Friday, June 29, 2012

Writing is a Sport

Thirty-four Nora Roberts titles are sold every minute. The world doesn’t suck in Noraland. So what is Nora’s secret?

She writes.

It takes her approximately 45 days to write a novel and then she’ll start the next one. Just try and stop her. If writing was a sport, Nora would be competing at the Olympics.

Of course, we all have to find our own pace or we’d burn out faster than a match, but what if you could be like Nora?

You can. All you need is a change of perspective. Here comes my sport analogy, so get excited. Like an out of shape athlete we need to build up our productivity until we can run, bike and swim our way through that triathlon.

To become Nora-esque you need a pace you can continue for the long term and to do that you need dedication and training. Start small with X number of pages a day and build it up page by page until everyone in the writing world hates you and your productivity. All you need is your goals and the will and time to achieve them, no matter what obstacles come along the way. And there will be obstacles, just ask Katy Perry. 

Nora’s said many times that her discipline comes from being schooled by nuns. So, if you want to hire a nun to smack you upside the head when you don’t meet your goals, go right ahead with that too. You can read about Nora's "fire or blood" rule and other tips on how she meets her writing goals here.

Category romance is where Nora started her writing journey. With that being said (segue with me here), the Harlequin So You Think You Can Write competition has been announced for September 2012.

There are also some awesome Entangled Publishing pitching opportunities coming up in July 2012. Don't miss these:
-          New Adult Pitch with YAtopia
-          Entangle An Editor with Brenda Drake

So are you pitching or entering SYTYCW 2012? Where's your writing at?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Author Spotlight - Gina Rossi

Welcome to Gina Rossi, author of The Wild Heart. Gina is a fellow South African now living in glamorous Monaco.

I first read the opening chapter of this story on the New Voices contest site back in 2010. It instantly intrigued me as it is the first historical romance I'd ever read set in the Cape of Good Hope! Gina got a request out of that contest, but it was The Wild Rose Press who brought this story to the world.

I highly recommend this book, and hope it starts a wonderful new trend for South African settings in historical novels.

* * *

What is your writing process?
I like to get chores out of the way first thing in the day, or they hang around providing excuses for me not to write. I’m usually at my most productive from 1pm onward, writing straight on to the computer. I feel guilty if I don’t do it every day. But, I can spend a whole morning thinking up eg. a name for the hero’s dog or wondering what model and colour car he drives, so I frequently have to use words like ‘blah-di-blah’ and ‘yakkety-yak’ to keep myself going.

The idea for a new book goes around in my head for ages and is always a huge temptation for distraction  from any work in progress. I jot down brief notes and ideas, trying to focus on a title and some decent opening lines. By the time I sit down to write, I've got enough for some kind of outline - at least for the first chapters. After that, I wing it, making sure I get down a good daily quota of words. Each day, when I start writing, I read through and briefly edit what I wrote the day before - it makes editing that first draft just a little bit easier.

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?
Very few writers make a fortune, nevertheless when I start looking for excuses not to work, I think of millionaires like Jackie Collins, Lee Child, Jeffrey Archer, J K Rowling etc. They didn’t get to be successful by shoe shopping, did they? I have a brief red carpet fantasy moment and get back to work! I live in hope.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Certain chocolate-based foodstuffs are banned from my house! Apart from that, I walk absolutely everywhere, and that’s about it. I hate gym. The minute I enrol, I don’t want to go anymore and will fake death to avoid it.

Do you believe in writer's block?
In my case it’s a question of extreme laziness or procrastination, but I’m not saying it doesn’t exist for other writers. I understand it can be a very painful process to work through. Thinking about it, if I truly ever felt blocked, it would probably be a case of the story running out, or just not ‘being there’. I would start something entirely new and fresh. Many great writers suffered from block and wrote about it so there is plenty of help out there for the blocked writer.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
No, but I have used gestures, habits and sayings of friends and family. So far, I haven’t got into trouble but - fingers crossed - I guess there’s always a first time.

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
There is no feeling in the world like the one when you get ‘the call’. I hadn’t realized the sense of empowerment it brings, the feeling of ‘Hang on, you can do this.’ The confidence boost is incredible. When I enrolled at a new dentist recently and wrote ‘Writer’ in the space next to ‘Occupation’ I nearly burst with joy. Silly, I know, but it felt amazing!

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
A medium-level profile on Facebook and Twitter is about as far as I go, because the best form of promotion is to write more, and better, books. It’s probably not a good idea to keep throwing promotion for your book at your followers. I know I find it off-putting and tend to unfollow people who do that. Apart from anything, it’s boring – so mix a little promotion with thanks, retweets, ‘likes’, everyday statuses, interesting links, photos, and sprinkle on a little humour. Give more than you get.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
I am a recent Pinterest convert, okay addict. I love the visual angle and it’s a great way to get appealing info and images across to your readers, plus an excellent way to store ideas. Here, in case you want to take a look, is my Pinterest link

What did you learn while writing this book?
That there are a hell of a lot of words in a book! On and on and on it goes. It’s a huge amount of work and you have to be dedicated, committed, and totally ‘on it’. I understand why people give up, why so many books never get written.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
‘The Wild Heart’ is set in the Cape of Good Hope in about 1800 – in Cape Town and also the spectacular mountain landscapes of the ‘back-country’ around Franschoek. I loved weaving the setting into the story. It became like a character in its own right.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Anton, the hero of ‘The Wild Heart’ is a wanderer, so he would choose the wild, unexplored, savage beauty of the northern Mozambique coast. However, given his refined wife, the danger of wild animals, hostile tribesmen and fever, and the fact that he says, at one stage of the story, that he could think of nothing more pleasant than returning home ‘to Leeuwfontein to while away the warm evening by an outside fire, listening to the rustle of the river and the squeak of bats’, he would probably settle for something closer to home.


Georgina Blake flees a refined life in eighteenth century England to avoid a scandal. Determined to begin a new life, she voyages to the Cape of Good Hope, only to find death and destruction await, endangering those she holds dear.

Though she is intrigued by stranger, Anton Villion, trader, adventurer and maverick, his arrival threatens her precarious security. Anton, himself privy to a painful secret, shadowed by heartbreak and seeking peace, is drawn to Georgina despite his hurt and mistrust, and his reservations about her history.

In time, their growing love is thwarted by the past – and Louisa Somerville, hell bent on diverting Anton’s attentions. Fate has thrown them together but can Anton and Georgina salvage their bond before destiny tears them apart? Together, can they find the strength and courage to embark on a journey to redemption and everlasting love?

The Wild Heart is available from Amazon, All Romance eBooks, Barnes & Noble and direct from the publisher, The Wild Rose Press. It is available in both eBook and paperback formats.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Does anyone remember...?

I've been a Mills&Boon addict since I was a young teen. Along the intervening decades, I've read some books that linger, half-remembered in the back of my brain. These are the keepers that I've lost along the way (don't worry, am not going to turn this into another rant about my ex and the skip - we all know what happened).

With most, I don't recall the titles, nor the writers, but only half snatches of the story. It's infuriating.

Here are three I'd love to read again:

The first is a story about a heroine named Anne. Anne worked as a nurse and there was tragedy in her past - a stillborn baby and a failed marriage. Then, one day, Anne sees an advert for a nanny for someone she is convinced is her own child - the one who had supposedly died. She takes on an assumed name, borrows references from a friend and applies for and gets the job. As far as her husband was concerned, Anne had walked out on him and their newborn daughter on the day of the birth and he can't understand why she's back. Until his evil, but now repentant, mother confesses she had told Anne that her baby had died and the husband wanted nothing to do with her.

The second, involves a student named Gemma, who is convinced to take part in an experiment on dating for a fellow student's thesis. This involves dark haired and dark eyed Gemma wearing a blonde wig and blue contact lenses so that she fits the bill as the ideal physical type for the target man. They go off to Switzerland, where Gemma is thrown into the path of this man with the expected consequences.

The third has a heroine who takes a job with a farming family as a general domestic worker. She's been well educated by her wealthy family, but does all she can to fit in with her employers. It turns out the mother of the family is also her own biological mother and she was given up for adoption as a baby. The romantic interest is provided by the family's step-son who assumes that she is a rich man's plaything when he sees her with her adoptive father.

If these stories ring bells with anyone, please let me know. I'd love to be able to track down copies and replace them in my collection.

And what romance novels have lingered in your mind long after you've closed the covers?

Friday, June 22, 2012

We got The Call! (again!)

The Minxes are delighted to announce that minx Jo Pibworth got the call from Harper Collins, who have eagerly snatched up her debut for their hot new Authonomy imprint! Jo's new writer handle is Jodie James, and they are running a competition to give The Lighthouse a new title too!

Read Jo's call story on her blog, and check the blurb out on Authonomy here.

And here's the competition details:

A book's title is just as important as its cover - these are the first things you notice, whether you're shopping for an ebook or a physical book. Jodie James' brilliant women's fiction needs a name that really does the story justice. And, we want you to help us choose it! We're inviting authonomy authors to use their creative minds and suggest a fitting title for Jodie's book.

The winning submission will win its creator a brand new bookshelf: 20 of HarperCollins' best titles from the genre of their choice. Oh, and they may just see their suggestion gracing the shelves of bookstores in a few month's time.

To enter:
Send your suggestions to
All entries must be submitted before UK midnight July 13th
The subject line needs to include the words Title Competition and your suggested title - e.g. Title Competiton: Little White Wedding chapel'
Please put your details in the body of the email.

Congratulations, Jo! And because we're all on for a party, join us in some virtual champagne!

p.s. Heads up - If you fancy a couple of free minx reads to celebrate, my book Catch Me A Catch is free tomorrow and Sunday on Amazon (.com, , and my new book, Challenging Andie is free on Monday and Tuesday.(.com,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Author Spotlight - Lorraine Nelson

Today we're interviewing Canadian author Lorraine Nelson, whose new book Her Unlikely Bodyguard, is now on sale through Breathless Press and Amazon.

Lorraine has done something a little different for us today: she has interviewed the hero of her novel.


Thank you for having me here today, Minxes! I had a fun time arguing points with Theodore Garrity, the hero from Her Unlikely Bodyguard, released on June 15th. Available at Breathless Press and major online retailers.

Teddy's Most Embarrassing Moment:
LN: That would be when Jemma Leigh saved his hide. *Chuckles*
TG: Damn! I'll never live that down.
LN: Nope! Some bodyguard you are!
TG: Hey! It all worked out.
LN: Yeah, thanks to me.

Finish this sentence:
LN: When Teddy's in the laundry room, he's looking for clean socks.
TG: No, I'm doing laundry.
LN: No way! Not one scene in that entire book had you doing the laundry.
TG: Well, you couldn't be there all the time. And I did help bring clothes in off the line. At least you managed to record all the important stuff.
LN: *Smirking* Probably more than you realize.

Favorite Toy:
TG: I don't play with toys.
LN: You treat that big brute of a truck you drive like a toy.
TG: I do not.
LN: You do! And instead of playing around with your gears, you should watch where you're going.
TG: I do watch! That was an accident.
LN: Uh, huh. Tell that to Jemma Leigh.

Favorite Drink:
TG: Jemma Leigh's lemonade.
LN: Hmmm, can't argue with you there.
TG: Well, that's a first!

Favorite Car:
TG: That would be my Dodge Ram 4x4.
LN: That's not a car! They asked for your favorite car.
TG: My favorite car, if I ever feet I need one, is a Jaguar.
LN: Oh, flashy.
TG: Gotta keep up appearances.

Favorite Scent:
LN: Oh! I've got this one…lilacs.
TG: Women! There's more to life than flowers.
LN: Maybe so, but they asked for my favorite scent. It certainly isn't whatever cologne you're wearing.
TG: This happens to be a very subtle scent, and besides, Jemma Leigh likes it.
LN: Hmmm, gotta have a talk with that girl.

Favorite Movie:
TG: Anything with Sylvester Stallone in it.
LN: *snort* That's a favorite actor, not movie.
TG: Woman, do you have to question everything I say?
LN: Why not? You gave me a hard enough time, butting in when I was trying to write your story.
TG: I had to make sure you got it right.
LN: Ha! Give me a break, will ya? I brought you into this world. I can take you right back out.
TG: *Superior grin* No one else wanted to work with you, so you're stuck.
LN: There are many more where you came from, buddy.
TG: But none fit the bill as good as I did, and besides, it's a done deal. Our book releases in twelve days.
LN: Our? I hate to admit it, but it is one of my better works.
TG: Guess my charm won you over.
LN: Could be that Jemma Leigh's plight did.
TG: At least we survived it.
LN: Yes! I so love a happy ending.


A stalker who wants revenge…a past flame rekindled…Jemma Leigh's summer just got interesting.

Jemma Leigh Harding has drawn the attention of an unknown stalker and returns to her hometown of Somerville, a safe haven—or so she thinks—on the east coast of Canada.

Theodore Garrity is the last person she expects to see, considering how easily he walked away from her after graduation to join the army.

Their past history involves secrets Jemma Leigh is hesitant to share. When it becomes clear the stalker has followed her home, Teddy becomes her unlikely bodyguard. Will the terror and past hurts separate them forever? Or will love blaze a fresh path for their future?


One lucky commenter will receive a free download of Her Unlikely Bodyguard at the end of the blog tour. Winner to be announced on June 30th. So leave your comments and/or questions and I’ll do my best to answer. :)

Lorraine Nelson can be found on her website, blog, Facebook and Twitter, or you can contact her direct here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fifty Shades Of Grey

It seems that there is no escaping the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' phenomenon. It's one hell of a publishing juggernaut, isn't it?

Well, curiosity finally got the better of me this week and book one in the trilogy found itself on my bedside table. Being honest, I wanted to know what the fuss was all about, which I guess is the reason that many other people are buying it too.
Before I tell you what I thought, I will confess to being Fifty Shades of Envious of the authors success, hats off to her for picking up the ball and running with it.

Right, so to my verdict. I'm seriously underwhelmed.

I'd been told to expect rough writing, and sure enough, it felt rough enough to take the skin off my fingers in places. The main character, Ana, bit her lip so often I wanted the damn thing to fall right off her face,  and if she mentioned her inner goddess once... while, lets just say she mentions it regularly. There are other oft repeated phrases, and once you pick up on them they really, really irritate. Like, REALLY. Enough to want to set fire to the book kind of really.

Writing aside, the story itself felt painfully thin to me. The heroine was at times too stupid to live, and I failed to empathise with either of the two main characters - for the life of me I just can't see why women are falling for this man in their legions. Sure, he's dominant - but not in a sexy way for me. Sex is obviously the main thrust of the book (forgive the pun, I can't help it), but to me the sex just felt, well, deeply unsexy. Sorry ladies. I didn't fall for Christian Grey, and I def won't be buying books two and three.

In the interest of fairness though, I may have been biased slightly by the fact that I read 'Bared To You' by Sylvia Day directly before reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.
It came recommended by a fellow minx, and wow, it's one HOT book. The two books are undeniably similar in some aspects, but for me 'Bared To You' stands head and shoulders above in terms of writing and complex character development, not to mention that it's much, much sexier. It's more sophisticated, more polished, more believable. It's just more. I am totally Team Gideon Cross, and will be buying book two of the trilogy when it's released in October.

'Bared To You' is the book I wanted Fifty Shades to be.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Milestones & Counting Blessings

I really wanted to come up with something hugely profound and awe-inspiring for my last post before I turn, ahem, "21". Over the last couple of weeks I've wracked my (according to my daughter) ever-dwindling brain cells for earth-moving subjects.

In the end, I've decided to keep it simple. As I move into another decade, I'm reminded how transient life can be and with that in mind, I thought what better way to say goodbye to the old decade and hello to the new than by counting blessings?

So here are a simple (writerly) five:

1. I'm thankful for my lovely CPs who bolster me and whoop for me and are always there with "you can do this". I treasure them without measure.

2. The lovely people I've met throughout my writing journey. Writing is such a solitary craft but the knowledge that I can reach out to my wonderful writer friends is priceless to me.

3. I'm thankful for the equally wonderful books out there that make me want to become a better writer just by the magic they produce. There's nothing more inspiring IMO than reading a book that gets you so jazzed up you can't wait to get writing yourself.

4.  Twitter! I never thought I'd say this about any social media, but I love this medium so much for the inspiration and camaraderie I get when I log on, I can't not mention it. Twitter Rocks!!

5. Chocolate - enough said.

So there you have it folks. And to make the chocolate lovers out there really jealous, I thought I'd cheekily post a replica pic of the cake I intend to have tomorrow (mine's being decorated). It's a chocolate curly wurly cake from Konditor & Cook and each slice tastes like a little piece of heaven...

Please feel free to share what you're thankful for. We'd love to know.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Author Spotlight: Tina Vaughn

Today, we're very pleased and excited to welcome Minxy Friend and Twitter Buddy, Tina Vaughn to the blog. Take it away, Tina!

What is your writing process?

I start with the characters...always. I write from the first time they meet or from the first time my hero and heroine realize they are attracted to each other. (This might not be the inciting incident, and I know that some of what I'm writing may never end up in the manuscript, but this helps me get a better understanding of characters' voices, goals, motivations, conflicts, etc.)

After that I write a log line, back-of-the-book blurb and a rough one-page synopsis that includes the plot points: the set up, a turning point, the midpoint, the second turning point, the black moment and the resolution.

Despite my love of words, I'm also a visual learner. I use the backs of pages from my very large desk calendar to develop a table/chart that includes these plot points. To these, I add the characters' conflicts (internal, external) with a brief note regarding how those conflicts manifest themselves at each plot point.

I like this method, because while it's a good month's worth of work for me up front, I believe it saves me from a lot of other struggles, including (but not limited to) writer's block, sagging middles, etc.

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?

Are you familiar with that expression, “the only person standing in your way is you.” Yep. Pretty powerful stuff. I think about that and remember that if I want to achieve my goals, if I want to live my dream, then I need to be writing.

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

Ugh. I don't. It's that word “regime.” Creeps me out. True story. Just a couple weeks ago I finally found my weights and they were covered in spiderwebs. Despite all that, I do know I need to be exercising so I just registered for a cardio class with some of my family members. It's three days per week. I'll let you know how it goes.

Do you believe in writer's block?

So far, that's something I've not experienced. I don't do a detailed plot, but I believe the outline and the time I've spent getting to know my characters “up front” helps. I'm also a scene-hopper, so if I feel that I'm losing direction or focus in one part of the book I simply jump to another.

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

All the time, but it's more inspiration than transcription, you know what I mean? Songs, articles, scenery, my friends and family, snippets of conversation I overhear while I'm waiting in line at the grocery store. I think being able to find a story in even the smallest of ideas or moments is a necessity for a writer.

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

I never thought about people actually reading my work. That probably sounds crazy, but I really didn't expect it. I guess I thought No Sweeter Love would just go out into universe and sit, and I was cool with that because, well, I had a really great cover that had my name on it. LOL But, I receive messages, emails and tweets from people telling me they bought my book or that they read it and loved it. And then people take time from their busy lives to actually review and rate it on Goodreads or Amazon or B&N. It's mind-boggling. I'm humbled by all the support and feedback and... Shew. I'm getting a little choked up here.

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

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and I blog. I'm a member of a fabulous critique group Passionate Critters ( and am a contributor with The Hot Pink Typewriter ( But that stuff doesn't feel like promo. It's more like hanging out with my friends, other readers and writers who share similar hopes and goals. So...I don't know. I guess you could consider all that promo but most days it just feels like partying.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

Just write. If you don't have a product to market, then promo doesn't even matter all that much. Also, if you are published, an easy-to-navigate website with all your books (including blurbs and excerpts) is a must. If I've taken the time to visit your website, then you want to make it as easy as possible for me to find your booklist (including blurbs, excerpts and buy links.)

What did you learn while writing this book?

I was reminded of how important forgiveness is, for yourself and others. It's hard to move on when you're wrapped up in the mistakes and regrets of the past.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

I really enjoyed writing the interaction between Jolene and Emily. Most of the time I felt like I was eavesdropping on a conversation between best friends. Those were the easiest parts of the book to write, and the most fun.

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

I picture Ryan on a beach somewhere. He's a big, hot guy so I'm thinking anywhere where he could wear boardshorts and nothing else would be best.

Welcome to Union

Population: 994

Town motto: Where no secret goes untold

His father’s death forces Dr. Ryan Williams to return to the home—and the woman—he’d left behind ten years earlier. Ryan knows it’s best to avoid Union sweetheart and police officer Emily Winters during his visit. But how? Stuck in this small town, fighting an attraction that hasn’t diminished over time, the sparks are unavoidable—and so are the rumors. The same rumors that made him leave Union in the first place…

Experience taught Emily to keep her guard—and her panties—up. Until Ryan returns as suddenly as he left, tempting her with promises she already knows he can’t keep. Or so she thinks. This new adult Ryan is one capable of forever and, God-willing, forgiveness. Because even as they learn to trust and love each other again, Emily knows once she reveals her secret, heartbreak is inevitable.

You can buy Tina's book here:

Super congrats on your debut, Tina! It's been a blast having you here :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

From idea to first draft

I've been thinking about this a lot this year....and feel like this is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, parts of my process of writing a novel.
Ideas, as all of us writers know, abound around us. Of course translating those ideas into a cohesive novel is another thing.
Yet for me, it's the conversion of that little spark into something meaty, something that deserves to be told is the hardest part. Over the course of the six and a half fulls, about ten partials, and countless first chapters, believe you me, they are really countless, I have learnt that the pre-work process, the process of fermenting of the idea is as important as the first draft itself. I'm always eager to start the shiny new idea, the great cute meet, the awesome first liner that just begs to be written.
Yet if I start writing too soon, without thinking through, I have found the hard way that I run out of steam about 3000 words in.
It's a better investment of my time thinking a bit, scribbling notes wherever I'm on whatever I can find at that moment about characters, their GMCs, their fears, their life lessons, and what it is that the antagonist or in our case, the hero or the heroine force the other main character to learn..
And by this point, the shine of the idea wears off a little, but the substance, the real grit of it begins to appear, and it is all I can do to get what I have in my mind on to the page...

What about you? Which part of the writing process is the hardest or the easiest for you, and why?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dear Julia Launch Wave - Stop One

Welcome to the launch of Dear Julia, my latest release published under the name Rae Summers as part of the Love Letters series by The Wild Rose Press.

Following Sally Minx’s novel launch idea, Dear Julia launches with a ‘Mexican wave’ starting right here. By clicking on the links below each excerpt, you’ll be able to follow the wave across 8 blogs to read the entire first chapter - or you can click on the buy links at the bottom of this post to get your own copy!

You can also follow the wave’s progress on Twitter, using the hashtag #DearJulia. If you enjoy the story, feel free to tweet your comments and chat to other wave surfers.

I’m also running a contest on my Rae Summers blog. Answer one simple question about this story, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Dear Julia. Entries close Sunday night, and the winner will be announced on Monday.

Have fun!

* * *

The Blurb

The discovery of a long-lost love letter in a house she’s redecorating sends Rosalie Stanton on a quest to find its rightful owner.

Since his return from the Great War, William Cavendish has lived as a recluse. His peaceful existence is shattered by the return of the letter that once held all his hopes — and by its bearer, the irrepressible Rosalie, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love.

As Rosalie sets out to lure William back into society, she realises that in him she might just have met her match.

Extract One

Dust swirled out in a thick, choking cloud as plaster and debris crashed to the floor. The cloud cleared, and Rosalie lowered her handkerchief from her face and coughed. In the yawning hole where the monstrous Victorian mantelpiece had been, a pile of broken bricks now lay in their own ashes. Something pale caught her eye amongst the rubble.
“What is that?”
One of the workmen bent to pick it up. “It’s a letter, miss.”
He handed her the envelope, and she wiped her handkerchief across its grimy face to reveal paper yellowed with age and a name printed in a neat, square script, a man’s handwriting: Julia.
Not just a letter. In one corner she felt the distinctive weight of something else. Curiosity growing, she turned the envelope over. No name or return address. She frowned. “It must have fallen behind the mantelpiece.”
The man shrugged, disinterested, and she forced her attention back to the room. “Clear the bricks, and tomorrow you can install the new mantel.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
They began the clean-up, and Rosalie moved to the window, holding the letter up to the light.
Against the sharp autumn sunlight she could see a shape silhouetted within the envelope. A ring. Even through the paper she could tell it was very old, delicate and ornately filigreed. And undoubtedly valuable.
That settled it. Whoever the letter had been intended for, it had to be delivered.

Anna sat at the kitchen table, shelling peas. She shook her head as Rosalie entered. “I hope you haven’t ruined that pretty dress.”
Rosalie looked down at herself. She was covered head to toe in a film of grey dust. She shrugged. “It’s just a dress. Look what we found.”
She held out the envelope to Anna. “Do you have any idea who Julia is?”
Anna shook her head and took the letter. “No idea. But Mrs. Wallace in the post office is sure to know. She knows everything about everyone around here.”
“Excellent idea. It’s the perfect afternoon for a walk into town.”
“Not in that dress, you won’t.”
Rosalie grinned. “I guess not. And I’ll have to wash my hair, too, before I go.”
“I’ll put some water to warm by the fire. Why your father couldn’t have got the plumbers in before we moved in, I’ll never know.”
It was a familiar grumble, and Rosalie laughed. “We’ve lived in worse places. And I’ll have this place
shipshape in no time.”
Anna rolled her eyes. “I have no doubt of that, Miss Rosalie. And the rest of the village too, I’m sure. Heaven help them.”

* * *

For the next instalment, click here to go to fellow Minx Sally Clements’ blog. Don’t forget to tweet your feedback using the hashtag #DearJulia.

Here is the full list of participating blogs:

Stop 1 – you are here!
Stop 2 - Sally Clements
Stop 3 - Rachel Bailey
Stop 4 - Scarlet Wilson
Stop 5 - Olivia Miles
Stop 6 - Jennifer Shirk
Stop 7 - Suzanne Jones
Stop 8 – the last stop, at my blog.

Thank you to all these lovely ladies for hosting me today!

Dear Julia is on sale through Amazon, Amazon UK, AllRomance eBooks and The Wild Rose Press. You can find out more about this novella here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Author Spotlight - Rosanna Leo

We have Rosanna Leo here with the minxes today to tell us all about her latest release which is a sexy story about Love with a Greek God - a real one! So with no further ado, here are the Minxy questions, and Rosanna's answers:

What is your writing process?
That is a great question! For the most part, there is always one key idea that gets me started (i.e. a character/plot line).  I tend to do a bit of birdseye plotting in my head, and write a few chapters to see where the characters want to go.  I like to have a basic outline, but always want to have room to change and grow.  I’m not the type of author who has every detail planned before I start writing.  I’ve tried that tactic and it doesn’t work for me.  I prefer to leave myself room to branch out in different directions.  That being said, I always have a goal in mind. 

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?
Luckily, shoes don’t grab me as much as other women!  Because I work part-time outside the home, I know there are only so many hours during the week that I can devote to writing.  Therefore, I’m able to stay focused.  If it’s a writing day, it’s a writing day. No question…and no shoes, unfortunately!

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Oh, wow, I wish I could say I did!!  Actually, when I do get to work out, I love using the Wii Fit.  I’ve even made little Mii characters based on my characters- how sick is that?   I also love a good run.  I try to run around the block once a year.  After that, I’m good.

Do you believe in writer's block? 
Absolutely!  And I’ve definitely been affected.  I’ve always been able to write something, but I’ve definitely had moments in which I had no idea where my stories were going.  I knew the end goal, but not how to get there.  It’s very frustrating when a story stalls.  I tend to back off from the WIP for a bit, reread and edit, and eventually everything falls into place. 

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? 

If so, did it get you into trouble? LOL!  Nothing that’s gotten me into trouble so far!  No, I’ve never used anything verbatim from a life experience, so to speak.  My stories always have little tidbits from my life included, but not anything that would embarrass anyone other than me! 

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be? 
I am amazed at the amount of support and love in the writers’ community.  That, I never expected.  I’ve always worked in the art world and that world can sometimes be a backstabbing place.  I expected that of writers as well.  They surprised me with their genuine enthusiasm for others and their level of friendship and support.  And romance authors are the best! 

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers? 
I could not function without Facebook and Twitter.  They are my “go-to” promo tools and so easy to use.  However, I’ve recently connected with others on Pinterest and Triberr and they are really fun to explore as well.  There is also something to be said for involving the people you know in your promo campaign.  I work at a public library and my librarians have been so incredibly supportive of my work. 

What is your top promo tip for other authors? 
Do your homework.  There is no sense spreading your name all over a website if it doesn’t reach your target audience.  Get to know others in the business and learn from them. 

What did you learn while writing this book? 
How much I still love Greek mythology!  These are the stories that inspired and intrigued me as a young girl, and they still do.  Who wouldn’t fall in love with a tempting Greek god?  They’re gorgeous, sensual and totally Alpha!  It was so fun to immerse myself in their world for a time.  

What was the most fun part of writing this book? 
I have to say, I love writing my love scenes.  LOL!  When I started writing romance, I thought the sex might make me a bit squeamish, but I got over that pretty quickly.  I discovered there is a real rhythm and flow to writing love scenes (no pun intended) and I find they tend to write themselves.  You just have to be invested in the moment and in your characters, and it comes naturally! (Again, no pun intended!) 

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be? 
Greece, of course!  Eryx is a Greek god, and proud of his culture.  And my heroine Maia is a statue conservator, specializing in Greek statuary.  She is also obsessed with Greece and its myths.  I think Eryx could take Maia on a Grecian holiday and they could make love in all the old ruins! 

Conservator Maia Douglas is an expert on ancient Greece and its mythology. She would never tell anyone at the museum where she works, but she's always had a secret crush on the mythical Eryx, Greek god of love. There is nothing she loves more than to tend to her favorite statue of him, and her nighttime dreams are filled with luscious images of Eryx making love to her.
One day, the peace at Maia's beloved museum is shattered when a new director arrives. A man who looks exactly like her image of Eryx. As Maia watches, he manages to upset her ordered museum world, at the same time he inflames her with unwanted desire.

Maia does not know that her new boss is actually the god Eryx, disguised as a mortal so he may work in antiquities. Although he is the god of love, he has forsaken his sexual nature because of a curse that has killed any woman he's dared to love. Though he fights it, Eryx is drawn to Maia with a force he's never experienced in a thousand years. But can he convince her of his true identity? And can he protect her from a vengeful goddess who seeks her destruction?

You can pick up Rosanna's book at:
Liquid Silver Books
AllRomance eBooks

Thanks for being Minxy today, Rosanna!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Princes and Princesses

It's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee - the perfect excuse for a royalty based blog post. And I have a question. Is Royalty Romance live or dead?

Royalty Romance. The reluctant prince, the princess in trouble. Unexpected heir to the throne, conceived in a moment where the prince dallies with a commoner, without revealing his royal pedigree...

So - back to the question. Alive or dead?

Here's my pros:
First, because I love location, there's the opportunity to create a country, because it's impossible to use a real one.... the typical royalty romance kingdom is hot (that's a must for me, anyway) and beautiful. The writer and reader alike can be sucked in to this mysterious kingdom and it's people.

Second, a royal price or princess have a strong inner conflict - after all, being royal brings with it its own challenges, and we've seen those again and again. Everyone can identify with how tedious it is to be a reluctant heir to the throne, constrained by duty and honor. Or be:
1. Forced into a marriage of convenience with another royal (for the sake of the country)
2. Not allowed to do things commoners can (like go out into the world) due to being controlled by a bossy King.

Third, there's usually an easy excuse for flashing lots of cash around, lots of private jets, beautiful homes, sparkling jewels, and excellent clothes.

Here's the cons:
First - predictability. If we're dealing with a prince, we know that however he starts, returning to lead his country is going to be in there somewhere. And princesses always get there own way, so although there may be problems along the way, it can be pretty much guaranteed that she'll get her HEA.

Second - unreality. In life, princes and princesses in Europe can do what they like, mostly. In real life, there are princesses who have run away to the circus - had multiple affairs, and married who they like without constraint.

Thirdly - country building. With a completely fictious country it can be difficult to see how that country fits in to the world. Is Starnovia part of Europe? If so, is it in the Eurozone, and how is it coping with the financial meltdown of the Euro? If it's in Europe and this isn't an issue, are we totally in fantasyland?

My answer to the question posed at the top, is that I think Royalty Romances struggle today because the fairytale princes and princesses of yesteryear don't really exist any more, and so there has to be a suspension of disbelief in order to really be sucked into the story. In the same way that marriage of convenience plotlines can be dated, as there are so many other options than a forced marriage available today, that they can seem contrived.

What's your take? I'm ready to be contradicted!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Hot Pink Typewriter

Today we welcome our friend Olivia Miles (debut Harlequin Special Edition author) to the Minxes blog to chat up her new blog venture.

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First off, a very big thank you to my Minx friends for inviting me to post today and spread the word about the new group blog The Hot Pink Typewriter: A Romance Writing Sisterhood.

As some people in the romance writing community know, Natalie Charles and I have been best friends since we were 14 years old, and we knew each other long before then from our annual stints at a local children’s theatre camp. We’ve been reading and critiquing each other’s work for years, and it wasn’t until about a year ago that we discovered just how tight knit and supportive the romance writing community is. As writers, we spend so much time living in our own heads, sitting alone at a computer, and it inspired us to see so many writers reaching out and encouraging one another on a shared dream.

We decided to create Hot Pink for this exact reason--as an outlet for aspiring writers, and a gathering place for all members and fans of the romance genre. We pulled on board Victoria James, a close friend that I actually met through the Harlequin community boards, and began brainstorming ideas for the “sisterhood.” It was important to us that we brought together a group of writers who are not only talented, but who also represent different sub-genres of romance: Natalie writes romantic suspense, Lindsay Pryor writes paranormal, etc. We wanted a well-balanced group that will bring unique insight to the table: some of us are new authors, others are in the submission stage, some have agents, and all of us are passionate about our craft.

We’re hoping that by starting The Hot Pink Typewriter, we’re giving back to the community that so greatly inspired us, lifted us up, and cheered us along the way. We hope to do the same for other romance authors out there, not just by promoting within our own group, but also by extending ourselves to all the wonderfully welcoming individuals we continue to meet on this journey.

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You can find Hot Pink Typewriter here.

And please also check out our very own Maya Minx's blog for the account of her recent trip to the hallowed M&B halls in Richmond.