Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Annual AMBA lunch

September marks the time of year for the annual AMBA lunch held in London, and since it's a rare occasion that so many authors get together, we at the blog though it might be interesting to our readers to catch a rare glimpse into the one day a year we get to be glamourous. Jessica Hart, one of this year's organizers, has provided a bit of background into what this particular day means, and Donna Alward, who attended from Canada, is supplying the pictures!

Every year in late September a very special lunch is held in London. To attend, you have to be a member of AMBA, which stands for the Association of Mills & Boon Authors. This makes is sound a lot more formal than in fact it is – there are no rules or regulations or membership fees. All you need to join is to have written a book published by Harlequin Mills & Boon. You’d be surprised at how many of us there are around the world! This picture shows us all lunching at the RAF club in Picadilly.

Writing can be very solitary, and the lunch is a great opportunity to meet up with fellow authors who really understand the highs and lows of writing romance. It doesn’t matter whether we’ve written one book or twenty or a hundred, we all know what it’s like!
Inevitably, most of us converge on London from different parts of the UK, but we’re always delighted when overseas authors can join us. This year, for instance, we welcomed Donna Alward from Canada and Carol Marinelli from Australia. (Picture: Romance Authors Trish Wylie, Fiona Harper and Donna Alward)

It’s primarily a social occasion, but we do also invite guests from Harlequin, who earn their lunch by taking part in a Question and Answer session about some aspect of the publishing business, marketing this year. And in the evening, Harlequin Mills & Boon host a champagne reception, a celebratory toast to their authors, which is usually held in one of London’s old gentlemen’s clubs and which rounds off the day in suitable style! This year it was held at the Oriental Club in Stratford House. Gorgeous, isn't it!

All in all it's a day to celebrate who we are and what we do - and we do it in grand style!

Jessica's Outback Boss, City Bride is out NOW... "Jessica Hart brings the Outback vividly to life in this captivating romance that will touch your heart and tickle your funny bone. ... RITA award-winning author Jessica Hart never disappoints her readers with her spellbinding and sophisticated stories brimming with warmth, wit, drama and romance" - Cataromance

Donna's September release is Marriage at Circle M - the follow up to Hired By The Cowboy and "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." - The Pink Heart Society Reviews

Friday, September 14, 2007

Spotlight in Six with Barbara Hannay!

We're thrilled to have with us this month RITA award winner Barbara Hannay, all the way from Down Under! Barbara's current release is the second in the SECRETS WE KEEP trilogy, Needed: Her Mr. Right.

All right then...here we go!

After writing twenty-six books, where do you find new and fresh ideas?
I’ve been a dreamer all my life. As I child I didn’t have just one imaginary friend, I turned my home into an entire boarding school. My bedroom was a dormitory and I did my homework with a host of “friends”. My long-suffering family never realized that there were at least a dozen other girls dining at our table every night.

So with a weird brain like that, I have no problem dreaming up new story lines. I hope to keep them new and fresh by staying in touch with the ever-changing ‘outside’ world.

I read, read, read and I love movies and belong to a cinema group that shows many ‘art house’ and foreign films. I ‘people watch’ and I’m a great listener at parties and social occasions.

And I have a wonderful husband who consumes newspapers and non fiction books and, unlike me, can recall details later and who is happy to brainstorm story ideas with me.

Writers often use photos of celebrities as “casting”. Do you do this, and who has inspired some of your characters?

I can’t say that I do use celebrities, as I fear my knowledge of the actor or the roles he/she has played will intrude into my fictional world. That said, I do remember when I wrote my first book that I had a scene where the hero was testing the depth of a flooded creek on foot before he drove across it and I thought of Mel Gibson in the film Gallipoli. I asked myself how he would have played that scene and immediately I saw him turn back from that rushing flood water and give the heroine a grin and a wink, like a cheeky school boy.

That moment hooked the editor who eventually bought my book.

What I do use for inspiration are collages – collections of pictures of people (mostly anonymous faces from magazines), objects, settings and scraps of text that evoke the mood of my book and help to keep me in the ‘story world’ of my current work.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of writing a novel? Is there a particular section that you struggle with?

I’m never completely at ease with my story until I get the hero and heroine together. I try, wherever possible, to get them together on the first page, but some stories just don’t lend themselves to that. But I’m always keen to get them together to make sure that the chemistry is working. Once I get a feel for their dynamics, I feel more comfortable about the overall story and I can bear to separate them, if necessary.

I love writing their exchanges of dialogue while they’re getting to know each other, or when they’re meeting again after some time.

And I’m rather cruel. I love to give them plenty of trouble. For me, trouble is story.

I often find the hardest part to write is the ending. Finding ways to make I love you. I love you, too feel new and fresh is a distinct challenge, but I know it’s a very important part of a romance story and I don’t want to cheat the reader out of a good ending. I sometimes think I should write the ending first! In fact, I may yet try that with my next book.

When you are not writing, what do you do? How do you pamper yourself?

My husband and I have a getaway cottage about four hours away, up in the Misty Mountains of North Queensland, where I usually escape. It’s cool and often wet. We light a fire, open a bottle of red wine and listen to music and talk about my next book, or we have friends around and I listen to their stories and tuck ideas away. My life is never completely divorced from my writing.

Imagine you’re stranded…where are you and who are you with?

I think I’ve just described that in my last answer. (grin)

Finally, Barb, please tell us what’s up and coming for you in the months ahead!

This month, of course, there’s Needed: Her Mr. Right, Book #2 in the Secrets We Keep trilogy, which is Simone and Ryan’s story, set in Sydney.
Coming in January 08 is another of my Outback books, The Bridesmaid’s Best Man, in which an Australian cattleman is best man at a wedding in London where he and the bridesmaid have a whirlwind affair that results in pregnancy. The troubled London bridesmaid travels to the depths of the North Queensland Outback to try to sort things out.

Later in July, I have my grandparent book! Yes, I’ve written a romance for grandparents, but they’re only thirty-nine. Their baby was given away for adoption when they were nineteen and now a twist of fate brings them together to care for their tiny grandson.

Thanks Barb for being with us! Needed: Her Mr. Right is OUT NOW at bookshops in NA and the UK and available on the Harlequin and Mills and Boon websites, as well as the amazons!

Monday, September 10, 2007

By Request: A Special Release

This month also sees a special release by MILLS AND BOON BY REQUEST: Bringing Up Baby by three leading ladies of Romance - Liz Fielding, Marion Lennox and Jessica Hart!

The Baby Plan by Liz Fielding

A successful businesswoman nearing thirty, Amanda Fleming’s biological clock was ticking furiously. When she met Daniel Redford, owner of a sexy, lopsided smile and gorgeous blue eyes, it wasn’t long before she had set her plan for motherhood in motion…

Her Royal Baby by Marion Lennox

Tammy is guardian of her orphaned nephew, Henry, who will one day be Crown Prince of a European country. Marc, the darkly handsome Prince Regent, wants Henry brought up as royalty. As Tammy and Marc clash, the passion between them becomes impossible to resist…

Her Boss’s Baby Plan by Jessica Hart

Single mum Martha Shaw is nanny to Lewis Mansfield’s niece, and about to spend six months on a tropical island with him and the babies! She quickly falls in love with her sexy boss – but Lewis is a carefree bachelor with no plans to settle down.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Stupendous September Releases!

It's that time again - when the new month's releases become available!

Check out what ROMANCE has to offer this month...and just save yourself the time and buy ALL of them, they all look SO good....in fact, if you click on the exclusive offer button to the right, you can even enjoy free shipping!

Needed: Her Mr. Right
by Barbara Hannay
Returning from a charity cycle ride through the Himalayas, Simone is determined to finally deal with the dreadful secret she's kept and move on with her life. Until the diary into which she poured her troubled heart is lost…and found by billionaire journalist Ryan Tanner.

Simone's never been able to open up, to get close, and she's immediately suspicious of Ryan. But there's something about him that invites trust. Maybe this beautiful, loving man can help her find the real her. He just might be her Mr. Right in a million.…

Read Excerpt

Outback Boss, City Bride
by Jessica Hart
Meredith West
Likes: coffee shops, nice shoes, London
Dislikes: spiders, the Outback, Hal Granger!

Hal Granger
Dislikes: cool, unflappable, distracting city girls
Likes: one city girl in particular…

Meredith's been forced to take a job on a remote cattle station, with a boss she can't stand! It should be easy to keep things professional—except their office is under the blistering Outback sun, and Hal's work attire is a bare chest and thigh-hugging jeans! Although they're worlds apart, it's getting harder to keep things strictly business…

Read Excerpt

Marriage at Circle M
by Donna Alward
Secrets are hard to keep in a small town…

But Grace Lundquist is determined to hide her pain. Hardworking and always cheerful, she's the town's sweetheart. Everybody loves her.…

Grace knows that one man isn't fooled. When Mike Gardner looks at her, she feels he can see right into her soul. But, try as she might to keep the strong, gorgeous cowboy out of her business, Grace can't douse the spark between them.…

Read Excerpt

Promoted: Nanny to Wife
by Margaret Way
Marissa Devlin has vowed to protect her orphaned half brother—even if it means becoming governess to the daughter of dark, brooding Holt McMaster. Marissa soon feels like a mother to Holt's little girl, but the magnificent cattle baron's guarded heart isn't so easily won!

Holt has battled with trust in the past, so he's surprised to find that having Marissa in his home seems like the most natural thing in the world.

Is it possible that the new nanny may be the perfect wife…?

Read Excerpt

The Bridal Contract
by Susan Fox
Fay Sheridan is facing the bleakest moment of her life. As a fierce storm surges around her, one man plucks her from despair and into safety: Chase Rafferty.

Rugged rancher Chase knows there is a fun-loving young woman hiding inside Fay, and he'll do anything to see her start living again—even propose!

Fay thinks Chase is joking—a convenient business marriage would never work. But as the idea sinks in, the sparks slowly begin to ignite inside her. Maybe now is the time to embrace life and say yes!

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The Italian Single Dad
by Jennie Adams
An Italian single father, a motherless child…

Bella Gable never wanted to see rich, handsome Luchino Montichelli ever again! They had a brief romance in Italy when she was young and naive, but when Bella discovered Luc had betrayed her, it broke her heart.

Her first love, their chance for happiness…

Now, years on, Luc has come to Australia with his young daughter in tow. This Luc, who looks at his daughter with such tenderness, seems like the man Bella once fell in love with. But can she trust him enough to take another chance on this Italian single dad?

Read Excerpt

Available in bookshops, at www.eharlequin.com, www.millsandboon.com, and of course, the amazons!