Saturday, June 28, 2008
I had this warning that my Clustr map was about to be archived (obviously there comes a point at which it would be totally red!) and so I've just been to take a fond look at it, remind myself where all my visitors come from.
Most of you are from the States. That's not surprising. It's a big country with a huge population and lot of wonderful women who love to read romance. I've been to the US three times -- Washington, Denver and New York. The dh is desperate to make a trip, but he's just bought a new computer so it won't be just yet. There are a lot of visitors from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, too.
Some places are surprising. The Sudan, for instance. And Iraq. Military, maybe. Or aid workers. And Arabia. Some of books are translated into Arabic, but I suspect that along the Gulf it's probably ex-pats who are reading the books and visiting my websites.
I spent many years there myself, in Qatar, Bahrain and Umm al Qwain. I once even spent an uncomfortable hour on the tarmac somewhere in Iraq when we weren't allowed to leave the plane -- BA had complained about a bump in the runway, apparently and so we were all being punished. It was a very long time ago...
And Africa -- my spiritual home. I've had visitors from all parts on Africa this year. North, south, east and west. I'm not sure how the books finds there way there. A few "export" editions, I imagine and maybe people visiting leave books behind. I spent a few wonderful days by Lake Malawi; I wonder if a tourist left a Liz Fielding there? And the Kenyan coast. Know it, love it... No one from Zambia, yet. I met the dh there -- our first date was a trip to the Victoria Falls.
I've had a lot more visitors from India following the opening of the Mills & Boon office. I look forward to some of you dropping by to take part in contests and share your reading preferences.
I love to see the islands light up. There's someone on an island in the Atlantic that I think might be the Azores. I thought they were lower down but I'm a bit hazy on it's exact location. I need to look it up. The Seychelles, Mauritius. Places in the Pacific that I don't know. And Iceland... That's a place I've always wanted to visit.
What I find amazing is that there are so many people, in so many far flung corners of the world, who know my name. Who I am. Or are you all looking for other Liz Fieldings? I changed my server recently and to get Liz Fielding in my email address I had to add 08. Who are those other seven Liz Fieldings? Enquiring minds want to know!
Friday, June 27, 2008
I've had a lot of enquiries about when this book will be available in the US and Australia.
I have asked the powers that be, but until they have an answer, I have, thanks to the lovely Anne McAllister, a solution.
The Book Depository, an online bookstore here in the UK, will despatch books worldwide post free, which is probably as good as it gets without going into a real bookshop anywhere in the world, including the UK. Click here to go direct to the page.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I hadn’t forgotten I was going to tell you about my holiday. Since I returned, though, I’ve been locked in the deadline cave finishing a book that was just a little bit overdue. However, SECRET BABY, SURPRISE PARENTS has now been delivered, revised and is safely in copy-editing. I do have two more books to write this year. They’re linked and I’ve spend the last week playing with plots, finding my heroines – and more importantly my heroes. Pages have already been written and as a reward I’m now here to tell you about my trip.
We began our adventure by train, first from Swansea to London where we stopped for the first night. We stayed in one of those vast brick and marble hotels in Bloomsbury and our first stop was the British Museum where we’d booked a table in the upper courtyard for lunch. The last time the dh was there, with the dd, he was mistaken for someone else (he has “poet’s hair” and these days does look like a grand old man of letters!) and whisked past the queue to a reserved table overlooking the reading room. This time he had to be contend with being Mr Liz Fielding – and the reading room was blacked out because they’re constructing the Hadrian exhibition -- but the service was wonderful and so was the food. We called in on the Mummies (what have they done with “Ginger”?) and then had a look at an exhibition of American prints.
Next morning we went to St Pancras to take the Eurostar to Lille. We went early so that we could explore this fabulous cathedral to the railway that was saved from demolition at the last moment largely thanks to Sir John Betjemen.
The trip on the Eurostar was wonderful. The service from beautifully trained young French men and women something that is only dreamed of these days on the Great Western, sigh. We drove from Lille to Bruges and then out to walk the City. It’s very old (unlike Belgium which only became a country after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo) and very beautiful. The traffic is basically one-way, but cyclists can go where they like and everyone else had better watch out. Only the horse drawn carriages have more respect, in fact the carriage drivers have their sculpture – Zeus, Pegasus and Leda in a carriage!
Bruges is famous for two things. Chocolate and lace. We bought both – lace table clothes for the dd and d-i-l and some bits of pieces for me, but I was very restrained with the chocolate despite the constant temptations. I’m not sure how many chocolate shops there are in Bruges, but here are a few of them! I was helped by the fact that it was very warm – not chocolate weather – and the constant scent of the stuff seemed to fulfil the senses. Eating it would have been almost too much! I did have just a taste at the chocolate factory, but it really was a case of “if music be the food of love…” We walked a lot, saw a fabulous Michelangelo statue, took a carriage ride, went on the canal – in other words behaved like total tourists! We did have loads of scrumptious food, though, and the odd glass of Belgium beer. Oh, and of course chips, for which the Belgians are justly famous.
Then we took the train to Brussels and from there to Holland. Travelling by train in Europe is just so much fun. Last year we did it in Italy with our trip from Rome to Matera, this year we really extended ourselves! The service is so good, the staff incredibly helpful. (On our return from Velp, when we had to change, we received a little print out with our itinerary.)
Holland is delightful. This time we took a trip to Velp, wooded and hilly, it’s the highest point in the country, a river bus to Rotterdam and visited the fabulous windmills at Kinderdijk.
In seven days we saw not one spot of rain and scarcely any clouds and we finally flew home, totally exhausted!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Hi, I’m Violet Hamilton and Liz asked me to tell you that the lovely Kate Walker has drawn her prize winners and has, as always, been incredibly generous. First prize of Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife goes to Tracy because it’s her “first time”.
There are also copies of The Duke's Secret Wife (Mills & Boon 100th Birthday Collection) for Beth as an extra birthday present, for KimmyL for celebrating in spite of sadness and for Virginia - because everyone trying to give up smoking should be encouraged !
Congratulations to the winners send in your snail mail addies to me at liz @ lizfielding.com and Liz will pass them on.
Now, I know you’re saying to yourself, so who is this Violet Hamilton? And what is she doing on Liz’s blog. The truth is I really should have dropped by sooner to introduce myself because this is the month that my story CHOSEN AS THE SHEIKH’S WIFE is published in the UK as part of the Mills & Boon Centenary Celebrations. Honestly, though, it’s been a bit tricky, what with the whole princess thing and being whisked off to Ras al Kawi for my own safety. At least that was the plan.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Unlike Mills & Boon I didn’t have a lot to celebrate at the beginning of this year. My lovely grandma had just died, I was about to lose my home and then, to top it all, I put my foot through a dodgy floorboard, which was jolly painful I can tell you. Finding a jewelled knife hidden away did dull the pain somewhat, but then everything got out of control. I knew, as soon as I’d said it, that telling the antiques bloke that my great-great-grandmother was an Arab princess who’d sewn her jewels into her clothes and run away with my great-great-grandfather was a mistake. But he clearly thought the knife had been looted during the First World War and I wasn’t having anyone think that of my g-g-grandad; he was a hero.
But then I saw the local newspaper…
The headline read, ARABIAN “PRINCESS” AT ROADSHOW.
The doorbell rang and without thinking Violet wrenched it open, certain that it would Sarah. She’d taken to dropping in every morning in the last few weeks, to see if she needed anything. She usually came round the back, letting herself in with her “good neighbour” key as she had yesterday when she’d heard her cry for help when the floor had given way.
Clearly the fact that the phone had gone unanswered was causing her concern, but since she’d bolted the back door last night, the key would be useless.
But it wasn’t Sarah, who was tiny – apart from around the middle where she was spreading spectacularly – and fair; the figure that filled the tiny porch was her opposite in every conceivable way.
Tall, spare, broad-shouldered, male, there was nothing soft about him. His features were austere, chiselled to the bone, his beard closely cut against olive-toned skin that was positively Mediterranean against a snowy band-collared shirt, fastened to the neck. His hair was thick and crisply cut. But it was his eyes that held her.
Dark as midnight and just as dangerous.
He looked very … foreign.
He was also stunningly, knee-wobblingly handsome.
Violet was suitably stunned. And her knees dutifully wobbled.
Just her luck that she’d emerged from the shower pink of face, with her hair in its usual wet tangle and nothing between her and decency but a film of moisturiser and a faded pink bathrobe that could only be described as … functional.
Oh, and guess what… He had a voice like melted chocolate, delicately flavoured with an exotic, barely-there accent.
Whatever he was selling she was buying by the crate…
Except, of course, that he was far too expensively dressed to be a door-to-door salesman. She knew clothes. And what he was wearing did not come off a peg in the High Street.
Oh, well. She was expecting a visit from a representative of the finance company to call any day with the release papers for her to sign so that they could sell the house, recover their money.
This had to be him.
‘Miss Violet Hamilton?’ he repeated, when she didn’t answer.
‘Who?’ she asked, just to hear him say Violet again. Long and slow.
Pronouncing every syllable, turning a name she’d loathed only slightly less than the hideously shortened “Vi” into the most desirable name in the entire world.
‘I’m looking for Miss Violet Hamilton.’ And taking the newspaper from her hand, he held the front page up for her to see. ‘I believe I’ve found her.’
No point pretending to be the lodger, then. Asking him to come back when she’d gussied herself up; straightened her hair, applied some make-up, was decked out in one of her more creative outfits. Oh, well…
‘And here I was kidding myself that the photograph is so awful that you couldn’t possibly tell,’ she said. ‘Clearly I was fooling myself.’
He looked at the photograph and then at her for rather longer than seemed necessary just to confirm the likeness. Then, clearly thinking better of commenting one way or the other, he returned the paper and said, ‘I am Fayad al Khalifa, Miss Hamilton.’ And he held out a visiting card -- as if they couldn’t printed off by the dozen in any name you cared to dream up by anyone with a computer.
Except that this wasn’t a do-it-yourself job, but embossed on heavy ivory-coloured card.
If he was from the finance company, he certainly wasn’t one of the foot-soldiers.
The front of the card gave no hint, but contained only his name: Fayad al Khalifa. Unusual enough. She turned it over. The back was blank. No address, no phone number.
Obviously this was a man whose name was enough for those with the wit to recognise it. Which did not include her.
‘Nice card,’ she said. ‘But a trifle shy of information.’
‘The Ras al Kawi embassy will vouch for me.’
‘Oh, well, that’s all right then,’ she said. Her friends would have recognised sarcasm. He apparently did not, but merely nodded. Good grief, he was serious…
Ras al Kawi? Where was that?
‘I need to talk to you about a khanjar that I believe is in your possession,’ he said. ‘It is possible that it once belonged to my family.’
‘Oh?’ Then, realising that he come to demand it back, ‘It’s amazing how fast good news spreads.’
‘You have no idea. Perhaps I should wait in my car while you …’
He made the vaguest of gestures, resolutely looking at her face, avoiding her bare legs, the shabby bathrobe that had a tendency to gape at the neck. It made no difference, every inch of her skin tingled.
‘Dress?’ she offered, lippy to the last. Except that the word didn’t come out quite as she’d intended, but thick and throaty and more to avoid those eyes, than because she was interested in his choice in transport, Violet looked past him.
A black Rolls Royce was parked at the kerb. The little green and gold flag on the bonnet stirred in the breeze.
She barely stopped herself from letting slip an expression that would have brought her a rebuke from her grandma.
Her breathless, ‘Who are you?’ wasn’t a whole heap better.
‘If your story is true, Miss Hamilton, then your great-great-grandmother, Princess Fatima al-Sayyid, was once married to my great-great-grandfather.’
At which point she did let slip a word that she used only under the most extreme pressure.
She would have been embarrassed about that, but a scream from rear of the house – Sarah’s scream -- obliterated the sound.
And that was just the beginning because it turned out that the knife I found wasn’t just any piece of fancy cutlery, but the “Blood of Tariq”, which it seemed an awful lot of people wanted to get their hands on and not all of them bothered to knock at the front door.
And truly, I wasn’t “chosen” as the sheikh’s wife.
Sheikh Fayad didn’t have any choice at all and no one actually bothered to ask me, but you can read how it panned out for yourself in 100 Arabian Nightswhich is on sale now.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
In the Guardian today, British grand dame of popular fiction, Joanna Trollope -- she really isn't as scary as her picture would suggest -- tells the world that she had so much fun judging the Melissa Nathan Award last year, that she and fellow judges Jo Brand, Sophie Kinsella, Jessica Hines, Gaynor Allen (chief fiction buyer for Tesco) and Alan Davies want to do it again in an article headed --
WHY I LOVE CHICK-LIT
"People sneer at these books, but wittily told romantic fiction is as hard to write as it is fun to read... "
Read on here
Here's the 2008 shortlist.
HEAVEN SENT by Christina Jones (Little, Brown)
MRS ZHIVAGO OF QUEEN’S PARK by Olivia Lichtenstein (Orion)
31 DREAM STREET by Lisa Jewell (Penguin)
THE SECRET LIFE OF A SLUMMY MUMMY by Fiona Neill (Arrow)
A GIRL’S GUIDE TO KISSING FROGS by Victoria Clayton (HarperCollins)
MERDE HAPPENS by Stephen Clarke (Transworld)
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
First, many thanks to Melissa McClone for being such a star guest last week. The winner of her Wedding Planners book is Mulberry, so if you’ll get in touch with your snail mail addy, Mulberry at liz @lizfielding.com, your prize will be in the post asap.
My guest this week is a very special friend. Kate Walker is one of those women who light up the room the minute she walks through the door. The greeting is always the same. A huge hug for me, a bigger one for the dh and a smile as wide as her face. Interesting that Kate says she was a little bit afraid of me. I can remember walking into a meeting, feeling a bit out of my depth amongst such well known names and it was Kate who spoke first, said, “Hi Liz” with a good-to-see-you-here welcome, that made me feel as if I actually belonged.
Kate is what can only be described as a “people” person. Her energy seems boundless. No matter how busy, how stretched on her own deadline rack, she’s always ready with a supportive, reassuring email that will lift the flagging spirits on those days, weeks, months, when the writing is not going well. Always there with her good advice.
So many now-published authors have reason to be grateful for her advice and her 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance is now a standard work, a must read for anyone who aspires to understand the requirements of such a demanding genre.
Then, of course, there are her books -- more than 50 of them now. Full of passion, full of those fabulous Mediterranean heroes and the feisty heroines who match them every step of the way. Real take-me-away-from-all-this reads, a treat after a tough day when there is only football on the television. (Go Holland!)
I love celebrations. Specially when they mean I can get to celebrate things that I really value, with friends who are important to me.
So joining Liz to celebrate her 50th title is a real thrill for me because it includes all those things in one. I’m so happy to be cheering for Liz’s 50th title because it’s such a fantastic achievement, and Liz is such a very special lady that celebrating with her is a real pleasure - plus I have to say that I've read that 50th 'golden' book (The Bride's Baby) and I just loved it. I fell hard for Tom when he appeared here on Liz's blog for our joint 'Here Come the Grooms' Contest that we run annually with Anne McAllister and I just loved his story. So many many Congratulations to you Liz - thank you for 50 wonderful books. And here's to 50 more! (You can manage that can't you?)
As many of you will know, I celebrated this particular milestone myself last year so I have a special appreciation of just how much it takes to get there. And of course Liz has managed to collect one or two awards along the way . . . a couple of RITAs, The RNA Romance Prize, The Romantic Times, Love and Laughter Career Award . . . (Phew! Kate fans herself, just thinking of them all!) which makes this special celebration all the more wonderful, particularly when it comes in this special centenary year for Mills & Boon.
So I suppose that right now is also a good time to look back a bit. Back over 100 years, 50 books . . . I have to admit that speaking personally I never thought I would see myself as I am today. I might have wished - but I didn't dare dream that it might happen. Way back when, when I was growing up and I used to say that I wanted to be a writer, then friends and family, and schoolteachers all shook their heads, usually laughing as they did so. I shouldn’t be so foolish as to dream of any such thing, they told me. It was all just a fantasy - something I should forget about and concentrate on getting a 'sensible' job instead. So I did that. I worked hard on my exams, got to university, trained to be a librarian. I worked as a Children's librarian too. I enjoyed it - it's one of the best jobs in the world. But it's not the best job. The dream job. The one I really dreamed of doing.
And I didn't give up on that dream.
Let's cut a long story short. Way back in 1984, I achieved the first part of that dream. I had my first book published. I thought that was the dream come true. That this was as good as it got. I was wrong. Each year just seems to keep getting better. Just this month, I've been to the opening of the Mills and Boon Centenary Exhibition in Manchester, I have a new book out in print form and - well, as I said on another blog I'm swamped by Spaniards. My latest book - Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife is being used to promote a new initiative with a company called Daily Lit who supply books in instalments, by email. I think the nationality of the hero in that is pretty obvious! Then a trilogy I wrote in 2003 called The Alcolar Family - about 2 Spanish brothers and their sister - is being republished both as an ebook bundle and a By Request print book complete in one volume here in the UK. Another Spaniard makes a reappearance in The Duke's Secret Wife as part of the special Centenary Collection to celebrate M&B's 100th birthday. And, guess what - the hero of the book I've just had accepted (Cordero's Forced Bride) is a sexy Spaniard too.
But while I'm swamped by Spaniards, I'm also celebrating the fact that they're all being published, or republished in this very special year, making it a very special year for me too. And most of all I'm celebrating the fact that I held on to that dream. That I never lost sight of it in spite of the lack of encouragement, the rejections when I first submitted. (Luckily there were only 2 of them!) So now I can celebrate too - celebrate how far I've come in fulfilling that dream - the one that nobody really believed I'd ever manage.
And even better, I can celebrate with wonderful friends. Friends I would never have made if I hadn't ventured into this world of writing romance and met other authors who shared this love of creating characters, making up stories and writing them down. That's how I came to meet Liz of course. (I'll tell you a secret here. At the beginning, I was really quite scared of Liz - well, not of Liz herself, but of her books. She writes so wonderfully - well, you know that, don't you? I used to read her books and think - 'I could never write like this!' And I was so much in awe of her writing that I was in awe of Liz too. But once I met her I realised what a lovely person she is too - a delight to be with. Just like her books really)
So now I'm here, celebrating - celebrating my books, and the way I confounded all those people who said I'd never achieve my dream. Celebrating Mills & Boon's 100th birthday, and all those wonderful books that I have coming out - all those Spaniards. But most of all I'm celebrating Liz's wonderful golden 50 books and the joy of having her in my life as a favourite author and as a friend. It doesn't get much better than that.
To give you a taste of one of those Spaniards appearing this month, here's an extract from the opening of Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife. (Sadly, at this stage, my hero and heroine, Raul and Alannah don't have too much to celebrate)
THE hands on the clock didn’t seem to have moved even once in all the time that she had been sitting here. Alannah could have sworn that every time she glanced up at the big white circle that hung on the green painted wall opposite then the big hand and the little hand were in exactly the same position as they had been the last time she had looked, making a mockery of the audible sound of the minutes ticking away.
She felt as if she had been here all afternoon – almost all her life. And yet time hardly seemed to have moved on from the moment she had arrived and taken her place in the rather worn armchair in the middle of the room.
From here she could watch the door. She could see the approach of anyone coming near through the clouded pane of glass, and be ready if the door should open and the man she was expecting appeared.
The man she was expecting? Dreading would be more like it, Alannah admitted to herself, green eyes clouding rapidly.
She shook her head so that the red-gold swathe of her hair tossed along her shoulders, straggling strands escaping from the black elasticated band into which she had confined it before leaving home that morning, and rubbed the back of her hand across her eyes in a vain attempt to drive away the weariness and apprehension that clutched at her.
She knew she looked pale and wan. The stress and sorrow of the past few days and drained every last drop of pink from her cheeks, tears had dimmed the brightness of her eyes, and the set of her fine features reflected the strain of the nightmare week she had just endured. The grey skirt she had pulled on together with a plain black, long-sleeved tee shirt, her mind too battered to even think of anything else, did nothing for her appearance. It took even more colour from her skin and left it looking lifeless and wan. And she hadn’t had either the time or the inclination to think about adding any artificial colour with a touch of makeup before she had left her flat. The need to know that her mother was settled at her aunt’s house, heavily sedated because of the shock, had been much more important than any personal grooming.
Still, what did that matter? The man she was here to see wouldn’t give a damn about her appearance or how she was dressed. He wouldn’t want to see her here in the first place and he’d be even less happy about it when he heard what she had to say.
‘Of course Mr Marcín . . .’
A sudden bustle in the corridor beyond the door alerted her, the sound of the all-too-familiar name confirming her suspicions. Not that she’d needed them confirmed. Whenever and wherever Raul Marcín appeared, it seemed that instantly everything was bustle and activity. Even the air around him appeared enlivened, stirring and swirling in a way that left other more ordinary humans catching their breath in the suddenly rarefied atmosphere.
Once she had been part of that atmosphere, carried along on the tidal wave of energy and power that Don Raul Esteban Marquez de Marcín created as he strode through life, arrogant dark head held high, golden eyes blazing. But not any more. Not since she had fled that world and all it brought with it.
And she was well out of it.
It was a world of power and money, yes – but there had also been cold deceit and even icier hearted manipulation. Don Raul Marcín took what he wanted from people - from women – and used them to fulfil his own desires, without a thought for their feelings. He’d done that to her. And he would have discarded her too, she had no doubt. He would have tossed her aside when the purpose she had served was finished – done with. But luckily for her vulnerable heart and before the foolish emotions she had allowed herself to feel had become so deeply embedded in her spirit that she could have had no hope of ever tearing them out by the roots, she had discovered the truth about their relationship. And that truth had set her free. Making her run as far and as fast as she could, never looking back, and never wanting to see Raul Marcín ever again.
Which was how she would have wanted it to stay. Except that now she had no choice. None at all. She had to face Raul Marcín once again. Face him and tell him things she had no doubt that he did not want to hear.
So that’s why I’m celebrating today. And we all know why Liz is celebrating – but what are you celebrating this year? It can be anything – big or small. The fact that you’ve won a million on the lottery – or just the fact that the sun is shining today.
Let’s share some of the good news .
I have a signed copy of Spanish Billionare, Innocent Wife to give away to someone who posts some lovely good news, a cause for celebration, in the Comments section.
And as I just received my own copies of The Duke’s Secret Wife, I’ll slip one of those into the package too – after all, we’re celebrating, aren’t we?
Thanks so much, Kate! I've already read the book, so I know just how great it is, so dive in for a chance to win a copy and good luck!
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.