Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What happened to Christmas?

I love my city at Christmas time. While most Jo'burgers make the annual pilgrimage to the coast, the streets empty, the weather is warm and sunny, and I get to spend lazy days just hanging out at home with the family.

At least that's the way I always remember it.

Every year I forget the mad rush that is those last few days before Christmas. No matter how prepared I think I am, Christmas Eve always seems to be spent driving from mall to mall to find that one last item on the shopping list, standing in long queues at tills, then chasing the kids because we're running late for church.

Is it like this for everyone, or is is just me?

So here I am at the end of Christmas Day, finally sitting with my feet up and enjoying a glass of wine in front of the TV, relaxed at last. (Though it's been raining for several hours, the way it does every year. Why do I never remember that part?)

Since I'm connecting to the internet for the first time in days, here are belated best wishes for a wonderful, relaxing holiday season, from all of us Minxes to you. And if you celebrate Christmas: Merry Christmas!

Courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blaze Anthology Teasers and a Gift for the Holidays

The Minxes have a special gift to readers everywhere for Christmas!! Our Blaze Anthology is going to be free over the weekend and in case, you're still thinking about downloading it, we have teasers from all eight stories here....

Romy Sommer, The Fire Inside

Ryan paid for the drinks and raised his glass. “And I’m guessing you’re a careful woman.”
She matched his toast. “I take care I don’t get burned.”

Maya Blake, Memory’s Flame

"We were friends long before we became lovers, Ellie," Jake rasped.
"I could seduce you into spending the next five days in my bed so we can relive the lovers' part of our history. But I don't think I can survive you walking away again if I let that happen."

Sally Clements, Lighting Love’s Spark

Daniel lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles.
The breath left Annabel’s lungs, and instantly all she could think of was his mouth trailing slowly down her neck. Heat pooled in her stomach.

Lorraine Wilson, A Kindling Romance

“Promise me something Drew.”
“Promise you're not filming me on your mobile and this is going to be all over YouTube in the morning?” Polly was dimly aware her question was insulting. This guy was a professional and rules were rules, even out here in the sticks.
“Trust me,” the calm, deep voice replied.
Something in the warm tone and the firm grip on her legs made her want to do exactly that. She felt she might do anything he asked.
Anything at all.

Tara Pammi, Worth the Risk

The strength of how much he wanted to be here with Annie, how much he wanted to continue, didn’t bother Marcus at all.
“If you touch me, I can’t stop, Annie. It’s been six months and you taste like heaven and if you touch me…I swear Annie, I won’t be able to stop until I’m inside you.”
He pressed a fierce kiss again before she could even reply. Just in case she said no, in case this never happened again, and he needed to remember how erotic she tasted.

Jodie James, Hot, Bothered and Bewitched

Isaac toyed idly with the end of Seraphine’s belt as she curled her legs up beneath her. She watched his fingers for a second. He had the sort of hands you’d expect of a farrier. Strong, capable, a little bashed.
“Or we could just stay here by the fire and drink champagne,” she said.
“I like your plan better.”
She couldn’t be certain, but he seemed a smidge closer than he’d been a second or two ago.
“I could wash the blood out of your T-shirt for you, if you like.”
He looked at her for a few silent, assessing seconds, then handed her his glass to hold. “I’d like that very much.”
Seraphine’s breath caught in her throat as he reached for the hem of his faded T-shirt and peeled it unhurriedly over his head.
Christ. The way his clothes clung to his body had hinted he was in good condition, but bare-chested in the firelight, he was beyond that. He was beautiful.

Suzanna Ross, A Smouldering Attraction

Relocating to this gorgeous village had been the first move in her recovery. Having fund with this man might be the next one…
He reached out and lifted her chin so she looked into darkened gray eyes.
Her heart nearly stopped beating.
“Who was he? Is he worth denying yourself the chance of future happiness?”
When Harrison’s lips met hers in the briefest of butterfly kisses, she was quite sure it wasn’t.

Catherine Coles, Locked Into Love

Cassie swayed her hips in time to the music, watching the tell-tale muscle in his jaw jump as he tried to keep himself under control.
“Something wrong?” she asked, blinking innocently.
“What the hell are you doing?” he responded through gritted teeth.
“You’re gyrating.”
“Am not,” Cassie grinned up at him, moving her hips in a circle against his erection. “That’s gyrating.”

Blaze is available from Amazon and Amazon UK.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Breaking News: A new Minx!

The Minxes are completely thrilled to announce that we have a new Minx joining our ranks!

Since the success of Fifty Shades and Bared to You, we've toyed with the idea of inviting an erotica author into our midst, and we are delighted that KITTY FRENCH, author of Knight & Play, currently in the Top 100 on the Amazon fiction charts, has accepted our invitation.

Please join us in welcoming Kitty, make her feel at home - and don't forget to buy the first book in her Knight Series, available from Amazon and Amazon UK.

Did I mention that as I write this, Knight & Play is currently in the Top 100 on Amazon? The book has only been on sale for two weeks, and has already reached #8 on the Kindle Erotica charts, with literally dozens of 5-star reviews!

You can chat to Kitty on Twitter or Facebook, or follow her blog.She also has a Knight & Play Pinterest board.

Kitty, thanks so much for joining the Minxes and we hope you enjoy being part of the group.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Author Spotlight - Barbara Freethy

The Minxes are delighted to have #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy here today, to answer the minx questions!
She's much too modest to blow her own trumpet, so I'm doing it for her.

Barbara started in traditional publishing then moved on to self publish, and since then, she hasn't looked back. An interview on Kirkus Reviews in the summer stated : Barbara Freethy is the No. 1 New York Times Bestselling author of 30 novels ranging from contemporary romance to women’s fiction and romantic suspense. Her books have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, and she is a five-time RITA finalist from Romance Writers of America for best contemporary romance. In 2011, she began self-publishing and has since sold over 2.6 million ebooks. For more information, visit Barbara’s website at barbarafreethy.com.
Since then, Barbara has become the first ever Indie author to sell over a million books on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and in October her ever-rising sales numbers has reached 2.7 million since January 2011. If that wasn't enough, I can also attest to the fact that she's a totally lovely person! So, over to her...here come the minxy questions....

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I'm married with two children and live in California. I love to read as much as I love to write, so I have the perfect job!
What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th?(Nora only!)
I'm getting ready to release my 34th book, ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS (The Callaways, #1) on Christmas day.
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?
Writing is hard, so there are many days when I would rather go shopping. But writing books and publishing them is my career, so I can't afford to take time off work. Like all jobs, you have to work through bad days. I do find that re-reading what I've written the day before gets me in the mood to write. I also find that if I can end my day of writing with some notes on where I want to begin the next day, I don't have as much trouble getting started. But writing is like exercising. If you let too many days go by, it's like you're starting all over again. Writing a little every day keeps the story in my head and makes it a little easier to stay on track.
What is your top promo tip for other authors?
My top promo tip is don't spend all your time on promo – write another book. The best way to develop a long-term career and to sell more copies of each title is to have more titles to sell. You want to build on the success of each book and develop a fan base.
That said, I do think social media is important as well as a website. You need to be able to interact with your readers and to build a focused newsletter list and your website and social media presence will help you do that. But don't spend more than 25% of your time on promo. Keep writing!
How does writing fit into your day? Or does your day fit in around your writing?
I believe in having some balance in life. When I'm not on a hard deadline, I make time for friends and exercise. I like to walk in the mornings and also find that's a good time to think. When the book has to be done in a month, I'm writing all the time and not doing anything else.
Any craft books you recommend?
I really like some of the craft books written by literary agent Donald Maass, which include THE FIRE IN FICTION and WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. I think he has some good ideas about story. But there are lots of wonderful books out there.
What was the most fun part of writing your new book?
ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS is the first book in my new contemporary romance series, The Callaways, about a big, blended Irish family, born to serve and protect. The hero is a smokejumper, and the heroine was the girl next door. I love their romance, but it also wouldn't be a Barbara Freethy book if I didn't complicate it with legends and mystery and lots of emotion!
I also recently completely a series of three books, THE WISH SERIES, including A SECRET WISH, JUST A WISH AWAY and WHEN WISHES COLLIDE. The books stand alone, but are connected by the theme of wishes. I just released a boxed set version of the Wish Series, so you can get three books for the price of one!
Have you ever written a hero you'd be happy to run off with?
I'd like to run off with ALL my heroes. Don't tell my husband that! But seriously, I couldn't write about a hero I didn't love in some way. So they're all fun!
At what point in your career did you actually start to feel like you were a writer?
Great question! I think the very first time I finished a novel, I felt like a writer, because it takes a lot of stamina and focus to write that many pages and put together characters and plot. There was a tremendous sense of accomplishment getting to the end and it's a feeling that's repeated with every book I write.
Do you have any tips, tricks or sacrificial rituals you do when you hit a story roadblock?
When you get stuck in your story, there's something wrong. So I try to back up, see where I went off course, and then I look at the scene I'm in and ask myself a couple of questions: Is this scene being told from the right character's point of view? What else could happen in this scene that would change everything? What's at stake in the story at this particular moment? How can I surprise the reader? Just trying to answer those questions usually helps get me unstuck!
ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS (Callaways, #1) will be released on 12/25/12
In the meantime, you can check out my latest series, THE WISH SERIES, which includes a novella and two novels.
A SECRET WISH is about three women, three milestone birthdays, three wishes and one unforgettable night.
JUST A WISH AWAY reunites childhood sweethearts who once made a very special wish, then life and tragedy tore them apart. Years later, another mystery brings them back together.
WHEN WISHES COLLIDE brings together two people at a fountain. Both desperate and hoping for a miracle, they toss a coin and make a wish, but their coins collide in mid air, and they find their lives connecting in a way they never expected.  

The WISH Series, both Individual books and the special boxed set version, is available at:
Apple IBooks

ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS (Callaways #1) will go on sale December 25, 2012.
Thanks for having me!

Find out more about Barbara and her books at her website here.
Thanks so much for visiting the Minxes today, Barbara, and for your answers to our questions!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: The Price of Success

The advantage of belonging to a critique group as large as the Minxes, is that when life gets hectic and one of your CPs needs their manuscript read, there's always someone else able to stepin and you're not under pressure to do a critique.

Which is how I managed to read Maya's The Price of Success completely fresh, just as a reader, and without having to think of things like sentence structure or character inconsistencies.

As a reader, I loved this book. As I said in my previous post, it's set in the world of motor racing (my favourite sport), with a truly strong, feisty heroine (my favourite kind of heroine), and a hero I could easily fall in love with (and did).

This story has all the intensity and passion that is Maya's trademark, and she manages to keep the sensuality levels high and constant with surprisingly few actual love scenes. From cover to cover the chemistry sizzles.

As a writer, I'm very aware of saggy middles in a book, perhaps because it's the part I struggle most with. This book doesn't sag at all. The pace is unrelenting, the story and characters so gripping, that I kept turning the pages and never once felt an urge to put the book down. No wonder Maya's been getting such great reviews and made the Top 10 books of 2012 list on Harlequin Junkies.

But my biggest, number one reason for loving The Price of Success? The references to The Vampire Diaries. Read the book and see if you can spot them!

So what's next from Maya? Happily, there will be many more Maya Blake novels for you to enjoy.  Her next book, The Sinful Art of Revenge, will be available in both the UK and North America in April 2013. This is Damon and Reiko's story and features another unconventional heroine. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

The Price of Success should still be available in all brick-and-mortar stores that stock Harlequins, as well as on the Mills & Boon site, from Harlequin, Amazon and Amazon UK in both paperback and Kindle versions. However you plan to spend this holiday season, treat yourself with this read.

But don't take my word for it. Read this book and post your own review. Or leave us a comment letting us know how much you enjoyed Maya's debut novel.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Author Spotlight - Victoria Connelly

My huge apologies to Victoria, as I've been on a back foot and catching up all week, which is why this week's posts are a few days late.
But better late than never, here's Victoria Connelly.

1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I started writing my first novel when I was fourteen and haven’t stopped since. I love films especially romantic comedies staring Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe and Gene Kelly. I usually read about four books at the same time. I adore animals and have a rescue Springer spaniel called Molly and several ex-battery hens named after characters from books by Miss Read and H E Bates! And I’m passionate about roses and have been filling our cottage garden with them since moving here last year.

2. What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th? (Nora only!)

Gosh – it’s complicated. Christmas with Mr Darcy is my first ebook novella and it’s the fourth in my Austen Addicts series. I’ve also had eight novels published worldwide and three collections of short stories published on Kindle. I tend to lose count!

3. 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 use the knowledge that I’d have to get a ‘proper’ job if I didn’t want to do this one any longer! I would much rather be making up stories than doing anything else for a living. I truly love it and that’s what keeps me going.

4. What is your top promo tip for other authors?

Write the story you most want to. You have to LOVE what you’re doing because a novel doesn’t write itself – it’s a long and lonely slog so you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. Also, don’t give up! I had so many rejections especially for my novel Flights of Angels which – after literally hundreds of rejections over many years - was published after a bidding war between five publishers and made into a film! I’m so glad I never gave up on it!

5. How does writing fit into your day? Or does your day fit in around your writing?

Writing is my passion so everything else tends to be woven around that but the animals (and occasionally the husband!) comes first and I make sure everybody has been walked/cleaned out/fed/cuddled in the morning before I lose myself in my latest novel.

6. Is there a book you haven't written yet that you're dying to? What genre?

I’d really love to write an adventure thriller with a strong female protagonist. I’ve got a few ideas and I’ve started one novel already so watch out for that!

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

I don’t have a regime as such but I keep fit naturally by walking our spaniel twice a day, looking after our hens and our beautiful garden. I’m also a member of two walking groups and love to cycle around the country lanes. All of this helps stave off the effects of hours sitting at a computer.

8. What was the most fun part of writing this book?

I loved writing Christmas with Mr Darcy because I got to meet all the characters from my Austen Addicts trilogy again. It was like catching up with old friends and I’ve had lots of lovely emails from readers who have said the same thing. I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas book too so it was wonderful to imagine the romantic setting of Purley Hall in the snow.

9. Could you be friends with any of your heroines?

One of my favourite heroines is Maggie Hamill from The Runaway Actress and I’d love to spend an evening with her – perhaps watching a girlie film like Thelma and Louise. She’s really good fun and always knows the latest gossip and we could raid her little shop for crisps and popcorn.

10. Have you ever written a hero you'd be happy to run off with?

My favourite hero is Dan Harcourt from A Weekend with Mr Darcy and Christmas with Mr Darcy. He’s tall and handsome with red-gold hair, is kind and caring and is constantly followed around by his two faithful dogs, Moby and Biscuit, and he knows how to ride a horse! Sigh!


Christmas is being celebrated in style at Purley Hall in Hampshire because renowned actress, Dame Pamela Harcourt, is holding a special Jane Austen Conference. Everybody’s there: Katherine and Warwick, Robyn and Dan, Kay, Adam and Gemma, and Sarah and Mia. Oh, and Mrs Soames.

But, when a rare first edition of Pride and Prejudice goes missing, the guests have to forget the fun and games and turn detective...

Christmas with Mr Darcy is the light-hearted novella sequel to the bestselling Austen Addicts’ Trilogy: A Weekend with Mr Darcy, The Perfect Hero (Dreaming of Mr Darcy) and Mr Darcy Forever.

Christmas with Mr Darcy is available from Amazon and Amazon UK.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chicken soup and the Price of Success

Our very own Maya Blake was supposed to be here on the blog this week talking up her debut Harlequin Presents novel, The Price of Success. However Maya is laid up in bed with really terrible flu, so I thought I’d step in instead.

Since I’m scheduled to post about this book next week, I’m not going to talk about this story (with its strong, smart, unconventional heroine, and very Alpha, very irresistible hero). I’m going to talk about Maya instead.

Maya is every bit as strong and sassy as the heroines she writes.
She’s a Superwoman. She has a demanding, high-powered day job, two kids, and a husband in an equally demanding day job which occasionally takes him away from home. Maya not only manages all this (like many of the other Superwomen we know) but she still makes time to write intense, emotional and very sexy romances. And I know, as I’ve been privileged to read quite a few Maya Blake stories. (You’re just going to have to be satisfied with The Price of Success and her Blaze story for now, but I promise you won’t have to wait long. There’s more Maya Blake goodness coming your way soon).

Maya is a not a woman who messes around. She’s been known to pull all-nighters to write when she’s inspired (or on a deadline) and you know that anyone who goes to a hectic day job after writing all night is seriously crazy dedicated.

She also doesn’t let any of us Minxes mess around either. Maya is the wielder of the Big Minxy Stick. The Stick may be virtual but it’s still scary, and it’s been known to whip at least one Minxy butt back into line. If any of us is suffering from a case of Acute Procrastination, Maya’s Big Stick is the wonder cure.

Maya is also our staunchest defender, ready to leap in with that Big Stick in our hour of need. Have any Crows of Doubt, dodgy exes, or pesky cold callers you need dealing with? Just call Maya.
So now, in her time of need, I’m going to ask all our Minxy friends and blog readers to join me in creating a wonder cure for Maya’s flu.

We’re going to make her feel better by telling her how much we love her book. If you haven’t read it yet (and why not? It’s been on sale in stores and e-stores everywhere for at least a week!) then tell us why you loved the blurb and/or cover so much that you just have to read it.

I’m going to start by saying that I love The Price of Success because it’s set against a motor racing background and like Maya I’m a massive fan of Formula One motor racing. My fanship was guaranteed before I even opened my copy and read the dedication!

So why do you love The Price of Success? And remember that every comment is a virtual bowl of chicken soup, so keep them coming.

And don't forget - The Price of Success is available direct from Mills & Boon, Amazon and Amazon UK.