Saturday, March 20, 2010

Update

I'm really sorry I've neglected this blog recently. I send most of my stuff to the ladies at The Good, The Bad and The Unread, where a great bunch of duckies hang out. But I should try to do this more often!

March 2010 newsletter

News

Wow, March! And finally the snow goes away and the sun comes out!
Not that I can do much more than look at it out of the window while I get on. When did this absorbing hobby become a full-time job? Not that I'm complaining (much) because it's the best job I've ever had.

So in a couple of days I'm off to Loughborough, to sit on a panel at the Writing Industries Conference. The panel is "Traditional Romance vs Paranormal Romance." While these things make me incredibly nervous (am I supposed to admit that?) I'm with authors Mary Nichols and Sue Moorcroft, so I'm also looking forward to it enormously.
The conference looks great, with one-to-one editor and agent meetings and a number of panels and workshops. So if you can make it, here are the details:
http://writingindustries.com/
I know I mentioned it last month, but I thought a reminder might be in order, since it's happening this weekend.

The first ERWA newsletter has come out with one of my reviews in it. I'm really enjoying the new challenge.
http://erotica-readers.com/ERA/SL/BR-Magic_University_2.htm

And there are quite a lot of my reviews this month at The Good, The Bad and The Unread, together with a column on the growth of self-publishing, and what might be driving some of the demand.
http://tinyurl.com/yf48jnn

I was one of the two runners up in the Love Romances annual awards, for "Harley Street." Since I share the award with the wonderful Alex Beecroft, I'm delighted with it. I don't do much canvassing for awards, so it's doubly warming when I win something.

And to writing:
I'm still writing Jack's book from the STORM universe. Jack led me a wild dance and I had to stop part way through and rewrite. It happens sometimes, when a character doesn't work within the plot, and needs rethinking. Since I care more about the characters, it's always worth stopping and rewriting.

I've also been deep in planning with the ladies from Tempt the Cougar for our Cougar Growl at RT Convention. We've booked an hour at Club RT on the Thursday where we plan to have lots of fun and give stuff away. It's been an absolute joy working with these women, so much that I want to do another cougar story. The conflicts fascinate me.

No new releases in March, except for "Venice," out in print, so I thought you'd like a little of that for this month's excerpt.

Excerpt from Venice


Venice is perfect for their honeymoon. Unless an assassin plays his cards right…

Richard and Rose, Book 3

At long last, it is Lord and Lady Strang’s wedding day. Yet no sooner do Richard and Rose leave their wedding breakfast than two shots ring out, forcing a hasty change in honeymoon plans. Instead of traveling together by yacht, Richard goes on ahead, making sure the road to Venice is safe for his beloved.

Rose is by no means alone, however. Along her journey by packet, coach, even mule, she befriends young couple, the Ravens, who have a strange confession to make. They are traveling incognito—and are really the newlywed Lord and Lady Strang!

Once reunited in Venice, Richard and Rose heat up the sheets, making Richard consider the delightful possibility of keeping his wife in bed for the rest of their stay. Except Venice is as full of knaves as London, and one of them is still trying to find them with a bullet.

The Ravens could hold the key to the assassination attempts. Or perhaps they are playing a deadly game of their own…

Excerpt:

The following day the sound of bells woke me, myriad bells, commanding the faithful to attend church. If we had joined the British community here, no doubt they would have expected us to attend, but we had protected our privacy too well to let it slip now.

I turned my head to look at my husband, but he was still asleep. I watched him, so vulnerable in sleep I could almost see the boy he had been, before his nightmares had begun.

I slipped out of bed and went to the chair where I had thrown my dressing gown the night before. I threw it around my shoulders, thrust my arms into the sleeves and then went to the two long windows, withdrawing the bolts holding the shutters closed on the first one. I didn’t open the other window, because its light would have fallen directly on the bed and woken him.

I stood by the window, looked out at the glow of Venice and listened to that glorious sound, from the deepest boom to the brightest, highest chime.

How could I have got this far? Last year, a forgotten old maid, preparing to dwindle into a dependant spinster, this year the cherished wife of the man I was meant for. How close we came to not meeting at all! Or, if we had met and it had been in company, I doubt he would have noticed me. I never showed well in company. He might even have been married already to Julia Cartwright. I might have married Tom, spent all my life in Devonshire, the wife of a country squire. Once I would have been happy with that but not after I’d met Richard.

If Richard was a country squire, it was enough, more than enough. That he was not sometimes left me feeling inadequate, not up to the position I must now learn to take. I hadn’t been brought up to it, as the girls he’d been presented to year after year had—to be the eventual mistress of a great estate and a member of one of the first families in the country. It filled me with dread but I would do it for his sake. Here, in this paradise, I’d start to learn.

The rustle of the sheet behind me told me he had woken, but I didn’t turn round. I heard him cross to the chair in his turn and fling on his gown and then felt him slip his arms around my waist and rest his cheek on my hair. We didn’t speak, but I put my hand over his and we stood, listening to the Sunday greetings outside.

“I’m so afraid I’ll let you down when we go home.”

“You won’t,” he assured me calmly. “If you’re reserved, everyone will assume you’re proud. Stand tall and always make sure they look away first.”

His warm breath tickled my neck. “I love you very much,” I said.

“I know. It’s all that matters. We’ll buy you some fine clothes, the sort that stand alone and you can inhabit them while they speak for you. Shall we buy an estate in Devonshire and go and live there, in seclusion?”

I turned away from the window into his arms. He could have been reading my mind. If I had accepted his offer he would have gone through with it, but it wouldn’t make him happy. “No. You are what you are and as long as you’re here with me, I’ll do whatever’s required of me gladly. Will you come to my presentation at court?”

“Of course. My mother will present you. It’s soon over and a dead bore. I don’t move in any royal set, so be assured that won’t come into our lives to any great extent. For the rest, we’ll please ourselves and if you’re not happy, you must promise to tell me.”

“I promise.” We kissed to seal the bargain.

I slipped out of his arms and went to open the shutters on the other window. Light streamed across the unmade bed. I turned to see him watching me from the middle of the room, golden hair lit by the sun, tousled from sleep, making him look like a knowing putto. I went back to him.

“I said something once about these bells,” he reminded me, mischief in his voice. “Do you remember?”

Of course I remembered. It had been in the humble nursemaid’s room at Hareton Abbey. “That you’d like to make love to me in the Venice sun, with the sound of the water outside and the bells. You made me blush.”

“So I did. Do you think I could make you blush now?” He undid the frogged fastenings at the front of my dressing gown.

“Without a doubt.” He slipped his hands inside the gown and I let it slide down my arms to the floor.

He loved me, just as he’d once promised. He kissed my mouth, my throat and went down on one knee to take a nipple into his mouth, running his tongue around the very tip, then the other and then lower still, making me sigh in pleasure. My knees grew weak from his caresses. I gripped his shoulders to keep from falling to the floor and he delved between my legs, kissing and tasting until I thought I might die. But he didn’t let me climax, he withdrew when he had me shivering with need.

Venice - Richard and Rose, book four
Venice is perfect for their honeymoon. Unless an assassin plays his cards right…
http://samhainpublishing.com/romance/venice
ISBN:      978-1-60504-517-7
News

February already, and it's the shortest month of the year, so that will be over before we can turn around!
The countdown to Romantic Times has begun and I'm starting to get my promotional items together. I really love Romantic Times, but I'll try not to talk about it too much until nearer the time!

Instead, there are a couple of things you might like to know about.
Samhain is doing an awards thing, the Sammie awards, and while I can't hope to compete with luminaries like Deirdre Knight and Maya Banks, it would be nice to get a respectable showing. So if you want to vote for me, or any other Samhain author, here is where you go:
http://www.samhainpublishing.com/
And then click on the "Click here to vote" button. There are cover awards, best author awards and so on. I won't go and vote for myself, I don't do that, and I don't enter contests very much, but I am entered in this one, anyway.
Honestly? It would be a kick to win.

For those of you in the UK, I've been asked to sit on a panel at Loughborough University, at the Writing Industries Convention. It's a really good convention, with one-to-ones with editors and agents, and I'm honored to have been asked. It's only the second year, but it's proving hugely popular. If you want to check it out, it's here:
http://writingindustries.com/
And I'm on the Paranormal Romance panel. If you attend, do come and say hello! It's on the 6th March.

I've also extended my reviewing. As well as reviewing for The Good, The Bad and The Unread, I've been asked to review for ERWA (Erotic Readers and Writers Association).
http://www.erotica-readers.com/
It is a serious endeavour to find the best in erotic writing and reading, and is a prestigious set up. I've been a member for some time and I was thrilled when they asked me to review for them. My first book will be a Spice book, "Rampant" by Saskia Walker. But I'm not saying if I liked it or not here, you'll have to find out nearer the time!

I just wanted to thank you for making my first venture into the contemporary, "Beauty of Sunset," such a success. I had my sales figures and they were good. Not spectacular, but few sales figures are these days! Enough to make me very happy. Working with the ladies of the Tempt the Cougar blog and the Cougar Challenge series was more than fun, it was a learning experience that I really value. I want to write another, but the muse hasn't visited me yet. Instead, I wrote a completely unrelated contemporary that I've sent to my editor and I'm waiting on tenterhooks to hear about it.
I've written a "Naughty Nooner," a free short story featuring Edie and John from "Beauty of Sunset" and that should be out at Ellora's Cave soon. I haven't had the release date yet.

I spent most of January editing and rewriting. I've rewritten the Richard and Rose book, "Darkwater" into "Hareton Hall" (because Samhain already have a book called Dark Waters and they don't like to duplicate titles). I'm going to start writing the next one soon. While Richard and Rose don't always sell well initially, I've found they do well over time, so I'm happy that those of you who enjoy their exploits are sticking with them. I really love writing the books, and the chances are that I'd do it anyway. Every time I start thinking businesswise, something happens to waylay me and I end up writing another book that I love!
I also edited "Crystal Tides," a new Dept 57 book that is due out in April, and "A Betting Chance," a Triple Countess book, also out in April.

In February, I plan to start the next STORM book, which will feature Jack, the cat shape-shifter from the Ecstacy in Red series. I'm toying with the idea of giving it a new title, since it's very different from the previous four and might do better as a standalone story. I think the STORM series will go into single titles for a time, because I don't have a Big Idea that would go nicely into a series. More and more I'm finding that I'm interested in the characters and their dilemmas, and so it makes sense to deal with them that way. But I'd love to know your ideas on that!

Excerpt from Tantalizing Secrets


Tantalizing Secrets is now out in print! The books are beautiful, and now I can see the Secrets series on my bookshelf, I think they are some of the prettiest books I've seen. I do plan to do more, maybe Antonia needs a book of her own, but I'm also being asked to do Freddy's book, from the Richard and Rose series. It's mighty tempting! Anyway, here is a snippet from Tantalizing Secrets to tempt you into the bookstores and maybe lighten your day a little!

He threw back his head and crowed with laughter. “Oh, my dear, how well you know me already. I shall have to take care with you.”
“Not after all those sophisticated ladies of the ton.”
“You have something very rare in society. Straightforward honesty.”
He meant it. She saw no subterfuge in his gaze. Arabella felt he’d just given her a far more profound compliment than the verbal one. Tentatively she smiled, then got to her feet.
Her sewing slipped forgotten to the floor, and Peter rescued it for her. When he handed it back his fingers touched hers. She let the embroidery fall again and then bent to retrieve it with suddenly clumsy fingers. He took her elbows and raised her up before she could retrieve it. She looked up and met his eyes, knowing what was to happen and unwilling to prevent it.
He kissed her. A gentle, undemanding kiss. She didn’t do anything to stop it, and then felt him slip his arms around her waist. He lifted his head, tilted it a little and returned to the fray.
This time he meant it. He opened his lips, taking hers with them and slid his tongue into her mouth. Arabella was stunned. She’d never felt anything remotely like this before. The world began to drift away. No wonder they were willing, these other women.
He tasted her and she let him. When he withdrew, she almost fell into the trap, and followed him, but remembered just in time and pulled back. She stared up at him, breathless.

Arabella Mason is too busy investigating her brother-in-law’s “accidental” death to entertain thoughts of love. She’ll go to any lengths to ease her sister’s grief, even accept the help of the distressingly attractive Viscount Bredon, Peter Worsley. Instead of answers, the trail of clues only leads to more questions. Who was her brother-in-law, really…and why does Peter, who poses as her brother in public, make mincemeat of her resistance in private?

A successful politician and confirmed bachelor, Peter has bedded the loveliest women in society. He never imagined he’d wind up in a Leicester backwater, helping a pretty widow investigate his brother’s untimely death. As his suspicions of foul play grow stronger, the danger rises—and so does his desire for Arabella. One kiss, and she snatches away all his resolve, leaving him wondering which he wants more…

To find his brother’s killer? Or keep Arabella safe—and make her his?

Tantalizing Secrets
A murder… A lord’s desire…and her quiet, respectable life is gone forever.
ISBN: 978-1-60504-394-4
From Samhain Publishing
http://samhainpublishing.com/romance/tantalizing-secrets

January 2010 newsletter

News

Happy new year!

Are you planning anything in the new year? I've booked my place at the Chicago Miniature Shows next year and at the Romantic Times Convention and I'd love to see you at either, or both!
As for writing - well, 2009 was an exciting and rather different. I love the way that, in the writing world, things never turn out exactly as you think! I started the STORM series last year, with the Red series of books so far, "Red Alert," "Red Heat," and "Red Shadow," but after this series, I'm planning some standalone stories. I'm thrilled that so many of you bought the books and made it possible for me to continue the adventure. I'm currently writing the next book, currently titled "Red Passion," about Ricardo Gianetti, so I'll let you know its progress.
Department 57 is also continuing, over at Loose-Id. "Crystal Tides," Kai the merman's story is to be released in April, and "Jewel of the Dragon" has been contracted to be rewritten, re-edited and released later in the year.
I had my first contemporary romance released this year, too. I still don't have the numbers on "Beauty of Sunset," but I loved writing it, and if it's possible, write some more.
The historical romances started the year a little quietly. I'm thrilled that Richard and Rose have found a whole new readership, but at first, sales were, while respectable, not as good as I'd hoped. But over the year sales have grown, surprising me by the growth, and now I'm really happy with the way it's progressing. January 12th sees the release of the first never-seen-before Richard and Rose from Samhain, "Eyton." I can't wait. I've also written Corin's story, "A Betting Chance," from the Triple Countess series, and it's due to be released in April.
So I've been a bit busy. How about you?

Excerpt from Eyton

Scandal, murder and passion—an ordinary day for Richard and Rose. Richard and Rose, Book 5 When Richard and Rose visit his family estate in Derbyshire to celebrate the christening of their firstborn, Rose comes face to face with some hard realities about the powerful Kerre family. The vast majority of them are far from delighted with Richard’s choice of wife. Plus, they think a man who shares his bed with his wife every night must have something wrong with him. Rose is driven half mad by Richard’s overly careful love for her. Somewhere underneath that smooth, sophisticated surface lies the passionate, intense lover she longs for—and she takes steps to seduce that savage lover back into her bed. Their joyous occasion is marred by the theft of a valuable necklace. Richard’s family looks to him to solve the crime—but something isn’t adding up. Evidence pointing to two trusted servants seems too convenient…and then they’re murdered. From the tangle of jealousies, secrets and desperate lies, Richard and Rose once again dance on the edge of danger to achieve justice—without dragging the family name into public scandal. Warning: Sharp-shootin’ Rose goes gunning for her man in this one. So steamy sex ahoy!


One of the things I appreciated about my maid was her ability to be silent when I needed it, and to converse without too many your ladyships and the like. Tonight we were quiet, and she went about her duties efficiently, hardly raising a sound from the floor as she moved to the dressing room to take my clothes away. I used the precaution she had suggested. There was no need to mention it to her. What I required, a small sponge and a bottle, waited for my use in the dressing room.
I wore only my dressing gown. It was the one Richard had bought me in Venice that I had put away during my pregnancy. I was pleased to be able to get into this one again, a delicate confection of ivory silk and floral embroidery. He’d bought it in the week between his arrival in Venice and mine.
I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes, remembering that time and how overwhelmed I was by the intensity of his loving and the intensity of my response, the trouble we’d shared there fading into the back of my mind. Partly because of that time I trusted him wholly now and respected his needs as much as he respected mine.
I heard the door from his dressing room open, but I didn’t open my eyes. I smiled as I breathed in that sharp perfume he always wore, and felt his lips gently touch mine. I opened my eyes and met his blue gaze, saw him smiling at me. “You’re here.”
“So I am,” he replied. “Are you tired, my love? Would you like to go to bed?”
“No I’m not tired, but I would like to go to bed.” It was an echo of our first night in Venice, an indication he had been thinking about it too.
I went into his arms. We stood for a long time, holding each other, before he gently loosened his hold and took my hand to lead me to the bed. He undid the fastenings on my dressing gown and undid his own. Neither of us wore anything underneath. I touched his hair, short, with a natural wave. I thought it gave him an angelic look. “Will you ever wear a nightcap?”
“I doubt it. The absurdity would make us both laugh too much to get any sleep.”
“You could wear a nightshirt with it,” I pointed out. “Most men do.”
“And you’re classifying me with most men?”
I smiled. “There you have me.”
Softly he kissed me and pushed my dressing gown off my shoulders. I let it slide to the floor.
I thrilled to see his gaze ignite. “I can’t believe I have you.”
“Believe it. It’s true.” His voice excited me right to the marrow.
He slipped off his own gown and drew back the light bedcovers that were all we needed on this warm night. Candles burned on the dressing table and on each of the nightstands so we could see each other. I got into bed and held out my arms for him. He came to me gladly.
“This time,” I whispered to him, my mouth close to his, “I want to make love all night. I want to see the sun rise, and know I’ve been with you every minute, every hour.” We would make tonight count.
He moved to hold me close, to make love to me, to show me his love in the most physical way, but the way that brought spiritual fulfilment sighing in its wake, that made the difference between love and sexual congress. This would be our time, our night.
I was determined to make this night memorable. Since it was summer and the fire not lit, I had a supply of candles on hand, so I could see him whenever I wanted to. My hair was brushed into a shining sheet of waves, a chestnut sea for him. I left it loose, to fall below my shoulders for his pleasure.
He took his time. He touched me, loved me, as though this were the first time and we had come fresh to each other, except by now he knew what I liked best, what would give the best response, the most intense sensation. I no longer felt awkward with him, indeed I hadn’t felt like that since our first night together.
He touched me, kissed where he had touched, my mouth first, deep and sweet, our bodies pressed together, my breasts against his chest, our legs entwined. “You have the sweetest taste in the world, my love, my only love.”
I touched him in return and ran my hands over his lean strength. “My heart is yours, my body and everything I have.”
He slid down, cradling my breasts in his hands before he kissed each one and took my nipples into his mouth to taste and nip. He could have done that all night and I would have begged for more, but he left them with reluctant kisses, to touch and lick further down, lingering at the soft space inside my hip, where I was particularly sensitive. His hands on my hips prevented me from wriggling out from his grasp, and his low chuckle told me he knew the reaction he had on me.
I gasped as he reached the inside of my thigh, lingering, softly kissing me. Every touch sensitised me even more. I could hardly bear his touches, but I wanted more and yet more. The longing was killing me, but it was exquisite torture, and I whispered, “Please—oh yes,” as he finally reached the place I yearned for him to be.
“I have missed this so much, sweetheart. Your taste has haunted my dreams.”

http://www.booksonboard.com/index.php?BODY=viewbook&BOOK=561412