Monday, August 29, 2011


Just a reminder that I'll be holding a New Voices Workshop this week.

Here are the deets -

Pontardawe Library
Holly Street

Wednesday 31 August
2 - 3.30 pm
Tel: 01792 862261 to book a place

And I was on the radio this morning - Jamie and Louise on BBC Radio Wales - here's a link to the  - listen again

I was on just after the 11 o'clock news, which is about two hours into the programme.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Ordinary Girl and a Sheikh

It's always a pleasure to see a book getting a second outing, especially when it's in such good company - a treble treat with Barbara McMahon and Nicola Marsh

THE SHEIKH'S UNSUITABLE BRIDE was my 50th Mills and Boon romance and we had an enormous amount of fun when it was published. I left its heroine, Diana, in charge of the year-long party and to introduce the guests who dropped by to make it so special. She was convinced that the only reason most of them came was to ogle the photograph of Zahir, her sheikh and I've had to prise it out of her "treasure" box for this blog because, this September it's being reissued as a 3-in-1 By Request (there will be a eBook version, too).

Here's a taster.

A precious Venetian snow globe has been smashed and Diana takes the sheikh shopping for a replacement. He anticipated Harrods but time is short and she opts for ToysRUs:

‘The Princess and the Frog, Metcalfe?’ he asked, holding out the globe for an explanation.

He had beautiful hands. Not pampered or soft. There was an old scar running across his knuckles and although his fingers were long, thin even, it was the slenderness of tensile steel.

‘I am not familiar with this fairytale,’ he said.

‘I’m surprised you know any of them,’ she said, forcing herself to focus on the globe. It contained a scene in which a girl, wearing a small crown, and a frog were sitting on the edge of a well.

‘Disney has reached Ramal Hamrah.’

‘Has it?’ Of course it had. ‘Oh, right. Well, I suppose this must be one he decided to give a miss.’ She thought about it. ‘Actually, he was probably right. I’d stick with one of the others,’ she advised.

‘But this girl is a princess. Ameerah will like that.’

Just like the assistant, who’d faded away with no more than an envious glance in her direction, Diana recognised the imperative. He didn’t need words to issue an order. He could do it with a look from those dark eyes.

‘It’s not good,’ she warned him. ‘Cinderella is, admittedly, a bit wet, but at least she’s kind. And while Snow White is not exactly a female role model...’

‘I don’t have all day,’ he warned.

‘No, sir.’ She took the globe, gave it a little shake to start the snow storm. ‘Okay, this is how it goes. Spoilt princess drops her precious golden ball in the well. The frog offers her a deal. If she takes him home with her, lets him eat from her plate, sleep on her pillow, kisses him goodnight...’ She hesitated as, distracted by the sensuous curve of his lower lip, she lost the thread of the story.

‘He’s a talking frog?’

She shrugged. ‘It’s a fairy tale. If you want reality you’re in the wrong place.’

He acknowledged the point with the slightest movement of his head. Then, ‘Kisses him goodnight,’ he prompted,

‘Mmmm. If she promises all that,’ she said, ‘he’ll fetch her golden ball from the bottom of the well.’

‘A gentleman frog would have done it without strings attached.’

‘A girl with any gumption would have got it herself.’

‘You would have climbed down the well, Metcalfe?’

‘I wouldn’t have kissed the damn frog!’

'You disapprove?’

‘There’s no such thing as a free golden ball,’ she said.

‘No, indeed.’ He did something with his eyes and without warning, beneath the dark red uniform Diana suddenly felt very warm.

‘Anyway,’ she said, quickly, running a finger under her collar to let in some cool air. ‘She, um, agrees. Actually, she’d have promised him the moon -- she loved that ball – and the ungentlemanly frog dives into the well, gets the ball and hands it over at which point the princess shows her gratitude by legging it.’

‘Legging it?’

‘Has it away on her toes. Scarpers. Runs back to the palace without him.’

He laid one of those beautiful hands against his heart. ‘I’m shocked.’

She’d been quite wrong about the irony. He “got” it, all right. He might not be laughing on the outside, but his eyes gleamed with amusement.

‘I imagine the frog doesn’t take that lying down?’

‘As you said. The frog is no gentleman. He hops all the way to the palace, rats on the princess to the King who tells her that a princess must always keep her word.’

‘A princess shouldn’t have to be told.’

‘It might surprise you to know that holds good for common folk, too.’ Then, ‘She isn’t happy about it, but she doesn’t have much choice, so she lets him eat off her plate, but then she flounces off to bed without him.’

‘She learns her lesson hard, this princess. Does the frog quit?’

‘What do you think?’

‘I think she’s going to be sharing her pillow with the frog.’

‘Right. It takes him hours to hop all the way up the stairs, find her room, but he gets there in the end and once more reminds her of her promise. Finally, accepting that she’s beaten, the princess puts him on her pillow and even forces herself to kiss him goodnight.’

‘I can relate to this frog, but can this story have a happy ending?’

‘That rather depends on your point of view. When the princess wakes up next morning the frog has turned into a handsome prince.’

His brows rose a fraction. ‘That might take a bit of explaining.’

Diana, whose view of the scene had been fixed in childhood by a picture book image of said handsome prince, fully clothed in princely trappings, standing beside the princess’s bed as she woke, suddenly saw a very different reality and, quite stupidly, blushed.

‘Yes, well,’ she said, quickly, ‘it’s that whole wicked-witch-cursing-the-handsome-prince thing. The princess had to have her arm twisted to breaking point, but she did what was needed to break the spell. Da-da-de-da,’ she sang to the wedding march. ‘And they all lived happily ever after.’

‘You mean that now he’s not a warty frog, but her equal, she marries him?’

‘I did warn you. The girl is as shallow as an August puddle. It’s why the prince married her that beats me.’

‘Maybe the King didn’t buy the “spell” story and produced a shot-gun?’ he offered.

‘It’s a nice theory, but the fact is that in fairy stories the girl always gets the prince. It’s that love-at-first-sight, happy-ever-after thing.’

Here's what a few people said about it when it was first published.

...oodles of sizzle...Pure magic from beginning to end." 4.5 stars from Romantic Times

"Sublimely entertaining." Romance Readers at Heart

"Fielding writes characters that matter." Coffee Time Romance

"Sparkling, enchanting, feel-good and wonderfully romantic, The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride is sheer perfection!" at Cataromance

Oh, and on the subject of eBooks - did you know that you can have your Kindle editions signed? It's taking me a while to get all my books on Kindlegraph - for some reason it won't let me do the American editions - but there are a few titles I can sign for you. Just click on Kindlegraph

And if you're in the UK, I'll be BBC Radio Wales on Monday morning - Jamie and Louise - at about 11 o'clock, talking about NEW VOICES.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

cafe du jour

Today I'm celebrating the Kindle publication of CAFE DU JOUR, a book that I featured on my blog a couple of years ago. It was originally published by Mira's Australian office and the paper version didn't make it to the US or UK, which considering Lillian hasn't written more than 100 books and has a world-wide fan base, seems a little short-sighted. (I had my copy sent from Australia!)

Now, however, thanks to the wonders of the digital age, Cafe Du Jour is an eBook and you can read wherever you are.

The is from my original blog...

I can't actually remember the first time I met Lilian Darcy.

It was certainly in America. Washington or Denver, at one of those terrific Mills & Boon pizza parties that have become a legendary part of the Wednesday night of the RWA conferences when, after the literacy book signing, colleagues from all over the world gather, usually in Sandra Marton's room, for pizza and gossip.

I do remember her in Denver, though. Harlequin threw a rock n' party with an "Elvis" singer and Lilian grabbed me and said "let's dance" and golly, did we dance!

Today, in Australia, Lilian is launching her "book of the heart", a single title called CAFE DU JOUR, published by MIRA, and I wish, more than anything, that I could be there with her to celebrate its publication, but since that isn't possible, I'm doing the next best thing and having my own personal launch here on my blog.

Here's Lilian herself to tell you about her book: -

There's a lot of good writing in popular women's fiction, actually, which is why it frustrates me that we get so little positive attention in the media. If you're just a regular reader who reads whatever she wants to and browses a whole variety of racks in the bookstore you may not realise this, but there's a huge gulf between literary fiction writers and popular fiction writers, and I really wish it wasn't there. I think there's a fertile middle ground where the two groups could connect and learn from each other and in the process produce books that give the warm, powerful and pacy stories that romance readers love as well as the richness of some deeper themes and observations that we sometimes don't have space for in romance.

In celebration of this middle ground, and of bridging the gap between literary and popular fiction, I'm thrilled that my upcoming novel "Café du Jour" is going to be launched by one of Australia's best-known literary fiction writers, Roger McDonald. He won the Miles Franklin Award in 2006 for his novel "The Ballad of Desmond Kale" which is full of his usual rich, tumbling language and cavalcade of characters that somehow manage to be exotic yet quintessenetially Australian at the same time. (Hm. I suppose Australian *is* exotic to many people!)

"Café du Jour" itself falls into the middle ground between popular and literary fiction, I think, with its mix of sadness and quirkiness, happy endings and unfinished journeys. It was originally slated for publication by another publisher and was given to Roger for editing. His valuable insights provided the basis for the next draft, but then the publisher closed up the imprint and the book went homeless for years. Several more major drafts later, it is finally coming out, and because of its long incubation it is a book that remains particularly close to my heart, and is different in many ways from anything I've published before.

On that note - being different - I'd like to challenge all of Liz's blog readers to try something different in your reading this month. Yes, we all love to turn to our favourite authors for time out or stress relief or guilty pleasure or inspiration, but there are so many writers out there whom we don't take the time to discover. If you're up for a reading adventure, go into a bookstore and try something new. Choose a book on the strength of a cover that grabs you by the collar as soon as you look at it, or on the strength of the author's unusual name. Choose a book because you've never bought one from that rack before, or pick a random colour and buy the first book of that colour that you see. Close your eyes and just reach out to the shelf. Okay, I'll let you have a few trial runs at this. You're allowed to read the back cover blurb or the first page and put it back if it sounds really awful!

Yes, there are some really awful books out there. They're scattered all over the bookstore, masquerading behind great covers, famous names, rave reviews. And the books that I might think are awful, you might think are great. Ultimately, the thing I most want to celebrate is that, whether we're writers or readers, there is room for all of us.


Amen to that, Lillian!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I can't believe it's been a whole week since my last post.  That's mainly because my book is gathering pace and I'm also spending a lot of my spare time on the Mills and Boon New Voices Facebook page.  If you haven't checked this out, it's a terrific place to ask any questions you might have about the competition. (I hope you're all working on that first chapter!)

Not only are there posts from editors, lots of help from authors, but also writers who took part last year.

I'm getting really excited about my workshop at Pontardawe Library on the 31st August, but added to that I'll be talking to Jamie and Louise on Radio Wales on Monday, 29th August at 11 am.  If you can't tune in (because of time or you're not in Wales!) you can catch up on iPlayer later.  I'll try and post a link.

But it's not all been writing this week.

My vacuum, a much loved original Dyson had reached a point where I was having to clean up after it and so I retired it this week and bought a fabulous new one with ball and a whizzy bit at the front and heavens, it is brilliant!

The carpets are all sitting up and looking really chirpy.  I don't often enthuse about housework but just occasionally I "get" it. :)


I read the wonderful Eva Ibbotson's Magic Flutes this week.  A perfect fairy tale. Loved it. 5 stars. Ten out of ten. I got to the end and instantly downloaded another for my Kindle (in bed - isn't that fabulous!) and have it waiting as one of those special treat reads, to be saved up for when you need one.

If you haven't read Eva, do try one of her books - Madensky Square, set in Vienna before the first world war, or The Morning Gift just before the second war.

And if you need a free read and haven't yet downloaded WILD JUSTICE, it's still free on Kindle UK (US are really annoying me!) and at Smashwords, Nook, iTunes.

Wild Lady and Wild Fire haven't made it from Smashwords onto other platforms yet, but they are available at Smashwords and Kindle everywhere for $2.99 which is jolly cheap for a 400 page book.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


My talk will be at Pontardawe Library on the 31 August between 2 and 3.30.  Call the library to book places on 01792 862261.  I can't wait!

Meanwhile, Mills and Boon have set up a New Voices page on

Facebook where established authors are ready and willing to answer all your questions. Does the hero have to be a billionaire? Is a best friend essential or a no-no. What happens when your middle sags - and no, the answer isn't a diet suggestion!

This is gold for a new writer, so don't miss this great opportunity.

Meanwhile, here's my thought for the day --

What does your heroine want? 
What is her driving passion? 
And what will she do to get it?

Thursday, August 04, 2011


On September 13th 2011 Mills and Boon launch their second global search for fresh writing talent to join Mills & Boon’s galaxy of romantic fiction stars.

A celebration of romantic fiction and romance, New Voices will put entrants through their romantic fiction paces – and the Mills & Boon readership will have their say every step of the way!
The winner of the competition will win some fantastic prizes, including publication by Mills & Boon and a Mills & Boon editor for a year!
For more information go to the dedicated Mills and Boon website here

You'll also find a lively debate and lots of advice on the New Voices Facebook page here

As part of the New Voices programme, I will be giving a workshop at Pontardawe Library at the end of August, so if you're in the south/south-west Wales area, do look out for more information on that.

Since the competition starts with the first chapter, I'm directing you to an article on my website, which I hope will help you make the leap from the idea in your head to the important first lines on the page.

Meanwhile, here are a few points to consider before you put pen to paper –
  • start at the moment of change - what has just happened that will change your heroine's life?
  • with action, not introspection - you want your reader to follow your characters.
  • with character, not scenery, or weather - unless the heroine is about to be swept away by a flash flood in which case you have both the above!
And here are some important points from one of my characters who just happened to be an author: -

1.    Begin your story at a moment of crisis, a point in time when your character's life is about to change for ever.
2.    Keep the conflict simple.  Make sure the reader knows what’s going on.  Ask yourself…  Is the conflict strong enough to sustain the length of the story?
3.    Use dialogue to move the story along.  Use it to create tension, misunderstanding, to reveal character to the reader.
4.    A hero has to be strong, tender, a man who would never let down the woman he loves.  But he has to be flawed, too.  If he were perfect there would be no story.  (And he’d be impossible live with.  LF)
5.    Sexual tension is not just about getting naked.  It’s about wanting something and knowing it’s out of reach.  It can be a look instead of a touch.
6.    Every story will have a moment when explanations, an air-clearing talk, will offer the way to a happy ending.  Never let this happen.
7.    The romance reader is looking for warmly observed characters and deeply felt emotion.
8.    A satisfying ending provides a final moment of discord before all the loose ends are gathered in, with reassurance that the hero and heroine will live happily ever after.

I'd also recommend Kate Walker's WRITING ROMANTIC FICTION to any new writer.

Two of last year's New Voices authors have already been bought by Mills and Boon; several more are working with editors and hope to make the leap to published author soon. This is an amazing opportunity to get your writing noticed so get started!