Thursday, August 27, 2009


... and having the best fun. My author copy of LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT -- the anthology from the Romantic Novelists' Association written by its members to celebrate 50 glorious years of romance -- was delivered while I was away and in those little moments of peace and quiet I've been dipping into it.

That's the joy of short stories. They are like those gorgeous little miniature cakes I became addicted to in Italy. Exactly like the big ones, but just a mouthful.

These are stories by favourite authors, a roll call of some of the great names -- Joanna Trollope, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews, Jill Mansell, Christina Jones, Anna Jacobs. Their voice, but in a bite-sized chunk.

I shed a tear at a story by Sue Moorcroft, shrieked with delight when Victoria Connelly introduced "Ginger" (a favourite and very ancient inhabitant of the British Museum) in her story and just drooled with pleasure at Sophie Weston's wonderful Cinderella Revisited.

Published by Mira, this is a book you'll want in your own Christmas stocking and will want to tuck under the tree of every romance reader you love. It's not cheap, but honestly when you see what you get it's a real bargain -- 40 stories, nearly 600 pages. You'll find a direct link to Amazon, UK on my sidebar. It's also on sale in the US or you can buy it from The Book Depository (also on the sidebar) for the same price as Amazon UK, but they won't charge you postage no matter where you are in the world.

Oh, and there's a little taster from my own contribution on my website.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I've been on my holidays. Well, just a little break to be honest -- something I promised myself the minute the last book was finished. For just a few days, we packed a lot in. Since we were taking the Eurostar to Brussels, we stayed overnight with the darling daughter whose wedding was such a delight last year. She and her best beloved are expecting their first baby in January and so there was a lot to talk about and celebrate.

A taxi picked us up at 6 the next morning and sped us towards St Pancras where we snatched a cup of coffee, before we were being whisked away at high speed towards the continent. I love the Eurostar and would never catch a plane if I had a choice.

Connections were all perfectly timed and we were met at our destination, Dordrecht in Holland, by the first born. He hates having his picture taken (don't we all!) but here is Bob, # 3 in the dog hierarchy. (The other are Kaes, Flynn and Milo but Bob is the poser -- appearing in a dog food advertisement went to his head!)

Dordrecht is the oldest city in Holland, is surrounded by water and has wonderfully picturesque old harbours, streets and buildings. The old State House actually has a canal running beneath it. We came across this quiet little street and I would just love to live in one of those houses. The big building on the left is a school.

This is the Grand Kerk which has a lovely carillion of bells that plays every quarter. We sat in an open air cafe by the harbour on our first evening, watching yachts coming and going through a lift bridge and felt utterly European in a way you never can in the UK.

And what about this for a chimney?

On Saturday we went to the market, which is amazing. Not as crazy as the ones in Italy but all beautifully ordered in that totally Dutch way.

Fruit, flowers, vegetables and fish to make a woman drool, but since we were in Holland I thought you'd want to see the cheese.

(And yes, of course we bought some -- a very old, smokey Gouda if you must know!)

We took the waterbus into Rotterdam, a high speed trip along the Maas, and then, because honestly the feet were worn out, we took another boat trip around the port, which is huge. There was a warehouse just for orange concentrate from Brazil. (It was orange...) and there were some of the amazing buildings for which Rotterdam is famed.

I'll gloss over the return journey. European trains tend to be in a class of their own, but a fire in a tunnel involved going backwards to go forwards and no one seemed to have a clue what was happening. We made our check in at Schipol but then missed our early boarding call. But we made it.

If you haven't checked the comments on the last blog, my thanks to everyone who offered "hero" names for the book I've just started. I did settle on Adam Gilchrist, then the dh reminded me that he's a Australian cricketer, which explains why is sounded so absolutely perfect. He's now Adam Wavell (his heroine is Emily -- Millie -- Coleridge), but I now have a lovely file full of names to call on for the future. Michele L and Robyn1 won books from the backlist (who could resist Horatio!) and I'll be getting them into the post asap.

Chapter Six of Wild Justice is now online here Fizz thinks she's found a way to avoid Luke Devlin's financial hold over her. Oh, dear...

Last, but not least, don't forget that Harlequin Romance authors now have their own blog here at eHarlequin, where series writers will be sharing their writing lives with readers two or three times a week. You should not miss Fiona Harper as "Barbara Cartland"!

Friday, August 07, 2009


... that I've been missing in action for the last couple of weeks. It's not that nothing has been happening, it's that I've been too busy to write about it.

Busy? What does a writer do all day?

I love the romantic novelist skit in Little Britain where Matt Lucas, as the terminally "blocked" Dame Sally Markham lies back on a sofa eating chocolates dictating a word at a time to her secretary. It's an image indelibly imprinted on the brain of most journalists. If only it were so.

Instead I sit on chair that has changed the shape of my derriere over the years and pound away at the keyboard. The last time my laptop was in the shop they replaced the keyboard out of kindness -- there wasn't a letter left. (Well, obvioiusly the numbers, but I have no use for them!) It wasn't that long ago, but they're look pretty bare again. If I actually have to look to check where the n and m are, I haven't a clue. If I didn't touch-type I'd be in real trouble!

Anyway... That's what I’ve been doing non-stop for the last two weeks. Keyboard pounding. Finishing the book. I haven’t read a book, seen more than half an hour of television, or had anything that could be described as a life.

My hero and heroine, Josie and Gideon, have had every last moment of it. Their story has consumed my own.

I’ve been getting up at 5 am to write when the world is quiet. No distant murmurings from a radio. No “I’m not going to disturb you but…” No sudden realisation that it’s Tuesday and I haven’t put the rubbish out.

Starting at 5 am, finishing at 5 pm when the brain is too numb to function, then falling asleep in front of the television day after day until the tiny pin prick of light at the end of the tunnel became brilliant sunshine. It happened on Wednesday, just around lunchtime. I wrote the last line – rather a good one I thought – and that it. Hero and heroine waved off into the sunset. Another great Harlequin Romance story told. Or very nearly.

My lovely ed is about to go on holiday so there was no time for a last read through. I just hit the send key and off it went, winging its way to Romance HQ. Then I sat there with a big smile of my face thinking, whew -- or something very much like it – before I emerged blinking into the daylight to discover that after weeks of incessant rain, the sun was shining. I stood there for a moment, not quite knowing what to do with myself. It’s like that when the story is done and you’ve been left behind by your characters. It takes a little while to come round, remember what it was I did before I started the book.

I started by reacquainting myself with the garden. Walking across the squelchy lawn to check what the beans are doing. Whether the hostas survived the slugs. Vowing that next year I'll only put daisies in my pots -- they don't care what the weather does, just sit there, shiny and fresh and gorgeous, whereas those poor petunias are fit for nothing but compost. Decided what I was going to do with the rest of the day. Or rather what I had to do -- all the things I'd left hanging for weeks. Pay the bills, pick up the tablecloth from the laundry, take back the overdue library books that I hadn't even read. Getting better, I love going to the library. Buy a birthday present for a treasured aunt. Maybe even a little chocolate. Yes!

I grabbed my bag and the car keys full of joy – mostly about the chocolate -- I had just reached the door when I remembered the leopard cubs.

Introduced in chapter one and supposed to make an appearance in chapter eleven. I'd forgotten all about them.

Oops, I said. Or something very like it, went back to the computer, opened my book document, typed “leopard cubs” at the top of the page, as a reminder for when I get edits. I nearly escaped before it occurred to me that something that might make more sense if Cryssie (she’s a minor character, but important) thinks that Josie and Gideon are already a couple. I made another note. And did Josie really get closure? Suppose I just…? And Gideon needs to say something else just there...
And… And… And… That’s the thing with a story, it’s never quite finished. Writing the book isn’t the hardest part. It’s letting go…

I finally got to the library yesterday, bought the chocolate, went for a drive in the country with the dh. Snatched a whole day for myself. Tomorrow it will belong to two other people. They don’t have names yet, but they have a story. And I'm the only one who can tell it.

Life. Writers do it vicariously.

Except ... just one thing. The lovely Donna Alward, ably abetted by Myrna Mackenzie has set up a Harlequin Romance Group Author Blog at eharlequin. From now on you'll find us there four or five times a week talking about the things that are important to us. Don't miss Susan Meier's post on branding. You'll find it here

I'm now back to the drawing board looking for a name for my hero. Bearing in mind that I already done this nearly sixty times before, I'm appealin for suggestions! My favourite will get a signed book from the backlist.