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.