Wednesday, April 30, 2008

National Year of Reading

In the UK, there is a new government back initiative -- the National Year of Reading. To help launch the year, they have produced an advert -- a mash of celebrities reading out loud. It is wonderful. Part of it has a man reading a M&B Modern in a bar. I am still trying to figure out which Modern.

Anyway, another part of the scheme is to have a Writer in Residence in each of the 149 library authorities. I was chosen to be the Writer in Residence for Northumberland. It was confirmed yesterday. So I get to help Northumberland celebrate the National Year of Reading. Hooray. Libraries are so important. I love and adore them. There is just a certain something about the possibilities...
And to quote the end of the advert -- reading any time, anywhere.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday morning blahs

Yesterday, I basically took the day off. I also did the bees as I am attempting to remove a brood box and the boxes desperately needed to be reversed for this to happen.
A small point -- bees get v tetchy before a thunderstorm. Cue -- multiple bee stings.
Beekeeping where you take the sting with the sweet.
Anyway, the first stage of the process is done and I have put ointment on the stings. My pride is also slightly hurt. And I should have listened to my gut instinct rather than my dh's blandishment of oh look how still and warm it has become...
After being stung, I did sit down and watch What Women Want -- it is very amusing , but it is all about the Mel Gibson's character's growth arc, rather than the growth arc of his romantic interest.
Today is a day for doing little jobs and not letting the day get away from me. I should clean. I am making bread. And will probably do a batch of peanut butter cookies for when the children come home as we now do have enough sugar in the house. Making bread can be very therapeutic and the price of bread has gone up far more than the price of flour and yeast. It makes sense once again to bake. I tend to make much less exotic bread than my dh. He likes doing the chile cheese breads, and breads that seem to take ages and then go with savoury meals only. I prefer the sort of every day bread that can be used for a number of different things.
He learnt to bake bread when I refused to make chile cheese bread. He is now convinced that he makes better bread... I say it all depends on what you are using it for...
In one sense, I have finished the wip but in another I am in a holding pattern. It can't be submitted until I know about the revisions of the last one. My editor has promised the revisions by the end of the week....
The thing to do is to start the longer more complex historical that I have been threatening to write. I have done my research which helps.
But I keep thinking that awful question --WHY. Why is is it important for my hero to be behaving the way he is. Why is it important for my heroine and why is she over him at the start and why will she fall in love with the person that he is now? It is always all about the people they are now, not hte people they were back when they first knew each other. Although they may carry the guilt, hurt and anger forward. People can not change the past. They can only go forward.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finished the first draft

I have finally finished the first draft of the current Viking. I feel that it went very slow. Or maybe it was just me. I certainly did not feel the pressure to write 3k per day which I normally do. It remains to be seen how good this one is once it is revised.
Next week, I should get my revisions for the manuscript that I turned in in January. That's fine. I know how my editor works and I also know her suggestions and thoughts will be easy to follow and be sound.
There are many things to recommend being finished with one manuscript and then going back and revising another. It is a nice luxury to have. In theory it should mean that I have objectivity and can see what needs to be done far quicker. We shall see.
With current Viking, I think the revising will go quickly as well.
It means that I now re-enter the world of Regency/early Victorian which shall be fun. I am currently rereading Christina Hardyment's Behind the Scenes -- Domestic Arrangements in Historic Houses and getting lots of ideas. One interesting bit was about brewing being seen as women's work as it happened indoors. Hence the prevalence of ale-wives during the late middle ages. It is so easy to forget how important ale and beer were. I tend to think of the wine cellars, but the brew house was perhaps more important.
I find myself to be interested in the whole preservation side of cooking. The various larders, rooms and outbuildings that were used and how estates strove to be self-sufficient. It is so easy to forget.
But mostly I am glad to be finished as you can not do revising/editing without a first draft, and that includes the ending...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Amantes del Romance

Yesterday, my copies of Siete dias sin besos (the Spanish version of Sold & Seduced) arrived. I had not relised that it was part of the Amantes del Romance collection that Harlequin Iberica has published. The entire collection is listed at the back of Siete dias sin besos and I discovered that Taken by the Viking will be part of this collection as well, entitled --La Amante del vikingo. I think it comes out in May.

From what I could tell from the website, they are putting out a book a week,so I am assuming that this will carry on and La Amante del vikingo will be out the third week of May.

When I first saw the cover, I was somewhat confused,-- what was the picture. But then after I got the books, I understood. the black and white photos is a naked male torso with a highlight of a gold Roman coin being the only colour. Each of the different time periods have a differnt medallion/gold bit highltlighted. For example Carolyn Davidson's has a cowboy's belt buckle.

I was severely tempted by the covers even though I don't speak Spanish!

Here is the blurb about the series:

Nunca antes Harlequin ha lanzado una colección igual, los mejores Amantes a lo largo de toda la historia: highlanders, jeques, piratas, lords, vikingos, romanos... Novelas apasionantes que te enamorarán desde la primera a la última página. Oferta de lanzamiento El Corazón de un rebelde (Highlanders) por sólo 2,90 €, y en la segunda salida llévate un libro de REGALO: Pasado oculto (Caballeros del Oeste) y La cautiva del vikingo (Vikingos) por sólo 5,90€. Recuerda, tu colección Amantes ya está en tu punto de venta... Tentaciones que seducen
Si quieres suscribirte a esta colección mándanos a los siguientes datos:Nombre y apellidos, dirección, código Postal, población, provincia, DNI, fecha de nacimiento, teléfono y correo electrónico. Si ya has adquirido algún libro de esta colección en tu punto de venta dínoslo y te haremos la suscripción a partir del siguiente número.
Suscripciones sólo para España

And the postman has just brought me a copy of Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance, the 2nd edition. there is far more jammed packed into this addition, including advice from various authors (like me). Anyway, it is fascinating to see how other authors work and the little twists etc. the thing about writing romance is that it is such a vast field, you never stop learning and polishing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blogging Away

Today, I have done several guest blogs. I don't know how it happened but I ended up on the same day for several places.
On the Pink Heart Society, I am talking about Elizabeth Cadell who is one of my favourite authors from when I first started reading romance. I have been very excited about doing this post as she is one of the authors whose work sticks in my mind. She also sold her first book to Robert Hale and that little connection made me smile.
On Love is An Exploding Cigar, I am talking about creating fictional worlds. As Elizabeth Cadell created such a fantastic fictional worlds, I suppose they are slightly linked. Anyway, I have never blogged there, so do come and drop by. Sam Hunter seems to be very welcoming.
Finally, on Unusual Historicals, I have done a Thursday 13 on causes of the Viking Age. This month the theme is social movements and the Viking phenomenon did give its name to an age. Viking is a verb and means to plunder. It comes from Vik or bay. Vikingr was a man from a bay.
Taken by the Viking is probably in the shops in the US now. Certainly it is in stock on It went in and out of stock earlier this week, and now they are saying one copy remaining. Sometimes, I think Amazon have small quantities. Anyway, I am assured that plenty have been printed and you can find it at lots of places.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A surfiet of pheasants

For some reason a gorgeous cock pheasant has taken up residence in the garden in the early morning. I suspect it has to do with the little bits of grain left over from the hens and ducks. But I just jumped when he suddenly called outside my study window.
Yesterday, I kept seeing male pheasants when I took my dd to her riding lesson. I think I counted about a dozen all told, plus two dead on the road. There are pheasant shoots around here and so a pheasant or two is not a surprise, but so many! And all male. It is the starting of the breeding season and the plumage was magnificent.
I was reminded of the Roald Dahl story -- Danny Champion of the World where they go out pheasant poaching with gin soaked raisins. I think my favourite bit of the story is the interaction between the father and son. Unlike some of Dahl's work, my children did like the story. My eldest refused to have other books by him like The Witches in the house and used to suffer from nightmares. There are problems with active imaginations...
Pheasants are beautiful birds but it is rather unusual to see so many. When I first moved up to Northumberland, I used to see them regularly and then they disappeared for a while...but it is good to have them back as it were. Apparently you are not allowed to pick up any pheasant you hit on the road, but can pick one up that is dead...
Anne McAllister has moved on from trying to get ducks into a row and has chosen frogs as this year's symbol for getting everything pulled together. I have not idea about what it would like to drive pheasants...or is it beat? Several of my eldest's friends do occasionally work as beaters on shoots.
Anyway, we do seem to have a wider variety of bird life in area and this is good. As there are red kites further down the Tyne Valley, I am hopeful that we will get several over the garden.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Getting towards the end

I have nearly finished this wip. And it is proving that each story is different. Normally the first few chapters go very slow, but this time, it feels like the last few chapters.
This one reminds me the most of writing Sold & Seduced. Basically, I reached a certain point and suddenly realised that I was a lot nearer the end than I had thought, but had forgotten several steps in the middle.
Anyway, things are starting to come together. And then it will be editing and revising which is where the fun bit begins.
Liz Fenwick highlighted an interview with an editor where the editor of a thriller publisher said that the editor was a bit like a building inspector -- i.e. the editor gives a list of problems with perhaps possible solutions but it is up to the author to solve those problems. This is very true. Authors do need to come up with their own solutions. And it is all about the story working for the reader and not falling down.
But right now I need to make sure my foundations are sound because you can't build a story without an ending.

Oh and it is the Taken by the Viking release party at Unusual Historicals today.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

HH Editors at Romance Vagabonds

In case anyone was wondering about the current state of play at HH, both Linda Fildew, sr editor and Joanne Carr, editor answered questions over at Romance Vagabonds yesterday. There were very detailed answers on what is happening at HH and what they are looking for. If anyone is interested in the line, then they should read the editors' precise words.
The biggest thing is that the appetite for Georgian/Regency/Victorian popularity shows no sign of abating and while people at conferences/on blogs etc say that they want other time periods, the sales do not match the sales of Regency. However, they are going to continue to offer other time period.
Westerns consistently finish in the top half of sales in the NA market , according to Linda Fildew. Westerns are available on UK direct and sporadically in other overseas markets. Frontier stories resonate more with the reader of historical Westerns than urban set ones.
In other words, HH are very comfortable with the mix at the moment. The editors did highlight the move towards sexier historicals. But Joanne Carr also pointed out that they have always offered a range of sexuality and will continue to do so. It is just that they are highlighting the super sexy with the Undone miniseries label.
Linda F doesn't usually appear on blogs and so it was tremendously exciting to see her there. I thought she did a wonderful job.
In other news:
Smart Bitches has reported that Cassie Edwards and Signet have parted ways due to editorial differences and Signet will no longer be publishing her or her backlist and have returned rights to Ms Edwards. The announcement says it all really.
The basic lesson here is to not be sloppy when writing. Do not directly quote and make sure that everything is done through the filter of your character's POV. You have the right to use facts but they must be expressed in your own words. It is also impossible to unknowingly channel another writer to the extent that you are plagiarising. Therefore, keep to your own voice. Express the ideas in your own words. No one owns ideas, just the way they are expressed. Your voice is unique to you so make sure you use it.
Acknowledging sources is a good idea -- either at the front of a book or with an author's note at the back. Personally I love author's notes and am pleased when I get to do them. And I also list all my major sources on my shelfari page. Then I love research. But when I put it in my books, it is always through the filter of my characters.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blogging at Romance Vagabonds

Today is the Other Time Period day at Romance Vagabonds. On offer is a signed copy of Taken by the Viking...
Also I would be delighted to chat about other time periods, research...switching periods...anything really.
Then tomorrow, I am Tote Bags & Blogs. And on Sunday I am doing a launch for Taken by the Viking on Unusual Historicals. So there are lots of places to win a signed copy.
In between all this, I need to finish my latest Viking. I know I have been thinking this for several weeks and it is one of those things -- no two manuscripts are written the same. This one went quickly at the beginning but now feels like it is going slowly. And I suspect that it will need a lot of editing. Very curate's egg -- some parts very good, other parts not so good. But the polishing and editing comes later. When writing the first draft, you have to concentrate on getting the semblance of a story down. Things like repetition and circular dialogue can be fixed. And sometimes, it is a function of not knowing where it exactly goes. Also I am not one of those people who thinks that there should be little or no revision. Books are made in the revising process. It does not have to be perfect the first time. No book is ever stamped -- it took the writer 50 goes to get this sentence correct.
Duck update: they seem to be resigned to having their access to the neighbours' garden curtailed. I do not think any duck is sitting.The latest nest was discovered in the bee garden and done away with...The other good part is the sky rocketing price of grain seems to have stabilised and stopped. It remains 50% more than this time last year. I suspect most of the increase has yet to reach the UK supermarket shelves as most commercial farmers buy their grain forward...and the supermarkets also negotiate a fixed price. But it is coming. The increase in the grain price is due to the increase in bio fuels and poor harvest, but bio fuels are a major contributing factor...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More on nettles

Liz Fenwick's comment about encountering nettles on her first date with her husband reminded me of my first encounter with nettles.
It was on my first wedding anniversary. My dh had to go to a professional do. The lunch was held in a marquee in the grounds of a lovely old house out in the Shire. My dh went off to play cricket and as it was a hot day, I thought I would go swimming. Apparently there was a swimming hole and the water was refreshing. The man hosting the lunch had measured his length in it that morning and proclaimed it fit for swimming.
Anyway, I duly changed, and went in search of said swimming hole. I was wearing shorts. I can't remember ever finding it, but I did encounter thigh high nettle patches. Lots of them.
Now, I had never had any problem with poison oak. My brother and I used to play in it as children -- much to my mother's disgust. So I will admit to being arrogant and not thinking that I would get much of a reaction,.
I was wrong. Agony.
Yes, my dh said I should have applied dock leaves when I complained later that day. But I had never encountered the plant before, and he was busy playing cricket... He was sympathetic though and did go to the chemist to get anti-itch cream.
Then about eight weeks later when we went to Crete, a new rash appeared exactly where I had stung my legs. Agony a second time.
Ever since I have been careful about nettle stings. Unfortunately the garden does have nettles and I am chief nettle puller. Once I was stung so bad that it looked like I had burnt my neck and the sting took ages to heal.
Depending on the time of year and the plant, the potency of the sting varies.
Grasping the nettle is fine, but still produces a reaction. Leather gloves are the best option. As is weeding in long sleeves and long pants.
Anyway, the nettles are beckoning and growing, so I shall have to don my thick gloves and go out and weed.
Because nettles are rich in iron, they are recommended for anemia, post infection, post labour and liver problems. Other uses include sunburn relief, back pain/arthritis problems and dandruff. It needs to be made into a tea or tonic first. Personally I think there are easier ways.

In other news my author copies of Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife arrived today. So I am busy getting the review copies sent out...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April Reader's contest

I have drawn the winners from my newsletter contest.
They are:
Jackie Wisherd who wins a hardback copy of Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife

Crystal Broyles who wins a paperback copy of one of my backlist books.
I will be doing another contest with my May newsletter.
My newsletter is free and includes details about my upcoming books, writing tips, recipes as well as contests for my books (and sometimes for critques) -- just in case anyone was interested.

Wild garlic and stinging nettles

The wild garlic is up. It has been for several days but yesterday was the first day that I really considered using it. Wild garlic and potato soup is a good combo. Wild garlic always reminds me of spring and old woods.
The white anemones (another indication of an old wood) are nearly out in the dene. Therefore, I suspect the wood has been there awhile. The bluebells will be out soon and the scillas are providing a blue haze. The daffodils remain in bloom and the poet's eyes leaves are up. In other words, Spring is advancing.
The other thing I noticed yesterday in the garden was the stinging nettles. The stinging nettles are only making clumps at the moment and I can kid myself that maybe this year, I will be able to get on top of them...or they won't be so bad.
Now is the time to use stinging nettles in cooking. Nettle soup is fine. Nettles are a versatile plant. If you wash the young nettles and then blanch them in boiling water, there is no problem with being stung. But do use gloves to collect as their sting can be quite fierce.
Nettles taste a bit like gritty spinach. And yes, it does beg the question...But they do have lots of vitamin C. I have used nettles in the past -- nettle souffle, nettle pasta and nettle soup. the children are not that fond of nettles. They prefer spinach...
Stinging nettles are found where there has been human habitation. Some times, they are used to determine previously used sites.
In very poor regions including Scotland, there was a tradition of weaving with nettles. Think the fairy tale -- the Wild Swans. It makes a linen type cloth. Rather than the young nettles that you use for cooking, it is the old stalks. Theses are soaked and the fibres extracted. I have never tried spinning and weaving nettles, but was intrigued to learn as I have always loved the fairy tale about the king's daughter whose brothers were turned to swans.
Nettles are also good for making into plant food. Dunk a bag of nettles into a water butt and leave. Then dilute for use on plants. And they are an important source of food for butterflies. Hence, why you should leave a clump or two -- this is not a problem in my garden.
But at the moment, I do fondly think that somehow, I will be able to get on top of the nettles and the brambles. The garden is coming on and the trees are growing, but come a few weeks, the nettles will be knee high once again...
Duck update:
When thinking about the nettles and wild garlic, I realised that there was now a huge gap between the bottom of the water gate and the stream bed. I was all for fixing it this morning when the ducks were safely in bed. BUT my dh insisted we did this yesterday afternoon. He thought he had herded all the ducks back from the neighbour's garden, BEFORE fixing the gate. Uh no. One male duck remained and we attempted to catch it but it eluded us in the ruined gloom that is the neighbour's part of the dene. Hopefully, I and my eldest will be able to catch it this morning. My eldest was at work at the castle last evening.
My Viking first draft is nearly finished.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Harlequin Historical at Romance Vagabonds

This week, the lovely ladies at Romance Vagabonds are hosting Harlequin Historical authors. Each day is devoted to a different time period. Today is the Medieval cum renaissance. Tomorrow is Georgian/Regency/Victorian. Wednesday is Western and Thursday is Hybrid where I am blogging. Hybrid is the term they are using for authors who write in more than one time period. It was going to be exotic but they settled on hybrid. I feel a bit like a plant species. LOL. But I can see the problems. All other time periods is a bit vague and the authors in question do write in a number of time periods.
Joanne Carr is rounding out the week on Friday and she will be blogging about recent happenings and trends at HH.
There will also be giveaways through out the week, including on Thursday a copy of Taken by the Viking.
The winner of my Kate Walker launch party prize has been drawn and it was Jane Cheung. She emailed back to say that she has never read a historical set in ancient Rome...I noticed on that Sold & Seduced is no longer available as a new book. There are 13 copies left as used though. This is one of the Romans that has yet to appear in the North American market. I think it is going to appear at some point...
Kate hardy asked about how the ducks were settling. They are fine, but have developed a habit of going over into the neighbour's garden. One duck is especially fond of tapping on the lower windows and asking for bread and scraps...Unfortunately, between the stream and the water gate, it is probably impossible to keep them confined, particularly as they have found a food source...
I do need to get my Viking finished. Normal service was disrupted by my pulling a tendon in my right arm. Serves me right for trying a new exercise.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The saga of the runaway duck

This week we had a runaway duck. He was a fully paid up member of the Drones club and so served no useful purpose. We had not really realised he had gone. This is bad but we do lose ducks from time to time to the fox.
Anyway, the first thing we knew about it, various neighbours were stopping to ask us if the duck in the bathtub was ours. Now, the directions were not precise, so we looked in the wrong direction until another neighbour called and gave us specific instructions.
It was down the bank and across the road and I am not entirely sure why or how the duck got there. However I suspect that it did not waddle...
My dh and youngest duly went out, armed with the fishing net and determination. Sure enough the duck was there, and sure enough, the duck eluded capture. My dh came back annoyed ( again predicatable).
I had to clip all the remaining ducks' wings. This was done in the evening after they went to bed and therefore were docile and easy to capture.
The next morning, the ducks were most surprised to discover that their shorts flights over the pen's fence and down the dene were curtailed.
My eldest was eventually dispatched to see if he could catch the duck. At first -- no duck, and then the duck popped its head over the bathtub to see what was going on. Down swooped the net and the runaway duck was caught... (again predictable as my eldest has good hand eye coordiantion and knows about duck habits)
His wings have been clipped.
I remain hopeful that his days of adventuring are over.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A larger cover for Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife has put up the cover for Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife and I have checked. It is on as well. This means that the cover will be on the other non US Amazon sites. The US site only carries those books which are released in the North American market. It is just the way Amazon works... I am afraid, but the non appearance of covers was bothering me a lot, so I am pleased.

People do judge books by their covers and their titles. And I know that there are book that I have bought based on the look of the cover alone. The choosing of covers is very much a marketing decision. But I do like the feel of this one. I also love the fact that it has the M&B centenary logo on it.
One thing that all the authors had to do for the centenary was to write a dear reader explaining a little bit about what the centenary means to them...
This book is also dedicated to e-harlequin, and in particular the Struggling Writers, and the Mouse & Pen and the Library. The Library thread has now become Love Historical Style but the same people hang out there. Anyway, I thought it appropriate. And I happen to really like this book and so am excited about its release in the UK in June...
My paperbacks should be arriving any day.
But I need to get my current Viking done and out of the way. I am at point when it starts to consume my life and I just want to write. And it started off so well as well. SOme days it does feel like the words are hard won.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Launch party for Kate Walker

Kate Walker who has long served as a mentor to me (even before she knew I existed!) is having a luanch party for the second edition of her 12 Point guide to Writing Romance. It is not just updated but also includes tips and hints from various authors, including myself. There are also prizes.
The prize I am giving away is signed copies of Sold & Seduced and Kate Walker's The Antonaxos Marriage. I got the idea for S&S in the back of Anna Lucia's car after a workshop as Kate was explaining some of her difficulties with her revisions. Later Kate sent me The Antonaxos Marriage as something to read while I waited for my cataracts to be done. Reading it, I then realised that I had slightly misconstrued the whole premise. Anyway, it goes to show how two authors can take the same idea -- a woman forced into marriage to save her father and come up with two different books...
And I can thoroughly recommend hearing Kate in workshop or failing that reading the book.
The 12 Point Guide is probably the best guide for anyone targetting the series books edited out of London.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Regency Scents

One of the delights of living in England is discovering how much survives from the Regency period (and in some cases before). I first came across Floris after reading an article about the men's clothing shop Hackett. Floris is a perfumery on Jermyn Street and has occupied no 89 for about 250 years at least. It remains family run and the current head, John Bodenham is an 8th generation descendant of the founder Juan Famenias Floris. Floris was founded in 1730 and the shop has a small museum full of scent bottles and combs that I go and look at every time I am in London. The shop is lovely -- all glass and mirrors with wonderful scents. The Spanish mahogany cases were acquired in 1851 from the Great Exhibition. However, I was never that sure when a particular scent was created. I simply knew that I liked them. Stephanotis is beautiful and I fell in love with Malmaison earlier this year. Their Lily of the Valley is heavenly. And my dd adores Edwardian Bouquet. And to the wearer of particular scent, that is all that matters.
But when were the scents developed? And can I use them in my books? What were people in the Regency period actually wearing.
Recently the Floris catalogue has been giving details about its scents and when they were developed.
Lily of the Valley was developed about 250 years ago. So say around 1758 -- making it a Georgian scent. Its top notes are green and lemon with heart notes of jasmine, lily of the valley,rose and tuberose. The base note is musk. Another Georgian scent Floris does is Limes and that was developed in the late 1700s to combat the awful smells and heat of the London summer.
Stephanotis was developed in 1796 by the son of the founder -- James Floris. It combines the scents of the traditional bridal bouquet and was made because James Floris noticed how many brides were getting in and around St James. So what the Regency society bride might have worn. And it is truly lovely -- top note orange blossom, heart notes of carnation, coriander, lily of the valley, stenphanotis, jasmine with base notes of musk, powdery notes and sandalwood. In the flower language that was popular at the time, stephanotis means good luck. Another Regency fragrance is the Night Jasmine scent that was inspired by the jasmine scent that John Floris created in 1806. The floral design imprinted on their soaps dates from the early 19th century.
Malmaison is late 19th century btw and is based on the Malmaison carnation, one of the more fashionable flowers of the late Victorian period. Apparently Oscar Wilde used to wear Malmaison carnations. The Malmaison scent is far heavier than the Stephanotis or Lily of the Valley. Top notes of cinnamon, cloves and lemon with heart notes of malmaison carnation, rose ,ylang and base notes of cedarwood, musk, patchoui, and vanilla. The Floris catalogue lists Malmaison under its classic fragrances -- suitable for either men or women.
My dd's favourite Edwardian Bouquet dates from 1901 and was a celebration of the new era. It is a lovely floral scent.
Anyway, it goes to show that a good scent can stand the test of time. And with its wide range of scents (Ian Fleming had James Bond wear no 89 for example) , there is a good reason why Floris is thriving today. But I thought I would toss out a few of the more historic scents in case people were interested. Floris does ship worldwide, but a visit to its shop in Jermyn Street should be a must for any one interested in the Georgian or Regency periods.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Doughnuts and holes

Life can be odd. You hear phrase that resonates -- for example Isabel Swift's mantra of heeping your eye on the donut and not the hole, and suddenly, it seems to keep appearing.
I was rereading Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer and he used a variation on the phrase. He used in the context that sometimes writers are so fixated on the exception that they forget the rule. In fiction, every world that the writer creates operates by a certain set of rules. Unless the writer has shown the reader that the world operates by a different set of rules, the reader will assume it operates by a general set of commonsense, societal rule. For example, gravity, or phoning the police when your house is broken into. Or that intense fire burns. But sometimes, you become so focused on the exception that you forget the rule and then the heroine may seem like she is Too Stupid to Live and the reader forgets to suspend disbelief.
If you are going to break a rule, show that it is possible before you break it. This goes back to the whole plotted plant thing.
And it is always a matter of keeping your eye on the doughnut, rather than actually eating it...because the other problem for many writers is the tendency to eat after expending brain power...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Success with the cover

Thanks to Carole Townend, I learnt that WH Smith online now carries the HMB covers. So now hopefully the lovely warm sensualness of Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife will be apparent.
I have also put the cover on my myspace page.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I received a jpeg of the cover for Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife yesterday from one of my lovely editors. It looks lovely and a copy now adorns the wall behind my computer...for inspiration. And it is an inspiring cover...

I have attempted to put it on the blog BUT every time, it comes out in reverse tones. It looks interesting, but it is not the warm sexy feel that is the cover. The important thing for a cover is the mood or the feel of the cover, the promise it gives. And this one promises a sensual romantic read. Plus the hero is bare chested.
I have no idea is if it was originally commissioned for another book, but I just like the cover and the mood fits the book.

I only have permission to use the on sale version, so you can't see the reverse colour version.
At the moment, does not have the cover up either, so you all will have to wait...until 1 May when it appears on the M&B website...

Sometimes, these things are just beyond the control of an author.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April newsletter and contest

I have sent out my April newsletter today and as usual, it does have exclusive contests for people who are signed up to my newsletter. This time the top prize is a signed hardback of Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife. The closing date is 15 April. If anyone does sign up in time for the contest, I will send out a copy of my newsletter wit hthe detail of how to enter. You can find the sign up on the sidebar of this blog. The newsletter also includes my recipe for Lemon curd and its variation -- raspberry curd. I am currently suffering from a surfeit of eggs...

Advanced notice: Kate Walker will be having a blog launch party for the second edition of her book 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance on 8 April. If you want a good primer guide to writing category romance, this is an excellent one. I know her thoughts really helped me when I was writing The Gladiator's Honour. She will be doing a number of giveaways and I have contributed the prize of a signed copy of Sold & Seduced as well as a signed copy of the book that gave me the idea Kate's The Antonaxos Marriage.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Taken by the Viking is heating up April

Taken by the Viking is out in both paperback and ebook on eharlequin. It is also part of their April is heating up promotion. It is nice to think that E-harlequin consider Taken to be sizzling.
It also means that having started, I need to keep the current Viking sizzling as well. A certain standard has been set.
Hopefully people will enjoy it...I had fun writing it.
Currently though, I have cut one scene and am wrestling a few more as I try to keep the focus on the romance and not let it go spinning off into the politics.