Monday, December 27, 2010

Quick quote

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.
- Joseph Campbell

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winner announcement

I've announced the winners over at my Rae Summers blog. Congratulations to Jennifer Mathis and Rachel Lyndhurst. They both win Christmas tree decorations courtesy of The Rainforest Site.

The Rainforest Site is offering all Christmas ornaments at half price, so check out the sale!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Interesting quotation

Whatever you do, do it with all your heart and soul.
- From Bernard Baruch (courtesy of a Huletts sugar packet)

Monday, December 6, 2010


The day job just got really busy. Since I've had a quiet run for the last two months I've almost forgotten how to do the job! I'll be absent for the next week or so until I get on top of the workload. Have fun while I'm gone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wild Roses Christmas Blog Tour

My alter ego (Rae Summers) is participating in a blog tour with nine other authors from The Wild Rose Press for the next four Wednesdays. Please visit my other blog and support me on the tour. Today I'm hosting my lovely crit partner, Sally Clements.

The tour is Christmas-themed so you'll be able to get holiday ideas, recipes, as well as pick up some new holiday reads. Each blog is also running a tour contest, which means that you have ten chances to win!

For more information on the participating authors, the prizes they're offering, and who is visiting where and when, click here:

To find out more about the contest I'm running, click here, and to see what I have to say about my TBR pile, drop by PL Parker's blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thank you to New Voices

I'll admit to feeling a tad disappointed when I saw The List on the New Voices contest site and not only did I not make it, but none of my CPs or online friends did either. (And by the way, you were all fantastic!)

On the plus side, this contest has been an awesome experience for me, because it introduced me to a whole new bunch of aspiring South African authors. For more information on the South African entrants and other entries set in Africa or with South African characters, you can view the list here:

Our country is a little backward when it comes to genre fiction, and until now most romance writers battle away quietly on their own while lots of fuss gets made about literary authors and poets. So we're not going to win any Booker or Nobel prizes (which have both incidentally been awarded this last week, in case you've missed the news) but we are steadily growing in numbers and in strength.

Just watch this space: we South African romance writers are going to take on the world!

Finally, I'd like to congratulate the Top 10 New Voices Finalists. Their second chapters are currently up at, and there is still time to vote, so please head on over and support these new writers. Good luck to all of them!

I've read all ten and voted, and I'll admit it was a tough choice. There were some really good entries. I would, however, like to do a shout out here for my friend Leah Ashton, who has broken the mould with her very yummy bartender hero.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

To sub or not to sub

While over 800 aspirant writers anxiously await The List (for those who aren't as obssessed by the New Voices contest as I am, this is the list HMB have promised us of entries they want to see more of), I have a question to pose: 
If HMB does not request your contest entry, do you plan to stick it in a bottom drawer or to sub this story elsewhere?

Of course, I'm one of the 814 hoping this is not a situation I'll have to face, but even so I know exactly what I'd do: the bottom drawer.

Because when I do sell to HMB one day (and I'm determined to!) I want to have a whole bunch of manuscripts ready to be re-worked and re-submitted. I'm hoping that by then I'll be more experienced and know how to 'fix' them, so that instead of making just the one sale, I'll be able to sell a whole bunch more to my dream publisher!

But I also realise that there are times when submitting to A.N. Other publisher might be a better option for a manuscript. If you know the story doesn't really fit the targeted HMB line but it'd break your heart to change it to fit, then you need to follow your heart.

There are also times when the validation of having an editor say "I love this and I want to buy it" is more important than sticking to the longer term dream.

So if Harlequin Mills & Boon is your dream, what would you do?

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Voices Winners Announced

The winners have been announced over at:

To the Top Ten: Massive congratulations to all of you. I can't wait to read your next chapters.

To all those who didn't final: I share your disappointment, but don't let you get it down. Take note of the comments you received, learn from the chapters you most enjoyed, polish your partials and send them in via the traditional route. You haven't lost anything by entering. In fact, you may not know it yet, but you've gained so much. You deserve your medals of bravery. Incidentally, if you haven't yet picked up your badges: pop on over to Lacey Devlin's blog and collect one now!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Memoriam

Last night our family cat was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

The coward must have been driving at quite a speed not to be able to stop for a cat who had large white patches and would have been easily visible in this well-lit residential street. Our road is short and leads nowhere, so whoever thought this quiet street would make a nice race track should be hung, drawn and quartered.

Luke was born in our garden earlier this year to a wild cat who roams the neighbourhood. This was the second litter she'd birthed in the safety of our garden. After the events of last night I'm really glad we haven't managed to catch her yet to get her to the vet to be spayed.

As a kitten, when he was just old enough to be weaned, we brought him inside. He slept on my pillow and in no time at all he'd become the perfect house cat. Though his mother and sisters remain wild, eating our food but refusing to be touched, Luke (or Lucy as he was known for most of his life - until he developed irrefutable evidence that he was a boy!) was a gentle creature. He adored being cuddled, would brush up against our legs, and never got fed up with my daughters no matter how often they disturbed his sleep to pick him up or play with him. He'd sleep on their beds during the day, and between his catnaps he'd play happily with them. They dressed him up, carried him all over the house as young children do, and he never once raised a paw to them.

In less than a year he grew larger than any of his siblings, and though we gave him the freedom to rove, he always came back to us. We usually left him outdoors at night, to go hunting with his family, but just yesterday he learned to come in through the window. Less than an hour after I'd commented that he would soon be sleeping on the bed with me again, he was dead.

I won't bore you all with the gory stuff. I am immensely grateful to the good samaritans who rang our gate bell to tell us there was a cat injured in the street. They sat with me, stroking him and holding him down as he fought through such terrible pain. I'm not good with blood. I just have to see blood and I pass out. So to sit in the middle of the steet watching my beloved cat cough up blood was traumatic. The nameless couple who'd stopped to help were calm and understanding and thanks to them I managed to stay calm and collected. And thanks to them my children weren't the first to discover Luke's body this morning.

Sadly, in his short life the only pictures I have of Luke are a few blurry ones taken in twilight when he was a kitten. They're too awful to show here, but this image of his older siblings as kittens gives you some idea what he looked like. (He was very like the white-faced one on the right).

It appears that Luke's mommy is pregnant once again. As she now seems to know us and trust us, I hope she will once again entrust us to love and care for her babies. Though none will ever be able to replace Luke.

Friday, September 24, 2010

While we wait ...

So it seems that we may be waiting a little longer than expected for the announcement of the Top 10 finalists in the New Voices contest. Hardly surprising since the editors and judges have 824 entries to read this weekend, and among them are a whole lot of fantastic chapters.

So while we wait, please check out the SA Romance Writers blog for a list of South African entrants, and show your support for the burgeoning talent from this southern-most tip of Africa. I've been really thrilled to find so many entries featuring Africa or South Africans.

Over at Minxes of Romance are links to the New Voices entries by me and my crit partners, and in the most recent post you can also find out what writing romance and trees have in common.

And last, but not least, on my Rae Summers blog I'm starting a new series of posts: Cocktail Fridays. On the Friday closest to pay day each month (25th) I'll be bringing you a new cocktail recipe from the 1920s. Kicking off the series is my personal favourite: the mojito.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blogfest and New Voices

This weekend my other half (literally!) is participating in Blogfest 2010 over at There are prizes galore for blog visitors, and Rae is also giving away a DVD to one lucky folllower.

Congratulations to the 160 brave people who have already submitted their contest entries to New Voices. It's becoming very addictive reading! I'd also like to shout out "well done!" to Lorraine Wilson, the first Minx to enter so far. You can read Lorraine's fab entry, In Too Deep, here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Promotion for Authors

My alter ego, Rae Summers, is hosting author Caroline Clemmons today. She's talking about how writers can promote themselves. Please drop by and share your own tips on promotion.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wild Roses Blog Tour and Contest

My alter ego, Rae Summers, is currently participating in a blog tour with a group of lovely authors from The Wild Rose Press to promote her release of Let's Misbehave.

At the end of August the tour will be rounded up with an amazing give-away to one lucky commenter. So if you'd like a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment on one of the participating blogs during the month of August.

To view the prize, visit Rae's blog at and leave a comment on one of the blog tour posts.

Monday, August 2, 2010


It's more than a week since I returned home to South Africa, but here on the blog I still have a whole lot to catch you up on. This holiday just kept on getting better, and trust me, after starting with my first ever romance writing conference, that took some doing.

My oldest and dearest friend (not in age, but in terms of the fact that we've been friends since nursery school) and I made a whirlwind visit to Rome. Yes, the Rome in Italy. That city of dashing romantic heroes, ancient ruins, balmy sunshine and ... crowds and crowds of tourists. Even at midnight the Trevi Fountain was surrounded by hundreds of happy sight-seers.

Rome might be titled the Eternal City, but for me it will forever be the City of Fountains.

We dutifully marvelled at the Pantheon, tramped through the Forum and the Colisseum, window-shopped along the Via dei Condotti, climbed the Spanish Steps, and ate the most mouth-watering pizzas on the Piazza Navona. All in the sweltering heat. But I drew the line at standing in the baking sun for three hours to enter the Vatican, so I only got as close as the vast square in front of St Peters Basilica.

The most precious moments, though, were those we found in the most unexpected places. We dipped our feet in the icy water of a fountain in the Villa Borghese, the Roman version of Hyde Park. We discovered a pool side bar on the River Tiber and stopped for drinks and shade.

And we laughed ourselves silly over these Monty Python-esque statues in the Villa Borghese.

At midnight we sipped coffees in a tiny restaurant close to Trevi, then I joined the throng to throw in my coin and ensure that one day I'll return to Rome.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Week That Was - updated!

Now updated with the pictures I wasn't able to upload last week thanks to a dodgy internet connection...

On Monday I left Greenwich, and with a day to kill in London before heading to Cambridge with my brother, I spent the day going up and down the river taking hundreds of pictures of buildings along the Thames.

Tuesday was spent in idle content with my sister-in-law in the quaint and quiet village of Horningsea outside Cambridge. I needed a lazy day to recover from the excitement of the RNA conference.

On Wednesday I met up with my oldest and dearest friend and we headed back into London, where we visited the rare few sights I'd somehow managed to miss in all the years I'd spent in London: Harrods and Hyde Park Corner. That evening we had a Girls' Night Out, meeting up with another high school friend for a magnificent Thai dinner and 'Hair', the Broadway revival showing on the West End for only a few more weeks. The show was incredible, and the energy of the performers astounding. My only regret about the show was that the most gorgeous male on the cast (in my humble opinion) was the only one who didn't strip naked!

Then on Thursday I headed down to Surrey to meet my dear friends the Bambers. As Terry was playing stand-in to Honor Blackman at an awards ceremony, Sue and I had a delightfully chatty pub dinner together. [Note: the Running Horses pub at Mickelham in Surrey seems to have a higher than average number of good-looking patrons]. I caught up with Terry the next morning before yet another pub meal, then I made the long haul trek back up to Cambridge for another pub dinner with my brother & sister-in-law.

All pubbed out, I spent a quiet Saturday roaming Horningsea village outside Cambridge and outlining a new contemporary romance. (Which will have to bide its time in the queue!) On Sunday, Marcelle took me out for morning tea at The Orchard, a must-visit eatery at Grantchester that was once frequented by Rupert Brooke and Virginia Woolf, amongst others. Cue another story in my head (and notebook) but this time a new 1920s novella idea. That afternoon I wandered through the extensive house and grounds at Anglesay Abbey, before getting lost among a maze of footpaths in the Cambridgeshire fens.

All in all it has been a non-stop roller coaster ride of a week, but the adventure continues...

I'll be going no-mail and no-internet for the next three days, which also means I won't be able to moderate comments here - though please feel free to leave comments for when I get back. It'll make me feel very loved to get back online and see messages!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Greenwich - last day

Once again, I've been adventuring rather than blogging, but here, at last, is my take on the last day of the RNA conference.

The first talk I attended on Sunday morning was by far my favourite of the whole conference: Sarah Duncan's talk entitled 'Mind the Gap: how to get your manuscript across the publishing divide'. Sarah presented ten points that are essential for hooking the reader, and ended by looking at how to add Pizazz to your writing. Her talk was dynamic, easy to follow, and she illustrated every point in ways that made the talk memorable.

After a coffee and breakfast / snack break I attended Adele Geras' talk on 'Young Love' and writing for the young adult market. I enjoyed the talk, though with a combination of tiredness and the fact that I have no immediate plan to write for teenagers, this was the first talk in which I didn't take serious notes.

Then back into the large auditorium (which was packed!) for Joanna Trollope's key note speech. I was struck by how gaunt she looks, but her words certainly pack a punch that belies her apparent frailty. At one stage in her prepared speech I found myself shifting in my seat and thinking 'I'll have to agree to disagree' as she had some quite uncompromising things to say about romance novels and novelists, including talking about a "poverty of ambition" among women writers. However, she ended her talk on a rallying cry that had me cheering for her and determined to do all I can to raise the public image of women's fiction and women writers.

After the lunch break (and the most delicious chocolate brownies!) I attended Diane Pearson's First Line Workshop which opened my eyes not just to the importance of the opening line (who doesn't know that?!) but to just how much can be conveyed with those opening words. It also made me realise how poor all my opening lines have been so far and that I need to up my game in this respect.

As Fiona Loakes (aka Fiona Harper, though it took me ages to make the connection) was unable to attend the conference for very sad personal reasons, I had a gap in my schedule (much-needed by this point!) and Lorraine Minx and I headed out for Ben & Jerry's ice creams before parting ways. Tempted as I was to have an afternoon nap, I then headed back to Queen Anne Court for the closing talk of the conference: an informal chat session with author Judy Astley.

Thank heavens I still had the pub dinner at Wetherspoons to look forward to, so I didn't get all maudlin over the fact that the conference was now over. The inimitable Gemma Jackson kept me entertained all evening, and it's impossible to be maudlin in Gemma's presence!

I'd like to say a massive thanks to conference organisers Roger Sanderson and Jan Jones for all their hard work in organising such an amazing and seamlessly well run conference.

I'll still be away from home and enjoying a jam-packed holiday schedule for another week but once I'm home and back in my rut (well actually a new rut inspired by the conference) I'll type up my conference notes. If any of you would like notes from a particular talk (or all of them!) just leave a comment here on my blog with your details, or email me through the Contact link on the right, and I'll send them to you once they're ready.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Greenwich - Day 4

Though I'd left the gala dinner reasonably early (and still sober) the night before, it was an effort to drag myself out of bed and back to Queen Anne Court on Saturday morning. I should have planned my holiday for before the conference rather than after, though waking to my first ever book review (and such a fantastic one) did give me some impetus.

Another hot and sunny day began with jay Dixon's talk on Adding Colour to your Novel, which covered exactly that: the meanings and uses of colours, especially important in historicals. jay's tips on making use of colour associations, and carrying a colour through your novel (for example, to represent a secondary character) really stuck with me.

Sadly I then had to miss Nell Dixon's talk on Believable Secondary Characters as I had an appointment to meet the editor from Mills & Boon who requested a new partial from me after last year's Presents contest. (Sadly? I met my editor!) The interview went well, with the editor complimenting the interaction between my hero and heroine, and the dialogue. She also gave me a few points to ponder, so I went away with ideas tumbling through my head.

Then on into Kate Walker's talk on Conflict, which started on a high (See left and you'll know what I mean!). A lot of what Kate covered wasn't new to me, but it's an important topic and always worth reiterating. Best of all, coming on the heels of my editor appointment, what Kate shared with us helped to resolve the jumble in my head.

Lunch was followed by a talk by various Mills&Boon editors on 'How to increase your Page Turning Quality in the 21st Century'. Sounds like a mouthful, but really the gist was simple: they're looking for fresh voices and fresh ideas. The insight given into the new directions their contemporary lines are taking was very exciting so it was an inspirational hour.

Imogen Howson's talk on publisher Samhain (pronounced exactly as it's written and not with the original Gaelic pronunciation) was equally inspirational, as much because of Imogen's enthusiasm and encouragement as the idea of an author-friendly publisher hungry for stories and going places.

Liz Fenwick and Kate Johnson's chat about Social Media and how to use it for promotion was a delightful end to the day, informative but not too much on top of the saturation of information in my head.

My co-Minxes and I then got so caught up in chatting that we arrived a little late at the evening barbecue where we carried on chatting ... and we carried on chatting back in our accommodation long after the barbecue. I still find it amazing that we hit it off just as well in person as we had on-line.

Below are Minxes Lorraine and Jo with Romance writer Nina Harrington at the barbecue.

PS: I neglected to mention that I managed to spill champagne all over my dinner companions at the gala. Sorry, ladies!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Greenwich - Day 3

For me the third day of my adventure, but really this was the first day of the RNA's 50th anniversary conference: the Industry Day.

The day (in fact the entire weekend) was blessed with sunshine, though the sultry heat was occassionally overwhelming. The speakers of the day were mostly publishers and agents, giving us writers the insider view on publishing - fortunately not all doom and gloom. Again and again the message was reinforced: even though fewer titles are being bought and publishers are taking fewer risks, a good book still has every chance of being published.

After registration and Katie Fforde's welcome introduction, we were straight into the first talk of the day, by Charlotte Bush and Rob Waddington of Random House. The major gist of their talk was the importance for writers to understand their market.

Next up was David Shelley of Little Brown who spoke about changes in the market place, including the rise of supermarkets and digital, as well as current trends.

Then after lunch editorial consultants Jane Eastgate and Sally Cummings spoke about what writers can do to make their work stand out for an editor. Sadly they didn't really have the magic answer of 'what is the X-Factor?'

Then my personal favourite of the day: four writers published in the US (two of whom live in the US) spoke about the differences between the UK and US markets in an open Q&A session that was both lively and informative. Thanks ladies!

[From left to right: agent Erin Niumata, writers Janet Mullany, Nicola Cornick and Rosemary Laurey]

The working day ended with another informal chat session, this time with 5 writers each representing different decades of the RNA, and obviously focussing on the RNA itself in this anniversary year.

The day was not by any means over yet. We dressed up in our glad rags and hit the Trafalgar Tavern for a delicious dinner, with champagne, conversation and speeches at the historic Trafalgar Tavern. I'll admit to falling into bed with exhaustion that night.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Greenwich - Day 2

[Okay, so anyone who knows what day of the week it is will know I'm a few days behind, but please bear with me - I'm having so much fun!]

My first full day in Greenwich was actully spent doing touristy things, and I was blessed with a gloriously warm and sunny day in which to do it. I wandered through the market and then visited the part of Greenwich that I'd somehow missed on nearly half a dozen previous visits: Maritime Greenwich.

Christopher Wren's complex of buildings are grand and awe-inspiring. The chapel and Painted Hall (a dining hall built for retired sailors) are both incredible in their detail and sumptuousness. Most of the buildings are now occupied by the University of Greenwich, but one is used by the Trinity College of Music. Words cannot describe how it feels to stroll passed, with the Thames glistening silver on one side, a fgraceful tree-lined avenue on the other, and to hear the sounds of beautiful music drifting down from the windows above.

I also visited the Queen's House, a small graceful villa built for the early Stuart queens. Now an art gallery, it is still possible to imagine the rooms as they once were, filled with ladies in waiting in gorgeous dresses and, later, lords and ladies in powdered wigs and frills. In one room I stumbled onto an interesting surprise: among all the naval paintings was one of a pretty young lady, a painting that looked familiar. It was Emma Hamilton. And the painting beside it was of a young man with an attractive but serious face and the label 'Horatio Nelson'. I've only ever seen portraits of him older (or dying) but suddenly seeing these two side by side I could understand how they fell in love.

And on that romantic note, I promise that my next post really will be about the Romantic Novelists Association conference!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Greenwich - Day 1

I'm here! When I get the chance I'll upload a few conference photos.

I'm actually going to start this series of blogs at Day -1: my flight. I flew to England on Wednesday, on my first ever day flight. What an amazing experience! It is unbelievable to be able to look down on Africa from such an unusual viewpoint, seeing rivers and mountains.

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring part of the journey was flying over the Sahara. For the first time I grasped the scale and the sheer desolation of this desert. For approximately 4 hours the plane just flies and flies and below us was nothing but a constant sea of sand, broken only by the shadows of the couds beneath us and the lines that edge the windswept dunes.

Sunshine over the Sahara, over the Mediterranean coastline, mountainous islands in the sea of blue, the Alps with sno-covered valleys that seem untouched by humans, the fields of Frnace - and then, as we hit the channel, a solid blanket of cloud - both below and above us.

London was surprisingly hot and humid, and it took me hours to get across town to Greenwich. And that's where I'll pick up tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Let's Misbehave

Today is release day! You can now download Let's Misbehave from for your reading pleasure.

As you read this, I'm currently in mid-air on my way to London to attend my first ever romance writing conference (the RNA's 50th anniversary conference at the University of Greenwich). If you'd like to find out more about Let's Misbehave, visit my alias' blog at

From tomorrow until Monday I'll be running a contest there, and you could be the one lucky winner who wins a free copy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thank you for the music

I'd like to thank Stephenie Meyer for introducing me to a whole range of wonderful music I'd never heard before. Thanks to her dedications to Muse in every single one of the Twilight novels, I decided to have a listen to the music. At the risk of using a seriously over-used word: Awesome!

So I made a new year's resolution for 2010 to broaden my music experience, and so far I've had a good run. Each month I've tried out a new band and along the way I've discovered some real gems, like Thirty Seconds to Mars and the inspiring Coldplay (yes, I know, I must be the last person on earth to catch on!)

But it's only mid-year and I've run out of ideas. Anyone have any suggestions on what bands I should try next?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fairy tales really do come true

To every critic who says that romance novels are escapist (well, okay, they are!) and unrealistic, all I have to say is ... bah humbug!

Ordinary young girls really do grow up to marry princes. It may not happen every day, but every 2-3 years, give or take, is still good odds. For the most recent in a string of European royal engagements and weddings worthy of any self-respecting romance novel, click here.

Okay, so the ages of hero and heroine are not exactly category romance material, but this story still has Cinderella stamped all over it. The young woman who has won the heart of the playboy prince is a former school teacher. (And she's South African too!)

Though perhaps the best fairy stories of all take place quietly around the world every day, as young girls grow up to be princesses. And most magical of all, these days they don't need a man to make all their dreams come true.

Though I'll admit that the princes are a wonderful bonus!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I have a release date!

Let's Misbehave will be available from The Wild Rose Press from 7th July!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vote for your favourite hero

Please pop over to and vote for your favourite hero. Warrior, Latino, or All-American ... drool over the pictures and cast your vote.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Day Dreamer

By profession, I’m an organiser. As a film production manager, I plan everyone else’s lives and make sure they all know where to be and when, and that they have the tools to do their jobs. I have to be on top of everything all the time, keeping all those plates spinning, because if I drop one the repercussions could be enormous and costly.

How did I ever land up in this job?
Because I'm really a ditzy blonde, just like you see in the movies. Though I’m sadly a lot less glamorous and a lot less organised than Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.

I’ve been told I’m actually quite good at the day job. Perhaps that’s because I’m over-conscientious. I’m so scared of failing that I work extra hard to get it right. But exactly because I do it at work for 9 to 10 hours of every day (and sometimes more) I’m the complete opposite in my personal life. As though the day job gets all the energy and effort, and there’s nothing left for my home life.

In school, I was the kid forever staring out the window, lost in daydreams. These days, I’m the mother who might actually forget to pick up the kids from school because I got side-tracked by a project and simply forgot. When I still had a safe local library to borrow books from, I was the person who always had to pay hefty fines because I forgot to get the books back on time. I’m also the moron who only checked if my passport was still valid when I arrived at the airport for a holiday that had been planned months in advance. (It wasn’t, and that’s a whole other story. Maybe one day you’ll read about it in one of my novels).

So when I read stories in which the hero does absolutely everything for the heroine, from buying her clothes and shoes, to booking romantic dinners or private planes, I’m in love! The feminist in me doesn’t stand a chance against the fantasy of a man who can pick up his own phone to organise flowers (or his own dry cleaning), who can run a bubble bath for the heroine, and who can even pay his own bills without someone else’s help.

What heroic characteristics do you admire, and why?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Blog Launch

On 10th May my wonderful crit group and I will be launching a new blog, the Minxes of Romance.

Mondays will be Minx days, when you get to meet the eight ladies who make up the group. Wednesdays are author spotlight days and we have a wonderful line-up of romance writers who'll be answering our questions and telling us about their latest books. Fridays are Anything Can Happen days: we'll be discussing books, movies, industry news, and writing craft issues.

Please drop by to check it out, leave a comment and give us feedback and suggestions. I look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Writer's Voyage

While doing some housekeeping on my internet favourites (you know, all those interesting sites and articles you bookmark so you can come back to read them, but never do) and stumbled across this delightful article from author Kathy Carmichael. It really struck a chord with me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


A little over a year ago a good friend of mine got some wonderful feedback and a partial request from the Feel the Heat contest. I'll admit, I was envious. She'd got her foot in the door at Richmond. I wasn't so envious a year later when she still hadn't sent in that requested partial. In fact, I threatened to kick her butt for wasting such a great opportunity.

I entered the 2009 Presents contest and also got great feedback. There was no way I was going to let this opportunity slip past in the same way. I had a plan, and you witnessed it here on this blog: I would write a complete new novel by the end of March, have my crit partners look over it in April, and send off that requested partial absolutely no later than May.

Do I need to point out that it's nearly May and I've only just started Chapter Two? I can blame the day job (which deserves a fair share of the blame but sadly not all) but I have to admit the fault is largely mine. I now understand what my friend went through last year. Paralysis. Avoidance. Drowning one's sorrows in a tub of chocolate and pretending everything's okay.

Well it's not okay. I've wasted five good months. No more! From now on I plan to be accountable. I plan to upload a word counter to this blog so the whole world (well Blogland at least) can whip my butt into gear if I start slacking again. This novel will be written. My previous novel will be edited. I will submit!

By the way, can anyone recommend a good word counter widget?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Another week, another film shoot

I've been in television advertising nearly twelve years and I've never known a year like this one. I've already had more shoot days than I get in the average year and it's barely April. On the plus side, it means good money (as and when I start to see any of it) but on the down side, my writing is taking a beating. I'm either too busy, too tired or too braindead to write.

I suspect that my day job is soaring thanks to a combination of the tail end of the recession and the uncertainty of the imminent football world cup. While many industries are gearing for peak business during the mad month of the world cup, mine is expecting a virtual shutdown - or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.

I'm praying for a quiet winter so I can get some serious down time (aka writing time). There are just so many stories in my head all waiting to be told, and if I don't get to write them all, my head might just explode ...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Killing Time

I've finally sent off my revisions to my editor at The Wild Rose Press. I've submitted two short stories to the local Essentials magazine / Mills & Boon contest. So what's next?

What should be next is my requested partial to Richmond. As the deadline I'd set myself to write a whole new novel has already come and gone, with nothing to show for it, I've now decided to revise the manuscript I subbed to the RNA's New Writers' Scheme last year and send that in ... but I just can't seem to get into that either.

It's as though I have an itch beneath the skin. I can't reach it, but neither can I focus on anything, even at the day job. I'm on edge all the time and accomplishing nothing - unless messing around on Twitter can be counted as an achievement?

Anyone have any suggestions on how I can get my focus back?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blog Changes

I've played around with some of the new template designs available now on Blogger in Draft, but I'm not entirely convinced. What do you think ... yes or no?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I love my dreams

Many of my stories start out as dreams. I'm grateful for the gift, but writing the stories down does have a tendency to spoil all those lovely dream emotions I wake with, as I then have to face hard reality. Suxh as, how to make something that seemed so plausible in my dreams, logical to the waking mind.

Most often my dreams are like incomplete movies playing out in my head, but the really precious ones, the ones that can influence my whole mood for a day or two, are those that I experience emotionally rather than simply watching them unfold. Is this just me, or do you also have dreams that take you through an emotional wringer too?

I had one of those dreams in the early hours of this morning. What was really special about this one is that this story wasn't just a snippet but the entire story; from the time the characters met, through their joy of falling in love, their darkest moments, until they reached their Happy Ever After. Trust me when I say that waking from a dream like that is almost impossible. I wanted to lie buried in the duvet and hang onto those good HEA vibes forever.

But at last I dragged myself out of bed, grabbed pen and paper and tried to capture the feeling. Only as I wrote I realised this story would never work as a category romance. The reason is the hero: he's the ultimate Player, whose bad boy days aren't all in the past. He's a man who drifts from one woman to the next, sometimes moving on before the previous woman is even out the door. And the dream opened with the heroine meeting his current girlfriend. Not at all suitable for an Alpha male in a category romance.

Even so, I fell in love with him. (If you write romance, you know that it's very possible to fall in love with someone who doesn't exist!) I really believe that this hero deserves his moment, so maybe I'll have to save him up for a Single Title. Because a man like this is exactly the type of hero you want to see brought to his knees by the heroine. He's the reformed rake and of course we all want to be the heroine who reforms him.

This dream was incredible not just because it introduced me to a gorgeous hero, but because it also opened my eyes to something I've never experienced first hand: The Proposal. In real life mine went along the lines of an offhand "so let's get married." At the time, the whole getting down on one knee thing seemed terribly outdated. But in the early hours of this morning I discovered the heart stopping magic of having a man go down on his knees to propose. My nameless hero even went a step further ... he offered to give up everything he had to be with the heroine, he loved her so much.

Now what waking reality can possibly measure up to that?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Cover!

Here it is ... my gorgeous cover courtesy of Wild Rose cover artist Nicola Martinez.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Introducing Rae Summers

I'd like to introduce you all to my alter ego, Rae Summers, soon to be a published author with Wild Rose Press. Rae has her own blog over at

On the advice of friends, and the inestimable Kate Walker, I've decided to 'save' my own name for Harlequin and use a pseudonym for the rather more risque historical short stories I write. And so Rae Summers was born.

Coming tomorrow ... you get a sneak peek at my first ever book cover.

Friday, January 22, 2010

False Starts

I have now started "Beneath the Ionian Sun" four times. Four different beginnings and I'm now so far behind my self-imposed schedule that I feel like crying.

Why, you might wonder, is this so hard when I already had such a good grasp on my characters?

I started Attempt #1 on a high and the words just flowed. I worked on that opening for three days. The story starts on Corfu, with a summer romance between hero and heroine. A brief encounter that both know will not last. Then the doubt set in. How could I hope to hook a reader (or an editor) with a story that opens with sunshine and roses? I needed more conflict!

So I rewrote the beginning, starting at the moment of most dramatic conflict. Attempt #2 opens when the hero and heroine are thrown together months later and he discovers that she's pregnant ... and that she planned to keep it from him. Enter the next set of doubts. I've seen this opening done countless times. Where's the fresh twist I need to hook a reader?

Then I had lunch with my local writing group and as one of my friends told us the story of her Christmas holiday nightmare I thought "what a great story that would make". So began Attempt #3. But the words just wouldn't come. Writing this opening was like sweating blood.

I brainstormed with my crit partner and dearest friend Mandy and worked out a story that really excited me. Summer romance gone. Secret pregnancy gone. This morning I started Attempt #4, hoping a fresh start and a clean Word document would help the words start to flow. No luck. Still sweating blood.

So what's a girl to do? Go with her head or with her heart? My heart is still back there with Attempt #1. Mandy is liable to kill me, but I'm going back to that story. I'll layer in some conflict between the sunshine and roses, and tell the story of my heart. [Sorry, Mandy!]

Now I've got two weeks of catching up to do to get back on track ...

Monday, January 18, 2010

My first sale!

And yes, I really am talking about selling something I've written!

The Wild Rose Press has offered to contract a short story I wrote ages ago, currently titled Let's Misbehave. This story is set in 1920s London and is completely different to what I usually write, but it was also the most fun I've had writing and the words just flowed out of me.

There are still some major revisions to get through, but I'll keep you all updated of progress as it happens.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kreativ Award

My blog has been awarded a Kreativ blog award by Kaily Hart. Thanks, Kaily!

Here's how it works: I get to thank the person who bestowed it on me, reveal 7 interesting things about myself and then pass it on to 7 other bloggers. So, here goes:

7 Interesting Things About Me:
  • I grew up in the lush, tropical coastal town of Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
  • I'm addicted to chocolate
  • I dropped out of Film School in my final year
  • I spent two years living in London (and I sometimes still miss England)
  • My first (uncompleted) novel was an epic set in the dark ages. One day I still want to go back and finish it. With what I now know, it'll be a very different story ...
  • Both my daughters were born in water births
  • My biggest fear is that I will never be as good a mother as my mother is. (She's the most incredible woman alive!)
7 Interesting Blogs I follow:

  • SA Romance Writers - because I blog there and because South African romance writers really need to come out of the closet and band together
  • Pink Heart Society - for all the effort these writers put in to share their knowledge and experience, and most especially for the droolworthy Males on Mondays.
  • Jackie Ashenden - for sharing her personal journey to publication with her blog readers. And for being the person who sort of introduced me to blogs and blogging.
  • Kate Walker - for her incredibly useful 12 Point Guide and for 'giving back' to aspiring writers.
  • India Grey - her posts are always amusing. I can relate. Except that I don't clean the oven - I pay someone else to do it.
  • Lucy March - I only discovered this blog recently. I admire her ambitious goal to blog daily for the next 516 days. Rather you than me, Ms March ...
  • Amanda Acton - who kindly nominated me for a Superior Scribbler award ages ago, and which I was naughty enough not to follow up. Thanks for thinking of me, Amanda!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year Resolutions

I'm not a big fan of New Years' resolutions. They've never really worked for me - probably because I've never really been specific about what I want to achieve and therefore never achieved it.

A recent blog post by Michelle Styles over at Pink Heart Society on creating effective resolutions got me thinking though. Turns out I've been doing all the right things - I just called mine a Five Year Plan. I'm now embarking on Year Three of the plan to publication. Every six months or so I re-evaluate these to make them a little more achievable, but even knowing I trimmed the goals along the way, I'm happy with what I've achieved this past year.

My updated aims in 2009 were to complete the Playboy Duke's Reluctant Bride (check), submit PDRB to the RNA's New Writers' Scheme (check), write a second short story set in the 1920s (check - though I have one chapter yet to complete), enter the Presents Contest (check) and complete an entire novel during Nanowrimo (check). Even the one thing on my list which was outside my power to control (seeing Let's Misbehave published) is on the brink of being checked off.

These are monumental achievements considering writing still has to play second fiddle in my life to the day job and the family, and even more monumental if I look back on where I was this time last year. Last year I had two completed manuscripts and an understanding of how awful they were, and two form rejections under my belt. This year I face the future with a Harlequin editor who wants to work with me and my first publication imminent.

As for 2010? I'm sure these will be amended as the year progresses, but I'm going to take a leap and make this year's aims public:
  1. Enter the South African Essentials / Mills & Boon short story contest (and hopefully final)
  2. Write an entire new story by February and send off a polished partial no later than March.
  3. Polish said story to within an inch of its life, possibly with the help of the NWS.
  4. Write at least one further 1920s short story.
  5. See Let's Misbehave and An Innocent Abroad published.
  6. Write another full-length manuscript between April and November.
  7. Attend the RNA's conference in Greenwich.
  8. Write another 50,000 word novel during Nanowrimo.
That seems do-able. And now that it's out there, in writing, in public, does that mean I'm accountable?

What are your goals for 2010?

Best wishes to everyone for the new year. May this be the year all our dreams come true.