Monday, May 26, 2014

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I'll love ya, Tomorrow...

It's only a day, away.

Tomorrow is release day for my second entangled novella in the Under the Hood Series - Love for Beginners, and I'm excited! I'm shamelessly hogging the blog today to tell everyone about it, and to say that if you intend to buy, tomorrow - 27th May - would be the PERFECT DAY to do so, as it will give the book a good launch day boost. Of course, if you like it, I'd also appreciate a review in any of the regular places. You know me, I love writing sexy, funny heroes, and Heath is one of my favorites. I had great fun writing this one - it pairs capable mechanic and co-owner of Under the Hood, Melody Swan with Alice Starr's (who was the heroine in the previous book, Under the Hood) brother, Heath - known far and wide as The Ladyslayer.... 

She needs a lesson in love, and he’s the perfect teacher.
Mechanic Melody Swan is looking for a man who can share her hopes and dreams, but she swore she would never lose herself to passion. When sexy Heath Starr agrees to temporarily sub in the Under the Hood garage for his sister, Mel sees the perfect opportunity to enjoy being with a man without becoming attached.
Heath came to Meadowsweet to photograph nature, not find a hookup, especially since his last relationship ended in disaster. He vowed he’d never break another woman’s heart, and in turn, protect his own. Still, when Mel offers to serve as his outdoor guide, he can’t refuse.
Mel may say she’s only looking for right now, but her body is speaking a whole different language. And Heath’s viewfinder is drawn to her time and again. When the two find themselves isolated in a rustic cabin, they could both break their promises if they aren’t careful…

Friday, May 23, 2014

Drinks with Rachel...

Minx friend, Rachel Lyndhurst is taking over the minxes today with a guest post...take it away, Rach!

Thanks for asking me here today, Minxes! It’s like coming home to a nice, warm and cosy place full of friends who have a lot to chat about. We’ve been pals for some time now, certainly before April 2012 when I was visiting to promote Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire. And so much has changed in that time; competition finals, completed manuscripts, contracts signed and books published by you lovely ladies – the Minxes must have special fairy dust sprinkles that’s all I can say. However, this also means we have all written a LOT of blog posts along the way and I don’t know about you,but after a few years you start to run out of steam!
Keeping your posts fresh and edgy becomes increasingly difficult as your rookie enthusiasm wanes and the demands or real life vie for your attention just as much as your new book. That’s just normal blogging too. When it comes to promotional blog tours you have to cram an awful lot of work in which must all relate to the same topic in some way – your writing and your books. Trends, markets and demographics change rapidly so you can’t afford to be complacent, for example the last year has been dominated by the young adult market from what I hear. People are buying, reading and surfing from loads more places than their home PC or laptop. How many people under thirty don’t have another ‘device’ these days? Not many, I’ll bet!
So, considering how much time she spends online, I decided it was time for my fifteen year old, gadget-dependant daughter to earn her keep and give me some hot promo tips (if she wasn’t going to pair her own socks…). She has given me permission to share her top ten blogging tips exclusively here, so here we go in her own words!
  1. Make it colourful.
  2. Use a catch line that attracts your audience. For example: “They do naughty things”.
  3. Pictures!!! Eye-catching and bold.
  4. Who is your target audience? Use things they like, like wine and garden programs or something, but make sure it links to your book!
  5. Be funny – ish. But not too much.
  6. Use awesome words like ‘paradoxically’.
  7. Make it smart casual. Not too casual or not too smart.
  8. If your post is boring then make up a hilarious or interesting story that is gripping.
  9. Separate your work out – don’t write one huge paragraph but several smaller ones.
  10. Use colours that match your theme. Like red is angry or passionate, blue is lonely, green is calm etc.
This list made me nod and laugh because I have read a number of blogs recently that are One Long Paragraph. Really. And even thought the wine and garden program tip made me wince a bit (guilt!) the list did spark some inspiration of my own. I now have my own bullet points, maybe even an embryonic branding exercise (ooh posh or what?) that I can use when preparing my posts and interviews.
Here’s the ‘reduction’ if you like (too much Masterchef as well as wine and gardening, yes, I know):
  • Make it fun.
  • Make it matter.
  • Make it real.
  • Make it exciting.
  • Make it SELL.
Phew, almost corporate there, eh? But I’m not giving myself hard and fast rules. No way, I’ve spent a lifetime following those and I’m naturally rebellious so this leads nicely into a blatant book plug (gotta do it!). The tagline for my new release Blackmailed by the Billionaire Brewer is: He makes the rules, she blows them sky high… Look here it is on the scrummy cover:

I love this tag because I was allowed to break a few of those ‘rules’ that can be drummed into you as an author in series-style romance. Entangled Publishing and my editorial team let me do some things that I thought I’d never get away with. There is irreverence, drunken antics, drunken sex, some very bad language, cigarettes are smoked and there is no audible rustling of foil wrappers …
So I’ll understand if I’m not asked back!
Here’s the official blurb for Blackmailed by the Billionaire Brewer:
Piper Reilly is in trouble. She needs a cash infusion, and she’s just left a scorching hot man in Florida to get her life in Colorado back on track. Then her surfside one-night-stand turns out to be her new boss, billionaire Matt DeLeo, with an offer she can’t refuse—agree to be the face of his brewery’s newest concoction or lose her job. A few weeks modelling for the billionaire playboy and her money worries are over, and she can definitely resist Matt’s gorgeous smile and muscular, tattooed arms—it’s strictly business.
 Matt DeLeo is in trouble. He’s found the perfect woman to sell Passion Creek Brewery’s newest brew, but if he wants her on his posters, he’ll have to keep his hands to himself. But all he wants to do is drink in Piper. And once the launch is over, it will take more than blackmail for Matt to get his way.
And, because I love you, here’s an ULTRA EXCLUSIVE pic of me drinking beer in the Canary Islands to prove I had to put a lot of research into this billionaire brewer book. It was hard work, I can tell you (hellish) and the reason why I now have too many chins …

So now it’s your turn to let rip. What rules do you hate, which ones would you like to see ripped up and stomped on in fiction as well as real life? Do you have any personal writing rules that you will never break? Spill!! (But I bag scrapping the difference between colons and semi-colons because they hate me and I am thick.)
Major buy links:
Social networking links:

Thanks a million for guest minxing here today, Rachel! 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Author Spotlight - Zanna Mackenzie

1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself

I live in the UK on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with my husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read. Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is my ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, I can usually be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel I’m working on. I love it when the characters in my novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot! The recently released If You Only Knew is my third novel; my previous books The Love Programme, and How Do You Spell Love? were both published in 2013. If you feel so inclined you can find out more about me and my books over on my blog, on Twitter via @ZannaMacKenzie or on Facebook.

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

My latest novel If You Only Knew was released in February this year. It’s my third novel; the previous two books were both published in 2013.

3. What inspired this book?

Would it sound crazy if I said I don’t know? It was about two years ago that the idea for the book was ‘born’ so I can’t remember all the details now! Seriously, I think I had been watching a TV show The Adventurer’s Guide To Britain where the presenters visited areas of the UK and tried various extreme sports. I loved seeing the scenery and the people trying everything from abseiling and mountain biking to climbing cliffs and canyoning. I think that sparked the idea I’d like to write a novel with an extreme sports element to it. I loved Derbyshire and decided to set the book in the Peak District in a fictitious version of the area around Castleton. I adore coffee shops and so decided that the two main places in the book would be the coffee shop, owned and run by Faith, and the Carrdale Outdoor Extreme Sports Centre, co-owned and run by Zane. I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘first love comes back into your life’ scenario so I decided that would be the theme for this book. I wanted to complicate things even further for Zane and Faith though so I added some more bits and pieces to the plot! Matt was Faith’s first love; he’s now Zane’s business partner. Faith and Zane – both battered emotionally by the past – decide to throw caution to the wind, take the risk of getting involved and potentially getting hurt again, and begin dating. At this point, Zane knows nothing about Faith’s past with Matt and likewise, Faith doesn’t know who Zane’s business partner is. When Matt arrives in town a few weeks later, after trying to sort out the disaster of his own life in Austria (that’s a whole other aspect to the plot…) they all get a bit of a shock! All of the characters have their fears, secrets and worries; they make mistakes too, so things become decidedly complicated for Faith, Zane and Matt during the course of the book.

4. Who or what was the inspiration for your hero?

I knew I wanted Matt and Zane to be complete contrasts. Matt is full of himself and far too good looking for his own good, as well as confident and arrogant. He’s tall, blond, handsome – picture Ryan Gosling! Zane, on the other hand, I wanted to be ruggedly handsome rather than drop dead gorgeous. I pictured him as tall, dark wavy hair, stubble, a slightly dishevelled but sexy look to him. I keep a file of photos of actors and actresses I have seen on TV and in films who I think could provide the visual inspiration for characters in my books but nothing seemed to fit for how I wanted Zane to look. I watched various TV programmes and films again on DVD searching for ‘the one’ – the actor who I felt best captured the look, style and physical ‘attitude’ of Zane. Eventually, it clicked and I knew the New Zealand actor Kieren Hutchison ‘was Zane’. He had the right good looking but not too good looking, dishevelled appearance. You can see what I mean on the If You Only Knew mood board on Pinterest which has photos of how I picture the various characters, as well as the setting for the book and Faith’s trendy coffee shop.

5. Have you any burning ambitions to write a story in a different genre?

Funny you should ask! Yes, absolutely. I am just finalising the edits on book one in a series of humorous romantic mystery novellas. Soon the manuscript will be whizzing off to some publishers for consideration. I have my fingers firmly crossed this series of books will get to see the light of day. If the publishers aren’t interested then I might even be brave and contemplate tackling self-publishing for them providing I can get to grips with cover design and the formatting side of things for how to upload ebooks to Amazon etc. – I’m not the most IT proficient person!

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

A couple of ways spring to mind. Firstly, I wasn’t at all prepared for how much I needed to get to grips with a variety of marketing and promotional techniques. The author is expected to do all this side of things these days and it has been (and continues to be) a very steep learning curve to understand and implement everything! Secondly, the advent of ebooks and the current trend to give away or heavily discount ebooks is changing the face of publishing and means the money you earn per book sale is very low indeed. It’s hard work but hugely rewarding at the same time. I feel very privileged to be a published author.

7. Which of your characters would you most like to be?

I’d probably choose Kat from my second novel How Do You Spell Love? I can identify with her a lot and the various dilemmas she faces in the book. At the start she thinks she might be on the mend from past hurts and gathering the courage to move on with her ‘life plan’ in terms of relationships and career. When various things start to happen in the story she feels as though she’s being taken off on the wrong track, her life is going in a completely different direction to how she thought she wanted it to and she starts to question everything – relationships, friendships, her career ambitions. I think we can all probably identify with that feeling.

8. Are your family and real-life friends supportive?

If so, in what ways? If not, do you have another support network for your writing? My novels would never have got published if it wasn’t for my husband. For a variety of reasons I’d had yet another ‘creative meltdown’ and had ditched writing, doubting the books were good enough, convinced I was wasting my time trying to be an author. It was my husband who persuaded me not to give up. He cajoled me to try sending the books to publishers. I made various excuses; in truth I was scared to start sending the books out into the ‘big wide world’ for consideration. Eventually he nagged me enough so that I sent one completed manuscript to a UK publisher and another completed manuscript of a different book to an American publisher. I told myself to forget about them and not constantly check my emails for the inevitable rejections. About two weeks later I received an email which changed my life. The American publisher offered me a contract on the book I’d sent to them for consideration. I was so excited, dancing around the room and crying at the same time. A few weeks after that I received an email from the UK publisher – they also offered me a contract on the other book. I simply couldn’t believe it, I was stunned. So, yes, my husband has been, and continues to be, incredibly supportive. I think he has more faith in my work than I do!

9. Where do you write?

Our living space is open plan – the kitchen leads to the dining room/ office, which leads to sun room (a grand name for a porch facing the back garden!) and off this dining room/office is the lounge area. My desk is positioned right in the middle of all of this so it can be tricky getting some peace and quiet at times when I need to concentrate, especially as my husband is also self-employed and often works from home too. I love that I have a view of the back garden from the window next to my desk though– great when I’m in need of a spot of procrastination or inspiration!

If You Only Knew

Faith owns The Coffee Pot in the outdoor adventure sports mecca of Derbyshire’s Peak District. She hasn’t had a man in her life for a while, as she’s been too busy serving cakes to weary rock climbers and mountain bikers to find time for the complications of a relationship with the male of the species. At least, that’s what she tells herself. The truth is that since she got her heart broken she’s had problems trusting men. When she meets Zane, one of the new owners at the Carrdale Extreme Sports Centre, Faith finds herself enjoying his company even though part of her can’t help wondering why he’s so reluctant to talk about himself. Then the past comes back to haunt her in the shape of Zane’s business partner Matt, who just happens to be the guy who broke Faith’s heart all those years ago. With Matt out to cause trouble and Zane keeping secrets Faith’s life is about to get very complicated indeed…

Monday, May 19, 2014

Coping With Distrac…Hello, SHINY THING!!!

Happy Monday Everyone!!! Or it is Tuesday…?

For those of you lovely blog readers who don't know or don't remember me because I haven't blogged for A VERY LONG TIME!!!, I'm Minx Maya aka, Scatty Minx aka Newly Minted Full-Time Writer With The Attention Span Of A Gnat!! 

I had fabulous, lofty ideas of how my days would go when I gave up full-time, great paying day job to become a full-time, write-a-million-words-per-day-writer at the end of March. 

I'd do the school run in the morning, then fetch myself a power-coffee which I will drink (pinky aloft) while surfing the internet for EXACTLY fifteen minutes. 

After which I would CLOSE THE INTERNET, write perfect words from exactly ten thirty until three (with a half-hour break for power snacks), do the afternoon school run and/or accompanying mother/kids bonding activities, put my kids to bed and then read through the day's writing while indulging in copies amounts of self-congratulation.

Almost two months later…

STOP. LAUGHING. *Glares at blog readers* 

Ok, so I've learned two things very quickly.


2. Pressure is by far my best motivator and I may need to embrace that process.

I'm choosing to take this as progress! And I've written some words I'm proud of. 

BUT I would appreciate some words of advice on how to get my butt in full time gear. Pretty Please? Or just feel free to tell me to stop whining and just get on with it. That'll probably work too, lol! 

Maya xx 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, Minxes!!

Happy birthday to us! It's hard to believe that the decision we took to start this blog was 4 years ago now. Since then so much has happened to us and there have been so many changes--both personally and professionally.

However one thing has remained the same. We have stayed together and supported each other through life's difficulties and been there at the front of the cheering section through some amazing successes.

We hope to be here with you for many more years so to celebrate our birthday and the support of you, our blog readers, we have an extra special birthday giveaway!! The details to enter are in the Rafflecopter, the contents of the Minx Birthday Giveaway Basket are as follows:

Paper copy of What the Greek's Money Can't Buy & What the Greek Can't Resist by Maya Blake

Paper copy of A Hint of Scandal & A Touch of Temptation by Tara Pammi

Paper copies of Runaway Groom & Marrying Cade, Ebook copy of Mile High by Sally Clements

Ebook or paper copies of the bestselling Knight series: Knight & Play, Knight & Stay & Knight & Day by Kitty French

Ebook of your choice from Rae Summers and a paper copy of Waking up in Vegas or The Trouble with Mojitos by Romy Sommer

Printed Pocket Novel version of Hidden Heartache by Suzanna Ross
Printed Pocket Novel version of It Had To Be You by Suzanne Ross Jones

Copy of the Blaze anthology, a hand made bag and a paperback of Secrets of a Chalet Girl by Lorraine Wilson

A £10 Amazon voucher

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Author Spotlight - Samantha Birch

For possibly the first time ever, we're featuring a non-fiction book on The Minxes of Romance. Today's spotlight book is The High Street Bride's Guide, a one-stop, design-your-own-wedding (affordably) book from Samantha Birch.

1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Well, I’m a twenty-eight-year-old writer from Derby, and I live in Hertfordshire with my husband. We finally got married last November after being engaged for four years – two years and eight months of which we spent in his childhood bedroom! We’re now renting a two-bedroom flat with a kitchen in the living room while we save up the deposit for a house.

2. What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th?(Nora only!)
This is my first published book! I’m so excited! I have no idea what to expect, but I’ve worked really hard so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best!

3. What inspired this book?
It was a mixture of planning our wedding, chatting to my friends and the jobs I’ve had: I’ve worked in-house at You & Your Wedding and Cosmopolitan Bride and freelanced for Brides. One day I gave a work colleague advice on her wedding and she told me I should write a book, which I took a bit literally! I realised me and my now-husband weren’t the only ones struggling to save up for our wedding and really wanting it to be as beautiful as our better-off friends’ big days. I wrote down all the ways we could make it happen for less, I did a lot of research into the most affordable brands and I put it all together into The High-Street Bride’s Guide.

4. Have you any burning ambitions to write a story in a different genre?
Funny you should mention that; I’m actually writing a novel at the moment. Writing fiction has always been a dream of mine, and I’ve finished two manuscripts in the past, but I wrote them both when I was a teenager and they lacked the maturity of my old age! The book I’m writing now is a steampunk fantasy, so a bit of a switch from a non-fiction guidebook, but I love the change of pace, and it appeals to my nerdy side.

5. What was the most fun part of writing this book?
The intros to each section; I could just have fun with them. I decided not to hold back, but just to write what I thought was funny, even if it wasn’t all cakes and flowers. After all, my readers aren’t only brides, they’re people; they have a whole life going on besides their wedding, same as I did. So I threw in bits like Dylan Moran’s wisdom on women and shoes and a parody of those White Fang-type movies, you know where the kid tells the wolf or whatever that he hates it so it’ll go off and be free…

6. Do you have a writing routine? Do you write every day, and is there a time of day that works best for you in terms of being productive?
Yes, I write every day, but not always on my work in progress. Having spent four years commuting in and out of London I’m now a freelance writer for titles like GLAMOUR, so I write articles as well as books. I’ll at least look at the book I’m working on every day – preferably in the morning, which tends to be my best time for inspiration – and I’ll play with some ideas and mull it over, but some days I’ll toy with new words and they just won’t feel right. I know that sounds crazy and I wish I had more control over it, but I’ve realised those days are more about thinking, letting my brain work on the story in the back of my mind or maybe working on a character board or something. It’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I’m okay with counting that as work; I can be impatient and I used to think words on the page were the only thing that mattered, but now I know sometimes they don’t come if you haven’t given yourself the headspace find them.

7. How long does it take you to complete a book?
Non-fiction is quicker than fiction for me. The first edition of The High-Street Bride’s Guide took a month flat, then I spent a week or two revising and extending it for Harper Impulse. Fiction tends to take more like a year, and because of the complexity of the novel I’m writing at the moment, I think it could take closer to a year and a half.

8. Are your family and real-life friends supportive? If so, in what ways? If not, do you have another support network for your writing?
Yes, my husband, my family and my friends have always been really supportive of my writing; I’m so lucky to be surrounded by so many encouraging people. My poor husband has to listen to excerpts of whatever I’m working on at random intervals; I’ll just run into the living room with my laptop and go: “Read this please!” then make him a coffee and disappear so I don’t have to be in the room while he does. Sometimes I want his feedback on where a scene is going wrong or whether it feels truthful, or I’ll be having an attack of self-doubt and I need him to tell me whether it’s founded. Others I’ll just be really excited that it feels like a scene has gone well and I’ll want to show it to him in the hope that he thinks it’s as funny as I do!

Recently I’ve found another support network for my writing too: the lovely authors at Harper Impulse! I hit a writer’s block in my current novel that made me nervous about going back to the manuscript, but they were quick to reassure me that I hadn’t gone mad and that most writers feel the same sometimes, and to fill me in on lots of tried and tested tips that got me back on the page again. At times like that it’s good to have people in the same industry to make you feel like you’re not alone; I’m now back on track and heading for the 20,000-word mark!

The High -Street Bride's Guide

Brides-to-be, this one’s for you!
You can say your vows in a catwalk gown so beautiful it reduces your mum to tears (and not because she paid for it).
You can style a reception so stunning your guests won’t believe you didn’t hire an A-list planner.
And you can sprinkle the day with personal touches that make everyone feel like you gave them special attention before they even got there. Without spending a house deposit on it. Honest.
Samantha Birch has written for GLAMOUR, Brides, You & Your Wedding and Cosmopolitan Bride. She knows a thing or two about planning a wedding on a budget, how much you can expect to pay for everything and where to go to get it for less. And she’s put it all down here.

The High-Street Bride's Guide is available from Amazon, Amazon UK, and iTunes.
You can chat to Samantha on Twitter or on Facebook.