Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

We would like to wish all of our fabulous friends in Blogland a very Happy New Year!

Thanks so much for reading, contributing and chatting with us in 2010 - we have had a ball, and we have some exciting plans for 2011 and really hope you'll join us for the ride.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy new year, choc-a-block full of sparkling writing success!!

With love from the Minxes

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Author Spotlight: Nyla Rose

Today the Minxes are excited to welcome Nyla Rose to the blog. We hope you had a great Christmas, Nyla. Now we look forward to getting to know you better.

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

Five years ago, I’d just returned to work from maternity leave with Child No.2. I missed him dreadfully. To help alleviate that, I started to write at my desk when the boss was away. I got my first book (which shall remain unnamed) written that way. So you could I’d just began my writing journey.

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

I started writing Yuletide Fire on a whim really. A few of my then crit partners were writing stories for their various houses centered around the Christmas theme and I enjoyed reading what they wrote so I started writing one too. I had other projects occupying my time but when I could I’d go back and add a paragraph here and a paragraph there. Before I knew it, I had a complete book!

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

Hopefully still writing. Hopefully published with a more established house. Penguin or Simon & Shuster would be great! I can dream, right?

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

Anything by Michelle Reid or India Grey! Although I couldn’t possibly have written any of Stieg Larsson’s books, they blew me away completely!

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

I've always enjoyed reading, but it wasn't until I read my first Mills & Boon at age 13 that I really thought of writing. I wrote my very first (unpublishable) story not long after that.

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

I love writing love scenes and most of my books tend to be on the (very) sensual side, so I’d say neither. I think they’re a key part of a character’s emotional development. I tend to peel back another layer of my characters’ emotions during these scenes so it’s a part I always look forward to ;)

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

Oh dear, I don’t think I can reveal too much without getting into trouble. Let’s just say anything that involves “the little things in life” touches me romantically.

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

That it’s not only about the writing. That promoting your work is a huge time-suck. The publishing world is a huge business machine that never stops turning. You have to keep up or risk falling by the wayside. That was certainly an eye-opener.

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

Don’t compare yourself to another writer. And just keep writing no matter what because writing is a skill which develops only by constant application.

10. Tell us about your latest release.

Yuletide Fire is a Christmas themed story. Maxine Gray is on the verge of bankruptcy after her ex-fiancĂ© cleans her out and runs off with another woman. At any time this would frighten most people, but when it happens just before Christmas, she’s even more desperate because she had employees with families depending on her. When she turns to her eccentric grandfather for a loan against her Trust, he gives her an ultimatum - marry by Christmas Day or lose her inheritance.

As a last resort, Maxine gets in touch with her ex-lover, Gabe Fenton, an attorney, to find out if there’s any way around the Trust Deed. Gabe agrees to help her… but only if they re-enact the steamy nights they spent in Vegas five years ago.

11. What’s next for you?

I have a few projects I’m waiting to hear back on so watch this space.

You can keep in touch with me via my Twitter page -
My books are for sale via Amazon, Cobblestone Press or Wild Rose Press.

Thank you so much to all the Minxes for inviting me here today. Hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish you a happy, published and fruitful 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Author Spotlight - Liz Fielding

Today the Minxes are pleased and super excited to feature RITA winning Romance author, Liz Fielding.

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

Five years? I had just written my second Rita® winning book, THE MARRIAGE MIRACLE, so I was on a bit of a career high.

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

It’s always difficult to pinpoint the moment when an idea gels in the mind. At some point I got caught up in the whole idea of a Santa’s Grotto story, with my heroine hiding out – and in my head it will always be Santa’s Secret Elf. MISTLETOE & THE LOST STILETTO is, as the shoe connection suggests, pure Cinderella!

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

Well, another Rita® would be great but I hope I’ll still be writing the kind of books that readers want to buy. And who knows, maybe I’ll have finished one of the longer books tucked up in the dustier corners of my computer’s memory.

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

Well, pretty much anything that Barbara O’Neal has written in the last year or two. Julie Cohen’s “Girl From Mars”, Susanna Kearsley’s “Sophia’s Secret” – not that I’ll ever write an historical.

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

Not unless you’re prepared to go back as far as Enid Blyton, Noel Streatfield and Pamela Brown. Although I think Noel and Pamela were more responsible for firing my desire to be an actress. I always loved to read and I always wanted to write. It took me a while, but I finally got there. (The acting career was strictly amateur!)

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

Oh, golly gosh. It was over forty years ago when the best beloved took me to Victoria Falls for our first date. It would seem pathetic if nothing more romantic than that had happened to me since. Takes some beating though. :)

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

That it’s hard work. That it doesn’t get any easier. How much fun it was being with other authors – romance novelists know how to party! I really wished I’d joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association while I was still trying to get published, for the support and help they give new writers. I wish I’d never bought that size larger skirt when sitting at the keyboard began to take its toll on my waistline and had gone on a diet instead.

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

Make a scene of it. I’d underplayed a scene where jealousy flared up in my poor heroine’s heart and my editor told me to always make a scene of it. Use the feelings. Dig deep for the emotion.

9. What does the new Riva imprint mean for you?

It’s always exciting to be involved in a new venture. The Romance/Cherish series has always be filled with great writers, great stories with a very wide appeal, but that sweet/pink image tends to suggest the books your grandmother might have read. This is very far from the case, but the Riva series will present these books to the younger audience who loved Bridget Jones and the Shopaholic books.

10. Tell us about your Riva launch release.

My first RIVA book is TEMPTED BY TROUBLE. My heroine, Elle, is struggling to hold hearth and home together for her sisters and her grandmother and the last thing she needs is to be lumbered with a superannuated ice cream van. The lumberer – the very fit, Sean – is another matter altogether. She’s tempted. And he’s trouble.

11. What’s next for you?

I’m in the middle of writing a book set in Rome at the moment, somewhat hampered by the fact that my research trip was cancelled due to volcanic ash earlier in the year. I’ll just have to rely on my memory! After that, I might just write a book about Elle’s sister – the one who plans to be a millionaire by the time she’s twenty-five.

Thanks so much for being with us at such a busy time of the year, Liz! We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to blog with us. We're sure all our readers will agree that the RIVA imprint looks fabulous, the Minxes can't wait to get their hands on copies of January's releases :-)

Buy Mistletoe and the Lost Stiletto here:-

Mills & Boon
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays!

The Minxes wish you a festive holiday season. However you celebrate the holidays, whether you're snowed in or basking in sunshine, we hope that Santa brings you whatever your heart desires.

The author spotlights will continue through the holidays, with Liz Fielding and Nyla Rose guesting here, but all other posts will shut down until 3rd January.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Author Spotlight: Anna Campbell

It's always a pleasure to welcome a personal favourite author and even though I discovered her books only a year ago, Anna Campbell has become a "must buy" author for me! Her books have been described as Regency Noir and today I'm thrilled to welcome her on The Minxes blog to tell us a little more about yourself and her books.

Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

Actually I sold in 2006, so in 2005 I was still unpublished. However I’d made a couple of positive decisions that really helped me to become a published writer. One, back around the year 2000, was to join Romance Writers of Australia. Shortly after that, I started to write Regency-set romance instead of fluttering hither and yon with settings that weren’t going to sell (18th century Hungary, anyone?). I’d just won the Emma Darcy Award, our major contest for unpublished manuscripts. That came with a check for $2,000 so I guess you could say I’d started earning money with my writing ;-) I’d also got an agent. Looking back, a lot of stuff was happening that indicated I was closer to selling than I thought I was at the time!

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

The idea for MY RECKLESS SURRENDER was born back when I spent four months touring the United Kingdom in 2004. One very rainy afternoon, I visited Syon Park, the London house of the Duke of Northumberland. An old family retainer recognized my interest in the house and because it was quiet, he took me under his wing and gave me a special tour, including a lot of family gossip. I couldn’t help thinking that his sense of ownership must be strong as anything the Duke felt. I then wondered what would happen if someone offered such an old family retainer the opportunity to OWN the estate he’d served and loved all his life. A swap of gender to my heroine Diana Carrick and you have the seed of the plot of MY RECKLESS SURRENDER.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

Tahiti? Maybe not! I’d still like to be doing what I’m doing now, writing full time and sharing the stories in my head with readers all over the world.

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

A WEDDING AT LEOPARD TREE LODGE by Liz Fielding. It’s a Harlequin Sweet Romance by one of the best in the business and I was in awe at the emotional punch Liz Fielding packed into that 180 pages.

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

When I was about 14, I picked up THE WOLF AND THE DOVE by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I’d never read anything like it – and the love scenes were really hot for that time! I said to myself, “When I grow up, I want to write books like that for Avon.” (Avon were the publishers) I can hardly believe that’s what actually happened.

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

Actually neither! I really like writing love scenes – and not just for the reason you’re thinking! I adore how a good love scene leaves the characters not just naked physically but emotionally too.

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

Ha ha, that would be telling!

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

I wish I’d known that writing a book doesn’t get any easier.

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

You can fix a bad page, you can’t fix a blank one. I’m pretty sure that’s a Nora Roberts quote.

Tell us about your latest release.

MY RECKLESS SURRENDER is about a dangerous seduction in Regency London. I describe it as a ticking bomb story – there are so many secrets and lies and of course, the audience knows that eventually all those chickens are going to come home to roost and there will be trouble galore. In return for the chance to fulfill her every dream, widow Diana Carrick makes a devil’s bargain to seduce Tarquin Vale, the Earl of Ashcroft. But instead of the jaded, selfish rake she expects, she discovers a man who touches her emotions as no other ever has.

But what happens when Tarquin discovers the truth about Diana? You can read an excerpt on my website:

What’s next for you?

My next book is out in May 2011 and it’s called MIDNIGHT’S WILD PLEASURE. It’s the closest I’ve yet come to classic Regency romance! Nicholas Challoner, Marquess of Ranelaw, vows revenge on his worst enemy, only to encounter opposition from spirited and mysterious chaperone Miss Antonia Smith.

Watch Anna's interview on My Reckless Surrender:

You can visit her at her Website:

Thanks so much for visiting The Minxes today, Anna. It's been wonderful getting to know you better!

PS - Anna is offering a signed copy of My Reckless Surrender to one lucky commenter, so get commenting and good luck!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ogle Alert

Ogle alert is not to be mistaken for Google Alert and it’s a heck of a lot more fun.  So hold onto your fanny packs while I introduce you to the two new men in my life – that’s right two.

Paul Wesley aka Stefan Salvatore & Ian Somerhalder aka Damon Salvatore

Hello boys.

For anyone who doesn’t recognize them, they are costars on The Vampire Diaries.  I’ll admit when the series was recommended to me my first thought was “More Vampires?” and they are, but this is really something special.

The obsession with the Salvatores all started with a blog post - an educational blog post.  I can hear you all snickering!  It really was!  We were discussing the transformation of an antagonist into a protagonist (Damon is a great example of more than just being hit by the pretty stick) but then the shirts started coming off…

…what was I saying?...

There’s a heck of a storyline behind the series, but when it comes to romance both of the Salvatore brothers are in love with the same girl.  Who doesn’t love a tortured hero redeemed by love?  However only one of the brooding brothers gets the girl, so there’s also an element of forbidden, unrequited love that ramps up the tension.

Season 1 of The Vampire Diaries is out now and Season 2 isn’t far behind.  So buy it, hire it or bite someone for it because the writers are amazing and the characters are unforgettable.

But wait....

Who doesn’t love a man with a puppy?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Anything Goes Friday

The Minxes have collected a few interesting links and bits of news to share with you today.

First up is news (courtesy of Julie Cohen) that Chick Lit Reviews is running a contest in which Little Black Dress Books is giving away 25 books. This contest is for UK residents only and closes at midnight tonight, so don't delay.

I'm a big fan of LBD's books. If you haven't discovered them yet, then you're missing out. These aren't just your run-of-the-mill chick lit; they're fun, full of sass and humour, sometimes with a touch of the paranormal, sometimes deep and thought-provoking. I recommend Julie Cohen, Nell Dixon, Lucy Broadbent and Valerie Frankel.

We heard at the RNA conference earlier this year that LBD were taking a hiatus, as they'd been knocked by the closure of their biggest distributer, but I sincerely hope this contest is the sign of a come-back, since their demise would be a huge loss to readers (and writers). If any of our blog readers has more news on this, we'd love to hear it!

Next up is the call for submissions for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. This will be the fourth time they're running this contest, and you can find out more here.

Random House is running a Christmas contest for avid readers. Every day through December they're giving away prizes of books and eReaders. What a great Christmas gift to readers!

Last, but most certainly not least, the Minxes would like to shout out a massive "Congratulations!" to our Sassy friend, Jackie Ashenden, who has won the High Five Contest run by the Romance Writers of Australia. Well done also to runner-up Rachael Johns. We're so pleased for you ladies!

And now, just because I can, I'm going to reveal my current addiction. And yes, this is even bigger than my addiction to chocolate. Can you guess what it is? If you still don't get it, check out Lacey's blog, which is where it all started.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Author Spotlight: Lauri Robinson

Today the Minx spotlight turns on to Lauri Robinson who writes for The Wild Rose Press and Harlequin. A very warm welcome Lauri. We can’t wait to get to know you better :)

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

I had one book published, and decided I really needed to look deeper into the romance writing world before going through it all again. I joined RWA and my local chapter, and then my writing life just kept getting sweeter and sweeter.

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

The UNDONE line is sensual, and short, so I had to think about what type of historical situation would pit two people together that could become highly charged, yet include a conflict. The ‘boss’s daughter’ came to mind. At the time I was also writing a story about a mail order bride in Wyoming, so I used research from that story for the setting of this one.

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

I’d like to have another twenty books on the market, and making a living off my writing. Though I enjoy working a day job, I’d much rather spend those hours writing and having fun with the grandchildren.

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

I can’t think of one I’ve ‘wished’ I’d written. I’ve read several that I’ve really liked how the author created the conflict or story line, and there are a few, namely Linda Lael Miller’s books, that as soon as I finish them, I start reading them all over again.

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

I think I became an author through evolution. The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, was the first historical romance that stayed with me long after I’d finished reading it. I anxiously awaited for her next release, and still re-read her books on a regular basis. My husband suggested to me once that I should write a book since I’d read so many, and I answered with, “Fine, I will.” It took five years to get it published, but I’ve never regretted taking his challenge.

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy – or neither?

Neither. My characters determine the love scenes. I have several sweet books on the market where everything happens behind closed doors, but with the UNDONE line, sensuality is an integral part of the series, so I knew from the get-go the characters would have to keep the door wide open.

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

Oh, goodness, there are lots of little things that pop into my head…an unexpected phone call, a wink, a grin, a date night…I don’t think I could pick out just one, however if I asked my husband, he’d say it was when, for our 25th wedding anniversary, he surprised me with a trip to Memphis (yes, I’m an Elvis fan). All he said was that I needed to take a few days off work. Of course, before we actually ‘flew out’ he let me know where we were going so I could pack appropriately. The trip was amazing, but the ‘surprise’ part and how he kept me guessing for a few weeks was very sweet and he’s still very proud of how he’d planned it all out without me knowing.

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

That the route to being published is different for every person, and the most important thing about being an author is to believe in yourself. I wrote, but didn’t believe I was a writer, even after publishing my first book. It was just something I did in my spare time. It wasn’t until my husband started telling people I write romance novels, instead of telling them where I work, that I thought, wow, that is who I am.

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

Write what you like to read. Hence my passion for historical westerns. When I heard about HQN’s UNDONES, an e-book line dedicated to historicals, I was very thrilled. My first one with them, Wedding Night with the Ranger was their first western, and my second one, Her Midnight Cowboy, is their second western.

10. Tell us about your latest release.

Her Midnight Cowboy was November 1st. Here’s the blurb:

Eastern Wyoming, 1884
In Angel Clayton's opinion, men don't get any finer than hired hand Rowdy McGuire. The very thought of him makes her ache with need—and the sight of his golden, glistening skin only makes it worse. She knows he feels their bodies' magical, intense pull towards one another, even if the honorable cowboy refuses to admit that a drifter and a ranch owner's daughter could ever be together. But Angel is determined to get what she wants—and she wants Rowdy!

And a short excerpt:

They were through the doorway, and he kept moving, forcing her down the hall. “Yes, you.” His nose bumped hers. “You will not parade yourself about half dressed. Not in front of me or anyone else.”
She grabbed the end post of the large staircase, stopping both of them. “Not even my father tells m—”
“Nor will you ride the hills by yourself, or run to town on a whim.” He laid a hand on the stair railing, curling his fingers around the polished wood for support. No longer whispering, he said, “I have ten thousand head of cattle to see to, I don’t need any trouble from you.”
Huffing, she asked, “Trouble from me?”
“Yes.” He nodded at the second floor. “Now hightail your little butt upstairs and get dressed.”
Her eyes widened. “You can’t tell me what to do.”
“Oh, yes, I can.” He took a step back and pointed upstairs. “Go, now.”
Angel’s chin dropped. “I don’t—”
The sting of his palm connecting with her backside stopped her outburst. It had been action without thought. Being responsible for her virtue was more than he bargained for. “Go before I drag you up those stairs and dress you myself.”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Try me.” he challenged.
The stare down lasted a few minutes before she gave in and stomped up the stairs. Stopping on about the fifth one, she turned around and glared at him. “You’ll rue this day, Mr. McGuire.”
His eyes locked on the way her breasts rose and fell. “I already do, Angel girl. I already do.”

11. What’s next for you?

Books, and more books, I hope. Guardian Bride, The Quinter Brides Book 4, was released the end of October, Wild Cat Bride, The Quinter Brides Book 5, will be released in April, and a Japanese Publisher, Oakla Publishing, just released the Japanese version of Mail Order Husband in trade paperback on November 9th. I have a couple more UNDONE’S in the query stage, as well as a couple full length stories, and I have three more I’m working on right now. I like to work on several at the same time, that way when I hit a stumbling block on one, I can move right on to another story.

Thank you, very much for inviting me over today, it’s been fun!

Buy link for Her Midnight Cowboy:


Please include a jpeg of the book cover and a link to the point of sale / website / blog you’d like us to link to.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Five (unconventional) Minxy Writing Tips

Most aspiring writers who yearn to get their work published at some point in time come across the words "writing tips" in one form or the other. These tips may be specific to a publishing house, editor or agent or generic. More and more though, I'm noticing a certain trend that has prompted this post. You aren't required to follow it, but I'm putting it out there anyway :)

1. Never take another author's word as gold (even if they're multi-super-pubbed!) Everyone writes differently and has a different path to publication. What happened to Author X, Y or Z is not necessarily what will happen to you. But when you encounter an editor who gives you advice, LISTEN. Because what the editors say always goes, EVERY SINGLE TIME!

2. "How To" books over five years old are already behind the trend. Editors and agents go with the trend, genres morph and modernise. Readers' needs and expectations change. Stay on trend (even if you write historicals). After all the Regency/Viking eras weren't all about virgins, pirates and rogues! Throw a courtesan or three in there ;)

3. Promote yourself BEFORE you're pubbed! I know not everyone agrees with this, but the opportunity to have a following even before your first book hits the shelves is an opportunity not to be missed. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace et all are useful tools. In this day and age of super fast search engines, why would you deny your potential readers the opportunity to get to know you? Asked on Twitter whether internet presence was "recommended or a necessity", an editor replied, "a necessity". The Internet is here to stay. Use it! 'Nuff said.

4. Don't give your hero or heroine weird names! If the reader can't pronounce their names, they probably WILL stop reading the book. Also think carefully before you give unisex names. If your hero is called Alex and your heroine is named Morgan, guess what? You're diverting the reader's attention from what a great story you're telling by forcing them to ponder who's pov you're in. I for one don't want to have to stop every single time to work out who's talking! Example, I once read a book where the hero was called Alex and the heroine, Taylor. Major headache, unless you're writing M/M, in which case ignore me ;)

5. Although it may be out of your hands, make sure your title grabs attention, and keeps it! Titles that don't make sense IMMEDIATELY will lose you readers. While browsing through an online bookstore recently, I came across a book. The cover was awesome, the title...not so much. TBH, I didn't understand it. I read it once, twice, three times, then guess what? I gave up and moved on! It may mean something special to the author, but if readers don't get it, they may move on! I'll give you another example. A couple of years ago, I read a book by a writer whose books I know and love. It was an awesome, fabulous read, but I confess, I didn't get the title immediately. In fact, after scratching my head over it for a while, I had to swallow my pride and ask what it meant. Yes, I did feel silly when I realised the title was a play on the phrase, "Hook, Line and Sinker" and that everyone else "got it" but me :) Once I knew this, I thought how clever it was. But imagine if I hadn't had the courage to ask? This is a question you need to ask yourself before you pick a title.

Happy Writing!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Anything goes Friday - The new Riva line from Mills and Boon

The Minxes are devoting January 2011 Author Spotlights to authors who are writing for the new Riva line at Mills and Boon. We know lots of you readers are writers, and many may be writing Modern Heats, and if so, you need to check this out! Modern Heat has been discontinued, and Riva is taking its place. But Riva is not just Modern Heat by another name, it also incorporates Romance.  By opening up the line, it offers many interesting opportunities for readers and writers alike.

There are vital differences - such as humour, romantic comedies and first person narratives, so read on!

Here are the guidelines for Riva from Mills & Boon's website:

Length: 50,000 words

Office: London
Senior Editor: Bryony Green
Senior Editor: Joanne Grant
Editor: Meg Lewis
Editorial Assistant: Anna Boatman

Launching in January 2011, Riva is a vibrant, exciting new stream of editorial for readers who enjoy authors such as Louise Bagshawe, Tasmina Perry, Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. Upmarket, glossy and sharply contemporary, these stories sparkle with humour, passion and emotion

If you like your stories hot & steamy...

Then you’ll love the Rivas written by original, fresh authors such as Heidi Rice, Natalie Anderson, Kelly Hunter, Kimberly Lang, Anne Oliver, Anna Cleary and Lucy King, formerly published in Mills & Boon Modern Heat These entertaining romances reflect the life experiences of today’s young women, within a chic, glamorous, and usually urban setting. The offer international glamour, passion and alpha male heroes you expect from Modern, with a flirty young voice and a whole load of sass. The heroines are often your twenty-something girls-about-town but there's no compromising on the hero: he must be very alpha and absolutely to die for. There’ll be sparks flying when these two meet – and nothing short of fireworks once they get to the bedroom!

If you like your stories flirty & sweet...

Then you’ll love the Rivas written by flirty, young voices such as Liz Fielding, Nina Harrington, Fiona Harper and Jackie Braun, formerly published in Mills & Boon Romance. These stories should reflect the experiences of today’s young women – whether it be dating disasters, juggling a work/life balance or overcoming a broken heart. Each story should have an emotional core with believable emotional conflicts but told in an up-beat, fun, contemporary way. The hero should be sexy, aspirational and the romantic tension should sizzle, but when it comes to the bedroom – the door should be firmly closed. We are open to romantic comedies, first person narratives and interesting twists on classic romantic themes

We are on the lookout for new authors who can convey that young urban feel with 21st century characters, simmering tension, either with or without the hot sex!

Our top editor tip: there is no better way to fully understand the Riva experience than to read as many of them as possible!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Author Spotlight: Jeannie Lin

If you haven't yet heard of Jeannie Lin, then I can only assume you've been hiding in a cave somewhere. Everyone's talking about Jeannie's debut novel Butterfly Swords and the reason is obvious: it's strikingly different, it has a fascinating setting, and it's a great book.

So we are very excited today to have Jeannie with us on the blog today answering our Minxy questions. Now let's hand over to her ...

* * *

Thanks for inviting me for the Author Spotlight!

Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

Perfect timing! I can hardly believe it was pretty much five years ago in October that I took a UCLA Extension Romance Writing class with Barbara Ankrum. I was sitting down in a class with barely an idea in my head and ready to absorb all there was to know about writing romance.

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

This book was actually a sequel to my first completed manuscript. Ryam, the hero of Butterfly Swords, was a secondary character in the first book. He was a bit of a screw up; kind of reckless and cocky and charming with women. The one line that described how he sees himself was always strong in my head: “A genius with the sword and a disaster in everything else.”

I envisioned a vagabond who’d been separated from his friends by a tragedy he created. From that, I imagined he’d have to redeem himself, but could only do so as a reluctant hero. I tried to match him with several possible heroines, but the perfect one was a girl who on the surface would be his opposite. Ai Li was thoughtful and honorable and always followed the rules. Their common language would be the sword and, from that moment, I had both her signature weapons and the title figured out: Butterfly Swords.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

Big Hope: Figure out how to have writing as a sole career.

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

Great question! Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner. I don’t think anyone but Hosseini could have written that book, but there’s a scene in there that I can’t get out of my head when the boy walks out in a clearing and the kite practically falls into his arms. If you’ve read the book, you know how pivotal that scene is in its placement within the story. It was absolutely critical that the writing delivered in that scene, and it did. I don’t know if I have a scene or a book that beautiful in me.

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

If I had to pick one person, it would be Ray Bradbury. I’ve read a couple of his short stories over and over, and they get me every time. “The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair” is one of them. “The Toynbee Convector” is another. No matter how many times I looked over the words, they never lost their power. I think he’s the first writer where I realized there was such a thing as craft and that a story had an impact on me because the author made it so. He was also the first author where I sought out more stories he’d written. Before that, books just came by my hands. I would browse by them at the library or had books assigned by teachers for book reports and such.

Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy – or neither?

Neither. But re-reading them is both giggle-worthy and cringe-worthy to me. I psych myself up and I write them once. And if I have to rewrite them, it’s likely I’ll scrap the first version and rewrite the entire thing. It’s my superstition that if you overthink the sex too much, you’ll ruin it. People know how it is: sex is rarely “perfect”, but it’s still pretty good if the mood is right, right? So there’s my confession. The least edited scenes in my books are the sex scenes.

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

My hubby spent a good decade wooing me before we married. There was one time while we were dating when he was telling me how stubborn I was. That I was being too cautious and overthinking everything. This is real funny if you consider that he’s a computer programmer through and through, totally methodical and analytical.
In a goofy moment, he laid his head on my chest. “Are you in there?” he called out, addressing my heart. “I’m talking to you.”

That was the moment.

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

This was a toughie—I had to think about it for a while, which means it’s a good question!
Here’s what I’d wished I’d known: All those times people nitpicked my sentences apart, and I stressed about fixing every little issue didn’t matter. What really sold was Voice and Character. I shouldn’t have been revising on the surface so much. Instead, I needed to focus on layering in depth. I learned that a LOT is fixable, almost everything, but if you don’t have enough depth in the writing, no editor will stick around and show you how to go there.

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

From Barbara Ankrum: “Keep writing forward.”
From my sister, when I lamented about not being able to write sexual tension as well as Barbara: “That’s not her first draft.”

Tell us about your latest release.

Butterfly Swords is my debut novel, officially released October 1 from Harlequin Historical. It’s set in opulent Tang Dynasty China and features a forbidden love between a western swordsman and an imperial princess. I hope readers will come for the sword fights, but stay for the romance.

What’s next for you?

The sequel is currently titled, The Dragon and the Pearl. There’s also a linked Historical Undone that I’ve written for it. They’ll hopefully be released together.

You can find out more about Butterfly Swords at and more about Jeannie at

Her linked Historical Undone novella, The Taming of Mei Lin, is available at eHarlequin and on the Mills&Boon website.