Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another take on Kasey Kahne and the BF debate

Just in case you missed it, Nascar driver Kasey Kahne made a bit of a booby of himself in public yesterday when he tweeted a comment about a woman he'd seen breastfeeding in public, making it clear he found it disgusting. His supporters joined in, lambasting breastfeeding mothers, but one brave woman (@KnittingRad) stood up in their defense - and Kasey and his supporters turned on her. Mr Famous Nascar Driver even went o far as to call ehr a "dumb bitch" (exposing further ignorance with incorrect grammar too!)

Since then, there's been no apology in sight from Mr Kahne for his comments, but he did try to remove them. Too late. The whole thing went viral, and thanks to the lovely ladies at Smart Bitches, women around the world came out on twitter to support @KnittingRad.

Having followed the storm on Twitter for several hours I went to bed thinking about this and just knew I had to write this post and add my two cents. I don't normally discuss contentious issues on this blog, but I feel strongly enough about this one to get vocal.

While I am definitely in the "Breast is best" camp, I am always Pro Choice. So if a woman tells me she's chosen to bottle feed because breast feeding is uncomfortable, or because it better suits her lifestyle, I'll defend her right to make that choice.

By the same token, if a mother chooses to do what she feels is best for her child and opts to breast feed, then she shouldn't be placed under house arrest. She has every right to do the grocery shopping, to visit friends, and to appear in public. When the baby is hungry, tired and screaming, she has the right to feed him in the way she has chosen. Should she be forced to use a bottle to avoid offending an ignorant minority such as Mr Kahne and his followers? Does anyone have the right to deny both her and her baby their freedom of choice? Only in nations where women live in oppression.

Perhaps Mr Kahne would have preferred a stressed out mom who hasn't had a decent's night's sleep in months, and a screaming baby. I'm pretty sure that most of the other shoppers around them preferred a mom unobtrusively feeding her baby. Even if it is in public. And thank heavens, people like that are in the majority in our free, civilised western culture.

Motherhood is natural. Birth and breastfeeding are natural. If Kasey Kahne takes offense at that, then that says more about him than about anyone else.

And if he had real balls and brains, he wouldn't be driving in Nascar. He'd be driving in F1.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peace on earth - I'll have me some of that!

Discovery Channel ran a documentary this week on that famous First World War incident where a truce was called on Christmas Day and both sides joined in a game of football. What I found especially interesting was the comment that after that day the officers in HQ struggled to come up with a way to get the soldiers fighting again. Because after they'd spent a day getting to know one another, they were loathe to fire on each other. Fancy that.

So that's my wish for this lovely little planet of ours this festive season. That we all use this time to reach out to others and make peace, even if it's just for one day. Whether it's individuals reaching out to family and friends, or nations reaching out to one another, that single day of ceasing hostilities can make all the difference.

Here's wishing peace and joy to you all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thought for the Day

I'm hectic on the day job again (a KFC shoot next week) so I'm going to leave you with this thought from The Secret:

Happiness is a choice.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Once Upon a Time" Inspiration

My daughters have a delightful CD of Princess songs from the Disney movies which I've stolen away, and which I now keep on constant loop as I'm writing Once Upon a Time. One of my favourite songs, the one which resonates most with my heroine, Katie, is this song from Hercules. Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thank you, Mills & Boon

The Mills & Boon editors have posted a crit of my New Voices entry, Once Upon a Time, on the NV site. You can read it here.

Both writing this entry and the editors' feedback, have given me an ah-hah moment regarding cliches (the art of using and avoiding them) which I've blogged about over at The Minxes' blog today.

To all the editors and other worker bees at Harlequin Mills & Boon thank you for running this contest, and thank you for taking the time to give feedback.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What happened to October?

The roller coaster ride that was New Voices is nearly over, and the carriage is slowing as it enters the station. And thank heavens! I've never been good with roller coasters, since every high has an inevitable accompanying low.

October has been a month of mixed blessings. I didn't make the NV Top 21, but I did get a great deal of valuable feedback, and a massive injection of new hope. If you haven't already read my entry, I'd still appreciate comments on Once Upon a Time.

My twin, Rae Summers, also had an emotional month, with both a sale and a form rejection. She's whipping up a fresh batch of champagne cocktails as I type, so please feel free to take a glass and raise it with me in celebration of October's demise. The champagne will keep flowing to sustain us through the slog that is November, and this virtual bubbly has the advantage of no calories and no alcohol so you can have as much as you like.

I'm not doing Nanowrimo this year, but I'll be right there alongside those of you who do, as I have two half-finished novels that I'm desperate to type 'The End' on. See you on the other side!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Final September Challenge update

In the remaining few days of the September Challenge, I wrote an additional 2,169 words, bringing my grand total (if I calculated correctly!) to about 21,425 words.

Not too shabby, and better than none at all, but I really am quite cross with myself. I'm not going to use the day job or reading too many books as as an excuse, even though I did more reading this last month than I usually do, and the day job has been busy. Because life is always busy. And because life was busy in August too, yet somehow I managed to write just as many, if not more words then.

So here's hoping that October, without pressuring myself to meet any challenges, will be a prolific month.

On the plus side, I have two chapters and a pivotal moment, as well as a detailed synopsis, completed for Once Upon a Time, and When September Ends is now at 66k words, with only about another 20k to go to completion.

Thank you very much to Rachael, and everyone else who did the September Challenge, for helping me achieve this much.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September challenge progress update

The end is in sight, and I'm nowhere near 30k, but here are my word counts for the week following my last update (in the hopes some accountability will be propel me towards a massive quantity of words before tomorrow night!)

Day 19: 160
Day 20: 0
Day 21: 1,353
Day 22: 931
Day 23: 234
Day 24: 2,282
Day 25: 2,130

Final totals to be posted on the weekend ...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Exciting Moments

I'll publish my September Challenge update here tomorrow, but in the meantime I thought I'd share one of my favourite writing moments with you. It's that moment when something just 'clicks' in a story, taking you in a whole new, exciting direction.

I've been struggling with a scene in my ST novel in which my heroine, Vivian, goes out on a boating trip with one of the heroes. I've written this scene in three different ways, placed it in different places in the manuscript, and still it wasn't quite working. I know this scene still has its place, but it needed something more.

That something more happened at about 11pm last night. Suddenly my heroine did something that took me completely by surprise, and everything just clicked into place. I won't give details as I'd hate to spoil the surprise before this story is even published, but clearly Vivian has a way better grasp on this story than I do, and knew exactly what was missing!

The boating scene, now nicely slotting in after this new plot twist, no longer feels like it's lacking.

Has this happened to you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Progress Update

Isn't it bizarre how the words flow some days and on others it's like sweating blood? In August, I averaged more than 1,000 words a day. That's because I was writing about 1,000 words an hour.

In September, having signed up to do 30k in 30 days, I'm managing about 250 words an hour. It doesn't take a mathematician to work out it's taking me a whole lot more hours to get new words down. Sometimes hours I don't have.

So with a sigh, I have to admit that my total for Days 8 - 18 is a whopping low 6,066. Falling ever behind, but hopeful that this week will be the week I start to move forward again.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September Challenge progress update

I got off to a slow start on this challenge, and have been slow to catch up, but at least I'm getting words down. Roll on this weekend!

Day 1 - 0
Day 2 - 565
Day 3 - 0
Day 4 - 1,924
Day 5 - 395
Day 6 - 1,711
Day 7 - 1,520

Which gives me a grand total for the first week of 6,115 (behind by 885 words).

Friday, September 2, 2011

The awesomeness that is The Secret

Since I've been suffering eye strain lately, I've been investigating e-readers. Only the el cheapo Chinese variety are readily available in SA, the one I want (Nook) is not available in SA& downloads from B&N are impossible, and the Sony has got quite a bit of bad press. So I sort of settled on a Kindle. I never really gave much thought to how I was going to pay for it, I just knew I wanted one.

Then this week I checked my royalty statement from TWRP and did a double take. I emailed them a query on why my Kindle royalties are calculated on $3, when the book is listed on Amazon as $5. I got a very nice reply from them yesterday explaining that they regularly get this complaint from Non-US authors. Apparently Amazon loads a surcharge for buyers outside the US. Neither the publisher nor author sees a cent of this!

 Grrr to the Amazon monopoly and the fact that they restrict you to buying from them (though I gather there are ways around this). So I fired back an email saying "thanks, but that just put the nail in the coffin. I won't buy a Kindle and support Amazon if they're going to charge me extra for every purchase".

Last night at dinner with my writing group, and again at work this morning, I spouted off about the evils of Amazon and how I plan to boycott them.

Then at lunch time, as I headed out to fetch the kids from school, I bumped into my director in the car park. He has just arrived back from a holiday in New York. I said "thanks for the gift" - meaning the miniature statue of the Empire State Building I found on my desk this morning - and he says "no, that's not your real gift" and hands me a Kindle.

I'm in love! Not with my director, of course, but with my shiny new e-reader. (Though Dean is definitely a super special person for being so generous).

And this is how The Secret works. You put out the intention, you don't think too much about it ... and voila.
One e-reader and one ecstatically happy Romy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spring Energy

It's Spring Day in the southern hemisphere and I can definitely feel a bright, new energy sweeping through. Here in Johannesburg the sun is shining, the buds are blossoming, and it's divinely warm.

Today has also been designated Spring-bok day. The lousy pun is in honour of our national rugby team, the Boks, who are being given a great big send-off today as they head to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. May they do as well in this world cup as they did in the last.

In honour of this new energy, I've signed up to do Rachael Johns' September Challenge. The aim is to write 1,000 words a day to achieve a total of 30,000 words by the end of the month. It's very do-able without intruding too much onto regular life, and since it's what I've been managing the last couple of weeks, I'm hoping this challenge keeps my momentum going and sweeps me through to the end of When September Ends.

Spring is when the famous Namaqualand daisies make their appearance in the usually arid Karoo area of South Africa. This stunning image comes courtesy of the blog Namaqualand Spring Flowers. Visit their site for more stunning pictures.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top 10 reasons to become a writer

How have I never heard of Kristen Lamb before?

Thanks to Rachael Johns, I just read the funniest blog post on the Top 10 Reasons to Become a Writer. Some of the blog comments are pretty funny too. Though I think I'll go with #11 - the desire to be rich and famous, and having no other skills than words to achieve it with.

I'm so glad I've discovered Kristen. Not only does she have a wicked sense of humour, but she has some very useful advice for writers on her blog. Kristen is the author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It's me, Writer, both published by Who Dares Wins Publishing.

Which brings me back to: how have I never heard of Kristen Lamb before, when I devotedly follow Bob Mayer, self-publishing guru, warrior writer extraordinaire and the power behind Who Dares Wins? I'm off now to correct the mistake, and follow Kristen on Twitter.

And May the Pants be with you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another riveting RIVA

Since I've run out of shelf space for my TBR pile, I'm forcing myself to take a little time off writing and catch up on some reading instead.

First up was Nikki Logan's Rapunzel in New York. This made it to the top of the pile for two reasons: I loved her Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong, and the title was just too gorgeous to resist. While Rapunzel was never my favourite fairy tale growing up, it's my daughters' absolute fave. [If you haven't seen Barbie's new twist on the old tale, then you should].

Nikki Logan has put another completely unique spin on the Rapunzel story. This story sucked me in straight away. I loved the characters, and the conflict, though not entirely new, felt fresh. I never once had the feeling "I've read something similar before" (which is becoming Nikki's trademark, I think. No-one would ever call Nikki's books predictable!).

Best of all, the story was jam-packed with emotions - the kind of believable emotions that sweep you along, right up to the final page. And I'll guarantee you'll be smiling when you get to the end.
This book is staying on my keeper shelf.

Monday, August 15, 2011

If I'd known then ...

If I'd known that I was going to be coming home to yet another cold front, I'd have stayed away on holiday!

Last week I took my girls down to Durban, my home town, and the sunshine capital of South Africa. Okay, so there are probably many other places in SA that can prove they deserve that title, but for me it's always sunny in Durban. And did I mention ... it's WARM?

Though the holiday was sandwiched between two very long drives, it was well worth it. We built sand castles on the beach, watched the dolphin and seal shows at the aquarium, lunched at an old train station (now converted into a restaurant) and the girls got to milk cows at a fun farmyard.

And when they collapsed into bed at night, exhausted, I burnt the midnight oil working on Dear Julia, a 1920s novella I was invited to write by The Wild Rose Press' historical department.  So not much of a break for me, but the feeling of triumph and accomplishment I felt as I hit send last night (mere hours before the deadline!) was incredible.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Keeping my head down

About this time last year I started a blog post "another week, another shoot." The sentiment is just as apt now as it was then. I've been rolling from one film shoot to the next, without a break between, hence my disappearance from the virtual world.

I'm also desperately trying to steal moments to finish a novella for a TWRP anthology, the deadline for which is less than 2 weeks away. So I'm keeping my head down, and working hard.

What are the rest of you up to?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

#MarryingCadeWave - Stop 5

It’s launch day for Sally Clements’ new book, Marrying Cade, and to celebrate, she’s having a Mexican wave of excerpts! You can keep up with the wave’s progress on the twitter hashtag #MarryingCadeWave – and add a tweet with the hashtag to chat with everyone else who’s reading along!

Here’s how to do it…these are the stops, just call in to these blogs to read each excerpt (they start at stop one, and finish at stop ten). Alternatively, start wherever, and click on the next stop link at the bottom of the excerpt. Or just click on the buy link, to get your own copy of Marrying Cade!

Stop One – Talli Roland’s blog
Stop Two – Maya Blake’s blog
Stop Three – Nas Dean’s blog
Stop Four – Joanne Coles’ blog
Stop Five – Romy Sommer's blog
Stop Six – Lorraine Wilson’s blog
Stop Seven – Joanne Pibworth’s blog
Stop Eight – Suzanne Jones’ blog
Stop Nine – Lacey Devlin’s blog
Stop Ten – Sally Clements’ blog

You can also read a review of Marrying Cade at Madeline Ash's blog.

Stop Five’s excerpt

     She must be meeting her lover. Women didn’t dress like that unless they were meeting a man. Cade glanced at his watch, wondering if he’d have to rescue Adam from the hotel’s owner, just as Adam arrived with a plateful of antipasti. He wasn’t alone. The bombshell with the killer curves walked next to him, right up to the table. Cade pushed back the chair, and stood up.
     “Hey, Cade. Our ride is here. I’ve persuaded her to join us for a drink and a snack before we go back to the house.” Adam eyed him carefully. “You remember Melo?”
     Melo? Cade rubbed a hand over his unshaven jaw.
     She slipped off her glasses, and stowed them in her bag.
     Could this really be Rosa’s sister? The tall, boyish tomboy he’d spent the summer with, so many years ago? She’d been gangly, awkward. Barely in her teens. The woman who stood in front of him bore no comparison.

* * *

Marrying Cade is available from Amazon, Amazon UK and The Wild Rose Press.

Before you go on to Stop Six, do click the tweet button below to help get the wave going! Now, continue on to Stop Six here:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Where I work - some of the time

My apologies that I've been AWOL for so long. I've been rolling over from one film shoot onto the next, and as I've said over on the Minxes blog today, I'm currently on Day 3 of a 5 day shoot.

Which makes this the perfect time to show you where I work when I'm not at a desk ... this is today's office:

Usually my office is a camp chair in the VT tent (known as the Video Village on larger shoots), and usually set up in some cow field or on a sidewalk:

but on my previous shoot I had a rather more civilised set up in a professional ballet studio. At least it was out of the elements!

But sometimes being on set offers real challenges ... this is my production co-ordinator (and former book editor) Ceridwen Morris on the Santam shoot I worked on in Cape Town earlier this year. Can you believe anyone would give up working with books to do this?

If you'd like to see the Santam commercial, click here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice

Tonight is the longest night of the year here in the southern hemisphere, which makes it a wonderful night. Tomorrow our days start to get longer again - Yay!

For those of you in the northern hemisphere ... enjoy the warmth while you can, because we're ready to take it back!

* * *

The Shortest Day

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.

- Susan Cooper
Author of The Dark is Rising novels

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thank you!

Thank you so much to everyone who sent me birthday wishes via Facebook and email. Having all those messages streaming into my inbox really made me feel special and was the cherry on the top of a very pleasant day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Where I work - Part 2

This is the office where I spend most of my days. I don't get much writing done on the day job, but this is where I read blogs, do my research and email endlessly to all my wonderful writing friends.

I'm in the building on the left:

The offices are glass boxes with screeded concrete floors, so not the most pleasant place to be mid-winter!

And my current desk (we tend to play musical chairs, depending on which project we're working on at any given moment).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Where I work

Here's a little sneak peek into my life. This is where most of my writing happens: my home office.

The room is not very big, but it contains everything I need: desk, bed, cupboards. The books, naturally, have an entire room of their own in the house!

And yes, those beautiful landscapes and gorgeous heroes on the desk are inspiration, not reality. The heroes (notice, the plural) of my WIP, When September Ends, are right at the top of the board.
Any guesses who they might be?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


For those of you not (yet!) on Twitter, this is the hash tag used by writers for a writing challenge in which writers challenge each other to write a thousand words in one hour. I started doing these a week ago, and in one week I've gone from an hourly average of 450 words to around 1,200 words an hour!

The nice thing about a challenge like this is that you're not alone, you're forced to unplug from the net for an hour, and at the end of the hour you report back to the writers you've done the challenge with, so there's accountability! And everyone's a winner, no matter how many words they achieve.

In the last week I've added about 8,000 words to my 'Just For Fun' manuscript, now titled When September Ends. And I've also done a film shoot in between and worked some really stupid hours!

But sometimes you also just need to take a breather. I discovered, doing Nanowrimo three years running, that just pushing out words doesn't really work for me, unless I have a really clear idea where I'm going with a story. Since this 'Just for Fun' story had no clear destination, I was starting to write scenes that really didn't fit the bigger picture.The literary equivalent of scenes that end up on the cutting room floor.

Since just adding words isn't enough to write a publishable novel, I sat for an hour this morning and made a list of all the key scenes I envisage for this story. Yes, it's the plotter in me rearing her ugly head. Now I'm armed with my bullet pointed list, my road map of where I'm headed, I'm ready for the next challenge.

So who is going to join me on my next #1k1hr?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Loads of prizes up for grabs!

This week is the final week of the Minxes' Birthday Bash. Up for grabs this week are a copy of Sally Clements' Catch Me a Catch, which was shortlisted for the RNA's Joan Hessayon award, and also a RIVA! bag made by Minx Lorraine.

Grand Prix Contest

In order to enter the Grand Prix contest, you'll need to be a follower of the Minxes Blog, and the question you need to answer is simple: How old is Minxes of Romance?

The first prize will include:
  • A signed copy of Sally Clements' Bound to Love
  • A "Careful or you'll end up in my novel" t-shirt
  • A personalised Minxy notebook courtesy of Minx Jo P
  • An Amazon gift voucher valued at $10 courtesy of Minx Sri
One runner-up will also win the following:
  • Claire Robyns' historical novel Betrayed
  • An Amazon gift voucher valued at $10 courtesy of Minx Maya
This contest will close on Sunday 29th May, and the winners will be announced on Monday 30th May.
And where is all of this happening? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

RNA's Joan Hessayon Award

I was hoping to be hot off the press with congratulating the winner of the Joan Hessayon Award at the RNA's Summer Party this evening, but sadly I'm still waiting. (Come on ladies, enough with the champagne now ... spill the good news).

The reason I'm on tenter hooks is that Sally Minx is one of the five nominees for this distinguished award. GO SALLY!

As it's now nearly 11pm here in South Africa, and as I have a tech recce starting at the crack of dawn tomorrow, I'm going to have to try to sleep without news. But I'll be online tomorrow as soon as I possibly can to share the joy with you - and the shoes.

PS: Sadly (for the Minxes) Sally Minx did not win. The JHA trophy went to Charlotte Betts. Congratulations, Charlotte!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A copy of my novella is up for grabs!

As part of the Minxy Birthday Bash, I'm offering one commenter on today's blog post a chance to win a copy of my 1920s novella, Let's Misbehave. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on Maureen Child's interview here.

Each week in May we're running two contests, and there is also a Grand Prix contest that runs all month. You can find out more about how to enter these contests here.

Happy birthday Minxes!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

And back again

A week or so back I blogged at Nocturnal Nights about a struggle I was having with my current 1920s WIP. I'd written a dramatic scene of a re-enactment that takes place in the Italian town of Positano every year, but during my research I stumbled across YouTube footage of the modern day re-enactment and discovered that the reality is nowhere near as dramatic as what I'd written.

So I rewrote the chapter, much more authentic, and adding in a new and rather more personal drama to make up for the lack. Then when I did a Google search yesterday for the YouTube clip (which I'd neglected to bookmark) I stumbled over yet more new information - suggesting my original version was more correct for the period!

Back to the drawing board again. This time to take both scenes to try and merge the best of both into a coherent whole that fits the rest of the manuscript.

[Wails] And I was so close to finally being done with this story!

This scene isn't Positano, but it gives an idea of how the scene will appear in the book (I hope!).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The April Challenge


Okay, so I failed rather spectacularly at this challenge. It's not like I set myself an impossible goal or anything (20,000 words should be do-able in the best of months, let alone one as filled with holidays as April had!)

The plan was to add about 6,000 words to Innocent Abroad, finish editing and polishing it, then start a new novella for The Wild Rose Press.

I may have added about that many words to Innocent Abroad, however since I also cut a great many, and the edits still aren't done, that's a FAIL.

As for the new novella? Nada. Zip. Zero. What I did do was about 5,000 words on a single title that I really hadn't planned to write, which has no plot or direction, and which is not part of my Master Plan. (Yes, I have a plan, not that it might seem like it most of the time!)

On the plus side, I am writing again, and I am really happy with how Innocent Abroad is finally shaping up. My original goal of submitting it no later than mid April has long gone, but my new goal is to send it out into the big wide world by the end of this week? Wish me luck!

Friday, April 29, 2011

And yet another Royal Wedding blog post

Just in case you hadn't heard (yea, right!) it's Will and Kate's big day. I've cracked open the champagne on their behalf, so apologies if this post is full of spelling mistakes!

We've all seen The Wedding Dress (and wasn't it beautiful?) and there's nothing more that I can add to the many, many blog posts of the day, so I thought I'd dedicate a blog post to recent royal wedding dresses. There have been so many stunning dresses in the last decade or so, that Catherine Middleton really had a tough act to follow.

On the English royalty side:

Lady Davina Windsor, married in 2004 to New Zealand carpenter Gary Lewis

Her sister, Lady Rose Windsor, married in 2008 to Peter Gilman
Canadian Autumn Kelly, the Canadian who maried another grandson of the Queen, Peter Phillips

Then a few European royals:

Maxima Zorreguieta, the South American bride of Crown Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands

Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby, the single mum who married the crown prince of Norway

Letizia Ortiz, a former journalist and now the Crown Princess of Spain

Aussie Mary Donaldson, who married one of Europe's best looking Crown Princes, Frederik of Denmark.

And the most recent Royal bride:

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden

Today's star:

The new Duchess of Cambridge

But for me, the award for best dressed woman at today's wedding goes to ...Pippa Middleton.

(wish I had the figure for a dress like that!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Wild Rose Press' 5th Birthday Bash

Today sees the start of a 5 day birthday bash at The Wild Rose Press as they celebrate their 5th birthday. Sadly, I'm away on holiday this week, so I won't be popping in, but I urge you to drop by their Yahoo reader loops to see what's happening. There will be lots of prizes for anyone who gets involved, including gift certificates.

You can find the two reader loops here:
The Wild Rose Press for romance readers
The Wilder Roses for erotic romance

Have fun, and I hope you all win lots of goodies (then you can buy my novella!)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day today!

How are you celebrating Earth Day today?

I'm going to plant a tree with my daughters. It might not be much in the big scheme of things, but I'd like to teach them about the value of trees - and they really need to replace the massive Delicious Monster in my mother's garden which they destroyed by using it as a jungle gym.

If you're not sure how you can help to save our planet, I have a few suggestions over on my Rae Summers blog.

Let's make every day Earth Day!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong

This week over on the Minxes blog we're hosting Australian author Nikki Logan, whose book Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong is an April Riva release. Though I've stopped reviewing every Riva book I read, this one deserves special mention.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I call this an emotional tour de force. It is not a rollercoaster of emotions, but rather a very gentle, very poignant story that is sure to bring a lump to your throat, as it did to mine.

Shipwrecked is a fresh, unique spin on the age-old marooned on a desert island story. The hero and heroine are modern, identifiable people cast away on a tropical island paradise, and naturally they just happen to be the two worst people to be stranded together, the two who strike the most sparks off one another ...

Though I noticed that there were no fully consummated sex scenes (for those who like your Rivas on the steamier, Modern Heat side!) I didn't feel the lack of them. The sensual tension between this hero and heroine was exactly right for who they are. The heroine enforced her boundaries, and the hero respected them. But the chemistry sizzled all the more because of the emotional conflict causing those boundaries.

It's hard to review this book without spoilers, so I'm just going to suggest you read the book, as well as Nikki's interview on Wednesday over at the Minxes blog which will give some special insights into the story.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yet another reason to love The Vampire Diaries

If you follow our group blog at Minxes of Romance, then you probably already know that I'm completely addicted to The Vampire Diaries. (And if you don't, feel free to drop by there and read my series of posts on what writers can learn from the incredible writing in this TV series).

But today I want to thank the creators of The Vampire Diaries for more than just great writing, some really hot young men, and for keeping me on the edge of my seat. I want to thank them for introducing me to some incredible new music.

Last year I blogged about how I was getting myself out of a music rut and starting to listen to new performers. This year, I truly am. There is some really glorious music out there that I'm only just discovering, courtesy of this TV show. Among them: Sara Bareilles, Matt Nathanson, Plumb, Mat Kearney...

I'm going to leave you with just one of the new songs I've discovered, this one by Tyrone Wells:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Head Full of Cotton Wool

Not the title of a new novel, but my state of being. Thanks to the changeable weather in Cape Town, and returning to a very wet and chilly Johannesburg, I now have a cold. Actually, it's not a very serious cold, except that my head feels ... well, full of cotton wool!

While I dose myself full of Vicks Medinite and sleep it off, I'll leave you with a few images of one of our film locations from last week: the beach at Noordhoek, not unsurprisingly known as Long Beach.

PS: Sadly I took no pictures of my own, so I owe thanks to Google Search for all these pictures.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Quick Quote

Characters bring emotion to story, and emotion is what attaches readers to books.
- Bob Mayer, Write It Forward

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where am I now?

This isn't a deep and meaningful question. For ten sleeps I'm away from home, preparing for a three day film shoot next week. Since the day job is consuming every waking moment, I'm filling up the blog with a few pictures of the city where I'm currently living and working.

Can you guess where I am?

Incidentally, the stadium front and centre in the above picture was built specially for ast year's soccer world cup, and the hotel where I stayed the last two nights is in front of it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hostage to Love

I now have a brand new laptop courtesy of my employers and spent yesterday re-installing my life. The only thing I didn’t have on it last night was an internet connection, so I made good use of the time and ... no, I didn’t write ... I read.

The book was the next one on my eBook TBR pile: my crit partner Maya Blake’s Hostage to Love.

This novel starts in a fictional African country, where the heroine is among a group of aid workers taken hostage by a rebel group. The opening pages are edge-of-the-seat stuff, and yet Maya has got the pace just right, not too relentless to feel rushed but just right to keep the pages turning quickly.

Then the action moves to a quiet, idyllic Greek island. Since the Greek islands are my idea of paradise on earth, the book couldn’t get much better. Here the pace slowed and the suspense plot receded, allowing the fraught relationship between hero and heroine to unravel before the reader. This is also where Maya’s real strength comes to the fore: she writes hot incredibly well. Read the book and you’ll understand.

People who know me will know that I'm not overly fond of arrogant, dominating heroes. Matched with the wrong heroine, they can come across as simply abusive. Maya has managed the perfect balance. With Belle, she has created a heroine well able to stand up to the supremely alpha male, Nick. Not once did I want to punch his lights out, because I knew Belle would bring him to his knees.

The book rises to a dramatic, gripping climax and a very satisfactory ending.
What more can anyone ask of a romance novel?

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Blues

I'm not talking about music or Oxford's rowing team, I'm talking my mood.

My laptop crashed rather spectacularly this last week (and it wasn't even 2 years old yet!) so I am now internet-less, document-less, and if it weren't for my trusty Nokia cell phone I'd also be email-less.

So my apologies if I'm not around for a while. I'm catching up on sleep in the meantime, and I'll be back online as soon as I have a replacement up and running.

I'm missing you all!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quick Quote

"There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking."
- William James

Friday, February 25, 2011

Catch Me a Catch

The second of my amazing crit partners to be published was Sally Clements. Though Sally wrote Catch Me a Catch before we formed the Minxes of Romance, I was there when she made this first sale, and it was a memorable moment for us all.

Catch Me a Catch was released by The Wild Rose Press in July last year and I was quick to buy a copy. Not so quick to read it. Bad, bad Minx. Sally has my full permission to wield the Big Minxy Stick (usually reserved for slaying the crows of doubt, and other Minxy foes).

Sally, please accept my deepest apologies. I didn’t know what I was missing.

So that no-one else can use this excuse, I’m now going to tell you all what you’ve been missing if you haven’t yet read Catch Me a Catch.

  1. A hunky hero. A little ruffled at first, but he cleans up real well.
  2. A really likeable heroine who makes chocolate. Not just any chocolate, but those really fancy ones that make your mouth water and your senses come alive.
  3. A gorgeous setting. I would love to read more romances set in Ireland. Windswept beaches, pubs and ceilis, glamorous hotels and Grafton Street... what more could any reader want?
  4. A supporting cast of well developed, fascinating secondary characters.

At first, the story seems light-hearted and frothy. While Sally keeps this delightful, light tone going throughout, don’t be misled. This book may be centred around a Match Making Festival, but this story is not a comedy. It’s a romance with a great deal of depth, covering some truly heartfelt issues. You might laugh as you read this book, but you also might cry.

Finally, a private note of thanks from me to Sally: It has been a very long time since I visited Dublin. This novel helped me re-live some wonderful memories. I’d completely forgotten about Bewley’s! Your novel brought back all the sights and sounds of Dublin to me. Thank you, and I cannot wait to read your next novel, Bound to Love. This time, I’m definitely not going to wait so long!

Catch Me a Catch is available from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Amazon UK and All Romance eBooks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yuletide Fire

I’m finally clearing my teetering TBR pile. Top of the eBook pile are the novels published by a few of my amazing crit partners, the Minxes of Romance.

First up was Yuletide Fire by Nyla Rose, which I read (unsurprisingly) in the run-up to Christmas. This story was full of heat, and I’m not just talking the eggnog and blazing Yule log variety. It was a wonderful read, with really great characters and an edge of the seat quality that kept me turning the pages.

I’ll be honest and admit that because I know Nyla, and admire her, I would have read this book cover to cover regardless of whether I enjoyed it or not. The fact that I read it cover to cover in a single sitting, on my laptop, at a very uncomfortable desk, might give you an indication of just how much I enjoyed this story.

Yuletide Fire is excellent reading for any time of the year. While the setting might involve Christmas parties and mistletoe, the characters and their conflicts are universal, and let’s face it, a great romance is a pleasure to read at any time of the year!

This book is available from Cobblestone Press and All Romance eBooks.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Juggling Briefcase and Baby

I loved Jessica Hart’s Oh-So Sensible Secretary, so I had high expectations for this linked ‘sequel’. Juggling Briefcase and Baby did not disappoint. Together, these two novels are the best examples of office romances I’ve ever read. They set a very high bench mark.

What really excited me about this book was that the heroine shared my name. I can honestly say that I have never read a novel with a character called Romy before! But what started out as a novelty became the only thing that disconcerted me about this novel. I’m not sure how readers with less unusual names handle it, but it was a little jarring to read love scenes (no matter how short!) or emotionally-charged scenes in which the heroine is addressed by my name!

I have just one more Riva launch novel to read (Nicola Marsh’s) but I can’t believe it’s mid February already and the next four are already piled up on my TBR pile. At this rate, I suspect I’m not going to be reading much else this year other than Riva!

Friday, February 11, 2011

I did it!

I hit send yesterday evening and the partial of Beneath the Ionian Sun is now hopefully, finally, sitting in the editor's inbox. And not in her spam filter. Or email heaven. Or the hundred and one other places lost submissions go. Me, anxious?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Please help Egyptian author Olivia Gates

It's been a big week for Harlequin Desire & Medical author Olivia Gates. Her latest book launched on 1st February, and since she lives in Egypt this has been somewhat over-shadowed by recent events there. Her friends have put out an internet call for readers to help Olivia promote her book, since her access to the internet has been seriously curtailed by the drama on her doorstep.

Please spread the word - and better yet, go out and but a copy in support of Olivia. You can also buy the book online from Harlequin and Amazon.


He rescued hostage Talia Burke from his royal family's rival tribe and swept her into his strong embrace. But Prince Harres Aal Shalaan soon discovered there was more to the brave beauty than he knew. Talia held information vital to protecting his beloved kingdom...and she had every reason not to trust him.

Marooned together at a desert oasis, Talia couldn't resist Harres. Yet even as his sizzling seduction entranced her, his loyalty to his family and country would always make them enemies. Falling for the sheikh would be her heart's greatest mistake...but she feared it was already too late....

You can find out more about Olivia Gates at her website, and if you've been living in a cave and aren't quite sure what's been happening in Egypt, here's an interesting article.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chapter Three

I’ve been toiling away at polishing Chapters 2 and 3 of Beneath the Ionian Sun for what feels like weeks now, in anticipation of finally getting another submission out there. The reason for the toiling was because I just couldn’t get Chapter 3 to sparkle.

This is the all-important end point the editor is going to read up to, so of course I want this chapter to end on a high note. Except that the sparkly dialogue and pivotal decision were sitting at the end of Chapter 2, and Chapter 3 was more of a bridging chapter.

Re-write after re-write just hasn’t worked, so in pursuit of a solution I re-read the third chapters of all my favourite category novels. Without exception, every single one had a pivotal point in which the stakes were raised.

It took me until just a few days ago to realise what I had to do: swap the chapters around.

So simple! Why couldn’t I have figured that out weeks ago?

Now I’ve cut and pasted sentences all over the place, rewritten so that the chapters flow nicely and Voila! It works. Chapter 2 now bridges the gap, as the characters get to know one another better. Chapter 3 has them facing a major decision and ends on a high point.

Expect news of a submission in the near future.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

With This Fling

If you haven’t already read my Kelly Hunter fan girl moment, you can find it here.

Misbehaving with the Magnate was the first book of Kelly’s I read. It was a fun read and remains on my keeper shelf, but it was her Bennett series that turned me into her biggest fan.

Kelly just seems to go from strength to strength, with each book better than the last. Her latest, With This Fling (a launch title for Mills & Boon’s new Riva imprint) is without a doubt my favourite so far. You can read the blurb, and find out how the book was inspired, over at the Minxes blog.

There was a lot to love about With This Fling: a fast-paced story-line, sparkly banter, a to-die-for hero, and a lovely setting. But for me the best thing about this novel was the heroine. Kelly Hunter has an amazing ability to write heroines who are completely original and utterly engaging.

Charlotte Featherstone is quirky, self-assured, socially skilled, intelligent and just a little ditsy. I often identify with the heroines in novels, but it’s not often I want to BE her.

Though With This Fling is fun and flirty, fulfilling the promise of the line, it also has poignant moments. My eyes were very wet when I read the scene involving a contact card. You’ll have to read the story to find out why.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Riva has arrived!

Over at the Minxes Blog, we're celebrating the launch of Mills & Boon's new Riva imprint this month, with interviews with four Riva authors.

Last weekend I bought all four Riva launch titles, and then I was faced with a dilemma: which to read first?
Since all the blurbs sounded so enticing, I finally settled on reading them in order they appear in the Minxy spotlight, starting with Kimberly Lang's Girl's Guide to Flirting with Danger. And all I can say is that if the others all measure up to this one, Riva is going to be a hit!

Girl's Guide is everything you'd expect from what was previously known as Modern Heat. It's packed with snappy dialogue (look out for the radio scene in chapter 3!), some laugh-inducing moments, and a great deal of sizzling sensuality. It's a reunion story, with two lovable characters. And it's FUN! Read it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Too Stupid To Live

This post includes spoilers for several best-selling paranormal YA novels. So if you don’t want to know how they pan out, stop reading here.

* * *

The heroine is a young girl, living in a place she really doesn’t want to be. She meets the hero at her new school, and is instantly attracted to him, though he seems to take an instant dislike to her. Then they get to know each other, and it turns out that he is more than he seems. She unearths the secret of what he really is. He admits that he can’t resist her any longer, and that she is the great love of his life. They are blissfully happy together, though they can’t get too passionate as it’ll be too dangerous for her. Then her life is threatened and he has to come to her rescue in a dramatic finale which involves a great deal of flying glass and an entourage of superhuman beings.

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight? Actually no, I’m talking about Lauren Kate’s Fallen.
So far so good. It’s a winning recipe that works well for both books.

Their sequels are also remarkably similar:
For her own good, the hero separates himself from the heroine. In his absence, she undertakes a series of dangerous adventures. She meets another boy, one who seems a great deal more normal and warm and considerate, and who becomes her closest friend. Though his interest in her is obvious, she doesn’t love him as she loves her One True Love.

The difference between these two books is that in New Moon, though the heroine’s depression at losing her love is a tad annoying and you’d like to slap her upside the head with a wet fish, she isn’t Too Stupid To Live. Whereas Luce, the heroine of Lauren Kate’s Torment, is.

Maybe I’m dating myself here when I say that Luce comes across like a spoilt, whiny teenager. Yes, I know she is a teenager, and yes I know it’s possible a lot of teenagers behave like that, but seriously, this is fiction. The heroine is the person whose head the reader is going to have to spend hours and hours inside. And having her whine on about how everyone treats her like a baby and doesn’t tell her anything is enough to make the reader want to put the book down.

Chicky, I counted at least three people telling you not to leave the safety of the school grounds before you left the safety of the school grounds. And you know what? Claiming afterwards that you didn’t know it was dangerous because nobody tells you anything is TOO STUPID TO LIVE.

Luckily for Lauren Kate’s next book, I still hear Mrs Steen’s voice in my head. She was my primary school library teacher, and the one thing she ingrained in me was that you had to read the book before you could decide whether you liked it or not.

I’m looking forward to Passion, due out in 2011.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My favourite non-fiction book of all time

Confession time: I was a geeky kid who used to sit and read the Encyclopedia Brittanica for fun. Really.
I spent many hours in my teen years, in front of the TV with an encycopedia open on my lap, sometimes just browsing, sometimes jumping from article to article. Actually not much different from the way I surf the internet these days!

I find most non-fiction very dry to read. You have to be interested in the subject matter (or be truly bored!) to persevere. But there is one non-fiction book that I have read over and over. I know the stories contained in its pages intimately, but sometimes I'll just dip into it and read a few pages just for pleasure.

I was still in my early teens when I bought the book second hand in a tiny independent bookstore, and its fabric cover still smelled of the previous owner's pipe tobacco. My whole reason for buying it was because it contained a picture of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, nicknamed Sissi, a role played by the actress I was named for, Romy Schneider.

The book is Dorothy Gies McGuigan's The Habsburgs. It covers over five hundred years of European history, focussing on one of the most influential dynasties of all time: the Habsburgs, who came out of obscurity in central Europe (Austria) to conquer most of Europe through marriage. First The Netherlands, then Spain and Hungary, vast tracts of Italy and the title of Holy Roman Emperor into the bargain.

But what I love most about this book aren't the stories of power and politics, which is what most non-fiction books would dwell on. It's the small personal stories that the writer tells with such emotion that the reader can't help but be drawn in. Stories like that of Juana the Mad, queen of Castile, obsessively in love with her Habsburg husband, who is known to history as Philip the Handsome. After his death, she decided to have his body moved to the royal crypt at Granada:
She started southward in a great funeral cortege, the coffin on an open bier before her carriage, journeying only at night by the light of torches, for, she said, "A widow who has lost the sun of her own soul should never expose herself to the light of day."
Is it just me, or is that really moving?

If you ever stumble across this book, give it a read. And if you're a romance writer then like me, you might just find inspiration within its pages.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Willkommen 2011

My parents gave me a gift in my early teens, a poster of a beautiful ballet dancer that hung on the back of my bedroom door for many years. Beneath the picture were these wise words from William Arthur Ward:
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.
If you can dream it, you can become it.
I have no idea what happened to that poster, but those words will stay with me for life.

This is my resolution for the new year, and my hope for all of you; that we will all dream big. But remember: you need to believe in the dream for it to come true.