Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Author Spotlight - Donna Alward

Today the Minxes feature the lovely Donna Alward who is so unselfish with her time and always has such wonderful advice for struggling pre-pubbed writers. After reading Donna's answers to our Minxy questions, we're sure you'll join us in thanking Donna for taking time out of her hectic schedule to join us today!

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

UNPUBLISHED! I was getting close though--I sold my first book 9 months later (in March, 2006) so I was probably working on the book or books that ended up being my first sales.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE, which is my first reprint, was actually inspired by a book I wrote before selling. So many things didn't work in the early version, but I did like the idea of a heroine trying to reclaim her life and doing it in the small Rocky Mountain resort town of Banff. The original story had an English story, and I rewrote it with a sexy Italian. I had the heroine as an assistant too, and in this story, she's the acting manager. It does make her butt heads with the hero quite often - something that really puts her out of her comfort zone. And I gave her a different backstory, too - one that really ended up being quite emotional and I loved writing her character arc and how she found herself and also gained her confidence again. Mari has a lot of courage, and Luca is strong and yet gentle enough to understand what it is she needs.

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

Now that would be jinxing myself wouldn't it? And yet--I've always believed in seeing where you want to be and going for it. David Foster said in his book "Hitman" that the road to success is straight let's just say I still see myself writing, and hopefully expanding my readership in a big way. I also see myself putting in a lot of work to get there ... by then I'll have girls in high school so I also hope to still be SANE. :-)

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

Oh, Gosh! I read the More Than Words anthology which features Harlequin bestsellers and really enjoyed it. I also read Jessica Hart's Oh-So-Sensible Secretary, and had writer envy most of the way through. But Jessica's voice is so very different from mine. I really don't want to emulate anyone. I just want to write the best Donna Alward book I possibly can.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

I say this so often, but LaVyrle Spencer made me fall in love with Romance novels and I have always kind of hoped that I might tap into a fraction of the wonderful warm feelings her writing inspires. I have read her books so often most of them are falling apart. I have been writing since I was a child, but I can't deny the influence her stories have had on me.

6. As a writer for the HMB Romance line, can you tell us what drew you to that line or did the line 'choose' you?

The line kind of chose me - once I found my voice. I fit there. Once I figured it out, it became easier to write the kind of story I needed to write. I knew what sort of story they were looking for and I had the voice for it. It was then a matter of working to get the writing and story elements in line. It took me a few mss to get there, but I finally hit the right notes with HIRED BY THE COWBOY.

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

After 19 years with the same man, 15 of those married - I can't list just one. But there are moments that stand out. Our first kiss. Dancing beneath the stars while our children slept in the camper. Finishing my first novel and calling him at work to tell him I wrote THE END - and having him show up late for dinner. I gave him a hard time until he told me he'd stopped on the way home to buy me something to celebrate - a new watch. But it's not grand gestures. It's sitting together on the deck and having him reach over and take my hand, or ordering supper if I've had a crazy day. That's real. That's what keeps you going through the tough times.

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?

How hard I'd work. It doesn't get easier; in fact it gets harder as you go along. Being published isn't the key to the city. There may still be rejections, struggles, missed deadlines, poor sales, stress over time management ... I wasn't completely prepared for that. But, you know, I've had books that didn't sell as well as I'd hoped, I've had rejections, and I still get frustrated when writing feels like pulling teeth and I'm still here. Still writing. Still loving the mailman when he delivers author copies and smiling when I get reader mail. It's a damned hard job, but it's a good one. :-) I can't imagine doing anything else.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Oh gosh! I've had a lot of good advice but I'll never forget my first editor at Mills and Boon, Maddie West, telling me to go ahead and take risks. Editorial can always pull you back if you go too far, but taking risks can really result in extraordinary fresh stories.

10. Tell us about your latest release.

This year has been crazy with releases which is very good for me. :-) I had an ebook release from Samhain Publishing in April - Sold to the Highest Bidder. It will be out in print in February. July sees the reprint Hired: The Italian's Bride in the UK in the anthology Mediterranean Men and Marriage along with stories by Carol Grace and Raye Morgan. Then in October, Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle is out in the UK, and will be out in North America in February 2011. I round out the year with two releases in November - a reprint of A Bride for Rocking H Ranch, a Christmas novella in another UK anthology and Breathe from Samhain Publishing. There are excerpts from all these titles on my website.

11. What's next for you?

I have two more stories written for the romance line that are just waiting for final approval and revisions. This summer I am switching gears a bit to work on an independent project that I'm really excited about. I can't wait to get some chapters in the hands of my agent!

You can catch up with me at my website I'm also on Facebook - Donna Alward, Romance Author and on Twitter - @donnaalward. Stop by any of those places and say hi!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Minx - Sri

I’ve postponed writing about myself for 2 weeks and not because I’m lazy. Being 33 weeks pregnant, working full time and managing a 2 year old are making me forgetful. But my fellow minxes have been patient with me, so before they go, 'where is Sri again?' :) here I go. Being the least 'popular' of the minxes, not in terms of being hated, we are all lovely people, but as in, even with a blog of my own, I’m what they call an online recluse, I thought I would just mention a few points about me instead of a boring bio about how ordinary I am.

1. My father and my grandfather were both writers, and I grew up surrounded by books, so my eternal love story is with books. I think it was Romy who said she was a book whore and I'm right there with her. And I adore Romance, and find myself looking for it even in the most suspenseful crime thriller.

2. English is not my mother tongue. But, I have studied it through high school, so can’t use that as an excuse for bad grammar.

3. I’m a vegetarian. I’m asked once at least every day by one of my colleagues how I do it, and I say “I never ate meat, fish, or chicken in my life. So really, it’s easy for me.”

4. Once I had discovered Romance novels at the age of 13, I was obsessed with reading as many as I could lay my hands on. And this didn’t make my mother happy for she was worried about my grades. So I used to cover the novels with school text covers, hid them in my 7 year old cousin's school bag, because she didn’t check his bag like she did my own, and even bribed my brother to bring them home for me without her seeing them.

5. Being a part of the minxes is the best thing that could have happened to my writing because I’m surrounded by a fabulous group of lovely ladies who all get what I do every day and whose help can only make me a better writer. So, love ya minxes!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Anything Goes Friday - Good Telling & Exciting News

I have a confession to make. I am really bad at showing. Telling comes way more naturally.

Happily, thanks to my lovely crit group and the editor I've been working with at Wild Rose Press, I'm learning to spot 'telling' the moment my fingers type the words on the page. But there are still times when a telling sentence works better for me than going into the detail of showing, especially when I want to make a quick point. So imagine my surprise when I followed a link to an article that was all about Good Telling. And yes, apparently there is such a thing!

So if, like me, you suffer from this affliction, here's a link to the article at The rest of you can go back to polishing your haloes.

* * * * *

On the news front, there's been some talk lately on the Subcare board at eHarlequin about a few changes to the Mills & Boon lines edited out of London. (If you're an aspiring writer and haven't yet discovered Subcare, I highly recommend it. You can click here to join the eHarlequin forums).

While no official announcement has been made, the Minxes have gone sleuthing and discovered that the Romance line appears to be splitting into two distinct categories called Riva and Cherish. According to Michelle Styles, this is more a re-branding exercise than a change in content, so there's no fear of your favourite writers disappearing from the shelves.

Cherish, as the name implies, will have the same "wonderful heart warming hearth and family" and "feel good" qualities that the current Romance line embodies, as represented by authors like Donna Alward. [Quotes are from Michelle Styles on the Subcare forum].

Riva will be a fun and flirty new line, or in the words of Kelly Hunter, whose With This Fling will launch the new line in January 2011: "Choc full of warmth, wit, and varying degrees of sensuality. Vibrant and gorgeous packaging." Writers will be sourced from both the Romance and Modern Heat lines, though Modern Heat will continue to be distributed as Presents Extra in the US and Sexy in Australia.

With four titles a month, Riva is a wonderful opportunity for new writers, and an even more wonderful source of books for readers like me who love that modern, sassy tone. If you like the sound of these books and haven't yet discovered them, look out for authors like Liz Fielding, Jessica Hart, Fiona Harper, Ally Blake and Nicola Marsh - and of course, Kelly Hunter.

If any of our blog readers have more information on the changes in Richmond, or corrections to anything we've heard so far, please feel free to leave a comment or send us an email. Our Minxy ears are pricked and ready.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Author Spotlight - Lynn Raye Harris

This week, the Minxes are very happy and honoured to have with us Harlequin Presents author, Lynn Raye Harris. Lynn won the Harlequin Presents Instant Seduction Competition in 2008 and has gone on to publish several books since that momentous event. She's also appeared on the USA Today Bestseller List

The Minxes put these questions to her: -

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

Five years ago, I was still aspiring to be published. I was living in Hawaii (I know: poor me, right?), and I’d joined the local chapter of RWA. Though I’d been a member of RWA for quite some time, this was my first local chapter. The inspiration and camaraderie were great, and I was working hard on my writing. (I was also writing my master’s thesis, but that’s another story!)

I’d finally settled on writing contemporary romance, after trying my hand at historicals, and I was having fun. I also met Jane Porter for the first time, when she came to our chapter and gave a talk, and I remember thinking how strong and intelligent she was. See, I’d always loved Harlequin Presents, but I’d stopped reading them during my college years because I’d let myself be convinced they were trash. And here was Jane, no fainting flower, who wrote these books. I promptly went out and bought a whole bunch and fell in love all over again. I still didn’t try to write my own until 2008, however.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

The Prince’s Royal Concubine sprang from the usual what-ifs that plague writers. Princess Antonella was a minor character in Cavelli’s Lost Heir, and I kept thinking that she deserved her own happy ending. She was so intriguing to me that I absolutely had to write her story. Where Cristiano came from, I have no idea – but I knew Antonella’s prince would be strong and ruthless and very, very focused on his goal. Once I got them together, the story just sort of magically happened. It was one of those books that comes relatively easy. That doesn’t usually happen to me, so I enjoyed every moment of it!

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

I want to be writing Harlequin Presents, of course! I love these books. They are so intense, emotional and passionate, and they are tough to do well. Believe it or not, I find them to be quite a challenge! I would also love to write other books that are longer and have subplots. I have a range of ideas – from historical to paranormal to women’s fiction. What will get written and published is anyone’s guess, but I’d certainly like to try some of these other ideas out in addition to writing for Presents.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

It wasn’t a romance, believe it or not. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell. Gorgeous, gorgeous language. And such a compelling story! I couldn’t put it down. I wanted a different ending, but that doesn’t change the fact it was a great book.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

No. I always knew. It was just something I grew up wanting to do. I read a lot as a kid, and I wrote short stories. I also tried writing my first novel at fourteen. Unfortunately, being rather autobiographical, it was boring and short. I fizzled after chapter one. Though I read lots of Harlequin Presents back then, it simply never occurred to me to try and write one. Those were Real Authors with Exotic Lives and I was just a kid from the South.

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?

Neither. I love writing love scenes. That’s the moment at which the emotional boiling point of the story is reached. It’s not the black moment, but it’s when both characters are at their most vulnerable. It’s a mini-black moment of sorts, I guess. My love scenes have been described as hot and steamy by various reviewers, but I swear it’s the emotional impact I’m focusing on when I write them. The steamy factor is a by-product of the emotion as well as just something that happens to be my authorial voice. I do get a bit wound up about not writing the same love scene over and over, though. Each book is different, and I want to do the characters justice.

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

Hmm, I don’t really know. My husband doesn’t do big dramatic moments, but he’s always been great about the little moments. Bringing home flowers for no reason, taking me to dinner without prior notice, buying me things I want just because I want them. He also never complains when I want to go away for writerly things – my chapter’s retreat, conferences, the RT convention – and I find that terribly romantic. He supports me in all I do, and that’s worth so much more than a big dramatic moment would be.

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?

Ha! I always thought, even though I’d been told differently, that getting a contract suddenly changed everything. That your doubts would go away. That you’d suddenly feel like you’d “made it.” Trust me, you are the same person after that offer as you were before. Granted, you are quite happy and giggly and it truly is the best feeling ever to sell a book, but the thing you need to know is that it doesn’t change everything. You simply trade one set of worries for another.

You’ll worry about your sales, about list placement, and whether or not your editor still loves you. You’ll worry that you can’t possibly write another book, that you’ve peaked early and your best work is behind you, that readers will hate you – it goes on and on.

See, one set of worries for another! Of course you want those worries when you are unpublished because that would mean you had sold a book. But believe me, when it happens, you’ll still get the same sinking feeling that rejections or contest scores gave you before you sold.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Never give up. Cut the backstory from chapter one. Never give up. ;)

10. Tell us about your latest release.

The Prince’s Royal Concubine is a story about surviving storms both literal and figurative. I really loved writing this book because it’s all about two characters learning to love and trust one another when they are the last people who should do so. Cristiano wants to end a war to assuage his guilt at losing his wife. Antonella wants to save her country to prove she’s worth more than she’s ever believed. But their goals are directly opposed, which means that one of them could be destroyed in the end.

Here’s the back cover copy:

Two glittering royal houses

Prince Cristiano di Savaré hunts his prey by ruthless means. Tonight’s pickings…Antonella Romanelli, crown princess of a rival country and part of a dynasty he has every reason to despise…

…one majestic seduction

Antonella is rocked by Cristiano’s unexpected magnetism. But there’s ice in his wolfish smile… She’s far from the promiscuous, spoiled socialite he believes her to be, but Cristiano is here to persuade her into compliance. If bedding her is what it takes, then it will make his mission all the more pleasurable…

11. What’s next for you?

My next UK release is The Devil’s Heart, which is available now.

After that, I have a story in an anthology: Mills & Boon New Voices, coming in September. The same story that appears in the anthology, “Kept for the Sheikh’s Pleasure,” will also be out in North America in a Harlequin Presents 2 in 1 with Kim Lawrence in November. That collection is called Chosen by the Sheikh.

In January 2011, I have another UK release called Prince Voronov’s Virgin. This is a Russian set story! To read about any of my releases, including excerpts and my Behind the Book feature, visit me at

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Minx: Suzanne

This isn’t going to be personal, I already give out way too much information on my own blog so, if you’re after salacious gossip, you should stop reading now.

Still here? Good, then pull up a chair and I’ll begin...

Today, I’m going to talk about the compulsion that drives me to commit words to paper, the burning ambition that urges me to write romance manuscript after romance manuscript even while the world cares not one jot.

To start at the beginning of this sorry tale, we must travel back in time, to when I was fourteen. This is when I first fell in love with Mills and Boon romances and, somehow, I never quite managed to fall out of love again.

In the tradition of the best stories, this love is unrequited – despite my utter devotion, Mills and Boon have never loved me back. From the age of 16, I’ve submitted a number of manuscripts to Paradise Road, only to have them hurtling back with such speed, I sometimes found them waiting for me when I arrived home from the post office. Of course, these days with that newfangled e-mail thingy, things are not quite so bad – at least I’m able to enjoy a cup of tea before they ping back.

So, why do I do it? Why do I keep going and persistently subject myself to heartache that would fell a less stubborn writer?

Everyone who reads romance novels will be aware these books are entertainment with bells on. Between the pages of a romance novel, you’re guaranteed the read of your life – gorgeous heroes to fall in love with, feisty heroines to live vicariously through, locations so far removed from school runs and supermarket shopping they might as well be on another planet. In other words, these books transport the reader from everyday drudgery to the kind of elegant living only enjoyed by the mega rich in the real world. What’s more, the type of love that most people will only experience once in a lifetime – and that’s if they’re lucky – can be experienced time after time, just by delving between the covers of these books.

That’s why I want to write romance, I want to be able to create the kind of magic that makes a reader identify with my heroine and fall in love with my hero, just as my favourite authors do every time they write a book. Can you even begin to imagine how wonderful that would be?

Besides, now I’m a Minx, I’m having far too much fun to stop.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Anything Goes Friday – Movie Classic - The Philadelphia Story and a new competition

The Philadelphia Story is my favourite movie. In its original form it’s a total classic. It was made in 1940 and remade in 1956 as High Society. But don’t let that put you off. The original is fantastic and here’s why.

First the cast. It’s a huge ensemble cast of Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, and John Howard. The director is legendary George Cukor, and the scriptwriter was Donald Ogden Stewart. The acting is brilliant. And the script? The script is to die for.

Here's a dialogue run featuring CK Dexter Haven (Grant) and his ex wife Tracey Lord (Hepburn):
C. K. Dexter Haven: Sometimes, for your own sake, Red, I think you should've stuck to me longer.
Tracy Lord: I thought it was for life, but the nice judge gave me a full pardon.
C. K. Dexter Haven: Aaah, that's the old redhead. No bitterness, no recrimination, just a good swift left to the jaw.

The story begins just before the wedding of Tracey Lord (Hepburn) to George Kitterage (Howard). But she’s been married before, to C K Dexter Haven (Grant), who turns up with a gift, just when everything is going badly wrong for the Lord family.

There’s a complicated side plot, featuring Tracey’s father and uncle, and a couple who move in to do a ‘social segment’ for a newspaper, played by Stewart and Hussey.

James Stewart’s character, the disillusioned reporter Macauley Connor is prepared to hate the rich, entitled heiress Tracey, but falls for her instead. His photographer, Elizabeth Imbrie is in love with Macauley, and accepts his infatuation with Tracey stoically. He’ll come back to her in the end. She knows it, we know it. But getting there, that’s where the fun begins.

Cary Grant is suave, charming, and totally irresistible (IMO) and must have been delighted to be given such a wonderful script to play with. Tracey Lord is hailed as a goddess by most of the men in the film, but CK Dexter Haven knows better. He knows her faults and loves her despite them.

Also, the opening sequence is the funniest thing I’ve seen. Ever. I’m totally incapable of watching it once, I have to rewind and watch it at least twice before continuing the film. And, as this is a classic film, it can be picked up for buttons most everywhere. Try it, it’s a delight.

Now hot news just off the presses about a great new competition!

The National Trust, Mills & Boon and The Lady short-story competition. Readers are encouraged to submit a romance based on or in a National Trust property – be it about a proposal on a coastline, a wedding in a castle, a love affair between butler and housekeeper. The winner will see their story published in a late summer issue of The Lady. The story should be 1,500 to 2,000 words.
For rules and more details see The Lady, or The National Trust competition link.
For those living in the UK, there are also two hour writing workshops at National Trust Properties with our favorite Mills and Boon authors and one Mills and Boon editor, for £15. This competiton is closing on 31 July, so if you're interested, get writing!

Finally, the winner of Wednesday's Heidi Rice competition is Joanne Pibworth. Please drop the minxes an email with your address, Joanne and Heidi's book will be winging its way to you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Author Spotlight: Heidi Rice

This week we have the lovely Heidi Rice answering our questions and telling us all about her latest release,'Unfinished Business with the Duke'. It's her seventh Mills and Boon Modern Heat no less! Leave a comment and you're in with the chance to win a copy. If you're not lucky enough to win then you can get your copy from Amazon or as an ebook from the Mills and Boon website.

Heidi's picture is © Anne Mortensen.

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?

Five years ago I was unpubbed and had yet to finish a manuscript… I’d written lots of great scenes for the one I finally completed and submitted to Silhouette, but hadn’t actually got round to stringing them into a coherent book. I did finally do that, but I still had a fair bit of faffing to do before that happened.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

Unfinished Business with the Duke came together from two initial ideas. I wanted to do an architect hero – because I think there’s something really attractive about men who are passionate about what they do (and in my experience architects usually are). Also about two years ago I went to a romance writers do at a gentlemen’s club in Mayfair. One of the members gave us a little tour and I had this spark of inspiration… Wouldn’t it be fun to stick a half-naked woman into this all-male, very posh and proper environment? Then I had to figure out how to do that without her being a prostitute!

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

Still writing and still getting published… Fingers crossed.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

Just about every book I read I wish I could have written. But most recently I’ve had severe writer’s envy of Susan Wiggs’s Fireside (and all her Lakeshore Chronicles actually), Nora Roberts’s Savour the Moment (read that in one sitting as a reward for getting my last book accepted) and Audrey Niffenegger’s Time-Traveler’s Wife (even though the ending left me emotionally drained!)

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

Queen Nora, obviously, Linda Howard, Jennie Cruisie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, all the greats really.

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?

Neither. I adore writing love scenes. Which probably has something to do with the fact that I believe in living vicariously through my heroines – who are of course me (but with better hair and trimmer thighs).

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

Gosh, I’ve had quite a few… And I have to admit not all of them with my husband. But the best was going to New York for the World Cup finals in 1994. We’re both big football fans and it was Ireland vs Italy. My dad was Irish and my husband’s from Italian American stock, but he took it with remarkably good grace when Ireland won, to the extent that he suggested we go down to Manhattan City Hall the next day and get hitched! We bought a couple of rings on Eighth Avenue, had a two-minute ceremony, I got my picture taken with some plastic flowers on the steps outside, we went to the Rockefeller Centre for brunch and then rang our mums and our one-year-old son to let them know. No drama, no fuss, just romance and football, two flabbergasted grannies and one very confused toddler! The perfect wedding.

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?

How to read royalty statements… Actually I still wish I knew how to do that.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Well, I’ve always liked Nora Roberts’s ‘you can’t edit a blank page’, which comes in mighty handy when I’m staring at a page full of crap. But the other one is ‘don’t give up’. In the end it’s only the people who can keep going through all the rejections and set-backs that get published and once published can make a career out of it. I sincerely believe that being a successful writer is 10% talent, 10% luck and 80% perseverance.

10. Tell us about your latest release.

Unfinished Business with the Duke is about a feisty pub-theatre manager called Isadora Helligan who has been reduced to doing singing
telegrams to save her ailing theatre in Islington. Unfortunately for her, she has to be rescued from a group of plastered Hooray Henries in a
Mayfair Gentlemen’s Club who mistake her singing telegram for a striptease. And even more unfortunately, her knight in shining armour
happens to be the man who took her virginity at 17 and who she has vowed to hate for the rest of her natural life after he promptly broke her
heart. Issy’s nemesis is a drop-dead gorgeous Florentine architect called Giovanni Hamilton - the son of a British duke and an Italian socialite.
And after Gio rescues Issy, it’s obvious that even after ten years apart, the sexual chemistry between them is easily as incendiary as their past.

11. What's next for you?

My next book after Unfinished Business is Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger which is due out in December in the UK – about an ex-surfer and a
female lifeguard (cue a great opening scene where the heroine pulls the injured hero out of the surf) and some very hot nights in a Cornish
cottage on a cliff path. And I’m currently working on my ninth book for Modern Heat, which at the moment is about a voluptuous, free-spirited
and somewhat reckless cupcake entrepeneur who loves to flirt and meets her match when she has a fender bender in a Hampstead street one
sunny August afternoon with a devastatingly handsome barrister who always plays to win.

Many thanks to Heidi for answering our questions. Don't forget to leave a comment if you want a chance to win your copy of 'Unfinished Business with the Duke'

Monday, June 14, 2010

Minx Monday - Covers

A picture post this Monday, featuring covers from three minxes.

First: Maya's book.

Hostage to Love, By Maya Blake
available now from Wild Rose.

Next up, Romy's book, Let's Misbehave, (writing as Rae Summers) which is available 7th July from Wild Rose (there'll be a later post closer to release about this one)

Read more about Romy/Rae's book here.

And finally, Sally's  book, Catch Me A Catch by Sally Clements, available from Wild Rose later in the summer.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Anything Goes Friday - Eye Candy

Just because yesterday was my birthday (and because I can!) today's blog post is chock full of celebratory eye candy.

Tired of McDreamy and McSteamy? Then I'd like to introduce you to the latest addition to the Grey's Anatomy cast ... Dr Jackson Avery / aka. Jesse Williams.

As a recent addition to Hollywood too, Jesse's filmography is still quite short, though I fully expect to see some great things from this young actor. Why? Because the man not only has the most gorgeous eyes known to mankind, but he's also intelligent. And don't tell me that doesn't matter, ladies, because we all know that an intelligent man is way sexier than any other hunk.

Jesse was born in Chicago in 1981. He attended Temple University, where he modelled to fund his tuition, before becoming a teacher in Philadelphia. He started acting in 2006, first Off-Broadway, then playing the part of Leo in Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2. Since then he's also appeared in the TV series Greek, in a horror movie, and of course in Grey's.

At the tender age of 28, Jesse still has a great future ahead of him, and I for one will definitely be keeping an eye out for him.

PS: Jo - he's also an avid football player.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Author Spotlight - Dawn Chartier

Today we're very happy to welcome Dawn Chartier to the Minxes blog. Dawn's first novel has just been published by Wild Rose Press, and has had some great reviews. Her cover is hawt too! So, here come the Minxy questions below. Take it away, Dawn!

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
Around this time I was toying with ideas. Basically reading the newspapers and seeing things that interest me. One article that stuck out was about Marie Laveau (Voodoo Queen of New Orleans), and right then and there I wrote a few ideas down, but I never went further than that. Not until a hurricane named Katrina hit. When we came back a few weeks after evacuation, before most people (we do construction in hospitals) I had plenty of time to think about my life and what I wanted to do. We had no electricity, no water, nothing. That was when I decided now is the time to do what I want. And my writing began.

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
Not An Angel came to mind when I heard about a woman who lost her baby to SIDS, and then her husband committed suicide because of it. I felt so bad for her, that a story came to mind. I wanted this woman to find love once again, and that's when my character Kira was born.

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Well, I have it all mapped out...Not! I really have a little pink sticky that sits in front of me on my screen and it says. Finish, Submit and Publish Not An Angel (check!), Finish, Submit and Publish, Deadly Destruction (not checked yet) Finish, Submit and Publish Book 2 in Deadly series (not checked), and so on. My goals step by step, and if that happens in five years, great!

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
I wish I'd written Karen Marie Moning's "Fever" series or P.C. Cast's House of Night series. I've recently read both and loved them. Great strong female characters with plenty of room to grow.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
I have to think that several authors influenced me. Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, L. K. Hamilton, to name a few.

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?
I guess a little cringe-worthy. Its very hard to keep the sex fresh. You have to be careful not to repeat the same things. But I wouldn't mind writing a giggle-worthy sex scene. Maybe that will be next.

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
My husband is very romantic. Picking a moment is hard, but I'll say when he proposed to me on a Florida beach on one knee in the dark. I could barely see him holding the ring, he was so nervous, it was so sweet, but oh, what a great romantic moment. This man also cooks, cleans, runs my bath water, brings me coffee in bed. And no, you can't have him. And yes, he spoils me.(grin)

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
People asking me to speak at conferences and such. So not my cup of tea, but I'm learning to get over it because I do want to help other writers whenever I can.

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Turn your internal editor off and just write. After you get it out, then go back and revise and revise and revise, but get the story out first. Write every single day if you can. I take the weekends off.

10. Tell us about your latest release.
Not An Angel is a paranormal romance. A story that I wrote as a practice piece. I wanted to learn how to dig deeper into the characters emotions and so far from the few reviews I received it worked. Here is a little blurb.

Kira McCoy wants to die. Losing her husband and daughter tragically left her without hope. Now her disturbed brother-in-law will stop at nothing to have her for himself. All she wants is to find peace, but instead finds herself on top of a bridge ready to end her suffering.
Protector of the Poryria, Trace Stuart is called to defend his race or embrace death. Defending humans is not part of the plan, but he cannot stop himself from saving Kira.
Realizing that he shares a special bond with Kira, Trace defies his Queen and rushes into the heart of darkness in order to rescue the woman he loves. Will Kira be able to reach past her own pain to pull them both into the light?

11. What's next for you?
Right now I'm polishing up a romantic suspense or a mystery romance novel. I'm not sure exactly what genre it fits in, it also has a slight paranormal twist. I have a series planned and I'll start working on Book 2 after this one.

Thanks Sally (Minxes of Romance) for having me. I enjoyed doing this interview.

Readers can find my NOT AN ANGEL at or at my website and there is a buy link there.
I also blog a few days a week at

(Minx alert: lovely pic of Hugh Jackman on the last one!)

I hope you enjoyed!

Dawn Chartier

Not An Angel, out now!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Minx – Sally

My turn (gulp). I’m very happy to be a Minx. Before I was a Minx, I was writing on my own, not telling anyone I was a writer as I churned out my first couple of novels. Four or five years ago, I decided to get serious about my writing, and at that point everything changed for me. First I acknowledged that I was a writer. Told people that I wrote, claimed it. I went on a number of writing courses, and met other like minded people and learned a lot. I write Romance and also crime, and decided to target Mills and Boon.
I’d written my first ‘M&B novel’ before I attended a full day ‘writing a Mills and Boon’ writing course given by Inkwell Writers in Dublin. It was a great day, given by Abby Green and Trish Wylie, with Jenny Hutton, Mills and Boon editor in attendance. I learnt a lot that day, and it really helped focus my writing.

A while later, Trish was writing a ‘not at nationals’ post on her blog, and contacted me, asking me to either contribute to her blog for a ‘newbie’s view’ or to start my own blog, which she’d link to. I chose the latter option, and made the jump into the blogosphere.

I met various of the minxes this way. Admired their humour and mastery with words. Found great friendship and validation of my writing journey through it. And after the last Mills and Boon competition, while nursing my rejection letter, decided to take something positive from it, and the Minxes were born.

As a writer, I’m never finished learning. There’s always something new. I’d had critique partners before, and found it so valuable to analyse someone else’s work, and so helpful when someone looked over my own that I was eager for the experience and opportunity that the Minxes provide. What I hadn’t expected is the sheer joy of being a Minx. We pick each other up when we’re down. Give each other kicks up the pants when we need it, get together on Skype to brainstorm plots and thrash out character flaws. Its great. Now, with our blog, we’re meeting other writers and editors and growing as writers. And having fun, because at the end of the day, being happy is what it’s all about!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Anything Goes Friday - Friday films

Today we have two for the price of one. Two minxes - Lorraine Wilson and Suzanne Jones reviewing two films.

"The Accidental Husband"

The older I get the less patience I have. So nowadays if I put a dvd in the player and don't like what I see I hit the eject button, sometimes after only 5 minutes!
The other evening I put 'The Accidental Husband' on with very little expectation. In fact I was dreading another romcom cliche but to my relief it wasn't anything of the sort - it was fresh and funny and it made me giggle, lots. Quite an achievement given I'm exceptionally grumpy in recent months and was really stressed out before I watched the film. I believe I even said 'ahh' at one point but thankfully only the dogs were around to hear me :-)
And when the black moment hit I found I genuinely cared about the characters getting it together.
I don't like giving out spoilers so I'm not going to tell you too much about the plot. The basic line is that radio host Emma Lloyd (Uma Thurman) advises one of her listeners to break up with her boyfriend and the jilted ex (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) then sets about getting his revenge and she ends up, um, accidentally married. Really it works, honest and it will make you laugh.

The only cliche was that the guy Emma (Uma Thurman) was originally 'settling' for (played by Colin Firth) was new-mannish and the guy she was supposed to be with was an alpha fireman. But with a cliche like Jeffrey Dean Morgan in a fireman's uniform who cares?
In short the film did everything a romcom should - it made me laugh, made me care and it made me leave it playing until the credits were rolling.

Lorraine Wilson

For our second film, take one coachload of assorted tourists, a sprinkling of breathtaking Greek scenery, a hairy-man bus driver and the delightful Nia Vardalos as the tour guide and what do you get?

Driving Aphrodite is what.

There are no baddies, no exciting chase scenes and the humour is gentle rather than laugh-out-loud funny. But, I really enjoyed it and huge thanks to lovely Judy Jarvie for recommending it.

In my experience, men with beards sometimes have something to hide, however, you'll be pleased to know the hairy man in this film soon cleans up his act and undergoes a metamorphosis into a creature who is extremely easy on the eye. Worth watching for his beach scene alone.

Definitely a movie for a Saturday afternoon and definitely to be watched with a large box of chocolates.


Suzanne X

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Author Spotlight: Nina Harrington

Today we welcome Harlequin Romance author Nina Harrington into our spotlight. Nina's third book, Tipping the Waitress with Diamonds, is currently available in the US and also in the UK as part of a 2-in-1.

Thank you Nina for taking time out of your writing cave to answer a few minxy questions.

Where were you in your writing career five years ago?

Five years ago I had just given up a high profile business job in the pharmaceutical industry to write full time. My day job was demanding both physically and mentally, and I knew that if I wanted to achieve my goal of being a published writer, then I was going to have to devote the same amount of time and energy and commitment to learning about craft and business of being a writer as I had in my other career.

It was a challenging, scary and totally exciting part of my life.

Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

Tipping the Waitress with Diamonds is set in an Italian bistro in London, and the theme is very much about second chances. The idea for this particular book started from the characters – and in particular Brett Cameron, a ‘Chef in a Kilt’ as his PR agent likes to call him – and the struggles he has come through to be a celebrity chef. Dyslexia, being written off at school, a hard family upbringing and the passion Brett brings to his work are only some of the facets that makes Brett so special.

I do hope readers love Brett as much as I do!

Where do you hope to be in five years time?

1. Still writing Contemporary Romance books for Mills & Boon, and
2. Published as a mass market Romantic Suspense writer. I love character based crime stories and have so many ideas that I would love to find a home. Some are cosy mysteries, some more serious thrillers, or even young adult science fiction, but all will have the Nina Harrington touch of wit and humour. These are single title books and I have already kicked off a series with a very different amateur detective heroine. Watch this space!

What was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

Oh that is such a great question! And so hard to answer. I would have to say Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. A keeper.

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?

Can I have two? The Science Fiction books of Anne McCaffrey and also the Miles Vorkosigan books of Lois McMaster Bujold. Absolute classics which I still read today.

Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy - or neither?

I just go with the characters. Readers of Mills & Boon Romances do not expect explicit sex scenes so the challenge is to increase the spark through sexual tension and sensuality - which is seriously hard to do without being a cliché.

What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

The day my husband agreed that I should stop earning a good salary in my day job and become a hard working but unpaid writer - because it would make me happy.
It does not get better than that.

What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were published?

  • That publishing is a business and you musty be totally professional to earn your place within that business.
  • That you have to aks yourself some tough questions, such as 'Why should a reader buy my book in preference to the 1000s of other fiction books published that month?'
  • That your book has to be so excellent within its own niche and hence target group of readers, that it will attract the attention of a literary agent and then an editor at a publishing house who will be prepared to make the investment in time and money and YOU as a writer in the long term.
  • That you have to work, then work harder, then work even harder to make the book the very best that it can be before it leaves your desk if you want to earn the right to be published.
  • That Branding is everything. Whether it is the brand associated with the Publisher on the spine of your book, or the name of the author. As a fanatical reader, I buy loads of books every month and I need to know where to find the books I want. Mills & Boon and Harlequin are powerful brands readers trust and recognize. But so many womens' fiction titles get lost on the shelves of bookstores so that readers will never find them unless they know what they are looking for. Writers like James Patterson use their names to brand the books he writes and co-writes to sell to readers who look out for his name.
  • That it is a tough business to be in, and you have to be smart and savvy to make the grade. And it is never about the money. Sorry if that seems hard, but I don't think I truly understood how tough it was until I was published and more aware of the commercial side of creativity.
What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

That the first draft is always pants, and writing is re-writing.

Tell us about your latest release.

Tipping the Waitress with Diamonds is part of the 'Fun Factor' mini series of the Mills & Boon Romance Line with a definite sparky tone to balance the poignant and more intensely emotional aspects of the book.

And of course, there are delicious meals being served in the traditional Italian Bistro setting and I could not resist focusing on the more sensual aspects of such wonderful food and drink.

Check out these reviews:

Romantic Times Magazine Review (4.5) (4.5)

This is what the back cover of the book says:

Take one hot chef...
The world’s finest chef, Brett Cameron, has a tough choice to make. Carry on with his new restaurant or answer a plea for help and return to where it all began...

Add a sweet, stressed waitress...
Sienna Rossi is out of her depth trying to rescue her aunt’s bistro. The dishwasher’s leaking, there’s sauce in her hair and the frying pan’s just caught fire! Through the smoky haze she sees a vision in shimmering chef’s whites: Brett, her teenage crush.

Did the temperature just rise a few degrees?

The Fun Factor
Warm and witty stories of falling in love...

What's next for you?

My fourth book for the Romance Line will be published early 2011 and I have three more books to write this year, so look out for a lot more Nina Harrington titles to come. I do hope that you enjoy them.

You can find out more about Nina at or on her blog