It’s been a funny old month, what with one thing and another, but on the whole, a good one. After all, my first Carina title has been released, and I’ve been very happy with the way things are working out there. Great, professional staff, fantastic support. It’s my first romantic suspense, although I do hold a romantic suspense award (funny old world, isn’t it?) so it’s been a learning process, but also a very enjoyable one.
Funny old year, too, come to that. Doors closing, doors opening, but at the end of the year I’m in a better place than when it started, and that’s what counts, isn’t it? Two new publishers, the others happily ongoing, one day I’ll have to slow down. One day.
Some drastic changes this year, and not necessarily for me. The publishing world is going through huge changes, and while speculation is interesting, the truth is that nobody knows. Nobody. People are trying to influence the change, and usually the change goes with the money, but sometimes someone or something will come out of left field, leaving the others saying, “Whoa, what just happened there?” It’s like that song out of “West Side Story,” “Something’s Coming.” But nobody is quite sure what it is.
I took part in NaNoWriMo last month, and I won! I wanted to write the next STORM story, and it’s about Oliver, Earl of Cranfield, who first appeared in “Emotion in Motion.” Writing about the modern aristocracy is an interesting change, especially when the aristocrat in question has lived a bit longer than the average lord. A couple of hundred years. He’s a vampire, you see, which complicates matters a bit. Well, the first draft is nearly written.
And after my resolution of last year, I wrote some books that don’t have a home. Yet. I wanted to give the muse a chance this year, and write books that interested me. Not that the books I already write don’t, but I had a few ideas that were driving me crazy, so I had to write them. I’m still pondering what to do with them! They are contemporary, but in different genres. I think that next year they’ll come into their own.
Sales? Loose-Id have offered me a contract on the last two reprints of the Department 57 series, Rubies of Fire and Diamonds of Ice. Not the last in the series, but the last two I wrote for Triskelion before it went into liquidation. I’ve drastically rewritten Rubies of Fire to fit its new position in the series. I can honestly say it’s almost like a new book. And I’m preparing to get to work on Diamonds of Ice. Exciting times, since now I can look forward to the new books in the series, and characters who have been waiting an awful long time for their stories to come out!
And I have my cover for the last Richard and Rose book, “Lisbon.” Pretty? I think so!
Shall we have a new snippet from “Strangers No More”? Instead of a sexy bit, let’s have the setup, the very first pages. There is some strong language in this excerpt.
Neville’s decision didn’t surprise Whitney one bit. She kept her expression bland, but inside she decided to tough this one out, to take a stand. To make him say it.
Neville blinked, surprise showing for a bare instant in his heavenly blue eyes, eyes that had fooled many an interviewee into thinking he was a pushover. “What do you mean, why not?”
Whitney sighed and shook back the curtain of dark hair framing her face. She’d have to go at this the hard way and tell him straight out. He wanted to humiliate her, make her admit it. Open questions were Neville’s stock in trade on his top-rated interview show, but she knew him better. She’d force him into saying something. Then she’d sue his ass. “Why won’t you give me the job? I’m qualified for it, much more than some of the bimbos I’ve seen coming in for interviews over the last few days. I’ve worked at NewsInc for five years now, so I know my way around and what the company expects. I can do it.”
He sighed and glanced away. “Some of those bimbos are highly qualified,” he said. “Beauty and brains in one package is hard to resist.”
At least he admitted it. He wanted a beauty to cover the foreign correspondent’s job, or someone did. Neville helmed and edited the wildly successful show that had attracted the sharks to NewsInc. A mixture of current affairs and chitchat, it was unlike anything else on TV, as it combined real news reporting with lighter fare. Whitney wanted the heavier job, the news side.
She held her ground. She was probably being unfair to some of the women she’d seen trooping into Neville’s office over the last week, but she’d take the chance. Neville was being unfair to her. “Not as well qualified as I am. Would they stand in the center of a battle zone with a mic and camera propped up against a stone, shouting to be heard above the barrage? Not if it spoiled their perfect hairstyles, they wouldn’t.” She’d done the job for the smaller company she’d worked for before NewsInc, but now Nev and the new owners wanted to expand the show and they needed new personnel. She could do it and she was tired of working in the back office, doing radio and research.
He clamped his mouth shut and she suddenly had a vision of editors in years gone by, clenching their lantern jaws on their cigars while the presses rolled. What made Neville different from other talk-show hosts was that he remained a newsman, never let the glamour take over. And the new situation had chafed him more than somewhat, she knew because she’d spotted the occasional twitch or frown. She was a journalist, after all, expected to notice these small signals.
Because of their respect for his abilities and the way he’d flashed through the broadcasting universe like a shooting star, everyone who worked here had let him get away with too much. Not this time. “You said you wanted more than a pretty face, someone with experience and nerve, someone who’d go out in the field and send reports back from the front line.”
These days the news got out almost as fast as it hit Twitter. And it needed professional journalists like her to deliver it. “It’s no good sending someone into the field who doesn’t know both the company and the background to the news. You know that, Nev.” None better. Nev had earned his battle scars, though none of them were visible on his smooth, handsome outer shell. He’d been in the Near and Far East, Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots, he’d been there and ducked the bombs. He didn’t look quite so smooth and glossy out there either. She preferred the journalist Nev to the anchor Neville. Today he wore an Italian tailored suit and a button-down white dress shirt—the open neck the only sign of casualness about him. His dark-blond hair was smoothed back, maybe even gelled, and his face closely shaved. She’d rather see the grubby journalist in the crumpled jeans and T-shirts. But that was just her.
“These girls have some impressive credentials.”
Girls? Shit, she had no chance here, not if her boss thought of the applicants as “girls”. Not that it would stop her trying. She owed it to herself, to the rest of the women fighting to make a serious name in modern journalism. No, fuck that. She wanted this job, period. She wasn’t doing it for anyone else, she was doing it for her. “So there’s no problem, right? I have the experience and the knowledge. I even have the qualifications.” What more does he want?
Neville shifted in his chair, the worn leather not giving out even a squeak, he’d done it so often. He’d brought the chair from home, something that had some kind of relevance to him but she had no idea what. He glanced away, down to her application, which currently lay on his cluttered desk. “It’s more than that.”
And then she knew. He wasn’t telling her the entire truth. It wasn’t Nev, it was Mattson—the big guy, the disgustingly wealthy man who’d just added NewsInc to his portfolio of media interests. He was notorious for effecting change, putting in his own people when a natural vacancy occurred. Or he’d just order those below him to do it. Old Man Mattson had told Neville to employ the pretty ones.
Nev sighed and rubbed his jaw, his discomfort palpable. “I’d hire you if I could. You’re good at what you do. But I want someone who’s comfortable in China.”
Fuck, oh fuck. She didn’t have much experience in that part of the world. If he lucked on a bimbo who’d visited China, who knew it better than she did, she wouldn’t stand a chance.
“Do you speak any Chinese languages?”
“Some.” Not well enough. “But I can get up to speed fast.” Even if it killed her. But she didn’t know her way around China, had few contacts there.
“I interviewed a few interesting candidates today.” He was looking more comfortable now, an easy smile slowly spreading over his face. “One of them is fluent in Mandarin and she lived in China for a couple of years.”