Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Written Fireside: His Way Home, Part 5

Welcome to the fifth installment in the ongoing round-the-campfire story of His Way Home.

If you haven't yet read the previous installments, you can find them here:
Part 1 - Lori Connelly
Part 2 - Sarah Lefebve
Part 3 - Zara Stoneley
Part 4 - Lynn Marie Hulsman

Source: www.freedigitalphotos.net

Now read on...

Beth’s mouth opened, but no words came out. Matthew wouldn’t believe her anyway. Just last night he’d told her to get her head out the clouds and face reality, and the thought that had started to form... it was too improbable.
Improbable but inescapable. And there wasn’t much time.

“We need to talk,” she told Matthew.

His brow furrowed. “Then talk.”

She drew in a deep breath. She had no idea where to start. She sat in the chair where Walter had sat not so long ago. “Tell me about your grandmother.”

His frown deepened, but he sat in the armchair across from her. “I don’t remember much about her. Towards the end she was a little batty. Kept going on about a slip in time and how she needed to get home to undo the damage she’d done.”

“How did she die?”

Matthew looked away. “One day she walked out into the woods towards Watchtower Hill and she never came home. We searched everywhere but we never found her.”

The tower-shaped hill brooded over the neighbourhood. The woods that surrounded it were dark and eerie, and Beth had never dared ventured there in all the time she’d lived here on the farm with Matthew.

He sighed, and when his gaze again met hers there was sadness in them. “My grandmother grew up in a cabin in those woods. It’s the first place we looked, but the place was a ruin and there was no sign of her.”

Beth squared her shoulders. “Then that’s where we need to start.” She rose and headed for the closet where they stored their emergency gear. They’d worked with search and rescue teams in the area before, helping to find lost hikers. This wouldn’t be much different.

Matthew rose behind her. “Are you insane? Do you have any idea how cold it is outside? And a storm warning’s been issued. That’s why I came home.”

She stopped in her tracks. He was right. Walter would never make it on foot. Not as fast as he was aging. “We’ll have to take the old sled,” she said.

Matthew came around and took her hands. “You’re starting to frighten me, Beth. What’s got into you?”

The door behind him swung open, and Walter stood in the door. They both gasped.

Part Six will be up on Jane Lark's blog on 17th December.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Written Fireside - Part 10

We're back again! Luckily, someone flipped the switch in South Africa last week, ushering winter out the door and the most beautiful summery heat in ... the perfect weather to sit around a campfire telling scary stories as the flames leap up and make eery shadows all around.

If you need to catch up on the story so far:

Part 1 - Lori Connelly
Part 2 - Teresa F Morgan
Part 3 - Carmel Harrington
Part 4 - that was me!
Part 5 - AJ Nuest
Part 6 - Charlotte Phillips
Part 7 - Lori Connelly
Part 8 - Carmel Harrington
Part 9 - Teresa F Morgan

And for Part 10 read on...

Clara slid a shaking hand beneath her sweater and shirt. The burden was too great to carry alone. With Barbara gone, she needed a friend more than ever, and there was no one else but Mark.

She pulled out the cloth-wrapped bundle. After an entire night strapped against her skin, she'd grown so used to the weight that without it she felt naked.

As she slowly unwrapped it, Mark took his eyes off the road just long enough to look at what lay in her lap. His eyes rounded. "Great Almighty, Clara! That's not the answer!"

"Keep your eyes on the road." She lifted the small silver hand gun. "I don't think it's loaded. It belonged to Barbara's grandfather. I guess you could say he left it to her along with the summer house."

Carefully she untwisted the sparkling cord wound around the barrel and held it up for Mark to see without having to look away from the road. "Derek paid us each $20,000 to keep our mouths shut. When we were persuaded to testify against him, neither of us could bring ourselves to spend a cent of the money. But we sure as hell weren't going to give it back either. $40,000 is a lot of money."

"No kidding." Mark swallowed and glanced again at the diamond bracelet she held up. Then his gaze shifted to the rear view mirror. Clara didn't need to look to know what he saw. She could only pray Mark's car could outrun Derek's battered Ford.
She clutched the seat as Mark suddenly swung the car onto an offramp. A moment later she heard the squeal of brakes as Derek corrected his trajectory. But she couldn't bear to look back. Not with her heart in her throat as Mark set his foot flat on the gas. The road ahead was narrow, with trees pressing in on either side, and so twisty she couldn't see more than a couple of car lengths ahead. She had no idea where they were.

She gripped the diamond bracelet even tighter as Mark swung the car again, off the road and onto a barely visible dirt track. The forest swallowed them.

They sat in silence for a heart stopping moment before the roar of Derek's truck disappeared into the distance. "Hopefully it'll be a few miles before he realises he's lost us."

He stretched his arm across the back of her seat and this time Clara's heart began to race in a very familiar and not at all unpleasant way.

"So you spent Derek's pay-off on a piece of jewellery?"

"This isn't just any piece of jewellery." She carefully wound the string of diamonds back onto the gun's barrel and folded the cloth closed around it. "And it was worth every bit of the $40,000 Barbara and I had to pay to get our hands on it. This is the famous Duval bracelet. And it's the reason Derek killed Etienne Duval ten years ago."

Are you hooked yet? If so, check out the next instalment on AJ Nuest's blog on September 24th. Just two more instalments to go!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Written Fireside - Part 4

Here's the story so far:

Part 1 - Lori Connelly
Part 2 - Teresa F Morgan
Part 3 - Carmel Harrington

We're seated around the camp fire, marshmallows toasting, wine and warmth making us rosy... now here's my contribution to the story:

Clara cruised down Main Street, her eyes scanning for a parking outside the Lucky Number Café. A car pulled out into the street ahead of her, leaving a space right out front of the café.
But what she saw through the front window made her put her foot on the gas and keep on going. The summer house it was.

Only when she hit the freeway did her heartbeat slow down enough to enable her to think. What was Derek doing back in town? And what business did he and Mark have together?

Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the steering wheel. Had Mark’s invitation to talk been a trap? She didn’t want to believe it of him...not him of all people...but what other explanation could there be for the two of them sitting together like old friends in the café?

The sun was already going down when she pulled into the long, overgrown drive leading to the summer house. She hid her car in the garage and walked to the house. Her hands still shook so badly she dropped the key twice before she managed to get the front door open.

Inside, the house was full of creepy shadows and smelled musty. But Clara didn’t turn on any lights or open any windows. Better not to advertise her presence. She shut the front door behind her and double locked it.

Barbara had told her she’d sold the house years ago. She’d said she couldn’t face returning here, where the memories of that fateful night cast a pall over everything, obliterating every happy memory they’d ever made here. So why had she kept it, after all?

Clara found the flashlight in its usual spot on the shelf behind the door. She flicked it on. The beam was weak, but it was enough.

There was only one reason Barbara would have kept the house, and only one reason she would have lied to Clara. She’d hidden It in the house. And Clara needed to find it.

The next installment of this story will be from AJ Nuest, followed by Charlotte Phillips

* * *

Don't forget to check out Lori Connelly's new release The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge, available now from Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and all other good eBook stores.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Loving for only 99c

Check out the Minxes blog today for a special promotion running Mon 15th to Thurs 18th July only: 6 romances priced at only 99c each (77p in the UK).

Friday, June 14, 2013


I've been a bad, bad blogger these last few weeks, but I rationalise it by saying I'm sure you'd all rather have my next book than yet another blog post. Right?

But just so you don't forget me, here's a quick round-up of some of the lovely reviews Waking up in Vegas has had so far. Thank you to all the reviewers for taking the time to not only read the book, but to write down and share your thoughts. Reviewers rock!

Desere Steenberg of Romance Book Haven's Contemporary Romance Reviews gave the book 5/5:
"I highly recommend this read to everyone that enjoys a fun and spicy romance read with a difference. The fact that the author incorporated a fairy tale backdrop made it that much more magical!"
You can read the full review here.

Jeannie Zelos gave the book 4 stars on her blog:
"This is a fun romantic tale with a lovely HEA. Sometimes you want light-hearted and funny and this book does it."
You can read the full review here.

And 4 hearts from Cat at The Cat's Meow:
"If you like a Cinderella type sweet romance, complete with princes, and castles and kingdoms, toss in  a modern day setting, with a strong female lead, that is afraid to follow her heart and accept her prince charming,  lots of sensuous romance you will love this one."
You can read the full review here.

From Andrea Heltsley Books: "I give this read four glittery stars for being a fun, romantic read!"
You can read the full review here.

And the most recent review is from Laura at Laura's Book Reviews:
"I really enjoyed this author's writing style; it was easy to read and the pace and flow was perfect. This was quite a surreal book in places; it bordered on the fantasy boundary but was deep seated in reality for the most part....This would be a great read for the beach or sitting in the garden."
You can read the full review here.
[Best of all, Laura got my Katy Perry glitter reference!]

Another review from Jackie's Book World.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The inspiration behind Waking up in Vegas

Today is release day for Waking up in Vegas!

And as you're reading this I'm sitting beside the road somewhere watching a Toyota TV advert being filmed. Hopefully I'm warm, comfortable and not too exhausted from an early morning start.

So what are you still doing here? Have you gone off and bought my book yet?
Oh, okay. If you've already bought your copy, then you're allowed to stay a little longer and read on...

Waking up in Vegas started with a dream. Not a metaphorical dream but a literal one. I woke up one morning and thought “now that would make a great story”.

I wrote the first draft three years ago, in 30 days during the mad month of November. I submitted it to a publisher only to receive a personalised rejection that said the opening just wasn’t innovative enough.

So I set the story aside, wrote a bunch of other stuff, learned the craft, and then one day late last year, as I was driving home from work, singing at the top of my lungs to Katy Perry (my car being the only safe place I can sing without being heard) it came to me – the perfect opening to Max and Phoenix’s story.

It was just about November and I was planning on doing Nanowrimo again, so I decided to give these poor star-struck lovers another go. I wrote the entire story over again from scratch. The only things that remained from that draft three years ago were the characters, and the fictional country of Westerwald.

This time it only took me 29 days to write their new story, and it was the most fun I’ve had writing. Ever. Thank you Katy Perry!

I knew in my heart this story was going places, so I made a list of my ideal publishers who I thought could do justice to it (all two of them) and sent off my manuscript. Cue two rejections (one of which has to be the loveliest rejection letter of all time). But I wasn’t fazed.

I still believed in this story, and I wasn’t going to let just anyone get their hands on it. If I couldn’t get a dream publisher to back this story, then I’d go it alone. I bought a cover and contracted an editor, and was all set to brave the Sea of Self Publishing.

A few days later, as I idly surfed my Twitter stream, I spotted a link to an announcement of a new digital first imprint from Harper Collins. I clicked on the link and landed up on a Facebook page. There wasn’t much information, what with the page being brand new, but I was sold.

Not only was this a Big 5 Publisher, but it had Kimberly Young at the helm. Since I’d met Kimberly at a conference last year, I sent off my manuscript straight away, with a cheeky reminder that we’d met. Then I sat back, anticipating a lengthy wait. After all, this is publishing - where everything happens two years from now.

This was the least anxious wait I’ve ever endured. I knew this story was a winner, and I knew I had a back-up plan in case Harper Impulse didn’t like it. Two weeks into the wait I heard (via one of those friends of a friend but you can never remember afterwards where you heard it from) that the HI editors were having an acquisitions meeting. And I just knew.

That was when the sweating started. And the doubts. They’d only had my story a couple of weeks. Perhaps they hadn’t even read mine yet? Was I insane to think they’d buy my book?
I stalked my Inbox. A week passed. Nope, they definitely hadn’t read it yet. Or if they had, they hated it.
I gave up stalking my Inbox. Oh well, there was always Plan B…

Then, when I’d stopped watching my inbox altogether, the email arrived…

You can read more about The Call here.

You can’t get a better dream publisher than Harper Collins – unless it’s being a launch title for a brand new HC imprint, and unless it’s staffed by such lovely and talented people as Harper Impulse is.

Thank you Universe for sending me the dream that made every other dream come true!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Starting the journey with Harper Impulse

Since this is the week in which Harper Impulse launches, I thought I'd bring you a couple of posts on my journey so far with this brand new imprint.

Next week I'll give some glimpses into the inspiration, characters and setting for Waking up in Vegas, and once the exhiliration of release day is over I'll be back with normal scheduled programming (just in case you're looking for my Behind the Scenes in the movies posts).

* * *

There has been a great deal said recently, by some of the most respected names in self-publishing, about how publishers are a dying breed.

The most commonly cited reasons for the death of traditional publishing is that the big publishing houses don’t listen to their readers and that they are unable to turn on a dime.

The Big 6 publishers (now Big 5, but since I’m South African, that just makes me giggle as I wonder which publisher is the elephant!) have been likened to the Titanic, too large and unwieldy to avoid collision with the iceberg.

Harper Impulse have just proven that to be poppycock.

From their first submission call little more than a month ago, to launching their first titles in early May, they’ve proven that Harper Collins can move as quickly as anyone else in the digital age. Acquiring titles, designing covers, revisions and promotions and contracts, and a ton of other behind-the-scenes stuff that we readers and writers have no clue about – they’ve done it all in record time.

But what impresses me the most is that while they’ve been doing all this, they’ve also taken the time to interact with their readers. They’ve chatted on Twitter and introduced themselves on Facebook, run fun polls and started discussions. They genuinely want to know what readers want to read.

From the day the first submission call went out on Facebook, I’ve been excited about Harper Impulse. I love their vision for books that are fun and contemporary. I love that they’re actively looking for books that push boundaries and try new things. I love that they’re working towards turn-arounds that are previously unimagined in traditional publishing. And I love how excited the editors all are about this line.
I’m excited too. Are you?

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Call

It's Friday morning, 5th April. I return to my desk at the day job from a coffee run to see an email in my inbox titled 'Harper Impulse submission'.

My heart starts thumping wildly. It's only been three weeks since I submitted to Harper Impulse, the brand new imprint from Harper Collins, but I've heard via the grapevine that the editors had an acquisitions meeting...

I'm not too stressed. A sale would be a dream come true, but a rejection won't be the end of the world. If it's a rejection, then I plan to self-publish. I have a freelance editor on standby and a cover already designed.

I may not be anxious, but I can still scarcely breathe as I click open the email. It's two lines only. "Are you free today for a quick call? I'd love to chat further to you about your submission."

I've already had friends go through this, so I know editors don't just call to chat about your work. They call to buy.

I shoot back a reply. "Any time" and my mobile number. And I sit there trying to remember how to breathe.
It's 11:40am.

Then my phone beeps, reminding me the battery is running low. Just that morning I'd decided to let it run itself out before re-charging and its death is imminent. Oops.

I plug in the charger and naturally, for the first time ever, it won't take a charge. I run all over the office, trying all the plug points, swearing, sweating, as the phone refuses to charge. Thank heavens the rest of my team are out and there are no witnesses.

Finally, the screen lights up, the charge indicator starts to move, and I breathe a massive sigh of relief.

Just then the hair & make-up stylist who's doing prep for our next film shoot pops her head in my door, and I can scarcely manage a coherent conversation about aging make-up and contacts and hair extensions. She looks at me funny, so I say "I'm so excited! I'm about to get The Call!" Then I have to explain what The Call is.

As soon as the stylist leaves, I email the Minxes, because they're my soul sisters and they know exactly what The Call means. And because I don't want to be alone in this.

Then I make a toilet run, get pen and paper ready, make a list of points to discuss with the editor in case my brain stops working, get a glass of water ready, and ask the kitchen to keep me lunch. I don't plan to leave the desk where my phone is now plugged in and charging until that call comes in.
I'm ready.

Time ceases to have meaning, but I think it's about 12:15 when the phone rings.

Thank heavens for that list! I manage to have a sane and sensible conversation with the editor, even though my brain stops working after she utters the words "we'd like to offer you a two book deal."

Since the phone is still plugged into the charger, I spend the entire phone call bent down with my head practically between my knees. Which is probably a good position to be in when you take a call of this magnitude.

We talk royalties and contracts and covers, what the imprint is about, estimated release dates, and changes to the opening scene. We even talk about writing conferences and the editor's holiday on the South African coast. (Now that I'm typing up this story, I'm amazed I remember so much of the conversation!)

I even manage to mention the fact that Waking up in Vegas is in fact the first in a series of three. Three rings, three stories. Read the book when it goes on sale and you'll know what I mean.

When we hang up, I literally stand up and dance. And there may have been an air punch. Again, I'm truly grateful it's a quiet day at the office and I'm alone.

The rest of the afternoon was, needless to say, a write-off. It's hard to focus on everyday day job type stuff when you're floating a few feet off the ground.

So that's my Call Story. There's a great deal more that's happened since, but that'll have to wait for another blog post. Because I'm going off to dance some more.

Monday, April 22, 2013


If you're here looking for the next instalment in my Behind the Scenes series, my apologies. Those posts take a little time to put together, and since I've been kept busy on a shoot for a headache tablet commercial (and the house we were shooting in had zero signal) the next post will be delayed.

In the meantime, I've gotten my rights back to Let's Misbehave and have been re-writing it ready to self-publish. There are moments when I see flashes of brilliance, but mostly I'm thanking all the writing gods for the opportunity to edit.

There are 'had's and 'that's all over the place, and my characters 'notice' or 'watch' everything around them. Happily, I not only get to fix these basics, but to add more depth to the characters. The new and improved version will be available on Amazon later this coming week.

Here's a sneak peek at the new cover, courtesy of Viola Estrella.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thought for the day

"If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride - and never quit, you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards." - Paul Bryant

Friday, February 15, 2013

Freebie Friday!

Blaze, our Minxy anthology, is FREE today and tomorrow on Amazon - our special Valentine's gift to you. It is available from Amazon and Amazon UK.

Jennifer Shirk is also running a give-away of her latest Entangled book, A Little Bit Cupid, on the Minxes blog. Leave a comment and stand a chance to win.

Monday, January 28, 2013

And the winner is....

The winner was selected by my completely impartial (since she can't yet read) five year old. And the winner of the Romance Madness give-away is:


I'll be emailing you direct, Cassandra. Well done!

Thank you very much to everyone who visited this blog during the Romance Madness Hop.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Six Sentence Sunday: Blaze

This year I'm trying something a little different, by taking part in Six Sentence Sunday, that Twitter and Facebook sharing of excerpts.
I'll kick off the year with an excerpt from The Fire Inside, my contribution to Blaze, the anthology of eight stories by the Minxes of Romance.

He was tired beyond belief of the endless events he attended. More and more all he wanted was a real conversation over dinner. A real flirtation with some real chemistry.
“You can always take Sam. She doesn’t have a date.”
Yeah. That kind of chemistry.

Fire fighter Sam Redfern is used to being seen as just one of the boys. Until TV talent scout and celebrity Ryan Morgan shows up in Coombethwaite and starts to make her feel very much like a woman. A woman with needs.

Available from Amazon and Amazon UK.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy new year!!

I can't remember when last I started a new year so full of energy, hope and excitement!

2013 has got off to a wonderful start. On January 1st I began my new contemporary novel, Time Heals, managing 1,304 words. According to my spreadsheet (thanks Minxes!) I've already completed 4%.

I've also started using my treadmill again. It needed a good dust off, but I've now used it every day for a week. My new motto is "begin as you plan to continue".

What am I hoping for this year? Aside from keeping up the writing pace I established during Nano, I'm hoping for feedback from the two publishers I currently have submissions with, and I'm hoping to get the way overdue feedback on my query for When September Ends so I can start shopping that to agents ... oh, and a big lottery win would be real nice.

Finally, I'm hoping for lots of reasons to pop open champagne this year, and happiness, health and posperity for everyone I know. And yes, that's you too.

How have you started the new year, and what are you hoping for from 2013?

Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net