Friday, November 02, 2007

And the Winner of my October Contest Is...

Alyssa Goodnight! Congratulations, Alyssa.

Please contact me via my website contact page with your snail mail details and I'll send you your prize--autographed copies of Scandal's Daughter and Donna MacMeans's The Education of Mrs. Brimley.

Thank you to all who entered!

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Latest Contest--A Slight Change in Plans

Hi to all who are or will be checking this blog for news of my Sept/Oct contest winner. So sorry to do this, but I have to go away to the beach tomorrow (tough life, but someone's got to do it!) and I'll be without internet access until late next week.

To make things fair, the cut-off for entry will remain 31 October (my time) so no one is disadvantaged, but I will announce the winner on my return, probably on 3 November. Apologies for the wait!
For those who haven't been to my website, check out my latest contest. You can win a signed copy of SCANDAL'S DAUGHTER, by yours truly and a signed copy of the fabulous THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY by fellow Romance Bandit, Donna MacMeans.
Good luck to all!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oz Love From Afar, by Trish Milburn, American Title IV Finalist

Christine writes: I'm lucky to have with me today a fantastic writer and fellow Romance Bandit Trish Milburn. Trish is a finalist in American Title IV, a contest run by Romantic Times, with the ultimate prize of publication by Dorchester. Voting has begun in the first round and Trish's entry OUT OF SIGHT rocks, so VOTE FOR TRISH, everyone! See the link below.

Because I'm from Australia, Trish wanted to blog about her long distance love affair with my country.

Trish writes: Have you ever felt an affinity for a place you’ve never been? For me, one of those places is Australia. I’m planted firmly in the middle of the United States, but there’s something very attractive about the Land Down Under.

From what I recall, my first long-distance love of Australia came about through a school project when I was in elementary school. We had to do a report on another country, and for some reason (can’t remember why) I picked Australia. I wrote away to some tourism bureau or travel agency (also don’t remember precisely) and received a packet of information about this impossibly far away country. Love bloomed. The pictures were mesmerizing. The land looked nothing like my world, rural Western Kentucky. I hailed from the land of Daniel Boone and the Kentucky Derby, not boomerangs and the Outback.

In the following years, I read books set in Australia, sang along with “The Land Down Under” by Men at Work, and watched The Man from Snowy River and Return to Snowy River, not to mention the TV mini-series The Thorn Birds. And while I’m sure the cities are lovely and fascinating in their own right (I still remember with awe the turn of the millenium and how gorgeous Sydney looked), I have to admit it was the Outback that captured my imagination. It’s not really surprising that this was the area that appealed to me since I’m also a great lover of the American West. I see a lot of parallels between the two spots on the globe – beauty in its rugged openness, wide swaths of space virtually empty of human habitation, ranches, and the rugged individuals who choose to live there.

My fascination with Australia was strengthened even more when I read Bill Bryson’s travelogue In a Sunburned Country. As he described a train trip across the Outback and a visit to Uluru (Ayers Rock), I felt as if I was finally there, walking upon that continent myself. By the way, I had a memory lapse a moment ago about the name of Uluru and Googled “Big Rock Australia”, and it was the first thing that popped up.

If anyone still needs a reason to love Australia, look no further that the incredibly talented and, let’s face it, gorgeous crop of actors Oz produces. Hugh Jackman. Heath Ledger. Eric Bana. David Wenham. Guy Pearce. Russell Crowe. Need I say more? Okay, there are some extremely talented Aussie actresses gracing screens as well. Nicole Kidman. Toni Collette. Naomi Watts. Miranda Otto. And the fabulous Cate Blanchett.

Add animals like kangaroos and koalas, natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef, yummy treats like Tim Tams (yum!), and talented authors like Christine Wells, Anna Campbell and Trish Morey, and what’s not to like?

Maybe someday I’ll see Australia for myself – just as soon as I earn a ton of money and conquer my fear of flying.

The first round of AT IV has begun, and Trish has a killer first line! Vote for Trish's entry OUT OF SIGHT on the Romantic Times website

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Scandal in the Big Apple

Here is Scandal's Daughter with our lovely Bandita, Anna Sugden, aka Vrai Anna at the Barnes & Noble at the Lincoln Center in New York City.

Isn't she gorgeous? And the book's not bad either! Thanks for braving the security guard and for the 'face out fiddle', V-A! You're a champion!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Scandal's Daughter--In Stores Now

My lovely Bandita friend, Caren Crane sent me this photo of her with Scandal's Daughter at the Borders store in Raleigh, North Carolina! September 4 is the official release date, but copies are already on the shelves in many places.

Thanks, Caren! It's so exciting to see my book in an actual bookstore!

Caren has entered the contest with her fantastic manuscript, Kick Start. Please go and vote!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fridge of Inspiration

I know, it's been woefully long since I've posted, but I've been WRITING! And I know it's better for all concerned if I write the DB (aka damned book) than write on this blog.

But I had to post because a writer friend sent me this wonderful picture of her Fridge of Inspiration. And my book cover is on it! Thanks so much, Tracey O--you made my day. Tracey is blitzing contests and has landed a fab agent, so it will be her cover on that fridge in no time.

You'll see that Anna Campbell and Denise Rossetti are also represented. What can I say? Tracey has good taste.*g*

At the Romance Writers of Australia conference, we were privileged enough to hear a plenary talk from Anne Stuart (who is the most wonderful writer and human being!) and she talked about having an altar on which she puts all sorts of inspirational bits and pieces. In my writing space, I have Tigger to remind me to be positive(thanks Denise!) my creativity crystal (a gift from Yas) and a plaque awarding Scandal's Daughter 'Best of the Best' in a contest, as well as a collage for the story I'm working on now.

What do you keep near you for inspiration?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And the Winner Is...

In the end there were so many wonderful entries in my 'First' contest that I chose quite randomly.

And the winner is...Patricia Nieh!

Congratulations, Patricia! You've won an advanced reading copy of Scandal's Daughter and a Christiana bookmark.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Congratulations, Trish Milburn!

Fellow Romance Bandit, Trish Milburn has just sold two Young Adult titles to Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin. Congratulations, Trish!

Contest! Last Days...

My June/July contest will soon draw to a close. I'm giving away a signed advanced reading copy of Scandal's Daughter and a Christiana bookmark studded with Austrian crystals.

It's the only advanced reading copy of Scandal's Daughter I'm giving away and the bookmark is simply gorgeous! Don't miss your chance to win!

On 31 July, I'll post the name of the winner here.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Off at a Tangent

Do you ever start the day with a 'to do' list, only to find at the end of it, you haven't even accomplished the first task?

I'm sure mothers will identify with this phenomenon--little people can throw your plans out of whack without even trying--but in a professional sense, this happens most often to me on the internet. All those diverging paths--links, comments, interesting points to google, words to look up on etymonline (ok, that's just me, not many people care that much!) And this is all publishing or writing-related. I'm not even talking about fun stuff.

For instance, this morning I came to do a blog post (I forget what it was about now, but no doubt it was hugely entertaining) and the question popped up--Do you want to customize your blog? Hmm, I thought. I just had a new publicity photo done. Oh, and there's that gorgeous Romance Bandits logo that I'd like to add. Oh, and I've had my website refurbished so the blog could do with one, too...

And before I knew it, I was upgrading my blog and fiddling with templates, fonts, pictures and colours.

Sadly, and much to my webmistress's torment, I'm the sort of person who knows what they like when they see it, but can't envision the result before it's done. This means it takes me a loooong time to decide on a colour scheme. And of course, you can't change all the things you want to in a blogger template. I ended up going for a fairly simple variation. People think I'm conservative. I think I'm just indecisive.

So something that was supposed to take twenty minutes ended up taking 2 hours (in between various household chores). Lucky I got up at 4.30am.

What are your big time-wasters--internet or otherwise? Or are you one of those superwomen who accomplishes everything she sets out to achieve? And if you are, would you like to share some hints on how you do it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Knitting and Networking

I write in cafes during the week because I get so little done when I'm at home. Even if I have a babysitter, I find it difficult to concentrate with the noise of screaming baby and the Wiggles' Big Red Car in the background. So I go out.

There's a new place opened near us that has great coffee, which is always a winner with me. It's attached to a store that sells threads and yarns, a concept I haven't seen before, though the bookstore/cafe thing is very common now.

Lots of women come in, buy their yarn, pore over patterns, and then gossip over a chai latte in the cafe next door. There's something about the juxtaposition of all the colour of the yarn and the creative vibe that really appeals to me as a great atmosphere to write in. I'll definitely be back.

So the cafe is a warm, cosy chocolate brown with a vertical band of rainbow stripes here and there to brighten it. A huge wooden table with about 12 chairs all around dominates the centre of the space and a bench with a teapot (knitted) cup and saucer (knitted) and plate of fancy cakes (also, sadly, knitted) and stools with colourful seats runs along one wall. Big picture windows let in light and a view of the street outside.

When you order, you take a number and on the back it has a quote. Did you know knitting is the new networking? According to Vogue (said my table number), that's what the modern young professional woman is doing instead of drinks and flirting at the bar after a hard day's work. If so, things have changed markedly since I was a solicitor at a city firm. The motto was work hard, play hard and I don't think anyone mentioned knitting. Maybe it's one of those covert things women have always done and are just now admitting it. But if it's a new trend, it's one I won't be joining in a hurry. If I have both hands free of babies and basketballs, I'm writing. When they invent a way to knit while throwing baskets with 4yo or feeding baby, I'm there.

With reservations. I remember well my last attempt at knitting. I was 8 years old, sick, bed-ridden and had read all 14 books I'd borrowed from the library. It was a red scarf and the start was narrow and tight while the end was about twice as wide, with loose, loopy, lacksadaisical stitches. Goodness knows what happened to it. I never learned how to cast off, so it could well be still on the needle where it began. Still, the creative part of the brain can be stimulated by keeping the hands busy in mindless activity like knitting or gardening. If only I had the time...

So, is knitting among the younger set a secret that's been kept for decades, or is it a new phenomenon? What sort of busy work do you do?

Monday, June 11, 2007

News and Reviews

Lawks, it's a long time since I posted! I'm blogging on Romance Bandits today, so please come along and say hi.

I also received a nice review from Romance Reader at Heart. I will also be blogging there on June 20, so I'm glad they liked my book!

And you can read a new excerpt from Scandal's Daughter at Amazon. Hope you enjoy it!

Stay tuned and I'll be back soon with more fun and frivolity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

8 Random Things About Me

OK, Donna MacMeans tagged me to write 8 little known, obscure facts about me. Here goes:

1. I was on a game show when I was 11 called 'Now You See It', hosted by a man and a robot called Melvin. I made it to the Champion of Champions day, when I was knocked out in the final round. Many tears were shed!

2. I had major surgery when I was 2 years old which left me with a scar along my hairline from ear to ear. Thankfully, it's covered by my hair, so I don't look like Frankenstein's monster.

3. I used to be a lawyer and met my husband while on work experience in the law firm where he worked.

4. I have two lesbian dogs. In the middle of my father's sixtieth birthday cocktails, there they were, pool-side, doing the nasty while the guests looked on with stifled giggles and gasps. And yes, I realize this is not sexual to them, but an act of dominance. I tried to explain that to my father's friends but they didn't hear me for laughing.

5. I'm addicted to the Antiques Roadshow.

6. I love Indian curries and chocolate, but not together.

7. I played Flora, a floozy from 'Frisco in a high-school musical, 'No no Nanette'.

8. I used to be a gymnast. With a bit of a warm-up, I can still do the splits.

Now, I hereby tag: Denise Rossetti, Jessica Faust, Annie West, Dawn Halliday, Anne Whitfield, Kelly Boyce, Trish Milburn and Caren Crane

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Romance Bandits

Sorry I haven't been around lately. I was KIDNAPPED by these strange women in black masks and forced, FORCED, I tell you, to join in the mayhem over on Romance Bandits:

We're running a contest on Wednesday with lots of great prizes, donated by the banditas themselves. Come and visit and win some bandit treasure!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sending out your Babies

I've been holidaying at the beach with my family, and an incident got me thinking about how I'll handle reviews and comments from strangers on Scandal's Daughter.

My 4 year old son adores the surf. If he's on a beach, he's in the water, regardless of the temperature or what he's wearing. This becomes problematic if we want to go for a walk and stay relatively dry. One of us has to wear a swim suit in case we have to fish a bedraggled rat out of the shallows.

So, for the first time since we began our stay, I had set aside writing time. My parents were staying with us overnight, which means my husband and I had a bit of freedom and while everyone else went to the beach, I was going to stay home and write. I made coffee, found a quiet place in the shade with my laptop and the paperbark trees and scarlet hibiscus to look at and dream and plot. It was quiet, the breeze rustled, the ocean pounded in the distance, but there was no crying baby, no stomping, tromping, singing at the top of his lungs four year old. I had one of the dogs, myself and...

"We're back." All of my family trouped back through the gate.

I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say, my mother, a very loving, protective parent had had a difference of opinion with my husband regarding my 4yo's safety, which had resulted in both her and the baby getting sopping wet. My husband's philosophy is to intervene only when absolutely necessary. In this circumstance, he had not seen the need.

I don't know the right and wrongs of it. There probably aren't any. I removed baby and harness from my mother, washed and dried and dressed baby, and closed my laptop with, I admit, rather bad grace. I didn't get another opportunity to write that day.

But the incident got me thinking, how will I react to criticism of Scandal's Daughter? On the one hand, I believe there is value in reviews, not to the author (definitely not to the author!!), but to readers and to the way the romance genre is discussed and shaped. OK, perhaps reviews benefit authors in terms of sales and creating a buzz but they mess with the creative process, which to most authors is more important than sales. But I digress.

Books are like an author's children, we've all heard that before. So, will I be like my husband and distance myself from the book, thereby giving the critics less power to hurt if they're so inclined? Will I, having dreamed and nurtured the story, honed it and passionately advocated its merits to agents and editors, then set it free? Perhaps avoid reading reviews altogether, as the wonderful author, Anne Gracie told me I should? Or will I clutch it to my chest and defend it (if only in my mind) against any whisper of negativity?

The truth is, I'm not sure. I think even if it were possible, it is not good to distance myself from something that is essentially a part of me. On the other hand, I cannot afford the time, much less the angst and energy wasted on what is really a bunch of subjective and, more often than not conflicting, opinions. Where to draw the line? I suppose I will know, or not, when the time comes.

What about you? How do you handle criticism of your babies?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Interview with Anna Campbell

Anna, it’s lovely to have you here at the Ink Spot. Congratulations on the release of Claiming the Courtesan!

Thank you, Christine. And thank you for asking me to be a guest on your blog. I'm a regular visitor, as you'd know from my copious comments about your words of wisdom. And speaking of your words, can't wait until your book is released. And that cover is to die for! Perhaps I should interview you one day here.

The cover is beautiful, isn't it? Thank you, I'd love you to interview me as long as you promise to be kind!

But let's concentrate on you and this brilliant book that is creating such a sensation. Can you tell us a bit about Claiming the Courtesan?

Claiming the Courtesan is a dark, intense Regency historical that describes the torrid, turbulent relationship between the Duke of Kylemore and his mistress Soraya, London’s most notorious courtesan. Stephanie Laurens called it Regency noir and I’ve got to say that’s the best summing up I can possibly give you.

Wow, I'd give Stephanie Laurens a Rita for that cover quote alone! It fits Claiming the Courtesan perfectly.

Anna, there has been a lot of discussion on the net already about this book and it has been out for less than a week. Would you like to talk about some of the things you’ve read?

It’s been interesting, the reaction to this book, Christine! It’s a lesson to me that when you write something and put it out there in the public domain, it develops an existence completely independent of you. Remember these words when Scandal’s Daughter hits the stands.

Generally there seem to be two camps. People who love it passionately and people who hate it passionately (fortunately definitely in the minority, but quite vocal). All the reviews, though, comment on the fact that it pushes strong buttons emotionally. I know I found it a wrenching book to write so I’m really pleased that some of that powerful emotion I felt telling the story emerged in the final product. A lot of the discussion so far (not that I’ve seen all of it!) focuses on whether one or more of the love scenes count as either forced seduction or rape or neither. Obviously, I’ve got my opinion about that but it’s something people have to make their own minds about.

When you first wrote Claiming the Courtesan, it was uncommon to read about sexually experienced heroines in historical romance and even less common to have a hero and heroine who were thoroughly and intimately acquainted at the beginning of the book. To me, a typical Avon historical romance focuses on the growing awareness and sexual tension between the couple. Yours had already ‘been there, done that’, yet the book is terrifically sexy. What is the romantic journey this couple undertake?

Yes, the goalposts in romance have definitely shifted. I believe it’s the influence of the upsurge in erotica within the mainstream market. When I started writing this book five years ago, I thought a book about a woman who sleeps with men for money would never have a chance of selling. But as you know, I’d completed my first manuscript over twenty years earlier and never published so selling wasn’t really my biggest worry! And these characters were so vivid in my mind that I just couldn’t let them go, difficult and contradictory and damaged and wrong-headed as they were. Probably that’s why they were so vivid! They really were like real people to me, with all the complexity of real people. Strangely by the time I had a polished version of CTC to send off, the heroine’s profession had become a real drawcard both for the agent I sent it to and for the editors who offered to buy it.

I wanted to write a story about two people who were sexually intimate and yet emotional strangers and I wanted to put them in a situation where emotional intimacy was inevitable. And all the deep emotion that they’ve bottled up ignites and threatens to immolate them. Love is risky and dangerous and carries the threat of complete destruction for people like Verity and Kylemore with their tragic histories.

Why are Kylemore and Verity perfect for one another? When the dust settles and they have their Happily Ever After, what qualities will they most enjoy about one another into old age?

Hey, what a fantastic question! This relationship has been tempered in fire like the best steel so I imagine them as a really strong unit with a love that endures any troubles life throws at them. They’ve suffered and fought and faced peril and tragedy together. I think they trust each other totally by the end. And they’re complex enough to keep one another interested, that’s for sure! I also think the fact that they have goals outside their relationship will only draw them closer together. Sadly, Verity will never be accepted in society because of her former profession but she’ll find rewards beyond the value the outside world places on her. She strikes me as a woman who draws satisfaction from a few particularly close relationships rather than a woman with ambitions to be queen of the ton anyway.

I think that's one of the things I admire most about your novel. The circumstances are so extreme, yet it actually could have happened in that era. What is next for you?

My second book Untouched is coming out as an Avon Romantic Treasure in December this year. I describe it as a dark fairy tale and elements of it will surprise people who have read Claiming the Courtesan although it’s still got that sensual, dark atmosphere, I’m glad to say. I think of it as a mixture of Beauty and the Beast and The Sleeping Beauty. But at heart, all my stories are Beauty and the Beast. Funny how those themes just keep cropping up, isn’t it?

I’m currently writing the first draft of my third book, another Regency noir.

Will we see another Kylemoresque hero in Untouched?

Aha, you’ll just have to wait and see! Is he big and gorgeous and moody and passionate like Kylemore? Or is he someone else equally delicious? And yes, I am being annoyingly mysterious. There’s a short introduction to him here: I’ll be putting an excerpt and the back cover blurb on my site at the beginning of May.

I can't wait until December for your next fabulous book. Anna, thank you for a fascinating interview. Best of luck with Claiming the Courtesan!

Thanks, Christine! It’s been fun talking about my books! And best of luck to you with your writing! I’ve read Scandal’s Daughter and it’s amazing.

Aren't you lovely? You can definitely visit here again, Anna! In fact, Anna will be around for the next few days to chat. It promises to be a lively discussion!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Reality Romance

Recently, I changed direction on a book I'm writing, thanks mainly to Jenny Crusie and a timely reminder about the conflict lock. If you're a writer, Jenny's and Bob Mayer's writing workshop is a must.

But what clinched it for me was the sense that although I had a marketable high concept for my book, in real life, the story wouldn't have happened. When I read historicals, I have no trouble suspending disbelief. I enjoy some 'Regency lite' novels as I would a fairy tale. Unless Regency characters speak like modern American teenagers (but that's another post) or the Battle of Waterloo takes place in 1810, I don't really mind that the author has bent the era to suit a rattling good story. But when I write, I need to feel that my story could have happened. And since the era itself is so fascinating, that leaves a lot of room to move.

What about you? How does historical inaccuracy affect your enjoyment of historicals? What are the unforgivable sins?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Be Still My Heart...

Not only is Jenny Crusie coming to our Romance Writers of Australia conference, but Anne Stuart is, too!

Happy dancing over here. This is going to be our best conference yet.

Pity about that Sunday afternoon workshop I have to do...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Interview with KJ Howe, American Title III Finalist

Hi Kim, welcome! You’re down to the final round in American Title III with your novel ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS. Congratulations! Can you tell me how you came to the decision to enter the contest? It’s not for the faint-hearted!

My Toronto RWA chapter-mate and friend, Michele Ann Young, was in the top four of the American Title II contest with her historical NO REGRETS. Although the contest was like running a marathon backwards in a snowstorm with bare feet, she couldn’t say enough about the opportunity. When I received the e-mail from Liz French that I had been chosen as one of ten finalists, I could hardly believe it. From there, it has been a wild ride and now I feel incredibly lucky to be in the top two!

What’s the most positive experience you’ve had as a contestant? I noticed you’ve garnered praise even from Flavia, notoriously the hardest judge of the three.

Yes, Flavia has the most wonderfully scathing way of communicating. When she said that she could easily see my love scene in a romantic suspense novel sitting on the shelf at the local bookstore, my response was, “Smelling salts, please!”

Seriously, the most uplifting experience from the contest was that readers responded so positively to my non-traditional heroine and setting. I love sailing into uncharted territory and it’s nice to discover so many people share my wanderlust.

Besides ATIII, you’ve won quite a few awards. What do you think is the value of entering contests? What are the pitfalls?

Great question. Contests can definitely work to your advantage, but there are a few land mines that you have to watch for. My best advice is to enter contests with a strategy in mind. For example, as a new writer, you may want feedback on your story and craft skills. There are judges out there who take the time to line edit your prose and you can learn amazing technical tips by studying their suggested changes. Other judges have a knack for homing in on plot holes.

If you are further along in your career, you may enter a contest based on the editors/agents that will view your work. For example, as a direct result of winning the Bobbi Smith Creative Challenge I signed with my agent Evan Marshall. Good things can come from contests. However, with postage costs and entry fees, you may want to choose carefully.

There are also potential pitfalls in contests. Contest judges come in many shapes and sizes. Most are incredibly kind people who volunteer their time and talent to provide valuable feedback to aspiring writers. However, there are less civil-minded folks out there as well. If you’re a sensitive soul (aren’t all writers?), it can really hurt if a judge is less than complimentary. For example, ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS was a finalist in an annual event judged by booksellers. When I received my marks back (manuscripts were judged on a scale from 1-7) , I had all sixes and sevens, except for one judge who gave me a 1 in every category. When asked what she liked about the manuscript, she said “nothing.” Okay, that’s constructive. But there’s a happy ending to this story—ONE SHOT won that contest despite the judge’s negativity.

Now, on to the story itself. Please tell us a bit about your characters and how they meet.

Three years ago, Kenya Alexikova was on a routine mission in Sierra Leone for the U.S. Army. Kenya and her partner were on a mission to eliminate a faceless predator who was selling arms to North Korea and killing hundreds of innocents. When they arrived at the target’s location, Kenya stared into her sights...and froze. The faceless predator was Kenya’s sociopathic brother. Her failure to fire resulted in her partner’s death. Devastated by the situation, she refused to debrief, leaving the psychologist in charge of her case no choice but to medically discharge her.

Three years later, Kenya is running a dive charter in St. Lucia, trying to forget the painful memories of her past. CIA psychologist Jack Travis boards her boat, assigned to recruit her to recover a sunken Russian satellite. What Kenya doesn’t know is Jack was the attending psychologist at her debriefing, the man she refused to meet.

Did I mention who else was interested in recovering the satellite? That’s right. Kenya’s brother. He discovered who was responsible for the failed assassination and is bent on revenge.

Wow! Sounds like an action-packed thriller. The male psychologist/female operative is an intersting twist. I love a man with brains. What do you think makes your hero, Jack Travis, sexy?

His mind. His Southern accent. His abs.

He sounds like my kind of guy! Let's talk about the romance side of things. Why are your hero and heroine perfect for one another?

Jack is the one man who can help Kenya overcome her past mistakes, conquer her brother, and find redemption. Kenya can assist Jack with his own demons. When Jack lost his son in a dirt bike accident, his marriage fell apart. Since then, his life has been his work. Jack is surprised when he is more interested in healing Kenya’s wounds than exploiting them.

Why romantic suspense? It is a tough market for a new author to break into. What do you think it takes to sell a debut RS novel?

I don’t think I had a choice; dead bodies kept showing up in my novels. J Seriously, romantic suspense is my passion, has been since I read such masters as Lisa Gardner, Sandra Brown, Merline Lovelace, and Karen Robards. I love the thrill inherent in fast-paced romantic suspense novels and the requisite hot, steamy sex.

The romantic suspense market is chock full of talented writers, so it makes it very difficult for new writers to break in. I think you need to have a fresh voice or idea that makes you stand out. A large portion of romance suspense is based on the woman in jeopardy story. I decided to do a little twist on that. My sniper heroine is more than capable of handling herself in physical situations. Her jeopardy comes from her emotional vulnerability.

What do you think is the key to writing a good romantic suspense novel? How do you achieve a good balance between the romance and the suspense plot?

Merline Lovelace does a fabulous workshop on weaving romance with suspense. She shares the crucial fact that every scene must move the plot forward in one of these two areas, or—better yet—both.

Do you have any experience you draw upon to enrich your plots?

My dad is a very adventurous man. He finds scuba diving with sharks, doing aerobatics in small planes, rallying cars in Africa, and completing desert treks across Saudi Arabia a wonderful way to spend Sunday afternoon. We also had quite a few close calls during these outings. Growing up with him was like going to preparatory school for writing adventure and suspense novels.

What is your top writing tip? Your top tip for promoting yourself as a writer? Your top motivational tip?

Writing tip: Just when you think you can’t, go deeper into the emotions of your characters. Tapping into that well will help you connect on a primal level with your readers.

Promotional tip: Build a strong network of friends by taking the time to help out others. When you need advice or assistance, they will be there for you. Building good karma is always wise.

Motivational tip: This is a very personal choice and I think it is best to look inside yourself and accept what really motivates you. I’m happy to share mine and I hope that it’ll inspire you to find your mantra. I love it when someone says I can’t do something. I’ll bend over backwards, turn myself into a pretzel, and work myself into a frenzy proving them wrong.

What, besides the contract I know you’re going to get, do you hope to take away from the ATIII experience?

Ha! Thanks for the vote of confidence, but until Dorchester gives me something in writing, I’m not counting my chickens. The ATIII experience has really widened my contacts. I’ve met some very interesting people. I’ve also realized that being an author is not just about writing. To be successful in this business, you really need to communicate with people. I would recommend that writers take a media communications course. I think I’ll be signing up for one after the wonderful boot camp I had with American Title III.

Thanks for taking the time to interview me, Christine. I wish you every success with your September release, SCANDAL’S DAUGHTER!

Thanks, Kim, and best of luck to you, too!
If you want to find out more about Kim and her writing, please visit her website. To vote for Kim in American Title III, click here. Voting ends March 4, so hurry and get your vote in now!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Traitor Earl

If you like reading Regency-set historicals, you have probably picked up a lot about titles and heredity. The history behind titles is endlessly fascinating. Some were old by the Regency, some newly created. Some were earned nobly for services to Crown and Country, or in battle, like Wellington's dukedom, others by being in the right place at the right time, being the bastard son or even the mistress of Charles II, currying favour with the monarch of the day, or managing to turn your coat at the right time.

You have probably read about families who 'came over with the Conqueror'. But did you know that only one English family today can show clear descent from a pre-conquest Englishman? It's the Arden Family, whose ancestor was Thorkell of Arden in Warwick, a Saxon Earl.

Thorkell refused to fight with King Harold against the Norman invasion, so William the Conqueror (above) allowed him to keep his lordship and his holdings. He was the only Saxon allowed to remain a lord, while the rest of the incumbent nobility had their titles and lands confiscated. Sadly for Thorkell (dubbed the Traitor Earl), William's son, William Rufus, created the earldom of Warwick for a Norman noble and gave him Thorkell's land. Thus, the betrayer was betrayed. But the title 'Earl of Warwick' survives to this day.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Stealing Time

I've just risen from the bed of killer flu, so I hope this is coherent. Actually, I feel better than I have for months, because for once, there was no choice between sleep or writing, sleep or writing, I just had to sleep, fairly solidly, for two days while my mother (superwoman, extraordinaire) took care of everything else. I'm actually happy with the beginning of my new book now, which is something like a landmark event if you know me (EEYORE!), so things are looking up.

It's pretty sad when you have to get to a state of total collapse before you're granted a good night's sleep, but I have only myself to blame. I don't tend to let other people do things for me, I have taken on far too much work for others and put it ahead of my own and I haven't been efficient enough with the time I do have at the computer.

When I decided to write and have children in tandem, I didn't bargain for how hard it would be. Not just finding the time to sit down by yourself at the computer--sitting by yourself on the toilet is often too much to ask!--but getting back into the zone, that magical place where your story lives, after dealing with children all day can be difficult, especially when you feel as if you could sleep for the next fortnight, given the chance.

I don't think I could live without writing and I definitely wouldn't give back my beautiful boys, so I just have to get on with things the best way I can. Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. And sneaking off with my Neo when I'm supposed to be grocery shopping. An extra half hour here or there isn't going to be noticed, is it?

So what about you? If you have children, spouse, pets, gardens, other responsibilities, how do you get into the zone? How do you steal time to write?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I thought this meme from Kelly Boyce's blog was fun, so I tagged myself!

Contemporary, Historical, or Paranormal?
Historical, but when I'm writing the first draft of my own historicals I often switch to contemporary, if I read romance at all.

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback?
MMP--easier to take with me everywhere. I hate wasting time on trains, in doctors' waiting rooms, etc, so I always take a book. Mass market paperbacks can be jammed into my handbag.

Heyer or Austen?
That is a tough one! I'd probably have to say Heyer, since I've read her books so many times I've lost count, while I've probably read my favourite Austens fewer than 10 times.

Amazon or Brick and Mortar?
Brick and Mortar. I love leafing through books, holding them in my hands, picking up ones that catch my eye. And shipping to Australia is expensive! Amazon is fabulous for research books, though.

Woodiwiss or Lindsay?
Um, I think I'd have to say Lindsay, although I haven't read enough of either of their books to judge.

Alphabetize by author Alphabetize by title or random?
I keep authors' books together on the shelf, but otherwise tend to arrange by the tone of the book and subject matter. Is that weird? I'm not an organised person but I can usually find what I want.

Keep, Throw Away or Sell?
Keep. Or give away to good homes!

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
Remove. Can't stand them. They get in the way.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
Stop reading when fall asleep or more often due to some interruption or other. Rarely at chapter breaks.

It was a dark and stormy night or Once upon a time?
Can I be corny and say Once upon a time? I adore fairytales, as long as they don't involve doves pecking people's eyes out. That image stayed with me for years after I read The Brothers Grimm's Cinderella. Grimm is right!

Crusie or SEP?
Impossible to answer. Love them both. Why do I have to choose? Who thought of this meme anyway? OK, Crusie by a whisker.

Buy or Borrow?
Buy if I can.

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger?
Tidy ending. I love romance, after all.

Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading?
If only it could be all of the above! But it tends to be Nighttime these days.

Series or standalone?
Series, if the series community is interesting enough to make me want to revisit them. Not if series means every book is the same.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Wideacre, by Philippa Gregory. I've enjoyed her original fiction more than her books about real historical figures. I'm sure Wideacre well-known, just not as popular as her more recent books.

Monday, February 05, 2007

It's Here!!!

Isn't it beautiful? I love it!

Friday, January 26, 2007


Have you heard the term PLU? It stands for People Like Us. I'm sure this term was originally coined by elitist snobs, but I use it in another sense. I can always tell if someone is PLU by the books they adore.

There is something wonderfully uniting about loving the same book as someone else, discussing it with them as if you're mulling over the problems, loves and triumphs of mutual friends. Nothing beats it--except perhaps when someone talks to you about one of your own books as if they know your characters intimately. Although it's a little disconcerting when they mention some minor character you'd forgotten all about:)

Not very long ago, I was giggling with fellow writer Anna Campbell over the mere concept of receiving fan-mail. To my astonishment, the other day, I received my first letter from someone with whom I had no connection, who said she loved the excerpt on my website and wanted to know why it was taking my book so long to come out.

What a wonderful feeling! I'm guessing she's PLU.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Anti-Rant...Rant

There's no doubt about it, romance as a genre has a bad name among the uninitiated. Whenever I see a poorly-informed, dismissive article about romance in a newspaper or on the internet, I feel indignant. Or at least I used to. Now it doesn't bother me quite so much.

I've learned that it's almost impossible to change someone else's opinion about something, particularly if it is based on nothing but prejudice. And most particularly if you are working from the inside. Of course a romance writer is going to defend the genre. Why would our words carry weight with someone determined to despise us?

So I think the best way to deal with the critics is to show them what a great time we're having over here. Romance is the definitive popular fiction. That's not to say romances can't have literary merit or social impact, but let's all acknowledge that the intent of romance is to entertain. And in that it succeeds extremely well.

In fact, it makes up 39.3% of all fiction sold.

Can you hear me chortle?

So what about you? Why do you read romance?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Speaking of Covers...

Here is Anna Campbell's cover for Claiming the Courtesan.

The moody, moonlit scene fits her dark, exquisitely written story perfectly, and I absolutely loved the coloured version of the scene, which would have looked great as a step-back (hint, hint! Avon, are you listening?) but is on the back cover instead.

If you want to check out the heroine's beautiful rose-coloured gown and the hero's no less beautiful chest, take a look at Anna's website.

Read the excerpt, and you won't be able to wait until the release date in April, you'll have to order your copy NOW!

I'll be doing an interview with Anna on this blog when her book comes out, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Alex the Dog: Great News!

Alex has fully recovered her eyesight! The miracle of modern veterinarian science--did you know there are dog opthalmologists? She is still a little sluggish because of her medication, but the vet assures us she will be back and bouncing in no time. What a huge relief!

Under Cover

There are two things writing with a view to publication teaches you: humility and patience. Or at least it should! Not sure I'm qualified to gauge how much humility I have acquired, but I certainly don't seem to have learned patience!

My editor emailed the day before yesterday to say that she had seen the cover for my book, SCANDAL'S DAUGHTER, that it was fabulous (and my editor is not an overly effusive person, so I'm guessing it really IS fabulous) and she would send it to me in jpeg form as soon as she could.

And that was all.

I don't know anything more than that. Not the subject matter, the mood, the colour scheme. Nothing. Nada.

Can everyone hear my tortured scream?

When I sold, I thought the agony of waiting for contest results, requests and rejections would be over. OK, perhaps I wasn't that naive, but unconsciously I did expect more instant gratification. I'm here to tell you, folks, that once you get 'the call' there is even more waiting, the wait is longer in many instances and, because you have more riding on it, the wait is even more excruciating!!

And of course I have no say in what the cover will be and I don't intend to argue about it, no matter what it is. The marketing and art departments at Berkley know a lot more than I do about what sells. When we discussed the cover, I sent my editor a document with a heap of pictures that I had been collecting throughout the editing stage of my book--settings, actors who look like my characters and other authors' covers I love. I knew when I sent this that it would probably be disregarded but that didn't matter. I had done all I could to put my views across. It made ME feel better, and that counts for a lot when you're a neurotic, control-freak like me.

Now, it's out of my hands. Nothing I can do except--you guessed it--wait. ::whimper::

And don't worry, as soon as I get the go ahead, I'll be posting that cover everywhere I can think of! So, er, maybe I haven't quite learned that humility lesson either.

What about you? What covers do you love? Did a cover ever make you buy the book?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Rainy Days and Sundays

I'm at the beach and it's raining. We have had a drought where I live this year, so we are not allowed to water our gardens or wash our cars with hoses, unprecedented restrictions in our water-happy corner of the world. Despite installing tanks and using what water we can collect to keep our garden alive, a once magnificent staghorn on our leopardwood tree is dry and riddled with ants and the rest of the garden is looking sparser and sadder by the week.

I try to remind myself of these things when I sit in our beach-side apartment and PINE for sunny weather. But I am here with a 3 year old with a mania for doors and light switches and a 3 month old baby, and goodness knows what I will find to entertain them for a week of rainy days.

Hm, perhaps I can tell them a story...