Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Author Spotlight - Catherine Bybee

I first met Catherine through The Wild Rose Press, our shared publisher, and she struck me as such a warm and helpful person, so I am incredibly pleased that she has gone from strength-to-strength and become a #1 bestseller on Amazon, as well as hitting a whole variety of bestseller lists. It couldn't happen to a nicer person. (Unless she were a Minx, of course!)

Those of our blog readers who hang out in the eHarlequin community forum will already know Catherine's amazing story. She took a manuscript that had been rejected by Harlequin and self-published it on Amazon. That story, Wife by Wednesday, has become a runaway success, and she is here today to share a little insider info behind the story.

* * *

What is your writing process?

I’m a pantser. I have an idea in my head with a basic outline of my characters and I run with it. Lately I’ve not been writing as much as I’d like, but when I’m in the ‘writing groove’ I will dedicated five hours a day to getting new words on paper.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?

I understand that in order to keep readers I need to infuse the net with a new book a few times a year. Very few authors can write one book a year and call this a career. I try and remember that and force my butt in the chair. It helps that I have fans now that tweet me and ask when my next book is coming out. It’s like a little cyber whip reminding me to get to work. LOL

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?

“Next Question!”
Ah, yeah… about that… I wish I could say that I’m on top of a good exercise routine but I’m not. I try and walk or get to the gym a couple of times a week but often fail. Does a sticky note reminding me count as points toward my goal?

Do you believe in writer's block?

Not as its own entity. I think if something is going wrong in the story the book won't flow and the writer has a hard time moving the story forward. When this happens to me I will re read all I’ve written to that point and usually find where the problem is. Some stories flow like water and others get caught up in the stream. Doesn’t make one book better than the other, just easier for the author to put out.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?

Certainly there are little glimpses into my life. I have a character or two that are nurses and I’ve taken what was my day job into this work. I waited tables when I was younger and will never forget those ‘lovely’ experiences. LOL – does it get me in trouble? No. I would never compromise a patient’s privacy or anything like that. As for my friends in books… I guess you could say that I will sometimes tie in certain personality traits that I see daily. And of course there are those people in my life that have ticked me off and we all know we as writers paint them as our bad guys. LOL “just kidding”.

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?

I guess I saw more glamour to the job. But the truth is I’m sitting in my bathrobe right now in an empty house writing. Unlike some, I knew promotion would be a part of being a bestselling author, so that doesn’t bother me. I actually like the promo part of the job.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?

I respond to each and every positive comment I’m given on the social networks. I won’t debate someone who didn’t like a book, or something I did in my work. I try and do interviews often. I tweet, facebook and blog. But I don’t try the hard sell. I don’t go on daily and say ‘buy my books’ – I will retweet a positive comment or a review. I’ll let others say they like my work and then tell the world about that. But not to the point where it looks like spam. Nobody likes spam.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

Write your next book! All the promotion in the world isn’t going to sell your books if you don’t have books to sell.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that I could write a novel without anyone turning furry or shifting in time. Most of my work is paranormal so this book, Wife by Wednesday, is a straight contemporary and I wasn’t sure I could do it.

Guess I can!

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

Rich hero and needy woman. I took a basic romantic outline and then twisted it and made it new and exciting for many readers. I really enjoyed writing this book.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?

A tropical island in the South Pacific where they never left the hut.


Blake Harrison:
Rich, titled, and charming… And in need of a wife by Wednesday so he turns to Sam Elliot who isn’t the business man he expected. Instead, Blake is faced with Samantha Elliot, engaging and spunky with a voice men call 900 numbers to hear.

Samantha Elliot:
Owner of Alliance, her matchmaking firm, and not on the marital menu... That is until Blake offers her ten million dollars for a one-year contract. All she needs to do is keep her attraction to her husband to herself and avoid his bed. But Blake’s toe-curling kisses and charm prove too difficult to combat. Now she needs to protect her heart so she can walk away when their mercenary life together is over.

Big note: Wife by Wednesday is currently selling on for just $0.99, so if you haven't already, get yourself one! It is also available on

You can find out more about Catherine and her books on her website, at her blog, and check out this video blog she recently posted on YouTube on Becoming a Bestseller.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ten Mysteries of Writing

1. Why is it so difficult to get down to when it's supposed to be fun?

2. Why, when I hate housework and adore writing, do the washing machine and the hoover exert a strong magnetic force capable of pulling me from the keyboard?

3. Why does it take so long? I have a fairly decent typing seed, but some days it can take me 5 hours just to write 500 words.

4. Why is the first draft always rubbish of the highest order? Even if I know what I want to say, it always translates as gobbledygook that needs to be beaten into submission.

5. Why is it that, in the face of relentless rejection I still keep hurling work out there? I sometimes worry I'm like one of these x-factor wannabes and just can't see how average I actually am.

6. Why can some people managed 10K words in one day, yet I can't manage that in a week? (The answer to this is probably somehow related to number 3.)

7. Why is it that, even though it's the most fascinating and interesting occupation in the world, other people's eyes glaze over when I try to talk about it?

8. Why is it that, when I reveal I sometimes get work published, everyone immediately suggests I write their story? I have my own ideas, thank you very much. If you want to see your story in print, write it yourself.

9. Why do some people think making money from writing is the easy option? I still freely admit I could happily swing for the ex friend who, when I told her I'd sold a short story, said she was thinking of getting a little job, but wasn't qualified for anything, so was going to write a story, too.

10. And, if it's so difficult, what is the compulsion that makes me want to keep writing?

Friday, February 24, 2012

When words become enemies...

Imagine you opened your mouth to speak, or began to type and the exact opposite of what you intended came out without you even noticing, or a random word that made no sense, or that familiar words simply vanished into thin air.

Then maybe you'll get an inkling of how it feels when a writer falls out with words in a permanent way. Those of you who know me know I am a quieter Minx because I have a brain injury. I want to blog more, to read your blogs and chat on Twitter, to catch up on your news on Facebook...but words just don't play nice anymore! Three years on from the accident I'm more likely to laugh at my mistakes than get frustrated - I recently told someone to flash a shop assistant (I meant to say 'flutter your lashes'), asked a friend to fetch a screwdriver from the car (I meant coat) and the lovely Sally Minx is nicknamed Salty Minx after I misnamed her in a Skype chat.

So it's become less of a deal - those around me know to question when I say something odd. The gap between my brain thinking and my body carrying out it's intention doesn't usually matter too much.

Until I come to write that is.

Words that were my friends when I was growing up, my nose buried in one book or another, now misbehave, float away out of reach or reassemble themselves jumbled up on the page. Reading can feel like running through treacle and a short email take ages to write, and check, and check again...
But recently I've discovered that the creative process, by which I mean that urge, the drive that takes over and apparently gives our characters lives of their own, is on a different wavelength to the conscious cognitive cogs grinding slowly away.
On holiday last week a creative well, an explosion of character actions and reactions, dialogue and narrative all came tumbling out, seemingly bypassing conscious thought. I had to write by hand so some of what I wrote is illegible or jumbled but the story on the whole is there.

I've experienced 'the well' before my injury and I'm sure a lot of you know what I'm talking about, that tumbling of words so fast you can hardly keep up with yourself? What makes me happy is the discovery that my creative instinct is intact. After being forced to read so many depressing medical reports (including one which stated that I would "never write a novel now") I think fear of the difficulty and bewilderment about words no longer feeling under my control has held me back.

Writing on holiday helped me remember how much I love it, how it satisfies me in a way nothing else can and that I have to write regardless of who may or may not have given up on me.
I will find a way to make it work, to call a truce...

And most importantly I know my fellow Minxes will help me catch the weird stuff before it gets to the desk of an editor!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Author Spotlight - Kylie Griffin

Today we welcome into the spotlight Australian author Kylie Griffin. You can find out more about Kylie and her books (yes plural, as Vengeance Born, which she's chatting about with us today, is just the first of three) at her website:

* * *

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog – I’ve been looking forward to the visit!

• What is your writing process?
I’m a panster when I begin a book. I don’t sit down and plan or write synopsis before putting fingers to the keyboard. I usually know the opening scene and where I want the book to finish but everything else in between is very fuzzy.
That doesn’t mean to say I haven’t thought about the characters and played a few games of “what if…” to get an idea of what sort of story might develop, I just don’t have a clear idea of how the story arcs are going to work until I get into it.
Once I start writing and I get past about 25K I know where it’s headed. I’m a scener after that. I can see scenes, have no idea where they’re going to slot in but as I “get to them” I know when or where they fit (if that makes sense). And that’s how I get through the first draft.

• Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
I put up my “DO NOT DISTURB” sign that says “Turn around, walk away quietly and no one will get hurt" put on the answering machine, unplug the internet, light up some incense and implement BISFOK – bum in seat, fingers on keyboard – until I lose the urge to be distracted or do something other than writing.
It boils down to sheer bloody mindedness and habit.

• Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I join a local walking group twice a week and I attend a TaiChi class once a week. I also potter in the garden – flower/vegie gardens and mowing lawns. Most of my exercise has to have a purpose – can’t see the attraction of a gym.

• Do you believe in writer's block?
I think there are times authors find it difficult to write but if you persevere, even if it’s to write rubbish, then you can get back into the swing of it. Rubbish can ALWAYS be edited, a blank page not at all.

• Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
I’ve modelled some characters on people from real life, particularly the child characters.
For example, one of the characters in VENGEANCE BORN is Rissa, a young child, one of the first humans Annika (the heroine) meets.

Being a teacher in a primary school I’ve had many examples to draw on!  Although rather than model a character on one child, I’ve combined personality traits from several students.I’ve a friend who recognised a name very similar to her child in the book – the character was partly based on him but she wasn’t upset – she quite liked the idea he was in the book.

• In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
There are manic times and lulls in the publishing process. I’d been warned about them and while everyone says you now have deadlines, the process of training yourself to write regularly, consistently, rather than on a timetable that suits you, that’s been the hardest part of the transition.
It doesn’t matter what’s happening in your “other” life – work, family etc. – where before you could put off writing if you wanted to, now you can’t afford to let too many days slip by without writing.

• Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
Ahh, the temptation and bane of every writer.
I believe that the best promotion is writing a good book. That’s the only thing you can control as far as generating promotion. The spins off from that is word of mouth. Write a good book and readers will spruke about it to their friends and so on.
I’ve started a blog ( where I have a mix of guest authors visiting, posts on the craft of writing or the publishing process, but I enjoy doing that, so it’s not really a chore.
I love going to writers’ conferences and hope to extend that to readers’ conferences once my books come out. The common link of writing/reading good books is something I enjoy discussing – nothing beats talking about writing or recommending a good read to another person who loves books as much as you.
I’m also addicted to Facebook. While I’m on GoodReads, Twitter and Shelfari, I don’t frequent these sites as much.
I try to limit the time I spend on social networking – writing the book has to take top priority.

• What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Keep writing good books – it’s as simple as that.

• What did you learn while writing this book?
That’s a good question. I guess my answer focuses more on the process of working with my editor. While I’ve had writing friends and critique partners make suggestions on where to improve the story, if you don’t agree with them, you don’t have to take them on board.
But working with my editor, I viewed her feedback in a different light (and I think that’s because I’m more accountable to her, LOL!). She helped me realise you can always improve and strengthen your story.
It didn’t mean I said yes to every suggestion or change she made, but we did talk and brainstorm ideas and when something gelled I understood that the new idea was often stronger than the original and so, then I made the change or rewrote the scene knowing the book would be all the better for it.

• What was the most fun part of writing this book?
Definitely the romance between Annika and Kalan. It was fun trying to work out how they were going to overcome prejudice, mistrust and each others preconceptions about their respective races.
A favorite scene of mine is one of the first times Kalan threatens to kill Annika. Their fragile alliance is threatened by her being Na’Chi (half human, half demon).
As a Light Blade warrior, Kalan has seen the Na’Reish raid human territory for blood-slaves. Annika doesn’t trust him but has no choice but to share information about herself with him.

The revelation that she drinks blood, just like his Na’Reish enemies, endangers the thin thread of trust they’ve established during their escape from her father’s fortress. It seems an insurmountable hurdle but it was a hoot devising a way for them to overcome that problem and strengthen their confidence in one another.

• And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Kalan’s partial to a long soak in hot water. There’s a scene in the book where you get to see him indulging, so I guess a destination with natural hot springs or a spa. 

There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born…

Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy.

With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons—and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.

When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council—and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…

Vengeance Born is published by Berkely Sensation, and is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepo, and Penguin Australia.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Help!! Domestic failure!!

I've always wanted to be organised ... to be one of those women who arrive everywhere on time looking well put together with washed, tamed hair and wrinkle free clothing. But, alas, that has never been me. I'm always the one running up with hair like a wild woman and wonky make up because I remembered to put some on in the car and the stupid rear view mirror is not the best!

What does this have to do with writing? Absolutely everything. Because if I could be a more organised housekeeper I would have more writing time :-) Yes I have 6 kids but I am a big believer that if a person is organised and has their life in order then everyone can squeeze extra hours out of the day to write in. So that is where you, lovely and wonderful (and hopefully well organised!!) blog readers come in. I want to know your time saving devices, the tools you use regularly to organise your household. Recipes welcome!!

And yes, for those who wondered, I am so badly horribly organised that I forgot it was my turn to blog today. So please take pity on a domestic failure and leave me lots of wonderful tips :-)

Friday, February 17, 2012

All about Entangled Publishing's new line!

Minx friend - Rachel Lyndhurst is here today to tell us all about Entangled Publishing's new line - Indulgence! Her book is one of the launch titles and just out (more about that below) and she's here to tell us all about it. Congratulations, Rach!!

Thanks for asking me here today, Minxes!

Sally Minx has a sneaky feeling that some of you would like to know a bit more about the sassy, savvy new category length line: Lori Wilde’s Indulgence, so here goes.

Indulgence is a new imprint from Entangled Publishing. It launched on February 14th, 2012. Lori Wilde, NYT and USA Today bestselling author is Editorial Director and former Harlequin editor Alethea Spiridon-Hopson is Managing Editor and Senior Editor. I know, I know! Talk about expertise …
The Indulgence imprint publishes 50,000-60,000 word stories which adhere to the tried and trusted tropes readers expect from category romances such as friends to lovers, marriages of convenience etc. You will find alpha heroes and storylines similar to those in Harlequin’s Desire and Modern/Presents lines.

However Lori Wilde’s Indulgence isn’t just the same old stuff. “These aren’t your mother’s category romances,” says Lori Wilde. “They’re quick paced, exciting contemporary stories, whether funny, sexy, mysterious, edgy, or emotional, that showcase what it’s really like to fall in love in the twenty-first century.” Hallmarks of the line are rapid-fire dialogue, fast moving plot lines, sizzling sex, and realistic characters. Above all, the heartfelt emotions that speak to the way young people live, love, and work will be at the centre of every story. And delicious covers …

Here’s the blurb:

 Or that’s what it feels like to Kizzy Dean when a business disagreement with arrogant Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides leaves her no choice but to accompany him to the Greek Isle of Rhodes. It doesn’t help matters that this sexy brooding stranger, who is unaccustomed to the word No and the very idea of commitment, shows her what it feels like to be truly desired.
Amidst the ancient myths and alleyways, tensions run high as Kizzy feels an immediate attraction for the man she wants to both ravage and strangle.
Accustomed to gold-digging women, Andreas is mesmerized by Kizzy’s feisty nature and Gypsy beauty. Guilt and sorrow have been his only bedfellows since his sister’s
death, but Kizzy stirs up a desire he’s unwilling to succumb to . . . until she makes him an offer he simply can’t refuse.
I’m sure you can imagine how delighted I was to see the cover of my Indulgence release Kidnapped by the Billionaire for the first time and then to discover it would be a launch title. Much happy skipping!  
Here are the purchase links: &

Here’s the full February launch line up:
On a personal note I also want to say how wonderful the ladies at Entangled and Indulgence are to work with. Passionate, polite, professional and one hundred percent human. Complete joy …
So … any questions?
For more information or how to submit:
P.S. Keep it to yourself, but Indulgence give you a publicist too! How good can this get?
P.P.S If you’d like to know more about me, I’m being interviewed today over at . Annie’s book, Tropical Encounter, is scheduled as a March Indulgence title. We’d love you to pop over and say hello!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Author Spotlight - Connie Cox

The Minxes are pleased to have with us today debut medical author Connie Cox. And as a medical fanatic, I can tell you that this debut is a winner!!

What is your writing process?

I’m a morning writer. I have breakfast with my husband, check email, play on facebook, twitter and pinterest until he leaves for work. Exert GREAT willpower to stop visiting with my friends via social media and then I get down to work. I write 5-6 hours a day, with a walk or two and frequent facebook breaks thrown in.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?

I bribe myself by online shopping. Today, I have a brand new crochet pattern book as my reward for working really hard last week—but I can’t start a new project until I get the book turned in. Carrot and stick works best for me.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?

I wish I was more disciplined here. My husband and I have started walking in the mornings and evenings but it’s been raining this week I need to break out the Richard Simmons Dancing to the Oldies DVDs, I guess.

Do you believe in writer's block?

Sadly, yes, I think writer’s block is real. I don’t think we give our sensitive psyches enough credit for the stories that come from our subconsious so we don’t take care of our mental health as much as we should. Creativity and imagination need nurturing and encouraging. We should take care of our own brains as carefully as we take care of our children’s brains: worry-free rest, good food, stretch out into learning new things and have plenty of fun. Also, my doctor just talked to me about the chemical reality of estrogen and creativity being linked. So, us writers we’ve got to take care of our feminine sides, too. To me, that means taking note and enjoying the sensuous around me, the scent of a sweet olive bush, the orange on an oriole’s wing, the texture of bamboo yarn as it slides through my fingers. Everything can feed the writer’s soul. But if we don’t pay attention, if we don’t celebrate all the wonders around us, our ideas will be as dull as our days.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?

Yes, I use real incidences all the time. My recent release, The Baby Who Saved Dr Cynical, features two diagnosticians. I needed something that was difficult to diagnose so a friend said she knew someone with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome. When I started writing the book, less than 500 cases where identified.

Thankfully, I did my research and was able to include the Syndrome accurately in the storyline. Last weekend, I was asked to sign The Baby Who Saved Dr Cynical at a 5K fundraiser to raise awareness for the syndrome—and I got to meet Dr Phelan, herself, who asked me to sign her book, To Katie! What an honor!

I haven’t heard back from Dr. Phalen yet, so hopefully, I’m not in trouble.

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?

For some reason, I thought publishing a book would make me taller and thinner—better put together, more organized, all the things I’m not. Instead, being published has made me very proud to say I make my living writing novels. I have become more disciplined about my writing schedule. Knowing my editor is waiting for my book, instead of knowing a bottomless slush pile is groaning under the weight of my submissions is a great motivator. For all you struggling to make that first sale—all the isolation from family and friends while you write, the angst while you wait for acceptance, and the heartbreak of getting those ‘not right for us a this time’ letters is worth it the day you get The Call where the editor says, ‘I love your book and want to buy it’.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?

I’m lucky that the things authors do for promotion are things I like to do anyway. I LOVE conversing with people, face-to-face or via internet. So I speak to readers and writers groups and I play on all the social media. I keep my website up-to-date with news about my newest release and what’s in the future. I don’t make bookmarks, although I do have cute little cards with my website, facebook, twitter and goodreads URLs on them—but that’s mostly so I can make new friends.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

Only do what you like to do. Listening to someone speak that doesn’t like to is painful for all of us. If you’re only on social media to beg people to buy your books—don’t bother. The rest of us are looking for connections, not advertisements. 

What did you learn while writing this book? 

Wow! This book is so chockful of research, although carefully hidden, I hope! I learned about Phelan-McDermid Syndrome and the foster care system in Colorado and I learned how to deliver a baby in my living room and make an incubator from a salad bowl, tin foil and a hair dryer (although that invention didn’t make the book.) I am so grateful to all my friends who share their expertise with me. The incubator came from a rural EMT friend who actually had to make one a couple of times.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

The most fun I had with this book was the dialogue between Stephanie and Jason. I felt like I was taking dictation as they verbally sparred with each other. Of course, love won in the final round.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?

I can imagine them there, right now….They are hiking and camping in the mountains. These are hands on, physical people who would go crazy sitting still on a beach, no matter how beautiful the sunset.

What’s the book about?

To the outside world, Dr Jason Drake is a brilliant diagnostician, but completely lacking in emotion and bedside manner. He is the genius everyone turns to when they have been unable to find the answer to a child’s medical problem, and his methods are unorthodox, his manner brash. Yet his boss, Dr Stephanie Montclair, understands his burning passion for medicine – and over the last months has also been the recipient of his incredible passion in bed! But what was meant to be a no-strings fling has just turned complicated… This book explores: the foster care system and Phelan-McDermid Syndrome also known as 22q13 Deletion Syndrome.

The Baby Who Saved Dr Cynical is available now in the UK in paperback and on Kindle 

And will be available in the US for pre-order on the Nook and on Kindle

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love is in the air...

Well, as it's the eve of Valentine's Day and this is a romance blog, I reckon a little bit of love-chat is in order.

Let's start with a traditional limerick, just in case you're stuck for a ditty for your loved ones card....

I love you, I love you, I love you almighty,
I wish your pyjamas were next to my nightie,
But don't be misguided, don't be misled,
I mean on the washing line not in the bed!

Those silly romantic rhymes always make me smile, along with the romantic wartime acronyms across the back of scented envelopes. B.U.R.M.A anyone? Be undressed ready my angel, for those who might not know. There's plenty more, from the well known S.W.A.L.K to the lesser known B.O.L.T.O.P.
I won't spoil it for you!
The notion of love letters makes me wistful. We are so technologically minded these days that I can't imagine many people take the time to physically write and post a letter, but how lovely would it be to receive one? The fact that it's so out of step with the way we live today only serves to make it all the more romantic - an email could never compare.

I've been trying to think of romantic quotes, and I guess the ultimate one is 'Love means never having to say you're sorry,' from Love Story. But you know what? It confuses me. Does it mean you should never hurt the one you love and therefore won't need to say sorry, or does it mean when you love someone you never need to say it because they will already know? Or does it mean something else altogether?

As romantic movies go, I recently watched Moonstruck for the first time. It's been on my list for ever, and it arrived in my Christmas stocking this year, courtesy of my husband who'd dug around on ebay and found an old copy for me because he knew I wanted it. (There's romance for you right there. He's a keeper.)
It's a fave amongst the other minxes, and now it's a favourite of mine too. I really, really loved it. It's clever, and funny, and beautiful to watch and listen to. Nicolas Cage is amazing in it, the way he delivers his lines makes my heart melt. If you haven't seen it, honestly, get it.

This romantic quote knocks Love Story's into fits for me...

"Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice - it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed."

And finally, Congratulations to Susan Saxx, who is the lucky winner of a copy of Helen Lacey's Special Edition debut 'Made for Marriage'.  Please  drop Helen a line with your details.

Friday, February 10, 2012

My New Guru

If you don't already follow Kristen Lamb's amazing blog, you should. I've read her blog posts sporadically the last couple of years, but at the start of this fresh, sparkly new year I read her book "Are you there Blog?" and it quite literally revolutionised my writing life.

Kristen's blog often covers the same stuff as her books, but in bite size chunks. Though with her witty, and sometimes irreverent take on things, the books make for quick, fun reading too.

As a guru of social media, Kristen obviously has a great deal of good advice on promotion for authors, but she also has great writing, business and even personal advice for us. Perhaps the most important thing I took from "Are you there Blog? It's me Writer" and its prequel, "We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media" is that we need to treat our writing careers professionally from the very get go, even if we still have day jobs and can only spare an hour a day to this fledgling new career.

Are we serious about being authors?
Then we can't afford to make excuses. We must be prepared to make sacrifices. We need to take ourselves and our writing craft seriously, and we need to make time for this new career.

Kristen says it like it is, gives real advice and practical tips, and we're all better off for listening.
Don't believe me? Start with these hard-hitting posts:
Don't Eat The Butt: Lies that can poison our writing career
The Why Behind the Buy

So now that you're in no doubt who my new guru is, do you have any gurus in your writing or personal lives? Anyone whose words have changed your life? If so, please share them here. I'm always looking for new inspiration.

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And a marvellous post script to today's post: Congratulations Suzanne Minx on a request. Your patience has certainly been rewarded!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Author Spotlight - Helen Lacey

I love promoting debut authors here on the Minxes blog, because they are the proof that it can be done and that new authors get bought all the time (and of course because we all want to be them!).

It's not what we usually do here on the Author Spotlights, but I'm taking this opportunity to do a massive shout out to Olivia Miles, who has just sold her first book to Harlequin Special Edition. Congratulations, Olivia!

Now let's hand over to today's Spotlighted author, another Special Edition debut author - Helen Lacey, talking to us about her book Made for Marriage.

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What is your writing process?
I write most days. I start early, around 6.30 in the morning, once my husband leaves for work and the dogs and horses are fed I usually check emails then open up my work in progress and get started. I’ll usually re-read the last few pages, or check any notes I wrote the day before. I try to write a thousand words a day – sometimes I get more which is a bonus. I’m a panster, so I don’t have detailed outlines, and I trust my characters to take me where they need to go.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
I just keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be a full time writer. If I’m stuck or my motivation is a zero, sometimes I’ll go for a walk, read a book or even watch a movie. I believe that the only thing we can truly control in life is how we respond to things – so I don’t get hung up on what’s not working, and try to think about what is. Doing something creative, that’s not writing, can relieve the pressure we sometimes put on ourselves to get it perfect every time. And if I’m having a blah day, I might go and sit in the paddock with my horses and watch them graze – I find that relaxing and de-stressing. The key is finding what does it for you. In saying that, there are times when I’m on edit or revisions deadline and I simply have to push past the resistance to work and make myself do it.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I leave my computer at three o’clock every afternoon and head outside. With eight horses, three dogs, three birds and a house cow named Ginger, I have enough to keep me busy for a couple of hours. I spend afternoon feeding, riding or grooming. Then there’s troughs to clean out, rugs to mend, feed shed to sweep (At some point I try to get a little of my own housekeeping in too).

Do you believe in writer's block?
I believe it’s hard to stay focussed 100% of the time. Life intrudes; daily stresses can interfere with the process. The thing I try to remember is that we all feel these pressures at some point. I recently had a plot problem with my current book and couldn’t figure how to get past it – so I called a writer friend and we sat in my office for five hours and just pulled my plot apart. For me, ‘writers block’ is usually because something in the story isn’t working. If that’s the case I’ll talk it out with my agent or critique partners – it always helps.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
I do use places and people I know, but not obviously. The setting for Made For Marriage is a little town at the southern most point of the Great Barrier Reef – a town with an uncanny resemblance to the one where I live. I haven’t got into trouble yet .

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
Readers! I love hearing from readers. And of course it’s a wonderful feeling to experience the realisation of a dream. I was submitting for over twenty years before Harlequin bought my first book, so I feel very grateful to be in this position.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
This blog tour, which has been great. I have a website, Facebook, Twitter – these are all ways to reach people. Creativity aside, this is a business and like any business, promotion, be that self-promotion or publisher promotion, is an important part of that.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Do what you’re comfortable with. There’s little point in forcing yourself to blog or tweet and make book trailers or post interviews on uTube, especially in the beginning. Take baby steps if your natural style is a more conservative one. If you love the lime-light, go for it – as long as it doesn’t intrude on the writing.

What did you learn while writing this book?
To write what I know. To trust my instincts. To make the most of opportunities.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
Being able to write about what I love – horses. My heroine is a horse riding instructor and I loved being able to include some of my own horses in the story.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?


Equestrian Callie Jones was used to difficult parents at her riding school. But Noah Preston took the cake.
How dare he question her teaching abilities, after his headstrong daughter paid no heed to rules—her teacher's or her father's?

Single dad Noah was ready to apologize for overreacting. But he wasn't sorry for the way the stunning American riding instructor made him feel. And he soon learned that there was more to Callie than her smarts, sass and fire: a shattered heart that threatened to splinter even further. Could he make her see that he—and his family—were for keeps?

Thanks for having me here today. To celebrate the release of Made For Marriage, I’m giving away a copy to one commenter. And as part of my blog tour, I have a grand prize of a $50.00 Amazon voucher, and for those who like a little bling, a fabulous silver Pandora Bracelet.

For the full itinerary of Helen's Celebration tour check out Helen Lacey- Author Page.
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Made For Marriage is available in book stores, through the eHarlequin website, Amazon, Amazon UK and the Book Depository.

You can find out more about Helen on her blog, on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Romancing The Stone

I caught Romancing The Stone last night on TV, and was reminded why I like this movie so much while I watched it. And with a romance writer's eye, the answer was not only a young Michael Douglas (although of course, that sure helped) but also the characters, their conflicts, and their journey.
Made in 1984, it took in an astounding $86.5 million at the box office, with an additional $36 in video rentals (according to Wikipedia).
Romancing The Stone has something for everyone. Danger, a couple of baddies, and romance. Needless to say, I'm looking at the romance elements in this post - dissecting them to see how the writer did it!

The heroine, played by Kathleen Turner, is Joan Wilder, romance novelist.
She dreams of love, and has fantasies about her romance hero, Jesse. She's also pretty buttoned up. Lives alone except for a very dotes on cat. All somewhat predictable stuff. We see a glimpse of her world before, but only a short one. Because the inciting incident, when she receives a treasure map in the post and gets a panicked phone call from her adventurous sister, who's been kidnapped, begins the story quickly.
Joan has a choice. Can she travel to Colombia? Alone? To save her sister?
She decides she must. And there is the first turn into the story. When she meets Jack T Colton he IS her fantasy hero. Until, that is, he opens his mouth. He's mercenary. Wants money to take her to her sister, and has his eye on the treasure map. Joan doesn't trust him, and rightly so.
As the story progresses, Joan gains in confidence, has the help of 'her greatest fan', and gets more gorgeous and free as she begins to live her fantasies, rather than just imagining them.
And Jack's arc is equally strong. He remains true to type through much of the film, holding back, following his own agenda. But when faced with the choice of Joan's death or the loss of the stone, he chooses Joan.
Weaving in other plotlines and characters adds to the excitement and watchability, but the characters of Joan and Jack and their journey form the backbone that the entire film hangs off.
In all, although this is an old movie, I think it is a perfect example of how to do a 'romantic suspense movie' well, so if you haven't watched it for a while, or (gasp) were too young to catch it the first time around, why not give it a rewatch?

Friday, February 3, 2012

February Man Of The Month: Bearded Hunks

Congrats to Disney Hero: Flynn Rider, winner of the January Poll. Go Flynn!

Until recently, I'd been sceptical about men with facial hair because to me it looked, well, untidy. Lately though, I've found myself "hmmmm-ing" over a few.

So I polled my fellow minxes and found that oh yes, hunks with beards do hit the right buttons. So, I've selected a few for your glomming and general sigh-gazing!

Enjoy, and don't forget to vote for your favourite!

The Man With The Large, Ahem, Appendage Idris Elba: 'Nuff Said!

David Benioff: Bringer of A Game of Thrones

Jon Hamm: The Mad Man

Eric Dane aka McSteamy

Joe Manganiello aka Alcide aka Phwooooarrr!

Josh Holloway aka Sawyer aka JoP's Obessession!

The Bradster
Keifer "I Repeat" Sutherland

And An Oldie But A Goodie: Double 'O' Sean

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Author Spotlight - Veronica Scott

This week's Author in the Spotlight is Veronica Scott whose debut novel Priestess of the Nile went on sale through Carina Press last week.

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What is your writing process?
I’m very much a seat of the pants writer. I may do a short outline, jot some notes on characters but then I just plunge in and let the characters tell me what happens next. Often when I start a book, I have the beginning, the ending and a few big scenes in mind and the rest of the plot has to unfold as I go. I’m almost superstitious about my creative process, and would be afraid to rein it in too much with tools! I don’t always write the book in order either. Sometimes there’ll be a scene I’m really eager to write and I’ll go out of sequence and tackle it. Works for the movie industry so I’m ok with it.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
(Hard to resist shoe shopping! Now if you’d said grocery shopping....) Writing is like breathing for me – I have to do both to live. (Sorry for the melodrama). I have a fulltime day job and a long commute, so when I get home I’m happy to be able to sit and write. It’s a treat! On weekends or holidays I try to write for a few hours in the morning, since I’m most creative then. I don’t set myself goals, like number of words or pages. I just write until the inner muse says we’re done for that session.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Oh, I WISH. Not the most dedicated exerciser, plus I have bad knees. I do ride my exercycle every morning. I take long walks at lunchtime on the day job, which is located in a hilly area. We have stairs at the house so I definitely count my umpteen jillion trips up and down as exercise. I’m really bad about staying on the computer for long stretches of time. My daughters bought me an ergonomic office chair for Christmas!

Do you believe in writer's block?
Knock wood, I’ve had very little trouble with writer’s block but I’ve known writers who do struggle with it. If the words aren’t flowing for me, I’ll step away from the laptop and go listen to music. I also like to drive and listen to music and think about plot issues. The freeways are my friend then!

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
I’ve never done that yet. I do like to drop little fun things into my books as inside jokes to my daughters. I made the family cat a minor character in one WIP. I had another character specifically diss green beans because my daughters won’t touch them with a ten foot fork. There was a very famous battle in Ancient Egypt that I used liberally in a WIP. Thank you, Pharaoh Ramses, for leaving very detailed accounts of your victories!

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
Well, I’m still revelling in having that first book published! On the good side, I never dreamed I would find such a tremendously supportive group of people as my fellow authors. I’ve learned more from them in the last six months than I ever knew before. Readers, reviewers, editors – more wonderful people! On the down side a little, it’s amazing how much time a writer really has to spend on the promo. You have to be careful to keep yourself writing the creative stuff, not get too distracted.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
Turns out I am a twitteraholic. Who knew?! I’m always on twitter, you can find me at @vscotttheauthor. I have a Facebook page and a blog. I post regularly to my blog, I also participate in Six Sentence Sunday (where writers post just six sentences from a WIP or other writing and you can hop around reading all the fun excerpts) and I do giveaways. I visit other blogs when they’re kind enough to invite me (being with the Minxes today is so much fun!) As yet I haven’t gone to any conventions or done a book signing (where I’ll have to sign a bookmark for you actually, since the book is e published) but I’m looking forward to the experiences.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
First that you have to do promo. Following that, my actual specific tip would be to find at least a couple forms of social media that you are comfortable with and then participate regularly. Twitter and blogging turned out to be my favorites so far.

What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned a great deal during the editing process. My Carina Press editor Alison was so helpful in making suggestions about pacing – let the characters and the Readers stop for breath a few times along the way! She also helped me develop more layers for the emotional journey Sobek and Merys are on, by foreshadowing certain events earlier in the novella, enlarging on some of the secondary characters because their reactions to things showed more about the main characters. I learned the word “that” is apparently imprinted on my dna because it is the single word I overuse most and have to prune away!

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
I love research and you can literally lose yourself for hours in researching anything to do with Ancient Egypt. But mostly I enjoyed telling the story.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Since he’s the Crocodile God, he always wants to be somewhere warm and sunny. I think he’d take Merys for a long cruise down the Nile.

About Priestess of the Nile:
Egypt, 1500 BC

Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile God is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.

Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.

Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. When he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?

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Priestess of the Nile is available at Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and All Romance eBooks. You can find out more about Veronica at her blog, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.