Escape, His Majesty's Secret Passion, Romance, The Wild Rose Press

Looking At Pay-Day Down The Wrong End Of A Telescope…

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There’s a long wait between getting your hands on December’s wages, and the day January’s pay drops into your account. And still the bills keep coming! The mid-winter gloom isn’t helped by the short, dark days and long, cold nights here in England.  You can try sorting out your debts over at Arianne Cassini‘s blog. Over here, I like to look on the bright side… 

This new year is a blank canvas. Anything can happen. The start of 2014 was so bleak and dreary, I turned my back on the bad weather and snuggled down to escape into a world of sun-drenched romance. Tucked away in my nice warm office and dreaming of an exotic foreign holiday, I realised I couldn’t actually imagine taking any time off. I’m hooked on my job, that’s the trouble. 

Loads of us spend all our waking moments either in the office, or stressing about work. Everybody is running at top speed and over capacity all the time, with no time to sit back and relax. I think everyone deserves an affordable escape from everyday life, whether or not they can manage to take an exotic holiday, so I switched on my computer and tapped out the words…

…which became the opening lines of His Majesty’s Secret Passion, the first book in my Princes of Kharova series for The Wild Rose Press. You can read a longer extract from His Majesty’s Secret Passion by clicking here

Writing Leo and Sara’s story let me escape to a world of sunshine and spa treatments, without leaving my desk. It was the perfect antidote to the sleet and snow outside my office.

What’s your top tip for escaping the January gloom? Comment below to enter a draw with the chance to win a free download of His Majesty’s Secret Passion!

holidays. new release, kindle, My Dream Guy, Romance, Romantic comedy, Wales

Romance In The Rain—My Dream Guy

Go Wild In The Country!
How do you fancy a short burst of fun at the end of this washout of a summer? I’ve got the perfect antidote for your back-to-work blues.
Here in Gloucestershire we had a miserable spring and early summer, followed by the hottest, driest July on record. 
Luckily for the wildlife (but not so good if you like life outdoors), all that sunshine was followed by a dismal, wet August. With the barbecues in storage, why not splash out on an affordable treat—my next release? 
My latest short romance, My Dream Guy, was inspired by a holiday booked by my husband a few years ago. I thought it was going to be glorified camping, which we’d got out of our systems in the years BC—Before Children. 
It was fun, but the idea of roughing it with a baby on board made me dread a week stuck in the middle of nowhere. 
Emily, the heroine of My Dream Guy, doesn’t have any children to worry about. She’s only twenty-three, with a job she likes, and a gorgeous boyfriend in the shape of Jack Wright, but the sparkle has gone out of their romance. 

When Jack books them into a Welsh campsite during the wettest summer on record, it’s nearly the last straw for poor Emily. Like her friend Grace, she’s a soft beds and sushi kind of girl.

Emily thinks the bronzed farmer who was her teenage crush is going to be the best thing about this dreaded holiday. But time has moved on. Feinwen Farm isn’t the place she remembered.  Hunky Harri might be twice the man he was, but he’s not the only one who’s full of surprises!

Will Emily’s holiday from hell turn out to have a happy ending, too? 
You can find out more here.

The real-life holiday I was dreading turned out to be great fun. The minute I discovered we’d be staying in a lovely chalet with all mod. cons (including a hot tub!) I was hooked. From an open fire to  swimming under the stars, our holiday had it all. 

What’s your best holiday memory? There’s a free copy of My Dream Guy on offer for a comment picked at random on Saturday, 10th September. 

Heart Of A Hostage, My Dream Guy, newsletter, Princes Of Kharova, Romance, short stories, The Wild Rose Press, Writing

This Writing Life—Cover Reveal for My Dream Guy… 
In my summer newsletter, I held a competition for readers to choose between potential covers for my next short story, My Dream Guy. The names of everyone who voted went into a draw to win a preview copy of my next short romance, My Dream Guy, and Emma’s name was first out of the hat. Here’s the cover my subscribers chose. What do you think? 

My Dream Guy is based on a holiday OH booked as a surprise when we hadn’t been together long. I really did not want to go. I was too busy at work, the weather had been foul for weeks and wasn’t forecast to get any better, while to cap it all, this was an outdoor activity holiday. I’d much rather sit in a wood than fly through it on a zip wire, but when you’re first in love, you don’t always say things like that out loud! I was all ready to be a martyr, but I got a big shock when I discovered my own dream guy had hidden depths… 

Emily gets a wake-up call too in my new story, My Dream Guy. The sparkle’s gone out of her relationship with Jack. She’s started hankering after the guy who was her first crush. Back then, Harri was a bronzed, twenty-something farmer who hardly paid any attention to the tongue-tied kid camping in his field with her family. Now Emily’s older, she’s thinks Harri the Hunk’s going to be the best thing about her dreaded holiday to a Welsh campsite, during the wettest summer on record. 
She’s in for an enormous shock—and then her boyfriend Jack springs an even bigger surprise. 
Can Emily’s holiday from hell ever have a happy ending?
There’ll be more about My Dream Guy in my autumn newsletter. That will have all sorts of news about life here at Tottering Towers, including the latest on Heart of A Hostage, the next book in my Princes Of Kharova series for The Wild Rose Press, an update on my bees and the kitchen garden harvest, together with a seasonal recipe, and a competition for subscribers only.
 My next newsletter will be out in the autumn. To get a copy, you can join my mailing list here: 

books, fiction, Heart Of A Hostage, Princes Of Kharova, Romance, The Wild Rose Press

This Writing Life—Heart Of A Hostage

Coming soon!

Here’s the newly-produced cover of my twentieth published novel. What do you think? Heart Of A Hostage is the third book in my Princes of Kharova series for the Wild Rose Press.

Mihail inherits a fearsome reputation as Public Enemy Number One. His family lost the throne of Kharova four generations ago—but in the small European country of Kharova, blood feuds last for centuries.

A car breaks down near his rebel headquarters, stranding its beautiful royal passenger. Mihail seizes the chance to take Princess Maia hostage. It’s his perfect short-cut to the throne—or so he thinks.

Maia turns out to be the house guest from hell, and Mihail is a man with dark secrets locked away in his ruined castle hideaway. When Maia discovers what they are, the stakes rise and an already dangerous situation becomes lethal…

There’s a big secret at the centre of Heart Of A Hostage, but I’m only revealing that to readers of my newsletter! The autumn edition will be coming out in October.  As well as a revelation about Heart Of A Hostage, my newsletter will  also contain details of my latest short story, My Dream Guy, together with a seasonal recipe, news about the harvest here at Tottering Towers, an update on my bees after their recent scare, and a competition. Sign up to my mailing list here to get a copy delivered straight to your inbox!

Ann Ankers, Christina Courtenay, Creative Writing, Fay Wentworth, Georgia Hill, Joanne Maitland, Marcher Chapter, Marilyn Rodwell, RNA, Romance, Top Tips

RNA Creative Writing Study Day, Hereford, 31st March 2014

Hard At Work…

In 2013, The Romantic Novelists’ Association announced a generous donation toward  all its local groups. I’m a member of the RNA’s Marcher Chapter, and we decided to put the money toward the hire of a room at The Courtyard, Hereford. The intention was to have a critique session. As it would be held so close to April 1st, the day was called  “Be A Fool For Love”.

The prospect of spending a whole day with like-minded people talking about writing was irresistible, but we wanted to show we’d taken the RNA’s  aims of promoting romantic fiction and encouraging good writing to heart. One month before the workshop, everyone emailed a ten-page sample of their current work in progress to organizer Ann Ankers. Ann collated them into a document which was then circulated among the group. The extracts were anonymous and we did a critique of every one, including our own. That way, we could make our comments without prejudice and still remain anonymous on the day.

Marilyn and Ann

Nobody likes the idea that their precious literary baby might be torn to shreds in a gladiatorial arena, so Historical novelist Joanna Maitland provided some invaluable advice beforehand. She advised that each critique should contain “three stars and a wish”–that is, highlight plenty of good points for every query or suggestion for improvement you make. This worked really well.

On the day, there were seven of us: Fay Wentworth, Georgia Hill, Christina Courtenay (fresh from winning the RNA’s Historical Novel of the Year Award for The Gilded Fan), Joanna Maitland, Marilyn Rodwell, me and organizer Ann Ankers. Ann also acted as our chairwoman and did an excellent job. She  kept the discussions moving, and made sure the day ran to schedule.

Fay, Georgia, Christina and Joanna

We were treated like royalty by the hardworking staff of The Courtyard. Regular refreshments (including delicious home-made biscuits) and a fantastic lunch was included in the price, and we worked so hard the time flew by. A photographer from Herefordshire and Wye Valley Life came to record the event. This was organised byChristina Courtenay. That gave me pause for thought. As I’d played an April Fool joke on my DD that morning, when a guy tapped at the door and asked for “Christina” I thought for an awful moment  DD had sent a male stripper  to our meeting as revenge. Thank goodness I was wrong!

We all had an amazing day. I learned a lot, and can’t wait until we can do it all again.

Have you attended a workshop? What was the most useful thing you learned?