The One Where I Had a Bit of a Problem…

Reading: Twitter
Watching: Horrible Histories
Listening To: Oh, Sherrie by Steve Perry

Gilles Marini as Marco CorelliSo after I handed in my latest book (AJ and Matt’s story for those of you following at home), I dove straight into my next one, the one I’d dubbed ‘Hot Marco’.  Marco Corelli is cousin to my hero in Bed of Lies and made a brief appearance in that book.  And as soon as he did, I knew I had to give him his own story. The visual for Marco was immediately obvious to me – Gilles Marini (right), who you may have seen in Brothers & Sisters and Sex & The City.  So with him in mind, I wrote a synopsis and began to write the story.

And then something went wrong.

I’ve been reading a lot of fan fiction and Twitter role playing accounts and as I got drawn into these varied characters and scenarios, suddenly, Marco was not Gilles anymore.  He was… someone completely different.  I saw Marco as a bit of a womaniser, a guy with commitment problems, a guy who’s pretty much in it for the good time. And yes, a guy with some complicated emotional issues.  But also he is an incredibly fierce friend, a guy who outwardly, is tough as nails but inside is a vulnerable guy who’s deathly afraid of showing weakness.  aidan turner as marcoThis was not Gilles Marini.  It was… Aidan Turner.  Aidan Turner the vampire from Being Human.  Aidan Turner from The Hobbit.  Aidan Turner with all his crazy emotional issues, his struggles, his casual regard for relationships.

aidan turner as marco3It’s amazing what the change of visual can do for your story.  Aidan became Marco in all his charming, swaggering, damaged glory.  I loved how he’s just taking over the story, running with his role and shaking up my heroine’s life.

To give you a bit of a teaser, this story is about best friends turned lovers, a sudden pregnancy and decades-old secrets suddenly uncovered.  It’s set in Queensland, Australia, one of my favorite places, on a fictional tropical island that just happens to be owned by Marco.  Lots of emotional sparks fly between my hero and heroine as they battle to overcome their own relationship problems to get their happy ever after!

Fan Girl Friday – Maps Ahoy with Louise Reynolds

LReynolds1012_0059Maybe it was the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie-The-Pooh. Or perhaps the old auto club strip maps my mother thrust at us on the never-ending annual childhood road trips between Sydney and Melbourne. All I know is that I love maps.

There’s an air of expectancy when I open a book and see a map in the front. Either I need to know the lay of the land as in a murder mystery like Minette Walters’ The Ice House. Or it’s an invitation to enter an imaginary place created by an author as in William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.

English County Map 1614

I started to collect maps in my late twenties when I bought a pair of these original maps of English counties dated 1614. I love their beautiful jewel colours, latin names and fancy lettering. They would once have been part of a large and expensive portfolio belonging to a gentleman’s library. Luckily they’re now mine.

1765 Strip Map

Later I acquired this original Georgian Strip map of 1765 (predecessor of the auto club strip maps of my youth) which came from The Gentleman’s Magazine. Designed to guide the traveller from London to Lands End by the great turnpike roads of the era, this is my favourite map. The delicate pastel coloured strips differentiate the counties giving the map an attractive graphic quality. But it’s the imaginary journey I take alongside that gentleman that makes my heart race. We set off from ‘Hide Park Gate’ and pass through the little villages of ‘Chelsey’ and Hammersmith. And in my imagination I’m not sitting inside, all corseted up. I’m up top beside the driver. The names of large houses and directions like ‘to the moor’, ‘the college’ and ‘to the mill’ make this an intriguing map. What college? And which mill?

To OS Mapssay that HM Government’s Ordnance survey maps of England have given me hours of pleasure probably sounds very dull. But in my 30’s I caught the rambling bug and the romance of English long distance footpaths captured me. I acquired piles of OS maps to trek these paths. Later I used those same maps to identify, if I could, those intriguing mills and colleges from the 1765 map. They’ve also been invaluable for family history, helping to locate family farms and mining leases.

c. Alan Proctor & Dennis Brierley 1982My map fetish extends to collecting quirky handwritten walking guides like A Wiltshire Way. I love to think of some geeky rambler standing in the freezing cold, blowing on frozen fingers to warm them enough to draw the pictures. I love the little cotton floss trees, the careful script. I love that he has stopped to draw a stile or church and include them on the map in the manner of a medieval monk decorating a manuscript. It’s about time and care. This man is more than a walker. He’s a creator. And I wonder whether that gate, noted as ‘always locked’ in 1982, has ever been unlocked?

Her Italian Aristocrat cover

One of the things most complimented in Her Italian Aristocrat is the portrayal of an Italian hill town setting. Whilst I gripped my wrist and resisted the urge to draw a map, I did see that town so vividly in my mind’s eye. My hero and heroine spend a fair bit of time on the streets of Montefigore and I hope, map or not, that I’ve managed to convey that sense of place.

You can visit Louise on her website, blog or Facebook.  And hey, why don’t you buy her book?  You can get it from iTunes, Amazon, Kobo, Google and Destiny.

Shiny new book!

moonlit encounters FINAL book pageIt’s here, it’s here!  FINALLY, after months of hard work, I can announce my first foray into novella writing AND indie publishing.  Moonlit Encounters is a collection of eight sweet romantic novellas and is available via our new writing venture, TWC Press. (and yep, that website AND the cover are my designs :grin:)  I am just so damn proud of my fellow authors and so thrilled we get to see this anthology out on the shelves.

My story, Damsel In This Dress, is a fish out of water story, and features Annie Ellis, a Christmas phobic New Yorker who ends up jilted and penniless in the middle of Aussie Yulefest.  Enter Noah Greene, a fancy-dress wearing alpha Aussie hero.  Noah and Annie were so much fun to write and I especially loved the chance to write Annie’s story in her viewpoint.

I’m talking about the book at the Desire blog, plus ARRA have kindly let us have a slot on their Release Day announcement schedule.  Drop by and you could win a copy.  Or you can snap it up for just 99c, which is a total bargain, considering the entire book is over 96K!!

new contract, new books!

Reading: Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Watching: Bob The Builder
Listening to: Break The Spell by Daughtry

Hello, gorgeous people! As you may be aware, I’ve been a little scarce with my posts, on account of… well.. lots of stuff – school, writing books and various workshops I’ve been developing.

But huzzah! Good news time! I’ve just signed a two-book contract with Desire, so next year I’ll have one (or possibly two!) new books out 😀 The first, if you follow my hashtag #babyplan on Twitter, is Baby Plan B (working title). If you’ve read Promoted to Wife? you will already have met AJ, (sister to Wife’s heroine, Emily). And my hero? Well, let’s just say he’s an old flame – and AJ’s own personal McDreamy 😀

The second book is yet to be decided, but I’m confident Marco (Luke’s cousin in Bed of Lies) will be the hero.  His perfect match is also his best friend, which should make for some great fireworks!  He has his own hashtag too (#hotMarco)  if you want to follow my progress.

I also have a bunch of other stuff in the works but I think I’ll leave the details out until I have more news 😉

The Highest Bidder continuity covers – part 2

Reading: Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey
Watching: Doctor Who series 5
Listening to: Heart of Stone by Cher

Finally I can show off the rest of these gorgeous covers!  For part 1 go here.

Paula Roe – A Precious Inheritance (October)

He won the auction…
Vanessa Partridge has a good reason for wanting the manuscript offered at auction – it is her twin babies’ legacy. But she doesn’t count on the winning bidder, financial guru Chase Harrington, showing up on her doorstep.
 
Now he wants the woman…
Chase has a new obsession – Vanessa. There’s more to the former-socialite-turned-working-single-mom than meets the eye… and he’s going to find it. He’s got secrets of his own – secrets threatened by the sexy Vanessa. More than anything, Chase wants to give in to their sizzling attraction… but can he afford to play with fire?

Cat Schield  – The Rogue’s Fortune (November)

Elizabeth Minerva tries to steer clear of legendary adventurer Roark Black and focus on her career and her attempts at motherhood. But the rakish treasure hunter can help her in her quest to be a single mom, if she’ll do him one tiny favor….

To save his beloved auction house and his own reputation from ruin, Roark needs to settle down fast—with a sensible woman. After a six-month “engagement,” he and Elizabeth can go their separate ways.

But Roark knows priceless objects, and Elizabeth is the real deal. Now he intends to keep her…by any means necessary!

read an excerpt  |  check out Cat’s website

Barbara Dunlop – A Golden Betrayal (December)

Nothing will stop him…
In his Arabian kingdom, Crown Prince Raif Khouri commands, and women do his will…but then he meets headstrong American Ann Richardson. To get back the priceless statue he’s convinced her minions stole, Raif kidnaps her!Held captive by the sexy prince and mired in scandal at her auction house, Ann has her hands full. How can she convince Raif she’s innocent…and convince her traitorous body to resist his sultry kisses?But after one night with the woman his duty will never let him have, it’s Raif who realizes the high price of ransom – his heart!

check out Barbara’s website

The Highest Bidder continuity covers (part 1)

Reading: Shadow Kin by MJ Scott
Watching: Primeval
Listening to: How We Do by Rita Ora

I love me a good cover!  So I’m excited to be showing off the covers for Desire’s new The Highest Bidder continuity 🙂  Here’s the first three:

Maureen Child – Gilded Secrets (July)
When scandal threatens the luxury auction house that bears his family’s name, Vance Waverly suspects the media feeding frenzy is an inside job. Could his gorgeous assistant, Charlotte Potter, be plotting Waverly’s downfall? There’s one way to find out: seduce the truth out of her!

Charlie is between a rock and a hard place. She can reveal Waverly’s secrets to her unidentified blackmailer or lose custody of her child. Whatever she does, she’ll lose the career she loves. But losing the man she’s come to love–her big, bad boss–could put her over the edge….

Read an excerpt  |  check out Maureen’s website

Charlene Sands – Exquisite Acquisitions (August)
For Macy Tarlington, the only good part of seeing her legendary mother’s possessions sold at auction is ogling Carter McCay, the tall Texan who buys the famous diamond ring. Even better is seeing him again when he rescues her from the paparazzi like a white knight in a Stetson.

Carter whisks her to safety at Wild River Ranch, hiding her identity by day and lusting after her by night. Yes, he’s sworn off love. But with the Hollywood runaway starring in his every fantasy, Carter may find Macy too much temptation–even for a hard-hearted cowboy.

Read an excerpt  |  check out Charlene’s website

Yvonne Lindsay – A Silken Seduction (September)
London-based artist Avery Cullen refuses to sell her late father’s art collection. But bold, brash Marcus Price will try everything to get her to reconsider. He even launches an all-out sexual siege on the lonely heiress in the gilded cage.

Securing the collection would be a coup for his auction house, but for Marcus, it would settle a lifelong score. He’s managed to keep his true motives hidden along with his family’s skeletons…and now he’s so close, he can taste success in Avery’s kiss. But after their torrid night of passion, is Marcus prepared for the outcome?
check out Yvonne’s website

Stay tuned for the rest of the series (including mine!) in the next few weeks.

May news

Reading: Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones
Listening to: What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction
Watching:  Simpsons Movie

Hi everyone!  Some fabulous news to share with you all this week.  First, the news that Harlequin Australia are reprinting the fabbo Diamonds Down Under!  Squeee!  I loved this series and loved being a part of something with my fellow Aussie and Kiwi friends.  Book one (featuring Bronwyn Jameson, Tessa Radley and Maxine Sullivan) is out this month, and book two (with Jan Colley, moi and Yvonne Lindsay) is out in June, coincidentally my birthday month 😀 Happy birthday to me!  Aren’t the covers gorgeous?  If you missed the series the first time around, you can read all about it at our Diamonds Down Under website (and blog).

The Australian Romance Readers Association is hosting a massive book signing at the QT Hotel, Surfers Paradise on 17 August from 4.30 pm to 6.00 pm.  With over 60 authors attending, it’s your chance to meet your favourite.  To register or for more info, check out the ARRA website.

I’m very excited to see Desire’s newest series, The Highest Bidder coming to fruition.  This six-book series is set in the world of a famous auction house and revolves around movies stars, scandal and intrigue of the rich and famous.  The line up is:

  • Gilded Secrets by Maureen Child  (you can see the cover here)
  • Exquisite Acquisitions by Charlene Sands
  • A Silken Seduction by Yvonne Lindsay
  • A Precious Inheritance by Paula Roe
  • The Rogue’s Fortune by Cat Schield
  • Golden Betrayals by Barbara Dunlop

And bonus, some of the books will contain an extra mini story!

Lastly, some more cool covers to show off – the French Kindle bundle, which includes my Billionaires and Babies book, Billionaire Baby Bombshell,  and the German translation of Promoted to Wife? For more cover goodness, you can check out my website.

Craft and How-To Books

Reading: Time Riders by Alex Scarrow
Listening to:  Angry Birds (weeee!!! squark, squark.  OINK!)
Watching:  Winners and Losers

So, leading up to our 20th anniversary RWA conference, discussion on our loops turn to all the wonderful craft and how-to books available for writers.

When I first started writing, I craved genre-specific how-to books.  Sure, there were heaps of ‘creative writing’ books out there, but none that suited my particular needs.  For example, I really hate “let’s do a writing exercise!” books, and ones that reference literary fiction or authors I have no interest in reading.  I wanted practical stuff!  “If only there was a book on effective editing/writing love scenes/conflict/how to structure a story, etc.” was my familiar lament.   I went through a bunch (mainly from the library) that, although okay, didn’t give me any greater insight.

Then I picked up The Secrets of Successful Romance Writing by Emma Darcy and The Art of Romance Writing by Valerie Parv.  FINALLY!  Information specific to my genre! Sure, at the time I was writing sweeping historical sagas not category romance, but still, much of the information contained in those two small volumes hit home.   And slowly, more and more authors began to publish craft books.  And then I discovered Writers Digest.

It was a bit of an obsession, this burning desire to acquire how-tos, and for a few years I was blissfully caught up in the excitement of buying a book and absorbing every detail.  Then came my first sale, and looking at my shelves, I realized I’d moved on from the basics – writing a gripping first chapter, effective dialogue, what is tension/pace  – and needed something different to satisfy my thirst for information, like procrastination, juggling life and writing, better ways of plotting.

So below are a list of recommended books I’ve actually READ 😀

Craft Books

  • Writing Romance – Vanessa Grant (Self-Counsel Press) – a good overall book to start, which gives some great advice as well as practical ways to structure a synopsis
  • Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies – Leslie Wainger  (Hungry Minds Inc US) written by an Executive Editor of Harlequin Books, this book is an easy-to-follow guide to writing, pitching and selling your romance novel
  • Story – Robert McKee (Methuen Publishing) I started reading this book after I was fortunate enough to attend McKee’s Story seminar.  Sure, it’s aimed at screenwriting, but the wealth of information this legendary guy brings is totally worth it, from structure, writing compelling scenes, dialogue and turning points
  • Writing the Breakout Novel – Donald Maass (Writers Digest)  Love The Donald (one of New York’s leading agents) and love this book.  It gives you practical ways of improving your story, from layering in tension, to increasing the stakes for your characters.  Use in conjunction with his workbook.
  • The Writer’s Journey – Chris Vogler (Michael Wiese Productions) Vogler contends that “all stories consist of a few common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams, and movies” and his book details and expands on those elements.  A great book for both plotters (as a plotting tool) and pantsers (as an editing tool)
  • Writing the Fiction Synopsis – Pam McCutcheon (Gryphon Books for Writers) – if you’ve ever wrestled with a synopsis (okay, all of you??) this book breaks it down into easily understood pieces
  • Book In A Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 Days  – Victoria Lynn Schmidt (Writers Digest) – love the layout of this book: spiral bound with easily flippable pages.  It’s also a great way to plan out your first draft.

Editing

  • The Writer’s Handbook for Editing and Revision – Rick Wilber (NTC)
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – Renni Browne and Dave King (HarperCollins)

Two fabulous editing books that give you practical examples on how to strengthen your writing.

Characterisation

  • Goal, Motivation, Conflict – Debra Dixon (Gryphon Books for Writers) – one of my writing staples.  If your characters don’t have GMC then your story will suck and you’ll lose reader interest.  Trust me.
  • The Sociopath Next Door – Martha Stout (Three Rivers Press) – fascinating study into sociopathic personality types
  • The Complete Writers Guide to Heroes and Heroines: 16 Master Archetypes – Tami Cowden, Carol LeFever, Sue Viders – brilliant for creating believable characters.

Motivation

  • The Productive Writer: Tips and Tools to Help You Writer More, Stress Less and Create Success – Sage Cohan (Writers Digest)
  • Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within –  by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett (Mariner Books)
  • The Procrastinator’s Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing it Now – Rita Emmett (Walker & Company)

And of course, I have stacks of books on my TBR pile that look awesome but I’ve yet to delve into:

  • The Artful Edit: On The Practice of Editing Yourself  – Susan Bell (WW Norton)
  • Lights, Camera, Fiction!  A Movie Lover’s Guide to Writing Fiction – Alfie Thompson (Running Press)
  • Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need – Blake Snyder (Michael Wiese Productions)
  • What Would Your Character Do?Personality Quizzes for Analyzing your Characters – Eric Maisel (Writers Digest)
  • The Hero Within: Six Archetypes we Live By – Carol Pearson (HarperOne)

Do you have any favorite writing books?  I’d love to hear about them because you can never have too many books 😀