I’m Sexy and I Know It!

Romance novels give readers such a wide variety of heroes to enjoy. Some are the big brooding type (think Mr. Darcy). Some are witty with oodles of boyish charm (pretty much any flick Hugh Grant’s ever been in). The heros I write vary too – although they are always confident…men who don’t hesitate taking charge in a crisis and getting everyone out of that burning building or off that sinking ship.

The hero I’m writing at the moment – Dex Hunter, second-born son in my Hunter Pact Series for Desire – is even a little showy. He owns a movie production company in Los Angeles and doesn’t mind bathing in his own limelight. But Dex does have his limits…

Unlike this guy.

Sparkling brief swimmers (Edward you have competition!) and, let me just say, a rather toned bod coupled with some pretty amazing moves and a most appreciative audience. Australian beaches rock!

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Valentine’s Day…when romance is key!

Yep. I’m old-fashioned.

I adore red roses on Valentine’s Day. I love the meaning filled cards my husband and I swap. I like to be reminded that I’m special in someone’s life and let that someone know that they are equally special in mine.

In ways which count we show each other, no matter what, we’re never alone. I think that’s the kind of love most people search for and some are lucky enough to find. Days spent with simple pleasures, kind words, lots of laughter and understanding when it’s needed most.

Can you keep a secret?

We never had a honeymoon. And given this year is the year I intend to make a few things happen, I’ve organized a bit of a trip closer to our anniversary month. I’ll give you some hints… Leis and sunshine…first-class entertainment and, no doubt, way too much food…the Pacific Ocean and a suite with its very own balcony view.

I haven’t told you-know-who yet. Maybe he’ll suggest we renew our vows. He’s that kind of guy.

Don’t forget to enter my Valentine’s contest here for the chance to win flowers, champagne and two fabulous romantic reads by Rachel Bailey and Amy Andrews!

Justin Bieber a Valentine's fan!

What's gorgeous George doing Valentine's Day?

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Best New Year’s Eve Fireworks Ever!

Hope your 2012 is as awesome and bright!

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How real is too real in ‘romance’?

One of the reasons I love romance fiction is the fact that there seems to be a story for everyone! Harlequin offers a wide range of tones, with various levels of sensuality (from sweet to scorching!) as well as lines that provide pure fantasy to real life grit and anywhere in between.

I love fantasy. There seems to be endless variations on the Cinderella theme. The movie Enchanted literally takes the fairytale and drops it dead centre of the realities of New York. An old hobo steals the princess’s tiara. A divorcing couple get nasty at the lawyer’s office. But the flavour is still deliciously light.

Then there’s Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook (yes, I know he writes ‘love stories’ but the romance in this tale is monumental.) While there are lighter moments, the deeper subject matter propelling this story is dark: unfaithfulness, debilitating illness, treachery on a level that turns your stomach even while you sympathise with the reasoning. The close of the book is poignant – we feel hope and gut-wrenching sadness as well as a frightening sense of: ‘This could happen to anyone. This could happen to me’.

I like light. I love the escape! But I think I like heavy more. Not ‘hand to the brow’ over-the-top drama but fiction reflecting real life issues, particularly in romance where a happy ending is guaranteed no matter how tough the battle to get there.

My latest Presents – Fearless Maverick – is part of an editorial-driven continuity (that is the editors create the characters and general story arcs). Early in the story we discover that the heroine was in an accident and wears a lower-leg prosthesis. Some readers/reviewers loved the story! Romantic Times awarded it four and a half stars and said,
This fast-paced romance will grab readers from the start and not let go, with unforgettable characters, excellent witty and descriptive dialogue and a plot that gives us incredible in-depth detail — it reads like a much longer novel.’

But other readers felt – well, the term I’d use is betrayed. They weren’t happy that a story, which is meant to be filled with high-stakes, should get this close to reality.

I puzzled over the responses to this book being so polarised. They loved it or, well, they didn’t. Which leaves me with an interesting question about how to approach future works. But I have to say that I’d much rather have a strong response to my characters and their stories than mediocre ones.

Do you have any examples of what’s too far in romance for your tastes? Or what’s just right!

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Another scam?

Seems the name of the game these days for every product – including authors and their stories – is how to get that rush of exposure. How to have readers flock to buy that book…no matter what. 

This week an author blogged about one of the “big six” cancelling her contract because she’d recently published a short story collection on Amazon.  $20,000 was mentioned, as was an editor shouting and disbelief at such rotten treatment after landing this fabulous deal.

 

Only there is no mention of receiving “the call” in previous posts, or negotiating any deal. When some comments asked for more detail, for example, wording in the option clause, the writer came back to announce that her lawyer had advised her not to continue the discussion.

This morning another writer reportedly walked away from her publisher, Harper Collins, at her latest book’s launch because she didn’t agree with the chic-lit marketing strategy. She is an advocate of women’s rights in the workplace and elsewhere and I applaud her for that. She wanted her book taken seriously. I respect that too.

My question is…why did she wait until the media launch to ditch her publisher? Fair call or publicity stunt to boost her profile before returning to self-publishing? Perhaps both?

I was impressed when co-writers of a post-apocolyptic novel turned down an offer of representation from a well-connected agent who requested/suggested they change one of the main character’s sexual orientation. Read the story here.

 

I love young adult books. Many of them address hard-knock issues that affect teenagers (peer group pressure, the agonies of first love), and, hey, we’ve all been there! Whether you like it or not, some folk are gay.  If a story tackles the problems facing such a character, or the writer/s simply want/need to portray that character that way…well, how is that a bad thing?

Of course, if you choose not to buy the book or allow your teen to read it, that’s certainly an individual choice. Me? My ten-year-old daughter doesn’t know about the birds and the bees yet but she does know (thanks to Buffy initially) that some women love women and some guys love guys. She doesn’t give it a second thought. Twenty years ago, my grandmother had no idea homosexuality existed. Thank heaven times have changed. Or, at least, are changing.

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Amazing X-Factor Hero!

You don’t have to be an X-Factor fan. I defy you not to be moved like you’ve never been moved before by this performance. Emmanuel Kelly you have my vote, as well as the heartfelt applause and support of the rest of Australia!

What a story. What a smile. What a voice!! 

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Sandra Hyatt remembered


Word of a person’s kindness and generosity spreads quickly. I had known of Sandra – her enthusiasm, talent and loyalty – long before ‘meeting’ her myself. I was thrilled when she sold. Was quick to help the few times she had questions. I have enjoyed her stories immensely. As I write this, her latest – a ‘Book of the Month’ – sits on my bedside table.

Recently, when I couldn’t make a North American conference, Sandra offered to collect an award on my behalf should I happen to win. I remember her email – so genuinely excited for me – passing on the good news. She then organised for my pin to reach me safely.

Although we never met in person, I count Sandra as a true friend, a rare and beautiful person who will always be remembered and loved.

Wednesday 24th August, the Lovecats Downunder Blog will honour Sandra with a beautiful bouquet of words to acknowledge how she touched and brightened so many of our lives.

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