I Learnt Writing My First Book
Writing a book for the first time is a fantastic life experience. I learnt a lot about myself in the time it took to write, revise (and revise and revise and revise) ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET.  Here are 5 things I learned in the course of writing my first book:
1.Coffee is (and always will be) my best writing companion
2.Feedback is worth its weight in gold and it’s worth putting up with the discomfort and fear of sharing your work for the first time
3.Secondary characters are like pepper – use lightly to add colour and flavour, too much will detract from the main course
4.50,000 words is actually not as long and daunting as it sounds if you write a little every day. 250 words is the equivalent of one book page, if you wrote that every day you would have a category-length novel written in about 6 months
5.Writing a book is a team effort, you need a support network to keep you going when it all feels to crazy/hard/scary
If you’re writing a book for the first time my biggest message to you is: KEEP GOING! It can be hard, frustrating, insomnia-inducing, but it’s so worth it when you type ‘the end’. It’s honestly one of the best feelings in the world.

Official Blurb for Only The Brave Try Ballet:
Step up, Grant Farley…not your typical ballet student!
Football pro Grant Farley is nursing an injury and needs to get back into shape—fast. Ballet wouldn’t be his first or even his last choice, but he’s desperate. Enter tantalizingly prim teacher Jasmine Bell—one disapproving arch of her eyebrow and Grant knows he’ll enjoy getting her tutu in a flutter!
But it’s not only Grant’s flexibility that Jasmine’s pushing to the limit! He knows she feels the heat between them, so why won’t she give in to it? Time to convince Jasmine that if she’s brave enough to dance en pointe she can certainly handle a fling with him!


‘About last night—’ he started.
‘If you say How was it for you? I’m going to brain you with this mug.’ She waved a coffee mug at him as if to illustrate her point.
‘What?’ A sly smile spread over his lips as he leant against the breakfast bar. ‘You got a problem with giving positive reinforcement?’
She poked her tongue out at him.
‘No matter—I’ll take the fact that you screamed the house down to mean I did a good job.’
Do you want this coffee or not?’ Her cheeks flamed, but she couldn’t prevent a smile twitching at her lips. He was cocky, but then again, when you were that good…
She held his cup under the coffee machine and filled it with steaming dark liquid. The scent filled the room. Usually it was the most comforting scent in the world—reminiscent of early-morning ballet rehearsals and catch-ups with Elise—but today it did nothing to quell her morning-after jitters. Weren’t people supposed to feel anxious before sex, not after?
‘I’ve heard of love ’em and leave ’em, but never love ’em and cease all conversation,’ he teased.
‘We don’t need to cease all conversations.’
‘Just ones pertaining to sex?’
‘Yes.’ She filled her own mug and brought it close to her face. Inhaling deep, she willed the curling tendrils of steam to work their magic, but her shoulders remained bunched, her hands in a death-grip around the mug’s handle.
So…how about that local sports team?’ He drummed his fingers against the countertop.

Purchase from: Amazon (US | UK | CA | Aus), Harlequin Mills & Boon (US | UK | Aus)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spring into Writing with the 3 Big Cs

Spring is the time of year when the sap rises, the birds and bees get busy and maybe, just maybe, with the lengthening days, that neglected New Year resolution about writing a book — starting is just so hard — could be shaken out and given an airing.

So where do you begin a story? With the three big Cs.

You have an idea, but an idea isn’t a plot. A plot requires conflict, a conflict big enough to carry a book anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 words. That’s not going to be something that could be cleared up if the two people involved sat down and actually talked things through. (Obviously, you can never let them have that conversation, but even so…) Imagine your heroine has a life or death goal and the hero is an immovable object blocking the way.

Which segues very neatly to the next big C - character. To have any kind of conflict you need protagonist and an antagonist. A heroine and a hero if you’re writing a traditional romance. Two people with opposing goals. (Or maybe, as in Ally Blake’s brilliant The Secret Wedding Dress, two people with exactly the same goal – except that, as their relationship grows, the goal posts shift).

Finally, once you have a conflict and the characters to battle it out, you need a crucible – a container that can withstand temperatures high enough to melt or otherwise alter its contents. A device, such as a journey, or house, or a problem they are both involved with, which will hold your characters together and change them forever.

Liz has written more than 60 romances. To find out how she does it, download her Little Book of Writing Romance from any eBook retailer. For more information and to check out her latest releases surf to Liz's website


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Brenda Novak Auction

It's that special time of year again. May is Brenda Novak auction time when the whole romance community comes together to help raise funds for diabetes research.

There are some truly amazing lots offered by writers, publishers and companies who support this great charity.

Brenda, whose son lives with diabetes, has raised a staggering amount of money for research.

You can help. Just browse the auction lists. It doesn't have to cost much. You'll find books by your favourite authors, Jackie Braun's fabulous writing pajamas eReaders, social events, jewellery and there's even a chance to blog regularly for a year as a guest of the Chocolate Box Writers blog.

I have a family member who suffers with diabetes - I'm sure most of you will know someone who is similarly afflicted.

My donation this year is a Kindle Paperwhite stocked up with a bunch of my books - I hope you'll help spread the word and maybe bid on an item or two yourself.

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tulips by Susan Meier

One of my favorite signs of spring is the first tulip. I don’t have many that just pop up on their own. I usually buy new plants every year and stick them in the flower beds as if they’d been there all winter! LOL

But every once in a while, a bulb survives my planting and replanting the beds in front of my house every few weeks in the summer, and pushes its green head up to the sun, ultimately becoming a pink, yellow or white tulip.
I love the tenacity of perennials. If you leave their bulbs alone, they will return. J And they don’t consult the weatherman to see when it’s time to bloom. Once the ground warms, they begin. It’s as if they know winter has drained us of a good bit of our joy, and they intend to fix that by being a beautiful sign that summer is coming.

I don’t depend on those few surviving blooms, though. I buy oodles of tulips to transplant in those beds. Multi-colored. Short and tall. By the time I get them into the ground, they’re about bloomed. So they only live a week or two. But for me the color is worth the time and expense. It’s a living acknowledgement that spring is here and the front of my house will be peppered with flowers.

So I’m a tulip girl. Others like crocuses. Some like daffodils. But I love the audacious, optimistic splash of color of a beautiful tulip.

What about you? What’s your favorite spring flower?

Here are the prizes

 Here's  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 02, 2014

How BDSM and Sweet Romance Are Connected by Barbara Wallace

Recently Esquire Magazine published an essay by Stephen Marche entitled, “The Sex Scene is Dead” in which he noted that graphic movie sex had become old hat.  This got me thinking, would the same thing happen with romance novels?  Is it happening already?

When Fifty Shades of Gray first came out, the romance writing world went crazy.  Granted, erotica had been around for a while, but suddenly, there was real money to be made in pushing the envelope.  Grab your leather and whip, baby, because BDSM was where it was at.  You couldn’t log onto Facebook or Twitter without seeing at least one reference to domination.

Lately, however, I’ve suspected readers might be becoming less enthusiastic then they were two years ago.  Like with the actual Shades of Gray books, BDSM books have gotten repetitive.  I saw one tweet the other day chuckling over how the characters in a book were shocked by sexual activities that she considered ‘been there, done that’.  And on some message boards, a few readers have complained about BDSM and erotica creeping into their romances.  (Thus denoting an important difference between romance and erotic romance, btw.)  To me, these are subtle signs of reader fatigue.  I predict that, in another couple of years, the erotica boom will decline.  Will it disappear?  Never.  Subgenres might shrink, but they never truly dry up.  But the wagon jumpers – the writers who piled on because there was money to be made – they’ll start to depart, leaving the dedicated erotica writers – the ones who were there all along – to satisfy their readers.
So, why do I, a sweet romance writer, care about the BDSM trend?  Because, my friends, the pendulum swings both ways.  You know how, when you’ve had too much candy, you suddenly want something healthy?  Well, that’s how it works with romance novels too.  After awhile, readers want something different.  At conference this fall, a well known contemporary author commented that she saw a growing interest in sweet romances.  A new trend is coming, and for once, I might actually be ahead of the curve.  I’m looking forward to it.

What about you? Do you think the erotica craze is slowing down?  Do you even care?  Do you think readers will be looking for sweeter, gentler romance?  

Here are the prizes -

Here's the Rafflecopter! You know what you have to do!