Monday, May 31, 2010

The winner...

Thank you to everyone who popped in over the weekend to chat with Erin!! The lucky winner of her e-book Serenade is...

Suzanne Brandyn

Congratulations, Suz!!! Please let me have your details so your prize can be sent to you.

I spent the weekend reading the page proofs of Forbidden. It was in PDF format, set out like a proper book and the chapter headings are in the same font as the cover of the book. So pretty!!! Only fourteen weeks and one day to go until P-Day!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Secrets" & "Serenade" ~ Erin Grace

Please welcome my special guest this week, the lovely Erin Grace who writes passionate historical romances for Lyrical Press!

Erin is generously offering one lucky commenter a copy of her recent release, Serenade!

Erin, so glad you could pop in today! Can you tell us a little about your two books, Secrets and Serenade? How did the ideas for the plots come about?
My first book 'Secrets' came to me in a dream - seriously.
With Serenade, I had this scene in my head about the heroine getting drunk in a tavern and liked it so much, decided to build a whole story around it....pity the actual scene was about halfway in the finished book, I had to come up with a beginning!

LOL! I'm looking forward to reading that scene :-) I love sale stories (ok I am just nosy!!) so can you tell us about your road to publication - and your call story?

I've been writing for about 2 1/2 years now, have always loved literature, but never attempted to write. What is more, before I wrote my first romance, I'd never read one in my life. One night, I dreamed of the story for Secrets and just couldn't get it out of my head.
Something was urging me to write it down - so I did.

For the next 6 weeks I sat at my keyboard for hours after work - sometimes til 4am - as the story simply poured out of me. But, being a serious business woman, I was embarrassed to tell anyone what i was doing. I 'buried' my file 8 files deep so no one could accidentally stumble across it and would click to another page whenever someone walked into my office.

But, my secret wasn't as well disguised as I'd thought. One night, whilst hammering away, my poor hubby stood in my doorway and asked 'Are you having an Internet affair?"
So, from that moment on I was outed!

Christina: OMG! Your poor hubby!

But, I really had no idea what I was doing and just started sending it to all manner of publishers hoping someone would tell me what to do next. Then, I contacted an author who pointed me in the direction of the RWA.

They matched me up with my poor, long suffering cp, who arrived on the scene just in time to catch me panicking as I got my first full request the very morning after I'd sent it away...and there was me, thinking I'd have at least weeks to polish, etc...ergh.
So, I finished the book in record time, sent it in, but had it turned down on the basis I had made a few 'beginners' mistakes (no kidding!), but, the editor was very kind and critiqued my whole first chapter for me, which really gave me some direction.

Then, over the next 8 weeks, I attended my first RWA conference, learned as much as I could from my cp and sent it out to other publishers. Four days later, just as I was shutting down for the night at 1am, an email from Lyrical dropped into my inbox. I read it. Re-read it. Got hubby to read it....then squealed so loud it probably woke the neighbours!

Do you write every day? Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?

I really do try to write everyday, though my shifts are sometimes 10hrs long, then there's the kids, etc. I know it may sound weird, but I enjoy working on at least 3 manuscripts at the same time. For some reason, it helps me focus.

Goals can vary depending on priority. Deadline for production edits have to come first, but other than that, it depends on how my words are flowing. But, corny as it may sound, I live by the motto 'you can't edit an empty page'.

That's so true, Erin. Something I have to keep reminding myself!! So tell me, are you a panster or plotter?

Hmm...well, considering I enjoy writing synopsis' (try not to gag), I'd have to say I'm a plotter. When my ideas come to me, I always jot down the 'skinny' first. This is a bare-bones breakdown of the story as I see it at the time. Although I'm primarily a plotter, my ideas aren't set in stone and can change as the story developes.

I can see who to ask the next time I get stuck on my synopses!! What keeps you motivated when the writing gets tough?

Chocolate - and lots of it.

Christina: Yep, I'm all over that!!

Seriously though, this is one of the reasons I find having multiple manuscripts useful. If I get stuck on one, I usually find I can get into another...which inturn gets my mind relaxed and thinking. Quite often, once the pressure of 'writers block' is taken off, I'll stop mid-scene on another manuscript and cut back to the one I was having trouble with, with the perfect scene I needed.

I also find that at times the 'big bad blank page' can be daunting when you have so far to go and little concentration, so, I leave myself a little trail of breadcrumbs. How I do this is to go forward into the book whenever I have some great words or scenes I can use later, and leave them roughly where I think I'll need them. Then I kind of know where i'm heading, and if things have changed along the way, I can alter or delete the original scene waiting there.

Am I confusing anyone yet?

LOL, I love discovering all the different processes authors have! Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about getting/being published?

I wish I had some profound or sage advice, but I look at myself as still learning. Although published, I realise that in this industry you're only as good as you're last book and the rewards aren't always what you hoped for. The moment you sign your first contract, that's when your education begins.

Quite often I'm told how lucky I was to be published so quickly, but I believe that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. So, no matter how hard it seems at times, just believe there is an opportunity out there waiting for you and be ready for it when it comes by.

Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up and your process?

I have several Critique partners, some of whom edit my work, whilst others read and give feedback. They are all wonderful! My first cp was, and still is, my 'goddess'. At the time, I didn't know why anyone in their right mind at the RWA would put me with an actual published author! I mean, how on earth could I possibly contribute anything of value to someones work who'd been published? I think in the first chapter she sent me, I built up the courage to tell her she made a spelling error, or something like that.

But, fortunately, she is very hands on and soon we developed a close relationship where we could be constructive, open and honest with our critiques, knowing the other wouldn't take offense.

Each cp has their own way of dealing with who read just love getting the roughs as soon as i've finished each chapter so they can follow the story (i've been in trouble for leaving them in suspense at, whilst the more full-on edits can take time. Meanwhile, I also try to critique their work and send back.

I don't know what I'd do without them.

Don't forget to leave a comment for Erin to go into the draw for a copy of Serenade!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Upcoming Forbidden contest...

I'd been thinking about setting up a mailing list for a while, and finally got around to it the other day. And then forgot to mention it to anyone! Whoops!

Anyway, if you would like to join up to my newsletter it would make me very happy :-) This isn't a chat loop and I promise not to flood your inbox!! In fact I don't think I'll even manage a regular monthly newsletter but I do promise to keep up to date with it. I'm also going to do a special contest for newsletter subscribers at the end of June - more on that later (though I can say it will have something to do with FORBIDDEN - there's a surprise!!!)

Here's the link!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Forbidden Love ~ Kaye Manro

Please welcome my special guest today, the lovely Kaye Manro, who has just had FORBIDDEN LOVE, her debut book, published with Red Rose Publishing!

Kaye, thank you so much for popping in today!

Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog Christina! I’m so excited about FORBIDDEN LOVE, my new science fiction romance (SFR). Now you know we both have to love that title!

Christina: We certainly do! It's an awesome title! And it's a fabulous cover as well! Can you tell us a little about FORBIDDEN LOVE?

Kaye: Forbidden Love is a futuristic sci-fi erotic romance. Yes, there is space travel at FTL (faster than light). But there is also lots of sexy sensual exploring between the hero T’Kon and the heroine Maya, who hail from different galaxies and evolutionary paths. Rules on T’Kon’s planet forbid interspecies mating. But when he crashes his spacecraft on Maya’s world close to her desert home, what else is he to do but let this lovely alien tend his, umm, injuries?

Christina: What indeed?LOL! How did the idea for the FORBIDDEN LOVE plot come about?

Kaye: Interesting you should ask that. I like to tell this little story.

Forbidden Love came about as an experiment in writing erotic Science Fiction Romance and I wrote the first draft in a couple of weeks. Here’s a little inside info—while I worked at creating FL it fondly became known as ‘Lizard Love” by my critique partners –who still call it that-- because my hero, T’Kon has Reptilian DNA. A few friends still call the FL hero, that cheeky lizard. But when an editor asked me to submit it they stopped joking and started helping me whip Forbidden Love into shape.

Christina: Oh I love that - that cheeky lizard! And how exciting an editor asked you to submit it. As you probably know by now, I love sale stories (ok I am just nosy!!) so can you tell us about your road to publication - and your call story?

Kaye: I’m a journalist and I’m always writing something. But i actually didn’t start writing romance fiction until a couple of years ago. Since I wrote the original version of Forbidden Love for a contest that never materialized, the story went back on the shelf. Last fall, I attended The Muse Conference of Lea Schizas. She actually asked me if I had a story I would like to pitch to Red Rose Publishing. At the time, she was the head lines editor there. So I said, well, I have this erotic Sci-Fi. I pitched it to her, and a few weeks later Red Rose Publishing contracted Forbidden Love.

Christina: Do you write every day? Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?

Kaye: That’s a good question. I write whenever I can find a minute or two. With my busy schedule, that isn’t always easy. But I manage because I love to write romance. I’m in the process of editing more titles in a series of time travel adventure romances with a medieval setting. I do confess I tend to over-edit, probably because of my background.

Christina: I so love the sound of your time travel medievals. Are you a panster or plotter?

Kaye: I am a little of both, really. But lately I find I’m more of a plotter. Yet I still love that intoxicating feeling you get when you just let yourself go and the story unfolds in its own way.

Christina: That is a great feeling, I agree! What keeps you motivated when the writing gets tough?

Kaye: I just push through things and make myself do it. Granted, when you are inside those high creative spaces it is much easier to write. But we can’t always have that space. Life sometimes gets in the way, and as authors, we just have to keep at it.

Christina: Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about getting published?

Kaye: About getting published? Yes! It’s such an exhilarating feeling! And stressful as well. Because the story doesn’t end after finishing edits and publishing. Let the whirlwind begin! Now you are on your way to lots of promoting and marketing! It’s tiring, fun and stressful all at the same time. Actually, my advice is to start promoting yourself as an author even before you sign a book contract.

Christina: Yes, the promo side can be exhausting! And that's great advice, Kaye. So tell me, do you have critique partners (CPs)? Can you tell us how you met and about your process?

Kaye: I met my critique partners at different times. My first CP and I met on a Harlequin message board. Then I met a few more when I joined a romance writers group. My standby CP is another journalist who also writes romance. She makes sure my sentence structure is always right. We edited the grammar so much before submission that FORBIDDEN LOVE didn’t need the usual line edits. It went straight from content edits to formatting.

Kaye’s Bio:

As a romance author, I lean toward the adventuresome in my writing. I love science fiction and all the enticing quantum theories surrounding it. Where characters rush through outer space at FTL, or teleport into another time, and even slipstream into an alternate reality. I like creating sizzling love scenes too with sexy heroes, and captivating heroines. It just seemed natural to combine all these elements together in my stories.


Illicit Sultry Passion...

Maya and T’Kon
are Galaxies apart so different yet so much alike…

While Dr. Maya Belle is researching wildlife habitats in the far desert region of her world, a sudden burst of sand engulfs her. She goes to investigate and cannot believe what stumbles out of a massive dune. She soon finds she is in the company of a sexy alien from another galaxy…

T’Kon from the planet Asconage is studying a distant world known as Terrain. His spacecraft malfunctions and crashes into its desert. A female named Maya gives him aid, and a steamy lust grows between them. A sultry interspecies passion neither can resist.

To avoid detection by the warring factions governing her world, he must repair his damaged craft and leave. Can he set forth without her and forsake their forbidden love?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Noble Captive ~ Michelle Styles

Today I'm very excited to welcome Harlequin Mills and Boon Historical author Michelle Styles to my blog. Michelle and I met back in 2004 at the RNA conference in the UK, shortly before Michelle sold The Gladiator's Honour. Michelle writes about sexy Romans and Vikings and recently added some gorgeous Victorians!

Michelle, thanks for popping over today. Can you tell us a little about your latest releases?

Right now, because of scheduling I have a number of books out or just to be out. In the US, A Noble Captive (Roman set pirate adventure story with a Sibyl’s assistant for a heroine) was out in April and An Impulsive Debutante (early Victorian about a woman who is forced into an elopement and discovers that life is not all that it seems) is out in June and is currently out on pre-publication at eharlequin. In the UK, Compromising Miss Milton (early Victorian where a viscount’s past may destroy the one woman can redeem him) is out. Read an excerpt here

In Australia and New Zealand I have a 3 in 1 out – The Viking’s Captive Princess, Compromising Miss Milton and A question of Impropriety.

How did the idea for the plots come about?

For A Noble Captive, I was interested in pirates and knew the story of Julius Ceasar being captured by pirates. Also the hero of Gladiator’s Honour had been captured and this was how he ended up as a gladiator, so I thought what if... Eric Banna provided the hero insirpation.

For An Impulsive Debutante, my daughter loved the minor character Lottie Charlton from A Christmas Wedding Wager and begged for her story. I had long wanted to do a take on King Thrushbeard where a spoilt princess learns what is important in life and this seemed like an ideal opportunity. I used Mads Mickelson as hero inspiration.

With Compromising Miss Milton, my senior editor’s eyes lit up when I mentioned a governess heroine and then I had this image of a man floating in the water. I also was interested in India. So all these things came into play. And I also knew Jason Isaacs was exactly the right sort of hero inspiration.

Michelle, I love your sale story to Harlequin as an example of never giving up despite your chosen historical period being a so-called "hard-sell". Please share your road to publication and call story with us today!

Oh gosh. I had always wanted to write but kept putting it off until some day. That some day came in 2002 when I ended up in hospital with gall stones. I thought – it is now or never. It took me a little while though and I ended up writing 7 manuscripts before I sold my first piece, a reworking of my first manuscript, to D C Thompson. About a year after that, Linda Fildew of Harlequin Mills & Boon phoned to say that they wanted to buy The Gladiator’s Honour and my career with Harlequin was born. Gladiator’s Honour was the first Roman set historical that they had published and many people in the industry told me that I was wasting my time to even try, that there just wasn’t the market for it! It is why every time I see another Roman set historical or ancient historical on the market, I want to punch the air and say – see, see I was right.

You were right! What's not to love about Romans and Vikings?! And because I'm that kind of girl, here's the cover for The Viking's Captive Princess. Gorgeous!

Do you write every day? Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?

I try to write every day. And I have fiddle around with my goals. I have started chunking and it seems to work. Basically I am now writing in 750 word chunks and trying to do 4 chunks per day. Between chunks I take breaks.

Panster or plotter?

A bit of both. Without a first draft, there is not a lot you can do because things never come out exactly as I plan but I do try to have a rough outline. A lot of the hard work comes in the editing and revising. It is all about taking a rough idea and making it into something wonderful.

What keeps yo
u motivated when the writing gets tough?

The determination to see the story through. I want to give the reader the best possible story that I am capable of giving them. Having deadline also helps. I also write down every day how many words I am up to, seeing the word total go up is important.

Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about
getting/being published?

Desire, determination, dedication and discipline plus a lot of perseverance. The learning of the craft of writing help you understand the why behind certain comments.

Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up
and your pro

Donna Alward who writes for Harlequin Romance is my main critique partner. The whole critique process has evolved from when we first started and is always a work in progress! We met on eharlquin and the first time I looked at any of her stuff, I made her cry. But then she attributes my support etc to helping her get published. I know she certainly has helped me stay published. It is good to know that I have someone to bounce ideas off, or to lean on. We started off as cp but have become fast friends.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

And the Winner...

Of Christine Wells fabulous giveaway of HER DANGEROUS DUKE and SWEETEST LITTLE SIN is ~

Kandy Shepherd

Congratulations, Kandy! Please email me to let me know your details for Christine.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How to make Mother's Day

My two daughters and son surprised me with this beautiful gift yesterday - a framed enlargement of my cover (I think they somehow guessed my obsession with it!) I might have sniffled a bit after opening it!! It's now hanging in pride of place on the wall of my office, so all I have to do is glance over the top of my computer screen and there is it... *happy sigh*

Maximus's arms look even hotter in the enlarged version!!! Not that I'm really that shallow...

Friday, May 07, 2010

Sweetest Little Sin ~ Christine Wells

Please welcome my special guest today, Christine Wells, who writes luscious Regencies for Berkley Sensation. Christine is also generously offering a fabulous double-giveaway to one lucky commenter - see her question at the end of the interview!


Christine Wells was a 2009 RITA® nominee and the first Australian to win the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award. A corporate lawyer before resigning to write romance novels, Christine lives in Brisbane with her husband and two small but very noisy boys. You can find her at or blogging with the Romance Bandits:

Hi Christina, thank you for having me on your blog today! I'm looking forward to chatting with your readers.

Can you tell us a little about your book?

SWEETEST LITTLE SIN Out May 4 from Berkley Sensation


A Marquis' Betrayal
Lady Louisa Brooke has many suitors, but the only man for her is the wild and ruthless Marquis of Jardine. When Jardine suddenly abandons her after a long-standing liaison, he leaves her with nothing except the secret they share. Her future in ruins, Louisa recklessly accepts a mission from the head of the secret service and becomes embroiled in a perilous operation in which nothing is as it seems...

A Lady's Revenge
The Marquis of Jardine is determined to destroy the criminal mastermind who's sworn vengeance against all he holds dear. But when he hears that Louisa is to wed a dangerous enemy, Jardine is tortured by jealousy and fear for her safety. He tracks her down, only to discover that her mission collides with his.

A Love that Won't Be Denied
Together, Louisa and Jardine must now foil a plan to betray the secret service and escape a diabolical revenge. But can they put the past behind them, and take the greatest risk of all--on love?


“I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to speak with you.” Louisa spoke through gritted teeth, but in a voice that couldn’t help a slight tremor.

“Ah, but I have a very great desire to speak with you,” purred Jardine in her ear. “What the hell are you doing with Radleigh?”

“You’re the clever spy. What do you think I’m doing?”

She tried to step away from him but he caught her arm easily and pulled her into him, one arm clamped around her waist, one hand forcing her chin up so she looked him in the eye.

“Stay away from him, Louisa. He’s not what he seems.”

She searched his face, noting the faint smudges under his eyes, the deepened lines about his mouth. “Which of us is?” she whispered.

His eyes widened a little, then narrowed. “Are you in love with him?”

Love!” The word burst from her before she could stop it. Where had that vicious snarl come from?

She lowered her voice. “What do I want with love? Radleigh is rich, he’s respectable, and he’ll no doubt make an undemanding husband. What more could a woman want?”

Jardine’s hot gaze raked her face, settled on her lips. His arms tightened around her. “This.

Ooh, yes please! *Christina fans self* So how did the idea for the plot come about?
Lady Louisa Brooke and the Marquis of Jardine were secondary characters in my second book, THE DANGEROUS DUKE. I had intended to wrap up their romance by the end of that book, but they had too many issues to resolve, so THE DANGEROUS DUKE ends with them torn apart by his secretiveness and her suspicions. I had so much mail from readers wanting their story that my editor let me go back and revisit them in SWEETEST LITTLE SIN. They're electric together as a couple but they need to work through quite a bit before they get their happy ending! For those who are interested, Jardine also makes a short appearance in WICKED LITTLE GAME, which is out now.

I love sale stories! (OK I am just nosy!!) so can you tell us about your road to publication - and your call story?

I love sale stories too! I wouldn't call that nosy - who doesn't love to tell their call story? My journey to publication took about five years. I was working as a lawyer when I started writing my first novel (now under the bed, where it will stay!) I sold the third book I wrote as a result of full manuscript requests from contest finals. One editor emailed wanting to buy the book. I then hustled and got an agent involved and within a week the book was sold to Berkley. I was heavily pregnant with my second child and it was 4am when I heard the news. So there was this demented pregnant woman doing a silent but violent happy dance in her livingroom that day! I called the only person I knew who was also up at that hour - Anna Campbell - and we squeed on the phone together. I don't think I quite realized at the time how lucky I was. Now, I'm fully aware and very grateful!

What a fantastic call story, Christine! Now onto the nitty-gritty. Do you write every day? Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?

I try to write every day, even if I'm just playing around with a scene I've already written. I think that's the absolute best thing a writer can do to stay immersed in the story when life is so busy and there are so many other things to think about. I don't usually have specific goals but I'm trying at the moment to do a certain number of pages by Friday, with the weekend as catch up time if I'm running behind.

Panster or plotter?

I'm a panster and wish I wasn't! It's so much easier if you can plan your books in advance.

I totally agree with that!!! What keeps you motivated when the writing gets tough?

Deadlines.LOL But seriously, if the writing gets tough it's often because I've taken a wrong turn somewhere. That's when I go back to basics and do a little more work on Goal Motivation and Conflict (see Debra Dixon's fabulous book) or story structure to try to get my bearings again. Sometimes, I chat to my writing buddy, Denise Rossetti, who is fantastic at picking away at plot and character until I can see how I need to fix it. If I'm really desperate, I take a break from reading. After a day or two my mind is so bored it's coming up with more story just to entertain myself!

Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about getting/being published?

You need to 'protect the work' as Jenny Crusie puts it. The quality of your books is the only thing about this business that you can control, so make sure you do your part to the best of your ability and don't let any outside influences distract you. The thing about promotion, reviews, advertising etc is that no one ever knows what works to help sell a book. It's not to say you shouldn't do any promotion, but you should never let the time you spend on those things impinge on your writing time.

Don't ever think someone else's success takes anything away from you. Success breeds success in this business. Look at the way the Twilight books have created a huge demand for vampire romance. Remember that when someone who writes in your subgenre gets a 6 figure deal.

That's excellent advice and good to remember. Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up and your process?

I have Denise Rossetti, who mainly helps with plotting, which she's brilliant at, and I have Anna Campbell, who reads the finished manuscript draft for me and looks at the big picture stuff like pacing and characterization. I'm very lucky to have these two! And I must say I love getting a sneak peek at their work also;)
I'd like to give away a signed copy of THE DANGEROUS DUKE and a signed copy of SWEETEST LITTLE SIN to one lucky commenter. Just answer this question--what's your favourite lovers reunited story?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lots of Juicy Goodness

I want to give a little heads-up for coming attractions! This Friday I have fabulous Regency author (and fellow Berkley Babe!!!) Christine Wells popping over, to chat about her brand new release, Sweetest Little Sin. Christine is generously offering to give away a signed copy of THE DANGEROUS DUKE and a signed copy of SWEETEST LITTLE SIN to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is pop back on Friday and answer a simple question!

The following Friday, 14th May, fabulous HM&B Historical author, Michelle Styles, is swinging over and I'm very excited about that because Michelle writes about gorgeous Roman and Viking warriors!!

And then on Friday 21st May I have the lovely Kaye Manro visiting, telling us all about her wonderful debut release, FORBIDDEN LOVE (got to love that title!!)

As if that isn't enough goodness for one month, on 28th May my fellow RWA Historical loop friend, Erin Grace is stopping by to chat about her two recently released books, SERENADE and SECRETS!

ETA: Erin will be giving away an e-copy of either Serenade or Secrets to one lucky commenter on her interview!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Romancing the West - Awesome-sauce!

The Romancing the West mini-conference yesterday was amazing!! So much goodness packed into one day, my brain is fit to explode with all the excellent advice and info.

I was especially thrilled to meet up with my on-line buddy, Fiona Lowe, and it was sooo great to chat face-to-face rather than e-mail-to-email!

Here I am, posing with Fiona at the tea break! (Thanks to the lovely Rachael Johns for taking the pic!)

Fiona gave an excellent workshop on conflict and finding your characters' backstory. And the importance of drip-feeding information throughout the story rather than giving a great big info-dump upfront.

Nikki Logan's workshop on branding was awesome. It's something I've really struggled with but it was just like someone (Nikki, lol) bopped me over the head with the clue-stick. I hope I can now implement her advice!

And Juliet Marillier's workshop on history, guesswork and wild imagination was fantastic! Not least because it reassured me the way I go about researching and weaving it into the book isn't half as crazy as I've always wondered!

I'll be putting a full report up on my website shortly!

In other news, I'm over at Shelley Munro's blog today, with a writer's tip. Hope you can pop over and say hi!!!