Sunday, December 30, 2007

Back to normal?

Not quite back to normal. But getting there! The WIP is coming on nicely, though of course the real test will be when I send it out. I can't not write, or I get edgy. But with the whole family around it's hard to find time to do some decent writing.
I'm branching out into contemporaries. No paranormal involved, and I have the concept for a new series that I'm going to start in the new year.
I can't wait, but I do have to finalise a few things. Like the last Pure Wildfire book, and the last Triple Countess book, and the next Dept 57.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I do hope everyone has a happy and peaceful time this year, and a really good 2008.
I've had a torrid time recently, writing-wise. Edits, and a new contract with Loose Id for the next Department 57 book, "Topaz Delirium." I sent "Moonfire" in to my editor at Ellora's Cave, and I'm writing "Thunderfire," as well as an exciting new venture I can't even think about yet.
I can't believe this year is nearly over, but I'll do a roundup nearer to the end of the year. Torrid is a pretty good description!

Monday, December 10, 2007


I came to a big decision recently. Well, for me, anyway.
I've been reading some great books, but although they're called 'romances' the romance is a bit, well, distant. Or it's based on lust, and by the end of the story I'm not entirely convinced these two were made for each other. They just fancy each other like mad, but they don't really know each other. And then there are the 'fated mates' stories where biology dictates that they get together and their desire is overwhelming. So in theory, they could hate each other's guts and still go on bonking their little hears out.
So, I'm putting the romance back. Or, trying to. I pledge that the couples (or threesomes occasionally) are going to fall in love. They will go through the process. True, in the case of my paranormal beings, they might be a bit faster, because they can read each other's minds, but they will fall in love. No 'fated mates,' no lust instead of love (although they will probably lust the hell out of each other because that's part of falling), no adventure that overwhelms the romance, although you know me, there will still be adventure!
2008 will be, for me, the return of the romance.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

How do you keep it going when times are tough?

It's a question I've been thinking about for the last few days. The Triskelion closure hit me harder than I wanted to admit, even to myself. I kept going, delighted when other publishers took my work, but looking back at what I wrote in this time, the strain shows, it really does.
I wrote two books I'm not happy with and I'm currently in the process of rewriting heavily, to the point of making them new. They just weren't up to what I usually write, and I don't understand why I couldn't see it at the time, except that I didn't. I presume it was all the fuss when Triskelion went into bankruptcy, because the rest of my life is as it always was. Stress is a funny thing and sometimes you think you're coping when you're not, but now, I think it's getting better because I can feel it in myself. I'm very tired, still, but that comes with insomnia, but I'm beginning to sleep for more than 3 hours at a time. And being British, I hate complaining. A national trait, or it used to be and as a nation we're still not brilliant at complaining.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Life! Don't talk to me about life!

I love Douglas Adams' books!
This one has stayed with me for a long time. It's what my DH says a lot when he's just tired or doesn't want to go into details.
Sometimes I feel like that. At times in the recent Triskelion bankruptcy mess I've thought "I might as well just abandon those books" but there were twelve books, all of which I lived and wrote and loved, so I just couldn't.
Now, thanks to Siren Publishing, those books are free. Some of them I got back in June from a release letter but the owner of Triskelion asked me to leave the others to "tide them over a bad time" after Gail Northman left. I did.
So what has the whole experience taught me?
That there are a few people who can't see further than their own houses and their own concerns, that all their insistence of fair play and transparent dealing were about as fair and transparent as loaded dice. That there are other people who are truly honest and open. And that I find it very hard to see the difference.
Will that make me behave any differently? No. I won't assume that everybody I meet in the publishing business is after Number One and nobody else, or that they're out to fool me. That way lies madness and a way of life I really don't want to contemplate. I'll consider to write the best books I can and to offer them to publishers I think I can work with. I won't hold anything back, and I won't say anything I don't mean. If they want to trick me and fool me, that's their problem, not mine.
I write because I love it. There is no way I could write anything I didn't enjoy doing because of all the work involved. When I find someone who feels the same, or someone who feels they can work with me to present the work as a saleable commodity, I'll work as hard as I can to make it a goer. If they don't, I'm still going to write.
Oh yes, and that good can come out of bad. My reputation as a writer increased, I met some people I respect and like very much, and I'm in a different place now than I was when I went into the Triskelion venture.
So thanks for all the fish (another Adams quote!) but I ain't ready to go just yet.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I finished Moonfire over the weekend, helped by a wonderful beta reader and friend. She saw straight to my problem, whereas I'd been reading it over and over again and knowing there was something not right and not knowing what it was.
Beta readers are wonderful, they go through the book and immediately say - hey, you didn't explain why... or you forgot this bit....
So it's off to my editor now and on with the next book!


I finished Moonfire over the weekend, helped by a wonderful beta reader and friend. She saw straight to my problem, whereas I'd been reading it over and over again and knowing there was something not right and not knowing what it was.
Beta readers are wonderful, they go through the book and immediately say - hey, you didn't explain why... or you forgot this bit....
So it's off to my editor now and on with the next book!

Monday again

I rather like Mondays.
I know I'm a bit unusual in this, but weekends are my busy time, when the family's at home and the house is full of this and that. Nice, but it's lovely to get to the peace and quiet of Monday.
Just me and my laptop, and you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Books out now

A Chance To Dream

A love too strong to disguise, a disgrace too deep to ignore.
The second book in the Triple Countess series.

Orlando Garland, Lord Blyth, has spent a lifetime restoring the family fortunes but now it’s time for him to think of himself for a change. When he hires a dowdy companion for his invalid sister, it doesn’t take him long to suspect “Charlotte” is more than she appears. Yet the lively young woman proves to be good for his sister. And Orlando can’t ignore the seductive beauty behind the disguise.

Violetta Palagio’s mask has never chafed before—until now. She longs for the freedom to love the handsome Orlando. Yet to reveal herself would be disastrou for them both. She is La Perla Perfetta, the daughter of London’s most successful courtesan. For most of her life, her mother has cleverly kept Violetta’s identity a secret. Will she risk all that, now the threat that kept them in disguise for so long is finally gone?

For the first time in her life, Violetta is in love. Can she find the courage to come out from behind the mask?

And if she does, will Orlando chance everything he has worked so hard to rebuild—for a courtesan’s daughter?

A love too strong to disguise, a disgrace too deep to ignore.
A Chance To Dream - the second Triple Countess book
ISBN: 1-59998-683-3

Monday, October 29, 2007

Do you have to read the Department 57 series in order?

Recently someone asked me if they needed to read the Department 57 series in order. The brief answer is "No."

I designed it as a hub series. That means the background is the same, but each book is about a different couple, and I try to keep it as separate as I can so the books can be read in any order. Except for "Rubies of Fire" and "Diamonds of Ice," that is, because a situation set up in "Rubies" isn't resolved until "Diamonds."

Basically, Dept 57 is a covert organisation, set up as part of the CIA (and the DHS) in the USA, MI5 and MI6 in the UK, and Interpol. It's named after its headquarters in New York, on 57th Street, as in my research I discovered that the more covert and secret the department is, the more likely it is to have a bland name!

The members are Talents, that is, paranormal beings, shape-shifters, vampires, Sorcerers etc, and they work both for their country and to preserve their secrecy and their existence. I've used the Darwin approach - we're all human, but some are a little bit different!

The operatives work against the Perfect Human Race (PHR), a terrorist organisation devoted to killing them all, and the Corporation, an organisation that wants to take their powers and use them for themselves. That's how come the DHS got involved, because the PHR is a fanatical organisation of terrorist cells which works worldwide.

So you can read them out of order if you want to, and that's been made almost inevitable now. There was a clause in my Triskelion contract that gave them the "next look" option, but there was a 60 day time limit, and as soon as that had passed after the submission of my last
manuscript for them, I withdrew it and offered it to Loose_ID. I was very lucky that happened before the court froze the contracts, otherwise the series would be in limbo.

I write two kinds of books for the D57 series - full length novels with a 'traditional' m/f romance, and hotter m/m/f menage books, but they're all romances. "Cats' Eyes" is a menage. And it's out now!

I've sent the next full length novel in, and I'm waiting to see if they like it. You can never tell, it's different with every book!

I do feature secondary characters who get their own romances, and when I get the rights to all the books back, I'll do light rewrites to try to keep them in some kind of order, but I do try to keep them as standalone as I can. And not to include spoilers, if I can avoid it!

There's a page on my website about the Talents, what they can do, what they can't, that kind of thing, but I'm very anti-rules, so I try to make it as self explanatory as I can.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What's in a name?

Is it okay to call your historical hero a name like Blake, Brad or Burke?
Yes - and no. If the connotations most readers will apply to the name are not the ones you're looking for, you might want to think again. And if the name is deeply anachronistic, you definitely want to think again!
You can use most names, as long as you give a plausible explanation. I found that in the period I wrote in, the 1750's, the name "Richard" was out of favour (much as names come and go with fashion), so when I had a hero called Richard, I called his father Richard and made clear it was
a family name.

A Jared could have an Arabic relation, or like Jo Beverley did with the Mallorens, there was a real explanation for the weird names so that worked fine.

My latest series, the Triple Countess, has Miranda, Orlando and Perdita, because there were some Shakespeare fanatics about, but the final son is Corin, an Irish name, because his mother married an Irish peer.

Cats' Eyes is out!

It's out!
I am thrilled to bits to see Cats' Eyes at LooseId!
And look at that pretty cover!
Cats' Eyes is about what happens when a sexy Norwegian shape-shifter meets two devastating Brazilian strippers. It's my first Dept 57 book from LooseID, and I am so excited!
I never lose the excitement of release day, and I don't think I ever will. Not that I want to, it's one of the best things about being an author.
Even better is someone mailing you hours after release to say she couldn't put it down!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Cats' Eyes

It's coming out early!
"Cats' Eyes," my first novella for Loose-Id is coming out on the 16th! We're working on the cover art now (and it's gorgeous!). I'm so excited!
The story of two Brazilian men and their lucky Norwegian girlfriend, who just happens to be an agent for Department 57. They meet when they're working on the same case - but from different angles - in New York's latest, hottest male strip club. Silje (pronounced Silya) is a wee bit inhibited, but the boys from Brazil see the latent passion within her and they want it for themselves!
I loved writing this book, and I'm keeping my fingers well and truly crossed for it!


I finished the first draft of "Topaz Delirium." This has been a hard book to write. Not because I found it hard going, but because I wanted to get it right. It's set in a world I know well - the fashion industry - and I wanted to convey some of the feverish atmosphere and the sheer otherworldliness that infects the rag trade.
And it's my first full-length Department 57 book since the Trisk debacle. I want to send this one to Loose-Id, and see what they think.
One more read-through and it can go, with my heart in my mouth.

Friday, September 28, 2007

What do you want from a critique?

I think it's important to know what you want out of a crit group. I belong to 3, but on one of them we rarely crit these days. Still, I wouldn't miss it for the world. We're getting on with our careers, and a lot of what we do is to support each other.

Another is for erotic stories that go over the m/f not graphic rules set up at the large crit group I belong to. Hugely helpful. Most of us there are about the same level, and we pretty much know what we're looking for when we ask for crits (eg does it flow, have I got the pov right, etc) And the other is a big general group. A very good list, but there are writers at all levels there.

I have found that if I crit a newbie and I'm less than kind, I'm resented, as if it's my fault the work sucks. And when the writer finds a publisher (you can pretty much get a publisher these days if you can string a couple of words together) I get the 'nyah' response. So I'm careful who I crit there. Because I crit to publishable standards, ie something that might have a chance with one of the bigger epublishers or New York.

So decide what you want. And it's not a bad idea to ask for what you want, the areas you find troublesome or you need help with. I think the top of every sub should have the genre, the length of the book (ie novel, novella, category, not a specific word length) and perhaps the areas the writer wants critted. And if she wants to submit to a big house, or is happy to start with smaller pubs (as I did, btw. Nothing wrong in learning the ropes that way as long as you don't then think you're God's gift to publishing!)

For a very long time I was happy to write for me and a few friends, it was my hobby and my way of relaxing. Now it's very different, with a new kind of emphasis. I'm asking people to fork out their hard-earned for one of my books, so I can no longer afford indulgences I used to enjoy (like long, lingering descriptions of scenery and the like).

I just got my edits for my first release with Ellora's Cave. I'm telling you if you can't stand the relatively gentle heat of the crit group, you aren't going to last five minutes in the wider world of publishing! This book is sliced and diced and it makes me so happy to have an editor who will take the time to go through it in minute detail to help me make a better book!

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I've been at it for a few years now, and while there are advantages in that, you have to keep it up. Catching up with the latest thing, whether it's Facebook, Bebo or Youtube, finding out where people are and what they're doing.
Anything except write. I've had to sit down and make the latest book work, but I'm happy with it now.
We tend to forget the writing sometimes, but you know what? The most important thing about promotion is the book. If you don't write the next one, if you don't make it as good or better than the last one, no amount of promotion is going to sell that thing.
And starting with a new publisher? It's like starting all over again. But don't think I'm complaining, because that part is really exciting. I'm enjoying the experiences I'm getting at Samhain, Loose-ID and Ellora's Cave. I have 3 great editors with 3 different styles and requirements, all professional, all great people and they are pushing me hard.
So yes, it is a bit like juggling, but don't forget the basis of it all and do your 5,000 words a day, or whatever it is.
Or you'll never go as far as my friend Penny Jordan who has sold 84 million books worldwide, or so I heard today. 84 million.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

History, or fantasy?

Okay, so I'm ready to give up buying and reading historical romance.

Coming from me, that's like saying I'm giving up breathing. I love a good historical romance, but these days there are only a few authors I'll trust any more. And I won't buy a new author unless I can read a lengthy excerpt. After one more attempt to read a new book by a new author, that is it. I've just about had enough.

It's for self preservation, that's all. The number of historical errors is just increasing so much, that it's trampling on my history (because most historical romances are set in my country, the UK) and I need to save my blood pressure and my health. I feel insulted every time an author plays fast and loose with my history, calling dukes "my lord," letting an earl choose who is going to inherit his title, having people think in centimeters pre-1981. I've read them all.

I've just read another appalling hotchpotch and for now, that's my last one. I'm sticking to the writers I know get it more or less right, writers like Laura Kinsale, Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney and Liz Carlyle. Not only do they get the facts right, they get the feel right, they understand the era they write about and the way men and women felt and thought then. I read historical romance to be spirited away to another era, not to read about a woman with a modern American mindset jumping in and out of beds with all the carelessness of a woman who has a reliable contraceptive method at her beck and call.

I think historical novels should come with a history warning, from one to five, where one is "Which era is this supposed to be?" and five is "You can relax, I know what I'm doing."

And just to save some of you putting pen to paper, here are my answers (not necessarily the ones others would answer, because this is strictly my opinion) to the questions and comments that come up over and over again:

"We're writing novels, not history text books."
Any book that recites long lists of facts and figures while purporting to be a novel is bad. Any book, any genre. There's nothing wrong with making an effort to get the facts right that you do use.

"It's all about the romance."
Yes, it is. But people loved and lived differently then, and that's one of the reasons I adore a well-written historical romance. Put a romance in context, make a real effort to get the history right, and it can bring a book alive. Same with any other genre. Make your Sci Fi alien real, give him a real world, and he starts to get three dimensional.

"The readers don't pick it up, and they don't care, so why should we bother?"
Because some do, and by not getting it right, you're already limiting your readership by putting off readers like me, who like a well written, well researched romance.

You're insulting the intelligence of your readership. If you're all about the money, then go ahead and write the thing, but if you love writing and you really care about your readers, do them the courtesy of getting it right. Many readers, although they might not know the details, can sense when a story is off. I've seen a few on lists asking if such-and-such a detail is right, just to confirm a gut feeling they had.

"Editors don't pick it up, so why should we?"
Editors IMO should be able to, but they can't always do so. Not every editor knows her way around a historical like my editor does. And editors have to edit all genres, there are few specialists these days. They move around, are given different lines to edit. Besides, it's your book, not your editor's and your name is on the cover.

It's a matter of pride in what you do.

And no, I don't think I get it all right, all the time. But at least I try. I really think the lack of ability to trust a historical author has led to the current dearth in the historical romance, a slump we're only beginning to climb out of. And now the historical romance is hotter, we'll have more "Sex in the Regency" style stories.


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Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I critique hard, if the person is wanting publication, because she's going to meet that sooner or later. But I do try to encourage, to find the good points. There are some critiquers who take pleasure in smacking a writer down, making her feel small, but what good does that do?
If you're going for publication, then the publishers will see your book as a 'product' and all they want is to make profit on it. If you can buy into that mindset, you can cope, but if you see your book as a work of art that requires gentle care, you're in for a disappointment.
I've had bitter setbacks, and some harsh words, together with a folder full of rejections, from good to form "thanks but no thanks" letters. But I've also had some success and I now have books with Ellora's Cave, Samhain and Loose-ID, together with some Stuff going on in New York of which I dare not speak.
It hurts sometimes, and you have to look at the market from the publisher's point of view as well as the writer's, if you want to be successful.
And watch out for the sharks and scammers. There are so many would-be published writers that there are a lot of them about. Would-be's and scammers both.
If you're a writer who just does it for the joy of creation (and I was that kind of writer for most of my life) then criticism isn't helpful if it isn't productive. And you deserve support and help because you're doing it to enrich your life. But if you're going for publication, it can get very nasty out there, and that includes critiques. I've met some wonderful supportive people, and I've also met some that really don't care about anything except ripping you to shreds and aggrandising themselves.
You decide which is which and go with the more helpful ones. Do your best to ignore the others.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Red flags

Red flags
It depends if you're already with them, or you're looking at them for prospective publishers.
First rule - there is no such thing as a free lunch. Repeat to yourself ten times a day.
You get in fast? The editing might be poor, or the sales are low. You are treated like royalty? They're making money off you. You get a great advance? You have to keep up sales for subsequent books, or you're out.
You have to consider the risks, the checks, the payments, and remember - there is no such thing as a free lunch. One way or another, you will pay.
And you will get out of it, what you put into it.
You think SEP, Linda Howard or La Nora have it made? They worked their way up, through category romance, through building readership. I have a best-selling NY author as a friend. She works her socks off, even now. Maybe especially now. She started well, but she goes to conferences, book signings, she never, ever lets any aspect of her business slip, from writing to cover design, to conferences.
Balance the risks against the gains.
You never, ever get something for nothing. Hard work, luck and chance all have their parts to play, but you'd better be prepared for the hard work.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Publisher storms

It looks like two more publishers, Mardi Gras and Silk's Vault, are going out of business, or are at least in trouble.
I feel horrible for all the people involved, especially because of my own recent experiences, but this does look to me like industry fallout. I don't know the details, but it seems as if there were some shennanigans going on with all this.
Companies do this, especially the smaller, newer publishing companies. From my experience there are pros and cons, just like there are in any investments, or businesses, and authors are investing something - months of work, which if they wished, they could price up at an hourly rate. Yes there is a monetary value you can put on unpublished manuscripts. They are a writer's product.

So here's the very basic Lynne's Guide to Getting an Epub:
Be sure of what you want. If it's fame and fortune, forget writing and take up pop music. The odds of success are probably better.
If you go to a small publisher, you are increasing your risk. Most are new startups, and they won't really know if they're winning until after the third year of trading, when US Government tax breaks end and they really have to stand on their own. So check how long the company has been in business.
Check the goods. Buy some books, read them and decide if you want to be in company with these people. Don't buy the books of any 'big name' authors with the company, buy the newcomers, the ones the company has chosen for itself. Look at the editing, as well as the quality of writing, the cover art as well as the genres. And check how easy and secure the shopping cart is.
Check the staff. If there are no company owners or members of staff anywhere on the site, do a little digging. Find out who's behind the company and look into their past history. Run a whois search on the domain, see who owns that. It's nice to see a company that goes outside the family to recruit editors and artists, good to see a mission statement that reflects reality.
Check with the authors. Here's where you contact authors who have books with more than one house. They have a basis of comparison. Write to them, ask them in confidence if they enjoy working for the company. If you never, ever, tell anyone what they said, they can be completely frank with you. Don't tell your friends, don't tell fellow authors anything but generalisations (ie "I heard bad things about these people" and if they ask, explain the information was told you in confidence).
Publishing is a small world. A really small world. Editors move around, change companies, know each other. Names are sometimes exchanged. Don't get yourself a bad rep, because you'll never work again, or at least, not under your real name.
We all know that writers, especially new writers, don't have much clout in the publishing world. So make a name for yourself. A good one. Have something to offer.
When you are offered a contract, read it through. Read it through again. If there's anything you don't like, talk to the editor about it. Most houses will listen, give you and answer and be prepared to negotiate. But be realistic. Just don't sign your life away, and don't ask for things they can't give you.
Be polite and professional. Behave as you would in any place of work.
Make sure the business correspondence you send out, anything you put out in the public sphere, is properly spelled and grammatically okay. Yes, even emails and blog and noticeboard comments. I just read a blog post in which an "author" was complaining about someone, but there were so many spelling and grammatical errors, you just ended up feeling sorry for the person she was complaining about.

There are advantages and disadvantages. If you send a book to a small company, you'll get it out faster. But you might have to find another publisher in a few months. And a small publisher has smaller sales.
A larger publisher will demand a higher standard of writing. It will take much longer to be accepted, and longer for your book to be published. Editing will be tough. Sales will be higher than with a smaller epublisher.

So make your decisions, and let's be careful out there.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007


So it's my birthday soon. And some friends come over to help me celebrate. I'm planning to count my drinks, because that way I don't get carried away.
Only because it's my birthday, some kind soul kept topping up my glass - when I wasn't looking. So by my count, I had 4 glasses of wine all night. But they were of the never-get-to-the-bottom kind.
Now I had a promotional event to attend today, so I really wanted to be up early and bouncy. Instead, I lay in bed moaning "my head hurts." How could that have happened on four glasses of wine?
I got up shamefully late, and only because if I hadn't my children would have starved to death, or so they claimed, and when I went outside to dump the kitchen trash, I see three empty wine bottles nestling coyly among the beer cans. Only two of us drank red wine last night.
Which explains why my head hurt so much.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Heyer and Me

Georgette Heyer was the first modern romance writer I read, and there's a lot to be said for starting at the top.
I really can't remember what the first book was, but once I'd started, I read as many as I could get my hands on. When I got to "Frederica," I thought I was in heaven. So funny and Alverstoke is one of the best heroes I've ever read.
Even today, umpteen books later, the suave, aristocratic but oh-so-human Marquis of Alverstoke has my heart. Heyer had a marvellous gift for the right words and the appropriate ones and her turn of phrase was concise and witty.
We rarely see that kind of wit these days, and to be truthful, we didn't then, either. When I started reading Heyer, she was a "trashy writer," something that was a direct result of the snobbishness of the literary establishment. It's only just started to relax. If you're popular, you can't possibly write anything of literary merit!
But I believe that Heyer did. True, she doesn't aspire to the truths you find in Jane Austen, the deep knowledge of human society and the way it behaves, but she wrote in a different age, with different aims. And her kind of light, witty banter was just what I needed.
And still do.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A break from writing?

I'm writing the new Department 57 book.
After recent events it is so nice to get back to writing. I thought I'd never get going again this side of Christmas, but starting with a new story is the best way to go. Right back in there.
I'm thinking about the new series, as well. Perhaps a writing break is a good idea, gets the juices going again.
Weather is lovely here, we seem to be having a late summer. Just as well, as it's rained all summer so far and it might give the flood waters a chance to recede a bit.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More Good News

And yet another!
I sent off my Ellora's Cave contract today, for the Pure Wildfire series!
I am so excited that this series, so near to my rock-lovin' heart, is going to see a lease of life! The first book is rewritten and retitled Sunfire, and the three others will follow.
I've been very lucky with the publishing houses who have offered me contracts, and I have a lot to look forward to now.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

A bit of news

I've signed a contract today with Loose-ID Publishing to continue the Dept 57 series!
We're starting with brand new stories, but Loose-ID have said they'd be interested in republishing the backlist in time, but we both felt that it would be much more exciting to start with the new!
So it will be with the novella, "Cat's Eyes" that the Department will make its reappearance! The release date is December, 2007, so you'll have somthing to buy people for Christmas!
All your old friends will be there - Cristos, Will Grady, Virgilio Dubreis, Kai Murdoch, and some new friends, too. I plan to tell Candy's story, Svetlana's story, and Vencel's story in the near future. And the Italian dragon, Domenico, will have his day in the sun, too!
I can't tell you how happy I am. I'm thrilled the series has a new home, and with such a great publisher, too!

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New Release!

Well, it's been an exciting week and I can't sit on my hands and not say anything!
First, I have a new release!

Last Chance, My Love is a mid-Georgian set romance, which deals with a dilemma unusual today, but much more common in the past.
What do you do if you are in love, but you can't make love?
Daniel and Miranda are in that position. After two children, Miranda has been told she must not have any more children. In those days childbirth was one of the most dangerous things a woman could do. And after two difficult births, Miranda has reached the end of her childbearing line.
Daniel loves Miranda and in those days of no reliable contraception, doesn't want to risk it. Moreover, Daniel and Miranda married young, and have no idea of the alternatives. So to help them find their own way, Daniel's brothers force him to accept a bet. He and Miranda must pose as an innkeeper and his wife, put in temporary command of an inn in the prosperous market town of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Away from society and the pressures of their ordinary life, can Daniel and Miranda find their own way to happiness?
Well, you'll have to read the book to find out!

Read an excerpt, and order the book here:

or here:

Gosh, I loved doing this book! I do hope you enjoy reading it! Let me know!

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

RWA Recognition

I understand that the RWA is to revisit some of the recent decisions that were probably made in too much haste because of recent developments.
Good on them. That shows flexibility and a willingness to listen, really listen to what the members want.
The way things stand at the moment a large number of the membership feels disenfranchised. I've listened to many author friends who feel betrayed and let down by an organisation they've spent a lot of time on.
I don't know what the answer is, but I'm very glad the response has been this one, an acknowledgement that epublishing exists, is here to stay, and that an organisation for authors should take note of it and find out what they can.
The epublishing world is full of rumour and innuendo, so it would be great if there was some reliable, disinterested baseline and some help for authors. So all my good wishes and I really hope this has positive results.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'm back!

After a few weeks away from my desk, I'm finally back and blogging.
My career has been turned upside down, but as the dust settles, I'm actually very happy with the place I've found myself in.
Triskelion closing was a severe blow - I had 12 books with them, and suddenly, none of them were available any more. Three are still tangled up in the mess left by the company's bankruptcy, so I have to wait to see if I get them back. My heart goes out to the authors, editors and other staff involved in the debacle.
Onwards and upwards! Or that was what I told myself when I woke up to find that I had 5 books left in circulation - all historicals. My career in paranormal romance seemed to be over.
Or was it?
Nope. You can see on the right that I have temporary covers for my books (thank you Gail!) That's because they are not dead, merely sleeping. The Wildfire series, now retitled Pure Wildfire, is coming out from Ellora's Cave, a publisher I've long admired and wanted to join, but my loyalty to Triskelion kept me with that company.
I know some of you will be saying "more fool you," but I intend to keep it that way. Why should I lower my standards when someone lets me down? Does that mean every company has the same attitude? Hell, no. I intend to continue to give any company who offers me the chance of publication my loyalty and thanks, and I won't renege on any agreement, even if they do (and this time around, I've been very selective as to the companies I've submitted my work to).
And Dept 57 has received an offer, so Cristos is not dead, merely sleeping! RUBIES OF FIRE and DIAMONDS OF ICE are two of the books still tied up, but I think they'll revert to me in the fullness of time. Meantime, I'm rewriting THE CHEMISTRY OF EVIL to make it a true Department book, so you'll see it soon, with a new title, lightly renamed characters and a bit more steam! But never fear - the story will still be paramount, and I won't compromise that or take the book into screaming BDSM or anything like that. Sofie and Evan will still be Sofie and Evan. The contract for this book ran out last January, so it's mine all mine, and I want to make it sing. I'll tell you the new company as soon as I can, but negotiations are ongoing and I'm very pleased!
Then there's the historicals. I think I ought to blog separately about those, TMI and all that.
But that's the news, and if anything else transpires, I'll let you know.
If you want to ask me anything, this seems like a good place. My shambolic organising capabilities will just about see me through checking from time to time!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Settling down.

After the dust has settled, I'm finally sorting out what I want to do.
I'm in the process of sorting out what I want to do, but really, all I ever wanted to do was write. I'm so sad that Triskelion and all the fine authors there suffered, but it's done, and things have to move on.
Including my career.
I'm talking with various publishers about republishing my books, and I've been delighted by the offers I've received. And surprised, in a Sally Field-Gwyneth Paltrow kind of way. And I'm still writing.
I'm working on two new contemporary paranormal series, and a historical. It's lovely to get back to the historical, nice to go back to the research books and try to bring the era alive. I'm enjoying writing so much, and I always will.
More news soon!

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Now look what I've done!

I need to smack that Linnea Sinclair.


Because I've just spent hours playing at because she sent me there!

And this is what I did;

What's in a cliche?

Someone asked about cliches. Are pebbled nipples, six pack abs and so on cliches, or are cliches restricted to plot?

Well for me, it's usually something the author hasn't thought through properly. Falling back on handy ways to describe something, or letting a plot follow a course that is entirely predictable and has also been used innumerable times are cliches.

But you can make cliches into something memorable. Take a girl who thinks she isn't pretty. That's a cliche, right? We've all seen that one. Then the hero makes her feel beautiful. It's partly a cliche because it's real - every teenager looks at the airbrushed pictures of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and thinks she'll never reach that standard (well neither do Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell in real life!) It's led to a whole slimming industry, and department stores are packed with cosmetics. Every woman has a little seed of insecurity deep down, whether she admits to it or not. But to take this and plop it into a plot without thinking it through, that's cliche.

I deliberately used that one in JEWEL OF THE DRAGON and tried to make it real. For most reviewers, it worked, I'm happy to say. I made her a member of an isolated community that didn't think much of beauty, denigrated her and dressed her in frumpy clothes. She got away and turned her back on the community, so she showed she had guts. But her brother was still a member, so she had that reminder every day, since brother and sister shared an apartment and opened a business together. So when the hero arrives, Alix is used to thinking of herself as not pretty. But when Dev makes it clear he's attracted to her, she doesn't keep telling him how ugly she is. And Dev makes her see her attractiveness for herself, instead of making her reliant on him for compliments.

I loved doing that. Make it deep enough and it stops being a cliche.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007


suddenly finding myself without a home for Department 57, I've been blown away by the responses from publishers. When did it happen that people like the books enough to want to pick them up?

I've been working hard to write the series, and in some ways it's run away with me, far more successful than I ever dreamed it would be.

I only ever wanted to write, not a lot else, and it was only recently I sent books to publishers. Writing is what I do, everything else is secondary, so promotion and conferences, while fun, come second.

Now I find myself with a bank of books to find homes for, and when they do settle somewhere, I won't have to write anything new for ages.

It doesn't bear thinking about. I just can't. So I'm still writing, still working and characters are still speaking to me.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Leaving Triskelion

I have decided to leave Triskelion Publishing.

I am very sad to have to make this decision, however changes in management, plus the pulling of the Department 57 series from the print schedule have forced my decision.

I have requested the rights to the Department 57 series back, but I do intend to leave books with Triskelion that are either part of a different series there, or were never intended for the print program. I do not intend to send any more submissions to Triskelion Publishing.

I have several new, exciting projects under way, and I hope to be able to give you news about them in the near future.

I wish all my fellow authors at Triskelion the very best of good fortune.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007


I've been tagged by Erin Grady
Apparently I'm supposed to tell 8 things that no one knows about me (nobody?) and then I'm supposed to tag 8 people.
Well, I thought, but there is nothing that somebody doesn't know about me. My husband knows pretty much everything, and my mother knows the rest. So I'm settling for 'little known.'

Okay, here we go:
1. I adore Belgian truffles. When I was breastfeeding my babies, I used them as rewards, especially for the boy who was, shall we say, a little rough!
2. I want to create two pictures in miniature form - a Watteau and a Hogarth. A life's ambition!
3. I wrote my first story when I was 7, and I still have it. The teacher read us the start of the story of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and we had to finish it. I was hooked! Three badly spelled pages later and I was set on my life's course.
4. My cat, Jack, is my Mews. He sits on the back of the sofa where I work, and helps me by climbing on to my lap from time to time and right clicking.
5. My favourite city in the world is Florence. You can feel the electricity of the place when you step into the central square. There's something truly magical about Florence.
6. I fell in love with the Georgian era when I was 9. We did a school project on tea and coffee, and I found a picture of a coffee house. Instant infatuation, leading to lifelong adoration.
7. I read the tarot, and own one of the original 12 Crowley Thoth packs ever produced. Reading them is a ride!
8. My favourite wine is Nuit St Georges. My favourite single malt is Tormore.

There! Now I have to tag 8 people. Here we go:

Doreen Orsini
Linnea Sinclair
Rosemary Laurey
Vijaya Schwartz
Betty Hanawa
Jo Beverley
Linda Sole
Jenna Leigh

Friday, May 04, 2007

RT Houston 2007 - awesome!

After spending some time getting over the jetlag and making sure I'm talking sense, here's a brief Brit RT virgin's report on the whole shindig!

Amazing. Party time! Well, it seemed like that. I brought lots of posh frocks and every time I opened my mouth, people said, "say that again!" or something like it. I'm proud to have brought 'gobsmacking' 'grockles' and other gems to the American reading public!

I started by staying a few days with totally awesome and wonderful Linnea Sinclair and her husband, not to mention the two cats and the duck, who likes to sit on your feet. After catching me asleep at her kitchen table on the second day, with said duck on my feet, Linnea decided I fit in, and we had a wonderful time. I can only hope I didn't intrude too much. Can't say enough about the welcome she and Robbie gave me and the lovely places they took me to. A perfect way to start my stay.

Then we flew to the conference. A great laugh on the plane when Linnea realised baggage check might be problematic. She had a mega hooped skirt for her Fairy Ball costume, which she couldn't pack properly so she screwed it up and stuffed it in her case, but if the baggage people had decided to check her luggage, they might be hit in the face with a giant, flying white thing!

Luckily, they picked my luggage, not hers, to dissect.

We got to the hotel and settled in. Nice rooms, and a great elevator, which went up 30 floors and back down again. Boggling to this Brit, who isn's used to tall buildings. And the bar was nice and central. On the second day, my roomie, Jean, arrived, and my Triskelion editor and good friend, Gail Northman, set up her office in the bar. A good tactic, because we knew where to find her and the bar was a good one.

I was introduced to butterscotch martinis, Long Island iced teas and Bellinis on this visit. Not to mention the Cosmopolitans (I said not to mention them!) Yum and wooo-------

The balls were great fun and the lunch, which twisted my stomach into knots because I was one of the featured authors, went very well. Mr. Romance was fun, won by Jason Santiago, although Fred Williams had won our hearts by introducing himself to many of us beforehand. The man is a star.

I met some really nice people. I've felt rather on the outside for many years, but when I meet an author, it's usually a fellow spirit. They think like I think, feel the same things I do. And when I mentioned my motto, the only one that really counts, "I can use that," eyes lit up and everyone agreed.

It was a particular delight to meet Judi Fennel, who is a member of a crit group and a fellow Maven, one of a few, special people who have supported me from the get-go. Go Judi!

And - wouldn't you know it - I met an aspiring author who lives 10 minutes away from me here in the UK! Weird stuff doesn't happen in books - it happens in real life!

The booksigning was brilliant. I didn't sell out but I sold lots of books, I had copies of "The Haunting" to sign and several people brought copies of "The Chemistry of Evil" for me to sign, too. It's enormously heartening to know people read and enjoy my books. Truly.

And a special mention to Dave, a gentleman, who showed me where to get the cowboy hats my family craved. Thanks, Dave! They love them!

I collected my Eppie on the first night and took it to the author signing. A very special award, since it's the only competition I enter these days. I'm thrilled to have won it.

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Friday, March 30, 2007


I tend not to enter awards, especially when they're popularity contests of the "please vote for me" category. Too much like American Idol for my liking!
But I do enter the EPPIES every year, the RITAs of the electronic publishing world, in that they are entered by the author then judged by ones peers. And I do like to support organisations I believe in, and EPIC is certainly one of those!
Well I won it two years ago with the historical, HARLEY STREET. It was the Romantic Suspense EPPIE, not the historical romance one, so I showed you can write a thriller set in the past! It was a real jolt to my career, and the award sits on my shelf to encourage me and help me along.
Well a couple of weeks ago, I won another one! This time, the Paranormal Romance EPPIE for A GRIFFIN'S TREASURE. This time I was a bit more than thrilled. Where I come from, we call it gobsmacked! This is the a boost for the new Department 57 series, a series dear to my heart, and the other bookend. My DH wants to do a display case with the awards and my books in between, but where to put it? That's a little too much for me, and in any case, my room is festooned with dollhouses already!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Give it up!

Recently, I've come across an author who has decided to give up writing fiction.

While I respect her decision, that's something I could never do, but it does give me an idea.

I will always write. I wrote for years without even considering publication, it didn't matter. It wasn't part of my life.

When I did write with publication in mind, I had a different attitude. I'm asking people to pay good money for my work, so all the self indulgence had to go, and I had to have a more professional attitude. That meant looking at markets, producing a book regularly, a proper working day.

I still love it, and I think all the discipline has actually raised my game. I'm certainly happier with the way I'm writing.

But could I give up writing? Hell, no!

However, I've seen writers in despair, because they can't find an agent, can't find a publisher, can't find a home for their work. So my advice would be to give yourself a holiday from that.

Just write. Remind yourself why you do this, how much you love it. Forget markets, forget the business and just give yourself permission to write, something you care about that doesn't fit anywhere, or do anything except maybe hone your craft a little, and free up your voice.

You never know, you might end up with your first published book! But it doesn't matter. If you don't, you have reminded yourself just why you put yourself through this torture, what is at the heart of your writing, why you do it.

And if you find yourself writing nothing, don't despair. Perhaps that was the break you needed and you'll come back refreshed, or even find yourself turning in another direction.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Romance rules OK!

Yet another post on another blog (no, I'm not linking to it) saying that romance is rubbish and formulaic. Why is it only romance that is judged by its poorest examples, instead of its best?

Romance is seen as the lowest of the low by many people, and invariably, those people haven't actually read any, or have read a couple and decided it's not for them. From this you get the view that "Harlequin is boy and girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, no sex involved, the end." You see that all over, but anyone who's read a good Intrigue or Blaze can tell you just how wrong that is.

The other is that romance is the single largest genre in paperback sales (I don't know about hardback, so I'm leaving them out). And in ebook sales, too. So it's a lucrative market, if you can break into it. That inevitably leads to a slew of 'also rans,' writers that are just okay, writers who are cynically exploiting the genre (yes, shock,horror, they do exist!) and writers who think, "well, it's only romance, so I can get away with stuff."
Well, in the long run, they can't. Romance books have to be deeply felt, original and exciting to truly make the grade, although, as any romance reader will tell you, she will read a bit of fodder just to keep her habit running comfortably.

Romance is no longer "boy/girl," it can be "boy/boy," "boy/girl/boy" or "vampire/girl," and so on. So "boy meets girl" no longer applies. Romantic suspense has also enlivened the genre, so some romances read more like a James Bond novel or even a police procedural. The romance still has to be upfront and centre, but the story can feature catching a serial killer, exploring vampire society, and the darker elements are really hot at the moment.

But look at the keeper shelves. I have a healthily sized keeper shelf. Not every book by a favourite author makes it there, and they don't make it for the same reasons. Sometimes, when a book that's part of a series doesn't come up to par, I keep them for the sake of the others.

I can think of only two authors whose books invariably make it on to my keeper shelf. Laura Kinsale, who writes historicals, and Robin Schone, who writes highly erotic romances set in the late Victorian era. Both these authors are original, and far from prolific, so everything they release is a treasure, and because they push boundaries, even if the book doesn't work entirely, it's always worth a look.

Then there are more prolific but equally talented writers like Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowell and Suzanne Brockmann, as well as Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Liz Carlyle. Great writers, but not all their books are keepers for me. They are more prolific, sometimes they try something that doesn't work for me, but I don't want them to stop trying, because even if it doesn't work for me, it will work for someone else, and it develops them as writers.

Since I love reading paranormal romances, I find it surprising how few paranormals make it. At the moment I'm keeping them all, but really, I haven't found a resonance and a depth that I think I'll stick with. I'm working hard trying to add that, but it's not for me to say if I succeed or not.

A New Start

Sounds ominous, doesn't it?
I started a new book today, the next Department 57 book. It's taken me all week to sit down with a blank screen and start to write.
Starting a new book paralyses me. I invariably work and re-work it before I get it right, or somewhere near right. I lose sleep worrying about it.
Yet once it's underway, it just starts to flow. I finish books with a vague sense of dissatisfaction, then I go back a few weeks later, re-read, tweak and polish and think to myself, "It's not half bad, really."
Every time I start a new book it's the same.
And I love it.
There must be something wrong with me.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

technology rules ok?

The one piece of software I'd advise all writers to take time out to
learn is Microsoft Word. It's virtually industry standard these
days.Editors who edit electronically make great use of the Reviewing
Toolbar, you can customise the program to your heart's content, but you
have to give yourself time to learn.

My copy of Word 2003 is customized just the way I like it.

Now I'm not knocking writer's software, but if you want to buy an extra
piece of software to help you write, remember a couple of things:

1. No piece of software will help you write the book that will sell.
Only you can do that, by adding the extra something that makes your
book special - your viewpoint, your voice.

2. You can customize Word, add templates and so on so that fulfils all your needs all the time.

And good writing!

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Friday, January 26, 2007

A writer's life

How about an account of what goes into writing a book and getting it published?

I'm very fortunate to have a successful series going at one house, Triskelion, so for this series I sell on proposal. This is after several books, but by now the publisher knows I deliver my work on time and it's of a certain quality.

Writing the proposal is agony. I have to think up a plot and characters, and get them down on a page. This is where writing a series helps, because the hero and heroine of one story may have been secondary characters in other stories. So I have a chance to get to know them.

At any one time, I have stories in various stages. I only ever write one at a time, but I might be editing another, or revising one ready to send off to my editor. I can do that. What I can't do is write more than one novel. I invest so much of myself in the characters, immerse myself in their world, so I can't disentangle myself to go elsewhere.

At this time, I've just revamped my website, because I thought it was time. And next month sees the release of RUBIES OF FIRE, the first vampire instalment of the Department 57 series. I'm thrilled, because I do love writing those big bad vamps!

So I'm beginning to promote this book in earnest. While promotion isn't my favorite part of the job, it has to be done. I don't want my 'babies' entering the world without a little help, and you can have the best book in the world, but if nobody knows it exists, then it will fade and go away without trace.

I'm going through the editing process with DIAMONDS OF ICE, the next Department 57 book, which I'm very happy with. I made the hero suffer, but he's a strong character, and he can take it!

And I'm writing Ryan's story from the WILDFIRE series, ICEFIRE. I am loving it. I've found a well-organised, together woman for him, and she might surprise you when you come to read about her. Ryan adores her, and so do I. He is such an interesting character, I couldn't wait to get to him, and I was right. Tortured, strong, and with a wicked sense of humour he uses to tease his lady!

I'll try to keep this up, try to show you some of the things that go into the life of the average writer. You never know, it might enhance the reading experience!

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Does a modern romance story need a Happy Ever After?

I have to put in my two penn'orth.

There's a big kerfuffle going on at Dear about a trilogy that ends with the death of the hero, and is being marketed as a romance.

There have been a storm of comments, which I couldn't resist, so here's my bit:

They are Romances, not romantic fiction.

At uni, I studied a lot of love stories, Romeo and Juliet, Anna Karenina, Wuthering Heights, but while I considered them 'classic romances' or romances in the old style, I would never call them romantic fiction.

Then there are the Romances, or Romaunces even, of the middle ages, the Romance of the Rose, The Song of Roland, the Morte d'Arthur. These were romances because they were written in Romantic languages (ie languages derived from the language of Rome - Latin). So we can argue terminology until the cows come home, but these days, romance fiction means a few specific things.

Romantic fiction readers nowadays have only one expectation - a happy ending. You can have same-sex relationships, multiple partner relationships, inter-species (as long as they're sentient), but you have

to have that happy ending. And to kill off the hero in the last book is not a happy ending, however

you look at it.

I could go into lots of technical stuff, about story arcs and genres, but what's the point? As a reader, if I pick up a book labelled "romance" and it has an unhappy ending, or it just stops, I feel cheated. Yes, cheated. The publisher has cynically tried to shove the books into a market that is still the biggest genre, still has healthy sales. So write a book "with romantic elements," write a "love story," but don't call it romance. It's not fair.

And some people wonder why I read the last page first? I want to assure myself that the couple, or threesome, or whatever, get to a resolution, and have something to look forward to. With each other.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Writing angles

Back to writing.

Okay, I've read mails and stuff from all kinds of wannabe writers, and it amazes me how many people actually want to write!

Believe me, if I didn't have a head full of characters yelling, "pick me! Pick me!" I'd find better ways of spending my time.

Like any other profession, the huge success is a mixture of skill, talent, hard work and sheer luck. The last factor is the really important one, if you're talking about the difference between midlist and breakaway success. Publishers try to skew this, and at the moment the trend seems to be to get celebs writing (or rather, being ghosted) their autobiographies, their 'how to' books and so on. While the celeb book will always be with us, at the moment it's getting out of hand. Then the readers will tire of it and move on, leaving a few sure-fire names to hold the fort.

In fiction, the paranormal market is currently a screaming success, but if you want to write a vampire book, about the uber-alpha vamp and the feisty heroine, you're too late for the huge success. Unless, of course, you know different.

And that's what it's all about. Different. A twist, a different approach, something special. I've been a bit taken aback by the success of the Department 57 series, for example. Thinking about it, I shouldn't have been, from a market point of view. The stories are different, they have a different approach to the paranormal market. Not a secret society of vampires, for instance, but all paranormal beings joining together for their mutual benefit. Teams of Talents, led by a mysterious group of people who refuse to say what their Talent is, precisely, but have a bit of everything. Or do they? Neither are my Talents 'different' and special. I really didn't want to write about an elite, but I did want to look out how you would actually face the modern world if you lived longer than the norm, or you could turn into a mythical beast at will - and you wanted to keep your ability secret, at least until the world is ready to accept you as an equal.

So I found my "angle," almost by accident, by writing about something I cared about, something that interested me, and I ended up with a romantic suspense series about a group of people working with MI6 and the CIA. James Bond with wings and fangs, you might say.

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