Friday, July 29, 2011

Naked Fridays!

I'll keep this short but not sweet: I'm over at The Naked Character today, talking about why I love writing kick-ass female heroines. Drop by if you get the chance!

And have a fantastic weekend.

PS - I'm having some issues replying to comments over there right now, but I do read and appreciate each one. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shepherd's Pie, Cocktails and Lingerie

Greetings, fair Bloggites! I'm still in the throes of editing (yes, still. Yes, this is round, like, five bazillion) and being brain dead, I reached out to Twitter to give me some blog idea joy. And -- Twitter being full of being evil people -- this is what they've come back with. So I've found a way to work such disparate elements into a little ditty for your reading pleasure (or not).

Shepherd's Pie, Cocktails and Lingerie

I lean over the hot oven, splatters from the mince creating oily splotches on the pristine pages of my cookbook. Sweat beads on my brow and I wipe it away before it joins the oil slicks. Who the hell asks for shepherd's pie in July? Surely not shepherds -- they're too busy sleeping off the heat under a tree somewhere. No, the only person daft enough to request such a thing is Gregory. My ex. My sodding, silly ex who dumped me last year, and who now has the temerity to invite himself over and ask for bloody shepherd's pie!

So that's what I'm cooking. Yes, I know it's pathetic. But if I said no, he'd think I'm not over him yet. And if I don't make the dish he asked for, he'd figure I'm spiteful, right? I should also mention I'm wearing my best lingerie: a dusky pink satin balcony bra and skimpy matching knickers. Why? Well, the sauciest action these poor items have seen is when I ripped off the sales tags. And I have to make an effort, to show Gregory I've not let myself go.

I throw in a handful of carrots and take a big swig of my vodka tonic. Already things are slightly hazy, but drinking will just take off the edge of all those awkward 'so-hey-how-are-you moments' we're sure to have. I haven't seen Greg since he stuck me with the bill at Pizza Express after smugly proclaiming he was heading to Peru to 'find himself'. I hope he found some more hair, since he'd just started balding and that combing-forward tactic so wasn't working for him.

Oh! Here he is! A bit early, but maybe he can help make the food . . . okay, not likely. God, is that the buzzer again? Looks like he hasn't found any patience. Do I really need to let him in? Do I even want to? I gulp back my drink, listening to the insistent buzzes and watching the beef sizzle in front of me.

Bloody Gregory. He can ring my bell all he wants, but he's not getting my pie!

(Euphemism intended.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Those Bl**dy Americans!

Ha! Bet that title caught your eye!

There's been a lot of uproar recently over an article on the BBC website blaming Americans for sullying Brit-speak with outrageous words like 'elevator' (instead of 'lift') and 'apartment' (instead of 'flat').

Horror of horrors! Language purists, take cover!

Having taught for a couple years in a British comprehensive school, though, I think Brits should be more concerned with corruption from within. Um... the word 'chav', anyone? The wonderful gem that is 'innit'? Or how about the fact that my GCSE (high school) students struggled to even write two sentences without lapsing into text-speak?

So, yes: beware the foreign invasion. But perhaps worry about your own population first!

What are your most-hated slang words creeping into regular usage?

(Disclaimer: This post was written by a North American. Any opinions expressed are those of a North American who fully admits to using dastardly American words such as elevator and apartment. Oh yes, and I'm also a British citizen! *mwah ha ha!* )

Friday, July 22, 2011

Most Annoying Office Habits

Happy Friday! Today I'm delighted to feature author Lisa Lim. But before I get to that, if anyone is the UK and is interested in writing short stories, please check out Helen Hunt's upcoming course on July 30th. Helen is fab and she's a super-successful short-story author -- and there are still a few spaces left!

Right, over to Lisa:

A colleague of mine (let’s call her Janet) clips her fingernails at work. I’ll be conversing with a customer, and in the background I’ll hear the maddening Clip Clip Clip Clip sounds resonating in my ears, sounding very much like Japanese water torture.

Then Janet will sand her nails with vigor, causing a plume of nail dust to settle on my desk. Next she’ll whip out ten bottles of nail polish and perform a mani and pedi, and thus fumigating the entire office.

I personally would never floss, pick my nose, use Q-tips or cotton swabs, pop my blackheads or shave my pits at work. That is why it is called personal hygiene.

Care to share your office gripes? Or are you guilty of perpetrating these crimes?

To quote Moliere ~ “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.” So ehrmm . . . *COUGH*. . . if you’d like to check out the works of this whore, my chick lit novel Confessions of a Call Center Gal (it’s Bridget Jones meets The Office) is available on paperback and Kindle on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. If you find politically incorrect shows like The Office, South Park and Chelsea Lately detestable, childish and offensive, then this book is probably NOT for you.

Thank you, Lisa!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Cave Woman Cometh

I'm out of the cave! This round of edits has been sent off to my editor and I'll have a brief respite before the next lot roll in. Still, I'm glad for the break -- this novel has been one of the hardest to get my head around.

Why? Because initially, my main character's motivation didn't jive with her personality. Once I sorted out what would propel her through the crazy events that followed, everything fell into place much better. Phew. More work needs to be done but for now . . . I'm going to kick back, relax and get back to blogging!

And this afternoon, I'm going to lunch in Notting Hill and then spend the evening with Mr TR and my lovely step-daughter. The perfect way to end what can only be described as a month-long slog.

So please have some virtual champers, Twizzlers and chocolate! Wheeeeeee!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bedroom Moves

Happy Monday! Yay, I'm still editing (can you hear the joy in my voice? Can you? CAN YOU?). But good news, I'm going to be done this round on Wednesday. Phew -- I almost want to kill off my main character and just be done with the whole thing!

Anyway, I've been a bit of a bad bloggery blogging blogger lately but hand on weary heart, I promise I'll be better soon. And since the little video thingy I was planning to post doesn't seem to be working, well, I leave you with this snippet from a recent conversation with Mr TR.

6 a.m., in bed:

Me: *click click click on my smartphone*

Mr TR (grumpily): What the hell are you doing?

Me: Nothing!

Mr TR: Put the phone away and go back to sleep.

Me: Just let me check my Amazon sales rank...

Ah yes, the glamorous life of a writer...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Get Your Chick Lit On! Guest Post by Liz Fichera

It's Friday! And guess what? I'm still editing. Oh yes. I've been in a deep dark cave for almost a month now, but I'm pleased that I may finally be emerging shortly. In the meantime, I'd like to thank all the wonderful authors I've had on my blog recently for pulling me through. And wine. And well... wine.

And today, I'm extra pleased to have Liz Fichera here, author of the upcoming novel Craving Perfect. It's a delightful read, and you can see my review here. Take it away, Liz!

It's always perplexed me why books written by women authors about family and relationships are often classified as chick lit while books written by men on the same topics often get literary fiction status. Additionally, literary fiction is sometimes described as character-focused while genre fiction is more plot-based. Not sure I buy that distinction either because I’ve read chick lit that is both plot-based and character-driven. Never mind the negative connotation of the label itself and the fact that books other than literary fiction are not reviewed in mainstream publications as widely, but I suppose that’s a topic for another day. Fair or not. It is what it is.

And you have to wonder if tags like chick lit were used to label books in the 19th century whether novels like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre would still be considered classics today. Cut to present day and we all know that authors like Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin sell boatloads of books that can be classified in this genre. Clearly readers want these stories, when you see how they fly off the shelves whenever there’s a new release. In fact, readers demand them. Perhaps that’s why you see so many women of a certain age flocking to the Young Adult shelves today. We all know that it’s just not teenagers reading young adult novels anymore.

So, can you blame them?

Who doesn’t want to escape for a little while inside a great story and imagine those “what ifs”? For my tastes, a story has to press my emotional buttons to get me truly engaged and I can usually find that in chick lit. So call it chick lit. Call it lit chick. Call it x@3XB 8Lu. I don’t care! Just make these stories available. Boatloads of them.

So what’s your take? Do you care about labels when you purchase your books? Or are you more interested in the story?

About Liz:

Liz is an author from the American Southwest. She writes commercial fiction and young adult novels but mostly she writes stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Her latest novel CRAVING PERFECT has been called chick lit, contemporary romance, and even contemporary romance fantasy. It releases on July 25 from Carina Press. She is also the author of CAPTIVE SPIRIT (2010) and HOOKED (Harlequin Teen, 2013). Don't hesitate to drop by her web site or blog to connect.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If Polygamy Was Legal... I'd Be Marrying Cade

It’s launch day for the lovely Sally Clements’ new book, Marrying Cade, and to celebrate, she’d having a Mexican wave of excerpts! (For those you not familiar with the 'Mexican wave' -- I admit, the term did throw me when I first moved here -- it's just like a wave you start at ball games and such.) You can keep up with the wave’s progress on the twitter hashtag #MarryingCadeWave – and add a tweet with the hashtag to chat with everyone else who’s reading along.

I'm halfway through Marrying Cade and phwoar, it's a great steamy read. Sally's done a brilliant job evoking the feeling of an Italian island and I really feel like I'm there when I'm reading.

To follow along, just call in to these blogs to read each excerpt (they start at stop one, and finish at stop ten). Alternatively, start wherever, and click on the next stop link at the bottom of the excerpt. Or just click on the buy link to get your own copy of Marrying Cade!

Stop Two – Maya Blake’s blog

Stop Three – Nas Dean’s blog

Stop Four – Joanne Coles’s blog

Stop Five – Romy Summers’ blog

Stop Six – Lorraine Wilson’s blog

Stop Seven – Joanne Pibworth’s blog

Stop Eight – Suzanne Jones’ blog

Stop Nine – Lacey Devlin’s blog

Stop Ten – Sally Clements’ blog

Stop One excerpt…

Chapter One

The last thing Cade West felt like doing was mingling with a bunch of bright young party guests. His eyes stung at the unaccustomed Tuscan sunlight, and his body ached from contorting his long frame into a plane seat. The irony of hating long distance flights wasn’t lost on him. After all, he spent most of his life jetting between hotels. But he wasn’t made for an airline seat. Even a first class one.

This week was going to be all about love and happy-ever-afters. A forced break from his regular routine which, if he were honest, he could well do with. He was exhausted after the tedious routine of back-to-back meetings, and on-site consultations. People thought his life as owner of The West Group was glamorous, but the day to day reality was anything but. His managers were paid way over the odds; they could handle things for a couple of weeks. For the first time in over a year he was on holiday.

“They’re sending a car.”

Cade cracked open a sleep-weighted eyelid. “Great.”

His best friend Adam was getting married. Moving to Isola dei Fiori, working for his father-in-law, and putting his life and hope of happiness in Rosa Bellucci’s hands. There wasn’t a woman alive Cade would change his life for. Getting married meant staying in one place, settling down, putting down roots. He’d had roots once, snaking through the earth of his native Texas, gripping firmly in the land that had been his family’s for generations. Cade rubbed the side of his face with the back of his knuckles. No point going there.

Get your own copy here:,, The Wild Rose Press

Before you go on to stop two, do click the tweet button below to help get the wave going! Now, continue on to Stop Two, here!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Romantic Novelists' Conference... In Shoes

I'm back! Hope everyone had a great week. I managed to get a lot of editing done, and while I'm not quite finished, it's getting there. Slowly.

But! Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of attending the Romantic Novelists' Association Conference in Caerleon, Wales. My first conference last year in Greenwich was a blast and I was super keen to get out of the house and drink. (Did I mention I've been editing?) And if you're looking for drink, there's really no better place then a romantic novelists' convention. Compared to many there, I'm a lightweight. I can only aspire to such imbibing greatness.

Apart from drinking wine, the women of the RNA are also famous for shoes. Since, at heart, I'm basically a very shallow and materialistic individual, I thought I would summarise my conference experience in shoes.

Friday morning, I braved the rains and boarded a train from Paddington to Newport Wales wearing the shoes above. Practical for training, and good for puddle-jumping. Lord only knew what I'd encounter in the Welsh wilds. Although the sky cleared around Bristol, as we zipped under the Severn and emerged in Wales, the skies opened yet again and rain poured. No matter -- a nice lunch at a golf course with a friend (who twisted my arm to indulge in a large Pinot) and several attempts to convince the waiter to purchase a Kindle, and the weekend was off to a flying start.

Conference shoes must be high-heeled and ultimately quite uncomfortable, and these high heels certainly filled that role! After checking in and getting settled in my dorm, I scurried over to register, feeling slightly anxious I wouldn't see anyone I knew.

I needn't have worried! Instantly I spotted people I knew from Twitter, Facebook, the last conference... I'd forgotten how lovely and friendly everyone is. It was amazing to see so many friends again and meet some people for the first time. I didn't even feel the pain in my feet! Copious amount of wine were downed that night at the bar and the chatter and laughing continued.

With my feet smarting from the night before, I was only too happy to don this pair of relatively low-heeled shoes for Saturday and Sunday. Despite my slight hangover and zombie-like appearance, Saturday passed in a blur of fantastic sessions and speakers. One of the things I love about the RNA is that no matter how successful and experienced authors are, they always take the time to interact with aspiring writers and those just starting out in their publishing career, like me. Jill Mansell, Elizabeth Chadwick, Katie Fforde and many more were all present and so giving of their time and advice.

Party time! Yes, the time had come to don my lovingly purchased turquoise frock, slide my feet into these killer shoes (in more ways than one) and drink as much wine as I could. It's safe to say a good time was had by all, except my liver, which is still in recovery and sleeping off the effects. The Gala was fabulous and everyone scrubbed up very nicely. I was particularly chuffed to have a lovely late-night conversation with the fabulous and talented Miranda Dickinson and Ruth Saberton, despite the fact that I was practically swaying on my feet and almost slobbered all over them in my delight.

Sunday afternoon rolled around far too quickly and I hopped (well, stumbled) on board the train back to reality. Another fantastic conference, and if you live in the UK -- or even if you don't! -- and you write romantic fiction, you really couldn't do better than to join the RNA. It's one of the best writing moves I've ever made!

A big shout-out to Ruth Long, Jane Lovering, Kate Johnson and many others for making the weekend so fab. Oh yes, and Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson for being organisers extraordinaire.

Monday, July 04, 2011

You Say Hello, and I Say... Wine

Monday's in the house. Woooo!

(Yes, that's forced excitement on my part).

First of all, happy fourth of July to my American friends! Hope you're enjoying fireworks, BBQs and FUN! My weekend was full of Wimbledon, strawberries and cream and editing. I'm pushing feverishly through revisions of Willow and with the Romantic Novelists' Association conference in Wales at the end of the week (yay!), I'm going to take a week's blogcation. I'll be back a week from today with tales of wine, wine and more wine. Oh, and maybe wine.

Until then, have a good one, everyone!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Screams and Beat-Up Trampolines: Tonya Kappes' Writing Process

Happy Canada Day! Please help yourself to yummy maple syrup, tourtiere, poutine and . . . um . . . Screech.

Today, I'd like to welcome guest blogger Tonya Kappes! Tonya is the author of the wonderful Carpe Bead'em and The Ladybug Jinx. Take it away, Tonya.

“Good morning. Your coffee is ready.” My dear husband bends down and kisses my forehead before he heads out for work. “Have a great writing day.”

I roll over and lazily look out the window over the lush Kentucky bluegrass meadow outside. The birds are singing, I see a few deer nipping at the berry trees, and the reality sets in….

“Hurry up. The kids’ lunches need to be made. I’m late,” my dear sweet husband screams, waking me from my wonderful dream.

I shield my eyes from the sun blasting through the window, and look out to see my dog having a barking match with the neighbor’s dog, bikes thrown down, and balls all over the yard, not to mention a beat-up trampoline.

Before I get my foot on the floor, one of my four teenage boys run into the room needing a shirt ironed before school, and another one dangling a squeezed up tube of toothpaste in the air because I forgot to get some at the grocery store.

Now my real day can begins…

I wish I could say I go to my office with a cup of coffee in hand and read and respond to my emails, blog, check Facebook, Twitter, and the other social networking sites.

I don’t. I send my teenage boys off to school and get ready for the day job that I have in order to pay the bills. I go to said day job, come home, take boys to various extra-curricular activities, and then my writing begins.

Sleep? What’s that? I drink over TWO pots of coffee a day!

When Talli asked me about my writing process, I thought I was going to choke on my coffee. What writing process? The more I thought about it, the more I realized I do have a writing process. It’s just not a traditional process.

Some writing days are better than other. But I do write everyday and usually 2k words, I just take it with me. I wrote my first book under a tree during my son’s football practice.

My writing process begins with an idea, characters and I let them live in my world, in my head. I keep a writing journal with me (even at ballgames, honor clubs!). The story comes to life and I write. I write in school car line while waiting for my kids, the veterinarian’s office, grocery store line, church (yes! God wants me to be successful and make people happy with my words.), I don’t plot, or create really cool color coated charts. I just write. Generally by the end of the day, there are over 2k words that I have to put in my laptop…sleep? What’s that?

Seriously though, if someone really wants to be a writer, you make time for it. And even though my writing process is different, it works for me. In six years, all my boys will be out the door, and then I’ll have that dream of waking up looking out at the Kentucky bluegrass.

Have a great weekend, everyone!