Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mills & Boon New Voices

Is there anyone who hasn't heard about the amazing new writing competition that Mills & Boon announced yesterday that will be going through to the autumn, with the winner announced on 1st November?

There is?

Well, here's the skinny -

Mills & Boon New Voices
A global search for fresh writing talent to join
the Mills & Boon galaxy of romantic fiction stars

How the competition will work…

The competition has its very own website - where the entries will be posted and readers can leave their feedback.

The competition will be divided up into four stages and will run from Monday 6th September.

The winner will be announced on Monday 1st November.

1. Stage 1: The Free for All

  • All submitted entries will be read and judged by the Mills & Boon judging panel
2. Stage 2: The Shortlist

  • A shortlist of 8-10 authors will be announced, and their first chapters posted on the website.
  • All shortlisted entrants will be assigned a Mills & Boon author and editor as a ‘mentor’ as they polish their second chapters and for their remaining time in the competition.
  • The public will vote for their favourite!

3. Stage 3: The Shorter-list

  • The shortlist will be chopped down to 4 – the next stage to share a ‘pivotal moment’ from their book.
  • The public will vote for their favourite!

4. Stage 4: Winner!

  • Judged by a panel – names TBC!
  • The winner is announced!!

The Romance Is Not Dead web site is now up and running and there loads more information on there, including the dates of workshops being run by M&B authors and editors all over the country.

I'm going to be giving a workshop in connection with this contest in Carmarthen Library - it's in the diary for 9th August, I'm just waiting for the co-ordinator in Carmarthen to get back from her holiday and firm it up. I hope to see a lot of you there. (Although maybe Snookie won't be able to manage to make it all the way from Hawaii!)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


...the Romance Writers of America Conference, either.

I'm sad about that. I won't get the chance to meet up with friends I've made across the globe, not just writers but readers, too.

But I can't miss this opportunity to those authors who have been shortlisted for the RITA this year, especially dear friends, Anne McAlister, with her One Night Mistress... Convenient Wife. Jennie Lucas with The Christmas Love Child. Linda Goodnight nominated for The Snow Kissed Bride, Jane Porter for Duty, Desire and the Desert King all in the Short Contemporary Category.

There's Elizabeth Rolls, too, with her Regency Historical, Lord Braybrooke's Penniless Bride.

And a huge shout out in the category for mainstream women's books with a romance element - The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal, which was one of my favourite reads of last year.

Good luck to them and everyone who had a book shortlisted. They are the best of best published books last year and you can see the entire list of books and authors here

Saturday, July 10, 2010


at the Romantic Novelists' Association 50th Anniversary conference in Greenwich.

This has to be extremely bad planning, because while I sit here in my jammies at the crack of a Saturday dawn, all my writing mates are, right now, stirring, groaning and reaching for something to soothe the ravages of a night partying at the Gala celebration dinner.

Of course I am also missing out on the shocking heat in London and remain cucumber cool and headache free in a rather damp Wales.

Which would you choose?

Yes, I thought so.

Next year I'm going to have to plan my deadlines with rather more precision, since I've been roped in to give a talk or something. (I need plenty of notice of these things - a year should be about enough to come up with something interesting.)

Meanwhile my world is bounded by all things ice cream.

Elle, the heroine of my story (working title SCOOP!) has just gone for a ride in Rosie with a dishy bloke who's turned up at her door with a 1962 Commer Ice Cream van that is about to turn her world on its head.

(The dishy bloke might have a little to do with that, too!)

Oh, and just so that you know I really was working when I was pretending to be on holiday last week - here's my research photo.

This giant ice cream was spotted on the station at Paignton, where I boarded a steam train to Dartmouth. The sight of it moved me to go inside and buy one, although it wasn't a Whippy but some delicious west country dairy cream ice scooped onto a cone.

The jolly nice young man who served me wrapped it in a napkin (something Mr Whippy never did when I was a kid) and for which I was extremely grateful since it was a hot day.

Some books are just more fun to research than others.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


I'm back from my holiday and first up I have to thank Christine Stovell for being my guest last week. I loved TURNING THE TIDE and hope the taster will send you all rushing out to buy it.

The winner of a signed copy is TracyE with her brilliant seasickness cure - sell the boat. Nice one, Tracy. :)

And thanks to May and Adam for standing in for me.

Having read a really excellent review someone posted about the book I feel I should post a competition to see who spotted the mistake that slipped past me, my editor and my copy editor in this book. (Answers in a plain brown envelope.) But honestly, I'm hoping you didn't notice and anyway it's illegal to have a competition where you actually have to buy something, so maybe not.

So what did we do on our hols? Not a lot to be honest. We sat about reading in the sunshine - a glass of something chilled conveniently close to hand. We went to Dartmouth on a steam train that runs along the coast and saw a wedding taking place at one of the old stations en route, which was fun.

We revisited Brixham for the first time in over 40 years. It seemed shabbier despite the fancy new aparts along the harbour, but we took the ferry to Torquay where we sat outside a lovely Italian restaurant and had great food.

Paignton Zoo was fun. Loved the meerkats and they have some huge giant tortoises. I'm not a huge fan of zoos but the setting was lovely and they some great conservation work, particularly in Botswana which, as you all know, is dear to my heart.

On the way home we stayed for a couple of nights in Frome. Lovely buzzy town with a terrific cultural and artistic life. Wish I could be there for the festival this month.

This is Cheap Street, which is very old and where a tiny stream still runs through a rill at the centre and contains temptation in the shape of a great book shop and a store that sells beautiful Radley bags.

The weather was amazingly kind to us - just one shower in the evening when we were safely back in the cottage.

But it's lovely to be home again.

A kindly neighbour kept my pots watered so everything was looking lovely. Let the taps run for a minute, then make that first cup of tea just the way you like it.


Thursday, July 01, 2010


I'm delighted to introduce Christine Stovell, whose debut novel, TURNING THE TIDE, has just been published by ChocLit.

Since both Chris and I earned chocolate for our first writing endeavours, we have a lot in common! The book is a delight, but here is Chris to tell you about it - and give you a chance to win a copy for yourself...

It’s a huge honour to be invited by Liz, a fellow member of the Carmarthen Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association to be a guest on her blog. As a debut novelist, I’m in awe of Liz’s achievements, but it’s lovely to hear from Liz that the thrill of publication stays the same whether you’re on your first or fiftieth novel.

I suppose the story of ‘Turning the Tide’ began when I met a keen sailor and thought how romantic the thought of sleeping under starry skies in a quiet anchorage sounded. We married and bought our vintage wooden boat that same month... and then I discovered how dreadfully prone to seasickness I was! Nevertheless, we did manage to sail half way round Britain, from the east coast of England to the west coast of Wales. The sleepy backwaters, picturesque harbours and fascinating characters we met along the way all worked their way into my imagination and into my writing, but one day I suddenly ‘saw’ an image of a troubled young woman sitting by the water’s edge and knew I had to tell her story...

Harry (Harriet) Watling has spent five years trying to keep her father’s boatyard afloat. Now all she wants to do is enjoy the peace and quiet of her sleepy backwater. Property developer, Matthew Corrigan, has other ideas; he wants to turn the boat yard into an upmarket housing complex for his exotic new restaurant. And the odds seem to be stacked in Matthew’s favour. He’s got the colourful locals on board, his hard-to-please girlfriend is warming to the idea and he has the means to force Harry’s hand. Meanwhile, Harry has to fight not just his plans but also her feelings for the man himself. When a family secret from the past creates heartbreak for Harry, and neither of them is prepared for what happens next...

Here’s what happens when Harry meets Matthew for the first time.

‘On a fresh May morning, Harry Watling headed out for her favourite spot a contented woman. She liked to come to this secluded coil in the creek because nobody else did.
Only today someone else was sitting in her place. Harry pulled up and considered the dark brown hair curled into the pale nape of his neck, the black tee shirt stretched across broad shoulders and the long, athletic back which was turned against the world.

‘I don’t mind you staring at me, sweetheart, but your mother might have something to say about your manners,’ he said, without even looking round.
Harry sucked in her breath and waited for the temperature round her face to cool before proceeding.

‘Well, are you going to join me or not?’

No way, thought Harry, arranging herself further along the bank and staring firmly ahead to discourage conversation. Whilst her land didn’t strictly stretch to this side of Campion’s Creek, he had another think coming if he thought that acting as if he owned the place would make her back off.

Mercilessly carved away by the wind and waves, the soft shore had slowly retreated to leave Little Spitmarsh isolated from its neighbours, divided by miles of salt marsh and hemmed in by the sea. There was a sense of loneliness about the landscape which made it an acquired taste for many people, but which Harry loved. In winter the raw north wind could cut you to the bone, but in summer the sky over the marshes shimmered with heat and was alive with wild cries and flickering wings.

‘Perfect,’ said the stranger.

Harry gave him a swift sideways glance. Maybe she’d been a bit quick to resent his presence, after all. ‘It’s a world apart here,’ she volunteered, surprising herself. ‘You wouldn’t even know there was a town nearby, it’s so peaceful,’ she said, nodding her head at another inlet where the single spire and assorted rooftops of the town centre could just be seen against the dim sky. ‘Mind you, it’s not for people who come here looking to escape – then moan there isn’t an M&S. They’re usually gone within a year.’

‘Sounds as if you know a bit about the place.’

‘I ought to. I was born over at the boat yard. My mother was supposed to have been booked in for a hospital delivery.’

‘But you had other ideas?’

‘Not just me! Mum and Dad had always wanted a home birth, so they deliberately left it too late. They must have been mad,’ she joked.

‘Or so crazy about each other they couldn’t bear to be apart. Are they still the same?’ he asked. ‘No, don’t tell me. They live in a solid middle-class villa now, and take nice holidays abroad, right?’

Harry clasped her knees and looked at her feet. ‘Not quite...’

‘Turning the Tide’ is available to purchase at all WH Smith airport and station stores. Plus most online bookstores including Amazon and The Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery. You can also order at Waterstone’s and most major independent bookstores. The Ebook is coming soon in multi-formats from Smashwords and in pdf and prc here.

Now it’s competition time! As you’ve heard, I suffer badly from seasickness, so for your chance to win a copy of ‘Turning the Tide’, I’d love to hear your suggestion for a cure! Send your answers to me using the comment box on the contact page on my website and I’ll pick the suggestion that appeals to me the most!