Monday, January 31, 2011

An awakening - part two

Two weeks ago I raved about the great job done by the screen writers of The Vampire Diaries. (Perhaps this is a good moment to say that all the opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect in any way upon the other Minxes).

Today I'd like to share with you my deep disappointment in the books. I mean no disrespect to Lisa Jane Smith, author of the original books, who obviously writes well enough to be multi-published and to have a massive following (which is certainly more than I've achieved!) but I had the misfortune of reading the first two books after watching the TV series, and there is simply no comparison.

Having spent two years at film school, and worked for a while in film and television, I know better than most that film is a collaborative process and it's easy to bring added value when you have a whole team of experts working together on something. But the vast difference in depth and scope between the books and the TV series highlighted an issue that is very personal to me.


The TV show is stellar. The books are good. There's a difference. Ignoring the thousand and one things the film-makers changed, including setting, whole characters added or removed, an entire new back story created, there are two major differences between the book and TV versions.

1. Depth. As I said in my last blog post, there is a sense in the TV series that each and every character is a well-rounded and very real individual, with an entire background and motivation whether it's revealed or not.
Sadly, the book does not achieve this. Most of the minor characters, even the heroine's closest friends come across as one-dimensional. This is unusual in a book adapation as books are usually able to dig so much deeper in films. Just think of all those Jane Austen adaptations that have to leave out great chunks of story to fit the screen time. Not to mention that the camera cannot go places where the author's imagination can reach.

2. Likeability. This is something else I touched on in my previous post. No matter what a character does, or why, you get the sense in the TV show that there is something redeemable about them. Not just with Damon, who is the obvious example, but with minor characters like Logan Fell or Tyler Lockwood.
The book does not achieve this. Maybe, if I read further than Book Two, I'll find something redeemable in those characters. But I don't think I'm going to persevere that far. And I won't even get started on how unlikeable the heroine is. Maybe that's a blog post on its own. I could not relate to someone who thinks of herself as The Queen Bee, and as a result I never really cared about her as I did about the Elena of the TV series. Or for Bella in Twilight, for that matter.

So what does any of this have to do with mediocrity?

Reading these books brought my deepest fear to the surface. What if my writing is only mediocre? What if my novels have as little impact on the reader as The Vampire Diaries books had on me? What if my characters don't hook the reader, and have no depth? What if it would take a whole team of experts to turn my books into something special?

I could shut down my laptop and go and hide under my duvet and never write another word. That would certainly save me from writing anything mediocre.

But you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to write. And write. And polish. And I'm going to make sure that the next time I send out a submission it sparkles as brightly as one of Stephenie Meyer's vampires.

Or in the words of the editors from Mills & Boon: Innovate, don't Imitate.

Next week, I'll be talking about Motivation.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Minxes Monthly book recommendations

On the last Friday of every month, some of the Minxes are going to share with you a book they have recently read that has impressed them enough to find a place on their keeper shelf. We hope our lovely blog readers will return the favour and recommend some books to add to our TBR piles :-)

From Lorraine:

Being limited to audiobooks following a brain injury has had one positive effect - I've tried new authors I might not otherwise have picked. And at last some Mills and Boon books are available to download from the UK audible site (until recently they were only available in the US). My tastes have always been 'heat' rather than 'sweet' but I decided to listen to Jessica Hart's "Cinderella's Wedding Wish" and absolutely loved it. The heroine prefers dogs to men and her dream is to renovate an old cottage in the middle of nowhere and live in isolation which does sound, um, a little familiar (I have three dogs and recently renovated an old, isolated croft house in the Highlands :-) I loved it not just because the heroine struck a chord but because it was warm, witty and a lovely escapist read/listen! It's always nice to discover a 'new' author to add to your list of favourites and although she most certainly won't be new to most of you, Jessica Hart has definitely made it onto mine.

From Romy:

Late last year I picked up the first of Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld novel because I loved the cover. How shallow is that?!

The Darkest Night hooked me so thoroughly that I rushed out to buy the next three books in the series, and so far not one has disappointed. The stories are darkly sensuous, and the pace is so unremitting the pages practically turn themselves. These books should come with a health warning: explicit, not for the squeamish, and highly addictive.

From Sally:

My pick came out a couple of years ago, but I've been revisiting it, as I had a Mills & Boon editor recommend it to me recently, as a very good example of how to do internal conflict really well. It came out in June, 2009, and isn't currently available on the Mills & Boon site except as a very reasonable (99p!) ebook. It can also be snapped up as a paperback on Amazon for 20p!.
The book, Hot-Shot Tycoon, Indecent Proposal (Mills & Boon Modern Heat) by Heidi Rice does in fact deal with the character's conflicts extremely well. The heroine, Daisy Dean, is bright, sparky, likeable and individualistic. Her hero, Connor Brodie, is totally gorgeous, but scarred, both inside and out.
What Heidi manages to do so well in Hot-Shot Tycoon, Indecent Proposal is draw a very compelling picture of a hero who is living in the now, and yet has unresolved issues that he is carrying around with him, that affect his relationships. There was much discussion in blogland when Riva launched, stating how difficult it could be to write a fun, flirty story, with characters who had real deep internal issues there needed to overcome. In this book, Heidi really nails how to do this, by having Connor's issues very firmly in the past, but the consequences of them very definitely in the present.

From Jo C:

A Doctor, A Nurse: A Christmas Baby by Amy Andrews won a Ruby from the Romance Writers of Australia for this book and when I read it I could certainly see why.

The heroine, Maggie, is considerably older than the hero who is a confirmed bachelor with his eye on his career so he can fulfill a promise he made to his dying sister.

I really enjoyed the vulnerabilities that Maggie had because of her age and her past. Nash is the most delicious hero as he makes Maggie forget all of her concerns and allows her to relax.

This is an incredibly hot read, think Modern Heat passion mixed with the sweetness of family life in a Romance. Absolutely the best of both worlds and this book has made Amy Andrews an auto buy for me. In fact, I'm busy adding back titles to my iPhone as fast as I can read them!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Author Spotlight - Natalie Anderson

Today the Minxes are excited to welcome USA TODAY bestselling author Natalie Anderson!

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

I’d just sent off my first submission to Mills & Boon at Christmas. I’d only started writing in the six months prior to that having found the NANOWRIMO book, NO PLOT NO PROBLEM – it kick started my old dream. I was very lucky. M&B got back to me in April asking for the full, asked for revisions in September and bought it in October – so Oct 2011 will be my 5-years-since-selling anniversary. It’s scary how fast it’s gone.

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

The idea for the opening scene was triggered by my own combing-hair-while-driving incident. I was at a red light and my foot slipped while I was vigorously trying to sort my wet, tangled hair and I remember thinking thank goodness there wasn’t a car or pedestrian in front of me when I accidentally slid forward… hmmmmm. Bingo!

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

I’d love to be doing what I’m doing now – writing and selling! I love writing for Harlequin Mills & Boon, it is a dream come true and an honour. I really, really, really want to get my 25-book-pin (HMB celebrate milestone book numbers, 25 is the first biggie). So that’s within my 5-year plan! I’m looking forward to the next five years – my youngest two start school in October so my writing routine is going to change somewhat as I get day time to write. I’m going to cry my eyes out on their first day at school, but it is an exciting time as well.

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

That’s just an impossible question!!! Honestly, there are so many books I just adore and think damn, wish I could write like that! I think Susan Elizabeth Phillips is fantastic – love her humour and tone.

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

None particularly leap out as being the one to make me want to be a writer. I’ve just always wanted to since as far back as I can remember. I’ve always had an active imagination and making up stories has always been part of what I’ve done. Both my parents were journalists (before both changed careers) and I married a journalist. Writing for a living is very normal in my world.

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

Oh! There are a couple of incidents I couldn’t share… but I remember a week or so before my gorgeous-one proposed, we had a long weekend in Rome. That entire weekend was deliciously romantic. There were so many special moments. I remember sitting at a bar in the lovely autumnal afternoon sun, eating some divine antipasto with a glass of wine… and just being with him. It was perfect. It’s our 11th anniversary next week. I’m thinking that sometime (when the kids are old enough to abandon), he and I are going to have to recreate that weekend in Rome – only this time, perhaps make it a month :)

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

Everyone says that some things get harder not easier once you’re published. It’s true. You definitely feel more pressure – and you have to learn to cope with that. Plus there are those reviews and sales figures and all kinds of things out of your control. I recommend ignoring all those things and just focus on loving writing! It is a rollercoaster – but what a ride!

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

Just do it. I like the ‘do it every day’ requirement. You have to be disciplined if you want to succeed. And it has to come from within you – no one else is going to make you do it. So it’s all up to you.

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

I think it’s an exciting time. I love writing very contemporary, city set stories – with a fair amount of sensational sex and fun… with an edge. I’ve been having some real fun with my heroines recently – and then finding the very strong, confident guys capable of matching them! I think Riva is great because it’s giving us a chance to push those edgier characters and themes.

10. Tell us about your Riva launch release.

Well, mine is a February release – but you can get it online already – and from that gorgeous pop-up shop in Selfridges if you happen to be in London! It’s a tale about two non-conformists – he’s a champion snowboarder who’s happiest literally up in the air, and she’s an IT geek person who hides behind crazy hair and coloured contacts. They have an accident – well, a couple of them actually – and then have to deal with it. It’s February’s Book of the Month in the UK and here’s the editorial comment on the M&B website:
"With edgy, opposites-attract characters plus electric chemistry that will make your skin tingle, this book brings an original twist to the classic pregnancy story – a fabulous read! "

11. What’s next for you?

It’s gearing up to be a busy year – I’ve got REBEL WITH A CAUSE out in the US in February, while WALK ON THE WILD SIDE is in the US in April.

My first M&B, ALL NIGHT WITH THE BOSS is being reprinted in a 3-in-1 in March in the UK – titled: MY TALL, SEXY, HANDSOME BOSS.

After that I’ve a couple more Riva’s coming:
THE END OF FAKING IT– out April UK - and yes, in part we’re talking about her faking that!
DATING AND OTHER DANGERS – in July UK – which is a total Girl vs. Boy story involving a dating reputation website and a dare!

I’m currently revising another story and brainstorming the next. I love brainstorming – so many possibilities!

Thanks so much for having me along today!

* * *

Natalie’s debut RIVA is available now at Mills & Boon and will be available in the US in April and in Australia and New Zealand in March.

You can find out more about Natalie on her website.

Thanks so much for blogging with us today Natalie!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Call

The Minxes are celebrating a Call today! Minxy friend Susan Wilson has sold to Mills & Boon Medicals and we are super-excited for her. You can read Susan's call story here.

Three of us Minxes had the pleasure of meeting Susan at the RNA conference last July, and we can honestly say that this couldn't have happened to a nicer, more deserving person. Susan has persevered through four sets of revisions and some lengthy waits on this one, so all aspiring writers can take heart. Don't ever give up! It really could happen to you too.

In other incredible news, Intrigue author Paula Graves has announced on eHarlequin that she has done a six book deal with Harlequin for a five figure sum. Again, proof that perseverance pays and dreams really can come true.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Queensland Flood Appeal

By now, the Minxes are sure many of you will have seen the appeal that has been posted on many romance authors blog over the last week or so. The devastation that has been caused by the floods and the loss of life and livelihoods is just heartbreaking so we would like each and every one of you to take a moment today to think of the difference you could bring to someone's life with the gift of books :-)

Here's the appeal:

We've all seen the devastation the recent Queensland floods have wrought and have wondered how we can help. We know that for many affected families, books will not be high on their priorities list for some time to come.


We also know how valuable books can be in providing time out when reality gets tough.


With the aid of some wonderful volunteers, we've put together a Romance Writers of Australia Flooded Communities Book Appeal.

What we need?

FICTION BOOKS! Romance books, children's books, young adult books, genre books, whatever – either new or in sparkling condition.

Please send them to:

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal
PO Box 1717
Noosaville Post Office
Noosaville BC
Australia 4566

When to send them?

Now! And any time over the next few months. The books will be boxed and delivered to the appropriate libraries/schools/neighbourhood centres/community centres in batches as soon as the communities are ready to receive them. We’ll be liaising with councils, libraries and schools to ensure this is done appropriately. Feel free to pop a note inside, or if you're an author, sign it.


If you have a question about donations, email Jess Anastasi:

If you work in a library/council/community centre/school in a flood affected area, email Rachel Bailey:

For up to date information on the RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal, please visit

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Author Spotlight - Jessica Hart

Today the Minxes are pleased to welcome RITA award winning author, Jessica Hart to blog with us.

The Minxes caught some hugely exciting news, announced towards the end of last year, that Jessica mentions in her interview. Read the details on Jessica's blog here.

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

Funny how long ago 5 years seems now … I had to really stop and think about this question! I know I’d written over 40 books by then. Christmas Eve Marriage won a RITA® in 2005, and in 2006 Contracted: Corporate Wife won the UK’s coveted Romance Prize, so I was feeling more established and confident as a romance writer. At the same time, I felt as if I’d reached a point of change. I’d finished my PhD at the end of 2004, and I was missing the contrast between my research (into environmental regulation in C15th and C16th York – much more interesting than it sounds, I promise!) and romance writing. It’s taken me a while to actually make that change, but I did get there eventually!

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

I usually start with a hook, but in the case of Juggling Briefcase & Baby, the idea was easy. This book is the sequel to Oh-So-Sensible Secretary in which Lex appeared as Phin’s workaholic brother. Lex was so reserved and stiff and focused on the company, he was the perfect contrast to the relaxed and charming Phin, and I started to wonder what would make two brothers so different. I’ve always had a soft spot for the gruff, reserved hero, too, and it seemed to me that Lex was just as attractive as Phin but in a very different way. Even while I was writing Oh-So-Sensible Secretary I was wondering what it would take to break down Lex’s famous reserve and reach that carefully guarded heart …

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

I’ve spent the last few years building up what I grandly call a ‘portfolio’ career, although this makes it sound a lot more grown up than it actually is! I work as a freelance editor for illustrated books about institutions like Lincoln Cathedral or York Minster – a wonderful job where I get to tell other people what to write instead of writing myself! - and I teach writing classes here in York and in Tuscany. The more I write, the more interested I am in how and why romance works, so I love teaching too.

I’ve also been writing a mainstream women’s fiction novel that has just been bought by Pan Macmillan as part of a two book deal. It’s a project that has taken me wa-a-a-ay out of my comfort zone, but the challenge has been good for me, I think. Finishing the first book and writing another 150,000 word novel is going to keep me very busy for the next couple of years, and of course I’m hoping that parallel writing career will have taken off in 5 years’ time.

Last, but absolutely not least, I’d like to continue writing for Harlequin Mills & Boon. I’ve been a Mills & Boon author for 20 years now, and it’s part of who I am. I don’t want to give that up. Romances are fun to write – or perhaps I should say fun to plot and fun to have written? The pesky business of actually writing the story can be harder work!

So in 5 years’ time I think I’d like to still be juggling all four strands of my career – and still standing!

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

Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase. What a great writer she is – warm, funny, intelligent, and very, very sexy.

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

The honest truth is that I never wanted to be a writer. I decided that I wanted to do a PhD in Medieval Studies after reading The Sunne in Splendour (about Richard III), but I had to find a way of funding a return to university, so I thought, ‘I know, I’ll write a Mills & Boon …’ I always feel a bit guilty about having stumbled into a writing career, but I suppose I owe it all to Sharon Penman!

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

Falling in love at first sight. I didn’t believe in it until it happened to me.

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

I had no idea just how much information and support is out there – although I don’t know how much of that was available 20 years ago when I started writing. I’m constantly impressed nowadays by how friendly and supportive romance writers are. I wish I’d known about the need for self-promotion too – I might not have been so hesitant to get involved with technology. Websites, blogs, Facebook … I’m always the last to get there, and it feels like a constant race to catch up. If I was just getting published now, I’d try and be clued up about promotion right from the start.

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

I heard the late wonderful Blake Snyder talking about his book on screenwriting, Save the Cat! and was very struck by his advice to “Embrace the formula”. Or then there’s my mother’s advice, which goes for life as well as for writing: “Just get ON with it!” (said in a Scottish accent for maximum effect!)

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

The editors at M&B have encouraged us to try something different with this new imprint, and you can see from the covers that they’re hoping to attract a new, perhaps younger, audience who might not realize that romances don’t have to be as old-fashioned as they’re often portrayed. I’ve always thought of my heroines as contemporary women with contemporary attitudes, so I have to be honest and say that Juggling Briefcase & Baby isn’t actually that different from most of my other stories. But I love knowing that there’s scope now to play around with new ideas and approaches, so while these stories will still be first and foremost romances, the new sense of editorial freedom is very exciting.

10. Tell us about your Riva launch release.

Only once has Lex Gibson ever let his guard down, and he’s vowed never to make himself that vulnerable again. But now, 12 years later, Romy is back – and she’s not alone. Romy has a baby daughter, Freya, and between them they throw Lex’s carefully ordered world into chaos!

Juggling Briefcase & Baby is a reunion story, with a baby and an office setting thrown into the mix. I like it when the hero and heroine have to confront the problems between them in the present while still tangled up in the feelings they shared in the past. There’s something very appealing about the idea of a second chance to get things right, after you’ve made a mess of them first time round, and I really enjoyed giving Lex his own happy ending at last!

11. What’s next for you?

Convenient Engagements, a 3-in-1 re-released by Mills & Boon in their By Request series, is out in January 2011 in the UK. Later in the year, my royal duet will be out. I’ve never played with the royal theme before, so that’s been fun. Ordinary Girl in a Tiara will be out in June 2011 in North America and the UK – I was rather hoping William and Kate would opt for a classic June wedding to tie in with its release, but they have selfishly decided on April instead! - and The Secret Princess later in the year.

Jessica's debut RIVA is available at Mills & Boon & Amazon now!
The Minxes would like to know when on earth Jessica will have time to sleep given her commitments for the next few years, we're in awe!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

An awakening - part one

A blog post by my fellow Minx, Lacey Devlin, sent me scurrying to the video store to hire the first disc of The Vampire Diaries. I got so hooked by those opening episodes that I didn’t go back for more … instead I bought the entire first season on DVD.

This post is about why I think the screen writers for this TV show are so awesome.

The first thing I took away from this TV series was the structure. In age-old TV tradition, each and every episode ends on a cliffhanger and with the entire DVD set handy, the effect is akin to reading a novel: you just have to keep turning the pages. Each episode has twists and developments that keep the viewer riveted.

The next thing the screenwriters did well was to keep the show unpredictable. About half way through the series I started to think “Stefan is getting boring. He’s just the same anxious, serious, devoted character in every episode.” Immediately after I’d thought that, his character began to change and grow in interesting ways. It is a very rare skill, knowing exactly the point at which the viewer/reader’s attention is starting to drift, and being able to snatch it back again.
And they’re doing this on so many levels all the time, juggling character arcs and plot lines, bringing some to the fore, then others.

Now as a category romance writer you're probably wondering "what does this have to do with me? I don't have room to juggle secondary characters." The point isn't that you keep shifting story-lines or characters, the point is that you shouldn't be predictable. Yes, there's an expectation in romance that hero and heroine will get their Happy Ever After. But that doesn't mean you have to make it obvious. Take your reader a different route to that HEA. Reveal unexpected depths in your characters.

Another really difficult skill is getting your audience to care about your characters. There’s a certain magic in achieving this, and sadly there’s no paint by numbers manual out there that can help a writer create characters that hook your readers as deeply as these do. I believe it’s instinctive.

As Lacey’s original blog post pointed out, The Vampire Diaries is an excellent example of how an antagonist can be turned into a protagonist. Making an unsympathetic character sympathetic takes skill. Of course, creating sympathetic characters that stay sympathetic is also difficult, as any romance author can tell you!
The TV version of The Vampire Diaries does this in spades. In my opinion they achieve this by layering the characters. Every single character, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, has a history. There are no cardboard cut-outs here! No character is purely good or purely evil, and because each and every one is relatable in some way, the audience cares.

Finally, it's all about the characters. This series could have been very action or Special FX orientated, but the film-makers deliberately kept the focus on people. As the host of the bonus DVD interview states, you could take the vampire element out of this show, and it would still be worth watching.

I’m sure there are other reasons why The Vampire Diaries is such a success, but for me, as a writer, these were the elements that captured my attention.

Having run through all 22 episodes of Season One (and the bonus DVD) within 5 days, I looked around to find my next fix. What better than the books the series was based on? More next week ...

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Future of Romance Audio Books

Today we have a guest blogger, Jennifer Feddersen of Audio Lark Books, talking about the future of audio books.

* * *

We’ve all seen how ebooks are changing the face of publishing, but did you know that digital audio books have had a similar effect on the world of audio book publishing?

Gone are the days of paying $50 - $75 for a cumbersome plastic container filled with cassettes. The age of audio book CDs were over nearly as soon as they began. Digital audio downloads are the way most people get their audio books now.

AudioLark Romance Audio Books – and our erotic titles on AudioMinx, as well – are carried in a variety of online audio book outlets as well as our own websites, but we’ve got something new and exciting coming soon:

Audio books as apps!

If you own a handheld device or cell phone, you are probably familiar with apps and how easy they are to purchase and play. AudioLark will begin rolling out our audio book apps as soon as February 2011. Stuck in line? Waiting at the doctor’s office? Listen to your favourite romance audio book and time will fly!

What does this mean for authors?

We’re putting out a submissions call for short romances (8,000 – 15,000 words) and romance series (each book 8,000 to 15,000 words). We’d especially like to see contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and romantic suspense, but we’ll also consider paranormal, science fiction and historical.

We pay a small advance against royalties - $20 per single title, more for a series – and will release titles simultaneously as ebooks and audio books.

For more information, visit!

* * *

We'd like to know from you whether you have ever listened to an audio book or not, and if so, what did you think? If you haven't, would you consider it?

Jennifer is giving away a copy of their latest release, Kaye Chambers' Love at First Shot to one lucky commenter.

Emma Feltman is a master mage in training with one minor problem: sexual frustration has twisted her ordinarily powerful magic into an unpredictable force of chaos.
Her current job assignment is the Supernatural Clean-up Crew. When a werewolf is unlucky enough to get hit by a car, Emma’s crew is sent in to retrieve the body. Dr. “T.J.” Jackson happens to be the coroner on duty. When it’s discovered his mind is immune to magic so they can’t erase the incident from his memory, they do the next best thing. They take him with them.
Stashed in a cabin miles from anywhere, Emma and T.J. start things off with a bang. But can a relationship built under extreme conditions really work?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Author Spotlight: Kelly Hunter

The first book I read by Kelly Hunter was Misbehaving with the Magnate which had me hooked from cover to cover. The most recent, Red Hot Renegade, turned me into Kelly Hunter's number one fan (in a non-Misery sense of course!). This book is the last in her Bennett family series - they're all great reads, but each one seems better than the last. Red Hot Renegade kept me flying through the pages and into the wee hours. With an Asian heroine far wealthier than the seriously seductive, tough martial arts hero, this novel was certainly different. It was fresh, fun and sensual - all the qualities of the new Riva line. Her first Riva novel, With this Fling, looks like it will be just as good a read and I'm looking forward to opening my brand new copy!

And now that I've had my fan girl moment, here's Kelly ....

* * *

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
Unpublished and unsure which line to target. Harlequin Temptations had just left the building – much to my dismay – and there was rumour of a fun, flirty and sexy editorial stream somewhere on the horizon. When the guidelines appeared for a HMB London edited line (then) called Nu Temptation, I snail mailed off a partial. A week and a half later HMB London asked to see the rest, at which point I had to fess up that the rest didn’t exist. Yet. I still remember Ed’s long suffering email sigh and her very patient, ‘just send it when it’s done’. That story became Wife For A Week, and Ed bought it, and it helped launch a new editorial stream (Modern Extra which later became Modern Heat). It also gave me quite a few more Bennett Family stories to write.

2. Where did you get the idea from for With This Fling?
It all started with wanting to write a back-from-the-dead hero. But a back-from-the dead hero was unlikely to work tonewise for Riva. I needed fun. Flirty. Not a hero who’d had amnesia or who’d walked away from the heroine in order to protect her, and I certainly didn’t want him to have been held prisoner somewhere nasty. Nope, I wanted a daisy fresh back-from-the-dead hero, and he couldn’t be a vampire either. I headed for the gin. I decided my heroine would invent a fictional hero for some terribly convincing reason and then kill him off when she no longer needed him. And then he would reappear, so to speak. In the flesh. Daisy fresh. And twice as sexy. More gin ensued. Of course I could make this premise work…

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

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
Barbara Samuel’s No Place Like Home (and pretty much every Barbara Samuel/O Neal book since then).

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
It was a cumulative effort that began with Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree and gained momentum with every story that ever swept me away.

6. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
That you need to work even harder once you’re published to stay published and captivate new readers.

7. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Every word counts.

8. What does the new Riva imprint mean for you.
It means I get to help launch another new line. Woohoo! That was the mememe answer. In a general sense, a bold new line means there’s room for authors to boldly go where no author has gone before. I love that kind of freedom. It’s not for the faint of heart though, because – count on it – somewhere along the way you’re going to go where no one wants you to go.

9. Tell us about your Riva launch release.

With This Fling is about a reality challenged heroine who invents a fiancé to appease her dying godmother. He's dashing, honourable, supremely accomplished, and above all, absent. When he's no longer needed Charlotte kills him off but the gossip grinder has done its work and Charlotte’s workmates believe she’s lost both her godmother and her fiancé. They want to help and go searching for a memento of Charlotte’s beloved fiancé to give to her because lo, she doesn’t even have a photo of him. Then the contents of a man’s office turns up on her doorstep. Then the owner of the office arrives to collect it. He shares the same surname as Charlotte’s fictional fiancé. Perfect he most definitely is not, but he is rather dashing. You can see where this is going...

I really enjoyed stacking my poor, imperfect, in-the-flesh hero up against the fantasy of the perfect man. That my poor, imperfect, in-the-flesh hero was a category romance hero and not real(istic) either amused me no end. Small things amu-- ah, never mind.

10. What’s next for you?
An April RIVA release called Man She Loves To Hate.
You know those historicals that start with the heroine disguised as a stable hand or cabin boy and the hero thinks he’s losing his marbles along with his lust for women? I love those stories (possibly the small minds thing again). I love the deception and adore the reveal.
I decided to open a contemporary story in similar fashion, and try and make it believable, and flirty, and fun, and it’d help if I had some handy dandy reason as to why the hero and heroine wouldn’t declare undying devotion the moment the ruse was up. What If ensued and the Man She Loves To Hate was born.

This segues into a question for the Minxes. Anyone have a favourite story opening, premise, or scene that you’ve never forgotten, even though it’s been years since you read the book? What made it so memorable? Try breaking it down. Which bits of the premise or scene intrigued you the most? Then, for the writers here, have a quiet think about the kind of story you might be able to wrap around that lovely old favourite story bit.

I hope you enjoy reading the new Riva stories and thank you so much for the invitation to come and talk stories and play with the Minxes.

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With This Fling is a January release in the UK through Mills & Boon and Amazon, a February release in Australia and a June release in North America.

Red Hot Renegade is available through Mills & Boon and will be released in North America in March as a Presents Extra, under the title Her Singapore Fling.

To find out more about Kelly, you can visit her website here.

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Congratulations to Desere Steenberg, winner of last week's Kimberly Lang contest.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Minxy Monday: Best Movie Lines

In case I haven't banged on about this enough - I love movies! Have done since my dad bought our first VCR in 1981 along with eleven videos. Don't ask me to name them all but the titles included Elvis Presley's Blue Hawaii, All That Jazz, Jaws (this one gave me nightmares for weeks!) and The Godfather.

Since then my love of movies has grown (so much so I worked in two separate videos stores before I was twenty). What better way to watch movies for free?

What makes movies memorable for me are the one-liners that either tug on the hearstrings or make you roar with laughter. Everyone, whether they've seen the whole movie or not, will remember lines like, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn", "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" and "Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?".

For those hard core movie watchers, you'll also recognise this one "Don't Call Me BABE" uttered by a certain buxom female off that beach show *snigger*.

Now I have too many one-liners to name on this post, but just thought I'd share a few favourites with you. Here goes:

"Hand. Off. Ass" (The Proposal).
"Honey, just cos I talk slow, don't mean I'm stupid" (double snigger) (Sweet Home Alabama)
"Life is not the amount of breaths you take. It’s the moments that take your breath away” (Hitch)
"Beam me up, Scottie" As a die-hard Trekkie, I cannot leave that out.
And finally, from that classy, classy show which is The Simpsons - Homer: "You can run, but you can't glide!"

Here are some other Minxy favourite lines:

Sally: From Love Actually (where neither character understands the other's language)
Jamie - (in English) "It's my favorite time of day, driving you."
Aurelia - (in Portuguese) "It's the saddest part of my day, leaving you."

Joanne C: From Pearl Harbour - "Oh Rafe, all I ever wanted was for us to have a home and grow old together, but life never asked me what I wanted. Now I'm going to give Danny my whole heart... but I don't think I'll ever look at another sunset without thinking of you... I'll love you my whole life."

Joanne P: (Bridget) "Wait a minute... nice boys don't kiss like that." (Mark Darcy)"Oh, yes, they f**king do." (Bridget Jones's Diary)

Lacey: "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her" (Notting Hill) awwwww!

Romy: "You're like my own personal brand of heroin" (Twilight)

What are your favourite movie lines?

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Please vote in our January poll: Favourite Irish Hotties (see right sidebar). In case you need a refresher, their pictures are in the post below this one.

The winner of the Kimberly Lang contest will be announced here on the blog on Wednesday.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Man of the Month Poll: The Irish Hotties

Nope, not hot water bottles, although perhaps they'd do in very cold weather... And no ladies here either. It's the totally non-pc hotties poll. Direct from the Minxes. Some of the hotties are now older than they appear in these photos, and in light of last years surprising news from M&B picking Mr Cowell as top hottie, we've added in a wildcard, just in case. This month, we're visiting Ireland - so without further ado, bloggers, please cast your votes in the poll in the right sidebar.

Here, in no particular order, are the contenders....

Colin Farrell

Brian Carney

 Actor and perennial bad boy Colin Farrell

Rugby league player Brian Carney

Aidan Turner

Louis Walsh

Film and television actor Aidan Turner

Boyzone and Westlife music guru and X Factor Judge Louis Walsh

Johnathan Rhys Meyers
Actor and model Jonathan Rhys Meyers

He's an oldy now but, in Minxy opinion, still a goody! Pierce Brosnan

We'll leave the poll live until Friday 28th January and annouce the winner over the weekend. We look forward to seeing which of our Irish hotties our lovely blog readers like best!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Author Spotlight - Kimberly Lang

We are thrilled to welcome Kimberly Lang to be an honorary minx today!
Grab a cuppa and settle in to read Kimberley's fab interview....

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
The slush pile. ~grin~  I was licking my wounds from a rejection, about two months from getting another one,  and working on my third manuscript (which would become my 2nd book, THE MILLIONAIRE’S MISBEHAVING MISTRESS).  I was still over two years away from selling.  Wow.   Oh, the memories…

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
Hm, I don’t know.  My books normally start with the characters – or sometimes a scene – that I then have to play with until it becomes a big enough something to make a book out of.  I remember when the idea for GIRLS’ GUIDE  finally crystallized, though.  I was having coffee with a good friend and telling her about my marriage counselor heroine and the divorce attorney hero and she asked, “Were they married?” BING! 

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
If I say “doing exactly the same thing as I am now,” it makes me sound like I don’t have any ambition, doesn’t it?   I love writing these books:  the strong heroines, the glamour, the sizzle. I also love the range I have in the line to be funny and light or tackle something a little heavier.  I can’t imagine what else I’d want to write!  So, can I be doing exactly what I’m doing now, only better, faster, and with a couple of fancy awards to show for it?

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
THE GIRL FROM MARS by Julie Cohen.  Julie has a twist in her brain that I can’t quite figure out, but her books are so great because of it – funny, quirky, and romantic. And anything by Julia Quinn – I’d love to write like that!

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
I spent my teen years devouring big, fat, historical novels --  Bertrice Small, Johanna Lindsay, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood – and historicals are still where I turn for escapist reading.  (I love contemporaries and devour those too, but since that’s what I write, it’s not always the escape a historical romance is.) Those are the books that made me want to be a writer, because I wanted to make my own stories with happy endings.  More importantly, those are the books that made me a *reader.* It’s one of the reasons I went on to major in English in college  (and imagine my horror when I signed up for Romantic Literature and it was Wordsworth and that lot… sigh.).

6. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
I have a pretty amazing husband who’s not normally one for the big gestures.  Instead, he’s very good at the small, daily things that let me know I’m loved.  (Hey, the man thinks my mood swings are part of my charm and that my crazy is kinda cute.)   But romance-wise, probably when he packed up everything he owned in one suitcase and moved to the US because that’s where I was.  Seeing him come off that plane and knowing he’d left his whole life behind because he loved me and wanted to be with me… that’s a pretty romantic moment.

7. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
That it doesn’t get any easier.  Rejection hurts, but so does a bad review – and those are public!  Then there’s all the worries about sales and lists and the next book.  It’s a different set of problems, granted, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, but this writing gig doesn’t get any easier on the other side of the contract.

8. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Finish the book.  Most writers are told that in the vein of “you have to finish it in order to sell it.”  That’s true, but I’ve also learned that even when I’m not sure what’s wrong with a scene or the middle is sagging or whatever, finishing the book gives me the information I need to go back and fix the problem.   Being able to see the book as a whole gives me insight into the individual bits.

9. What does the new Riva imprint mean for you.
Hopefully, Riva will hook that reader who thinks all romance novels are the same, or that there’s nothing really in the genre to appeal to them. Riva is fresh and fun, with a variety of voices and stories.  The new covers and titles really reflect that fresh feel, and will hopefully introduce those readers to the joys of romance novels!  These aren’t your Grannie’s romance novels, that’s for sure!

10. Tell us about your Riva launch release.

Rule #1 — Don't even flirt with your ex — let alone sleep with him!

Life is good for marriage counselor Megan Lowe—until the media discover that she’s the ex–wife of Devin Kenney, America's most famous divorce attorney! Now the paparazzi are digging for a scoop just in time for the launch of Devin's new book. His gorgeous smile smirks at Megan from magazines and billboards — making him infuriatingly impossible to forget…
It's time for Megan to throw her very bossy rulebook out of the window and face her dangerously sexy ex. And their sizzlingly hot reunion — well, that's most definitely headline news…

I’m very excited about GIRLS’ GUIDE TO FLIRTING WITH DANGER.  It’s a reunion story with two very strong characters.  I love reunion stories, because there’s so much conflict already built in.  And a lot of sexual tension, too! Megan and Devin were so much fun to write, and I’m so thrilled they were chosen to help launch the new Riva line.

11. What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on a series of books connected by three brothers from a political dynasty.  Handsome, powerful, rich… the kind of heroes I love.  And I’m matching them up with heroines guaranteed to drive them insane ~grin~  The first of the three, THE PRIVILEGED AND THE DAMNED, will be out in the UK in June. 

You can catch up with Kimberly here....

Kimberly is offering a back list book to one lucky commenter - so don't be shy, leave a comment and start the year with an awesome read.

Thanks for taking the time to blog with us today Kimberly, and the very best of luck for your exciting Riva launch title! 

Monday, January 3, 2011

What's coming up in 2011

We have some exciting new features coming up this year.

First up, as you may have noticed in the right sidebar, January is dedicated to the launch of Mills & Boon's new Riva imprint, with four Riva authors in our Wednesday Spotlights. The year also kicks off with a contest: Kimberly Lang is offering one of her back list titles to a random commenter this week.

February is the turn of Embrace Books, a new romance imprint being launched by Salt Publishing, with Jane Holland at the helm. We are doubly proud to be hosting four of Embrace's launch authors here since they include not only some good Minxy friends but also our very own Sally Clements.

Starting this month, we'll also be running monthly themed polls, with plenty of mouth watering eye candy for you to vote on. Please drop by every month to view our nominees and to cast your votes. We really want to know which heroes you like the most. January's theme is Irish Hotties.

Another new feature we're introducing in 2011 is Ask An Editor. On your behalf, we will ask editors to spill the beans on what happens behind the scenes in publishing. Leave us a comment or drop us an email with your burning questions, and we'll ask one of our friendly editors to answer.

As our regular blog followers already know, a few of us Minxes have a serious addiction to The Vampire Diaries. To feed the craving, I'll be devoting five Monday Minx posts (starting mid January) to what we aspiring writers can learn from this series.

We'd love to hear your news and views. What would you like to see more of in 2011? Feel free to share any bright ideas with us!