Sunday, 20 December 2015

Writing a Cover Quote

One of the nicest things about having spent almost eight years pursuing my dream of being a published writer is the friends I’ve made along the way. From other course attendees to those attending conferences, the list is long. I was also a member of Romance Writers of  Australia’s critique partner scheme and here I met online, three wonderful writers, Kathi, Louise and Joanne.

Earlier this year, Joanne’s first book, Falling For Mr Wrong, was published and I was as excited for her then as I was when my first book hit the shelves. 

Last week, Joanne’s second book was released, but this one was extra special for me as not only did I get to read it ahead of publication, but had the honour of writing a cover quote.

Superstar Alex Jackson steers clear of any emotional involvement after a series of life-changing events turned his life, and heart, inside out and upside down. Broken and deeply scarred, he has sworn to remain single and emotionally aloof to all women. 

Physiotherapist Violet McKenzie, is distrustful of men—famous men being at the top of her list for good reason. She’s learned a thing or two about them and has made a conscious effort to stay as far away as she possibly can. 

Until sexy Alex needs her professional assistance after a stage mishap and she becomes his personal physio. Violet has sworn off love, but when Alex’s hot kisses keep her up at night longing for more, she wonders if she can remain steadfast to her personal promise to never fall for the wrong guy again. 

Can a superstar and an ordinary girl have a happily ever after, or is that only reserved for the songs Alex sings? 

Praise for Joanne Dannon - “A sexy superstar hero who has it all except the love of the right woman and an ordinary working girl whose job propels her into the heart of the hero's glamorous life. Joanne Dannon's wonderfully emotional story will sweep you away.” – Rachael Thomas, Harlequin Presents author. 

So, congratulations Joanne on a very successful writing year and if you want to find out more about Joanne and her books check out her website.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Almost but not quite

I’m finally in December. You see, I didn’t quite hit the target for NaNoWriMo this year, so tried to ignore that fact that December had arrived. It was a case of almost, but not quite.

The same thing happened to me two years ago today. The results of Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write were announced and although I’d made it to the Top 10 of the previous round, I didn’t make it to the final three. Facebook has reminded me this morning of that day and this was the post I made then.

Well I didn't make the Top 3 but I am thrilled to have got so far, to have gained the interest of editors and to have been supported by such wonderful friends. Thank you all. Normal life can now resume!!

It's surreal to think that two years ago today I thought my dream of publication would stay just that - a dream. However my fifth book, New Year at the Boss's Bidding will be on the shelves very soon.

Taking part and having fun is the important part of any race you are in, be it NaNoWriMo, a competition or even a marathon. Not that I have any personal experience of the latter.

Now, of course, it's a new race. Can I do all I need to do before Christmas?

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Winter Party and Christmas Fairs

I'm back at my desk after a few days away, where I braved the disruption on the rail network following storm Barney and made my way to London for the RNA's Winter Party. I arrived in London much later than planned, but at least I did arrive in time for the party, which I started in style with a glass of bubbly with fellow Write Romantic Helen Rolfe.

From the party I headed back out of London and to a friends house, where I spent a few days catching up and visiting Christmas Fairs at the local historic houses.

As it poured with rain we arrived at Blenheim Palace where we enjoyed the magnificent building which featured in the new James Bond movie Spectre. It's easy to see how this vast and ostentatious building can lend itself to a movie such as Bond - which is still on my list of things to do!

After that we enjoyed the Craft Fair and indulged in some Christmas shopping as well as plenty of chatting over coffee!

The stalls there ranged from seasonal decorations, to paintings, to clothes and hats. There was of course food, where Christmas cakes and puddings were on display.

From there we made our way to one of my
favourite historical houses, Waddesdon Manor, where we sampled the delights of their Christmas

After a wander round the stalls we headed in for coffee and cake and by the time we came out it was dark and the full glory of the Christmas lights were on display, making me want to rush home and decorate the trees on the farm.

By Friday I was back on the train and passing the time by writing and this time the journey went smoothly.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Deadlines and Goals

It's November and that means NaNoWriMo which means focusing on meeting your personal goals to achieve the target word count by the end of the month. This year is the first time I will actually be joining in.

Last week I started work on my latest book and have decided to use the challenge of NaNoWriMo as I write. My aim is to have a complete first draft by the end of November.

Here's a few tips on making and meeting your daily word count target.

1. Make it achievable for you and your lifestyle. Set that daily target at a level that is achievable. There's nothing more disheartening than constantly failing to meet your target.

2. Find a time of day that suits you best for writing. I'm a lark by choice and love nothing more than getting my daily word count done before the day really begins. This does mean I'm usually crashed out by the time the night owls among us are working away.

3. Create a space that is just for you - even if it is tucked away in the corner of a room and make sure you have all you need at hand. A good supply of coffee and chocolate is always welcome.

4. If one day, life gets in the way and you don't manage any words, don't panic, simply add some onto each day for the next week. By sharing them out like this it doesn't feel as if you lagging too far behind.

5. This is the most important one. Have fun and enjoy what your are writing!

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Glory of Autumn

It's that time of year again. The days become shorter and the glorious green leaves of summer begin to turn to shades of gold and with the sunny weather we've been enjoying here in Wales recently it really is quite stunning.

It's great to walk down the lane in the morning as the sun is rising and see the leaves on the trees become a burnished gold.

 I love how the mist lingers in the valley.

Soon all these amazing colours will be gone, but for now I'm just going to enjoy them - and the late sunshine!

Monday, 5 October 2015

From Rejection to Publication

Before I had my dream come true moment of becoming a published writer, I had, as part of what I’d always considered my apprenticeship, eight complete manuscripts that hadn’t made the grade and four false starts languishing on my computer. It was my thirteenth attempt and entry into So You Think You Can Write 2013 which made it. But all those other stories put together make up a lot of words, time and effort and even though some were rejected, they were invaluable to me. Each and every word, each submission and rejection was part of the learning process.

None of the time and effort I put into those stories is wasted. Some merely form part of my apprenticeship, but others, with a fresh pair of eyes and a little more experience, could be rewritten.

But how do you know if a story can be rewritten?

For me it was simply that the characters just wouldn’t leave me alone. I first met Zafir and his horse whisperer heroine, Destiny over three years ago. I just hadn’t told their story right the first time and he was insisting I try again. 

Things to consider when rewriting a story.

1.           Your characters must thrill you, or as in my case, constantly linger in your mind long after the rejection has landed. They will all but demand their story is written again.
2.           Look at where you started the first time. Was that really the beginning? Can you start the story at a better point, one that see’s things changing for your characters, bringing them together more convincingly?
3.           Are they really who you thought they were? Interviewing your characters and getting to know them is crucial, but did you ask the right questions the first time? Did they tell you everything you needed to know?
4.           Delve deeper emotionally. This is what I always do, not digging deep enough, but by finding out more about your characters, their hopes and dreams, fears and aspirations it can lead to some surprising revelations – and a new story!

This is a process I’ve just been through with Zafir and Destiny and their brand new story was accepted last week and will be out next year. But if you want a sneak preview of the story, take a quick look at Zafir and Destiny's board on my Pinterest.

I hope this post fires up your determination if you too have just had a rejection. It doesn't mean the end for you or that story, so keep going!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

From One Night to Wife

September is just around the corner and with it the release of my next book, From One Night to Wife.

Nikos and Serena meet while she is on the island of Santorini and have a passionate holiday affair, but on her return to England, it becomes clear that their affair has consequences!

Here's an excerpt

‘It’s my baby too, Serena.’ Fury thundered in his veins, pulsing around him so fast he couldn’t think straight. It was obvious she’d done her homework. She knew who he was. But was she really capable of seducing him, hoping to become pregnant with a baby for her sister? If he was thinking rationally he’d say no, but with such a revelation knocking him sideways he’d believe anything right now.
As she stood there, glaring angrily at him, challenging him on every level, he knew he had to be there for his baby as it grew up. He wanted to give it all he’d never had. But it didn’t matter how much money he had, he didn’t know if he could do the one thing a father should. Love his child—or anyone.
How could he when he’d never known the love of his parents? And he’d always kept his distance from his grandparents, shunned their love, preferring to stay safe behind his defences even as a young boy. But he had a bond with them. Could he at least bond with his child?
Was he heartless? Was that why his mother had turned her back on him? Why his father had barely looked at him? Was it his fault?
‘I will be there for my child.’ He watched her for a hint of guilt, any trace of her deceit.
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
The fury in her voice overflowed, confirming his suspicions.
‘Drop the innocent act. You know who I am. For a woman with your journalist’s training it must have been all too easy to discover more about the father or your child.’ Venom spiked every word as he looked at her, suddenly becoming aware of the waves creeping closer to them. How long had they been discussing this? Hours? Seconds? He didn’t know. Only that it would change things and change him for ever.
‘I have only just looked you up on the internet—in the departure lounge at the airport, to be exact. Because, stupidly, I believed you were an island fisherman, living a simple life. There shouldn’t have been anything more to know.’ Her furious words were flung at him and her eyes sparked like fireworks. ‘You lied to me, used me.’
So the flame-haired temptress had a temper!

I really enjoyed writing this story, exploring Santorini and Athens as well as the emotions such consequences evoked in Nikos and Serena. I hope you too, will enjoy reading it.

Order your UK copy here and your NA copy here.

Happy Reading!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Entering So You Think You Can Write

It's hard to believe that this time last month I was in New York and one of the best moments was finally meeting fellow So You Think You Can Write contestants. After two years of emails, tweets and Facebook, it was so nice to meet face to face.

It's even harder to believe that almost two years ago I'd submitted my entry to So You Think You Can Write 2013, which to be honest I had done on previous years without any success. However 2013 proved to be a lucky year for me and I made it to the Top 10. I didn't win, but I did have my winning moment when in January 2014, my revised entry sold to Harlequin Presents.

Whether you've entered before and wonder if it's worth it this time, or this is the first time you've thought of entering a competition, all I can say is do it! This video on the Harlequin blog might just help convince you. 
Two years ago I was just another hopeful in SYTYCW. Now my fourth book, From One Night to Wife is out and I'm about to submit my seventh book. It's been an amazing two years, I've learnt so much and met some wonderful people, but the best bit - my books are out there, being enjoyed by readers!

If you want more details on entering click here.
Good luck!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

New York New York

All I can say is New York really does deserve to be named twice! I had the most amazing time
attending Romance Writers' of America's 35th conference in New York.

Having arrived on Monday there was time for a bit of sightseeing before the conference got under way and I got to walk in Central Park, which was at the top of my list of things to do. After the crowds in Times Square it was great to be in the calm of the park and with three fabulous friends, Jennifer Hayward, Bella Francis and Chantelle Shaw. Here we all are taking a break from our exploring.

Afterwards we took to the water and a boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty and fantastic views of New York. Later we had the most amazing dinner in a fabulous restaurant, Tao, which was just the start of all our eating out!

Wednesday saw the start of the conference with the Literacy signing and with excitement and a few nerves I took my place among over 480 authors. I've since learnt that a staggering $48,789 was raised in those two hours.

One of the best parts of the conference was meeting with other authors, authors whose books I've read and enjoyed so many times. I've made new friendships and was also excited to meet up with other SYTYCW contestants from the last few years, including 2014's winner, Amanda Cinelli.

The highlight was of course the Harlequin Black and White Ball and here I am with other Harlequin authors all set to go to the Ball.

Then came the RITA and Golden Heart Awards and it was really wonderful to be there to see Susan Stephens give the most amazing speech for Carole Mortimer who was being presented with RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sadly the last day arrived so we spent it sight seeing once again and we headed up to the 86th floor of The Empire State Building to enjoy the amazing views of New York and a walk on the High Line.

Now, with a deadline on the horizon, it's time to get back to work!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Romantic Novelists' Association Conference

I've just returned from London, where this year the RNA held their annual conference at The Queen Mary University.

In the warmth of the sun on Saturday morning I enjoyed a walk along the canal before breakfast. A great way to start off the day!

The talks and workshops were great, especially Hazel Gaynor's talk on promotion and Julie Cohen's workshop on the art of rewriting, which much to the delight of everyone there, involved post it notes!

The highlight of the weekend is the Gala Dinner, which was set in the stunning Ocatgon Library. The tables were so glamorously set and it was a great night with friends.

The Gala Dinner is a time for dressing up and this year I actually remembered to get on the other side of the camera and have a photo taken.

The best part of the conference is always meeting up with friends, making new ones and talking writing, writing, writing.

So, that's my weekend of fun. I'm back at my desk working on revisions for a story I'm really excited about.

Monday, 22 June 2015

The Countdown Begins

Today it’s four weeks until I will be leaving Wales and heading for New York and my first Romance Writers’ of America conference. I’m so excited to be able to catch up with friends and meet writers and readers.

I’m looking forward to seeing New York. There is going to be so many new and exciting experiences waiting for me and can’t wait to go to Central Park, a place I’ve always wanted to go to. 

Image from Fotolia

I’m going to be signing copies of my books at the ‘Readers for Life’ Literacy Autographing along with a long list of other fabulous writers. I’m also looking forward to attending the workshops and talks as well as a bit of partying!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Writing Companions

Most writers I know have writing companions, from cats who sit stubbornly on the keyboard to dogs who lie contentedly beside the desk. Sadly, last weekend I had to say goodbye to my writing companion, Tara.

When I took over the dining room and made it my writing room Tara decided that her place would be next to my chair whilst I was writing. She was great company and taking her for walks was often a time to think about where my story was going. As she got older, the walks became shorter and the pace slower, but she always looked forward to them.

Missing you Tara. Xx

Monday, 25 May 2015

Fun Filled Days in London

Last Thursday I travelled to London for the RNA's summer party.
What made it more exciting this year was meeting up with some of the members of The Write Romantics for afternoon tea in The Wolseley, where we had a celebrity spotting moment having noticed Annie Lennox!
Afterwards we headed to the party where Write Romantic, Lynne Pardoe was a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award. As usual there was a fabulous line up of newly published writers who'd come through the RNA's New Writer's Scheme. You can see all the official RNA Summer Party photos here.

The Award Line Up

On Friday, I woke up to a sunny rooftop view of London and the knowledge I had the whole day to
Kew Palace
myself. After a leisurely breakfast in Covent Garden I made my way to Kew Gardens, a place I've always wanted to visit. I walked so far that day, but really enjoyed it. I wandered around Kew Palace, but my favourite was Queen Charlotte's cottage, nestled in woodland.
Queen Charlotte's Cottage

After all that walking I settled down by the lake for a spot of reading and very quickly found I had a captive audience of ducks. They were somewhat disappointed I didn't have anything for them to eat and soon waddled off.

It was a great few days away and I'm looking forward to the RNA Conference in July. Another chance to catch up with friends.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Latest News

I'm thrilled to say my fifth book has been accepted.  Xavier and Tilly's story, New Year at the Boss's Bidding will be out at the beginning of 2016.

I have also now have a gorgeous Presents cover to share with you for my September release, From One Night to Wife.

And don't forget, Charlotte and Sandro's story, Craving Her Enemy's Touch is out now!
UK edition

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Time Out

Sometimes it's nice just to get away and spend time completely focused on writing and that's exactly what I did last week.

I swapped my writing desk for the kitchen table of this lovely little cottage set in the heart of the Welsh countryside. Llanwrtyd Wells is full of stunning countryside and Bronfelin Cottage is geared up for enjoying the many walks that surround it. But my main aim for those few days was to write - and write.

I wasn't alone, as fellow romance writer Melissa Morgan joined me, which made for the perfect mix of writing time and talking writing time!  It was so nice to be able to give all my attention to my current story and with a deadline fast approaching, those few days away were perfectly timed.

With countryside like this on our doorstep, we took a well-earned break after spending the morning writing and enjoyed the April sunshine. Once we'd enjoyed a relaxed lunch we went our separate ways again and wrote for the rest of the afternoon, after which we made the most of the nice weather and walked again before cooking our evening meal.

On our walks, we often wandered along footpaths where ewes grazed with their lambs and they were all very friendly, often coming close.

Each evening we enjoyed a glass of wine sat outside in the evening sunshine, which was so warm, it was hard to believe it was only April. The sounds of lambs calling mingled with cheerful birdsong and the sound of the river, rushing by.

Just perfect!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Easter Sunshine

It's been a beautiful Easter weekend here in Wales and whilst it's been busy on the farm with lots of new calves, I was still able to make the most of the sunshine and a friend visiting. We went to Aberaeron, a nearby seaside town and enjoyed a stroll around the harbour and sat overlooking the pebbly beach.

From there we went to a National Trust property, Llanerchaeron and sat in the walled garden which was filled with the delicious scent of Camellias - until we were disturbed by this pair who'd slipped unnoticed from the farmyard.
Llanerchaeron is a place I visit often and it's great to see the gardens
at different times of the year, but I've never met the turkeys before!

It was also a chance to have a long walk, just what I needed when the weekend was full of chocolate temptation.

I also spent time writing and am really excited that one of my favourite heroes, Sandro Roselli will be in bookstores very soon. Craving Her Enemy's Touch is my May release.

If you missed my first book A Deal Before The Altar and you are in Canada or US then it is available at the great price of 99c until April 12th here.