Friday, August 31, 2012

Movie Review: The Bourne Legacy

I was going to do a post about my Book 2 revisions but after seeing this movie at the weekend, I needed to review it, pronto.

I used to luuuurve going to the cinema. Lurve! But lately, while I've seen some good movies, I just can't seem to catch a WOW-THAT-TOTALLY-BLEW-ME-AWAY film. But I've been a huge fan of the Bourne franchise, so I was always going to see The Bourne Legacy. Deep down I was really hoping it would equal the three previous Matt Damon awesomeness because, seriously, what's not to like about Jeremy Renner?

Unfortunately, after waiting over an hour for the film to get going, I…kinda…zzzzz. I never really understood the premise of the film or grew to care about the characters. Jeremy Renner's character felt flimsy and Rachel Weisz, another favourite of mine, was so meeh, I couldn't be bothered to care about what happened to her.

As much as I adore Jeremy Renner, the fact that I can't even remember his character's name just makes think I wasted my precious money. When you're watching a hawt guy and a clever motor-bike chase through Manila and you keep thinking "I wish I was watching Ice Age 4 again", then you know something's wrong.

At the end of the movie, when DH said "I like the way they left the plot loose to make room for another one", I found myself thinking, "Bugger, I hope not!"

Sorry folks, this film just didn't do it for me. So in place of The Bourne Legacy trailer, I leave you with the last film that I actually enjoyed watching last month!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Author Spotlight - Toni Sands

For a second week in a row we're featuring a British erotic romance author in our Spotlight. (Anyone care to guess what's hot right now?!) To showcase how vast the erotic romance genre is, last week we featured a paranormal and this week we're going historical.

Welcome to Toni Sands and her Xcite Press book, Orchid Pink.

What is your writing process?
Either I react to an idea when it strikes or nowadays to a suggestion from either of my two lovely editors at Xcite Books. Sometimes I scribble random thoughts in a notebook then mark up names and characteristics on my whiteboard. I’m a touch typist and I work fastest when transferring the story to the screen and the characters are doing the business for me.

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?
Once I begin a new book it’s not difficult for me to concentrate on that wip. One big asset is that my OH works from home and he’s brilliant at leaving me to get on upstairs! We live in a small Welsh town so tempting shops aren’t within easy reach but I plan diversions every now and then. London draws me for shopping, theatres, etc and meeting up with some much-loved folk!

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Walking is a pleasure in these parts and normally I go out after lunch each day. If the weather’s too awful, I have a simple exercise routine with which I won’t bore you. Does watching tennis count?

Do you believe in writer's block?
No. If I’m really not in the mood for writing, I’ll go and do something useful like cook up a big pot of veggie stew to save time for when the Muse is nudging me.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
Trivial incidents and experiences have triggered a bigger story but I try to keep out of trouble!

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
I started late so am coping with the digital revolution and very thankful to have achieved what I have. It’s the publicity side I find most time-consuming but I think I’ve always been aware that a writer’s life can be a lonely and frustrating one. Thank goodness for the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association)

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
I use Facebook and Twitter but try not to bang on about my books. Since ‘that book’ exploded on the scene, I’ve become much less shy about handing out my card. So far I’ve used a PR service only once but found it helpful and would use it again. Xcite Books are very proactive but obviously they have many authors to promote.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Keep an eye on opportunities for guest-blogging and being interviewed.

What did you learn while writing this book?
Orchid Pink is set in 1900, on the brink of the Edwardian era. My heroine is a Victorian leading a complicated life. Learning more about what lay under the decorous surface in those times was fascinating. You could say I learnt more about the changing role of women.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
I had fun watching Benedict Cumberbatch portray Sherlock Holmes. There’s fabulous archive footage on the Internet so I looked at motorcars and horse-drawn vehicles and had hours of fun ‘dressing’ my heroine, especially for her wedding day. Food features hugely in my stories so I enjoyed surfing typical menus for those folk with enough cash to pay for them.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Oh dear. This is the only book in which my heroine marries a despicable man. If I’m allowed to cheat here, may I introduce Jimmy, an East end lad who joins the household as odd jobs boy and is tipped to inherit the job of chauffeur from his uncle? Jimmy would whisk you off in his pride and joy - that gleaming Daimler which he’d borrow of course – and tour the Sussex seaside towns. Think What the Butler Saw, plus cockles, mussels, whelks and a nice drop of ale. Be prepared for him to whip off one of your stockings if he had trouble with the fan belt though! Cars weren’t so reliable in those days.

Orchid Pink blurb:

Demure Adelaide hides a passionate nature beneath her elegant gowns. After hiring a delicious new maid, Daisy, she can’t wait to initiate her into the delights of the orchid house. Though resenting paternal pressure to marry businessman Thomas, Adelaide finds excitement in his touch and his erotic whisperings. Yet, when he reveals his sinister side, she seeks solace elsewhere. Christmas brings snowflakes, also a vivid reminder of a heart-wrenching past. Intrigue and obsession rock this Victorian household as Adelaide’s poignant search for love leads her into storms. Will she ever bask in the sunshine?

Orchid Pink is available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA. You can find out more about Toni at her website: or on Twitter.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Keeping things professional. Or not?

A couple of us were chatting the other day, about projecting a professional online image. Opinion seemed to be you should keep personal stuff out of blogs and off Facebook if you want to be perceived as businesslike.

I can see the sense in this. Unfortunately I like to talk - and I'm probably more guilty than most of talking about my private life online. There won't be many who read my blog who don't know about my love for John Barrowman, or my constant battle with my legendary giant backside. And I've taken great delight in discussing my various encounters with customer service departments over unsatisfactory dealings (Amazon's customer service team came out very well - some of the others didn't).

I completely understand why writers might want to talk exclusively about writing, but I view my blog as a personal site rather than a professional one. Which I know is daft because I can't control who reads it and it's all out there for anyone who wants to use a Google search engine to see.

There are, of course, some things I'd never discuss on my blog (a Minx has to have some secrets). But even today, the tone of my post - while making a tiny reference to my writing - is mainly personal.

So, am I making a mistake in viewing my blog as my own space?

Should I stop talking about family? My shopping experiences? My giant backside? Should I stick to business and blog only about my work?

Tell me honestly - I won't be offended - what do you like to see in a blog?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Some things to make you smile :)

I was going to do today's post on the homes of famous authors and how they can reflect their writing. However, it's already been done here and how was I going to top that?
Don't you just love Stephen King's bat fence?
Since someone stole my house idea I thought I'd add some of my favorite YouTube videos. I'm having a bit of a tough time health-wise at the moment and these ones always make me smile. I hope they can do the same for you!
You may know this one, but it never gets old:
And this is my favorite piece of music to write to at the moment. I think it would make a great film score:

My favorite Nora Roberts interview (the one with the nuns):
I hope you all have a great weekend. Happy writing!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Author Spotlight - Tanith Davenport

Erotic romance author Tanith Davenport is a graduate of the RNA's New Writers Scheme. Her debut novel, The Hand He Dealt, was nominated for the RNA's Joan Hessayon award. She's here today to talk about her latest release, I Heard Your Voice.

What is your writing process?
I'll spend about ten minutes planning first - I have to plan out each chapter or I'll sit staring at the screen all day. Then I give myself a time limit and get going, but always with a web browser open in the background so I can give myself breaks every so often.
Oh yes, and I have to get dressed. I don't know why, but I can't write in a dressing gown.

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?
Fortunately I'm not a lover of shoes! I usually have several pieces on the go at once, so if I can't force myself into one story I'll hop to another for a while. Failing that, a glass of wine is always helpful for loosening up the brain.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I wish I did, but the most I manage is half an hour on the Wii Fit.

Do you believe in writer's block?
Not really. I’ve never suffered from it anyway. I’ve had days when I’ve had trouble getting in the zone, but usually I give myself a specific amount of time and number of words to get through and force myself past it.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
Yes, and not so far! Luckily I've always had to make changes to fit the story, so nobody has recognised themselves yet, although I'm waiting for the day when someone calls and says "That's not what happened!"

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
It’s less stressful, oddly enough. The advantage of writing romance is that you have a lot of freedom in terms of genre – if I want to write paranormal or historical, for instance, I can – and with e-publishing I can also write short stories while I’m working on full-length novels. It allows for much more creativity than I had expected.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
Apart from Facebook, Twitter and my blog, I’ve done blog tours, put adverts in magazines, written articles for magazines and made use of as many “If you like X, then you’ll love me…” opportunities as I can. “Fifty Shades of Grey” has been particularly useful on that score.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Get yourself out there! When I’m promoting I usually have a blog tour set up for me so I can do as many guest spots and radio interviews as possible. I also comment on other blogs to put my name out where it can be seen – the more it appears, the better.

What did you learn while writing this story?
I went on a paranormal investigation for research purposes. It wasn’t especially eventful – we had a few bumps and bangs and some table-tipping which I suspect was faked. However, the idea of investigating hauntings absolutely fascinated me. I’ve since joined a parapsychology course and will definitely be working on more paranormal stories in the future.

What was the most fun part of writing this story?
The investigation sequences. It was rather like choreographing a ballet, especially when the paranormal activity reached a pitch. Also, the character of Reed was great to write. He’s not the hero, so I could make him as arrogant and affected as I liked.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
A tour of haunted locations in the US – the possibilities are endless!


Tamar Steele’s life was never supposed to be like this. A sensitive working with a team of paranormal investigators, she is trapped in a loveless relationship with the team’s medium, Reed James, who believes that having sex on haunted ground enhances paranormal activity. Tamar maintains their partnership for the sake of the crew, forcing herself to ignore the burgeoning sexual tension between her and fellow investigator Jason Bray.

Until one night when, alone and bored, Tamar sings to herself and is knocked to the ground by an invisible force. Somehow she is able to invoke spirits with the power of her voice. And one particular sexy, matchmaking spirit is determined to turn her life upside down.

You can follow Tanith on Twitter, Facebook, or on her blog.

I Heard Your Voice will be available on pre-order from on 10 September.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Believing in Yourself

Mondays are usually Inspiration days on my own blog, but since I'm taking a blog hiatus to get my mojo back, I'm going to share a little Monday inspiration here instead.

Thanks Oprah for the reminder!

I'm going to start acting as if I already have all the time I need to do not just the things I have to do, but the things I want to do.

What are you going to start acting as if ...?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Author Spotlight - Anna Jacobs

Today we welcome prolific English author Anna Jacobs into our spotlight. (three books a year, folks!). Anna is talking today about her newest release, an historical novel titled Yew Tree Gardens.

What is your writing process?

I think about the story, do research if necessary, and visualise my characters, often months in advance. Since I write three books a year, a story often has to wait until its turn comes, but ideas can pop up anytime. I note them down carefully.

When I start, I write the first draft – which I call the ‘dirty draft’ – working as fast as I can, every day if possible, to get the story down. Then I polish it, and that is my favourite part of the writing process. Most books only need one major polish, some need more. Whatever it takes. I wrote a how-to book about polishing a book ‘Plotting and Editing’ which goes through my process in detail. It’s available as an ebook.

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 hate shopping, and am not at all interested in shoes, especially ones with high heels that damage people’s backs long term. I’m not too fond of housework, either. What I love doing during the daytime is writing, so that’s what I mostly do. I can’t seem to write after teatime, though.

Occasionally a story slows down in the middle but I just keep on going. I found this wonderful quote in my early days as a writer – sorry, I don’t even know who said it – something like, on days when things go more slowly ‘Give yourself permission to write rubbish and carry on. It won’t be rubbish.’ It’s proved one of the most useful hints I ever met.

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

I do some exercise, though not as much as I ought to. I have a bad back and need to do some walking to keep the muscles around it firm, so have a treadmill, which I use a few times a week. It’s hard to exercise outside in the Australian summer, because the mosquitoes find me delicious. I have to wear insect repellent, which is poison, so that is a dilemma, hence the indoors treadmill.

Do you believe in writer's block?

Others say they’ve had it, so I can’t disbelieve them. For myself, I get ‘writer’s slowdown’ as I said in a previous answer, but just carry on writing something. I have more trouble writing steadily if I have to have time off eg I was ill a couple of months ago, and didn’t write for two weeks. It took me a while to get into the swing again afterwards. Which is another reason to write every day, even if only for an hour or so, to stay inside the story.

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

I’ve never used a real person or incident, but I have adapted incidents from real life. Eg in my book ‘The Wishing Well’ there is a scene in an awful hotel which is based on my own stay in an awful hotel. And when I wrote ‘Saving Willowbrook’ I gave my heroine’s daughter SMA3 – spinal muscular atrophy, type 3. My niece has two children with this spinal defect, which will probably put them in wheelchairs when their bodies grow bigger. I asked permission of her and her husband, even though I was writing about an imaginary child, and then her husband read through the manuscript to make sure I’d got it right. Actually, they were pleased that someone gave SMA3 more exposure, because people either have never heard of it or have the wrong idea of what it involves.

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

After 58 novels published during the last two decades, I’ve had to rack my brain for an answer. I think it’s the dipping in and out of current stories to do the editing and proofreading of previous stories that came as one of the biggest surprises. This means leaving my current story for a few days, and it took some getting used to, I can tell you.

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

I use any way I’m comfortable with – and which will fit into my schedule. I’m not time rich. I have a website, a monthly readers’ email newsletter, I’m on Facebook, and how readers can contact me is shown in each book that’s published. I pay an assistant to answer reader emails nowadays, though I read every single one first. I do guest ‘appearances’ on blogs, as I don’t have time to run my own blog. I give talks, radio interviews, whatever crops up. I don’t do Twitter because it’s too much like mobile phones and I don’t use a mobile phone except in emergencies – why would I when I sit next to a landline all day?

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

Keep in touch with readers. They are, after all, who you’re writing for. I value my readers very highly and if they have any problems concerning my books, I will go out of my way to help.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned more about the Titanic disaster. But since the actual sinking has been done to death in films and books, I focused on the aftermath. My hero goes to New York to pick up his little niece who is a survivor. And of course, I try with each book to improve as a writer. Always.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

Polishing the dirty draft. I love doing that. It’s not a ‘fun’ book, though. It’s a story of a woman battling against poverty and a cruel man – and of course, winning – not to mention meeting the love of her life. I’d never, ever write a book with an unhappy ending. Why would I? I get to love my characters and want to see them happy. Oh, and I nearly forgot. I always love writing a warm fuzzy bit at the end, the sort that bring happy tears to your eyes.

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

I don’t think in 1912 people placed much focus on honeymoons, even when they had the money. My hero would want to take his wife home to the house he’s inherited and loves, then settle in there.


1911: Renie is happy in her waitressing job at the Rathleigh Hotel in Lancashire. But a shadow falls over her life the day Mr Judson becomes assistant manager.

Feeling increasingly harassed by him, she is delighted to be offered a new job in London. When tragedy strikes her sister Nell and family, Renie is cut off from everyone she knew. Her only comfort is her growing friendship with the injured Gil, towards whom she has felt instant trust and affection. But can their relationship progress from friendship to something more?

Then Judson becomes manager of the London Rathleigh Hotel and once again he harasses and threatens Nell. Can Gil help her escape? Will they find a future together? Or will a ruthless man strike again?

You can find out more about Anna's book and read the first chapter on her website at:

The book is also available for sale at Amazon UK, Amazon US and the Book Depository (no postage charged, even internationally).

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Embarrassment Of An Inappropriate Crush

I was listening to Liza Tarbuck was on Radio Two a couple of weeks ago. I like Liza. She's jolly and funny and around my age (as opposed to everyone else in the known universe who is now at least a decade younger). I imagine she'd be a laugh if we went out for a coffee.

On her show, she asked listeners to phone in to admit to inappropriate crushes.

One woman phoned in to confess to fancying Dougal from The Magic Roundabout when she was younger.

A man admitted a crush on Marina from Stingray.

I'd think they were making it up, but I do actually know someone who used to fancy the Columbia lady when he was younger (yes Camera Boy, I'm talking about you).

 And my very best friend growing up had a soft spot for Joe90.

As for me, well, where to start... My taste in men has always been considered slightly odd - and it started with (in the best firemen-loving Minxy tradition) the firemen from Trumpton. Yes, the whole lot of them - Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb. With the possible exception of Barney McGrew - who I think might be the one with the beard (an older guy was one thing, but a fireman with a beard was not attractive to a young girl - and, in my defence, I was very young).

With age, my tendency towards inappropriate crushes is improving - in that those crushes are now, embarrassingly, out of control inappropriate. Take Flynn Rider from Tangled - I'd run off with him in a heartbeat, despite the fact it's wrong on so many levels (he's too young, he's spoken for, he's a thief and...he's an animated character).

Then there's the illustration of the hero in my story in The People's Friend Annual 2013. Seriously, he might be a drawing, but he's knitting pattern gorgeous. (Unfortunately, I can't show you here because it's inside the book and I haven't cleared copyright with the artist.)

And Severus Snape - I'd knock him flat in the rush even with his greasy hair. Always.

Of course, no list would ever be complete without the wildly inappropriate John Barrowman. He might be age appropriate, but he's spoken for and... Well, here in his own words (at 2 minutes 15 seconds) is exactly why I'm not right for him:

So, who's brave enough to join me in fessing up? (Please do or I'll just end up feeling incredibly foolish.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tweaking Dreams

The publishing world is constantly changing, and it is important, I think, for every writer to constantly re-evaluate their options. The urge to write, and to be published for many of us is the culmination of a long held dream, and as such an emotional one. But when it comes down to publishing today, there are more options available than ever before - so we must examine our dreams, and if necessary, tweak them!
When I was starting out, my dream publisher was any publisher that would say yes to publishing my book. I had my sights set on the Big 6, because that was where every writer wanted to be published back then.

Unfortunately, the Big 6 didn't feel the same, they weren't clamouring for my first book, or even my second. But smaller publishers were interested, and I signed up. The dynamic was one of an eager writer, excited and delighted that a publisher wanted to sign my books up. I was looking for approval, wanting validation that my writing was good enough. The publishers chose me! This approach couldn't be more different from my approach today.

Currently, I have six novels and one book of short stories available on Amazon. Two are with a small publisher, two are backlist titles, previously published and now self-published, and two I chose to self-publish. All the novels have been professionally edited, with good looking covers, created by a professional cover artist.

My self published book, The Morning After, is my biggest seller, and has the most amounts of reviews, the majority of them good ones. I love this book, and loved writing it. And instead of looking for approval from the publishing industry, I took it straight to my editor for her feedback. She loved it too, and our feeling about the book have been reflected by the most important people in the whole process, the readers.

My backlist titles have done way better sales wise since I self-published them. I'm in KDP Select, and have found that this avenue has revitalised them in a way I never could have dreamed.

So today, I urge every writer looking to sell their book, to re-evaluate their options. Instead of thinking "will a publisher like it?" think, "which publisher gives me something extra, something I can't achieve on my own, by self-publishing?" This could be whatever you need it to be: global reach, popularity, validation, money, publicity.

If I were choosing a publisher, I'd be looking for a transparent, fair cut of the royalties tied to a good, strong publicity machine, that will help discoverability. I would also be interested if the publisher could offer me a presence on shelves in bookshops, and a marketing plan that utilised the power of the internet to significantly build my presence in secondary ebook markets.

I don't need the validation of the Big 6 anymore. Self publishing has given me feedback from my readers, which is much more important. I may self publish all my books from here on in, or work with a publisher on certain projects. I write because I want to. Because I need to. But once a book is finished, I want to share it with readers. And if I don't choose carefully, readers may never find it, amongst the sea of books out there. This has been a long post, I could have said it all in one line:

You are the writer. You choose.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Author Spotlight - Christina Courtenay

I am exceptionally pleased to introduce you all to Christina Courtenay, especially since I got the chance to meet her in person at the London chapter meeting of the RNA in early July (and since she celebrated the release of this book by sharing champagne and chocolates with us!).Her latest book, The Silent Touch of Shadows, is a recent release from publisher Choc-Lit.

* * *

What is your writing process? 
Usually I start with a key scene, which for some reason or other has come into my mind and won’t go away until I’ve written it down. This gives me my main characters and their problem/conflict and can be anywhere in the story, so not necessarily an opening scene. That means I’ll have to work backwards/forwards from that point on to build the rest of the story, but I don’t mind. It’s a bit of a chaotic way of doing it, but it works for me!

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 reread what I’ve written the day before and normally that will pull me into the story sufficiently to keep going. If I’m starting something new, I’ll read the research notes with (hopefully) the same result. And if I’m between stories, I’ll either reread some story ideas (which I keep in a special folder – always have to write them down while I remember!) or watch a movie, which often sparks ideas for me.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer? 
Er, no. I’m one of the world’s couch potatoes I’m afraid, totally allergic to the word exercise! I do walk my dogs every day, but as they (a) have very short legs and (b) two out of the three don’t like going for walks much, this doesn’t really give me much exercise. I keep promising myself I’ll do power walking or take up zumba/yoga/pilates but somehow it never happens ... (Just like I never seem to stop buying chocolate either  )

Do you believe in writer's block? 
Yes, but whenever I experience it myself, I just go and work on a different story for a while and hope that will “unblock” the other one. I usually have more than one story on the go at any one time. It’s best not to think about it and just get on with something else, then the subconscious will usually fix whatever the problem was with the first story. If it doesn’t, I skip to a part of the story I know I can write and go back to the difficult bit later.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble? 
My latest story The Silent Touch of Shadows features a ghost who is based on a real one and some of the incidents when the heroine sees him happened to the owners of the house the real ghost haunted. I didn’t get into trouble for using these though as I asked permission first.

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be? 
It’s much more about marketing yourself than I thought and I seem to spend a lot of time doing everything EXCEPT actually writing the next book! Before you’re published, you have no real demands made on you and can just write or not as you like. You basically write for yourself. Whereas after you’re published, you have to think about things like your USP and genre (it’s my experience as a reader myself that if I read a book I like, I’ll want more of the same from that author) so you ask yourself “is my next book going to be similar enough to the first one to keep readers happy?” And “is book number two going to be good enough as follow-up?”

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers? 
I’m on Twitter and Facebook, I have a website (and a blog which I’m afraid I’m not very good at keeping on top of) and I’m on four group blogs – the Choc Lit Authors’ Corner, The Heroine Addicts, Historical and Regency Romance UK and Historical Fiction Excerpts. I find it much easier to blog as part of a group and hopefully it’s more interesting for the readers too. Apart from blogging, I occasionally do talks and book signings – I’ll be speaking at the Historical Novel Society Conference 2012 in September for instance.

What is your top promo tip for other authors? 
Just grab any chance that comes your way (like being a guest on lovely blogs like this one!)

What did you learn while writing this book? 
Perseverance! This was one of those stories that just wouldn’t leave me alone and I never lost faith in it, even though it took me a long time to get it just right.

What was the most fun part of writing this book? 
Writing two stories at the same time and trying to weave them together. I love reading time slips and writing one was just as great!

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Well, as I have two heroes (one in the past, one in the present) I’ll have to give you two answers – Jake’s destination of choice would probably be a deserted island where he could be alone with Melissa (they have children/pets/great-aunt etc around them all the time, so he’d want to get away from that), whereas I think Roger would just have whisked his bride off to his own home, away from all her horrid relations! Neither man would care much about the surroundings, as long as they could be completely alone with the woman they love.

Many thanks for having me as your Spotlight guest!


What will it take to put the past to rest?

Professional genealogist Melissa Grantham receives an invitation to visit her family’s ancestral home, Ashleigh Manor. From the moment she arrives, life-like dreams and visions haunt her. The spiritual connection to a medieval young woman and her forbidden lover have her questioning her sanity, but Melissa is determined to solve the mystery.

Jake Precy, owner of a nearby cottage, has disturbing dreams too, but it’s not until he meets Melissa that they begin to make sense. He hires her to research his family’s history, unaware their lives are already entwined. Is the mutual attraction real or the result of ghostly interference?

A haunting love story set partly in the present and partly in fifteenth century Kent.

You can find Christina on her website and on Twitter.

A Silent Touch of Shadows is available in paperback from Amazon and Amazon UK, and on Kindle for both the US and UK.

Friday, August 3, 2012

News and Views

Today's post is just a general round-up of news from the net.

Kate Jackson has posted an announcement this morning of a new imprint at DC Thompson called Easy Reads which should excite writers (and readers) of category-length romances. I love the covers!
Sally Quilford also has more on this on her blog.

I'm really excited about all these new romance imprints opening up, and all the new opportunities for writers. But I'm also reminded of Anne Ashurst's cautionary words in her closing speech at the RNA conference: always read the fine print and be sure what you're giving away and what you're getting in return. This applies to any publishing house, and Kathryn Rusch recently posted this interesting blog post on how we each have our own, very different dealbreakers.

In other news, Maeve Binchy died this week, aged 72. The Irish Times carried this article in tribute to her. Another great loss to women's fiction.

I came rather late to the news of the eBook debate that stirred at the recent Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, but nevertheless found this blog post by Stephen Leather rather entertaining.
There's been a great deal of talk recently about copyright issues regarding images used on blogs. Dear Author carried a cogent post explaining the issue earlier this week, and social media guru Kristen Lamb came up with a solution.

And finally, for the view ...

No copyright images here - this is a picture I took at work today. I know I complain about the day job and how much it interferes with my writing, but there are compensations. Apologies for the poor quality, but the only camera I had on me was my cell phone.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Author Spotlight - Elizabeth Bailey

The minxes are delighted to have Liz Bailey here with us today, answering the minxy questions. She'll be telling us too about her new release, A Georgian Romance called Mademoiselle at Arms.

What is your writing process?
I tend to work to a general outline, with some data culled from research. I need character names, though not necessarily much info about the characters. I don’t plan too much because I find once I get going that new ideas are generated by what I write. I don’t really know what a scene will end up doing, so I just start the scene and see where the characters take me. I like to finish the first draft - unless it goes badly wrong! - and then work it over until I’m happy.

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?
With experience I think it’s easier to knuckle down. I try to write a first draft on my Alphasmart (really simple little computer with four lines of text and no distractions) so that I can’t do anything else. Then there are the endless cups of tea. However, if it’s really not working, I leave it and do something else that day.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I don’t, but I walk into town several times a week, and I do a Lotte Berk class once a fortnight usually (though it should really be once a week) to keep my back in good shape. But I take breaks and move which helps a bit.

Do you believe in writer's block?
I believe in treacle! Most writer’s block, in my experience, is caused by going wrong somewhere in the story. You have to trace back and find it. You can also be stopped in your tracks by negative comments, especially about a work in progress. So I don’t let anyone read it until I’m happy with it. But treacle books are hell on earth. They just don’t flow and that can go on indefinitely. You just have to write through it.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book?
I’ve been using incidents from real life to create a spy thriller for a client, and I have used something from my past. If so, did it get you into trouble? Well, I’ve handed the spy book to another writer now, so if there’s trouble, it won’t be me!

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
The problems don’t stop. They multiply. You think once you’re published, everything will be roses, but it isn’t. There’s no guarantees in this business and you can be dropped as easily as you were picked up by a publisher. You still have to meet editor’s requirements, and you still have to wait for acceptance. The good thing is that you have track and agents and editors will take you seriously.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
I’m learning this game. I do social networking - twitter, Facebook and Goodreads - and blog tours are good. I’m so astonished at how generous bloggers are in doing reviews and helping with promotion.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Don’t be afraid to ask! If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Just try it.

What did you learn while writing this book?
I originally wrote this book a long time ago, and I think I learned a great deal while editing it up to current standard. For one thing, I realised just how much craft I’ve learned in the intervening years. There’s so much to writing and you get better all the time, but it’s only when you go back to something you did years ago that find out just how much better you are now.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
Having a heroine who is fearless and incredibly accomplished with weapons, as most young ladies of her era had little or no knowledge of firearms or swords.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
I think Gerald would take his bride to a very English seaside resort where she’d probably start chasing smugglers!
Mademoiselle at Arms
Threatened with a pistol by the young lady discovered in a deserted mansion, Major Gerald Alderley is instantly intrigued. Who is the beautiful intruder? And why does she disguise herself as a nun? What circumstance has thrust her into an enterprise both foolhardy and dangerous? The girl’s French accent places her with the émigrés from across the channel, except that Mademoiselle insists she is English.
Set on unravelling her secrets, Gerald begins a relentless pursuit, hunting down every possible clue - much to the indignation of Mademoiselle. When her life proves to be in danger from the villainous émigré Valade, Gerald has his work cut out. For Mademoiselle Melusine, engaged in a desperate battle to prove her true identity, believes she is well able to take care of herself and is determined not to be rescued.

Mademoiselle at Arms is available here for, and here for Amazon. com
Thank you so much for being our guest today, Liz!