Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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...
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Next weekend, Romance Writers of America hold their annual conference in San Francisco. On July 30, 2008, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the San Francisco Marriott hotel (Yerba Buena Ballroom), over 500 romance-fiction authors will sign books donated by publishers--with the proceeds of the sales going to literacy charities. RWA has raised over $600,000 for literacy since the inception of the "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing event.
There will be several Harlequin Romance and Harlequin Presents authors in attendance -- many of whom you've met on this blog!
Harlequin Romance authors signing books are:
Jessica Hart (you still have time to win a copy of Jessica's Newlyweds of Convenience as well as a special tote bag if you hurry over to Harlequin Romance Authors blog.)
If you live in the Bay area, or are taking part in the conference, do drop by to say hello. They will love to see you.
And if you are signed up for the conference, don't forget that --
Barbara Hannay, Barbara McMahon, and Jessica Hart -- along with editor Lucy Brown -- will be giving a panel entitled "Emotion, Emotion, Emotion: Writing Romance with Global Appeal" from 9:45 to 11:45 on Friday morning (August 1).
And has anyone else noticed that two authors have had the same covers recently? My only complaint is that I didn't get it!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I have two winners to announce today. Crystal wins the signed copy of Linda Goodnight’s book, Winning the Single Mum's Heart
Barbara Hannay’s signed book Adopted: Outback Baby goes to Joye.
If you’d both email me your snail mail addy’s at liz @ lizfielding.com I’ll pass them on.
It’s summer, school’s out and I know you’re all going to be really busy, but I have some fabulous guests on my blog in August and I hope you’ll take a minute to drop by and say hello.
Romance author, Jennie Adams, Susan Stephens, who writes for both Modern/Presents and Modern Heat and two great Historical authors, Louise Allen and Michelle Styles. They’ll be here to share a little of the magic, as well as giving you a chance to win a signed book.
Monday, July 21, 2008
This comes courtesy of Kate Hardy (who got it from Michelle Styles.)
Apparently the average adult has only read 6 of these top 100 books. Idea is:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE. (I can't find anywhere to underline on my blog so I'm adding a note)
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (well, yes...)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (loved it)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (well, the first four, the size of # 5 stopped me in my tracks -- I read in bed!)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee(fabulous)
6 The Bible (I'm of an age where it was compulsory)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (loved it)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (great fun)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks (the dh keeps telling I should)
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (lost interest fairly early)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (wept buckets at the end)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh (loved it)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (loved it)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (am I the only person in the world who didn't get it?)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (loved it)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (loved it)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen (loved it)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (loved it)
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (very involving)
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (:) )
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (this was because I kept hearing about it. Loathed it)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (loved, loved, loved it)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons (oh, yes!)
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (wept buckets, but I 'd seen Dirk Bogarde play Sydney Carton in the film which made it personal!)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (wonderful)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (the dd loved this but I reeled back from it when she was telling me the story)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (I struggled with Hardy)
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding (great stuff)
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (not a chance!)
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome (Coots forever!)
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (fabulous)
80 Possession - AS Byatt (I know I had a copy but can't remember reading it)
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro (loved it)
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (read it while in hospital expecting the s&h)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute (I think I read everything Shute wrote. The Trustee from the Toolroom was my favourite)
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Well, I've read a lot of those books -- although there are some shocking omissions (I seem to have missed a chunk of the French writers) -- but most were so long ago that I'm struggling to remember when and where. It is a slightly skewed list, but then how could you possibly choose the top hundred books? And how on earth did some of them sneak in there? The Da Vinci Code? Please! There are a gazillion better books.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
My guest this week is the stellar, Rita winning, Harlequin Romance author Barbara Hannay.
I first met Barbara and her husband at the RWA National Conference in New York at the annual Harlequin Mills & Boon "pizza" party which has become a highlight for authors attending from all over the globe. We went to a real New York pizza parlour -- Barbara, Sandra Marton, Trish Morey, Emma Darcy, Barbara McMahon, Jane Porter, Susan Stephens, Lillian Darcy are the names that instantly spring to mind. There were more...
Then, a couple of years ago, I was thrilled to collaborate with Barbara (and Jackie Braun) on the trilogy, Secrets We Keep -- this is Barbara's book. Working together was tremendous fun and I hope that one day, in the not too distant future, we'll have the chance to do something like it again.
Barb, tell us about your latest book!
Thank you so much for inviting me to join you here, Liz. It’s fabulous to be celebrating your fiftieth book!!!! I want to start with a huge thank you for the many hours of happy reading you’ve given me. I always know that a Liz Fielding book will deliver a fascinating, gutsy heroine, a yummy hero, wonderful weepy moments and scrumptious words – put together magically, as only you can.
Although I’m about to start my thirtieth book, fifty still feels such a lo-o-o-ong way off. This is a true milestone, so – hip, hooray – I brought champagne!!
OK, so I’m also supposed to talk about my new book, Adopted: Outback Baby which I fondly refer to as my grandparent book. Yes, that’s right. The hero and heroine are grandparents. But before blog readers reel back in horror, I should make it clear that my hero and heroine are not geriatric. In fact, at thirty-nine, they’re still reassuringly sprightly.
This is an Old Flame story. When Nell and Jacob were nineteen, they were unjustly tricked/forced into giving their baby up for adoption, and now, twenty years later, they find themselves brought together by a twist of fate to care for their tiny grandson.
Of course they’ve changed a great deal in twenty years. Nell has been married and divorced. Jacob is no longer the poor son of Nell’s parents’ cook, and he’s become a successful, self-made man. But it can be nerve-wracking for a woman on the brink of forty to suddenly meet up with a boyfriend she knew when she was nineteen – shades of a bad dream of a high school reunion.
With every book I write, there seems to be a different “something” (my muse perchance?) that influences the tone of the book. Sometimes it’s a collage I’ve made; sometimes it’s a sound track. In this book, I had fun with a collage.
But details like Jacob’s humble past and the beautiful patchwork hangings that Nell now creates kept niggling in the back of my mind until suddenly I remembered why. These two elements come together in one of my favourite poems by William Butler Yeats. The poem became a kind of background theme for my story. Here it is:-
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread my cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams,
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
So this book is all about finally realizing those dreams, but first Nell and Jacob must face many hurdles – not the least of which, is working out how to care for a small baby. In this extract, they are driving and Sam is in his baby capsule on the back seat…
But they had hardly left Thornbury before Sam squirmed and pulled a face that made him look ridiculously like a very wrinkled, old man.
‘Sam’s looking unhappy,’ Nell announced nervously. ‘He’s squirming and moving.’
‘I should think he would want to move.’ Jacob smiled as he took off at a green light.
‘But he’s turning red.’ Nell didn’t want to be nervous, but she’d had next to no practical experience with babies. ‘I think he’s waking up.’
‘He has to wake some time.’
‘But he shouldn’t be waking now, should he? I thought babies were supposed to sleep in cars. Isn’t something about the motion supposed to make them sleepy?’
As she said this, a tiny squawk emitted from the back seat. Scant seconds later, it was followed by a much louder wail. Then a full-bodied squawk. And another.
Oh, help! Was Sam missing Jean already? What should she do? He looked so distressed and sounded so miserable.
Nell wondered if she should she ask Jacob to stop the car. They shouldn’t just drive on, callously letting the baby cry, should they? Twisting in her seat, she watched Sam’s small hand waving above him like a distress signal. She reached back and tried to catch it with her little finger.
‘There, there,’ she crooned as his fingers brushed the tips of hers. She dropped her hand lower and he clasped her little finger in a tight, tiny fist.
It was lovely to feel him clutching her, needing her. ‘You’re all right, little man, don’t cry.’ How relieved she would be if she could pacify him.
Sam’s wails grew stronger and louder, his face redder. He let go of her finger and his hand stiffened, fingers outstretched, imploring.
‘He can’t be hungry,’ she said. ‘Jean was quite certain that he doesn’t need a feed for another hour or more.’
‘Maybe it’s wind,’ Jacob suggested matter-of-factly.
How did he know about such things?
‘Perhaps we’d better stop and see what the problem is.’ Nell cast a doubtful eye over the busy lanes of traffic.
Jacob lifted his voice over Sam’s cries. ‘The Botanic Gardens aren’t far away. How about I head over there? At least it will get us out of this traffic.’
‘Yes!’ Nell nodded gratefully. ‘That’s a good idea.’
Sam cries were ear-splitting by the time they pulled into the car park at the Royal Botanic Gardens. People getting into a car nearby turned to stare at them.
Nell flew out of her seat and fumbled with the straps binding Sam into his carrier. ‘What’s the matter, little man?’
Lifting him up, she felt his little body go rigid in her arms. It was like trying to cuddle a brick. A screaming brick. Nell tucked a muslin wrap around him and joggled him gently against her shoulder. She patted his back, and when he didn’t calm down, she felt a shaft of real panic. She knew babies cried, but she’d never heard one as upset as this.
What was wrong with him? He’d been fed, his nappy was dry. He couldn’t have developed a dreadful disease in the short time since they’d left the Browne’s.
What if she couldn’t calm him?
Jacob joined her and she shot him a frantic glance. He smiled, but she knew he must be thinking that her mothering skills were sub-zero.
‘Why don’t we take him for a walk,’ he suggested.
‘A walk? When he’s screaming? Do you think it would help?’
‘It’s worth a try. You never know, it might soothe him.’
Nell directed a doubtful glare at the sweeping lawns, the majestic elms and oaks and the path circling the ornamental lake. The rain had finished soon after breakfast and it was a lovely summer’s day. Melbournians were out in force, enjoying their favourite parkland – joggers and parents pushing prams, toddlers entranced by the teeming birdlife – lots of babies, lots of small children. Only Sam was screaming.
Jacob didn’t seem perturbed by the baby’s uproar. He threw a protective arm around Nell’s shoulders and she felt absurdly grateful for his reassuring presence. He clicked the remote control to lock the car doors and they began to walk, their footsteps in time as they crossed the gravelled car park to the walking path.
Sam kept yelling, but Jacob talked anyway.
‘These gardens are my favourite part of Melbourne,’ he said as the path led them down the slope towards the water.
‘Let me guess – because it’s full of trees and wide open spaces?’
‘Absolutely. Being here is the next best thing to being in the bush.’
It was a not-so-subtle reminder. ‘But parks are supposed to be tranquil places. Sam’s disturbing the peace.’
‘He’s a tiny baby, Nell.’
She sighed. ‘I know.’ She gave Sam’s back a firmer pat and hitched him higher on her shoulder. Almost immediately, he let out a huge burp.
And stopped crying.
‘Goodness.’ Nell lifted him away from her, so that she could look at him. ‘Was that the problem?’
In the sunlight, Sam’s fine hair was lit with gold. His blue eyes were still shiny with tears trembling on the end of sinfully dark lashes. He was staring at her with a look that suggested he was almost as surprised as she was that he’d stopped crying. He was absolutely gorgeous!
Nell smiled at Jacob. ‘You were right. But how did you know he had wind?’
‘I must have an acute understanding of infants.’
She wasn’t buying that. ‘Or you made a lucky guess.’
Grinning widely, he snapped his fingers. ‘Sprung.’
Nell laughed. And then she was instantly sobered by the realisation that this was the first time she’d laughed in ages.
So… do you have stories about looking after a baby – the nerves, the fears, the funny moments?? Was it all plain sailing? Tell me your baby stories for a chance to win a copy of Adopted: Outback Baby.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The winner of a signed copy of Nell Dixon's "Blue Remembered Heels" is Michelle L for the "sardines" story. Well, done, Michelle. If you'll drop me a line with your snail mail addy at liz @lizfielding.com, I'll pass it on to Nell.
MILLS & BOON/WOMEN'S WEEKLY WRITING COMPETITION --
M&B have teamed up with Woman’s Weekly for the launch of a new short story competition. If you think you can woo readers with a romantic short story, then they want to hear from you.
You could see your winning entry published in Woman’s Weekly and on Mills & Boon’s website and there's a laptop as part of the prizes.
They're looking for short stories with a fresh voice - sparkling, feel-good stories bursting with lively interaction and that frisson of romantic excitement.
Check it out at Mills & Boon's website.
More specifically do you remember the plane in which Ingrid Bergman flew away from Rick on at the end? The DC3 -- the gooney bird -- which ferried troops in WWII and supplied Berlin during the airlift, is being retired at the end of this month in the UK due to new European safety regulations. The cost of installing oxygen (they don't fly high enough for it to be necessary) and strip lighting in the floors, has meant it's uneconomic to continue.
Special trips are taking place all month for people who love this aircraft.
I've had several memorable journeys in a DC3.
I once flew in a storm from a place in Botswana called Selibe Pikwe to Johannesburg, with a "request stop" at Gabarones. We took off from a dirt airstrip with a dozen or so passengers, a parrot, two goats and a crate of chicks. The seats, I swear, hadn't been changed since it had done duty in WWII and we had to haul ourselves up the gangway grabbing hold of the seats because of the steep angle.
The pilot attempted to fly around the storm, but in the end gave up and just went through it. People turned out in evening dress to see us land at Gabarones, the weather was that bad, and after we finally landed in Johannesburg -- I've never been so glad to see airport lights -- I came out in a rash.
It certainly wasn't luxury flying, but it was a lot more memorable than the "bus trip" flying we do now and although it had been banished from UK skies, I've no doubt the "gooney" will still be flying those "bush" flights for a very long time to come.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Yes, I'm still doing that, despite the fact that I've just embarked on # 54 for Harlequin. There are still lots of wonderful authors in the "guest" line up from across the range of romance.
This week I'm delighted to welcome Linda Goodnight to spend a little time with us and tell us about her writing.
I first "met" Linda, when we joined forces with six other authors to write a series called The Brides of Bella Lucia which brought together Silhouette and Harlequin Romance authors when the two series combined at the beginning of 2007. I read her book Married Under the Mistletoe and immediately fell in love with her writing and I'm not alone.
Linda began her career as an RWA Golden Heart finalist in 1999, and has since written more than 25 books. Among her current awards are the Booksellers’ Best, ACFW Book of the Year, and a Reviewers’ Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine and this year she is a RITA finalist with her "Love Inspired" title A TOUCH OF GRACE.
But here's Linda herself to tell you about her writing.
THE TRUTH IN MY FICTION
People often asked how much of myself I put into my books. There are two answers to that. The first answer is all of myself, though that’s meant in a metaphorical way. On the other hand, I am frequently stirred to creativity by a real incident or a circumstance that happens in my life or in the lives of those around me.
‘Write what you know’ and ‘art imitates life’ are two common bits of writer-speak that I completely agree with. Take for instance, the Brothers’ Bond series from Love Inspired, one of which is nominated for a RITA this year. (Yea!) Although the books are fiction in every sense of the word, all three sprang from a five minute incident at the elementary school where I taught for many years.
So when five brilliant authors, who also happened to be email buddies, ask me to join them in developing a series-now known as “The Wedding Planners”-I searched around inside my head for a bit of fact that could become fiction. At the time, one of my sons was completing his medical residency in surgery. As you may be aware, many young physicians incur incredible debt during this time. Being a typical mother I worried about this, thinking that if something happened to my son, his little family would have a very difficult time. Being a typical writer, I turned that worry into a story.
My heroine, Natalie Thompson, became the struggling widow of such a physician. Since I love to bake and tend to do so when under stress, Natalie became the Wedding Planners’ cake designer. Toss in a diabetic condition for irony, a mischievous set of twins for trouble, and the deceased husband’s greatest competitor for a hero, and the story was off and running.
Below is an excerpt of Natalie and the handsome doctor she does not want to fall in love with. I hope you enjoy it!
WINNING THE SINGLE MOM’S HEART
“This is fun, Cooper,” Natalie said, her breath puffing out in warm clouds as the train chugged slowly into the rows of towering pine and fir. “The girls love it.”
“What about their mom?” Funny how important that was to him. The girls were impressed. He wanted Natalie to be as well. “Does she love it, too?”
“It’s great. Truly. I appreciate it.”
Her lips curved into a beautiful smile that caused his belly to flip-flop. Before he could stop his thoughts, they had gone off in the wrong direction again. She had the most kissable mouth in Massachusetts. Maybe in the world. Just one kiss. That’s all he wanted. To see if she tasted as sweet as her cake icing.
With the self-control that made him a super surgeon, Cooper forced his gaze away from her mouth. But staring off into the dark shadowy tree field didn’t erase the images in his head. The woman touched him from shoulder to ankle. She smelled like sugar cookies and summertime. He could see those tiny puffs of white breath as she laughed and exclaimed over the whimsical decorations hidden here and there in the tree grove. She was real, she was alive, she was maddening.
She was Justin’s widow.
How was a man supposed to concentrate?
Deep inside the huge field, the train sputtered to a stop. Cooper faced the inevitable disembarking with both relief and regret. But when everyone scattered up and down the rows to find the perfect tree, he didn’t resist taking Natalie’s hand again as they strolled. No big deal. Just friends finding a Christmas tree.
Then why did he notice the way her eyes sparkled brighter beneath the lights? And why did his stomach dip every time she laughed that magical, tinkling laugh? The wild urge to kiss her was back.
“Cooper?” Natalie’s voice was hushed.
He gazed down at her, standing small and snow-kissed at his side. “Yeah?”
“You have a funny look. Is something wrong?”
He smiled and stepped closer. Yes, something was wrong. He would die if he didn’t kiss her.
Natalie tilted her head, eyes questioning. A tiny pulse beat at the base of her throat. From somewhere up ahead, the twins’ voices carried on the wind.
He tugged on Natalie’s hand, drawing her closer. Give him a sign, any sign that she wouldn’t slap his face.
The tiny pulse picked up pace.
“Cooper?” she said again but didn’t resist. When their bodies’ were aligned, he slid both arms around her and waited for her reaction. For a second, she stiffened but just as quickly relaxed. She wasn’t fighting him. Maybe she was even inviting him.
Oh, man. He was dying.
The night air was cold and still and pungent with evergreen. The pulse in her throat had somehow moved into his chest.
He was losing his mind, but he had to kiss her.
Visit The Wedding Planners for more about the books in this series.
Or click on the title to buy Winning the Single Mum's Heart
And to win a copy of WINNING THE SINGLE MOM'S HEART Linda wants to know what book you're reading now and would you recommend it to your friends?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Jessica Hart, one of my favourite Harlequin Romance writers, is under the Spotlight this week at the Harlequin Romance Authors blog. Like me, she's celebrating the publication of her 50th romance this year, although she seems to have reached that milestone ten or more years earlier than me. Do drop by and say hello.
Other good news is that I've received a couple of fabulous reviews this week. One for 100 Arabian Nights and one for The Temp and the Tycoon.
"Full of humour, romance, wit and emotion, Chosen as the Sheikh’s Wife sparkles with all the warmth, charm and flair which readers have come to associate with Liz Fielding! Fast-paced, romantic, dramatic and absolutely impossible to put down, readers will not easily forget this wonderful story of redemption, new beginnings and hope by a wonderful storyteller who is in a class of her own!"
"Liz Fielding is the master of memorable detail. How can anyone forget Talie's crazy hair or Jude's reaction to her! Or that one detail of attire that expresses so much sexiness and romance together in just a few words! The ending brought a tear or two to my eye, as much for the beauty of the writing as the emotion of the story. Talia's story is not to be missed! THE TEMP AND THE TYCOON is a must read for Liz Fielding fans and a great way for those new to this author to see for themselves why this author's romances captivate with stories that move the heart with a richness of emotion that fills the reader with deep joy. THE TEMP AND THE TYCOON is beautiful ---beautiful for its writing, beautiful for its emotion, beautiful for bringing together two vulnerable people whose love for one another opens doors. "
Neither of them are sale in the US or Australia (although The Temp was originally issued several years ago as Strictly Business) but they are available post free from The Book Depository and Amazon.ca as well as Mills and Boon -- there's a link on the sidebar.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Surfing the net for a really great photograph of Richard Armitage who, unbeknownst to him, was cast as Jago, the hero Wedded in a Whirlwind, I came aross this fansite which announced at RA is joining the cast of Spooks for series 7.
Hot hero of North and South, anti-hero from Robin Hood in my favourite series.
Oh, be still my beating heart...
Oh, and the second book in the BRIDES FOR ALL SEASONS is out now. Fiona Harper has been blogging about inspiration and setting -- check it out here
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
The delightful, Nell Dixon.
I first met Nell at the Romantic Novelists' Association conference in Leicester a year or two ago. We missed a train together, then travelled to Birmingham, talking about writing, family life and other stuff. A charming companion, the journey passed much too quickly.
Nell wasn't published then, but not long after her book Marrying Max was published and the following year won the Romantic Novelists' Association Romance Prize/Betty Neels trophy.
I wasn't there, but her present editor, Cat Cobain of Headline, told me when I met her at the Women's Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy, that Nell's acceptance speech was so moving that their whole table of hardened publishers was moved to tears and they made a vow then and there to "sign her up".
They were not just talking through their champagne. This month Nell's book, Blue Remembered Heels is published by Little Black Dress and all round the UK romantic novelists are cheering to the echo. And I had my email from Amazon to tell me that my copy was despatched today. Hooray!
I can’t believe Liz has her fiftieth title out this year. She doesn’t look old enough for a start. When I decided six years ago that it was time I made good all those promises I’d made to myself when I was younger about someday writing a book I looked at the authors whose books I loved reading the most. Needless to say Liz was one of those authors. I’ve always envied the way she can add her own unique stamp to a story. Even without her name on a cover, I could probably tell it was her voice. From Gentlemen prefer Brunettes to the classic, The Bridesmaid’s reward, I love Liz’s books and her sparkling sense of humour that all her heroines appear to possess. I knew that was the kind of writer I wanted to be. Since then I’ve been fortunate to achieve my dream and become a published writer.
This month sees the appearance of my debut book for Little Black Dress. Called Blue Remembered Heels, it’s the story of sisters Charlie and Abbey – both accomplished con artists, their brother Kip and what happens when a freak accident turns your life upside down. When Abbey is hit by lightning out of a clear blue sky one ordinary afternoon she discovers she can’t tell lies anymore. A bit of a snag when the man she’s falling in love with happens to be a police officer.
I got the idea for the story after reading in the newspaper about a man who was hit by lightning and suddenly found he could speak fluent French. Blue Remembered Heels is a suspense filled romp through dog whispering and footballers wives as Abbey, Charlie and Kip try to stay one step ahead of the law and find their happy ever afters.
Out on July 10th, you can order from Amazon or from any good bookstore.
Stop by at my website or my blog to find out all my news and to read more excerpts from my books.
Here’s a taster from Blue Remembered Heels, where Abbey has her first close up encounter with Mike:
Manydown was a typical country village. It boasted a pub, church, bakery, general store, butcher, greengrocer, ironmonger and a couple of clothes shops. I parked the minivan in the small car park behind the church and trotted across the street to the bakery.
Of course it was shut. I’d forgotten about it being Sunday. The small general store at the end of the road looked as if it was open so I headed down the street in the hope that they would at least have some crisps and chocolate.
At first glance it looked pretty deserted when I stepped through the old-fashioned door complete with jingly bell. A middle-aged woman at the counter served an elderly man with whisky and cigarettes while the rest of the shop appeared to be empty. I picked up one of the battered wire baskets from the end of the counter and looked along the shelves for something to keep my stomach quiet on the journey home.
The tinkle of the shop bell signalled the arrival of another customer right before I spotted some tubes of Pringles right up on the top shelf.
“Allow me.” A masculine arm reached over my head and handed me a tube of “Cheesy Cheese” flavour.
“Thank you…” The words died on my lips as I turned to look at my snack saviour. Holy crap, it was the same man who’d been in the hotel bar when Charlie and I had been setting up the sting on Freddie!
“You look familiar. Have we met?” Dark brown eyes the colour of melted chocolate gazed into mine. A shiver ran down my spine and I knew he was being sarcastic. He knew damn well where he’d seen me before.
“I saw you in a hotel bar once.” Crapity, crap, crap - why couldn’t I regain control over my mouth? Charlie would kill me and we were all going to go to jail if I didn’t learn to zip it. He smelt delicious though, masculine and woody. I knew I was in trouble and not just because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.
His eyes narrowed and I guessed my openness had caught him off guard. “Yes, you were with a very pretty dark-haired girl.”
“My sister, Charlie.” I smiled at him even as I cursed myself for being unable to stop blabbering like an idiot. Typical - even the coppers fell for my sister. That idea dampened my spirits somewhat.
“And a Mr Freddie Davies was with you?”
“Are you and your sister friends of Mr Davies?” His tone was casual but I knew a cop interrogation when I heard it. The problem was I couldn’t disengage my mouth from my brain.
He might have a very sexy voice for a cop, but all the same I had to get out before he could ask me anything else. I’d said far too much as it was.
“Nice meeting you but I’ll have to go; my brother’s waiting for me.” I squeezed past him. The heat from his body shimmered into mine in the confined space of the aisle and I bolted through the tinned goods section to the till. Thank God I had cash. I plunked my Pringles in front of the cashier and added a couple of Crunchie bars from the display next to the till.
With the change in my pocket I made for the door only to find Mr Sexy Voice waiting for me.
“Don’t I even get to know your name?” He pulled the door open.
“Abbey Gifford.” I stepped outside, praying he wouldn’t try and follow me.
“Mike Flynn. Perhaps we’ll meet again?” Cute little crinkles formed at the corners of his eyes as he smiled.
“Maybe.” I was flirting with the enemy. That bolt of lightning had a lot to answer for.
I have a signed copy of Blue Remembered Heels to send to the person I pick from the comments who I think confesses to the worst/funniest fib that they ever told.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
I've just had an email from my editor to tell me that 100 Arabian Nights has hit The Booksellers "Heatseekers" Chart. Hot books, selling fast...
How exciting is that!
To celebrate, here's another little excerpt...
FAYAD looked up as his aide approached him. ‘The princess is waiting,’ he said.
He’d given no instructions that she was to be given that title, but everyone knew who she was and it seemed that her transformation from Violet Hamilton to Princess Violet al Sayyid had already begun.
He still did not know what he was going to say to her, only that he must somehow prepare her for his grandfather’s expectations. Reassure her that she was, totally, in control of her own destiny. But as the door to the hareem majlis was opened to his knock he saw her standing in the centre of the room, waiting for him, and words became an irrelevance.
He could not have spoken, even if he’d wanted to.
Grave, beautiful, untouchable.
As distant from the girl who’d opened the door to him that morning, hair an enticingly damp tangle of curls, legs and feet bare, wearing nothing but a faded pink bathrobe, as the moon was from the stars.
Mistaking his silence for disapproval, she said, ‘This was Leila’s idea.’ A tiny gesture took in her clothes, some rich creation that would have his sisters drooling with envy.
‘Leila will be rewarded,’ he said.
‘Oh. I wasn’t sure. I thought it seemed a little … excessive but…’
But everything is strange.’
Her silence, her stillness were answer enough.
‘You are wondering, now you’ve had time to think, whether you have made a mistake.’ And this time heat rushed to her cheeks. Not that cool, then.
‘You have the khanjar,’ she said. ‘And now you have me. If this was a movie I would probably be screaming at the heroine not to be so dumb.’
‘Believe me, I appreciate the trust you have shown. Your generosity. You could so easily have told me to … how do you say it? Get lost? Sold the khanjar to the highest bidder.’
She could have no idea how high the bidding would have gone.
‘No. That would have been wrong. And I’m here to protect Sarah. Her family. The innocent people who get hurt when powerful people clash.’
‘Not even a little bit for yourself? Are you not curious about your family? About where you come from?’
‘I could have gone to the library,’ she said, continuing to regard him with those extraordinary eyes. Then, ‘Your only concern was to get me away from the house. Anyone else would have called the police, but you didn’t want them involved, did you?’
Politics are not the concern of the police, princess.’
‘Don’t call me that. I’m not a princess. I’m just Violet Hamilton.’
‘And you’re angry with me. You find yourself being torn from everything you know and you’re just a little frightened.’
‘Of course I’m frightened!’ she said. ‘It’s been a hell of a day…’
Without thinking, he reached out and took her hand in what he’d intended as no more than a gesture of simple reassurance, but he continued to hold it, long after it became much more.
Beneath his, her hand was small, but not soft. There was nothing soft about her. He had her history and he knew she had given up her education to care for her grandmother, not for expectation of reward, but out of love.
She was a woman whose value was far above rubies. Far beyond him…
‘Are you afraid now? Truly?’
‘Should I be?’
‘What does your heart tell you?’
Still no news of a US or Australia release date, but the book can be bought from the Mills & Boon website (July Special Release), or The Book Depository (who do not charge postage even for international sales). I put a link on the sidebar but it refuses to work for me for some reason. They are, however, a legitimate and well regarded company.