Thursday, August 31, 2006

IT'S A PARTY!

Tomorrow, 1st September, is launch day at the Pink Heart Society. Trish and co are at this moment stringing bunting, blowing up balloons, icing little cakes with pink hearts so this is a place where romance readers should drop by. Lining up the Bellinis and Pink Champagne to toast a lot of fabulous authors and a lot of wonderful readers.

See you there!

IT'S A REVIEW...

Sort of.

Romantic Times have got in a bit of muddle with their "Romance" reviews and they've put the August reviews in their September magazine. Those with October books are going to have to wait another month. :(

Catherine Witner, lovely lady, did send me this quote for THE SHEIKH'S GUARDED HEART.

"Liz Fielding's The Sheikh's GuardedHeart (4) is a skillful blending of modern and traditional elements, highlighted by multi-layered characters and sensual tension."

It doesn't actually tell you much, but it's always lovely to have a 4!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

ROMANCE

From September, Harlequin Romance will become just plain ROMANCE with new covers and some fabulous new names joining the list of favourite authors. Not just new authors but writers familiar from lines such as Silhouette Romance, Special Edition, Steeple Hill.

I imagine one of the most pressing questions that readers will have is whether the books have changed in any way. The answer is both yes, and then again, no.

This line is the foundation on which the series romance publishing business was founded. While, in a difficult publishing world, other lines have come and gone, Harlequin Romance has always been a best-seller worldwide.

It started a long time ago. Early books explored the plight of women trapped in loveless marriages, raising awareness of the need for divorce law reform. They told stories about women who cared for the damaged men returning from war. Authors acknowledged the changes the sexual revolution of the sixties brought to women’s lives. Within its pages, the single mother evolved from a girl that “good” women shunned, to a liberated, self-supporting, responsible young woman. The feisty heroine became a woman who could stand toe-to-toe with her hero in business as well as the bedroom. His equal, partner in all things. Jay Dixon has written a fascinating account of the history of the genre in her book The Romance Fiction of Mills & Boon 1909 to 1990s, something of an eye-opener for me as I suspect it will be for many people.

More recently, the authors have taken on Bridget Jones and offered the reader first-person, chick-lit heroines – ones who didn’t whine anywhere near as much as their mainstream rivals.

So here’s what I’m saying. The series is not static. It’s not, never was, set in 1950s aspic. It has constantly evolved, moving with the times to meet the new expectations and lives of the women who read romance. Our heroines are modern women, the kind of women you know, the kind of women you are and they have a place on your keeper shelf alongside the heroines of such Jennifer Crusie greats as Anyone But You, Alison Kent’s Temptations and Blazes, the fabulous Presents titles of Sara Craven, Robyn Donald, Kate Walker, Sandra Marton. The friendship books of Debbie Macomber. (You wouldn’t only eat one kind of ice cream or pizza or chicken dish, would you? Some days you want sexy, some days you want to laugh, some days you want a warm, emotionally satisfying read that leaves you with a warm glow.)

So, to return to the question. Is ROMANCE, different to Harlequin Romance? Has it changed?

Referring to the answer I gave earlier, yes and yes and yes. It remains a publishing success because it has never stopped changing. And then again, no. It will still deliver the kind of story that those of you who never left us, but pick and mix their favourite authors from across the lines to meet their mood, have come to expect, demand, cherish.

And maybe that’s the secret. Story.

As one of my colleagues – the amazing, award-winning Marion Lennox -- put it, we don’t do as much sex as other Harlequin series, so our characters have to talk more. To sustain conversation, great conversation, requires real depth of conflict and emotion, great characters.

Story, emotion, characters who live and breath, are the ingredients that bring readers back again and again to Harlequin Romance, but while we hope to move you to tears, we want to make you laugh, too. All the ingredients you know and love are there; witty urban stories, Outback heroes, women and men struggling through to find not some clich├ęd happy ever after, a story that ends when you close the book, but a life that continues into the future, a partner to share the burdens and the joys.

In relaunching this series, the editors have squeezed us all until the pips squeaked to write the best books we know how, to give the reader deeply-felt emotion, heroines who sparkle, heroes who can make the knees go weak with a smile and above all, sexual tension to make the air crackle. Stories, in other words, that will grip from beginning to end and make this a must-read series for anyone who loves the charge of romance as women find it in the twenty-first century.

Alongside my own book, The Sheikh’s Guarded Heart, the September line up includes,
Raye Morgan
, with the third book in The Brides of Bella Lucia series – the first two books by Rebecca Winters and Linda Goodnight are available now – and titles from Lucy Gordon and Natasha Oakley.

You can check out brief excerpts at the Harlequin Authors Blog where you’re welcome to ask questions, leave comments and chat amongst yourselves!

Finally, for budding authors, to help launch the series in the UK, look out for a Mill and Boon short story competition being run in conjunction with WOMAN'S WEEKLY magazine during the first two weeks in September. If you haven’t already checked it out, this might be a good time to read my own short story, THE CINDERELLA VALENTINE, which is online at eHarlequin.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

CONGRATULATIONS TO SOME OF MY BEST MATES...

A bunch of my favourite authors were lauded last night by Cataromance, a site dedicated to romantic fiction.

Take a bow Kate Walker, Kate Hardy, Lucy Gordon, Lucy Monroe, Michelle Styles and Julie Cohen. You'll find a full list of winners here.

I was pretty chuffed to take a walk along the cyber carpet to pick up my own award for THE FIVE YEAR BABY SECRET.



The book is still available at eHarlequin so if you missed it in April just click here.

And don't forget, the competition on my previous post is running until the end of the month so leave a comment there for a chance to win an Amazon voucher!

Monday, August 14, 2006

THE SHEIKH’S GUARDED HEART

September is going to be a very special month. Both Harlequin “Romance” and Mills & Boon “Romance” have a new look and I’m thrilled to have a book in the launch month.

I’ll blog about the new line next week. Right now, because as regulars will know September books are available online in the US and UK at the eHarlequin and Mills & Boon websites a month in advance (that’s NOW! -- there are links on the sidebar), I want to tell you about THE SHEIKH'S GUARDED HEART. (Read, mark and inwardly digest. I will be asking questions!)

Some authors specialize in “sheikh” books, my friends Alexandra Sellers and Penny Jordan among them. Despite the fact that I spent more than five years living in the deserts of Arabia, this is only my second. But what a story! Danger, betrayal, tragedy with, as always, a touch of laughter to leaven the mix.

There’s the traditional horseback snatch of the heroine. A palace surrounded by a hidden garden. There’s a grieving man, a lonely child, a betrayed woman who has never felt the tenderness of a loving heart. Stock up on the tissues. You are going to cry.

This is what my editor put on the back on the book:


Saved from certain death in the unforgiving desert of Ramal Hamrah, Lucy Forrester is transported to a world of luxury by her rescuer, Sheikh Hanif. The tender care he offers her is more than Lucy has ever experienced in her loveless life, and she finds herself drawn to the proud Arabian Prince, despite his tortured soul. And, as he helps Lucy recover from her injuries, she wonders if she can help heal his own wounds, break down the barriers that guard his heart...”

Mmmm… Cover blurbs never truly satisfy the author, but here’s a taste of the real thing.


Ignoring Lucy’s protestations Hanif laid her on the sofa, propping her up with pillows at her back before kneeling beside her to unfasten and discard the ankle splint and its soggy lining. Then, having eased off her ruined sandals, he unwound his keffiyeh and carefully wiped the worst of the mud from her feet, her ankles, before tossing that, too, aside.

Only then did he sit back on his haunches, look at her and on the point of scolding him for ruining the cushions, she held her tongue. Without the sun at his back, she could see how gaunt and hollow-eyed he looked, as if he hadn’t slept or eaten in days.

Her fault, she knew and, without thinking, she reached out, wanting to comfort him, tell him how sorry she was, as he would have comforted her. For everything.

He caught her wrist before she could touch his face, held it in a grip of steel.

“For what seemed like a year he held her there, an inch away from him. It was not enough. Heat fried the air between them, sucked Lucy’s breath from her body, licked along her limbs, reducing to ash all the hellfire lectures she’d been read about what happened to girls who succumbed to their wanton desires.

There was no defence against the power of such feelings, no barrier made that was strong enough to withstand this yearning to be held, kissed, possessed.
She felt her mouth soften, her lips part as his hand loosened its grip on her wrist, slid down the length of her arm until his fingers reached her hair, pulled loose the pin that held it back from her face, slid his hand beneath her neck to hold her, his willing prisoner.

The moment stretched endlessly as he lowered his mouth to hers then, as he brushed his lips against hers, she felt something deep inside her dissolve, melt.

All pain was forgotten as he leaned into the kiss, deepening it as a thirsty man might drink at a well and Lucy, blown away, matched his need with a passion that was a revelation to her, a desperate need beyond her wildest imaginings and she rose to meet him, wanting to feel the heat, the strength of his body against hers.

As if he knew, felt it too, he caught her at the waist, lifting her, holding her to him as if she were the last woman on earth, while his mouth, hard, almost desperate, obliterated everything but the sensory seduction of his body; the silky sweep of his hair against her cheek, the touch of his fingers at her nape, the salty, dusty taste of his skin.

And, finally, she understood the force that drove men and women to cross continents, conquer nations, give up their lives.

So here’s the competition.


I’m not offering signed books, because I want you to rush out and buy a copy (in the UK they’re at a special offer price of £1.99) and make me look good with my publishers! What I’m going to do is put the name of everyone who leaves a comment on this post in a draw – you have until the end of August -- and the winner will have an Amazon token ($US25 or equivalent) to spend just as she likes. (What? Oh, you expected a question? Gotcha!




Tuesday, August 08, 2006

RWA, EDITORS AND MY RITA

This is where I should have been a week ago. Standing next to Diane Gaston (with her Rita) holding the Rita on the right. But my editor, Jo Carr, is prettier -- and heck of a lot taller -- and she's doing a very fine job. And she was the one who had to put on the pantyhose and make the speech while I was tucked up having my eight hours! Good result.


Sheila Hodgson, Karin Stoecker, Jenny Hutton, Diane Gaston, and Jo Carr.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

THE BRIDES OF BELLA LUCIA

I’ve been talking about this series for a long time. Writing about the writing. Writing about working with other authors spread across the world. Talking about the first books last month because they were, for those in a hurry, available on the eHarlequin (and since Rebecca Winters’ book is now sold out there, a lot of you obviously were!) and Mills & Boon websites.

Now the first books are on the street in the UK and US.

The series tells the story of a fractured family who are spread across the world. The fabulous Bella Lucia restaurants are in London, Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Chelsea, but the Valentine family will take you all over the world. To the US, Australia, Europe. To beautiful Meridia for the coronation of Prince Sebastian, and to the desert kingdom of Q’Arim before bringing you back to London for the final drama. Each book stands alone as a wonderful story, but I know you’re going to want to read them all.

Eight fabulous stories, eight wonderful authors.



This is the logo to look out for on the covers – two books, this month (Rebecca and Rachel are twins!); one a month after that until next February. We’ve put together a special blog/website where you can read what inspired the authors, see the faces behind the characters, read excerpts, view the covers and tell us what you think.

Here are the titles and the authors (don’t forget that they will be available a month in advance of publication on the eHarlequin and Mills & Boon websites):

August: Having the Frenchman’s Baby by Rebecca Winters
Home to the Cowboy by Patricia Thayer
September: The Rebel Prince, Raye Morgan
October: Wanted: Outback Wife, Ally Blake
November: Married Under the Mistletoe, Linda Goodnight
December: Crazy About the Boss, Teresa Southwick
January: The Nanny and the Sheikh, Barbara McMahon
February: The Valentine Bride, Liz Fielding

And to launch the series, my own short story, set in the Chelsea Bella Lucia restaurant, I've written a short story, THE CINDERELLA VALENTINE, which you can read online at eHarlequin. There's a link in sidebar to take you straight to it.