Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quick Update...

My website has been updated today and there's a competion for a signed hardback copy of my November paperback, Wedded in a Whirlwind. Check it out here

Also, if you're a member of my Newsletter at Yahoo, could you check that you're not bouncing. It took me three attempts this month to find a winner for a signed book from my backlist whose email didn't boomerang back at me. I'm think of changing the server on this one, so watch for news of that. Okay... Now the important bit...

A SURPRISE GUEST...

A year or two ago, I received an email out of the blue from someone called Phillipa. She wrote to tell me how much she'd enjoyed one of my books and I have to tell you that kind of email is designed to win both heart and mind of this particular author.

She was totally honest. She'd bought my book because she was thinking of writing herself and was checking out the market. This, by the way, is essential market research. You cannot believe how many people who never read a book from one year to the next believe they could write one ... if they had time.

We exchanged a few emails and then, almost before I could blink I had the Big Email. The all dancing, all singing one, where Phillipa told me she'd sold DECENT EXPOSURE to Little Black Dress and I sang and danced with her because the success of a friend is always something to cheer.

I consider her a friend, even though so far we've managed to miss each other at every romance do. We'll get together one of these days and finally have that celebratory glass of bubbly -- tonic water, of course!

Anyway, last week, Phillipa raised her head from the deadline cave to tell me that her latest, Just Say Yes is on sale and so here she is, to tell us all about it.


Phillipa...

I’ve a shameful confession to make. Until around three years ago, I’d never read a romance novel and the thought of writing one had definitely never occurred to me. My mind was changed by watching a wonderfully romantic TV drama called North & South and joining an Internet creative writing group. From that moment I was completely hooked on writing romantic stories and so I decided to ‘have a go at a novel.’

First, I needed to read some - so I headed for my local WH Smith, where I dithered for ages, overwhelmed by the choice. However, I finally plumped for a Mills & Boon novel called Her Wish List Bridegroom by someone called Liz Fielding.

Lucky for me…

I loved it. I couldn’t put it down. After that, I scoured the charity shops and library for vintage Liz and I bought her new ones. I love the feisty heroines, always gutsy, intelligent and fun. I also adore the heroes; very sexy, sometimes sardonic yet always with a great sense of humour.

To have written 50 titles for HMB (and some longer romances, one of which I managed to track down), is a superb achievement. I’ve many favourites of Liz’s now – The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella; A Nanny for Keeps and The Bridesmaid’s Reward to name a few. But I will always love Her Wish List Bridegroom. Gregor McLeod is a gorgeous hero and as for that scene in the hallway with Juliet. Whew. I still want to write one like that.

Again, luckily for me, after much rewriting and with the advice of the RNA New Writers Scheme (plus some uncannily accurate advice from Liz), I got an agent and sold my first novel to Little Black Dress.

Next week, my third LBD romance is published.

Called Just Say Yes, it’s the story of Lucy Gibson who has a good-looking, popular boyfriend Nick Laurentis also happens to be the winner of reality TV show Hot Shot. What’s more, Nick proposes to her live on air.

Sounds totally wonderful? Well, not quite.

Lucy is stunned because, while every girl loves a romantic gesture, she’s just not ready for that kind of commitment. With the press hounding her as the one who callously broke Nick’s heart, Lucy escapes her London flat to seek refuge in an isolated Cornwall cottage. But little does she realise that life down there will be far from uncomplicated!

I got the initial idea from a YouTube video in which an American man proposed to his girlfriend during an advertising break for her favourite TV show. The girlfriend was ecstatic but I started wondering what might have happened if she’d said ‘no’? You see, I’m not sure that grand gestures and public proposals are always as romantic as they sound…

What do you think? What makes a truly romantic – or perhaps - loving gesture? My husband and daughter made me a Think Positive board for my recent birthday. It’s got some pictures of my books, congrats cards and reader reviews on it – for all the times I get the dreaded Crows of Doubt about my writing. That rates pretty highly on the loving gesture scale for me.

Here’s a snippet from Just Say Yes: it’s the moment when Lucy’s boyfriend, Nick, decides to make his very public proposal – live on TV!

The clapping and cheering started again as Lucy and Nick carried on kissing. Then softly, Nick broke away. He stood facing her, still holding both her hands and suddenly was serious.

Gerry leapt forward, beaming.

“So, Nick, what do you have to say? What comes next?”

Nick didn’t glance away. His eyes were glued to hers and he was looking so serious that Lucy felt a tiny frisson run up and down her spine.

“What comes next?” he echoed.

He turned briefly to Gerry, his voice quiet. “Gerry, winning Hot Shots is a fantastic opportunity. It’s what I’ve lived and breathed for the past four months. It’s what I’ve always wanted but there’s something missing.”

The breath caught in Lucy’s throat. What something else could there possibly be? Was he going to say he loved her live on television? It darted into her head that she hoped he wouldn’t. Not here. Not in front of everyone.

“Winning Hot Shots means more to me than almost anything else in my life, but there’s someone else who has come to mean even more. That someone is the woman standing in front of me now.”

Gerry and the audience uttered a collective ‘ahh’. Lucy didn’t know where to look. It was flattering, it was …lovely but she so wished Nick had waited to tell her in private. She’d hoped to share this intimate moment together, not with zillions of others. She felt the heat rising to her cheeks.

Then, still holding her right hand in his, Nick sank to his knees. Lucy thought she was going to faint. No. No, he couldn’t. He wouldn’t.

“Lucy…” he murmured, looking up into her eyes.

She shook her head gently. Her legs were about to give way. Maybe that would be best, then they might carry her off, away from the millions of eyes watching, waiting, expecting…

“Lucy Gibson, will you do me the honor…”

Oh Nick.

“The honour of being my wife?”

The studio erupted. ‘Wooo-hooo!”

‘Way to go mate!’

She had to look away. Up and away from Nick’s expectant gaze. A few feet away, Gerry was dancing a jig of delight. Over his shoulder, she could even see a smile tilting the corners of Sir Digby’s jowls. When she glanced down again, Nick was still staring up at her, smiling.

The studio subsided into an eerie silence. Lucy could hear the whirr of air conditioning; she even caught the wail of a siren somewhere in the outside world. The perspiration was trickling down her spine, a lump had formed in her throat, blocking the air and making it hard to breathe.

This was supposed to be the happiest moment of her life. The moment when the best just got even better. Nick had done his bit; he’d delivered what the audience wanted and now it was her turn. A shiver danced its way up her spine. Her hand, in Nick’s was trembling as the seconds ticked by, each like a lifetime.

Nick’s lips moved. He mouthed one word: “Well?”

Her mouth opened but didn’t form words.

“Lucy? Did you hear what I said?”

She nodded slowly.

“And?”

“Come on love! Put the lad out of his misery!” came a shout from the audience.

“Yeah. Get on with it, love. We wanna to get to the pub.”

Everyone laughed.

“Give her a break, she’s in shock. It’s not every day you see a man sign his life away in public,” said Gerry. Even Nick smiled, but the expectation was still there in his eyes.

Lucy felt like a sideshow at the fair or an exhibit at the zoo. She and Nick were performers now and this happy ending, this perfect moment was what everyone was demanding. What everyone needed. Everyone it seemed, except her.

“Lucy?”

“I – I can’t…”

His smile slipped.

“I – I’m sorry. I’m not; I mean I can’t do this. Not like this…”

What could she say when every word she uttered, every tiny expression on her face was being beamed live to millions of viewers? People were sitting on their sofas at home; in the pub; in the Chinese takeaway, at the gym. All watching her. All waiting to see what her answer might be. They wanted that answer to be ‘yes.’ Nick wanted a lifelong commitment. One she knew that she wasn’t ready for, not by a long, long way and not right now. The blood rushed in her ears, her heart pounded, Nick started getting to his feet, his face a mix of anger and anguish.

“I can’t do this…” whispered Lucy through dry lips. “I’m just not ready for this, Nick, I’m so sorry.”

Then she wrenched her hand out of his and fled from the stage.


Out on August 7th, you can also order it from Amazon or from any good bookstore and for all my news and more excerpts from my books, visit my website.

Or for the chance to win a signed copy of Just Say Yes, tell me your idea of a perfect gift – from your partner, children, boss. Anyone...

33 comments:

Liz Fielding said...

My most recent perfect gift, Phillipa, was when I was working 15hour days on the last book and the dh brought me tea and coffee and got on with the cooking and clearing up the kitchen.

He's not naturally domesticated so it was a Big Thing, but then he usually does pull out all the stops when needed, which is probably why we're heading for our 36th annivesary.

Phillipa said...

Hi Liz,

Delighted to be here! Yes, writers' families have to put up with an awful lot...

Rosy T said...

Can I just say that I'm half way through 'Just say Yes' and it's wonderful! Right up to your usual standard, Phillipa - funny, fast, tense and emotional, a real page turner.

And what a sweet present, the 'thinking positive' board!

And Liz - FIFTY books - what an achievement!

Donna Alward said...

Oh Phillipa! It sounds AMAZING! Great excerpt!

It so makes me want to write something higher concept....

D

Phillipa said...

Donna - thanks but er, I don't think I'd call it 'high concept'. Honestly, it's just a slightly longer 'old fashioned' contemporary romance really - which I love and still read lots of. I've got a Susan Stephens Modern Extra by the bed at the moment, right next to Bill Bryson's Shakespeare. :) I

But what about a favourite gift? You must have one... maybe from your lovely family?

RosyT - thanks. Blush.

Nell said...

Ooh, it sounds so good! Can't wait to read it.

BethRe said...

Right now a favorite gift would be dinner out with just hubby and I to talk

Lily said...

Hi,

A perfect gift would be something that could last forever and make me think of that special person everytime I would look at it, like a piece of jewellery.

Snookie said...

Phiippa sorry to say I'd never heard of you or your books or for that matter Little Black Dress. I loved that excerpt though so I will try to locate the book :) The perfect gift would be more time to do fun things with my husband and son (teenager). Seems like we are all so busy and going in different directions we need to stop and make time for each other.

Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, so love the sound of your book, Phillipa!

I am going to have to stop visiting your website, Liz. I have absolutely no self control when it comes to buying books and every time I visit there's another 'must-buy' added to my list (am grinning as I say this because I know I shan't stay away).

My favourite present is a bathrobe from the Dorchester my dh gave me for Valentine's day. We'd eloped to England (from Australia) and we spent our honeymoon night in the Dorchester. Somehow he managed to smuggle this ginormous robe home in his suitcase without me noticing.

Every time I wear it, I remember our honeymoon. Every time he sees me in it, my dh grins and feels very proud of himself.

Michele L. said...

O.k. you might think this is a weird perfect present but it is one that I wanted for a long, long time! I have a huge pile of TBR books, like over 250 books. I love to read! Well, our house is not that big so I needed a shelving unit to store my books in. I told my hubby that was what I wanted for christmas.

Well, it so happened that the scrapbook store in my town was going out of business. I went the last week and saw signs on everything that was for sale including shelving units. To my delight, I saw the perfect shelving unit for my books! It was a 65 inch tall, rotating, 3-sided unit that had plexiglass removable bins hanging on it. They are the kind that you can remove from a slatted back and move to anywhere you want. The bins were absolutely the perfect size for paperbacks and hardbacks! I was in heaven!

I rushed home to tell my hubby and he said, "You want it, go ahead and get it!" So he came back with me, took it apart, and loaded it in the car. It actually was pretty light since it all came apart. It is the perfect size, and fits in the corner of my bedroom. There are a total of 12 plexiglass bins. I had so much fun rearranging my books!

My hubby is the sweetest, dearest, most considerate hubby ever!

Michele L.

Michele L. said...

Phillipa,

Love your name by the way! I just loved your excerpt you teased us all with! The title is great and I love the artwork that LITTLE BLACK DRESS comes up with for their books! Congratulations on JUST SAY YES! Woohoo!

Michele L.

robynl said...

loved the excerpt, Phillipa.

my perfect gift was the Palm reader my dh bought for my birthday a few years ago. He even loaded e-books onto it for me.

Kirsty C said...

Hi Phillipa,

Congrats on the new book, can't wait to read it. And well done Liz on your milestone, what you have done makes my mind boggle.

My perfect gift would be a three-figure gift voucher for books, teamed with being dropped off at the bookstore without my children. Bliss!

Liz Fielding said...

Snookie, here's a link to Little Black Dress, which is a fairly new series of slightly longer romances published in the UK. They are getting out and about in the world, now, I understand.

http://www.littleblackdressbooks.com/

Snookie said...

Thanks Liz. I will go check it out. Wonder if you caan find them in US bookstores...

Phillipa said...

Morning everyone - how lovely to see so many replies especially as I'm a newbie to most readers outside the UK.


Bethre and Snookie - I totally agree. Time with partners and families is definitely to be treasured and gets rarer in our busy lives.

Lily - jewellery is a lovely gift. I has a little diamond heart from dH for my 40th birthday that I love.

Michelle Douglas - you had me LOL at your bathrobe story. And did you really elope? How romantic... there's a novel in there somewhere.

Michele L - I don't think a bookshelf is weird, esecially the Rolls Royce of bookshelves. making an effort to give someone exactly what they've been longing for is the best gesture of all.

Robyn L and Kirsty - it seems to me that books top the list of gifts here. What we all need is more time to read them!

Thanks for your kind comments about the extract and for asking about LBD. They're on sale throughout the UK, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore and Canada . It would be wonderful if they popped up in the US book stores (fingers crossed) but for now I think the Book Depository or amazon.com are good places to order. You can also email the LBD team and ask them at www.littleblackdressbooks.co.uk

And thanks for making it so difficult to choose a winner ..anyone else have any perfect gift ideas?

Nathalie said...

I see some Little Black Dress books here in Canada :)

A perfect gift... this will sound tacky, but I love a personalized card with a special message, poem that you can re-read when you are feeling down.

I have a poem my mom wrote me when I turned 18, it is just beautiful... but you need to be skillful with pen and paper!

Dina said...

Hi Phillipa,

A pefect gift for my daughter would be me babysitting and her having a spa treatment. She could sure use that for herself. Anyone else, just a nice dinner perhaps, getting a break from stress.

Phillipa said...

Morning again.

Nathalie - no, not tacky - that's a beautiful gift. And Dina - have you noticed a theme? That most of us need more time to spend with family or a bit of precious me time?

I guess I'll have to choose a winner soon - but it's really hard!

Dena said...

Hi Phillipa, It's good to see you here. What an amazing story, so many writers I 've know have tried for years and years to get published. It makes me think your stories are really good. I really liked the excerpt so I'm hooked. Now as for the perfect gift it depends. I think the best gift of all is giving of oneself's time, especially when your down and need that ear to be comforted and reassured or just need a pick me up. The other perfect gift of a material item was from my Dad, he bought me a beautiful heart shaped ruby necklace. It was the last thing he ever bought me before he passed away and I treasure it.

Phillipa said...

Hi Dena,

No wonder you treasure that gift from your dad - that must be so very special. I agree that the giving of time is precious too. I can't tell you how many people I owe return 'time favours' to! People who've given all kinds of support to me to help me achieve my dream.

And thanks for saying you enjoyed the excerpt - but as for my speed in getting published, I guess was just 'in the right place at the right time'. I'm sure Liz will tell you how vital that is!

Stroke of Luck number 1 (not so much luck as preparation I suppose)

I worked for a year on my first manuscipt - with the help of the RNA New Writers Scheme - so it was as ready as I was ever going to get it.

Stroke of Luck number 2 (big)

When I chose an agent, I asked around and three people (one of them, guess who?) told me that my agent was interested in romance and was a great agent.

Stroke of luck number 2 (even bigger)

LBD was being launched right at that moment and looking for new romance writers.

Thanks everyone for entering - I'm getting very at home here you know, you've all made me feel so welcome.

And thanks for having me, Liz .. now you'd better get that hook ready to haul me off stage. :)

Dina said...

Dena & Phillipa, yes that gift from a special person, Dena in your case your dad, for me it was my daughter. When they're gone, that gift that was special anyany becomes a priceless item that you want to keep close to your heart.

anne said...

Hi Phillipa. What a lovely post. I enjoyed reading the excerpt of this delightful book. A gift that is unforgettable for me was a special outing on my birthday to a concert, Andre Rieu. Memorable and extraordinary.

traveler said...

My most perfect gift ever was a mini-vacation to an incomparable place and setting. It was a few days that I will always cherish. Philippa, what a great excerpt. Can hardly wait to read this story.

ellie said...

Hi,
My favorite perfect gift would always be a heartfelt wish written with sincerity and beauty on an original card. That is something that I would love to receive anc treasure.

pearl said...

Hi Philippa,
Your book looks amazing and loved the excerpt. Best of success.
My perfect gift would be to have my entire family share a beach house for a vacation in a beautiful area. I would appreciate this rare time rogether.

diane said...

Wow Philippa. That is quite a story and you must feel wonderful to have published two books and achieved this pinnacle of success.
A perfect gift is spending a day with my husband. Time is fleeting and I appreciate every minute we can be together, whether it is a walk or out for tea, just time to relax and catch up.

Phillipa said...

Wow. Anne, Traveler, Ellie, Pearl and Diane. You are making this a hard choice for me aren't you? But I'm really enjoying hearing all the gifts received - and those you'd like to have.

The birthday outing struck a chord with me too - if you take aquick ook at my blog, you'll see my husband took me to see the musical, Joseph, in London last weekend. That was a complete surprise.

Can I say, I also know how it feels to be a big selling romance author with tons of replies to contests and blog posts! I like it... tee hee. I *really* hope that LBDs go on sale in book stores in the US but I think you can also order them all (with free postage) from the Book Depository - along with Liz's and other Harlequin authors' UK edtions.

Am I right, Liz?

Annie West said...

Phillipa,

What a great idea for a story! And i loved the excerpt. I agree with your poor heroine - a little privacy for that sort of thing is so lovely.

It's hard to think of a single favourite gift. I have to say, Liz, your husband is fantastic with his thooughtful gift while you wrote. My dh has done that sort of thing from time to time and my teenage son has even been known to appear with a cuppa when I'm holed up with the laptop.

I think though that my fave gift must be a trip my husband organised. It was a significant anniversary and we'd never been away on hols without our kids (now teens). He organised a short holiday in Auckland, New Zealand (a few hours flight from where we live in Australia). I knew nothing about it till he had to cancel it as not one but both teens came down with chickenpox! But then he rebooked for the following year and we had the most marvellous time. We had real conversations and barely planned a thing - bliss!

Annie

Phillipa said...

Hi everyone - and hello Annie. Lovely to hear from you. :)

I'm having a difficult time choosing but someone had to 'win' the book, So I've let Liz know.

Thanks for having me here - I've had a really great time.

Phillipa x

Carol said...

Loved the excerpt from your book. I have added it to my must read list.

As far as perfect gifts go, I now live in an assisted living facility and have no children, so I really appreciate my sisters visits. One of my sisters takes me out to dinner just about every week, which is a godsend considering most of the food we are served.

My other sister, who can't afford to take me out, comes to visit me every week.

Both of my sisters are godsends and their visits are worth more than any gifts would be.

Phillipa said...

Hi Carol - thank you for droping by and glad you have such lovely sisters. I'm an only child and my OH too so we don't have any nices or nephews or siblings which I've always regretted. Friends have to do the job.

Thanks for sharing your stories, everyone, I've had a great time. :)