Monday, April 29, 2013

April News

We've had a busy month, with 8 new Minx books out and many other projects percolating.
Here's a roundup of April's news.

Romy - New book out via Harper Impulse - Waking Up in Vegas will be available from May 9th, and is available for pre-order now on Amazon and Amazon UK.

Rae - Re-release of Let's Misbehave - available exclusively on Amazon and Amazon UK now.

Rae - New book, Prohibited Passion is now also available on Amazon and Amazon UK.

Kat - Undertaking Love via HarperCollins, available everywhere now including Amazon and Amazon UK.

Tara - Mills and Boon/Harlequin debut A Hint of Scandal is now available to pre-order on Amazon and Amazon UK.

Maya - The Sinful Art of Revenge is available in bookshops and as an ebook (Amazon and Amazon UK amongst others).

Suzanne - After a bumper March in which she sold five short stories and the large print rights for Hidden Heartache, Suz sold a further two short stories this month, and her latest People's Friend pocket novel Your Secret Smile, is available in shops now.

Kitty French - Knight and Stay release date Monday 6th May.

In other news, Lorraine has two books out on submission, Maya has delivered her 4th Mills and Boon, and Sally is preparing a new book to self publish... watch this space!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Author Spotlight - Aimee Duffy

1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

Not much has changed since the last time you lovely ladies had me here (sadly). Still hammering away at the keyboard, abusing my delete button and spending too much money on shoes.

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

Published? Four if you include the short I had in a Christmas anthology last year. If you mean manuscript I have countless wips on my laptop, waiting to be fixed and submitted. Six new since the last time I was here.

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?

It isn’t easy to keep focused and I have no willpower at all. I pick shopping over writing any day. Thankfully I’m not minted so can’t afford to shop all the time. Instead, I make myself do something writing related every day. Even get up early to rack up the words. Still, Sundays are the most productive. I treat that as my main writing day now. I’m not satisfied until I have at least 5k down on a Sunday.

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

Promo is hard. I hate it. I feel like a serial spammer when I go at it. However, it’s necessary if you want to get the word out about your release, so it’s a must. I highly recommend booking a good blog tour, especially one who offers the hosts a chance to review your book. My latest find is Tasty Book Tours and Lisa is lovely to work with. She also has her own professional review site, Tasty Book Reviews.

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

It doesn’t, not now that work is crazy, but I make it. Whether I stay up until 1am or set my alarm a few hours early, I make a point of writing, revising, or promoting, every day.

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

I’m half way through a single title shifter story, and I’d like to breach the line into erotic romance (when I’m braver!).

7. Any craft books you recommend?

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Great for pointing out the difference between showing and telling. Plus it has a huge ‘dictionary’ of emotions, and instead of meanings, the book lists possible reactions to the emotion to help improve writing. It’s my new bible.

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

Sander’s mother is a movie star and his father is a director. They didn’t have time for him when he was growing up, so left him with a nanny. When he makes his ‘fake’ relationship with Chloe public, there’s a scene where his parents gate-crash a celebration dinner for Chloe in The Ivy and give the poor girl a hard time. I loved all the poison dripping out around the table. (What does that say about me?)

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

I could so easily be best friends with Chloe. She’s down to earth, real and has a heart of gold. Plus she has the same Barbour coat as me ;o).

10. At what point in your career did you actually start to feel like you were a writer?

I still don’t really. Yes, I write. Yup, I have three books published, but do I feel like an author? No. This all still feels like a hobby I love doing, which is fantastic, because who wants two jobs?

When pretend turns to desire, heartbreak is unavoidable.

Sander Chase needs a date for his ex-fiancée's engagement party, but he doesn't have time for a woman in his life. Between working on the TV show Do You Have What It Takes? and his band reforming, he's too busy for a relationship. What he needs is a pretend girlfriend. He thinks he may have found the perfect woman for the job, and the bribe he offers means she's sure to accept.

After losing her job in the film industry, breaking up with her movie star boyfriend, and finding out her mum has dementia, Chloe Butler returned to the UK determined to put her life back together. The last thing she needs is to parade around London on the arm of a celebrity, and after the heartbreak caused by her ex, she swore she'd never again date a star. But when Sander offers her a chance at her dream job, it's not something she can turn down.

As Chloe gets to know Sander she learns he's nothing like her scumbag ex. But she struggles to fight her attraction to him, knowing their relationship is only for show and their separation date is closing in fast.

Ignoring the insane chemistry between them should be easy for Sander, especially since he carries a secret that means there can be no future for them, but the more time he spends with Chloe, the harder it is to keep his hands to himself.

Content Warning: contains more denial than you'll find in a courtroom, more sexual tension than most people could handle, and explosive sex that some readers may find long overdue.

Never Say Never is available from Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks and Beachwalk Press.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Editor-Proof Your Writing

I'm a sucker for a few things. Licorice all-sorts, chocolate, music while I write, and craft books on writing. I've decided to feature some of my favorites over the next few blog posts from me here on the Minxes blog. Years ago I did a fantastic online course on editing by Don McNair in which he laid out 21 ways to eliminate foggy writing and clean up your manuscript. At this stage, I hadn't been published, but the first manuscript I ran through his system ended up being the first book I sold, Catch Me A Catch.

I'm delighted to say that Don has now put all that information into a book, called Editor-Proof Your Writing, and it's available for kindle and also in print (I've got a paperback version).

The thing I like best about this book is that you work on your own writing with it. Don encourages the reader to take the first chapter of your work in progress and apply each of his editing processes in turn to it. This means that instead of being a general 'book about editing', it is instead a powerful tool that you can apply to your words, your story, to strengthen it and strip away redundancies. Yes, it means 21 passes of the same material, but the insight into the way you write, the things you automatically do and shouldn't, is very powerful. Not everyone has the same weaknesses in writing, but using this book means that you quickly identify yours.

As an example here's one of my problems:

Use fewer -ing words.
She started walking toward the door.
Do we mean she got one foot into the air and stopped? No, you say? Well the author should have said this instead:
She walked toward the door.

The new sentence eliminates a word. One unit of fog. More importantly, it strengthens the action. She didn't just start something, she actually did it.

Another example:

Picking up a rock, she threw it at the dog.
This sentence defies logic. How can the girl do both simultaneously, which is implied? Mustn't she pick up the rock before she throws it? Let's say instead:
She picked up a rock and threw it at the dog.

Another great section for me is a section about superflous verbiage (another one of my problems).
Here are a couple of examples, the second line is the improvement:

Betty yawned and then made a casual comment about it being no big deal.
Betty yawned and said it was no big deal.

He looked toward the village, but with the mist so thick it was difficult to see it.
He looked toward the village, almost hidden by the thick mist.

Personally, when I'm writing I just write. I get the words onto the page, and don't worry too much about my stylistic errors, or foggy writing. But after I've finished a manuscript, I go through it and clean it up. Don's notes help me with that, and I'm glad I now have them all in one place in a book!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Undertaking Love

I'm so excited to be able to say that this time next week will be launch day for Undertaking Love!

It's a book that is very close to my heart. It seemed to take forever to write, and it is the book I wrote when I final realised that, much as I dearly wanted it to at the time, my style was never going to fit the guidelines for category romance.

When I started to write Undertaking Love I had no clue what the heck I was going to do with it, and it is only by luck that I posted the partial onto HarperCollins Authonomy website. That seems a long time ago now, and it has been an exciting ride (punctuated by those loooooooong nail-biting periods of silence that we are all accustomed to of course).

The book has changed title, I've changed pseudonym, and here we are at last, almost good to go. :O)

The amazon listing went live a couple of weeks ago for pre-order, and from there on in things really started to hot up. Review copies have gone out, and last week Undertaking Love featured in The Sun national newspaper as their e-book of the week!
That was a real thrill, as was the subsequent effect on the rankings. I'm already addicted to watching sales and rankings data from my Kitty French books, so this is my brand new baby to obsess over. :O)

I'm ridiculously excited already;  I think a tranquilizer dart might be required next week!

Kat xx

The official blurb for Undertaking Love from HarperCollins, and the links to Amazon UK & US.

The moment love-phobic Marla Jacobs discovers that the shop next to her Little White Wedding Chapel is to become a funeral parlour, she declares all-out war.
Marla’s chapel in the sleepy Shropshire countryside has become a nation-wide sensation, but the arrival of Funeral Director Gabriel Ryan threatens everything Marla has worked for. She can picture the scene: wedding limos fighting for space in the street with hearses; brides bumping into widows; bouquets being swapped for wreaths
Marla’s not going down without a fight. She enlists a motley crew of weird and wonderful local supporters, and the battle lines are drawn. But, as soon as Marla meets her nemesis, she realises just how much trouble she’s really in. His gypsy curls and Irish lilt make her stomach fizz – how is she supposed to concentrate on destroying him, when half the time she’s struggling not to rip the shirt off his back?
Funny, romantic, and dangerously sexy, UNDERTAKING LOVE is a delightful debut from an exciting new voice in Women’s fiction.

Click HERE for Undertaking Love on Amazon UK, available on pre-order now.

Click HERE for Undertaking Love on Amazon US, available on pre-order now. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Thoughts and Prayers

In light of the events taking place just now at the Boston marathon, we've decided not to run our planned light hearted post today.

All of our thoughts and prayers are with those involved and their families at this horrible time.

The Minxes xx

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Author Spotlight - Charlotte Phillips

Today we're pleased to welcome the fabulously minxy, Harlequin KISS/Riva author, Charlotte Phillips to the blog. You may remember Charlotte as one of the finalists from New Voices 2011. 

1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been faffing about with writing since I was just a kid but it’s only in the last few years that I started taking it seriously. The turning point for me came when I entered a chapter in Mills & Boon’s New Voices competition in 2011. I ended up in the final four and after that I started throwing everything at my writing ambitions. All my achievements since have come from that moment. I squash my writing around family life, keeping two teenagers out of trouble and looking after a four-year old.

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

This is my second published book but it was the first one I wrote (if that makes sense!). I spent years picking it up, fiddling with it and shutting it back in the wardrobe before I eventually submitted it to Mills & Boon. It was initially rejected after major revisions but after I sold they asked to look at it again. It has a limited release in the UK only for now, although I hope it will get a full release further down the line. I’m so happy it will finally get out there as it really was my baby!

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?

Shoe shopping has its place! I definitely have times when writing is the best thing ever and the words seem to flow from my fingers, and then other times when it’s like pulling teeth. Forcing myself to keep writing at those times is the only thing that works for me. I set a target of 1k a day and make myself keep going until I reach it, even if I’m still messing about at 3pm and I think I’m writing dross. Some of the time it turns out not to be dross and even if it is, once the words are down they are far more fixable.

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

Not to get too bogged down by the promo! I’m on Twitter and Facebook and I try to blog at least once a month. I also think it’s important to have a website with good up-to-date information on your books, along with excerpts, blurbs, buying links etc. I’ve just discovered Goodreads (can’t believe it’s taken me so long) and I think that is a fabulous site. But all this stuff takes up a lot of time and the most important thing is to get the books done to the absolute best standard I can. I try to prioritise that.

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

Since my smallest daughter started school last September I’m much more time-rich than I used to be! I try to write from 9am-12pm on weekdays, longer if I haven’t hit my wordcount or if it’s flowing particularly well. In the afternoon I make notes or draft scenes by hand in between doing housework and running around after the kids. I have notebooks all over the place! Weekends are family time, but I still fit in the odd hour here and there, especially if I’m near a deadline.

6. Which blog(s) do you read regularly?

I read from my article list on Blogger every day. I love the articles on Romance University, I always read the Minxes blog (of course!) and I especially like the craft posts that some of the authors I follow write – Maisey Yates does craft advice brilliantly, as does Fiona Harper.

7. Any craft books you recommend?

Liz Fielding’s Little Book Of Writing Romance is a brilliant pared-down craft book for keeping you on track while you write your first draft. It cuts through all the faff.
Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat! and Michael Hauge’s Writing Screenplays That Sell are invaluable to me. I’m a real planner and I’ve used both their approaches and found them so helpful.
And Stephen King’s On Writing for its pure kick-up-the-butt inspiration.

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

I feel like I’m best mates with all my heroines while I’m writing them. I always feel like I’m really living their journey and as a result I have to work really hard to make sure I don’t neglect the hero. I have to keep in mind that it’s a 50-50 story of two people with their own backgrounds and experiences that converges.

9. At what point in your career did you actually start to feel like you were a writer?

It’s all still a bit surreal, to be honest! I think when I received my first box of author copies. Seeing my name on the cover was a special moment.

10. Do you write to music, or with the tv on in the background, or do you need complete silence?

I can write to any of these quite happily. I think the ability to tune sound out stems from all that time spent squeezing my writing in around a mad toddler. I still do a lot of writing by hand in notebooks with Disney films in the background or at the end of the table while my small one builds things from Lego. But I’m just as happy writing in total silence. Whatever works in the time I have!

The Proposal Plan
Click to buy from Amazon (UK release only, sadly)

How do you get the wedding you’ve always wanted?

Lucy Telford knows all about heartache – her teenage crush on her friend Gabriel Blake was a crash course in unrequited love – but these days she’s determined to make her own happy ending. If her boyfriend won’t get down on one knee, she’ll just have to ask him herself!

Step one is enlisting Gabriel’s help – as an absolute woman-magnet, surely he can give her some tips on becoming irresistible? But Lucy’s perfect plan goes awry when she starts wondering if she’s asking the right man to walk her down the aisle…

Monday, April 8, 2013

New Imprints, Submission Calls and News

This is an exciting time to be a writer, and most especially a romance writer. With romances doing so well on all the Best Seller lists, and new imprints opening up, the future has never looked so bright.

So today I thought I'd use my space on the Minxes blog to share the news of a few of these bright new opportunities.

First up, is the announcement of a new digital first imprint from Harper Collins, named Harper Impulse, led by Kimberly Young, former editorial director at Harlequin Mills & Boon and then Mira. Harper Impulse are open to unsolicited submissions, and are eagerly searching for new talent in the Romance and New Adult genres. More information is available on their Facebook page. [And while there, don't forget to vote for your favourite historical hero].

Harlequin are looking for short, sexy reads for their new Cosmo Red Hot Reads line, a tie-in with Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Entangled Publishing have recently put out a submission call for One Night In... They are looking for novellas featuring a one night stand in an exotic locale. Who doesn't love the idea of a holiday romance that ends in a Happy Ever After?

It's old news by now I know, but for those interested in writing New Adult, Carina Press have also put out a submission call for New Adult stories.

Our very own Kat French, more reputable alter ego of the best-selling Kitty French, has her debut novel available for pre-order on Amazon now. I was lucky enough to read this story before it was snapped up by Harper Collins for their Authonomy imprint, and I can guarantee this is a fun, sexy, humorous book that you can't fail to love. More on Undertaking Love here on this blog soon.

Finally, a little personal news from moi. Tomorrow I will be resuming my blog series on Behind the Scenes in the film business. If there's ever anything you wanted to know about how movies are made, what a Grip does, or who the heck a Gaffer is, then ask here. Added bonus: if you follow my blog, you'll be the first to hear my imminent exciting news.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Author Spotlight - Maya Blake

Today we have our very own Minx Maya Blake in the Spotlight. Maya's second Harlequin Presents novel, The Sinful Art of Revenge, is on sale at all Harlequin Mills & Boon stockists. Buy links for the eBook version are below.

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I live in Southeast England, I’m married with two kids and I’ve been reading for far longer than I can remember doing anything else. I write for Modern/Harlequin Presents for Harlequin Mills & Boon and Romantic Suspense for Entangled Publishing.

What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th? (Nora Only)

200 – ha, I wish! This is No.2 with Harlequin Presents and it’s a story I was itching to write even before I sold. I’d always wanted to write a full or half Japanese hero/heroine and Reiko was just the perfect heroine for this story.

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

The reality of deadlines means I have no choice in the matter, which is a huge relief to a procrastinator like me, lol. That said, I’m finding out that writing a little, often, or if you’re lucky, a lot, often, really makes the words flow much faster and easier, so even when I’m not on deadline I like to practice a bit of bichok whenever I can! Of course, once the words are down, the credit card goes wild on those online shoe shops!

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

I have no hard and fast rule for promo. I firmly believe putting yourself in a position where you can interact generally with as many authors and readers as possible is the best way to promote yourself and your book. To that end, I maintain a Twitter, Facebook and blog through which I try to reach as many people as possible.

How does writing fit into your day? Or does your day fit around your writing?

Unfortunately, I’m not yet in a position to fit my day around writing as I still have a full-time day job. I have a non-rigid routine where I write after my kids are in bed until about midnight (or the word count has been achieved, whichever comes first).

Do you write every day?

I really wish I could say yes, but when I’m not on deadline, I allow myself the freedom of writing in big chunks three or four times a week. When I’m on a deadline, however, I have no choice but to set myself a daily word count and stick to it.

Is there a book you haven’t written yet that you’re dying to write? What genre?

This will sound like a cop-out but I’m always dying to write my next book! I have several characters clamouring for their story and sometimes they don’t want to wait till the current book is finished, lol!

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

To summarise it in a few words, the pressure is 100% more intense but the rewards are so very worth it!

Just for fun, a year from the end of the book, where would your couple go on holiday?

I’d love Reiko and Damion to return to Kyoto. It was a scene of a lot of angst for them but also a place where they each saw a different side to the other – for instance, Damion learned what a great dancer Reiko is when they went clubbing, so I’d love them to go dancing even as they laid a few ghosts to rest. I’m also sure Reiko would love to show her adopted and new child their very first cherry blossom season.

Have you written a hero you’d be happy to run off with?

Gosh, yes! I fall in love with each hero I write. But if I had to choose one I’d run off with, it’d have to be Rafael de Cervantes, the hero of my fourth book, who’s very impatiently awaiting his verdict on my editor’s desk. He’s cheeky, completely irreverent but with a wounded soul that makes me want to forgive him just about anything!

Book Blurb

Taking what is rightfully his

Endless tabloid coverage has left Reiko Kagawa with way too much information about art dealer Damion Fortier's legendary playboy exploits—everyone knows he's renowned for leaving a wake of broken hearts across Europe's most glamorous destinations!

Damion isn't used to beautiful women scorning his advances, so it's definitely time to turn his lethal charm up one last notch to ensure he gets exactly what he wants….
Reiko knows she has two things Damion wants: the first, a priceless painting and Fortier heirloom. The second, her seriously off-limits body! And she has no intention of giving him access to either.

The Sinful Art of Revenge is available now from Amazon and Amazon UK, and direct from Harlequin and Mills & Boon.

You can chat to Maya on her blog, via Pinterest or Twitter.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Blank Page

I'm at that wonderful bug-eyed, exhausted-but-happy stage where I've finished writing a book (yippee :-) and have a lovely new idea bouncing around, begging me to write it.

Don't you just love that blank page waiting for the ideas to tumble onto it? I am a confirmed planner and have to say I love the whole spreadsheet/research stage. I also like the feeling that I have to write a story, I only hope it lasts well beyond chapter one.

How do you take this first stage? Any stellar planning tips you can share with us? I've started using Pinterest and love being able to pin pictures of lovely men onto my storyboards and be able to claim it's research! Click here if you'd like to see the storyboard for the book I've just finished.

I've stumbled across William Levy, sadly not literally ;-) I think he makes wonderful hero inspiration, what do you think?