Friday, September 28, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

A lot of response has come from a program that ran on BBC4 Radio yesterday called Guilty Pleasures. It is a 30 minute look at Mills and Boon.

Did I enjoy it? Most of it, yes. However there were some rather closed-minded opinions...well heck, let's just say that a few things said were incredibly insulting not only to the authors but really towards the readers.

Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley and Kate Walker all posted responses, and mine is up at Tote Bags n' Blogs in my inaugural post as a monthly contributor.

Sometimes you think, oh, I won't bother responding because it won't change anything. But I did want to address it because it went beyond an informed look at the genre and was demeaning to women in a huge way.

Anyway I'm off to get more work done...slowly making my way through my to-do list...and I'll be back on Monday.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

London - Part Three and THE END!

Saturday was more relaxed....we had a Mouse and Pen get-together (the Mouse and Pen is a thread on e-harlequin where UK members and anglophiles hang out). Nell Dixon traveled to be in attendance and I also got to meet Carol C who is gorgeous and glowing in pregnancy, and then there were the usual suspects - Julie Cohen with Fecklet, Biddy, Fiona Harper, Anna and myself.


We went to a turkish restaurant and had a wonderful time. No alcohol consumed, oddly enough. I think I may have still had an elevated blood alcohol level from the previous night, but the food was great and the company better.

We went back to Biddy's flat and were lazy for a bit, until we had to say goodbye to some people.

We did manage to get off our collective butts and head to Biddy's sister's for drinkies before dinner. Can I just say right now that I LOVED Pimlico. Gorgeous white row houses and tended flowers...just perfect. After wine (and I really have NO willpower when it comes to the grape) we went to dinner. Where I actually had to think as we went over favourite novels, favourite romance novels, favourite movies...


Anna and I stayed at the flat and the next morning we ate breakfast at Anna the sister's lol. From there we went to Battersea which was wonderful. I love walking and it was a gorgeous day. I took pictures and we had coffee by the pond...and on the way back stopped for a proper Sunday lunch where I had treacle tart served by a VERY good looking waiter. (Yes, Anna???LOL)

Alas I had to say goodbye to Anna on the train, and I struck out on my own for a final tourist blitz in the form of an open-top bus tour.


The real way to see London though is to know where you want to go and walk it. I got off at St. Paul's and went inside, caught the bus and got off again at the palace. Then I took my sweet time walking around St. James's Park to the HorseGuards and then, because it was getting dark, I made my way back to Biddy's in time for us to go grab one last meal together. (This pic is at St. James's Park)


I was going to go on the Thames boat tour the next morning before I had to leave, but I woke up to heaving rain and decided against. Instead I spent a morning with the best hostess EVER and whom I cannot thank enough. And I caught a cab, took the train to Heathrow and after 9 very long hours I was home to kisses and hugs and flowers.

We interrupt this travelogue...

For some random news...

I'm guest blogging today on Love is an Exploding Cigar about what it is to be a Canadian writer! Pop over and leave a comment because there's a copy of Marriage at Circle M for the winner!

Almost a Family got a new review on The Good, The Bad and The Unread. Holly gave it a B+ and called it "believable and engaging". You can read the review here.

Also, The Soldier's Homecoming showed up on amazon.ca today, sans cover or blurb. I can't wait for it to come up though so I can share both with you.

And this Sunday I'll be at the Calgary RWA chapter booth at WORD ON THE STREET, a literary festival in Calgary. I'm there from 1-3 p.m., as will SuperRomance author C J Carmichael and Nocturne and Kensington author Vivi Anna will be there earlier as well. We have giveaways and stuff so if you're in the area, pop by.

Back to scheduled programming - I'll be back later today with the last installment of the London trip and more pictures!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

London, Part Two - AMBA day!

Friday was AMBA day. I had a leisurely breakfast and got ready, and my CP Michelle Styles blew in like a whirlwind and off we headed for the luncheon. We got off at Green Park and couldn't seem to find Kate Hardy until Michelle phoned her and was told what she was wearing as Kate was waving at us, lol. We headed to the RAF club and the fun began!


I met so many wonderful people, including Fiona Harper, Abby Green, India Grey, Carol Townend, Sharon Kendrick, Natalie Rivers...the list goes on and on. And I'm chatting and having a drink near the bar when I hear a voice behind me...."This MUST be Donna." I turned to find Kate Walker, gave a squeal and was enveloped in the best hug EVER. It was just...yes girls here's that word again...Lovely.


Lunch was very nice...I was odd man out and had the saffron noodles which were quite enjoyable, and after the main course I had to switch tables and ended up having a great chat with Karen Walker, the internet marketing rep from M&B. We had a question and answer period which was very informative and then we went to Selfridges for tea.

I bet lots of people were cursing me as I wanted to walk. It was a long way but I knew I wouldn't get to see anything on the tube! In fact we saw a rather grisly scene along Park Lane as someone had jumped from the Hilton. At Selfridges I had to buy a new pair of tights and I also bought a christmas ornament for the family - a tradition we seem to do a lot when we travel.


From Selfridges it was on to the Oriental Club in Stratford House. What a fabulous time. Literally - a bottomless champagne glass. Which became crystal clear when I was talking to Jo Carr and managed to slur a word and was horrified at myself. Nice thing is everyone is in the same boat and she just laughed. It really is a relaxing time and I got lots of hugs and have to say I simply love the editorial team. Not only glam but so very nice and FUN! (waves to Lydia, Jo, Maddie, Kim and Lucy if they happen to read!) I did miss a few editors that I hope to meet next time around.

And I had surprised myself at the lack of sentimentality - I'd expected to cry at lunch....and then Kate Walker was accepting her pin for her 50th book and I looked around and saw where I was and who I was with and got all teary. At which point my CP hauled me away to meet Jo and Jo had to put up with my trying to put myself together. She thought it was sweet that I was affected so deeply. But really...this was a dream come true. It really was. THis is a pic of me with my editor, Maddie Rowe. I'm starting to look a little tired...and warm!


After the reception a group of 13 of us departed en masse to Browns for dinner and a private room which was a great thing for several reasons...most of all the raucous nature of our group!

And there were tears at the end...I had to say goodbye to Trish Wylie and India and Abby and Natasha Oakley...and to Kate. And what Trish started with her hug, Kate absolutely finished as someone pressed a tissue in my hand.

Michelle and I had Biddy's flat to ourselves for the night and stayed up wayyyy to late talking. But a talk that was long overdue.


I'm going to leave you with a picture from dinner, featuring glamour in the form if gorgeous India Grey, and look in the background. That's the cheeky Julie Cohen...and that picture pretty much sums up our time!

Thank you, ladies (and Babe Magnet) for a most wonderful, memorable day. I won't ever forget it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

London, Part ONE

Well here I am back from London and full of so much information and emotions I figure this will just be a running theme of the week. That ok with you all?

I got into Heathrow on Wednesday, after only sleeping 2 hours on the plane. Biddy was there to meet me and we took the Heathrow Express to Paddington and then a cab from there to her flat. May I just say that the drive scared the living daylights out of me - I thought Calgary drivers were insane! LOL. We had a late lunch which ended up serving as dinner too - watched a movie while I tried to keep my eyes open so that I could actually just sleep through the night and try to avoid jetlag. Which is exactly what I did...but falling asleep sitting up was a close run thing a few times...

Thursday was lunch with my editor. Trish was having lunch with hers too so we met at Victoria Station and took the train to Richmond together. We talked as if we were old friends....which we are, just hadn't been in the physically present sense before! LOL. Trish is SO much fun. More on that in a bit.

My editor, Maddie, and I went for lunch where we tried really hard to talk business and did manage to fit some official stuff in between talking about other things and enjoying FABULOUS food (note - I had not one bad meal the entire time). THe basics are: A new two book contract, a pitching session that went great, and then some more exciting career plans for after that. Very productive, I feel!

I had a tour of the offices and met some of the other editors...firstly met the editorial director who is also Canadian (her accent made me feel very at home, since I'm sure everyone must have thought that I butcher the English language horribly), then went to the Romance section and met more editors there and they are indeed as gorgeous as I'd heard! I also saw the proof for the cover of THE SOLDIER'S HOMECOMING and the back blurb which actually made me well up! When I have copies of the finalized cover I'll post both. But I'm very happy with it.


Trish and I then proceeded to get lost going back to the station, which I blame on my excitement and us gawking around looking at potential settings etc. and ignoring where we were going.
But this is where we ended up: sitting under a tree on a bench, chatting and soaking up the afternoon. I have a pic of Trish but I'm saving it as I may like to have something to blackmail her with later. We eventually found the station after a kindly old gentleman informed us we were going the wrong direction.

Then Trish and I took the train back. Most of you know how I'm very fangirly about Jamie Bamber and had mentioned to Trish that he was from Hammersmith. What a turkey, and I'm blaming her ENTIRELY, we got off at Hammersmith and took silly pictures of me there as well as chatting up a flower seller who was incredibly intelligent. He pegged Trish's accent to a pretty specific location in Ireland, proceeded to tell us we were Leo's (and we are) and dropped a GREAT innuendo that was HYSTERICALLY funny. He kissed us as we left! LOL


This is me beneath a sign that says London Apollo. Get it? Apollo? (Covers ears against collective groans of blog readers). ANYHOO, Trish couldn't take rush hour trains so we took advantage and called Biddy, who came up and met us for drinkies, and then on the way home to the flat Biddy and I stopped and had dinner.

Tomorrow I shall post several more pics of AMBA and LOVELY lovely people (yes, I'm using the word LOVELY again, sue me guys).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

See ya on the flip side....

of the Atlantic.

Worst part is leaving the kids, even though they are staying with their dad.

But I'm excited and ready to go...will try to update during the week, if not watch this space next week!

D

Monday, September 17, 2007

It's starting to set in...

...that I'm leaving tomorrow for London.

I am already missing my family, because I've never left them before. And it will all seem very strange, being far away from them. I know this. It doesn't however, mean that I'm not excited...I have both feelings within me and it's all working to make me a little bit crazy.

I haven't travelled much in my life - last year's excursion to Disneyworld and this summer's trip to Vegas is the extent of my international travel. And I'm very thankful to be staying with a friend for the week so I don't have to worry about hotels and such. Not only that, but we have PLANS.

My first full day there is going to the editorial offices and meeting everyone, followed by lunch with my editor. How excited am I?

Then Friday is the AMBA luncheon, probably tea with friends, then the Mills and Boon reception and finished up with dinner - my lovely hostess has made arrangements for a semi-private room for our group! It will be a dream day. I will get to meet so many authors who have been wonderful to me before and after publication - like my critique partner Michelle Styles, and Trish Wylie, and Kate Walker, and, well, you get the idea.

On Saturday I'm meeting more people I've only become friends with online through e-harlequin - like Carol C and Nell Dixon (Headline's new author!). Rumour has it we may be going Turkish. V. Cool!

And Sunday I get to play tourist.

NOW do you see why I'm excited?

I don't know if I'll have time to blog before I go tomorrow, if not, expect updates from London as I imagine I will be communicating with the family through e-mail.

Now I'm off to spruce up the old hair and possibly get some currency converted....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

RyanDan - Like the Sun

I've discovered a new musical obsession....a Canadian set of twins called "RyanDan" - yup, just their names paired together. The album comes out on the 24th and I'll definitely be getting it as soon as I can.

I first heard their upcoming single "The Face" on a radio station here and went bananas trying to find it. Since it's not out yet, the only thing I can find is a clip of the first minute and change. But versions of "Like The Sun" are emerging. "Like The Sun" is top of the list of my new "soundtrack" for the new book, as the heroine's song. And "The Face" is my hero's song.

Most of all, I just like listening to them. You can check out the actual video of "Like The Sun" on their webpage, www.ryandan.com.

For now, here's a clip of them live.



Thursday, September 13, 2007

PHS Treasure Hunt!


Darn time zones...I'm posting this tonight because I'm so far behind everyone else when I crawl out of the sheets in the a.m....

But because I love the little dancing guy, I thought a proper present was in order and something to go very well with Michelle's champagne of yesterday.

So here's my gift to the PHS guy on his birthday:



My favourite choccies in the whole world - made right here in Canada - Bernard Callebaut...methinks I might have to sneak a box into my luggage when I go to London next week....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PHS! Don't forget to get all the clues and enter for your chance to win the hugest prize hamper EVER!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is a review?

I hesitate to post this, but I'm going to anyway because the truth of the matter is I'm actually not upset or angry or anything at all about the fact that I got a less-than-stellar review today. Julie Cohen posted a similar topic last week and so it's still sort of on my mind.

All About Romance gave Marriage at Circle M a D. And while yeah, I'm disappointed, I mean who wouldn't love to have an A, it's okay. Because what is a review, really? It's ONE PERSON'S OPINION.

Let's look at it this way. AAR also reviewed Hired By the Cowboy and gave it a lovely review and a B. But it was a different reviewer. Maybe my voice and style of writing is her thing. While clearly it wasn't for the reviewer I had this time. Hired's "word" in the review seemed to be "sweet"; for Marriage at Circle M it turned out to be "annoying". WHile the first reviewer had her doubts going in and ended up liking it a lot, this reviewer had higher hopes and didn't like it so much.

I don't actually think the quality of the story went down, so I think it's just a matter of different people liking different things.

Heck, I don't necessarily like books that are raved about. I couldn't stand The Bridges Of Madison County, and never got what all the fuss was about. I recently read a book that had loads of acclaim but that I just couldn't seem to believe. But thousands of others obviously did.

Not everyone has to like my books. That's why there are individual people and tastes. Just because this particular reviewer didn't like it doesn't mean others won't. And she took the time to read it and post a lengthy in-depth review without being nasty at all.

When it all comes down to it, I appreciate the fact that she did that.

What's your opinion of reviews???

Guest blogging....

Today you can find me talking about how life has changed since getting published at The Pink Heart Society. One thing for sure...life is definitely never dull! And while you're there, join in the Birthday Treasure hunt and get yourself in the running for a HUGE, fabulous prize at the end of the month! (And my present in the hunt is coming up very soon....)

You can also find me at e-harlequin at their blog bash. This is "30 Authors in 30 Days" talking about what keeps them writing. Especially if you're an aspiring writer, reading the posts from everyone is a great way to get motivated and feel a part of something wonderful and sometimes difficult. My post was on September 4th.

My sister sent a box for my girls last week and it arrived yesterday. It was unexpected and chock-a-block full of BOOKS! My girls are avid readers and she sent at least 40 chapter books for them! Awesome!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Marriage at Circle M Releases Today!

I felt a little funny when I saw that the release date for Marriage at Circle M was 9/11. I kept thinking, can that be right? Shouldn't it be the day before or after? It just felt disrespectful knowing that my book was coming out on this particular date.

But you know, the whole point I think is that LIFE GOES ON. As much as we should never ever forget, we owe to those people to live life. And in a way, it was 9/11 that made Marriage at Circle M possible.

A lot of you probably know this but I had a very difficult time after the birth of my youngest. I was just getting my feet beneath me again when the planes hit the twin towers and I made the mistake of watching too MUCH news...and it really really affected me.


It was a month later that I was home visiting family and really feeling quite raw about it all and my sister suggested I put my energies into writing. November of 2001 was when my writing journey began. And today, my second Harlequin Romance hits the shelves.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Up Up and Away....

This weekend was kind of cool - we went to a town about an hour north and helped a friend work on his hangar...he's building one at the local airstrip. I didn't do any building, it was more "hang out and watch the kids play" time. But Saturday afternoon, the gentleman with the hangar across the way came over and asked if the girls and I would like to go for a flight.

So up we went in a Cherokee, my eldest, 9, in the front and the youngest in the back seats with me. We went over to Glennifer Lake and saw Dickson Dam and he even let my eldest take the stick (and after several seconds I got a little worried and hoped he'd take it back, lol). She was in clover. And we came back to the smoothest landing...it was just lovely.

You know my kids have had such a fabulous summer - did lots of fun and new things that I know will stick in their memories. This latest excursion was unexpected which I think made it even more special to them.

Now they're home and tired and getting ready for school, but with a new story to share anyway!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Yay FRED!!!!!!!!

Once upon a time, on a bulletin board far far away, there were so many Julie's that it got confusing. I'm talking about Subcare on the e-harlequin community boards, of course. And so the Julies were given nicknames...Julie C was Feckless, Julie K became Fred...

And yesterday, Fred popped the news that she's sold her novel, Devil's Gold, to MEDALLION!

It's been a long, hard road for Fred, and an almost-as-long road for this particular novel. I couldn't be happier for her!

Now Fred's a little behind the 8-ball and hasn't got herself a website or blog yet, so if you want to offer your congratulations, post them in the comments and she's coming over to have a peek later!

Congratulations Hon!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Silver Lining

Over the summer, I ended up spending an afternoon stranded at a truck stop with my kids while my husband went in search of our friends whose truck had broken down.

We had a fabulous waitress and towards the end of our stay she brought my girls ice cream and me a drink on the house. She was on her way home so I thought I would go to the bank machine and leave her some cash as a thank you. Only the cash machine was out of order.

So, once we got home and settled, I sent her a thank you and a book for her going above and beyond. Today, when I got home from a rather tiring day, there was a letter waiting for me from her.

It doesn't really qualify as fan mail, but the effect was the same...it made me feel good and somehow the exhaustion and stress of the last few weeks seemed a lot smaller. The same as it did that day at the Husky.

It was a rather silver lining...however now my to-do list still beckons so I'm off. :-)

Oh and Maureen, if you're reading this...you actually DO get to see Connor and Alex again - In Marriage at Circle M! :-)

Putting in my order

If God is listening, I'm putting in my order for more hours in the day. Seriously. I can't possibly get everything done in the amount of time I have.

or at the very least, I could use Hermione's time turner from The Prisoner of Azkaban. I could possibly manage that way.

Problem is I try to finish one thing and four others go undone and I'm on a time limit, however I can't possibly get less sleep because I really start making no sense at all. I could have worked longer last night, but I was spending more time correcting my typing than putting down new words.

So just a hint God...a couple more hours'd be grand.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

This Just In...

The lovely Janet, reviewer for the Pink Heart Society, has reviewed Marriage at Circle M!

Her summary hits the nail dead on the head and she had this to say about the book:

"A poignant, heartrending story about romancing and healing. You’ll love strong, protective Mike and cheerful, independent Grace — and wonder how these two can ever reach a happy ending.

An emotional read, that belongs on your must-buy list for September."


You can read the whole review HERE! Wooooot!

An ending and a beginning

Good news...the book that never seemed to want to end is DONE! I know I still have to make another pass or so before it's "editor-ready"...but I'm also certain that if I leave it until that time, when I go back it'll all be clear. Sometimes distance is a great ally. But structurally...I have everything where I want it and the tweaks that remain will be making sure I have exploited every emotional moment fully.

So that means...I get to start a new story.

I'm participating in a Novel In 90 challenge with my local RWA chapter, and it started Sept 1 so I'm already behind. Not to worry, I know I'll catch up. But someone asked me what I had coming up next and the list was such that I actually frightened myself. How did I get so busy? (I know, no one's fault but my own, but those who are anticipating asking me ANYTHING for the next 3 months will have to get used to the word 'no'). I think the NI90 challenge will be good because I can write my pages per day and focus, then work on the other stuff in the interim. And of course things may change after talking to my editor in a couple of weeks, but I'll cross that proverbial bridge when I come to it.

So for now, amidst all the other commitments, I'm starting "A Bride at Willow Bend" - my winery story. It's also the story of The Italian's Secret Proposal's hero's sister and best friend. I'm looking forward to it.

Today I am doing up the synopsis for TISP, and starting my character sheets for BAWB (haha, that reads like 'BOB'). SO things keep moving along!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

An offer from e-harlequin...

If you haven't noticed, there's a new lovely colour-coordinated button to the right on my sidebar. Right now, eharlequin is running an exclusive promotion that can only be had by clicking this button wherever you may find it - to the tune of free shipping.

Considering online you can get the books early, and often at a discounted rate, AND free shipping...well it all sounds rather tempting, doesn't it!

All you need to do is click on it and you'll be taken to a coupon you can use for your purchase.

Monday, September 03, 2007

PHS and the Hugh Jackman tour

As part of their birthday celebrations and the MALE ON MONDAY feature, the Pink Heart Society is having a Hugh Jackman "tour".

I couldn't resist - since this week I'm starting a new WIP and this is the picture that started it all:




Enjoy!

And for those of you on the PHS yahoo loop, I'm list mum today and tomorrow, and we're talking about ANTICIPATION so pop in and join the fun!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

PHS FIRST BIRTHDAY!


It's the first birthday of the PINK HEART SOCIETY and there's a whole month of celebrating to be done!




There are special things happening on the blog, a treasure hunt for a GREAT prize at the end, a special HUGH JACKMAN tour :-) and guests on the PHS YAHOO LOOP all month!

I'm privileged to be kicking off the loop celebrations on Monday and Tuesday, so come on over and have a chat...we're going to be talking about ANTICIPATION....*rubs hands gleefully* and I can't wait!!!!!!!