Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Minx - Joanne

Because I sometimes get a bit behind on things, I didn't get around to doing the 5-5-5 thingy that many of my blogger friends did. So, I'm going to use that today as a way of introducing myself on our lovely shiny new blog :-)

1. Where were you 5 years ago?

- I was living in the same house I have now, having just 7 weeks earlier given birth (at home!) to my 3rd child
- I was on maternity leave from my rather demanding job as a legal assistant in the Family Department of a city centre Solicitors firm
- I had a rather strange on/off relationship with my husband (now the ex). My feelings were more on, his were more off!!
- I read rather a lot of crime fiction, if someone died in a book I wanted to read it! Rather fitted my mindset at the time I think
- Writing-wise I thought about it a lot, but hadn't done any writing for around 10 years and that had been non-fiction

2. What is/was on your to-do list today?

- I really need to clean out the cupboard under the stairs, you know, that space where stuff gets dumped until it's incredibly difficult to actually shut the door
- The usual cooking, cleaning, ironing and running around after the 5 kids
- Having a picnic outside in the garden (so long as the notoriously bad English weather holds out)
- Doing some writing tonight, for the first time in a fair few weeks. I want to feel WIP love again!
- Get some crits done for poor ladies who have been waiting tooooo long for me to get myself into gear (sorry!)

3. What 5 snacks do you enjoy?

- Revels! I love the different sweets you get all in the same packet, all covered in chocolate. What's not to love?!
- Fresh bread. Ok, not technically a snack, but there's no greater taste (or smell).
- Apples. Don't shoot me, people, these usually come after the chocolate--it's a delicate balancing act!!
- Dry roasted peanuts. Love those things, right up until my sister told me how bad they are for you. Actually, I still love them, but don't eat them quite as much as I used to now
- Slices of Gouda cheese, oh the joy and love of good cheese eaten by itself straight from the fridge

4. What places have you lived in?

- Munster, this is the place of my birth. Some will say it is very apt as I look a little like a Herman Munster type monster first thing in a morning. Actually, my kids will tell you I look like that a lot of the time ...
- Borden, an Army camp in, I think, Hampshire but I was too young to remember this
- Osnabruck, Bielefeld, Dortmund and possible other places in Germany I've forgotten (my dad didn't get any of the glam postings of Hong Kong or Gibraltar or other places with sun!)
- Bovington Camp in Dorset, absolutely loved living there. Went to the most marvellous school and did every sport they offered. Some of my happiest times were spent there.
- For the past 23 years I've lived in Hull, East Yorkshire in several different houses but always to the west of the City. Living in the east side is not what you do when you support the best Rugby League team in the City!!

5. What 5 things would you do if you were a millionaire?

- Build a children's home. Hmm, actually I'd like to build one in every city that needs one in the world. Think I might need to be a trillionaire for that. It's alright building them, but as I know, it's pretty expensive feeding and clothing kids!
- Go live somewhere really warm, I was never meant to suffer through English summers with my love for the sun!
- Pay someone to work out how to stop places from flooding and route the water to places that are too dry and don't get enough rain. In this day and age, that surely can't be too hard ...
- Pay off the mortgages of my close family members
- Hire a maid! Yes, on seeing my house, I may need a millionaire to encourage someone to come clean for me!!

And to finish off, I'm going to give you 5 things you may not know about me. You may not ever need to know them, either, but here we go:-

- I love to knit and sew ... but these leisure time hobbies have bit the dust now I have the writing bug
- I am a foster parent, have 3 natural children and currently 2 foster children
- I have a deep love for Elvis Presley. Perhaps because my mum took over my 4th birthday playing his records over and over again because that is the day he died ... but his music stuck with me
- I love Rugby League and it's not just the thighs, although they are rather marvellous, I love the game :-)
- I like to talk, I'm sure none of you have realised that yet ... but it's true. Just ask the Minxes, we've been having weekly brainstorming sessions on Skype ... we don't know when to stop, it's fab and I'm so grateful for all of my lovely crit partners.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Writing a synopsis - by editor Cindy Davis - Part Two

And now the conclusion of our 'Writing a synopsis' post by editor Cindy Davis.
Learn more about Cindy and her editing service from her website,

Shalts and Shalt Nots

Now for the "thou shall and shalt nots."

First—acceptable length. Usually, allow one synopsis page for every twenty-five pages of manuscript, but even that could be longer than most editors and agents want to see. Most editors and agents prefer short synopses from two to ten pages.

Always keep in mind that the synopsis must remain interesting, and supply the necessary information, then cut, cut, cut. Keep making passes deciding what you can refine or do without completely. This is the hardest part. Don't know what to cut? Lose the adjectives and adverbs; keep the motivation and "flavor" of the story.

You have to tell the entire story. Don't send the first three chapters and then start the synopsis at chapter four. Don't leave out the ending, hoping to entice the editor or agent to request the full manuscript in order to find out what happens. What they will do is decide you're an amateur.

No matter what tense your novel was written in, the synopsis is always written in present tense (Jerry goes to the bullfight as opposed to Jerry went to the bullfight.) Format: readable font, usually Times or Times New Roman, single-space your synopsis.

The first time you use a character's name in the synopsis, type it in CAPITAL letters. Do this only the first time. Avoid confusion by referring to a character the same way throughout (not "Dr. Evans" the first time, "Jerry" the next, and "the doctor" another time). It's also advisable to identify which character(s) is the point of view character by typing "(POV)" after the first instance of the character's name.

Try beginning with a paragraph describing your character. Not the physical attributes but the most compelling characteristics. Second paragraph, do the same with the antagonist or the character who plays off your main character. Third and subsequent paragraphs, describe what happens in the story—give a play by play of the plot’s highlights, the events that propel the story and characters forward. Then close with a wrap up—yes, tell the end—of the story.

Synopsis Checklist:

• Does the opening paragraph have a hook to keep the reader reading?
• Are your main characters' conflicts clearly defined?
• Are your characters sympathetic?
• Can the reader relate to them and worry about them?
• Have you avoided all grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes?
• Have you hit on the major scenes, the major plot points of your book?
• Did you resolve all important conflicts?
• Did you use present tense?
And once again, those useful sites:

Thank you for all this great advice, Cindy. Writing the synopsis can be a nightmare, it's great to have advice to help us through it!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Writing a Synopsis - By editor Cindy Davis - Part One

We have a real treat for you all today. Editor Cindy Davis is here today and tomorrow to explain how to create a synopsis. Cindy is an editor at The Wild Rose Press, and senior ed at Champagne Books. She also edits for L&L Dreamspell, and also works freelance. She does non-fiction also, but really enjoys fiction. She has just edited two totally different memoirs, one for a retired mafia don and one for a dominatrix.
You can find out more about Cindy at her website:

Take it away, Cindy.

Now What is a synopsis?
1) It's a narrative summary of your book--with feeling.
2) It's written in present tense.
3) It's written in third person.
4) It's written in the same writing style as your book. If your book is "chatty," then your synopsis is, too. If your book is serious, literary, filled with dialect, or any other style, so must your synopsis be.
5) The synopsis introduces your main characters and their main conflicts, all woven together in the narrative.

The synopsis is the most important part of your submission package. It has to be developed and sweated over and polished with the same attention you devoted to the novel itself. Along with the cover letter, the synopsis is what sells the editor on the manuscript. If they don't see anything they like in the synopsis, they won't even glance at your chapter samples.

The synopsis is your sales pitch. Think of it as the jacket blurb for your novel (the synopsis is often used in writing this, and by the publisher's art and advertising departments, if the novel is purchased), and write it as though you're trying to entice a casual bookstore browser to buy the novel and read it. Which isn't too far from actuality.


Rather than being daunted by the enormity of such a task, break it down into steps.

The first step: Sit down to that final reading with a pen and paper beside you. As you finish reading each chapter, write down a one- or two-paragraph summary of what happened where, and to which character, in that chapter.

Do you notice any themes running through your chapters as you're reading? Basically it’s a topic, certain language, thread of action, or color scheme that keeps popping up from beginning to end. Take note of them. You may just discover your one-line story summary that agents and editors like so much, if you didn't know what it was before. Or even if you thought you knew what it was, before (surprise, says the Muse, you were wrong).

What you will have when you are done examining your chapters is a chapter-by-chapter novel outline. This is pretty dry reading, and since chapter-by-chapter outlines seem to have fallen out of favor with editors and agents, this will likely remain one of your most valuable writing tools, and that's about it. Don't throw this away when you've done your synopsis, either. You may know the story intimately now, but you do forget details over time. You may revise the novel in the future, and this outline will help. Reading an outline is easier than leafing through or rereading an entire novel.

What you are doing with your chapter-by-chapter outline is distilling the story down into smaller and more manageable packages, step by step.

Next step, from the chapter-by-chapter outline, pinpoint the most important plot points. These will be the highlights of your synopsis in that outline. Notice I said the most important points. We're talking about only those events and motivations that moved the story forward in a major way. We're talking about only the most important characters, the ones your reader will ultimately care about, not the bit players. Right now, we are striving for bare bones.

Let's See Some Enthusiasm!

Now, envision one or two things while you rework that synopsis: imagine you're writing a jacket blurb for the novel, one that will pique the casual browser's curiosity and make him or her want to buy the book to see what happens. Read a few jacket blurbs, to get a feel for them.

You've just seen a terrific movie. You're describing it to your friend. You're not saying, "The good guy chased the bad guy and shot him and that was the end." That doesn't sound very enthusiastic. No, say things like, "The good guy is wounded, but he knows if he doesn't stop the evil Dr. Death, the whole world is in danger, so he staggers after Dr. Death, falls, somehow gets to his feet again, and at last zaps him with the Good Guy Death-ray to save the world."

That's how your synopsis will sound, when you're done: enthusiastic, enticing. A description that makes the reader want to pick up the manuscript and find out how this happens!

How can you make your synopsis unique, exciting? Start with the main character and his or her crisis. Include snippets of dialogue or quote briefly from the novel itself. Don't neglect to reveal the character's emotions and motivations, those points that explain why a character does something, but keep it brief. If the setting is exotic, inject a taste of it into the synopsis with a brief paragraph. This includes any background information that is absolutely necessary for the reader to understand the story. Build excitement as you near the conclusion of the story summary by using shorter sentences and paragraphs. The synopsis is a sample of your writing; it is a taste of what reading the actual novel will be like, so give it your all.

Don't forget that one- or two-sentence story line, or the theme of the story that you discovered. It should go in your synopsis, or in your cover letter. Editors and agents like having this distillation; not only will it pique their interest, but it's something they can use when presenting the novel to the buying board. It's also something you can use, the next time someone politely asks you, "What's your novel about?"

Tune in tomorrow for the second half of Cindy's blog post!

Helpful links:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Author Spotlight : Abby Green

This week, we're very honoured to have Mills and Boon Modern/Harlequin Presents Author Abby Green, as our guest on the Minxes blog. I first met Abby a couple of years ago when I attended a writing romance workshop in Ireland with Abby, Trish Wylie and Jenny Hutton. It was a real eye-opener, and Abby was full of great advice. If you haven't discovered Abby's writing yet - it's highly recommended. Every one I've read so far has made it to the keepers shelf. Great heroines, and yummy heros. And the book she's talking about is great!

Now, on to the questions...

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

I had just received my first letter of feedback from Mills and Boon, it was a rejection of a partial but with notes, and I was determined to keep going and submitting. I sold a year after I got that letter.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

It came out of another book - Ruthless Greek Boss, Secretary Mistress which was released in the UK last year. While I was writing that book, I'd created an old man who comes back to Greece after being exiled for many years, and I found myself wondering if he might have a son...and what his son would be like. And that's how the story was born.

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

Still writing for Mills and Boon and hopefully having completed something else, like a film script, which would be in production with an A-list cast!

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?


5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

I've been reading ever since I was little, so my inspiration and motivation came from all sorts of sources...there was no one epiphanic moment. It was more of a metamorphosis.

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?

Not at all, because I think that would come through in the writing. But I do find them harder as time goes on, it's a challenge to keep them fresh and exciting!

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

I'm still waiting to be surprised..!

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?

Nothing really to be honest, it's all been better than I could have ever hoped for. It's certainly been more challenging than I could have imagined, but in a good way. And the money doesn't materialize overnight, at all. So it's a slow process but I think once you've come to terms with that and settle in for the long haul it's definitely worth it.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

To just sit down and do it, and to know the market you're targeting. If you want to write for M&B, or Harlequin Presents, then really read all the current books. It'll be the best education. And try to come up with a fresh idea, or a new twist on an old theme.

10. Tell us about your latest release.

Well as I said, it came out of another book. I personally love it when you can 'see' other characters again and I got to re-visit Ari and Lucy in this book. But this story is very much Angel and Leo's story. Leo has been in exile from his homeland all his life so he's not prepared for the visceral reaction he has to Greece when he arrives for the first time.

His family have one great enemy - the Kassianides family. When Leo meets a humble waitress who he can't resist kissing, he thinks nothing of it, until he finds out that she is from the Kassianides family. Suddenly he's turned from an urbane businessman into a man who seeks vengeance for his family and himself.

But Angel is entirely innocent, in every way. And Leo only discovers this when it's almost too late...

11. What's next for you?

What's next is that my very first Sheikh book is out this summer in the UK, it's called 'Breaking the Sheikh's Rules' and it's out in a Summer Sheikhs anthology, you can read an excerpt on my website. And at the moment I'm writing the story of that hero's brother, so I'm enjoying that...

The Virgin's Secret is available from the Mills and Boon website as print and e-book.
Click here for ordering.

The US presents release of The Virgin's Secret is in July. Click here for ordering. (Not available yet!)

For more about Abby, check out her website:

Thanks for the interview, Abby!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Minx - Lorraine Wilson

Pre-posting wail
"Why did I volunteer to go next? Why?" (goes to bang head on table but remembers in time it's made of glass). I mean I have quite enough of myself as it is, that's why I write fiction, kind of...
Introducing Lorraine Wilson aka a Romance Minx
Unless you read my blog chances are you don't know me. I'm not published other than a couple of historical articles oh, and a household tip that to this day remains a mystery. So, how about a brief highlighted tour of...
The interesting bits

  1. By the time I was three years old my teddy had a frequent flyer's badge (picture for representational purposes only - real teddy thrown away in cruel loft purge by heartless parents). Together we lived in 6 different countries and attended 9 different schools.
  2. I used to speak 4 different languages but can now only remember 2.
  3. We had a habit of settling in countries where almost as soon as we arrived they decided to hold coups/revolutions/annoy someone who wanted to bomb them. The travel had it's perks though - I was lucky enough to ride ex-race horses belonging to a sultan along the Arabian surf. Classic Presents/Modern territory but no, I don't feel a sheik story coming on just yet ;-)
  4. I love old buildings and have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in some of the greatest - I studied at Oxford and worked at one of London's Inns of Court (complete with lovely rare books for me to play about with, sorry I mean create exhibitions with!).
  5. Through the above job I also got to have tea at Buckingham Palace and with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  6. Even more exciting I got to ogle Colin Firth when he was at the Inn for filming (The Bridget Jones sequel).
Mmm, running out of highlights...
Vaguely interesting hobbies

  1. Renovation (including plastering and mixing cement) of my dream croft house in the Highlands
  2. Dabbling in futures trading (gambling but with graphs ;-)
  3. Making stuff - When I'm unable to write, (I'm recovering from a brain injury) I sew, and have started designing and making bags, these are my latest creations.
But really I'm holding out on you. It's time to give you a blogland exclusive, the never before divulged...

The real reason why I write romance
I fell in love at first sight (something I'd never believed in). I had the whole thunderbolt, 'black and white world turned to colour', floating in a joyous bubble, cliched experience.
Once I'd been converted I simply had to write about falling in love - the intensity, the hope, the pain... Plus I was coming round to the idea that there was nothing wrong with happy endings. Literary fiction depressed me and I wanted to write stuff that would cheer people up (including myself!).
I've also experienced unrequited love and I love that in the romance writing world it always ends well - the girl never gets stood up and left wondering what happened to the guy she thought was 'the one', beaten up the hero or abandoned to single motherhood forever.
Writing romance somehow rights these wrongs and brings an equilibrium to the whole messy reality of relationships. It's the breath out, the niggle un-niggled and that feeling you get when you stretch out in the sun.
That's why I write.
Post-posting postscript (try saying that quickly after a couple of drinks!)
Pip (my latest rescue dog) is pleased I've finished faffing about on the computer and wants me to play with him. How could I say 'no' to that face? So if you want to know anymore about me you'll just have to stick around the Minxes blog :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Anything Goes Friday

Minx Joanne here on this beautiful sunny Friday.

As regular readers will know, our Friday post is a 'pot luck'. The Minxes will be blogging about films, books, industry gossip--anything and everything. On some weeks, we may just leave you with pictures of our favourite men--for no other reason than because we can!

This week I'm posting a book review. I thought long and hard about the book I'd choose for this post. Did I want to post about the most recent book I'd read, my favourite in the last month. Arrghh, so many books, only one blog post :-)

The book I've chosen is my favourite Presents from the last year. As I'm a subscriber to this line, you can imagine just how many I've read in the previous 12 months.

My favourite made me smile at the interaction between the hero and his friend, sigh at the hero and heroine together and flat out bawl my eyes at the black moment. Now all those readers of category romance know that books that make you cry and the best, they are the wonderful ones that go on your 'keeper' shelf and you know you'll return to time and time again.

Most of all, the writing is to die for. It's what every budding romance novelist aims for when they sit at their keyboard hour after hour.

I'm hoping by now, you're all jumping up and down to find out the title of this book and see if it's one you've read. If you haven't read it, do yourself a favour and get yourself to Amazon or the Book Despository--whatever you favourite book place may be.

The story of the very alpha Spaniard Tristan Romero and his English heroine Lily begins in the English countryside and transfers to Spain for the most delicious marriage of convenience story. Tristan is hiding a huge secret from Lily, but is honest enough to make sure Lily knows they are marrying because of his duty to his family, but certainly nothing to do love--an emotion he tells her he knows nothing about. Lily is the complete antithesis to the selfish stereotypical model the media portrays.

I don't want to spoil the story, but really, the black moment had me crying. In public. On a train!

The book is Spanish Aristocrat, Forced Bride and the author is India Grey.

I'd love to know if anyone else has read this fab book or if you have one you'd like to recommend to the Minxes this weekend.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Author Spotlight: Milaya Marks

We're very pleased to welcome Milaya Marks to the Minxes of Romance blog today. Milaya's new release, the deliciously steamy, Spanish Heat, is available now from Wild Rose and Digibookscafe under the Wilder Rose imprint.  Here's some info about Milaya:
Milaya Marks's devotion to romance began early, when she read every teen fiction she could get her hands on if it contained even the faintest hint of a love story. In love with the idea of being in love, she graduated to historicals and contemporaries not long after (often hiding the evidence under her dorm bed so she wouldn't have to share). She had her own fairytale romance when she met and married her husband in college, and today Milaya is living her dream of writing steamy erotic romances while enjoying daily life with her very own hot hero.

And now, some Minx questions need answering - go Milaya!

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

I didn't have a writing career 5 years ago! I was an avid romance reader, devouring a couple of books per week, but I was still telling myself and my close friends “I think I could do this. I should try doing this.” It wasn't for 3 more years after that that I finally put pen to paper and drew up a few outlines for stories. Once I had some bare bones outlines together I started writing and that first outline grew into Spanish Heat.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

I was on holiday with my husband in Lanzarote, and I knew at the time that it was the perfect setting for a hot romance. Everywhere I looked there was gorgeous scenery, beautiful people and temperatures so hot it made sense to strip down to almost nothing. The perfect recipe for an erotic romance!

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

When I look ahead I know I'd like to be a multi-published author. At the moment I'm writing shorter stories, but I hope to branch out into longer novellas and novels soon. If I could make a real living from my writing that would be a dream come true.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

I just finished Rachel Gibson's Nothing But Trouble. I laughed out loud all the time, and fell in love with the both the hero and heroine. Completely brilliant story all around.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

As a teenager I stumbled onto a series of historical romances written specifically for teens. They were known as the Sunfire series, and each book had a teen heroine who found herself in the middle of a great event in American history and having to choose between two young men. I loved those books so much I would beg my mother to take me to the bookshop on Friday afternoons after and then speed through my newest acquisition in a couple of hours. That series was really the first time I remember closing books and thinking “I wish I could write something like this.”

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?

I think my long history of reading romances, particularly erotic romances, served me well when it came to writing love scenes. I remember getting mad at myself for over-thinking the scenes when I first started writing them. Really it was all very academic for me at the start. But if someone interrupted while I was writing then it became a bit cringey. I probably looked up from my laptop red-faced a time or two!

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

My marriage proposal. My now husband took me to my favourite beach in the winter, just after a snowfall, and got down on one knee. He made the most beautiful speech about why he wanted to spend his life with me, and when I said yes and jumped on him to hug him, a woman farther down the beach clapped for us. I'd thought we were alone, but having her there and so happy for us (total strangers!) made it even better.

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?

Writing is important, but re-writing is key. Intellectually I'd know this before I started writing, but I never really understood the importance of re-writing until I went through the whole revision process with my editor.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Don't stop. Just keep going and your writing will find a home. Whether it's 10 days from now or 10 years from now, if you don't stop you'll eventually get to where you want to be.

10. Tell us about your latest release.

Spanish Heat just went on sale on 15 May, so grab your copy quick!
Eager to end her dry spell, sexually deprived Serena Ryan craves fun in the sun with an anonymous hottie. Her first overseas assignment--write a guidebook on the balmy Canary Islands--supplies the heat and the opportunity. An afternoon of steamy sex with a virile stranger takes the edge off until she discovers he is none other than hotelier Antonio Delgado. Her hopes of an uncomplicated fling go up in smoke as their passion rises, along with the Spanish Heat.

11. What’s next for you?

I'm in the middle of working on a second erotic romance with my Wild Rose Press editor, so with a little luck another Milaya Marks romance will be out soon!

Thanks for the interview, Milaya!

You can purchase Spanish Heat here.

Milaya's Website to keep current on releases and learn more about Milaya:

You can follow Milaya on Twitter, where she is @MilayaMarks

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Minx: Romy

This post is supposed to be an introduction to me. But I've typed three different posts about me, and had to delete all of them for being too boring. I could tell you about my path to publication, but as I'm not yet published, that seems pointless. I could tell you my life story, but this blog isn't long enough, or ramble on about me, but my life really isn't that exciting (I spend most of my time glued to the laptop) so I've finally just decided to tell you ten things about myself and leave it at that.

Left: me in Mozambique earlier this year.

1. I'm half German, half South African with a dollop of Scottish blood. I was born and raised in South Africa where I still live, though like half the population of this country I'd rather be somewhere else. The 'somewhere else' changes every time I go on holiday or depending on what book I'm reading. At the moment, it's the Greek island of Corfu. 

2. I'm fascinated by genealogy. On my mother's side I have traced my ancestry back to the late 1500s. My eldest daughter shares the same name (Rachel Magdalena) as every woman in my family bar three generations, going back to at least 1700.

3. I am a book whore, and proud of it. I'll read anything. If I'm in a waiting room and there are no magazines I'll read the emergency regulations! As a teenager I used to sit in front of the TV with an encyclopedia in my lap, reading it for fun. Looking back, I really miss that time. I mean, I really miss having the time to sit and read the encyclopedia, not being a teenager.

4. I love musicals. In my head I can sing and dance and still have dreams about being a West End star. Or maybe a movie star. Sadly, I can't carry a tune and have two left feet. Which is why I probably write stories instead. The heroines I create can always sing and dance!

5. All my life I've been a serial starter. I've started to learn to play the guitar, the piano, started tap dancing classes, ballet classes, Scottish dancing, gymnastics, art classes, calligraphy ... you get the picture. Needless to say, I can't play an instrument, tap dance ...
The day I finished my first novel was one of the greatest triumphs of my life. It was the first time I finished something I started. That was when I knew this was what I was meant to do. (The novel was truly atrocious though).

6. I dropped out of university and dropped out of film school. I still managed a relatively successful career in the film industry (I worked on the BBC series "Rhodes" and also on "I Dreamed of Africa") before moving into television advertising. There are some moments I enjoy the day job, but I survive most days by fantasising about giving it up. Sadly, thanks to having no qualifications, I can do nothing else. My daughters are so going to get degrees in useful fields!

7. I do cross stitch for fun. I don't have much time for it these days though, what with the internet taking precedence over all else. (And two young children, of course).

I can do this. I know I can. Just three more things to think of ....

8. Both my daughters were born in water births and were breastfed as late as my work schedule allowed. I'm a strong believer in mothers trying to go natural, and have to bite my tongue when I meet women who opt for caesareans or bottles because it's easier or suits their lifestyle - or worse, out of plain ignorance.
Ladies, a baby of 3kg is not too big for you to push out. It's normal. Your male gynae just wants to schedule you in for a caesar so he can make his 11:00 tee off at the golf club. Ignorance is not an excuse in this day and age with the internet and libraries, and midwives more than ready to discuss options with you. Caesars are for women who seriously have problems birthing their babies, not for wimps. [Climbing down from my soapbox now].

9. When I lived in London many years ago I once went away for a week-end to Kent with a group of South Africans. There were ten of us: the other nine were all medical personnel (doctors, dentists, physios) and I was working at the time as a temp secretary in an NHS hospital. That was also the weekend we set off the youth hostel alarm after a long evening in the pub. Those two years I spent in England were such fun!

Okay, the end is in sight. Just one more. 

10. I can't cook. I am useless at anything domesticated. I work long hours at the day job so I can afford a maid. And you do NOT want to see my house on week-ends.

Whew! That's it. I need a strong cup of tea now.

Right: me a long, long time ago.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Anything Goes Friday – News

First - we have a winner to our competition. Congratulations, Kerrin you have won one of Sandra's books. (Please send Sandra mailing address plus email) And our 2 runners up who have won bookmarks and postcards are Ashley and PenandPaints. (Please send Sandra mailing address)
Now, the Minxes have three different juicy bits of news for all you writers out there.

The first is the Brenda Novak auction, which I’m sure most people are aware of. This is Brenda’s 6th online auction in aid of Diabetes research. Last year she raised nearly $280,000 for Diabetes Research and this year the aim is $1,000,000. Yes, you read that right, One Million Dollars.

There is jewellery, books, gifts, woodwork, anything you can imagine really. And, of particular interest to writers, there are critiques by our favourite writers, agent evaluations, and editor evaluations. It’s a fabulous opportunity to everyone to not only get some vital help from the movers and shakers in the industry, but also to donate to a good cause. Do check it out!

Next, we minxes are very interested to hear about the Brava Novella Contest, which is launching in June 2010, details over on the Brava Writers Website. Although it is titled Brava Novella Contest, they are looking for a full-length. Alicia Condon of Brava describes the competition as follows:

Brava is sending out a call to unpublished writers of paranormal, historical and contemporary romance , as well as romantic suspense: We’re looking for a hot debut novel to be published in 2012 under the Brava imprint at Kensington.
If you’ve written a sensual full-length romance novel, this is a great opportunity to submit to the editors at Brava, who will be reading the entries and selecting the top ten finalists. Starting in September, each of our top ten will be paired with one of Brava’s star authors for the next stage of the competition – creating one-of-a kind opening hooks, to-die-for heroes, sizzling love scenes and more.
Each of the ten finalists will have her own temporary page here on as well as the opportunity to guest blog on the site. And each month the results of the challenges will appear in RT Book Reviews along with commentary from the Brava mentors and a panel of romance celebrity judges. Readers and fans themselves will vote for the winner, who will be announced at the awards ceremony of the 2011 Romantic Times convention.

Finally, Angela James of Carina Press (Harlequin’s digital only imprint) tweeted on Monday that she is looking for Novella submissions. She tweeted the length of novellas she is interested in is 40,000-45,000 words. Angela also stated that she’s acquired three last Tuesday, so well worth a shot! Here’s the link to Angela’s blog, and you can view Carina’s website by clicking on the link above.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Author Spotlight: Sandra Sookoo

It is my pleasure to introduce the first author in our spotlight: Sandra Sookoo, who writes light paranormal romance as well as steamy historicals. Today Sandi is talking about her latest release, Demons and Stilettos are a Girl's Best Friend, available now through The Wild Rose Press.

Sandi's work is easy to read and brings a smile to the reader's face. Some of her lines are laugh out loud funny. One lucky commenter will be laughing soon, and it could be you! Just answer the simple question at the end of the interview, leave the answer in the comments section, and you could stand the chance to win one of Sandra's books. Two lucky runners up will also get postcards and bookmarks.

Now let's hand over to Sandi.

Thanks for having me on your blog. I’m excited to be here!

Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
I was nowhere, to be quite honest. At the time, I worked in the real estate industry at a title company and was very unhappy with the job and the toxic atmosphere. The best thing that ever happened was my layoff notice about three years or so ago. I never looked back and decided about a month after that it was time to “get serious” about my writing.

Yes, I’d played around with it for years and years but never did anything with it. This was like a huge slap in the face to get started. Not to mention, jobs in that industry were few and far between thanks to the economic collapse. I really didn’t have a choice LOL.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
That’s an interesting question. Every January, I make out a list of goals I’d like to accomplish over the year. Sometimes, I make nearly all of them. This year, it’s been a challenge to meet even a quarter of them. That being said, I would truly love to be published with a New York publisher or write a book that will sell hundreds of copies. Will it happen? Only time will tell. Will I be devastated if it doesn’t? Not a bit. Why? I’m having the time of my life with my career right now and things can only look up from here. Everything else is gravy.

Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
The idea for Demons & Stilettos are a Girl’s Best Friend came about from an Elvis song “Devil in Disguise.” The song talks about a guy being blindsided by a woman he thought was good and sweet but is anything but in reality. LOL. I wrote the book for an open call that didn’t pan out, yet my story has nothing to do with the Elvis song except there’s a demon in it. Of course, I couldn’t resist dumping in a heavy dose of humor. Anything for a laugh!

Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
I don’t really know, but I do have a long list of books that I’m glad I DIDN’T write LOL. I suppose any book that seems to fly off the best seller list, but then, if I wrote those books, they’d have a different spin wouldn’t they?

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
Not really. As a kid, I spent all my free time at the library reading. Around the age of ten or so, I decided I wanted to either be a cake decorator or a writer. Since I have zero success in baking/decorating cakes and a huge affinity for writing, my future was set LOL. I haven’t stop writing since.

Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?
At first, I didn’t put love scenes into my writing. It made me too uncomfortable. Then I got over the stigma and they seem to work out just fine. As a writer, I find it fascinating to tailor the scenes to the tone and personality of the characters and book. Some are more in-depth and detailed than others and sometimes, if I know a love scene is on the docket for a day’s writing, I’ll try to avoid it, but mostly, I just power through. It’s only a scene after all.

What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
Probably the fact that almost every year hubby and I go on an anniversary trip to Walt Disney World. Although, the times when he brings home chocolate or wine when I’ve had a bad day is special too.

What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were published?
LOL That there’s more to being a writer than slapping 50K words on a page and that it’s hard, hard work. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. But it’s also the most rewarding. A writer has to constantly keep learning, keep honing their craft in order to grow because if you let yourself stagnate at the same level, you’re totally missing the point of moving from writer to author.

What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Keep on despite what’s going on around you. It’s a constant struggle to work through rejections, bad reviews, success from other writers in your set, the negativity that seems to be a big part of this industry, the “popular groups”, etc. I just have to tell myself to ignore it all, that I’m on the right path for me and keep writing that next book, making it as good as the last, making it better.

Tell us about your latest release.
My latest release is called Demons and Stilettos are a Girl’s Best Friend. Here’s the blurb:
Anne Jenkins never believed there was a heaven or hell but when she’s rescued from a runaway horse by a guy who claims he’s a demon, her freak detector goes off. She demands proof and the leather-clad biker sets some local wildlife on fire. She starts to trust in a hurry.

Gregg Carter, bound to the Devil for all eternity because of an audit gone wrong, seizes the opportunity to take possession of Anne’s soul as a way to please his boss. What he didn’t count on was the fact that his libido would take the one-way bus to crazy town as he gets to know her better.

Trouble is, Anne and Gregg spend so much time trying to hide their true selves from each other, they can’t escape the attraction that builds between them. But everyone knows demons and humans don’t mix, and neither can two people who have no futures.

What’s next for you?
Well, on June 4th, my newest novella will release. It’s called Rocket’s Red Glare and it’s about a food critic who is also a vampire, who stumbles upon a bistro cafĂ© where in the chef is the woman he left at the altar 10 years before. It’s a fun, sexy read using food as a sensual prop and tells the story of how love can be reclaimed and achieved through acceptance.

Sandra's website to keep current on releases, find recipes and read excerpts:

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and her Believing is Seeing blog:

She also blogs every Wednesday at Paranormal Romantics:

Question: Where do Sandra Sookoo and her husband usually celebrate their anniversaries?

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Launch Day!!!

A very warm welcome to Minxes of Romance blog!

We’re so very happy you stopped by for our launch.

Stay a while, share some cyber champers and get to know the Minxes. Our aim is to share our writing journey with you, bring a positive, supportive and helpful outlook to a sometimes tough and disheartening industry, share great books, inspiring call stories and links and updates on useful industry information.

We aim to blog three times a week, so be sure to stop by for more fun stuff and who knows, you might just be in the right place at the right time to win a book from one of our lovely guest authors!

And now, meet The Minxes –

I’m Maya Blake. I live in the Garden of England, better known as Kent, England with my husband and two kids. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading a book or three. I wrote my first novel at sixteen, but alas, boys got in my way :). It wasn’t until I had my second child in 2005 that I began writing again. I was lucky enough to have my third finished manuscript, Hostage To Love, published in 2009. That experience has gone a long way in spurring me on to pursue a writing career and I count my blessings that I met the wonderful Minxes through the 2009 Harlequin Presents Writing Competition.

Romy Sommer discovered romance novels rather late in life. Thanks to a friend who said she had a ‘voice for romance’ she started reading (and writing) category romance novels a few years ago, and now romance is her obsession. She is targeting Harlequin, and under the name Rae Summers she also writes historical novellas set in the 1920s. Watch out for her first novella, Let's Misbehave, which has been contracted by The Wild Rose Press.

Lorraine Wilson has been creating fictional worlds for as long as she can remember but when she discovered the fun of writing romance she filed the exercise books with maps drawn in felt tip and the ‘typed with two fingers’ teenage angst safely in the loft.Now she writes contemporary and historical romance (hoping to prove that a history degree can be vocational after all). When she’s not reading blogs, visiting writers' forums or emailing her lovely newfound writing friends that is!

Suzanne Jones has been writing fiction for many years and her short stories have appeared in magazines in the UK and Australia. She adores reading romance novels and has attempted to write one or two of her own. These are yet to catch a publisher's attention, but she remains hopeful and continues to write, regardless.

Sally Clements loves writing romances with twisty plots and unusual heroines. Sofar, her romantic heroines have been an artisan chocolatier and a masterjeweller. As well as romance she also writes crime - with a twist.

Even though, she always didn't know that she wanted to be a writer, Sri grew up surrounded by writers (her father and grandfather) and books. So, it seemed like fate when she fell in love with romance novels and decided that's what she wanted to write. She writes contemporary romance with strong heroes and spunky heroines.

Joanne has been writing on and off since she was a teen when she created her very own (English) version of the Sweet Valley High series. Deciding she’d missed the boat with that she took some time off to try her hand at many varied careers. A couple of years ago she started reading Mills & Boon books and decided she would try her hand at writing a ‘grown up’ book. Now on her third ms, she's just stubborn enough to keep writing until she's published!

Mairi Williams has been writing for a year and is based in the south west of England.

Thank you for visiting our blog. Please stop by on Wednesday to meet our first guest author, Sandra Sookoo, who has volunteered to answer some cheeky Minxy questions and give one lucky commenter a copy of her book!