Monday, February 23, 2009

February Foreign Releases

Imposible resistirse (Miniserie: PADRES POR SORPRESA)
por Barbara McMahon (Spain)

¿Se atrevería a tener un hijo con el jefe?

Lianne O’Mallory deseaba tener un hijo, pero se estaba quedando sin tiempo. Incluso escribía en secreto una lista con todos los atributos de su hombre ideal. Pero después de varias citas desastrosas esa lista acabó en la papelera… ¡y fue descubierta por su jefe!
Tray Elliott no podía entender por qué aquella mujer guapa e inteligente tendría que hacer una lista, y eso lo intrigó. Un hombre como él jamás admitiría su deseo secreto de formar una familia… pero iba a hacerle a Lianne una proposición de matrimonio que ella no sería capaz de rechazar.

von: LIZ FIELDING (Germany)

Die perfekte Traumhochzeit? Auf einem Schloss in Südengland organisiert die Hochzeitsplanerin Sylvie eine glamouröse Wohltätigkeitsveranstaltung. Sie selbst soll dabei die glückliche Braut spielen, die zu ihrer Jugendliebe Jeremy zurückgekehrt ist. Alles läuft nach Plan. Bis überraschend der attraktive Milliardär Tom MacFarlaine auftaucht. Er ist der neue Besitzer von Longbourne Court – und der Mann, dessen Baby Sylvie seit einer leidenschaftlichen Nacht unter dem Herzen trägt. Wie gern würde sie Tom das Jawort geben! Doch er glaubt, sie sei mit Jeremy verlobt …


Ulubione powiedzonko Milesa, właściciela dużej firmy, brzmi: jestem sam i żyję tylko dla siebie. Uwielbia przelotne romanse, przyjęcia i szybkie samochody. Wszystko się zmienia, gdy w jego biurze pojawia się Jemima, nowa sekretarka. Milesa irytuje jej nieuporządkowane życie osobiste, ale to uczucie szybko ustępuje miejsca fascynacji. Służbowe kontakty przestają mu wystarczać, pragnie spędzać z Jemimą i jej synkami każdy weekend. Wkrótce uświadamia sobie, jak puste było jego dotychczasowe życie...

A esposa do italiano (Minissérie: Os irmãos Rinucci)

por Lucy Gordon (Portugal)

Quem disse que uma aventura apaixonada não podia transformar-se num amor para sempre?

Uma mulher inteligente e sensata como Della Hadley tinha por obrigação saber que não devia ter uma aventura com um playboy italiano sete anos mais novo do que ela. O problema era que o sensual Carlo Rinucci era simplesmente irresistível…
Della tinha a certeza de que a paixão que surgira tão rapidamente se extinguiria à mesma velocidade, por muito que Carlo lhe garantisse que o seu amor era para sempre. Porém, Carlo era um italiano empedernido que pretendia conquistar o coração daquela mulher e fazer dela a sua esposa.


Audra Greene: contabile di The Wedding Belles.

Segni particolari: specialista nel far quadrare i conti e nel mandare all'aria i piani di un playboy impenitente.

Che cosa ci fa Audra in mezzo ai biberon, invece che ai suoi adorati numeri? Semplice, dà una mano al magnate dell'imprenditoria Nic Manelli. Lui ha bisogno di una babysitter per il suo nipotino e chi può aiutarlo meglio dell'affidabile figlia della governante di casa Manelli? Ma con Audra dovrà evitare di usare i suoi modi da seduttore irriverente: con lei non attaccano!
Dopo aver organizzato
tanti matrimoni perfetti,
troveranno il loro lieto fine?

Un amour à toute épreuve
Claire Baxter (France)
Dès qu'elle rencontre Chase, nouveau venu dans la région, Megan sent une force invisible la pousser vers lui. Malgré ses premières réticences, elle entame bientôt avec cet homme séduisant une liaison passionnée, qu'elle voudrait voir durer toujours. Hélas, Chase ne semble pas prêt à changer quoi que ce soit à la vie bien réglée qu'il mène avec sa fille âgée de quatre ans, sa seule raison de vivre depuis la mort de sa femme. Sa femme, dont le souvenir l'empêche de se tourner vers l'avenir...

Liefde te over
Emily had nooit gedacht haar vroegere buurjongen Harry weer te zien... tot hij op haar stoep staat met een piepklein baby'tje in zijn armen. Hij vraagt haar hem te helpen met de verzorging van het te vroeg geboren kindje. Eigenlijk heeft ze haar handen al vol aan de opvoeding van haar zoontje. Maar als ze de hulpeloze blik in Harry's ogen ziet, kan ze niet weigeren. Al snel is ze totaal verslingerd aan de kleine Kizzy... en aan die stoere vader van haar!
Kans op geluk
Arabella schrikt wanneer Luchino Montichelli haar modezaak komt binnen gestapt. Ooit heeft ze van hem gehouden, tot ze ontdekte dat hij haar bedroog. Nu beschuldigt de temperamentvolle Italiaan háár van bedrog. Ze wil hem de deur wijzen, maar dan valt haar blik op het schattige meisje dat hij bij zich heeft. Het blijkt zijn dochtertje te zijn, dat hij alleen opvoedt. Eén blik uit die grote bruine ogen, en Arabella's hart smelt ter plekke...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Twist that Plot! Melissa James

Throughout the year, we'll be bringing you posts from your favourite authors. Sometimes they will be fun, have-a-chat type posts, some will be a look behind the scenes of the newest releases, and some will be for those readers who are trying their hand at writing their own romances.

In our very first "craft" post of the year, please welcome Melissa James with some advice on twisting an old hook into a new idea!

Twisting an Old Plot into a Fresh Idea

Anna Jacobs, author of 45 published novels so far, wrote something in her handbook called Plotting and Editing that made a great deal of sense to me. On page 19, under the heading, What Makes Your Book special?, she writes:

"All the time you're writing, whichever method you use, you should bear in mind that there has to be something that makes your story special, different, exciting—both to an editor who reads dozens of manuscripts and proposals each month, as well as to readers after publication. You also need to remember that merely 'good' isn't enough to sell a manuscript to a publisher—or to fascinate readers. Your story will have to be 'sparkling', especially if you are unknown as a writer."

Okay, that's wonderful, sage advice from a lady who knows what she's talking about. But here's the crunch for most of us: how do we do it? How do we find a true definition of those two dreaded words, emotional punch, and put it in our work?

That's what this workshop is for: to take existing plots and make them special, so special your characters will flow from it, and be so real they'll leap up yelling at an editor, "buy me!" I can't give you any magic formulas to write it to publishing standard; all I can do is pass on the details of my personal journey on plot discovery, and find ways to make something sparkling from basic plots.

It's said there are 8 basic plots for a romance novel. As some of you know, with help from the RWNZ email list, I got them down pat recently. They are:

* Beauty and the Beast
* King and beggar maid/ princess and pauper
* Reunion after painful past
* Secret Baby* Cinderella
* Marriage of convenience
* Forced Marriage/blackmail
* Bad girl/Good boy and vice versa

Now we all know the basic twist of combining two or more of these elements, such as reunion/secret baby, or marriage of convenience/Cinderella. Adding such things as 'woman in danger' usually stems from these basic plots, and can be innovative and effective; but the plot twists I'm talking about are different.

I'm going to start with a working example. The last thing I want (or probably you) is for me to bore you with the story of my books. But five minutes should make the point, and we can move on together. Her Galahad, which was released by Silhouette Intimate Moments in October 2002, combines a few basic plots:

* Princess and pauper
* Reunion after painful past
* Secret Baby
* Forced Marriage/blackmail
* Good girl/Bad boy

Then I took each theme and twisted them.

1. Princess and pauper? How could I twist that? By turning it around. They had been, in their painful past, princess and pauper, rich white upper-class girl and Aboriginal carpenter. Now she's a poorly paid teacher on the run from her obsessive, abusive, bigamous 'husband', and he's a rich artist. He wants seven kids; she knows she can't have any more. So she's on the back foot right from the start.

2. Now the Secret baby plot? It sounds plain and straightforward, doesn't it? So how to twist that? By making the baby so secret the heroine thinks she died. And the hero hates the heroine because he thinks she adopted their baby out. And he also has a baby, a son from another relationship with a woman who died. There's always ways and means to twist something new from a plot!

3. I twisted the good girl/bad boy plot by giving the good girl martial arts skills and turning on her family, willing to imprison them if she has to, on a quest to find her child they adopted out and told her had died. The bad boy becomes a good hero by being a bad boy not of his own choice, but imprisoned for crimes he didn't commit—by the man the heroine marries five weeks after the hero's arrest, and the heroine's brother and father. And this bad boy's been declared dead twice—once legally, with a death certificate to prove it. The heroine has a matching certificate, dated three years before his. And if the cops find him, he'll be imprisoned again just for being alive (by the way, this came from truth: in my university course I discovered the Australian government issued fake death certificates to Aboriginal kids taken from their families to stop them finding their heritage and make them 'blend' into white society. I thought, if they can do it, it can be done!)

4. The forced marriage/blackmail plot? I twisted that by giving the hero and heroine a secret marriage of one day, and the heroine, a forced marriage to a man who blackmailed her into becoming an unwitting bigamist, knowing she thought her true husband was dead.

From all these unusual plot twists, I suddenly found a wealth of creative emotion coming straight from the heart. I felt for this suffering hero and heroine. I wanted them to have a happy ending because, hell, they deserved it! I didn't just want to write the book by the time I'd finished - I was compelled to. The characters were so real to me I couldn't leave them hanging in the air. I finally understood why actors talked about their character in a movie as if that person was real: because, to them, they were. They had to be real to the people involved, or the characters will feel wooden, and the movie won't work for the actors or the theatre goers. That was what happened to me with Her Galahad, and the way I continued with the Nighthawks series, and now in writing for the Harlequin Romance line. I do it every time: the basic plots with the twist in the tail!

Emma Darcy says in her how-to book that empathizing with a hero or heroine is important—but it's not always just 'writing from the heart' that does it. You can make a heroine cry, she says, but will it make the reader cry?

Not if they haven't gone on the journey with the heroine first, to feel what she's feeling before she cries. So how do we do this? We, the author, have to be on our heroine’s journey, not merely thinking what she thinks, but *feeling* what she feels.

It's true what Valerie Parv says in her How-to book: You have to torture your characters! You have to make them orphans, throw them in boiling oil, drop them out of trees and throw them off cliffs, shoot them, stab them, and then, right when it can't get worse—make it worse! Why? Empathy! Because readers love to go on the journey. They want to feel what the characters are feeling, to cheer them on, to find reasons for these people to deserve their happy ending. Without this vital element, a book loses its interest. If an author writes more than one book where I don't feel for the characters I won't buy that author again. I'm afraid I'm not loyal to authors: I read what entertains me.

How about you? What is it you look for in a book? What drags you in? What books are your all-time favorites? Do you know why you love those books? Then take those well-loved books and research them like university readers. Analyze every line, every part of the book you love, and ask why?

Do you know the basic plot of that book you love? Now think about the twists on these plots the author used to hook you in. These points show exactly what I meant in the beginning: these authors have twisted the basic, well-loved plot to make it extraordinary, stand-out, unforgettable — the emotions have come right from the author's heart. It’s not rocket science, this is doable for any writer. Find what your plot is, and find how to twist it so that something unique happens!

When you have several plot twists, it prevents the dreaded sagging middle – especially if you pace them out, use one plot twist per “turning point” in the novel. Create it in a revelation of some sort, an epiphany if you will, that changes the other character’s preconceived notions on something important. Remember you can't bombard the reader with too much information at once, but to add another twist just as the story slows, or becomes close to resolution—fabulous! Something to make the reader gasp, be they judge, editor, agent or someone who picked it up in a bookshop. Isn't that what you love in a book — something to keep that hero and heroine apart just a little longer?

Get those plot twists going. Get them spinning like juggler's balls in the air and catch them, one by one! Or let them fall with a crash! Either way, your story keeps going without a sagging middle, and should keep the reader hooked.

Friday, February 13, 2009

RNA Awards - Fiona Harper

Tuesday was the RNA’s annual awards luncheon, where the organisation presents trophies for the Romantic Novel of the Year, the Romance Prize (for shorter romantic fiction, such as Harlequin Romance) and, for the first time, a Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year two Harlequin Romance novels (branded as Mills & Boon Romance in the UK) were on the shortlist, written by Jessica Hart and yours truly!

Here are all the books that were in the running:

What's Love Got to Do With It? - Lucy Broadbent (Little Black Dress, Headline)
The Wild Card - Beth Elliott (Robert Hale)
Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure - India Grey (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
Sold to the Highest Bidder - Kate Hardy (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
Saying Yes to the Millionaire - Fiona Harper (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
Promoted to Wife and Mother - Jessica Hart (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

All the shortlisted authors were asked to be at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington early for PR and photographs, which was great, because I got to meet up and chat with some of my old friends, such as Kate Hardy, who took the Romance Prize home last year, Jessica Hart and India Grey. I also got to meet fellow finalist, Beth Elliot, but unfortunately Lucy Broadbent, the last contender on the list was unable to make the ceremony.

I was also excited to be sharing a ‘green room’ (how showbizzy is that?) with some of the committee members and authors shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year —which I think we ought to call a Ronnie (RNY?), by the way, because it’s a bit of a mouthful! Cecilia Ahern looks so fresh-faced and young, she must have been a toddler when she got her first publishing contact. Here are some of the shortlisted authors for the Ronnie (See? It’s catching on…) signing their books.

Lunch itself was lovely and the service was fantastic. An army of waiters seemed to arrive and place the plates on the table simultaneously. I know it seems weird taking pictures of your dinner, but people really want to know! And who am I to deprive them?

The starter was Scottish Salmon Parfait with Tuna Tartar and Crème Fraiche Caviar. I took a picture, but I was so intent on eating it, I forgot to take one before I dived in. Here is a picture of someone else’s plate who was slightly less piggy than I was (but for pristine picture of the food, you'll have to visit Kate Hardy's blog - she obviously has more self-control than I have).

The main course (can you tell I like my food?) was Chicken filled with a Paris Mushroom Mousse, Marsala Cream Sauce, Marquis Potatoes and Sugar Snap Peas. This too was gorgeous. I loved the sauce. And just enough to fill me up without making me too stuffed, which was just as well, because pudding was just around the corner…

I don’t need to say much about dessert, apart from telling you that it was Bitter Lemon Tart with Raspberry Jelly and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream. A picture may say a thousand words. I’ve two to demonstrate how much I enjoyed it:
Unfortunately, our speaker, the debonair and charming Peter Bowles, of To The Manor Born fame, was unable to attend because he was unwell. First up was the Romance Prize and my little heart starting pattering hard as one of the judges. Margaret James, got up on stage and a short video display of all the shortlisted books played on video screens around the room. Margaret then gave a short description of each of the books, outlining what the judges liked most about them. I think she may have said Saying Yes To The Millionaire had “charm in abundance”, and Jessica’s Promoted: To Wife And Mother was described as “a lovely story about second chances and finding love in unexpected places”, but I knew as I heard the judges opinion of one of the other books that it had stolen their hearts. And that book was…

Hired: Mistress For the Billionaire’s Pleasure by India Grey.

I’m very glad I didn’t read it before the ceremony because it sounds fabulous and I would have been too scared to turn up! India, lovely as always, was completely shocked by her win and even though she said she hadn’t prepared a speech, she was warm, funny and completely disarming as she accepted both the Betty Neels rose bowl, which she gets to keep for a year, and a little star-shaped glass trophy, which she gets to keep for ever.

And while India was still reeling with surprise, it was on the next event, a Lifetime Achievment Award to Judy Piatkus, founder of Piatkus Books.

Then, it was time to present the Romantic Novel of the Year (okay, maybe the Ronnie wasn’t really a good nickname…). The shortlist was:

Before the Storm by Judith Lennox (Headline)
East of the Sun by Julia Gregson (Orion)
Sophia’s Secret by Susannah Kearsley (Allison & Busby)
Star Gazing by Linda Gilliard (Little Brown)
Thanks for the Memories by Cecilia Ahern (Harper Collins)
The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer (Transworld)

And the award went to Julia Gregson for her novel East of the Sun. All the books on the shortlist sounded fabulous. Uh-oh, I can hear my credit card groaning at the thought of another book shopping-spree.

Finally, now all the nail-biting was over, it was time to breathe out and socialise. Here’s me with new M&B Romance author Nina Harrington, who’s first book is out this July:

And another of Romance Senior Editor Kimberly Young, and Jessica Hart!

Here's our two "Romancers" with winner India Grey!

Congratulations India and Julia, and a big thanks to Fiona for the report and pictures, as well as Kate Hardy, photog extraordinaire!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Series Spotlight - Romance and the Diamond Brides

This month as part of Harlequin's 60th celebrations, the series spotlight is on our very own Harlequin Romance! What better way to celebrate a milestone birthday AND Valentine's Day but with a book that is pure romance?

Welcome to this month's miniseries - The Diamond Brides! Each of the books this month has something to do with diamonds. And there's an extra gem for the reader as well...a chance to get YOUR romantic proposal in a book - and win a diamond necklace! How very cool is that?

Trish Wylie is also offering a special something for readers to go along with her release of Manhattan Boss, Diamond Proposal! Trish has an online read happening at eharlequin as a companion to her current book. It's called Manhattan Cinderella. New chapters are posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays- and a few are already up so pop on over, get caught up, and see what's in store for Erin and Nate!

Pop on over to eharlequin - you can get the full month's offerings here in print or here in e-book format! There's even a one click buy option to get all six books - for under $14!

Monday, February 02, 2009

February Releases

This is a HUGE month for Harlequin Romance, as all six books are part of the Diamond Celebrations at Harlequin! We're going to be doing a more indepth spotlight later in the month, but for now, please meet Harlequin's DIAMOND BRIDES!

Parties at the luxurious Blanchard estate draw the cream of society. Dressed to impress, glamorous women swathed in diamonds and designer outfits make a beeline for Boyd Blanchard, heir to the family business—and the most eligible bachelor in Australia.

Leona has known Boyd since she was a child, and he still has the power to turn her emotions inside out. But he is so out of her league that she carefully hides behind a wall of cool indifference. Until the kiss that sets the tongues of society wagging and gives Boyd the means he's been waiting for to make the stubborn, sensual redhead his….

She spied him across the crowded dance club. And before Cari Christensen could say Mr. Right, the tall, dark, movie-star-gorgeous stranger had whisked her outside to his waiting car. Talk about being swept off your feet!

By the time Max Angeli realized Cari wasn't his blind date, he was already falling for the pretty waitress. He and Cari might be from different worlds, but she was showing him a side of life he'd never known.
Could this become a Valentine's Day to remember?

A royal wedding is announced, but this crown prince has made a convenient proposal…

The crowd is cheering the royal newlyweds. Crown Prince Lucca has married Alexandra Grigory in a sumptuous wedding. On the arm of her magnificent prince, Alexandra looks lovingly into his eyes. If only her convenient groom felt the same way she does!

From the tip of her diamond-encrusted tiara to the toes of her satin slippers, she looks every inch the part. But she knows that only the love of Lucca will truly make her feel like a princess!

Julia hasn't seen her husband, Max, for almost a year—but he's just walked through the door looking as breathtaking as ever!

Max has come to make things right with his beloved Julia. But he hasn't bargained on meeting two surprise little twin girls….

Now Max has two weeks to prove he's the best husband and father in the world!

Manhattan boss Quinn doesn't believe in love. He's the kind of man a girl's mother warns her about—the devil in disguise!

But since Quinn hired Clare O'Connor, the funniest thing has happened. He has less control over his heart. She's become more than just his beautiful, ultraefficient secretary—Clare's rocked him to the core.

The billionaire playboy is in a fix. His route to romance has always been easy. But now a real gem is involved. He has to tread softly. And if he does, the way will be paved with diamonds….

Bridesmaid Susannah Wilson has poured her dreams into planning the trip of a lifetime. The only trouble is, her locked-up heart is being opened by a brooding out-of-towner.
Billionaire best man Kane Lennox is escaping the stifling expectations of New York. Being with Susannah, he's breaking the rules. Happily ever after isn't on his agenda. Yet he can't take his eyes off her. For the first time he has something that money can't buy—a woman who loves him for who he really is.