January sees the publication of my 70th book for Harlequin Mills and Boon and in the darkest days of winter, it offers the scents and colour of warm early summer days.
Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss
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When a book is written and has been through the publication process, I often struggle to remember what inspired the original idea. How it got from a blank screen to the physical book that I’m holding in my hand.
Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss was like that.
I do know that I was thinking about an earlier book in which the garden had featured heavily and which I’d loved writing.
December sees the publication of my latest Regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. It is also the time of festive fun and pantomimes, so the Cinderella title is very apt, I think.
Cinderella and the Scarred Viscount
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Once upon a time….
Philip James de Loutherbourg, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The story is set in Regency England but its origins are much further afield. Spain in fact. The whole thing starts with the Spanish Armada!
Many Spanish ships from that ill-fated expedition came to grief around the British Isles, and the are many stories of survivors “leaving their mark” on the local population in the form of dark eyed, dark haired children. My heroine, Carenza, has this dark colouring, inherited from her mother.
Of course, she isn’t the first literary character to have such a heritage. The one that springs first to my mind is Jimmy Perez in Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series (not that the lovely Dougie Henshall, who plays Perez in the TV series is dark haired OR dark-eyed).
Series Covers : but what says Series Covers to readers?
Earlier this week, our own Liz Fielding published a blog about her series covers over 30 years of her writing career. It was fascinating. And it made me think about brands and series.
What makes Series Covers?
Harlequin Mills & Boon have been producing different series for decades. Readers may be fans of one or more of these series. Perhaps they love Medicals (left), or Historicals (right).
Readers expect to be able to identify their particular series covers the moment they look at the shelves in the bookshop. It used to be easy because of the colour coding: for example, Medicals were the jade green shown above; Historicals were Dairy Milk Purple. Modern and Romance (of which more below) also had the swoosh against blue (for Modern) and orange (for Romance).
And within their favourite series, readers want to be able to pick out the authors whose books they love. Preferably without having to peer at tiny or barely legible print. The two cover images above don’t get very high marks on that front. It would have been easy to remedy, though.
To give the paying customers what they want.
Simples, no? Isn’t that what branding is about? Well… Continue reading →
Yikes, I’ve won the Libertà Award : Guest Blog by Kate Hardy
As a follow-up to last weekend’s blog on the virtual ceremony for the RNA Awards 2021, this week we’re delighted to be able to welcome Kate Hardy, the winner of the LIbertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award 2021 for A Will, A Wish and A Wedding.
Kate is an old mate of the Libertà hive. She was one of the very kind authors who welcomed the then unpublished newbie, Joanna Maitland, to her very first RNA meeting. That was well over 20 years ago and Kate says she doesn’t remember. But Joanna does and is still grateful.
Kate comes—be warned—with hairy hangers-on. So this is partly a writer’s pet blog too. It’s about time we did another of those, don’t you think?
Kate’s hangers-on, Archie (the big one) and Dexter, rejoice in the title of Edit-paw-ial Assistants.
More from them later.
Keep reading, as Kate tells us about how she became a published author and how she came to write the lovely butterfly-filled book that won our award.
Kate Hardy writes…
I’m thrilled to be here, as the winner of the 2021 Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award. It’s a glorious collision of numbers: for my 90th M&B, in my 20th year of being a M&B author and my 25th year of being a member of the RNA. And it’s also the third time I’ve won the award. As the photo below shows, I really wasn’t expecting it — and I’m so delighted!
Writing Christmas Reunion in Pariswas a curious mixture of fun and anxiety. Maybe it’s always like that. There are always tough moments when you can’t see an ending, when you sit and stare at the screen and the words won’t come. But, mostly, like childbirth, you forget the agonies when all is delivered safely.
It all started when my editor asked if I’d like to write the first book in a three book mini-series – Christmas at the Harrington Park Hotel. My fellow authors, Kandy Shepherd (in Australia) and Susan Meier (in the US) were old friends. I was delighted to team up with them to work on the books that were about three siblings, each with their own painful past.
Emails flew back and forth as we worked on settings. The boarding school that James (my character) and his twin Sally had attended. The Harrington Park Hotel. The backstory of their parents, a stepfather, the moments that fractured a once happy family.
That was the fun part!
Paris…we’ve done that…
My story takes place in Paris, in the run up to the holiday, so I grabbed the chance to go and do a little research which I wrote about a few months ago.
Back in 2019, the Libertà Hive met over supper and the odd glass 😉 to plot the future. We decided to write a Libertà Beach Reads anthology for summer 2020.
We didn’t know back then, of course, that beaches might be off-limits for a bit. But there’s no ban on beach reads. Writing them—and reading them, too—can be great fun.
As the evening wore on, amid much laughter and scraping of plates, we discovered the joys of Little Piddling, its history, its inhabitants… We also discovered some of the skeletons in our seaside town’s metaphorical cupboards (aka beach huts).
Beach Read challenge
We challenged each other to write the sort of stories we’d never attempted before. And we’ve all really enjoyed meeting those challenges. We even roped in two long-term friends of the hive, authors Louise Allen and Lesley Cookman.
There are a couple of months to go before we need to start to panic, but the groans are undoubtedly justified.
The children have only just gone back to school, the supermarket aisles are full of the momentary distraction of fake pumpkins and Halloween costumes, but they are already piling up the Christmas chocolate. (I took these two photographs just this morning.) And greetings cards are on sale for those organised enough to get them written before they get swept up in the season.
Just over a week ago I asked an expert why P G Wodehouse seemed so out of sympathy with the romantic novelist. Did he know one?
This is where I should probably admit that I have a sneaky image of a young Barbara Cartland pursuing him. Well, PGW was a big name when he visited London in the 20s and she was a newbie author and playwright.
If they did meet, I would put good money on him evaporating sharpish. He had perfected the technique. His family called it the Wodehouse Glide. But nobody I’ve come across has offered any evidence of Wodehouse encountering a romantic novelist in real life.
The expert said, quite rightly, that PGW was pretty brisk on the subject of all sorts of pretentiousness. And, anyway, PGW handed out as many knocks to male poets as he did to female novelists.Continue reading →
This month, we welcome another Libertà friend and much-loved author, Judy Astley, to the blog.
Like so many of our guest bloggers, Judy has a fascinating portfolio of skills. She spent several years as a dressmaker, painter and illustrator before writing her first book, Just For The Summer. She’s since written nineteen more. Phew! And now, after a two-year rest to refill the creative well, she’s working on book number twenty-one. Her many fans will be delighted.
Like many other writers, Judy has a furry friend — Veronica. And Veronica sounds to be quite a character, as Judy explains…
Veronica has her own ideas about what to wear…
Veronica the crafty Burmese cat (+ friend)
My cat’s collar was starting to look like a charm bracelet. From it dangled her metal tag with her address and phone number, a magnetic gadget that opened her catflap and then this new addition: a soft blue disc that held a new device — a tracker.
“I’m sorry, but you’ve brought it on yourself,” I told Veronica (a blue Burmese, sweet but crafty).
She gave me a look that clearly said, “You expect me to go out in this?” Continue reading →