Category Archives: romance

Wordsmith Wednesday

Today is the first in my 2019 interviews with women wordsmiths. Up first to reveal her secrets is MV Ellis, author of four contemporary romances. Her new novel, Finding MV headshotMarnie, was released earlier this month. MV will be attending the Australian Romance Readers Association Romantic Rendezvous ARR2019 author signing in Sydney on 24 March.

What’s the first book you remember reading on your own as a child, or your favourite childhood read?

One of the first books I really remember loving as a child was a beautifully illustrated Winnie the Pooh picture book. I was enthralled by the combination of words and pictures. I still have a soft spot for Pooh to this day. There were many favourites though—Where the Wild Things Are was another that stands out in my mind. I was a big reader from day one, so my first solo read was so far back I don’t remember it, but I do remember reading Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol at around nine or ten, which started my love for Dickens.

What’s your favourite place to write?

Hmmm…I write at my three-metre-long kitchen table. However, I do have an office (aka the spare room), but it’s currently serving as a bit of a junk room during our home renovations. When that’s all done, I’m planning on taking it back over and creating a beautiful writing haven. In the meantime, when I want a break from the dining table, I head to our local café, or even IKEA for a change of scene.

What’s the most important lesson you have learned on your writing journey so far?

It’s hard to pinpoint just one, as the past year as a published author has been a steep learning curve. However, one thing I’m currently living by is that you just have to keep on keeping on. It’s not always easy, but you’ve just got to get your eyes down, bum up and keep working and moving forward. I write every day, more often than not, into the small hours of the morning, but I know that’s what I need to do to achieve my not inconsiderable short and long term goals. My current motto is “You can sleep when you’re dead.”

What do you do when you feel stuck?

I’m fortunate enough to never have suffered from writer’s block, but on the few occasion when motivation wanes, I force myself to write, no matter how paltry an amount. Failing that, I watch TV. I’m a very visual person, and I find that consuming visual forms of storytelling helps keep my creative juices flowing, while not specifically trying to write.

Writers are readers too. Please recommend a romance you recently read and enjoyed.

I recently read LJ Shen’s Dirty Headlines, and as is always the case for me with her books, it didn’t disappoint.

What was the inspiration behind Finding Marnie?

finding  marnie_fprjpegs_frontcover.jpgBeing the fourth book in a series, Finding Marnie was somewhat inspired by the previous books, but also by reader requests to know more about some of the supporting characters from the first three books—Marnie and Luke in particular. It was a chance for us to learn more about the troubled pair, and see events portrayed in the other books from a whole new perspective, and in a very different light. Having said that, it’s a standalone novel, so great to read even if you haven’t read the other books.

Tell us about Finding Marnie in 100 words or less.

Finding Marnie: Rock Star Romance (Heartless Few Book 4), the highly anticipated fourth installment of the Heartless Few series, takes us back to the rock ‘n’ roll world of the Jones brothers, but now from a different point of view. “Quiet twin” Luke has preferred to live in his twin brother’s shadow, but when Marnie, his life-long crush, finds herself at rock bottom he’s desperate to save her, even if it means defying Arlo. In this book we see this sexy rock god finally step into the light and become the man he was meant to be, proving to both himself and Marnie that they are worth fighting for.

Do you have an extract you can share with us?

I’D LEARNED to make myself small from an early age—even before my parents had decided that I wasn’t worth living for. They’d always been all about them, and I’d always felt like an inconvenient by-product of their love, rather than a cherished part of it. The state-ordered psychologist I saw after they died had said that nothing and nobody could take away or diminish the way I felt, but it was unlikely that my parents hadn’t loved me. They may have lacked the parenting skills to adequately demonstrate it and been hampered by mental illness and addiction, but apparently, nothing in their treatment of me suggested I had been unloved.

 Try explaining that to a three-, four-, or five-year-old who was never a consideration. I was just there. Not living but existing. I quickly learned that the less space I took up, the less mental real estate I commanded from them, the happier they were with me. The smaller, the better. If I could have made myself invisible, that would have been ideal.

 I curled myself into a ball next to Luke, hugging my knees to my chest. Fuck, he made my heart hurt. In fact, he made all of me hurt. No, that wasn’t right. He made me ache. All of me ached for him. When I was feeling weak and being stupid, I allowed myself to imagine what it would be like if things were different. If I were different. If I were the kind of woman who deserved the love of a man like him. The kind of girl who could match his gentle nature and give him the love he deserved.

 I was clearly feeling more stupid and weak than normal, allowing myself to think that way when Luke was within arm’s reach. When I could just stretch out my hand and run it through his thick dark hair like I’d imagined myself doing ten thousand times before. When I could brush my hand across the stubble of his strong jaw. When I could kiss his ripe, shapely lips just once.

Buy linksMV Ellis.jpg

Where can readers find you online?

 

Australian Romance Readers Awards

I was honoured and thrilled over the weekend when I was awarded Favourite Debut ARRA 2018 AwardRomance Author 2018 by the members of the Australian Romance Readers Association members. It was unexpected, and I’m still floating on a happy cloud.

The dinner was a fun occasion, as it always is. Bestselling guest of honour Abbi Glines spoke about the importance of persistence and community support, helping other authors as we would like to be helped. She really embodied the spirit of this message as after the air flight from hell, she landed in Sydney from America a day late, worked her way through an all day signing and still made it to the dinner.

Full list of winners

Members’ Choice awards

  • Favourite 2018 romance that made me cry: Maggie’s Run by Kelly Hunter.
  • Favourite 2018 romance with laugh-out-loud moment:  Chaser by Kylie Scott.
  • Favourite Australian romance of 2018: Maggie’s Run by Kelly Hunter.
Abbi Glines

Guest speaker, bestselling author Abbi Glines.

Main Category award winners

  • The Favourite Paranormal Romance for 2018 is Ocean Light by Nalini Singh. This award was sponsored by Hachette Australia and was presented by Lousie McClean.
  • The Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance 2018 is Cursed by Keri Arthur. This award was presented by Cathleen Ross.
  • The Favourite Historical Romance 2018 is Marry in Scandal by Anne Gracie. This
    Penny and Joo

    With writers group members and fellow nominees Penelope Janu (left, On the Same Page) and Joanna Nel (right, The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village).

    award was sponsored by Hachette Australia and was presented by Louise McClean.

  • The Favourite Contemporary Romance 2018 is Chaser by Kylie Scott. This award was sponsored by Allen & Unwin and it was presented by Abbi Glines.
  • The Favourite Short or Category Romance 2018 is Maggie’s Run by Kelly Hunter. This award was presented by Helen Sibbritt.
  • The Favourite Romantic Suspense 2018 is Dark in Death by JD Robb. This award was presented by Alli Sinclair.
  • The Favourite Continuing Romance Series 2018 is Outback Brides by Kelly Hunter, Victoria Purman, Cathryn Hein and Fiona McArthur. This award was sponsored by Harlequin Australia and was presented by Kita Kemp.
  • The Favourite Debut Romance Author of 2018 is Laura Boon. This award was sponsored by Booktopia and was presented by Ben Hunt.
  • The Favourite Australian Romance Author 2018 is Kylie Scott. This award was sponsored by Booktopia and was presented by Ben Hunt.
Amy

With Amy Andrews, bestselling author of the Sydney Smoke series, nominee in multiple categories, and key support in bringing The Millionaire Mountain Climber up to scratch.

 

 

Deerbourne Inn Dates

In late March, The Wild Rose Press will publish my novella contribution to The Deerbourne Inn series. Deerbourne Inn Dates is an introduction to the other fabulous authors in this series which revolves around an old inn in a small Vermont town. There’s something for everyone in this series – sweet, sexy, historical, contemporary, paranormal.

Today I’m talking to Peggy Jaeger, author of 15 romances. She is a contributing author to the Deerbourne Inn series and her book Hope’s Dream is available now.

What’s the first book you remember reading on your own as a child, or your favourite childhood read?

The first book I remember reading and that is still my favourite childhood book was THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. The best book about self-motivation and visual activation I’ve ever read – even to today!

What’s your favourite place to write?

In my attic office, overlooking my property. My third-floor attic is finished and I have a room all to myself with my desk and all my writing “stuff.” My desk overlooks the wooded property surrounding my home on all four sides so it’s peaceful and lovely to watch when the trees change color in the autumn.

What’s the most important lesson you have learned on your writing journey so far?

To not get bogged down in writing a perfect book in the first draft. I need to get the entire story that’s in my mind on the page. After I do, I go back and edit – make the dialogue richer, eliminate repetitive words, make sure the timeline and POV are correct. Too many writers spend too much valuable time getting each page perfect each day. My motto is to simply write. Put God in the details once the story is finished.

What do you do when you feel stuck?

Don’t hate me, writers, but I never am. The reason is because I’m a master plotter. Before I ever put word one of a new story on the page, I’ve already got the entire story plotted out, scene to scene so I know exactly where I’m going. It’s worked well for me through 15 books!

Writers are readers too. Please recommend a romance you recently read and enjoyed.

SHELTER IN PLACE by Nora Roberts. A very timely subject in the United States – teen shootings and the aftermath that a shooting wrecks on the survivors. Plus, there’s a hot romance within the story!

What was it that appealed to you about the Deerbourne Inn series?

When the call went out for stories set in a fictional New England town in Vermont surrounding an historical Inn and quirky town characters, I knew I had to write an addition of my own because I live in a beautiful New England town in New Hampshire (next door neighbour to Vermont) and my town is filled with quirky characters. I felt like I knew Willow Springs (the Vt. Town) like the back of my hand. Everything about it felt familiar. Simply, I couldn’t not write a story!

What was the inspiration behind Hope’s Dream?

At the time the call came through for submissions I’d been tossing a plot line for a rags to riches romance around in my head. I had the characters and the plot but not the setting. The Deerbourne Inn Series provided that. I love a rags to riches and an opposites attract romance. HOPE’S DREAM has both in the main characters. One has a secret that could make the other’s life so much better, but if the secret is revealed, the love story could change – and not for the better. I had to come up with a balance that would afford my hero and heroine both their HEA and the windfall.

Tell us about Hope’s Dream in 100 words or less.perf5.000x8.000.indd

Hope Kildaire gave up her future dreams when a car accident killed her father and left her mother an invalid. Working two jobs and caring for her mother leaves Hope little free time. When a law firm representing her paternal grandparents contacts her, Hope ignores them. The family disowned her father so she wants nothing to do with them.Lawyer Tyler Coleman’s job is to obtain Hope’s signature. Getting it is harder than planned when an unexpected attraction blossoms between them. The opportunity to have everything she desires is at Hope’s fingertips. But will it come at the expense of Tyler’s love?

Do you have an extract you can share with us?

As he started back toward the inn, his hands secured in his pockets against the night chill and his neck burrowed under his scarf, he realized he needed to tell her who he was before this went any further. He should have done it tonight, as he’d originally planned. Why he hadn’t was as clear to him as the night sky above: he was frightened once she knew the truth she’d want nothing to do with him.

Could he blame her? While he hadn’t outright lied, he hadn’t told her the truth, either. Which was worse? An intentional fabrication or a lie of omission? Both felt equally wrong right now.

Disappointment had clouded her face when he’d broken their kiss. She felt something for him. That look proved it. He could only hope once she knew who he really was and why he was in her home town, she’d be able to forgive his subterfuge.

Buy links

Where can readers find you online?peggyheadshot

The Millionaire Mountain Climber

The Millionaire Mountain Climber is now available.

BlurbMMC.jpeg

When danger threatens a bona fide city girl, an adventurer is her only hope of rescue

Mountain climber Matt Hanley is a former investment manager whose lean body and rugged good looks epitomize an outdoor adrenaline junky. When his business partner in their country hotel is injured, he needs an efficient replacement in a hurry.

Hailey Gordon lives a chic city life free of adventures and daredevils. She craves stability and security but loses her job and boyfriend on the same day. A holiday job in France is the perfect escape from her troubles.

Sparks ignite when Matt and Hailey meet, but she resolves to ignore the flame flickering between them. Aside from the fact Matt is her boss, she is convinced he is not her type. Matt is determined to teach Hailey to look beyond appearances. He needs to show her how good they are together, even if he must risk life and limb to do so.

Extract

Hailey drank in the landscape, noticing the clarity of the late afternoon sky and the way the snow-capped peaks glistened despite the fading light.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Matt.  “Trending down the valley, you have the villages of Argentiere and Les Praz and the town of Chamonix. Behind Chamonix you can see the Grand Mama of all the peaks, Mont Blanc.”

“Yes, the pens––and the chocolates.” She shook her head. What hubris to name a pen after the magnificent towering peak, but what marketing genius.

Matt grinned. “Ah, you know the chocolates, do you? We’ll have to buy you some.”

“From the lips to the hips,” she murmured, “and I am sure they don’t do the mountain justice.”

“Come on, let’s get you inside before your face turns blue, and I earn a reprimand from Genie for chatting up scantily-clad women in sub-zero temperatures.”

“Really? You were chatting me up? I’m flattered.”

The smile turned wicked. “You’re welcome.” As he bent to pick up her suitcase, he dropped his head next to hers and murmured into her ear in a low, deep voice, sending shivers down her spine. “For the record, Hailey, your curves are perfect. A little chocolate won’t do them any harm.”

She blushed, and the fire of his words flickered all the way through her belly. When was the last time her ex had paid her a compliment? An appalling thought crossed her mind; she, the High Priestess of Order and Long-Term Planning, was ripe for the picking and contemplating a holiday romance.

eBook Buy Links

Amazon Australia IMG_3920

Amazon US

Amazon UK

IBooks 

Kobo

The Wild Rose Press

Paperback Buy Links

The Wild Rose Press

More coming soon.

Release Day Celebration

To celebrate the release of my romance The Millionaire Mountain Climber, I am hosting a party on Facebook with the 1-Click Addict Support Group and a clutch* of other authors. Join us for the chance to meet  new people, discover new books and win prizes.

Date 24 – 25 October (depending on where in the world you live)

24th 3-10pm American EST OR 25th 6am – 1pm Australian AEDT

PartyPromoGraphic_med

*Is clutch the right word for a group of authors? Happy to take suggestions.

Cross-cultural Victorian romance alive with heart, hope and strength

After the Wedding: A Worth saga romance by Courtney Milan

The only thing more inconvenient than Camilla’s marriage at gunpoint is falling in love with her unwilling groom…

So begins the story of Camilla Worth and Adrian Hunter. I’ve always enjoyed Courtney After the WeddingMilan’s Victorian romance but I really loved this one. Humorous. Passionate. Angry. Heartfelt. As I read the final words, I was filled to the brim with the happy, bubbly, lighter-than-air feeling I get from a truly beautiful book. 

There is something heartwarmingly-everywoman about the heroine Camilla (Cam) Worth, her unquenchable spirit and hope for the future despite the fact that deep down, she doesn’t believe she deserves love. Camilla is the daughter of a treasonous earl, trying to stay hidden so as not to bring any further shame on her family. The hero, Adrian Hunter, is the son of a duke’s daughter and a black abolitionist, an artist and a businessman, strong but gentle and always willing to believe the best of everyone. Brought together by circumstances beyond their control, they work together to wrest their futures back from the men who want to deny them control of their own destinies.

Adrian gives Camilla the right to be herself, and she finds the strength and anger to fight back against with the people who would put her – and Adrian – down. He helps her to look back, and she helps him to look forward. The result is a love match started for all the wrong reasons but finding all the right reasons to continue.

Aside from her memorable characters, Courtney Milan also always digs below the surface of Victorian England to uncover bits and pieces of history that still influence us today. In this case, it is china, as in crockery.  Britain was the workplace of the world for several decades of the nineteenth century, fuelled by a rise in domestic demand thanks to a growing middle and upper working class. There’s a delightful sub-plot in After the Wedding about the creation of a fine china design for display and sale at a trade exhibition.

After the Wedding got me thinking about diversity in Victorian England. A little bit of digging on the web got me the information that there were roughly 10,000 black men and women in London at the time, more around the country, as the result of English tentacles stretching into every continent. They were a distinct minority, under threat of slavery before 1833 even although slavery hadn’t been legal in England since the time of William the Conqueror. However, they were probably not as feared or hated as the Irish. As always in England, class played the largest role in social standing. If you would like to do more research about Black Britain, I found this article from History Today, a helpful overview, although, of course, it does not delve into all the ethnic minorities that make up British society.

After the Wedding is book 2 in the Worth Saga but can be read as a stand alone novel. I did, although I have remedy this fault in my bookshelf by downloading book 1, Once Upon a Marquess, to read immediately.

5 hearts all

Blurb

Adrian Hunter, the son of a duke’s daughter and a black abolitionist, is determined to do whatever his family needs-even posing as a valet to gather information. But his mission spirals out of control when he’s accused of dastardly intentions and is forced to marry a woman he’s barely had time to flirt with.

Camilla Worth has always dreamed of getting married, but a marriage where a pistol substitutes for “I do” is not the relationship she hoped for. Her unwilling groom insists they need to seek an annulment, and she’s not cruel enough to ruin a man’s life just because she yearns for one person to care about her.

As Camilla and Adrian work to prove their marriage wasn’t consensual, they become first allies, then friends. But the closer they grow, the more Camilla’s heart aches. If they consummate the marriage, he’ll be stuck with her forever. The only way to show that she cares is to make sure he can walk away for good…

Courtney MilanAuthor

Courtney Milan writes books about carriages, corsets and smartwatches. As one does. You can find out more about her and her  books here.

 

Getting a manuscript ready for submission

In the not to distant future, my romance novel will be published. This is the first in a series of blog posts about my path to publication. I hope it is inspiring and helpful to other aspiring writers out there.

I’ve wanted to write a novel worthy of readers’ delight since I first went to university, saw creative writing on the course list, and realised that real people wrote books. Maybe, just maybe, I could be one of them.

I struggled on my own for years before I found my tribe at the Romance Writers of Australia. With the support and guidance of various members, I’ve made steady progress. I finalled in one competition, learnt from others, and eventually finished my first manuscript. It placed second in the Emerald Award for unpublished manuscripts. I was thrilled but still plagued by doubts. The praise received was consistent; readers liked the setting, my heroine and the dialogue. The criticism coming back was also consistent – my hero was hard to know. Although I spoke to a few publishers, I never submitted, choosing to rework it instead. I say ‘choosing to rework’ and that’s partly true. Part of me was also retreating. If I wasn’t good enough to win, was I really good enough to publish? Would I make a fool of myself submitting it to publishers? Fear of failure can be crippling. It can also be a strangely comforting bedfellow, one which makes sure you never move out of my comfort zone.

But … I really wanted to be a published novelist. I wanted it more than I feared failure and humiliation. So I set myself a goal. By the next year’s conference I would be ready to pitch my revised and improved romance to publishers. I added 30,000 words to the story and thought about the story a lot, what worked, what didn’t. I also thought about what I would do if no one wanted it. I could self-publish. However, I really wanted to take my first steps in publishing with someone more experienced holding my hand. I wanted the support and the learning curve an author gets when working with an experienced editor and publisher. I’ve worked in the industry for years, so I know how valuable that experience can be.

When the annual RWA conference came around again in 2017, I was ready and prepared to face the threat of rejection again. I’d changed my title from the sweet-sounding Alpine Kisses to the sassier The Millionaire Mountain Climber. I put in my pitch request for the speed dating sessions with editors and agents. As a backup, I also made myself a list of romance publishers who accepted submissions direct from authors. I composed the list from the names of publishers who have attended RWA over the years as well as those who publish the books I like to read. I went online to their submission pages and copied their requirements. If the pitches didn’t go well, I had a plan B.

The pitches went okay. One agent was, frankly, rude, but said I could submit anyway. I did so, but didn’t hold my breath. Just as well because neither I, nor anyone else who pitched, ever heard back from her. One publisher was delightful and enthusiastic, and I submitted with some confidence. Another publisher said I didn’t fit their criteria, so that was a no.

However, with only one genuine show of interest, I didn’t like my odds. A month after conference, I hauled out Plan B and submitted to another ten publishers and one agent. It took time. Each one had different submission criteria. Some requested only the first five pages. Some wanted the first three chapters. Some wanted the whole manuscript. Everybody wanted a synopsis and to know a little about me, but not a one of them matched another. Each submission was unique. Some of the publishers I targeted were Australian; others English and American. I changed spelling according to the submission. While I didn’t get it all right, I reckoned it was respectful to at least make the effort. Those submissions took me another month, to the end of October 2017. I meant to submit to more agents, but decided to first see what came of round one. I also decided that if I didn’t get interest from anyone by end February, I would self-publish. I felt my story had legs now.

Next time: The call … make that the email.