Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interview with Susan MacNicol

Susan MacNicol was born in Headingley, Leeds in the UK. When she was eight years old her family emigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa. After yet another horrific story of violence to friends, they decided it was time to leave. In December 2000 they found themselves in the UK and have remained here ever since, loving every minute of it. She lives in the rural village of Bocking, Essex, with her husband of twenty eight years, Gary (who believes he deserves a long service award for putting up with her for so long), two children, and a mixed collie dog. 

Welcome to the blog Sue, I believe you are about to publish your debut novel. Do tell us what made you want to write and the excitement of getting that call? 

I’ve written since very young and nearly had a children’s book published in SA via a literary agent. But I was young, stupid and didn’t see it through as I got tired of all the re edits. It is a regret I still hold.

I had an idea for a novel earlier this year, inspired by an incident in my home county of Essex in the UK. I pondered on it, got inspired by someone I really admired, put fingers to keyboard and seven weeks later I had Cassandra by Starlight, my first published novel. Through a series of really strange karmic events, all linked in with the actor I admired who formed the inspiration for my hero, Bennett Saville, I came across Boroughs Publishing. I submitted the novel to them, eight weeks later I did the required follow up call, was told they were interested and the offer came via email a while later from my editor. It took some time to sink in but the excitement hasn’t stopped since then. Neither have the re-writes and the constant reviewing, which to me is all a necessary part of the writing process to make us better writers.

Which author has most influenced your work? 

I have to say for the romance genre, Debra Harkness. Her book, ‘A Discovery of Witches’ had a great impact on me for both her writing prowess, her style and her knowledge of her subject matter not to mention creating a really great hero in her vampire, Matthew.

Do you have to juggle writing with the day job? What is your work schedule? 

I work as Regulatory Compliance Officer for a financial services company in the lovely city of Cambridge. The job entails trying to convince and guide banks and finance institutions to do the right things so we avoid the recent disasters that we’ve had within banks that have befallen the economy. I travel an hour by car to work each day, both there and back, and start writing about an hour after I walk in the door. I’m generally up till at least midnight, and can easily survive on six hours a sleep a night to get up again at 6 am for work. Weekends are my best times, spent on the couch, laptop on my lap, whilst family watch TV and generally converse as and when they can with me. I like the noise when I write even though my daughter coined a phrase for the family ‘Don’t poke the angry bear when she’s writing’ as I do tend to growl when interrupted.

The image of the church is what I see from my lounge window when I'm writing literally less than 100 feet away with very loud church bells! It's very inspirational to me from a historical perspective, although I'm not at all religious.

Which craft tip has helped you the most? 

Probably one about POV and third person limited. I have to confess my original manuscript was a smorgasbord of differing POV’s in each scene, switching from one head to another and I had to learn a style that taught me how to manage this. I was lucky I had a publisher who saw through the formatting horrors to the story beneath. We live and learn.

Tell us something of the genre in which you write. What is its special appeal for you?

I’ll be very honest. I had never considered writing a romance novel. I’m a Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Kellerman reader myself, loving horror, sci-fi and psychological thrillers. Writing a love story was the furthest thing from my mind. But I’m glad the story developed the way it did. It’s given me a genre to write within that I’m truly enjoying, letting me create fantasies and worlds that some of us can only dream about.

Do you plan bios before you start writing, or allow your characters to emerge as you write?

I do a brief character description, main points only –age, looks, brief character description. But they develop as I write and I never know quite what’s around the next corner as they develop in my head. I use traits and habits from people I know for some of them, so they’ll probably recognise these if they read the book.

If your book were ever filmed who would you choose for the hero and why? 

That’s a very easy one because I started writing the book with the Machiavellian plan that if one day it was turned into a film, I’d ask him (the actor who inspired me) to play the male lead. I was originally intending this novel as a drama screen play to the BBC as well, something I’m still interested in doing. The actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, has become a well-known name in the UK as well as abroad and he was my inspiration for Bennett without a doubt. So he’s the perfect choice.

Which is your all-time favourite book?

Probably ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King. The depth of his imagination, the characters and the story and the genius of the man to me is incredible.

Other than writing, what would you say is your craziest ambition?

At the risk of sounding like a middle aged groupie, (I promise you I’m not!) it’s to meet the source of my inspiration, to say how much I enjoy his work and his incredible talent and to tell him that without him, Bennett probably wouldn’t have been created and the novel might never have seen the light of day. You need a passion to be able to write and he gave me mine.

How did you hear about the RNA, and how has it benefited your career? 

I Googled romance+author to see how else I could improve both my skills and my networking abilities and RNA came out almost on top. I am now a member of the Chelmsford Chapter with a meeting hopefully on the 28th and I am also both reading and contributing to discussions on the ROMNA site. I’m also a member of the Romance Writers of America and I plan on going to their convention in Atlanta next year where I’ll get the chance to meet my publisher and editor and fellow Boroughs authors.

Unconventional though she may be, Cassandra Wallace leads the life of an average Londoner, from blind dates to rush hour traffic. Then, along comes Bennett Saville. Sensitive, charming, erudite, the up-and-coming actor is like the hero of a romantic movie. He counteracts the tragedy that brought them together, and from the tips of his Armani loafers to that scorching hot kiss he seems absolutely perfect. Only, he’s ten years younger and from the upper class, and those emerald eyes beget dangerous secrets. The world is a stage, full of hungry leading ladies, and how long can any fairy tale last before a villain appears? Yet, on Bennett’s arm each new day is an adventure, and a true romance will always find its happy ending. 

Thank you for finding the time in your busy schedule to talk to us today, Sue. We wish you every success with your new career. 
Best wishes, Freda 

To find out more about Susan MacNicol and her books, check out her website.
Twitter @susanmacnicol7 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview with Sherry Gloag

I’m delighted to welcome multi-published author, Sherry Gloag to the blog today. Sherry is a transplanted Scot living in the beautiful coastal county of Norfolk. She considers the surrounding countryside an extension of her garden, to which she escapes when she needs "thinking time" and solitude to work out the plots for her next novel. While out walking she enjoys talking to her characters, as long as there’s no one else around. Sherry cheerfully admits her books tend to take over most of the shelf and floor space in her workroom-cum-office. She also finds crystal craft work therapeutic. So what do you enjoy most about your particular genre? 

I read and write contemporary romance, with a twist of suspense because I enjoy a story I can become absorbed in. I enjoy being taken to places and events I’d never otherwise learn about or see, and most of all following the journeys of well portrayed characters I can empathise with and celebrate their HEA with.

Are you a specialist or do you have another identity?

Although I have experimented with different genres under the romance umbrella I write all of them under the same name of Sherry Gloag.

In what way has your childhood influenced what you write?

I had to think long and hard about this one, and return to the many childhood illnesses when reading kept me entertained. I gravitated to romance and liked the obligatory HEA. After reading hundreds of romances I tried my hand at writing one.

What do you do when the going gets tough?

Grumble! Loudly! Then get stuck in.

What tips would you offer to any aspiring writer wishing to write a regency? 

There are a lot of Regency books out there that simply add a few ‘regency-type’ phrases into the book here and there, with their characters dressed to suit the period, but the speech, action and terminology is all written in present day ‘cant’. So if you aspire to write a Regency please, do your homework. Unlike Georgette Heyer, who had to do her own research and by the time of her death had accumulated such a vast and accurate research library, even many museums failed to afford them when they were auctioned off, there are hundreds of websites brim full of information. But check and cross check because not all of them are accurate. When you’ve done all that, grin, and get your butt in the chair and believe in yourself, and write!

Have you ever based one of your characters on a real person? 

No! It would be just my luck that the person would recognise themselves, and if it was a villain….. shudder.

How did you hear about the RNA, and how has it benefited your career?

I heard about RNA many years ago and joined the new writers’ scheme. My submission didn’t make the grade, but the resulting comments were very informative. Several years went by while ‘life’ took over before I began writing again, so I rejoined RNA.

Have you ever been published in any other media besides novels?

Apart from my two novels THE BRAT and DUTY CALLS, I have three novellas in ebooks. The first two Gasquet Princes books ( From Now Until Forever and His Chosen Bride) and a humorous Valentine story called The Wrong Target.

Can you tell us something of what you are working on now? 

I am waiting for the edits for NO JOB FOR A WOMAN to come in, and desperately trying to get VIDAL’S HONOR finished before the submission deadline. It’s due to be released the day after the American Thanksgiving Day. (The Americans call it Black Friday). After those are done and dusted, I have two more novellas to complete for the Gasquet Princes series, plus one that may – or may not- become another in the GP series or the first in a spin-off from the Gasquet Princes series. As a ‘pantser’ writer, I still don’t know which it will be!

His Chosen Bride (2nd Book in the 4 book Gasquet Princes series) Prince Henri Gasquet is happy to let his father, the king, choose his bride for him until he meets Monica Latimer. Monica Latimer is not prepared to risk letting any man close enough to learn about her Gift. A gift that normally has men running for the hills when they find out about it.

Thank you for sparing time to talk to us today Sherry. We wish you continuing success with your new titles. 
Best wishes, Freda 

Find out more about Sherry and her books:

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Interview with Pamela Hartshorne

After a varied career including stints as a foreign newsdesk secretary, outback cook and expedition interpreter, Pamela Hartshorne stumbled into writing as a way to fund a PhD in Medieval Studies. Over the past 20 years she has been able to combine her historical research with an award-winning career as a romance writer. As Jessica Hart, she has written 59 books for Harlequin Mills & Boon and is also a tutor and freelance project editor. Time’s Echo, published by Pan Macmillan on 30 August 2012, is her first mainstream novel. She lives in York.

You have published nearly 60 romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon, and enjoyed a very successful career, can you tell us how it all began. How did you get your first break? 

I feel a little embarrassed to admit this, but I never wanted to be a writer. My earliest dreams were about travelling, and my career, such as it was, was little more than a random series of short term jobs designed to get to me to steamy jungles or wide horizons. It was in Australia, where the horizons are as wide as they come, that I read Sharon Penman’s wonderful novel about Richard III, The Sunne in Splendour. A book really can change your life; when I got to the end I decided that what I wanted to do next was a PhD in medieval history.

Madness, but I’ve always talked a big talk and then felt obliged to follow through. So my next step was to find a way to fund a return to university. I know, I thought. I’ll write a Mills & Boon. Everybody knows they’re easy-peasy to write. I’ll knock out a book, they’ll give me a fat cheque and that will be that. Er, not quite. I sat down that November when I was dog-sitting in Scotland, dashed off 50,000 words and sat back and waited for the cheque to drop through my door. Instead I got a standard rejection. I had to write 12 books before I could afford to do first an MA and then that long-planned PhD. If I had known how long it would take, or how uncertain the whole business of making a living by writing is, I suspect I would never have started. I’m always impressed by how much research new writers do but sometimes there’s a danger in knowing too much …

Some writers need silence, others prefer the bustle of a coffee shop. What is your favourite mode of working?

You’ll often find me in a coffee shop most mornings, but I won’t be writing. Meeting a friend for coffee is one of my favourite things, and I justify it by claiming that talking through the plot IS working of a sort. But when it comes to writing itself, I need to be sitting at my iMac in my study, with the house to myself. Luckily I live on my own. I’d love to be able to take my laptop and write when I’m staying with my occasional other half or on holiday, but having anyone else around is too distracting for me.

Now you have a change of name, and a change of genre, do tell us what inspired you to write TIME’S ECHO.

It so happened that I turned 50 in the same year that my 50th romance was published (2008). Less excitingly, it coincided with a crash and burn on the relationship front. I needed a new start and it felt like the right time to change direction. I’m fascinated by the relationship between the past and the present, by what makes us the people we are and behave the way we do. That relationship was at the core of my thesis, just as it is central to every romance I write, where a character’s motivations and goals are rooted in their personal history. So when it came to a change of genre, a ‘time slip’ with a character slipping between past and present was the obvious choice for me. I’ve always admired Barbara Erskine’s novels and I’m intrigued by the idea of being able to go back in time and see what it was “really like”. The past really is a foreign country, and it’s one of my favourite places to travel, even if it is only in my imagination.

As a historian you clearly enjoy research, but which aspect did you find most interesting?

Time’s Echo is set in Elizabethan York, a time and place I ought to know well after researching a thesis on it. Want to know about rubbish disposal or mending the streets? I’m your gal. But what did they have for breakfast? What were they wearing? I quickly realised that actually I knew virtually nothing about day to day life then. I’ve loved finding out more about this, and especially reading contemporary accounts of the rituals of betrothal, marriage, birth and death.

You delve into the occult and post traumatic stress syndrome in the book. That too must have involved considerable research. How did you go about it?

I have a friend who runs courses helping people to recognize and deal with the symptoms of PTSD and it was really talking to her about the way apparently insignificant sounds or smells can act as triggers, making it seem to survivors as if they are re-experiencing past trauma, that made the story come together. I talked to a specialist in PTSD, and to a psychiatrist friend, and they were both very helpful in understanding not only PTSD itself but also how a psychiatrist would deal with a patient who claimed to be time travelling.

There is an extraordinary amount of information about any kind of occult practice you can imagine on the internet, and I have to admit I didn’t do any personal research there. But I did interview the Chancellor of York Minster himself about the Church of England’s ministry of deliverance, as exorcism is now known. I’ve been amazed by the generosity and willingness of busy people to give up their time to help me.

Do you plan the structure of the book before you start or let it emerge as you write? 

A bit of both. I write an outline, full of questions to myself, so I have a vague idea of where I’m going, but it’s only by writing that I get to know my characters, and as they come to life, so the story starts to head off in directions I’d never imagined when I started. The first full draft is hard labour, and usually precipitates a crisis (oh God, it’s awful/I’ll never be able to finish it/my career is over etc. etc.) about three quarters of the way through. Once I get over that, I struggle to the end and brace myself for a re-read. Sometimes it’s not as bad as I thought, sometimes it’s worse, but either way, this is the time for some brutal self-editing. My final draft is for rewriting, layering in character depth and texture, and tightening the pace – and usually more crises along the way!

Tell us what it is you love most about York.

It’s a very livable city, big enough to have lots going on and small enough to walk across in half an hour. I love the everydayness of history here: you can walk the dog under the city walls, and walk under the medieval gateway to have coffee in a 15th-century building, or a drink in a Tudor one. You can cycle past a Roman column and prop it up outside an elegant Georgian house, meet a friend outside the Minster or take a shortcut along lanes dating back to Viking Jorvik … This is a place where the line between past and present is not always very clear – which of course makes it the perfect setting for a time slip!

If you could clone yourself, what job would you hand over? 

Ooh, that’s such a tempting idea! Can I clone myself twice? I’d have one me to deal with promotion, social media and all that goes with that, and another me to get on with pesky writing, while I’d be left to have a lovely time doing research ...

So what next? Can you tell us a little about your work in progress? 

 I’m at the self-editing stage of another time slip novel (working title The Memory of Midnight) which should be out next year. This story is also set in Elizabethan York, but is darker than TIME’S ECHO. When it’s done, I’ll be switching hats for my 60th light-hearted romance for Mills & Boon RIVA, so I’m looking forward to a complete change of tone there.

HITCHED! my 59th book for HM&B, is released in November, and WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS is being re-released in the autumn, when I will also be self-publishing five of my very early romances.. Having two completely separate writing identities can get confusing, but I don’t want to give up my life as Jessica Hart. There’s a bit of me that will always be a romantic novelist – and proud member of the RNA – so I’ll carry on juggling identities for as long as I can.

To celebrate my new identity, I have a signed copy of Time’s Echo to give away. All you need to do is answer the question below in the comments, and I will pick a winner using my tried and tested eeny-meeny-miny-mo system:

If you could travel back in time and had a chance to see what life was really like in the past, which period would you choose to visit?

Time's Echo – published by Pan Macmillan 30 August 2012

What if you could go back in time and live your life again? Would you know the moment you’d made the wrong decision, the tiny choice that had changed everything? York 1577: Hawise Aske smiles at a stranger in the market and sets in train a story of obsession and jealousy, of love and hate and warped desire. Hawise pays a high price for that smile, but for a girl like her in Elizabethan York, there is nowhere to go, and nowhere to hide. Over 400 years later, Grace Trewe is still trying to outrun her memories of the Boxing Day tsunami. Her stay in York is meant to be a brief one. But in York Grace discovers that time can twist and turn in ways she never imagined, and as she is drawn into Hawise’s life, she discovers just how powerful the past can be.

Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us today Pamela, we wish you every success with your new identity. 
Best wishes,

To find out more about Pamela:

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Interview with Ken McCoy

I’m delighted to welcome Ken McCoy to the blog today, and what a talented man he is. Having left school at 16, Ken trained in structural engineering design and at 26 started his own building company. He has also enjoyed two lucrative hobbies — art and comedy, worked in theatre and on TV. He took up writing when he bought his first computer in 1997, with his first book published by Piatkus in 1999. For the past 22 years he’s been on the northern after-dinner speaking circuit, with fourteen books traditionally published, plus five ebooks he published himself with more in the pipeline. 

What was the first thing you ever wrote, Ken, and did it help to launch your career? 

The first words I ever had published appeared in an Adventure comic. I was 11 years old and entered a readers’ joke competition in the hope of winning the star prize ― a bagatelle game. I accompanied my joke with a cartoon. In fact I won 2nd prize ― an all-purpose penknife . My joke was published but not my cartoon. The joke went thus: Teacher to class, ‘Silence boys, every time I open my mouth, some idiot speaks.’ There are those who think my humour has gone downhill since then.

It actually didn’t spur me into writing. All through my youth I assumed I’d be some sort of artist. Just before I left school I was interviewed by a careers officer who asked me what I was good at. “Art, sir,” said I. He, in his wisdom, (or lack of it) suggested I get a job in a drawing office. I was a grammar school kid and didn’t know what they did in a drawing office (we didn’t do technical drawing at school). I was offered two jobs: one via my art master working for an artist friend of his at £1 a week and another working in a drawing office at £4.10s a week. Hey, I was 16, it was a no brainer. I was possibly the worst draughtsman in the office, but it led me into a career in the construction industry.

Tell us about this picture.
This is an oil painting I did about twenty five years ago. I’m not a street scene specialist but this is the where I lived, during the war, up to the age of about six months. It had pretty much been demolished by the time I did the painting, but the steps and the foundations were all still there so, using what building knowledge I had, I just planted authentic houses there. Most of my sagas are set in streets such as this. Maybe one day I’ll use it as a cover.

You’ve written crime and sagas, how do you go about dealing with the change in style?

There’s almost as much crime in my sagas as in the crime books, but there the similarity ends. There’s a more organised mindset to writing crime. In order to get the reader interested the plot has to be controlled, well planned, challenging, believable, and clever (?). The reader needs to be kept guessing pretty much until the end. I actually don’t write police procedural books as the police seem to change their procedures monthly and it’d be a full time job keeping up, although I have a few friends who are coppers. My books involve private eyes and/or civilians solving crimes.

There’s more creative latitude in saga writing. I start with a main protagonist along with a central cast of characters, no more than four or five. The basic plot will be little more than a skeleton which fleshes itself out as the story unfolds. Sometimes the characters take complete control and I have to bring them back on track like a sheepdog guiding wayward sheep. My ultimate aim is to get everyone into the holding pen at the end of the course without losing too many of them. When I sit down to write it’s difficult to predict where the story’s going to be when I finish writing.

Writers are always asked where they find their ideas. Would you like to share any tips with us on how you find your inspiration?

My ideas come from the same place as everyone’s ideas ― my imagination. A lot of people claim to have little or no imagination. This cannot be true. For example, dreams come from the imagination and we all dream, whether we remember our dreams or not. Most men have imagined themselves scoring a winning goal at a cup final; some people imagine what it would be like to fly, or to be invisible, or to win the Lottery, or to beat up the bully, or to become a world famous film star. Writers simply have the knack of harnessing their imaginations and creating stories. A writer has the patience and skill to build on these brief imaginings and allowing one thing to lead to another. It’s a gradual process. A grain of an idea begets two more until the whole thing snowballs into a story.

I believe you are also an actor, and an accomplished artist. How do you think these skills have helped you as a writer? Here you are with the ladies of Last of the Summer Wine.

Technically I used to be an actor insofar as I was in Equity and got a few minor bits on TV. The biggest part I ever got was two lines as Lady Tara’s butler in Emmerdale. It looked to be a promising, part time job, but sadly the actress playing Lady Tara decided to leave, taking her butler with her. I only took this work to please a theatrical agent who also got me lucrative after-dinner work as a comedy speaker. I’ve done stage work but only as an act not as an actor. I don’t do the telly stuff anymore but I still do the speaking. I believe the timing I’ve honed in comedy helps enormously with the flow of my writing. It’s possible to tell the same joke in two different ways, one will be hilarious the other won’t raise a smile. This doesn’t just apply to humour but also to drama, tragedy etc.

What is the strangest place you’ve ever written in? 

Maybe not the strangest place I’ve ever written but certainly the strangest circumstances, was on January 28th 2010. I was in Leeds Infirmary, due to go down at midday for an operation. Fairly crucial to my well-being but I had been warned that theatre times were not set in stone. To take my mind off what was to come I picked up a notebook and pencil at about 9 a.m. and began writing. Like many writers, when I get in the zone an hour goes by in ten minutes. Nurses came to check on me from time to time. I would say I’m fine thanks, hoping they wouldn’t hang around and disturb my flow of thought and bring me back to reality. I couldn’t see the clock from my bed and when they eventually came for me I thought they’d come early. It was 2 o’clock. I’m still on the right side of the grass so the op went well and, I’m pleased to report, so did my writing.

Do you enjoy revision, and what tip would you give to anyone who doesn’t? 

Do I enjoy revision? Sure do. Revision gives us the opportunity to write as well as we can. When we hand a book over to a publisher we should do it safe in the knowledge that it’s the best we can do. If I were to give advice to anyone who doesn’t enjoy revising it would be this: Writing is part of the entertainment business and our books are our performance. This is the only branch of the business where performers have the opportunity to be always at their very best.

Do you research before you start writing, or as you go along? Does it vary for different types of books?

I think the two biggest boons to writers are Microsoft Word and Google. Without Word I probably wouldn’t have become a writer and without Google for research it would take me twice as long to write a book. With the sagas my research comes from Google, from books, from my memory and from the memories of my equally ancient friends. My sagas are mostly set in the 1940s and 50s (where I was set). I have a pile of books depicting life in this era but it’s my memory that adds the nuances of that era. The pleasures and fears, the sights and sounds, the humour and sadness, in short all the bits you can’t get from research.

Do you have any hobbies to give you a break from writing?

My hobbies outside writing are golf and painting. I play terrible golf twice a week, mainly to keep fit. I used to be a semi-pro painter, working for all the major greetings cards companies. In recent years the only work I’ve been paid for are the covers of two of my large print books. I intend turning our back room into a studio as I’ve had a set of oil paintings planned for some time now.

I’m also a great fan of the Music Hall and I’ve performed my act at the Leeds City Varieties Good Old Days several times. On November 13th I’m in London appearing at the CAA (Club for Acts and Actors) in Covent Garden, in a show to celebrate The British Music Hall Society’s 49th year.

Here is Ken in his guise as Professor Albert. And below with Rod Hudd, taken backstage at the Leeds City Varieties Good Old Days, just before he went on to do his Professor Albert act. So how did you come up with this character?

When I first started after dinner speaking I would turn up as a gate-crashing tramp: Professor Albert Crapper. This disgusting tramp would walk in to the very poshest of functions, unannounced, nick a drink off someone (usually a lady) and, before anyone could react, I’d be at the top table doing my act. My agent loved the idea a lot more than I did. It all went wrong one day and I was thrown out, painfully, by the male guests. It was good publicity as the story made quite a few newspapers. In fact I made Page 3 of a certain newspaper alongside a very topless young lady.

I can quite see why your books are so entertaining. If you could slip into a time machine and meet a famous historical figure from the past, who would you choose and why?

I’d love to watch Leonardo da Vinci at work. Not so much his paintings but his drawings. Drawing is probably where whatever artistic talent I have lies. It’s much more instant than painting and, if nothing else, I’d be able to appreciate the monumental genius behind what Leonardo was doing. I’d also like to talk to him, maybe tell him a few jokes. But that would require a second scientific miracle ― me being able to speak 15th century Italian and Leonardo appreciating English low humour.

Tell us about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it.

My latest book, due for publication by Little, Brown in April next year, is a saga called PERSEVERANCE STREET. It’s set in Leeds at the end of the last war and it demonstrates that the famed neighbourliness of the women left behind wasn’t all it was cracked up to be: Eight months pregnant Lily Robinson becomes a war widow in the last days of the war. A week later her four-year-old son is abducted and she’s accused, by her neighbours, of murdering him. Lily ends up being locked up in a secure psychiatric hospital under the care of an abusive doctor. I like to lighten my stories with an element of humour. This book was something of a challenge in that respect.

Thank you for sparing time to talk to us today, Ken. It has been both entertaining and informative. We wish you continuing success with your books. 
Best wishes, Freda 

Find out more about Ken and his books. 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

Friday, August 10, 2012

Interview with Donna Douglas

I’m delighted to welcome Donna Douglas to the blog today. Born in south London she now lives in York with her husband. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, watching TV (she’s seen so many Scandinavian crime dramas she’s now convinced she can speak Danish), and drinking cocktails with friends. She also likes visiting London, ostensibly for research, but also to go shopping with her daughter, who lives there. Tell us a little of your journey as a writer, Donna. How did it begin?

Very slowly! I’d always loved making up stories, and I really wanted to write a novel. I started several over the years, but somehow seemed to run out of steam after a few chapters. I kept telling myself not to panic, that Catherine Cookson didn’t publish her first novel until she was 40. But one day I woke up and realised I’d turned 38, so it was time to get serious! I joined the RNA New Writers Scheme, which gave me the oomph I needed to complete a novel. My RNA reader loved it, and suggested I send it to Orion, who luckily loved it too! My first novel was published two days before my 40th birthday – talk about cutting it fine!

Have you been published in any other media such as newspapers, short stories or articles?

Yes, I trained as a journalist, and my first job was writing photo love stories for teenage magazines – great training for writing pithy dialogue! My day job is as a freelance journalist, so I still write regularly for national newspapers and magazines. I’m even an agony auntie for one magazine!

You first published under the name Donna Hay, but now you are using a new name. Tell us how that came about, and what inspired you to write your latest book.

The Nightingale Girls is published under the name Donna Douglas to differentiate it from my previous contemporary romances. It’s the first in a series (hopefully!) set in a hospital in the 1930s – kind of ‘Holby City meets Downtown Abbey’, if you like! The Nightingale Girls tells the story of three girls from very different backgrounds, who sign up as student nurses in 1934, and the trials and traumas they face. Training as a nurse was very different in those days. The regime was very strict, although the enterprising students did manage to have some fun. As one retired nurse told me, “They tried to keep us like nuns, but that didn’t mean we lived like nuns!”

Do you enjoy research, and how do you set about it?

I love research – it’s knowing where to stop that’s the problem! For The Nightingale Girls, I read endless nursing biographies and spent many happy hours chatting to former nurses about life on the wards – they had some very naughty stories to tell, enough to fill any number of novels! I trawled the Royal College of Nursing archives, various hospital archives and the local history library in Bethnal Green, where the book is set. I also tracked down some original medical training manuals from the 1930s. So if anyone ever needs a linseed poultice, I know how to make one!

Do you plan character bios before you start writing, or allow them to emerge as you write?

I’m definitely a planner. I couldn’t start a novel if I didn’t know how it was going to end – to me, that would be like setting off on a car journey with no idea where you were going. But having said that, the plot does tend to take a few unexpected twists and turns once I get going and the characters take over! I write bios of all my main characters, including lots of background that might not even make it into the finished work – I find it can often spark off an idea for an interesting subplot. If you’re writing a series like Nightingales, you need all that background to keep your story straight, too.

If you were starting out afresh, what advice would you give yourself as a fledgling writer?

Never send out the first draft of anything you write. You might think it’s perfect the way it is, but it isn’t. And when you’ve put it away in a drawer for a month and read it again, you’ll see that.

Do you have any rejections lurking among your files, or do you recycle them?

I have my fair share of rejections, certainly. Like many writers, I started my career attempting a Mills & Boon – without a great deal of success, I have to say. Anyone who thinks they’re easy to write should put their money where their mouth is and have a go! But most of the plots have found a home elsewhere, either as a short story for a magazine, or as the germ of an idea for another novel.

What can you see from your office window? Does it inspire you? 

I can see absolutely nothing – and yes, it does inspire me! I used to have an office upstairs, overlooking the street, and I spent far too much time staring out of the window at all the goings-on. Now my office is converted from the back half of our garage. It has a small, narrow window that overlooks next door’s brick wall, my books are all on shelves behind me and my computer faces another wall which is completely blank. Yes, it’s a bit dark and about as cheery as a monk’s cell, but I get loads more done!

What makes you laugh the most?

Sharing embarrassing incidents with my friends, mostly. Or the vagaries of our new broadband. It’s either that, or weep over it.

In the autumn of 1934, three very different girls sign up as trainee nurses at an East End hospital. Tough working class girl Dora is hoping for a better life for herself – if she can escape the clutches of her evil stepfather. Helen was born to be a nurse – according to her overbearing mother, at least. Little does anyone know the perfect student hides a secret heartache. Rebellious Millie is desperate to be more than a wealthy aristocratic wife. But she soon finds life as a nurse tougher than she’d ever imagined. Through bedpans and broken hearts, the girls form an unlikely friendship. But which of them has what it takes to become a Nightingale Girl? 

The Nightingale Girls by Donna Douglas. Published 16th August by Arrow.

Thank you for sparing time to talk to us today, Donna. We wish you continuing success with your new name. 

Best wishes, Freda 

Find out more about Donna and her books.
Twitter - @donnahay1 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me:mailto:freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Interview with Award winning author Jane Lovering

I am particularly pleased to welcome Jane Lovering, winner of the RoNa Award 2012. Jane lives in North Yorkshire, and works by day in a local school. She lives on HobNobs and marshmallows and is forced to write by her five children poking her with sticks, plus the need to feed her family, which includes two dogs, four cats, five chickens and she daily expects a partridge in a pear tree to march in demanding dinner too. She has a phobia about slippers, and rarely bites, although she can get most annoyed about wrongly-used apostrophes. Jane likes Doctor Who to an almost unhealthy degree, and her taste in men is, now, almost legendary.

Huge congratulations on winning the RoNa, do tell us about the excitement of that moment, and why you think this book won for you.

Looking at the list of past winners I still can’t believe that I am now among them. It is an absolutely incredible thing winning the Romantic Novel of the Year, awesome and, indeed, gobsmacking. I feel like that chap that knocked Nadal out of Wimbledon must feel – I have no idea how it happened, given the level of competition. As to why it won, well, I don’t know, I only really have the judges’ comments to go on, and they seemed to like my, very different, hero. I wrote the kind of man that appeals to me – not in the least ‘Alpha male’, a man who is quiet and slightly shy and who is more interested in being friends with my heroine than in ripping her knickers off.

So what made you want to write in the first place, and how did you get your first break?

I’ve always written. I think I started by loving some books so much that I didn’t want them to end, so I used to take the characters and ‘extend’ them, giving them new adventures. Then I found I could create new characters – and it was like taking the stabilisers off a learner cyclist, away I went! My first break came when an e-publisher in America, Samhain, took a chance on my first novel, REVERSING OVER LIBERACE, and from there on things just spiralled.

What inspires you most, people or places?

Gosh, a bit of both, I suppose. Is that allowed as an answer? Most of my characters come from inside my head, but all my locations are real, so maybe I should say places... but then, my characters must be informed by snippets of real people, so maybe it’s people? No, I think I’ll leave it at both.
A favourite local beauty spot.

Can you work anywhere, or do you have a favourite place to hideaway and write?

I hide in my bedroom. I can’t get to the biscuits in there, which is a good thing, and the cats and dogs and kids can’t get at me, which is even better. I snuggle up in my bed, which is my favourite place on earth, and I have a fantastic view over the Vale of Pickering out of my window, so it’s a great place to be. Oh, all right, maybe sometimes I do have biscuits in here with me...

Only for the dog, of course. Here is Jane's dog who she says is no help at all in the writing.

What do you have to say to critics of the chick-lit genre?

Nothing really. They are entitled to their opinions, aren’t they? I suppose, if I had to say something, I’d just say, ‘read it’. Not just one book, but widely, across the whole genre. Chick-lit is as varied as any other sub-genre, and if you want to criticise, then you should do so from a position of knowledge, So, yes. I’d just say ‘read a lot of chick-lit, (including my books, obviously), and then, if you still want to criticise, at least you know what you are talking about. If you still don’t like it, well, that’s up to you. But it gives a lot of people a giggle, and surely that’s not a bad thing.’

Is there a different type of novel you are still yearning to write?

I’m still hankering after writing a real hard sci-fi novel. Maybe one day I will, but, for the moment, I’m still more interested in the characters and their motivations, and I’ve found romantic fiction is the best genre for exploring personalities in all their glories. So I think I’ll stick to writing what I do, for now.

What tips would you give an aspiring writer on dealing with rejections?

Yell loudly, sulk for a while, and then realise that a single rejection is just one person’s opinion of your work. Then you can sulk a bit more, if you want. Eventually you come to realise that rejection is quite valuable (honestly, stick with me here). If one rejection says…oh, I don’t know, something like ‘you write well but your characters need more definition’, then go away and learn how to really write well defined characters.

Then resubmit, safe in the knowledge that your characters are as defined as a well-defined thing on definition-day, as Blackadder would say. Honestly, helpful rejections will make your writing better in the end. Those unhelpful ones which just say ‘not right for us at this time’ mean just that. In one person’s opinion, it’s not right. You can yell at those.

Are you a Kindle or ipad fan, if so what do you most enjoy about it? 

I love my Kindle, because I’m an instant-gratification person. I see a book and I want it, right NOW, and, with a Kindle, I can have it! Also there are free samples, sometimes entire books free – and what’s not to like about free books? Plus, whenever I go away I can take shedloads of books with me on my Kindle, and, as a very fast reader, that’s an amazing thing. I got used, during childhood, to holidays spent reading one book over and over again. Now I can move from book to book, from genre to genre, as the mood takes me. And no, I’m not being paid to say this… I don’t have an Ipad. I’d like one, but can’t really afford it right now. Maybe in the future… or Apple could sponsor me…? Just a suggestion.

If your book could be a movie, who would play the hero?

Ah. Now, my taste in attractive men is a little...ahem...subjective. Everyone who knows me will be groaning and covering their eyes here, because I am about to invoke Tony Robinson and David Mitchell (I know they aren’t film stars, but they are my idea of attractive men, although my heroes aren’t in the least based on them. Oh, well, maybe only a bit...). Although, thinking about it, I do quite like Johnny Depp, and he could play Ben Davies extremely well. Hell, he doesn’t even have to act, he can just walk up and down for a couple of hours. I’d pay to watch that...

What advice would you give to the younger you? 

Get your hair cut. Oh, you mean writing advice? Don’t Give Up. However many rejections and knockbacks and truly horrible things happen to you - Don’t Ever Give Up - keep writing, through thick and thin because, if nothing else, it will keep you sane. Oh, and hang on to the negatives, because blackmail is always a second career option...

PLEASE DON'T STOP THE MUSIC - winner of RoNA ROMANTIC NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2012. Shortlisted for Melissa Nathan Award 2012 How much can you hide?

Jemima Hutton is determined to build a successful new life and keep her past a dark secret. Trouble is, her jewellery business looks set to fail - until enigmatic Ben Davies offers to stock her handmade belt buckles in his guitar shop and things start looking up, on all fronts. But Ben has secrets too. When Jemima finds out he used to be the front man of hugely successful Indie rock band Willow Down, she wants to know more. Why did he desert the band on their US tour? Why is he now a semi-recluse? And the curiosity is mutual - which means that her own secret is no longer safe ... 

Jane’s latest novel is VAMPIRE STATE OF MIND coming soon from Choc Lit Publishing 

Jessica Grant knows vampires only too well. She runs the York Council tracker programme making sure that Otherworlders are all where they should be, keeps the filing in order and drinks far too much coffee. To Jess, vampires are annoying and arrogant and far too sexy for their own good, particularly her ex-colleague Sil, who’s now in charge of Otherworld York. But when a demon turns up and threatens not just Jess but the whole world order, she and Sil are forced to work together, and when Jess turns out to be the key to saving the world it puts a very different slant on their relationship. The stakes are high. They are also very, very pointy and Jess isn’t afraid to use them, even on the vampire that she’s rather afraid she’s falling in love with ...

Thank you for sparing time to talk to us today Jane. We wish you continued success with your wonderful books.
Best wishes, Freda

Jane can be found at http://www.janelovering.co.uk

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sarah Morgan Wins A RITA

In 2010 at the RNA conference in Greenwich I was talking to Tessa Shapcott and Lucy Gilmour from Harlequin over coffee and delicious chocolate-somethings and they invited me to contribute to a new series they were planning called '21st Century Bosses.' The challenge was to come up with a fresh, modern story and with the help of more chocolate I mulled it over as I wandered into the next session which was run by the fantastic Kate Harrison and called 'Not just a fairytale'. During her talk Kate invited her audience to write down a writing goal. The lady in the row behind me said she wanted to see someone reading her book on a train. I said I wanted to win a RITA, the award presented by the Romance Writers of America, named after their first president, Rita Clay Estrada.
A week ago that dream came true and it was the 'boss' book (titled Doukakis's Apprentice) I'd discussed during coffee at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich that won me that award. I flew to California for the RWA National Conference knowing that I was a finalist but with no expectation of winning, and was deafened by loud cheers from both RWA members and RNA members when my name was called out. It was a truly thrilling moment made all the more special by the fact that my editor Lucy Gilmour was there to share it with me!

 Sarah Morgan

Friday, August 3, 2012

Interview with Sophie Duffy

I’m delighted to welcome Sophie Duffy to the blog today. Sophie is the winner of the 2010 Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary and the Yeovil Literary Prize 2006. 'The Generation Game' was her debut novel published in August 2011, inspired by Sophie's childhood growing up in a sweet shop in Torquay. She lives by the seaside in Devon with her husband and their three teenagers and is a member of the RNA and Exeter Writers. She has a very naughty Tibetan Terrier. Do tell us what made you want to write and how you got your first break? 

I always enjoyed writing stories at school and spent a lot of time daydreaming, especially when trying to get to sleep at night - I’ve always been an insomniac.My first break was winning the Yeovil Literary Prize in 2006 for THE GENERATION GAME back when it was a work-in-progress. More than anything, this gave me the confidence to believe that I was actually a ‘proper’ writer - whatever that is.

Did you ever take part in a writing course, and did it help to kickstart your career? 

I am a great believer that there is much to learn about the craft of writing. You wouldn’t be a painter without going to art school or studying the masters. Yes, you need some talent, a spark, but you also need to learn the rules so you can be free to flout them. You need to learn how to be thick-skinned in the barrage of rejections that will come your way. Doing an evening class and then an MA in Creative Writing helped immensely with this. A course with deadlines and accountability can help your stamina.

Which author has most influenced your work? 

There have been so many but I will name Fay Weldon, Kate Atkinson, David Lodge, Graham Swift, Sue Townsend, Carol Shields, Marina Lewycka, Laurie Graham, Kate Long, David Nicholls. I’m not saying I write like any of these wonderful novelists (I wish) but they write about family life and relationships with wit and poignancy - which is my aim.

How would you describe your own books? Under what genre or sub-genre do they come? 

My books are about family and relationships and are lit-lite, for want of a better phrase. I fall between those two bar stools of commercial and literary.

What do you do when the going gets tough?

Read. Drink tea. Drink wine. Take the dog for a walk on the beach. Have a bath. And maybe go away for a bit to a place without teenagers and washing and mouldy mugs. And make myself write.

If your book were ever filmed who would you choose for the hero and why?

Steve, the vicar, would be someone lovable and sweet like Alan Davies. Martin, the brother, would be someone able to do obnoxious well, like Neil Pearson.

Do you think it important for a writer to take time off? What hobbies give you a break from writing?

Yes, it’s important to take time off and not just to get to the bottom of the laundry basket. Time away makes you yearn to get back to your work. And gives you fresh eyes to read it when you do.

If you could slip into a time machine and meet a famous historical figure from the past, who would you choose and why?

Mary Magdalene. Who was she? What made her give up everything and support a band of revolutionaries. What did she really feel about Jesus? Why did he choose to appear to her first after he left the tomb? She was the first woman vicar of the Christian church as far as I’m concerned.

Can you tell us something of what you are working on now?

A novel about four people - two men, two women - who were close friends as students. Two of them are now married to each other but otherwise they have lost touch, for very good reason. Now, one of them brings them back together and they have to confront what happened back in the 80s.

THIS HOLEY LIFE is your latest book, tell us what inspired you to write it. 

I had the idea to write about a vicar’s wife but to make this more interesting I wanted her to be a reluctant vicar’s wife (her husband was a plumber when he had a dramatic conversion on the way to Dartford). My brother is a minister and I am friends with ministers’ wives and also female ministers. I’m intrigued with this unpaid role that comes without a job description and that can be very intrusive on family life.

Vicky is a reluctant curate's wife, struggling to come to terms with her own bereavement and her husband's new-found faith. Then, one Boxing Day, a knock on the door brings her annoying big brother, his teenage son and a cello into her life, turning her world upside down. With her small terrace house in Penge now fit to burst, Vicky struggles to manage her three children and the joys of everyday family life. As a new threat lurks behind every corner, hope appears in the most unlikely of circumstances. An enchanting, funny, sad yet bittersweet tale of life and living, one that reminds us it's not a race at all... but a journey. Published in August 2012 by Legend Press. She is represented by Broo Doherty.
Thank you for finding time to talk to us today Sophie. We wish you every success with your new books. To find out more visit Sophie’s website. 
Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August Releases

Hardback, print
16th August 2012
A darkly compelling mix of romance, fairy tale, and suspense from a new voice in teen fiction
The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Now seventeen, she revisits the woods where Tom was taken, resolving to say good-bye at last. Instead, she’s lured into the trees, where she finds strange and dangerous creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with secrets of his own. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack’s help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where stunning beauty masks some of the most treacherous evils, and she’s faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice–and not just her own.


Ebury Press
30 August 2012
£14.99 (RRP)
An epic, romantic, swashbuckling adventure set at a time when Drake roamed the seas in the name of the Virgin Queen.
'Beautifully written and researched, this tale of desire, revenge, piracy and valour is so evocative we can taste salt on our skin and hear the swoop of sails overhead as we're swept up into a high-stakes adventure unlike any we've read before.' - C.W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici 

16th August 2012
Sexy, dishevelled and just a little clumsy, Mack starts to make Jennifer believe she can embrace life all over again. But he has a secret he'd do anything to protect and he'll have to betray her to keep it...

Mills & Boon
3rd AUGUST 2012
Princess Theodora of Constantinople is to marry Duke Nikolaos, the general-in-chief of the army, a man chosen for her by the Emperor.  An imperial princess must always do her duty - be beautiful, obedient and pure.
But Theodora spent ten years in exile in a barbarian land.  There, once, she might have forgotten protocol.  Forgotten enough to have given birth to a baby in secret.   As her wedding night approaches, Theodora finds she wants to share her bed with the Duke, except she knows she's on the verge of revealing her biggest sin...

 Allison and Busby
August 27 2012
Caught out in an air raid in wartime London, Julie Walker is pulled out alive from an air raid shelter, but has lost her memory. Given a new identity, she must make a life for herself as Eve Seaton. When her memory suddenly returns, four years later, she is left with a dilemma. Is she Julie Walker, married to Harry, or is she Eve Seaton, a sergeant in the WAAF, engaged to Alec Kilby? And who is buried in the grave alongside her son?

Choc Lit Publishing
07th August 2012

Jessica Grant knows vampires only too well.  She runs the York Council tracker programme making sure that Otherworlders are all where they should be, keeps the filing in order and drinks far too much coffee.  To Jess, vampires are annoying and arrogant and far too sexy for their own good, particularly her ex-colleague Sil, who’s now in charge of Otherworld York. 

But when a demon turns up and threatens not just Jess but the whole world order, she and Sil are forced to work together, and when Jess turns out to be the key to saving the world it puts a very different slant on their relationship.  The stakes are high.  They are also very, very pointy and Jess isn’t afraid to use them, even on the vampire that she’s rather afraid she’s falling in love with ...

Katherine Garbera A CASE OF KISS AND TELL
August 7
"Be my mistress for a month."
Billionaire bachelor Conner Macafee knows just what he’s worth, and he’s ready to make a deal. Nosy reporter Nichole Reynolds wants him--owner of New York's high-end matchmaking service--to spill his guts for her story? He’ll tell all--when she’s in his bed.

Nichole needs this scoop. But Conner is so arrogant, so cocky...and oh-so-sexy. Surely she can handle a month in the hot bachelor's arms in a cool penthouse suite--for her career.  But one kiss from Conner and Nichole knows she's made a huge mistake. Now she wants both the story and the man.

Lynne Connolly STRIPPED BARE
Loose-Id Publishing
21st August 2012
 Corporate espionage leads to hot and kinky sex!
Joining the Mile High Club seemed like a fun thing to do, but Yolanda Latimer has more than a scandal to face when she falls to earth. The only person who can help her is the man who witnessed her tryst, and somehow turned her on without touching her.
Introducing Yolanda to the wilder side of sex is sheer delight for mentor Lawrence Cavendish, but his gorgeous pupil gets far deeper under his skin than he planned for, and soon he's involved in her real life dilemma. His sex life is all he allows to remain from his previous existence in a dark and dangerous world, where every day could have been his last. Yolanda unwittingly pulls him back in, threatening a life he loves and devastating public exposure as a fraud. Even she won't want him when she finds out his true nature.
Unless they find the man who is blackmailing Yolanda, she's washed up, her precious job and her reputation gone forever. Only Lawrence has the contacts that can flush her blackmailer from the seamy undergrowth of the criminal
underworld, and to do it he has to risk everything he's won over the years.Even her love.

W. Soliman   TOPSPIN
Musa Publishing
17th August 2012
More than just dodgy line calls when tempers flare at a local tennis club

Vanessa Devereaux WORTH WAITING FOR
Evernight Publishing
E Book-Novel
August 21st
Brock thought he had it all until one day he's sent away from the family business with the challenge of making it on his own. Kate also thought she had it all until her husband walked out and she's left with a faltering restaurant and a huge loan. Together Brock and Kate discover that there's more to life than money and business, and until you find your true love, your life isn't complete.

Vanessa Devereaux THE RAKE-(Book Three of the Just For Your Pleasure Trilogy)
Cobblestone Press
August 15th
Gillian is in for one final surprise when she meets with the last man William has selected for her.

Freda Lightfoot THE PROMISE
Magna large Print
1 July 2012

'San Francisco 1904: Georgia Briscoe is in love with British sailor Ellis Cowper but unwillingly betrothed to businessman Drew Kemp. He has the charm to dazzle everyone around him but once married his charm is only skin-deep when his penchant for gambling and other women comes to light. Georgia plans to escape to be with the man she loves but Drew has other ideas. And then comes the earthquake... London, 1948 when Chrissie Kemp travels to the Lake District to visit her grandmother Georgia, she is unprepared for the shocking revelation that is about to throw her family into turmoil. '

Magna Large Print
1 August 2012

'The story of Gabrielle d'Estrees is one of love, betrayal, intrigue and tragedy. All she wanted was to marry for love, and enjoy the respectability of a happy marriage. But in the court of sixteenth century France this was almost impossible to achieve. She was sold by her own mother to three different lovers before catching the eye of a king. Is the love of a king enough to secure Gabrielle the happiness and respectability she craves, and a crown for her son as the next dauphin of France? '

Ellora's Cave Blush Mainstream
 August 30th
A widow of a medieval lord teaches knights the arts of courtly love and finesse. Young, raw knights flock to her and emerge from her castle with polish and panache. An older knight wonders if the widow will teach him a thing or two - or will they teach each other?

Sophie Pembroke  AN A TO Z OF LOVE
Lyrical Press
Ebook - $5.99 / £3.97
Everyone’s talking about Mia Page. Again.
Mia Page has been the subject of gossip in Aberarian for half her life, ever since her father ran off with his secretary–and the contents of the local museum safe–when she was fourteen.
Still, Mia loves her hometown, loves working at the A to Z shop, eating seafood with her best friend Charlie at his restaurant, catching the classic midnight movie at the crumbling Coliseum cinema. And if she ever wonders if things might be even better if Charlie were more than just a friend, well, it’s only an idle thought in a lonely moment. After all, friendship always trumps romance, doesn’t it? And she’s never been one to rock the boat.
But everything she loves is suddenly under threat from Charlie’s ex-girlfriend, Becky, and her plans to turn Mia’s beloved Coliseum into a casino, transforming the sleepy seaside town forever. As Mia tries to pull the people of Aberarian together to save the town they adore, her father reappears, and people start asking what he wants to take from them this time…

Crime of passion or cruel twist of fate?
One summer’s day Betty let love carry her a step too far. That exquisite sun dappled afternoon became one of her best memories but also the catalyst for the worst experience of her life. Now elderly, Betty has been running from her past since she was a teenager, and it’s about to catch up with her. Will the experience be as awful as she fears or wonderful beyond imagining?

Kitti Bernetti and Toni Sands  (co-authors in) PAST PLEASURES
Xcite Books
26 July 2012                
12 July 2012
Short Story:    The Duchess and the Highwayman by Kitti Bernetti
Lady Henrietta gets an extraordinary surpise when her coach is held up by a highwayman

Short Story: The Day the Sun Stands Still by Toni Sands         
Persian slave-girl Zuleika makes her way to market. Who will bid for her?