Sunday, June 01, 2008


That cheer is a slightly manic response to the fact that I have, finally, delivered the pineapple/porcupine book to my editor. I anticipate a fairly swift boomerang response in the form of revisions, since it's long overdue and has only days before it's due in copyediting. I had a working title of THE BACHELOR'S BABY PROPOSAL, but the powers that be have given it the title SECRET BABY, SURPRISE PARENTS.

It's really complicated...

But onwards and upwards. The celebrations have been in hiatus while I wrote until I fell asleep with my face in the keyboard, but this week the lovely Melissa McClone is my guest. She started her writing life with Silhouette but migrated to Harlequin Romance when the lines integrated at the beginning of last year. When she's not writing, or being a mom, she loves to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea, her cats and a good book. Something of a soul mate, then. I really, really miss having a cat.

Welcome, Melissa. Tell us about yourself and the exciting WEDDING PLANNERS series.

Wow! Fifty books, Liz. What an awesome accomplishment. I'm currently writing number fifteen. And I'm counting the days until it's out of here. Fifty seems a lifetime away at the moment! Congrats on winning the RT Achievement Award for Love & Laughter, too. Quite the year you're having! Thanks for letting me apart of it.

Being a writer is often a lonely endeavor. We work in solitude (well, as much kids, pets and husbands allow!) as we create our fictional worlds and characters. Making friends, especially authors who write for the same line, is often hard to do in person since Mills & Boon authors live all over the globe, but the Internet has provided a way, and a lifeline, to connect with other writers.

I'm one of six former Silhouette Romance authors who met through a Yahoo group created after we were told our line was going to cease publication. We all had been invited to submit to the new Harlequin Romance line based out of the Mills & Boon office in England and were a bit nervous about what was happening. Let's face it, change is never easy especially when something is totally unknown. The email loop provided us a way to ask questions, get advice and support each other as we made the transition to the new line and editorial staff. A friendship developed even though all but a couple of us had never met in person. Soon we were not only talking about our writing, but our personal lives.

One day, Shirley Jump suggested we write a continuity series together. The idea was friends writing about friends. She even had a first scene drafted and posted it to the loop. We all loved the idea and pretty much ran with it.

The emails were literally flying. It was hard to keep up with all the various time zones and continents involved in the brainstorming. Ideas, characters, plots. Before we knew it, we had a six book series plotted about friends who are Boston wedding planners. We thought our concept was, well, perfect, but our opinion didn't matter. We had to wait to see what the editors at Mills & Boon thought first.

Fortunately, the editors agreed and The Wedding Planners series was born. The first book, Sweetheart Lost and Found by Shirley Jump was an April release. The Heir's Convenient Wife by Myrna Mackenzie was out in May. My SOS Marry Me! is a June release. Winning the Single Mom's Heart by Linda Goodnight will be out in July. Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed by Susan Meier follows in August. And The Bridegroom's Secret by Melissa James finishes up the series in September.

Once all the books were turned in, we created a blog. In addition to posts by the six of us, you'll find guest blogging by romance authors (Liz is one!), wedding experts and characters from the six books. We run a monthly contest, too.

To give you a taste of The Wedding Planners, here's an excerpt from a scene in Chapter One of my book SOS MARRY ME!

Serena had a checklist for her Mr. Right: polite, attentive, articulate, smartly tailored. All qualities her parents had taught her to value. All qualities Rupert had possessed in spades.

All qualities Kane Wiley lacked.

She unfastened her seatbelt and moved back to where he'd secured the gowns.

What had Belle gotten her into?

Serena checked each of the dress bags. She repositioned three of them. Not much, but she felt better taking control. That is, taking care of her dresses. That was her job even if Kane didn't seem to realize that.

The man was arrogant and rude, the polar opposite of his kind and generous father, who epitomized a true gentleman. If not for the price of the flight--free, thanks to Charlie--and the ability to personally oversee the transport of the gowns, Serena would have found another way to Seattle. But any extra money the Wedding Belles had was going into a fund to pay for their cherished assistant's wedding next June. They couldn't afford to be too choosy after losing money on the Vandiver cancellation and the negative publicity that followed.

She thought about how much Julie and Matt were in love. Her other friends, too. Serena would find the same kind of love, the same kind of forever love, they had found. All she needed was her Mr. Right. One who just didn't look good on paper, but who she could love, too.

Looking out a window, she caught a glimpse of Kane as he performed his preflight walk-around. Light glinted off his sun-streaked light brown hair that fell past the collar of his dark leather jacket. A jacket that emphasized his broad shoulders.

Talk about Mr. Wrong.

Some women might find him good-looking. If they liked tall, classically handsome guys with chiseled jaw lines, square chins, sharpened noses and intense brown eyes.

Serena didn't object to any of those things, exactly. She just preferred them packaged in a suit and tie, and paired with a short, styled haircut and clean-shaven face. She didn't want a man who looked as if he'd rolled out of bed, bypassed the razor and brushed his fingers through his hair as an afterthought.

He glanced up at the plane, at the window she stared out of to be exact. His gaze met her. His eyes, the same color of her favorite dark chocolate, made her heart bump.


She hurried back to her seat, sunk into the comfortable leather club chair and fastened her seatbelt. The temperature in the cabin seemed to rise even though the door was still opened. She removed her coat, picked up her sketchpad and fanned herself.

What was the matter with her? Of course, she hadn't been sleeping well lately. Or eating, either. One good meal, and she'd feel better.

She'd like to take a bite out of Kane.


Her sketchpad fell onto her lap. She looked up.

Kane stood at the entrance to the plane. The interior suddenly seemed smaller. He appeared larger. She gulped.

"Excuse me?" Serena asked.

"Are you hot?"

"I-I..." Something about him made her flustered and tongue-tied and heated. She didn't like the feelings, either. "I'm a little warm."

Serena has a checklist for her Mr. Right. What would be (or was if you've already found him!) on your checklist for your Mr. Right? A winner will be chosen from those who answer in the comment section.

The prize is an autographed copy of my June release SOS Marry Me! on sale June 10th.


Dru said...

My checklist would include being an honorable person, tolerate of others, respectable, have a good sense of humor and adventure and not afraid to cry.

Melissa said...

Great qualities that a Mr. Right needs! Excellent checklist, Dru!

Snookie said...

Wow, I never had a checklist, in fact, never even thought of having one! We've been married 21 years, 22 in October and still going strong. I guess if I did have a checklist, I would have on it what I've found in my husband. Someone to laugh with and cry with, someone that expects unwavering trust and support from me and I epect the same from him, someone that will be my friend, someone that loves me just as I am! Hmmm, hows that for never having thought of a checklist before!

Snookie said...

Liz, hope all is well with your internet connection... love the chocolate factory pic on your website. Sounds like that tour was a lot of fun!

Jan Jones said...

Great excerpt!

Hmmm - ideal checklist...

1. Sense of humour
2. Gentle
3. Should think I'm the most wonderful person in the world

Yeah. that about does it.

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...

Snookie - congrats on the almost 22 years of marriage. Good job on your impromptu checklist, too!

Thanks, Jan! I really like your #3!!!!

Estella said...

I didn't have a check list, but married a wonderful man anyway.

Liz Fielding said...

Hi Snookie! Congrats on 22 years.

Great list, Dru.

Jan, your # 3 is absolutely essential!

I'm on my 36th year and honestly I do think the ability to fall about laughing in the middle of a row is one of the best things about our relationship.

But my checklist, as well as the essential GSOH, kindness, and all the honourable stuff includes great legs (I'll try and find a picture of the dh in shorts!), curly hair, the ability to make a perfect cup of tea and be quiet when I'm reading. Three out of four isn't bad :)

catslady said...

All H's: Honorable, Honest, Humor, Helpful and Happy. At least for starters lol.

Great excerpt!

Cherie J said...

My checklist is one my hubby already meets. He is honorable, reliable, involved as a father, shares my values and is loving. I am so blessed to have him in my life.

mulberry said...

LOL- I love all these lists!
I really think if we're honest, we all have a list- even if it's only got one entry- must adore me!

Liz, let me guess which item on your list you have to miss out on! I still can't get my husband to learn that me really musstn't interrupt me when I'm reading or writing, or he'll have a very grumpy wife.

Jane said...

He's got to be funny, mature, loyal, honest and independent.

Melissa said...

Estella - lists aren't necessary. I'm just the kind of person who writes everything done! And it sounds as if you've did great without a list.

LOL Liz!

Thanks catslady. All those Hs are great!

Aw, cheriej. That is so sweet.

Too funny, mulberry, but very true. We must all be adored!

Good ones Jane. Mature is awesome!

I just love everyone's list. I'll be honest, I had one. I made it in my mid twenties. I kept it in my organizer. It had folds and creases and was a bit tattered from my checking it against the men I was dating. I forgot about it after awhile. I got married at age 30. A while after that I was cleaning out my organizer and I found it, hidden away in a little slit in the cover. To my surprise, hubby met criteria on my list. We celebrated our 13th anniversary in April!

Virginia said...

Hi Melissa, I didn't have a check list either. I have been married for almost 24 years. To me this seem like a long time. I don't think you really need a check list, because you will know when it is right.

Melissa said...

Twenty four years is a long time, Virginia. Congrats!

robynl said...

a gentle and kind spirit but also one who is protective of me; a sense of humor; pretty well has the same values/morals as I do. He is very tolerant and laid back whereas I am somewhat hyper so he takes it well.
It will be 19 yrs. this July for dh and I.

Melissa said...

Congrats on the 19 years, Robinl! I like that you put protective of you on the list! Sounds like a romance hero:-)

Michele L. said...

I have been married since 1985 so I will have to think hard back to when I was dating!

My checklist at the time was a great sense of humor, fun to be with, loves to go shopping with me, loves to go out eat and dancing, and fun to be with. Now that I am 47, my checklist has changed. I definitely admire all the qualities my husband has and more since I love him dearly! He is very kind, considerate, sensitive, passionate, very handy around the house, great work ethic, checks up on my where abouts so I feel safe, and a great all around man!

His handsome Italian looks, dark hair and dark brown eyes were a plus on my checklist also! Ha,ha!

Melissa said...

LOL on the loves to go shopping with you, Michele l! I can't imagine a man who likes to do that, but wouldn't it be great.

Congrats to you, too, on all the years with your hubby. I love that you have a new list based on him! And he sounds like he looks like one of those Italian Presents heroes! Lucky you!

Liz Fielding said...

Got it in one, Mulberry! Wouldn't it be horrible if he didn't want to talk, though?

Congratulations to everyone on wonderful long-term marriages. It's great to hear from so many of you and realise that good marriages are not as rare as the media would have you believe. :)

It also completely shatters the myth that romance readers are all sad females yearning for something they don't have.

michelle Douglas said...

Congrats on getting the pineapple/porcupine book in, Liz. I hope the imprint of keyboard keys are fading from your cheeks!

Great post, Melissa. A list! I'm sure I must've had one... and it probably changed every second day (depending on which girlfriend I was discussing it with at the time :-)). Non-negotiables have already been mentioned - a sense of honour, makes me laugh, adores me utterly, but... and call me shallow... a great smile is an absolute must.

Melissa said...

Oh, Michelle D., I remember those phone calls with girlfriends discussing men! LOL on your list changing every second day!!!!

And wanting a great smile isn't shallow at all. It's a must!

Anonymous said...

My checkklist would include these 2 things along with the basics
1) he would have to admit that though he is Mr Right he will often be Wrong!
2. he would not hesitate to stop at a gas station and ask for directions

Carol said...

I never thought of having a checklist. When the right guy comes along you'll know it. It is essential though for both of you to think the world of each other. If you don't really like each other you'll be in trouble later on.

Melissa said...

Joye - your #1 cracked me up! Classic :-)

Carol - very good advice about thinking the world of each other!

Amy said...

I actually had a checklist! He needed to be easy-going and patient and funny and, you know, willing to put up with me on a daily basis.

Oh, and that he would squash spiders and NOT chase me around with them.

Melissa said...

LOL Amy! Great list. Too funny about the spiders. Thanks for putting a big smile on my face this morning!

windycindy said...

Hello, Ruggedly good-looking, tall, good values and a heart of gold!
Thanks, Cindi

Melissa said...

windycindy - those are great. Very much like romance-hero qualities!

Dena said...

Hi Melissa, It's good to see you here. I enjoyed your post and excerpt. My checklist would have on it; honesty, have integrity, love animals and children, respectible, spiritual, and have a sense of humor.

Sarita Leone said...

I enjoyed the excerpt! Very much!

My checklist? So long...and hubby fills every requirement. :) I am blessed.

Annie West said...

Melissa, great topic to mull over! I think all mine points have been covered. Above all I want a decent guy, one who cares about other people, is honest and honourable. Boy am I lucky I found him (G)! Apart from that, definitely the fact that he loves me too. Is there anything better? Peripheries include a great smile, a definite twinkle in the eye and a lovely dry sense of humour.

Liz, congratulations on getting your pineapple/porcupine in. Fingers crossed you're wrong about revisions!


Annie West said...

Um, of course I meant to write 'all my points' are covered! Just can't type today.


Linda Goodnight said...

One of the things on my daughter's Mr. Right check list always makes me laugh. "Knows how to fix my car".

Liz Fielding said...

Oh, bright girl, Linda!

Melissa said...

Hey, Dena, great qualities.

Lucky you Sarita!

There are some good ones on the list, Annie, but the ones you added are excellent. Thanks!

Your daughter sounds very practical and smart, Linda!

Melissa said...

Thanks everyone for their lists! And a big thanks to Liz for letting me stop by and chat with you all!