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.
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…”
“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.
“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.”
“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.
“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...