Saturday, September 22, 2007


October sees the publication of Jackie Braun's final story in the SECRETS WE KEEP trilogy, FOUND: HER LONG-LONG HUSBAND.

This is a classic Jackie Braun story, full of warmth and emotion. Claire, her heroine has been dominated by her family all her life and finally she's fighting back.

She's already making a stand even before she meets Belle and Simone on her tough charity cycle ride. Her father does that patronising stuff -- the metaphorical patting on the head -- and suggests she send a cheque. But her friendship with Belle and Claire makes her face up to the fact that there's something more she has to do before she can break away from the past, stand on her own two feet. She has to find the man she used, hurt, and tell him that she's sorry. She's hoping he'll forgive her. But what she needs most is to forgive herself.

If the journey through the Himalayas was a roller-coaster ride, then her return is an even tougher one. Meeting Ethan again makes her realise that she threw away something very special. But maybe, if she can convince him of that, they might still have a future together.

I love Jackie's writing. Her heroine's seem to have that little bit extra, a tiny core of steel that makes them special and Romantic Times seem to agree with me, giving FOUND: HER LONG-LONG HUSBAND, a very special 4 1/2 stars.


I'm off to Italy so I won't be around for a while. I've been invited to present the prize to the winner of the translation prize at the Women's Fiction Festival in Matera -- they used The Cinderella Valentine as the text.

It'll be a wonderful chance to mix with authors -- so far I have Ann Roth, Kayla Perrin and Rosemary Laurey in my diary -- as well as talking to editors, publishers, agents.

The Festival is concentrating on crime writing this year so, maybe, I'll be inspired to get out all the notes for my own crime novel and get on with it. Or maybe I'll just stick to sight-seeing. If possible, I'll blog from the conference, but if not, I'll be posting photographs and telling you all about it when I get back

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's Hugh-in-a-Towel day at The Pink Heart Society

The fabulous Anne McAllister has written an essay on what his image means to the romance author. His iconic status as a hero figure. His all round scrummyness.

Here he is as Ivo Grenville, hero of Reunited: Marriage in a Million.

To check on all his other roles, click on the link and enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


It's time to vote for your favourite book from the following list at the North-West Libraries TIME TO READ -- PURE PASSION website. This is a wonderful initiative from a very supportive library region with romances from every genre and for every taste on the list. Just click on the link at the bottom of the list, then on the VOTE HERE button at the top right hand corner.

A Step In The Dark by Judith Lennox

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

Brown Owl’s Guide To Life by Kate Harrison

Deceived by Nicola Cornick

Decent Exposure by Phillipa Ashley

Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

Gardens of Delight by Erica James

Going Dutch by Katie Fforde

His ’n’ Hers by Mike Gayle

Home Truths by Freya North

Love Potions by Christina Jones

Mounting Desire by Nina Killham

PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Rainbow’s End by Eileen Ramsay

Reunited:Marriage in a Million by Liz Fielding

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Tall, Dark and Handsome by Nisha Minhas

The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson

Okay, that's the list. Now click here and VOTE!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Asked to write about this for eHarlequin recently, I have to say that my first, slightly cynical response, was that it’s the same thing that drives everyone to the office each morning. The need to eat. And that’s true, of course, but only up to a point.

It can’t be the need the eat that makes Stephen King sit at his desk each morning. Or John Grisham. Or Nora Roberts. For the writer, the artist, the actor – anyone who produces a “performance” out of their head, their heart, there has to be something more that drives them on when, by most standards, they have the kind of financial security that would have most of us switching off and heading for some luscious beach.

When I was a newly published author, a journalist asked me if I’d ever give up writing. It’s a pretty weird question now I think about it. Would she have asked a banker if he’d ever give up banking? Anyway, on a bit of a high I replied that even if I won the lottery (not likely since I don’t play!) I would still write.

Fifteen years and fifty-plus books later I sat down and asked myself if that was still true. I have to be honest and tell you that there are days when I never want to see a computer again. Writing is tough. It’s tough on your back, on your eyes. It makes your brain ache (it makes my brain ache, anyway). And unlike other jobs it doesn’t get easier with practise. On the contrary. The more you write, the harder it gets to find a brilliant new way to tell what is, basically, the same story. I actually read somewhere yesterday that there are only two stories – Romeo and Juliet and … I forget.

So, if I was asked the same question today, would the answer be the same? I guess it would, because writing isn’t just a job, writing is who you are.

I’ve always written. Always seen writing a book, being published as my personal goal in life. But if it was simply that, surely I would have been happy, content, once AN IMAGE OF YOU was published back in 1992? Picture in paper. “Mum, 40, Writes Book” headline. (Did Stephen King’s first headline read “Dad, XX, Writes Book”? No, I didn’t think so.) A book with my name on it in the local branch of W H Smith. Mission accomplished.

But one of the things that drives me, drives every writer I suspect, is the impossibility of a book, any book, ever matching the soaring vision in your head, in your heart. I once said to an editor, after A STRANGER'S KISS (my fourth, I think) had been accepted for publication, that I wished I done something more with a particular scene.

“Next time,” she said. “Do it in the next book.”

We both knew she wasn’t talking about that particular scene. She was telling me that next time I’d get closer. And that’s what keeps me writing. The goal of the perfect book. A book that, when I it take out of the box and read it through to check that all my corrections have made it through the final copy edit stage, doesn’t leave me thinking that I could have done something more in any one of a dozen places. That nagging little feeling that I could have done better.

It’s never going to happen of course. No writer is ever completely satisfied with the finished result and, since I get more critical with experience, not less so, I’ll always have to keep writing, always seeking an illusive perfection.

And as if that isn’t enough to keep me going, there are the characters I left behind. A handful of difficult teenagers who are clamouring for their own stories. Men and women who play a role above and beyond the call of a “minor character”, who have stories of their own that demand to be told, some more urgent than others.

At the moment I’m writing a follow up to my August, Harlequin Romance, REUNITED: MARRIAGE IN A MILLION. The hero’s sister was not, as first glance, heroine material and yet she came through when the pressure was on and I wanted her to break free of her past and find happiness. And how would that happen if I didn’t write her story? Being an author is a lot like being a mother. You never stop feeling responsible for your offspring.

But on the days when the writing is going so badly that I’m tempted to buy a lottery ticket, or just cut down on food and head for a quiet beach, what keeps me turning up at my computer at seven o’clock each morning are the letters from readers, the encouragement and camaraderie of colleagues, the faith of my editor – and a publisher who has paid me in advance to deliver this book, on time. And the memory of how it feels when the postman brings a box containing my latest book. The sheer pleasure of the moment when you open it, take one out and hold it for the first time. The new book smell. Checking the cover. The blurb.

It’s those moments that make this the best job in the world. Bankers are welcome to retire to whatever dream takes their fancy. Romance writers write out their dreams, their fantasies. Lying on a beach, just watching the world go by would be a kind of agony. About two weeks would be all it took before I had to go and write about the couple who are clearly having a very bad time. The lonely guy sitting throwing pebbles into the sea. The scarred woman… Fixing in my head the world that I see because that’s what I do. That’s who I am.

A writer.

When the writing is going badly you’d think that the obvious answer is to dive into a good book and forget all about it. It doesn’t work like that, unfortunately. When the writing is going badly only a familiar book, something that I know will deliver a great comfort read will do. This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Georgette Heyer’s Venetia. Pretty much anything by Kate Hardy.

But during the last couple of weeks I’ve delivered my sheikh novella and I’m 75 pages into my latest Romance and I’ve been feeding my soul, filling the well with some terrific new books.

First up, comes NEEDED: HER MR RIGHT by Barbara Hannay. This is the second book in the SECRETS WE KEEP trilogy that was a collaboration between me, Barbara and Jackie Braun Obviously I knew the set up of this story. Knew Simone Gray, the heroine, who appeared in REUNITED: MARRIAGE IN A MILLION, and I knew her terrible secret, but that was all. I didn’t know much about Ryan, her Mr Right, or how the story was resolved. I did know that it would be an emotional roller-coaster, though, because that’s what Barbara always delivers.

Just imagine a girl with a terrible family secret, a girl who loses the diary in which that secret is laid bare and then discovers it has been picked up by a hot shot journalist. That would be the same hot shot journalist, son of one of Australia’s richest men, who’s about to be featured as pin-up of the month, wearing nothing but a towel, in the magazine on which she’s a senior editor.

Great set up, but then the emotion kicks in. I’m not going to spoil it by telling you Simone’s secret, or how Ryan proves himself to be a true hero. You’ll want to find that out for yourself and you buy the book here

My second great read is CAFÉ DU JOUR by Lilian Darcy. Lilian guest blogged here last month, talking about this book of the heart and its long road to publication. Lilian is a fabulous writer, with many books to her name, but this is her first mainstream women’s fiction, published by MIRA in Australia. I sent for my copy as soon as it was published and was immediately caught up in this story.

The heroine is a chef who, since her sister’s catastrophic motor cycle accident, has been struggling with food, both cooking and eating it. Her boyfriend wants to involve her in his dodgy “new age” workshops and her boss’s son had decided to make-over the restaurant where she works. Life gets increasingly complicated but through it all she grows towards something that promises a happy ever after.

This is a wonderful, involving story with some truly stellar writing. Lilian has a gift for character. You may not like everyone in this book, but they are all completely real, whole, fully formed people. And her turn-on-a-sixpence descriptions make me want to weep with envy.

Café du Jour is, infuriatingly, only on sale in Australia but it’s a piece of cake to buy it online from the Harlequin Mills & Boon website here. You’ll need to register, but you have to do that with any website you want to buy from these days, and after that it’s a piece of cake. My copy took about ten days to reach the UK.

And finally, PLAY IT AGAIN? by Julie Highsmith. This is one for fans of Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews.
A joyous muddle of relationships, with an aging rocker Dad, his gorgeous son, the girl next door, an ex wife, a dog, old school friends and that boy who, in the sixth form, reduced the mother of the girl next door to an incoherent, blushing idiot. Oh, and possibly the most incompetent gang of kidnappers in the entire world. Lots of fun and available here from Amazon, UK

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


It's arrived. That gorgeous box of books containing the first edition (the UK hard back library edition) of THE SHEIKH'S UNSUITABLE BRIDE.

Opening the box, getting that first sight of the cover art is always a fraught moment.

Will it be fulfil the image that you have you in your head of your characters?

Will it feel like the story you wrote?

Or will it be a nightmare, so wrong that you want to weep?

Well, this is a bit of a mixed bag. This was my vision of my heroine, Diana Metcalfe.

Not that close, to be honest.

She's a larky girl with curly hair, but it's a lot better than some of my cover images.

Does anyone remember the hideous UK version of the The Bridemaid's Reward. The one where the heroine has a moustache and we're looking straight up her nose?

And this is Sheikh Zahir al Khalid. Okay, all my heroes look pretty much the same on the cover and I wasn't going to get Antonio Banderas as a cover model.
But it is pretty. And it looks like a "sheikh" book. I was a bit concerned I was going to get him in a dinner jacket and her in uniform dancing around Berkeley Square. (You'll have to read the book!)

My real surprise is that, to me, that cover clinch looks more like a Modern/Presents cover than the kind of artwork you usually see on a "Romance". Is this a trend? Or is it simply an attempt to attract "sheikh" lovers from other series to pick it up? I already have a solid following of readers who also love Modern/Presents but if this encourages more to pick a "Romance" and realise what they've been missing, well hooray!

Oh, and I'm blogging over at eHarlequin on What Keeps Me Writing. Debbie Macomber is there, too. Right next to me. How cool is that?

Saturday, September 08, 2007


I'm waiting for cover art. Waiting to see how my lovely Sheikh Zahir and Diana have been portrayed on the cover of The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride. I'm just being impatient. It won't be on sale retail until January, but an author worries about these things.

I did check on the art sheet details filled in by my editor and it seems likely that Diana will be in her chauffeur uniform. This could be fun, or it could be disastrous. Chewing my nails to the quick here, especially as while checking out the sheikh I looked over the cover "vision" for The Bride's Baby, my "spring bride" book.

Do you remember the purple shoes? Satin, embroidered, beaded, sparkly purple shoes that the lovely Anne McAllister spent valuable distraction time hunting down on the 'net for me?

Well, maybe my sweet ed was in a hurry because in the cover art form she wrote that the "bride is wearing purple...." Not the exquisitely described heavy cream silk dress and coat, appliqued and beaded and embroided to match to the shoes.


That would be The Bride of Dracula's Baby, then...

Monday, September 03, 2007


Lilian Darcy has drawn the winner of her competition for a signed copy of CAFE DU JOUR and a CdJ t-shirt. I'll leave her to tell you all about it.

“I’ve chosen Jenilee Chua as the winner of a copy of “Café du Jour” and one of my “Café du Jour T-shirts. Of all the entrants, Jenilee, you were the only one who pick up that Dylan is a bit of a bad egg.

"Admittedly, it wasn’t easy to work it out from the excerpt! There’s no larger-than-life hero in “Café du Jour” – the book is much more about Susie dealing with turning points in her life – but by the end we can see that she’s going to be happy with the right man.

"On a more disappointing note, the UK editorial team for Mira Books has decided not to publish “Café du Jour” in the UK, despite all the positive feedback I’ve had, including that lovely review in the Melbourne Age. So UK and US readers, if you’re curious about the book, you’ll have to buy it via here at Harlequin Australia. The link is also on my website, with an excerpt and more details of the book.

"Liz, thanks so much for having me on your blog. As you know, “Café du Jour” is a real book-of-the-heart for me, and I’m really happy that your regular readers have had a chance to hear about it.”

Back to Liz...

Having read Cafe du Jour in the last week -- and I'll be blogging about it within the next few days -- I have to tell you that I'm deeply disappointed that it won't be issued in the UK, but I bought my copy here from Harlequin Australia as easily as I could have bought it from M&B here in the Britain, so don't let the distance put you off buying a really great book. They only list the books for a couple of months though, so don't put it off.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


The entries are all in, the dh has been delegated to draw the winner and a copy of BRINGING UP BABY will, this morning, be winging its way to Natalie N in Canada.

The question was in which years did Marion, Jessica and I win RITAs. I only wanted one date for each of us and you could have picked from any of the below. The fact that both Marion and I won in the same year seems to have confused some of you, but in 2006 Marion won in the Traditional category and I won in the Short Contemporary category with The Marriage Miracle.

Marion Lennox: 2004, 2006
Jessica Hart: 2005
Liz Fielding: 2001, 2006

Many, many thanks to all of you for taking part. The book is now on sale direct from Mills & Boon and at Amazon, UK As soon as The Book Depository (who despatch worldwide without charging for postage) have it listed I'll put a link on my blog.

Meanwhile I have to go and write 1200 words on "What Keeps Me Writing " for eHarlequin. Hmmm....