Monday, February 28, 2011

Acting out of character

I am nothing if not consistent. It’s a Monday and I’m blogging, which means this post will have a lot to do with writing, and at least a little to do with The Vampire Diaries.


In order to be believable, your characters should be consistent. In real life, most people behave in set ways. I obsess about The Vampire Diaries and writing (no necessarily in that order). Your colleague who keeps his desk exceptionally tidy is unlikely to suddenly turn into a complete slob. The devoted PTA mom who volunteers in the tuck shop and runs the lift club is hardly likely to take off unexpectedly for Vegas without telling anyone.

Exceptions to the rule

Yet as important as it is to keep your characters consistent, behaving in believable, established patterns, there are exceptions to every rule.

There are two instances when you might want your characters to deliberately behave out of character.

Firstly, inconsistent behaviour can spark a really interesting story. Did the neat freak colleague snap because he came home to find his wife had left him and taken everything? Why did the PTA mom suddenly take off for Vegas, leaving her family in the lurch?

Secondly, inconsistent behaviour can add depth to your characters. By exploring why your characters are behaving inconsistently, you can discover new layers to their conflicts.

Example: The young woman who dreams her whole life of getting married, runs away from the church on her wedding day. Why can’t she face going through with this marriage? Has she just learned something that changes everything she believes in?

Moderation and Motivation

I was raised on the maxim of “all things in moderation” and this is one instance where that definitely applies.

A character who swings from one extreme to the other, never being consistent, is simply going to annoy the reader. But get him or her to act out of character just once, at the moment when it has the greatest impact, and you’ll have your reader gripping the edge of the seat.

Similarly, too many characters behaving inconsistently, and it’ll appear to the reader that you don’t have a grasp on your characters. As the writer, you need to make a conscious and deliberate decision as to which character is going to behave inconsistently, when, and why.

As always, we’re back to Motivation. Readers will forgive you (and your characters) almost anything if they understand the why. You just need to decide how and when you’re going to reveal the why.

The easiest way is to give the reader advance warning of what’s coming. The bride is on her way to the church when she discovers that her parents, devoted to one another for thirty years, were never really married. The reader, following her POV, understands her realisation that maybe love is more than a piece of paper and a big white dress. (Whether her fiancĂ© understands is another matter entirely!)

Shock Tactics

Alternatively, you can leave the reveal until after your character has done something completely inconsistent with who they are. Don’t let the reader see it coming. Don’t leave clues along the way.

Take the reader on a journey right to the altar, where the groom hears that his bride has done a runner. Allow the reader to experience the shock with him. Then shift to her POV, where she's getting on a plane for the Bahamas, and then reveal her motivation.

This may be a little harder to pull off in deep POV, but in the hands of a skilled writer, this technique can have your reader gripping the edge of the seat (and leaving hubby to cook dinner!).

This is where The Vampire Diaries comes into this blog post.

In the penultimate episode of Series 1, we meet the vampire Isobel, played by Mia Kirshner.

Isobel makes her appearance quite late in the series. She’s a fairly new vampire, and she has history with a number of the regular characters.

Throughout this episode we see her as deceptive, heartless and inhuman. She threatens, she blackmails, she hurts, she kidnaps. By the end of the episode the viewer has come to know Isobel quite well. They understand that she is capable of absolutely anything to get what she wants, including murder. And we fully expect her to laugh at the moment she commits murder.

* Spoiler Alert *

Her final scene of the episode is only about two minutes long. Isobel has achieved what she set out to achieve. This is her moment of triumph. She sits in the back seat of her car as she is driven out of town; presumably out of the series. She makes a phone call that turns the entire episode upside down.

In that final minute of the episode the viewer learns Isobel’s motivation for her ruthlessness, and discovers that she really does have a heart. Her inconsistent behaviour is not that brief moment of softness at the end. Her inconsistent behaviour was her role throughout the entire episode.

As the end credits roll, the viewer starts to replay the episode in their heads, seeing everything in a completely new perspective.
That is powerful writing.

The Caveat

As the awesome Bob Mayer often says, you need to understand the rule before you can break it.

You need to know your characters exceptionally well before you let them run amok. And for maximum effect, your readers also need to know (or think they know!) your characters well enough to recognise when they are behaving out of character.


The question I’m going to leave you with today: Why do you think the PTA mom ran off to Vegas?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Anything Goes Friday

Firstly, congratulations to Lorraine Minx, who has won a Kindle from Mills & Boon for the Riva bag she designed, and to Jo C Minx who is this month's Featured Member on the Mills & Boon Community Site.

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This week-end is your last chance to vote for your favourite Welsh hunk, if you haven't already. Voting closes at midday on Monday (UK time). To view the contenders, click here. (And please, please vote for Ioan Gruffudd - I cannot believe he's being beaten out by Timothy Dalton at the moment!)

In this slot next week, we'll announce the winner and post the pictures of our next set of hotties: the Scots.

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The Romance Reviews is a new site for both readers and authors. Tuesday 1st March is their official launch day, and they are running some fabulous contests and launch give-aways throughout the month of March, so check it out.

Romance Junkies is also running contests for readers and writers, sponsored by Carina Press. There's something for everyone, so don't miss out.

* * *

The Wild Rose Press have sent out a submission call on their Yahoo loops. They're looking for romances along the lines of category novels, with secret babies and uber-rich heroes, so if you have any subs lying around gathering dust, send them in. Click here for the submission guidelines.

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And finally, thanks to Lacey Minx for this link, reminding us that Happy Ever Afters can be found anywhere.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Author Spotlight - Judy Jarvie

Today we're very delighted to welcome author Judy Jarvie to the Minxes. Judy has had two new releases out in quick succession, Flirting With The Fireman and Nanny Behaving Badly. I've read the first, and have to tell you, if you're looking for a funny, touching and romantic read, this is the one! I haven't got to Nanny Behaving Badly yet, but it's on my TBR pile!

Without further ado, here's Judy.

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

I was unpublished and I’d been an RNA NWS member for a couple of years. I had been writing (in my teeny Scottish garret!) for personal pleasure, not really sure why I was doing it except that I enjoyed it. After a few attempts I began to get good feedback from the RNA (one ms was sent direct to Mills and Boon). Via this I managed to get individual feedback from a senior editor. I think I was working on the book that was eventually published by now defunct Moonlit Romance, Taking The Leap.

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

Nanny Behaving Badly is set in Edinburgh - I love Edinburgh in wintertime! I love the frosty air, the window displays, the German market and the vista up to the Castle with the glittering Mound Christmas tree. I’ve loved its romance and escapism since childhood. So … I wrote about a fictional coffee bar in the heart of it all where a heroine was getting herself into lots of trouble … especially with her new boss.

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

Just writing and loving it. Obviously if what I’m writing is being published then that’s fabulous – BUT writing keeps me happy and healthy and that’s enough. Plus I know that with every book I grow so that’s pay-off enough.

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

Barbara Bretton – Casting Spells. Fantastic and couldn’t put it down. A paranormal romance set in a magic knitting shop – I had to buy it as soon as I saw it and it lived up to my hopes. Great stuff. I love a book that sweeps me off my feet.

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

I love Mills and Boon Presents author Anne McAllister. I love stepping into the worlds she creates, her heroines and her heroes. I have many of her books on my keeper shelf. In the early days of my RNA membership a NWS report suggested I try for Mills and Boon. I read across the lines and one Anne McAllister book in particular had me hooked. That’s when I knew I'd found the kind of romance I wanted to write. I felt the passion and something clicked – I still do get excited when I read her books. And the list of MnB authors I love has grown too. I also love Susan Wiggs – her writing is particularly appealing to me, hooks me right in. I know each world she creates will deliver and satisfy me.

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

I’ve been told I’m fab at flirty chemistry and sexual tension but love scenes admittedly cause me harder work ... Probably the most amount of work goes on the love scenes in my books. I want them to deliver and I know they are a vital part of the whole. Let’s say I’m very pleased with Nanny Behaving Badly and I worked very hard on the love scenes. I think it’s okay to have weak spots as long as you toil away to improve.

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

Holding hands with my hubbie in the car while we sat watching our ‘to be adopted’ daughter coming to meet us for the first time. We’d had to jump through hoops she’ll never know about to get to that point and there she was … picking flowers, oblivious to all the ups and downs and we just smiled at each other. Different romantic – but a life affirming love moment we will never forget.

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

I suppose I thought releasing a book was the ‘be all and end all’. And at the time it was! It’s amazing and wonderful but I guess the years since then have taken me on twists and turns – some directions close, new doors open. Loving what you do is key. The only thing that matters is to keep writing and doing what fires you hoping that you keep getting better.

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

Write a lot. Regularly. Oh and I highly value the advice that ‘it’s okay to refill that well!’ Absolutely vital. For this purpose I break away from the writing from time to time and immerse myself in knitting!! Hence why the Barbara Bretton book appealed.

10. Tell us about your latest release.

Nanny Behaving Badly is set in a festive coffee bar in wintertime Edinburgh.
Rebel heroine Maddie Adams finds herself in hot water when she pushes her new cafe boss a bit too far. The last thing she expects is to find herself agreeing to a diverted position as Lyle Sutherland’s son’s SOS nanny.
Coffee chain owner Lyle finds that he’s added a firecracker to his home. Maddie can blow all his fuses at once; driving him to distraction in lots of confusing ways. And then he finds out that there’s more to his naughty nanny than sizzle and sparks. She hides a tender heart ... can Lyle treat her as well as she deserves?

11. What’s next for you?

I’m working on a novella and a new idea. Both quite different to what I’ve done before but great fun. I’ll keep those as a surprise!

Nanny Behaving Badly – out now! from here!

See more titles from EmbraceBooks –

Flirting With The Fireman – out now with The Wild Rose Press

Read more about Judy at her website here 
Or visit her blog, Judy Jarvie's Jottings,  here

Thanks so much for joining us here on the Minxes today, Judy. And all the best with your releases!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Character Arcs

One of my favourite heroines of all time is Becky Sharpe in Vanity Fair. She is selfish, ambitious and willing to do anything to get what she wants. No, she's not particularly likeable, but she's sassy and strong, and by the end of the book I really want her to get her Happy Ever After.

Why? Firstly, because I understood where she was coming from (see my previous post on Motivation). Secondly, because she changed and grew.

In my opinion, the character arc in any novel, and especially in a romance novel, is far more important than the plot arc. The reader will forgive you not resolving a plot point (though it's perhaps not a great idea to leave the reader feeling unsatisfied!) but they're less likely to forgive characters that do not change and grow.

Which brings me back to The Vampire Diaries.

The best example of a well-written character arc, as Lacey Minx pointed out on her blog, is the character of Damon in TV version. In the book there is hardly any change in Damon between his arrival on the scene and the end of Book 2 (which is as far as I got before giving up).

In the TV series, as in the books, Damon starts out as evil incarnate. He only acts in his own interest. Then in the series, we slowly glimpse his feelings for the heroine. We learn what motivates him, and gain understanding of why he is as heartless and ruthless as he is. He starts to do things for the heroine rather than himself, and finally he develops a heart and acts to help the community, even though he stands to gain nothing from it.

Though his character is unlikeable, when he faces death at the end of the series the viewer is on the edge of the seat praying he will survive. Because the writers have made us care. As with Becky Sharpe, we understand him, and we know he has the potential for change.

The screenwriters also radically rewote the heroine's character.

In the books, the heroine Elena is a self-absorbed, manipulative creature who wants to be the centre of attention. She has a little back story (her parents died a few years earlier) but it's almost a non-issue. I never really got a sense of why she wants to be 'queen bee'. But my biggest issue with her is that over the course of the first two books she does not change. At the end of Book 2, Elena is still as self-serving and self-absorbed as she is at the very beginning.

The screenwriters re-wrote Elena's character as less selfish and manipulative (even heading into Goody Two Shoes territory!), but in addition they have given her the two things I've been yammering on about: motivation (almost before the opening credits the viewer discovers that her parents died recently and she's struggling to get her life back on track) and they give her character a growth arc, as she moves from being a sad, introspective and reactive character to a happier, more in control, proactive individual.

So today's exercise: look at your own WIP to see whether the characters change and grow. Are the flaws that they start with addressed by the end of the novel? If your character has any unsympathtic qualities in the beginning, how does this change as the novel progresses?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Settings and Senses - by guest blogger Nina Harrington

One of the delights of travel is to see and experience new places through your own senses. Holiday brochures or a Guide Book may be brilliant at showing your where to go and how to get there, but there is no substitute for physically standing somewhere on the planet and allowing your senses to take in the full impact of that location in person.
To me it does not matter is I am watching a thunderstorm roll in over the Mediterranean sea at night, or walking along the crowded street in Delhi or Kathmandu. What truly matters is my reaction to it and what it feels like to be there.
Of course the way I experience a setting may be completely different from the person standing next to me, and frequently is, especially when that person is not used to the riot of colour, deafening noise and violent assaults on the nostrils that is a city like Kathmandu – but that is what makes a person’s writing and imagination so unique.
The real challenge comes in trying to reproduce the sensory aspects of that location on paper. A good example is the region of France called the Camargue. This is the delta region of the river Rhone as it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Inland it is lovely Provence and theLanguedoc but on the shore, it is a land of marshland and islands and inland freshwater lakes where the local fisherman farm oysters and mussels.
I came across this part of France when I took a canal boat holiday in the area. Travelling at a maximum speed of 4km an hour and mooring where you wish, it is an ideal way to experience the silence and natural beauty of the contrasting landscapes. Sunflowers and vineyards and pines landwards, and waving grasses, egrets and wild flamingos flying over your headas youreach the coast. Perfumes and scents, the music of the tall reeds and marsh grass and the call of the flamingos. The quality of light has attracted artists for centuries, and the towns are sun baked and quiet and very little English is spoken. Buying wonderful local produce involved much pointing and laughter.
It was one of the most relaxing holidays I have ever had.
Perhaps that is why I chose the Languedoc for the setting of my latest Mills and Boon Romance called ‘The Last Summer of Being Single’ which is released in the UK this month in the RIVA line and March in North America and Australia. I particularly like the sunflowers on the cover!I do hope that you enjoy it and find a true sensory flavour of this lovely part of the world.

Many thanks to the lovely Nina Harrington for visiting the Minx blog today. To buy "The Last Summer of Being Single" on Amazon click here or visit the Mills and Boon site.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Author Spotlight - Rachel Lyndhurst

On Monday Salt Publishing launched their new imprint, Embrace Books. Over the next three weeks we will be hosting Embrace's launch authors here at the Minxes.

First up is Rachel Lyndhurst, whose book Storm's Heart released this week.

Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

Five years ago? Nowhere is the answer! That would have been 2006 – the year my writing career started. It was almost exactly five years ago that we got our first computer and my youngest child started preschool.

In the couple of childfree hours I had, I began bashing out ranty letters to The Telegraph, which were never published. Then short anecdotal stuff to weekly magazines, I made a tenner on that as I recall. In the summer of that year I found a pristine set of the Writer’s Bureau course down the dump and bought it for a pound. Following its advice, I wrestled with short stories and competitions for a while, and made a bit of money, but it never really felt ‘right’. Then I discovered the joy of short contemporary romance – lovely pocket-sized paperbacks – how hard could it be?

I wrote my first novel in notebooks at all hours of the day and typed it up when my son was at preschool. It took me a year, but I finally submitted it to Mills & Boon in September 2007, the same day as my youngest started proper school. An emotional day!

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

I’m sure it’s against one of those ‘rules’ you read about when you’re starting to learn your craft, but location is very often my starting point. In Storm’s Heart, the action begins in London, on the London Eye in particular. I was lucky enough to be invited to a champagne reception on it and the same year, I went on holiday to the main location of the book, historic Lindos, Rhodes.

I wasn’t just inspired by the age and architecture of Lindos, but also by the Greek Legends associated with it; particularly Helios the sun god and his demi-god son, Phaeton. A salutary tale of what can happen if you don’t do as your father tells you. A fiery battle of disobedience and death. This sowed the seed for my character Andreas Lazarides and gave me two different worlds to smash together for an initial conflict.

Layered into this, I came across a poignant newspaper article about General Sir Mike Jackson’s son Mark Jackson, who reinvented himself after injury forced him to leave the army. He gave his sculpture of a lifeless Icarus his own scars. Without giving out any spoilers, this inspired me towards Andreas Lazarides’ dark secret.

I’ve also been a member of Amnesty International for many years which has raised my awareness of many issues and problems that rarely make the daily news. Storm’s Heart scrapes the surface of one of these and forms some of the back-story for Kizzy Dean and Andreas.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

On lots of bookshelves! And spending a considerable amount of time writing in my royalty- funded Tuscan villa. Failing that, a decent shed will do.

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

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. I studied his first book Coming From Behind at A level and have followed him ever since. I’m so pleased he won the Man Booker Prize with this; it’s witty, poignant, and utterly brilliant. To quote the Guardian: ‘A terrifying and ambitious novel, full of dangerous shadows and dark, deep water’. I do wish I’d written this one.

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

Not that I can think of. I enjoy so many different types of authors and books that it would be difficult to pick any particular one. I admire, and have been hugely influenced by so many, take 1984 by George Orwell for example. Reading it as a teenager changed the whole way I looked at the world for good. Is that the same? In the long run I suppose it could be.

I’d like to have been Ernest Hemingway though …

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

Neither, writing them gives me quite a thrill. So does reading them back again. But don’t tell my mother …

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

There are so many (with The One, naturally!) that it’s hard to choose, so here’s one of the top five.

I wasn’t easy to woo, so he insisted on lending me a particularly important CD – the lyrics were so right. Smugly, I informed him that I didn’t have a CD player, so he brought round one of those too. It worked, and Storm’s Heart is dedicated to him.

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

That writing the book is just the beginning. Yep, I read it loads of times and took no notice. Being part of the process of turning your ‘baby’ manuscript into a book is hard (and most likely unpaid) work. And as for the promotion and selling of it? Ask me back in a few months and I’ll let you know!

Oh yeah, and be under no illusions – the housework and children will not suddenly disappear. Neither will the fox poo on your front doorstep. Be prepared to do a full time job in part time hours, or worse than that if you don’t turn your smartphone off.

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

Leave your ego at the door.

Tell us about your latest release.

Storm’s Heart is my debut novel and is one of the launch titles for Embrace Books, the dazzling new imprint of Salt Publishing. It was also Embrace’s first acquisition.

Storm’s Heart is a sexy, sophisticated romance with a dark, brooding centre. When Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides and bistro-manager Kizzy Dean clash over the executing of his mother’s final wishes, he takes matters into his own hands and Kizzy back with him to Greece. Tension runs high on the sun-baked Greek Island of Rhodes amidst the ancient myths and alleyways of Lindos village.

Hopelessly out of her depth and penniless, can innocent Kizzy resist the treacherous sexual attraction that draws her powerfully into Andreas’ orbit? Dangerously appealing and darkly charismatic, he’s made it quite clear that he wants her in her bed. It would be to her advantage, he’d make it worth her while …

She’s an independent woman, born illegitimately into a brutal world, so is Kizzy tough enough to handle this millionaire Adonis? Can she keep the ironclad fortress around her heart intact? The stakes are high if she is to prevent history repeating itself. No man on earth will leave her as heartbroken and destitute as her mother.

An explosive meeting of two different worlds results in a mirror image of cruelty, betrayal, guilt and shame that only their passion for each other can possibly overcome. But is it enough?

Kizzy wants answers and her turbulent past and shadowy revelations kick up a storm in Andreas’s heart that will not abate until his own explosive secrets are forced out into the open.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on another contemporary romance, and have another one after that's smouldering away. That’s in the short term. Longer term anything could happen, but I’ll never stop writing!

You can buy Storm’s Heart in paperback or in digital form here:

And I’ll be running some competitions for free, signed copies over on my blog: I’d love you to visit and say hello!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Minxy Valentine Celebration

In addition to the obvious reason to celebrate on February 14th, we Minxes have a very special reason to celebrate this Valentine's Day: it's release day for our very own Sally Minx's Bound to Love.

Bound to Love is Sally's second novel, and its a launch title for Embrace Books, a new imprint of Salt Publishing. You'll be able to find out more about Sally, and get an inside look at her inspiration for this story, when she appears in our Author Spotlight on 2nd March.

Until then, here's a glimpse at the gorgeous cover for Bound to Love, and the blurb.

About Bound to Love

Jake Forrester, a controlled, self-reliant security expert scarred by his father's murder, is pursuing his goal of an independent life, relying on himself and logic, until he's forced to accept the help of an impulsive, spirited goldsmith who follows her instincts, wherever they may lead.

When Tempest MacKenzie witnesses a gorgeous stranger being bundled into a van, she tries to help him, but becomes tangled in a complex web of intrigue. Tempest finds stubborn Jake attractive, compelling and infuriating, his logic the complete antithesis of her reliance on her instincts. And Jake is fascinated and attracted to the feisty redhead.

As they spend time together trying to thwart a heist at the British Museum, the attraction between them flares out of control. The thief has a grudge against Jake, and danger stalks their every move. Will Jake learn to trust Tempest's intuition, before it's too late?

Bound to Love is available in paperback and as an eBook from Amazon, Amazon UK and direct from Embrace Books.

Sally's being a busy blogger today, so we'd be really grateful if you could support her. She'll be at the RNA blog, amongst others, andyou can find out more at Sally's own blog, Love and Chocolate.

Later this week, we'll be hosting another new Embrace author, Rachel Lyndhurst, so watch this spot!

Friday, February 11, 2011

And the winner is: Jonathon Rhys-Meyers

Last week we announced JRM as the winner of our Irish hotties poll. Since he got my entire vote, I happily volunteered to do this tribute post.

We bloggers often joke about the heavy research we put in to bring you these blog posts. (Of course it's a joke, because we love it!) But sometimes research can also lead you to dark places you'd rather not go.

For example, I loved JRM in Bend it Like Beckham, sighed over him in August Rush, and thought that his performance of Henry VIII in The Tudors was the best I've ever seen, because he captured the mercurial, young, adventurous King who attracted such devotion, rather than the bloated, slightly mad king who is usually portrayed.

But as I did my research and read news articles about JRM I discovered another side of him: the bad boy side.

So I'd love to know from everyone who voted for him last month - what appealed to you most? His hypnotic blue eyes, his boyish good looks, his movie roles or his bad boy image?

This month's Welsh hottie poll looks like it's going to be a much more closely contested race. If you haven't already voted, please head over to our right sidebar and place your vote. Pictures of the contenders can be found here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Author Spotlight - Nell Dixon

The Minxes are very excited to have author Nell Dixon here with us today. Nell's pretty modest, but last year she won RNA Love Story of the Year for Animal Instincts from Little Black Dress. Today is  a very special day in a couple of ways for Nell, the first is... (shhh it's a secret) it's her birthday - Happy Birthday, Nell! And the second is that it's the Launch Day for her book, Making Waves.
And now for the minxy questions...

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
Five years ago in 2006 I’d seen the release of my first published books and I was thinking about writing Blue Remembered Heels which went on to become my first book for Little Black Dress.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
This particular book, which is a short novella, was from an idea I’d dreamed up with my then critique partner, the wonderful Jessica Raymond. We wanted to create a small fictional Cornish seaside surfing town. I love being by the sea and the summer surf community atmosphere is fabulous. Lots of gorgeous guys in wetsuits and pretty surf bunny girls, sunshine and heavenly Cornish icecream, what was not to love?

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
In five years time I want to be top of the NYT chart – what writer doesn’t? It’s kind of like my dream to win the lottery or move to the sea. I want to still be creating warm feel-good stories that readers enjoy and give them a small escape into another world for just a little time.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
Oh, this is tough. I love Jennifer Crusie, Jessica Hart and Liz Fielding so pretty well most of their books. The last book I read that I thought I really wish I could have written though is Queen of the Big Time by Adrianna Trigianni. I really loved that book, she’s a wonderful writer.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
I am a huge reader, I read anything and everything – except horror and really gory crime. As a teenager I adored Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt, Violet Winspear and Betty Neels. I love the Peoples Friend magazine and their pocket novels and I fell in love with warm, tender romance which made me feel good, made me laugh and made me cry. I decided I wanted to try and give other people that same feeling from my writing.

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?
 For me a love scene always reveals something about the characters, quite often they are opening themselves up and making themselves vulnerable to the hero or heroine for perhaps the first time so I get very involved in the emotions of the scene rather than the mechanics. I try to make the reader’s heart bump a bit faster for my characters at those times.

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
Mr Nell is not big on romance as anyone who knows us will tell you. This Christmas though he bought me a Kindle, even though he couldn’t really afford it. It wasn’t that he’d spent the money but that he knew that above anything else he could have found for me it was what I wanted more than anything. He knows how important books are to me.

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
This is another tough one. I wish that I’d made the most of the time before I was published enjoying the process more instead of angsting so much over everything.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
To keep writing, that at the end of the day the words you produce are the only thing in this whole crazy publishing world that you have control over.

10. Tell us about your latest release.
My latest release is called Making Waves – it’s a re-release of my out of print story which originally came out with Moonlit Romance as a duet as A Taste of Summer. It’s short, fun and feel good. If you like hunky surfers, Cornwall, and a big dollop of miscommunication then it’s the story for you. It’s released by Astraea Press, a new sweet romance e publisher.

11. What’s next for you?
Well, I’ve an exciting small project coming out later this year with two other authors so keep an eye on my facebook page, website and Twitter feed. I’ve another audiobook coming out with Audiolark. I also have some more things in the pipeline but again I can’t say anything just yet. I’m working on more new material too.

Thanks so much for joining us here today, Nell!
Find out more about Nell at her website, here
And her latest release, Making Waves, can be found at the Astraea Press site, and also at here (It's also at for non UK kindle owners like Minx Sally),

Monday, February 7, 2011


In my previous post, I explained why I loved the TV series version of The Vampire Diaries, but the book version not so much. I said that the book never really made me care enough about the characters, and that many of the characters came across like cardboard cut-outs. Since I wrote that post, I've been mulling over why that is, and I think I've come up with an answer.


In the books (at least the first two, since I haven't had the enthusiasm to read beyond those) the reader never really gets a sense of what the secondary characters want. Their sole pupose is to give the main character, the heroine, someone to react to.
An example: her aunt is a student, engaged to be married, looking after her two orphaned nieces, and who makes her dislike of the heroine's boyfriend clear. Period.

Considering how much more information the written word can share compared to a film camera, I feel the author missed a few tricks here.
What does the aunt want from her life? Is she getting it? How does she feel about her situation: is she coping, resentful, happy, tired? Is she pre-occupied with wedding preparations? Or even: how did she meet her fiance, a shadowy character who barely exists except as a name on the page?
A simple line here or there showing any of the above could have rescued this character from cardboard cut-out territory!

In the TV series, the screenwriters have given every single character, no matter how minor, motivation. They all want or need something. They all have flaws and strengths. They all have feelings. Suddenly they become real people. They become characters that the viewer cares about.

Watch the first couple of episodes and do this exercise: Make a list of the supporting characters. Then next to each one name their flaw, their strength, their desire, and their main emotion.

For example: The heroine's aunt Jenna.
Flaw: too young to be responsible for two orphaned teens.
Strength: her humour and compassion.
Her desire: to help her niece and nephew cope with their tragedy and raise them as good people, all while completing her own studies.
How does she feel? Out of her depth, inadequate, determined.

Even though she's a minor character who appears in only a couple of scenes, we get all this from her interaction with the main characters in those scenes.

Now I want you to do this same exercise for every character in your own WIP. Do they all have strengths and weaknesses? What are they feeling? What do they want? Will they get it?

Even if this background information never makes it onto the page, you will know your characters well enough to turn them into real people. Though I do suggest, even if it's just a line here or there, that you should at least make it clear to the reader what this character wants and why. Yes - even for the supporting cast.

Because it is the Why that makes readers care about your characters, and if they care, they'll keep turning the pages.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Man of the Month Poll: Welshmen

Firstly, an important announcement: The winner of our first Minxy Man of the Month poll is...

The very lovely Jonathan Rhys Meyers, with a very impressive 66% of the votes.

Now, I'm way too old to be a fangirl, but if I was going to adorn my bedroom walls with any man, it would be Jonathan. I freely admit I think him so beautiful, just looking at him makes me want to cry. Here's a reminder just how beautiful (as if you need one):

Watch out for a special post soon, entirely dedicated to him. Sigh.

And now, Welshmen: Wales is a tiny country - only 160 miles long by 60 miles wide and with a population barely above 3 million. You wouldn't expect a lot to be going on, but Wales does have more than it's fair share of buff young men. For this month's hot man poll, the Minxes have cast all other duties to one side (well, all other duties apart from dealing with proofs and work requested by editors) and bravely trawled through countless photographs of the fittest males to hail from this principality, to bring you five to chose from:

First, a duo of Jones boys:

Steve and Gethin

(Sadly no relation to myself, so I can't promise to introduce any of you.)

Actors, Ioan Gruffudd and
Owain Yeoman

And for those of us who prefer our men to be of a certain age, the man I'd most like to see in a bare chested fight with Daniel Craig for the title of Best Bond: Timothy Dalton

Vote for your favourite and we'll let you know the results soon.

Suddenly I feel very homesick for Wales.

PS Here's a photo of Tom Jones - especially for LilyS (see comments):

I'm saying nothing.

And, after a special request from my lovely friend, Judy Jarvie, here's Shakin Stevens;

My mother always said Shaky was better looking than Elvis Presley. I'm not sure about that, but he was rather easy on the eye in his younger days.

And, for Sue:

Michael Sheen                                                           and    Gareth David Lloyd

As Sue pointed out, Gareth was Ianto in Torchwood. How could I have forgotten him? And with me calling myself Welsh and a John Barrowman fan, too.

Finally, for Chris:

Mike Phillips                                              

and another lovely Jones boy, Kelly:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Author Spotlight - Rebecca Royce

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
I wasn’t writing yet. Five years ago, I was thinking about writing and I was home taking care of my first son, not sleeping very much.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
Alpha Wolf is the latest installment of the Westervelt Wolves series. Each of the brothers were introduced in Her Wolf, the first book. I knew who each of the men were at the beginning of the series and their individual stories opened up in my mind as we went along.

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Still writing. It's hard for me to imagine exactly what that will look like.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning (But who doesn’t wish they’d written that series?) and anything by Nalini Singh. Also, I loved, loved, loved Everlong by Hailey Edwards.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
I discovered Christine Feehan and Paranormal Romance when I was on the beach in the American Virgin Islands. Reading Feehan made me want to write and then I just started devouring all Paranormal Romance I could get my hands on.

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy – or neither?
Neither anymore. In the beginning they were definitely cringe worthy but now I’m so invested in the books and the

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
Ralph and I took a trip to Paris and we ate at this really wonderful restaurant called Guy Savoy. Unbelievable food. The best in my entire life. The whole evening was just amazingly special. The atmosphere, my husband, the food, being in Paris…It stands out as the most romantic of my life.

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
How much time I would spend having to do ‘non-writing’ things.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
I advised a friend of a friend to join a critique group. Don’t even consider publishing until you have.

10. Tell us about your latest release.
My latest release is called Alpha Wolf and it is the fifth Westervelt Wolves book. It is Michael Kane’s story.

Here is the blurb:

In search of his sister in New Orleans, Michael finds his mate instead. But Scarlett is broken, nearly destroyed. With doom around the corner, Michael Kane has no time to lose. If he can save his mate, perhaps there will be a chance for all of them. Or maybe it’s already too late.

Left with no other choice, Michael will have to teach the wolves in the New Orleans pack how real Alpha shifters behave, while showing his mate he is a man of his word.

Buy Link:

11. What’s next for you?
Up next is something of a change for me. I have written a Young Adult Urban Fantasy novel, the first in a series, called Initiation. I’m really, really excited about it - and it releases today!

For information on all my work, you can check out my website or my blog I also post at Paranormal Romantics on Tuesdays.