Thursday, September 27, 2007

Guilty Pleasures On BBC Radio Four

We've all been waiting with bated breath for this one, haven't we? With posts on both Natasha Oakley and Kate Walker's blogs and great comments from you lot out there.... and mostly the fear was that the initial Press Release was the tone of the show...

AND IT WASN'T!!! Actually it was GOOD and gave not only varying opinions and some fabulous history of the company and editor interviews and a great Nicola Marsh Modern Extra plug and some fab interviews with our lovely Sharon Kendrick and Gill (Roger) Sanderson et all - BUT on the *opposing side* it managed to find an *Academic* who came across as a COMPLETE TWIT. I kinda feel sorry for anyone who takes her courses frankly. Because I was always under the impression that people who taught knew to STUDY a subject before they VOICED AN OPINION on it. But hey-ho - what would I know... How about I voice MY opinion anyhoos - it being my blog and all...

Right - hang on - go get a coffee gang while I... darn it! I know I left it in the back of this cupboard somewhere under all these shoes... ahhh... wait... there it is. Now I'll just - umphh - put it - sigh - over - *struggle* - here! *STEPS UP* Now... can we all see me from the back??? GOOD - then I'll begin...
Lets' start with one of her little gems shall we???

"The journey that they tell is a very stereotypical one. It's hero at the beginning doesn't take any notice of heroine - heroine sticks to being what she is; she buys some sensational dresses, she keeps plodding on - and at the end of the day hero notices heroine... So actually nothing very much happens, except of course that there might be a few adventures along the way. But they're constructed adventures - they're not discussions, they're not conversations. I think they're very formulaic - I think they're formulaic in their endings, I think they're formulaic in their construction and I think they're formulaic in their language."

Gang - meet Mary Evans - Professor of Women's Studies at the University Of Kent - where the course ... and I quote; 'encourages students to explore diverse aspects of feminist theory...' REALLY??? Does she sound like she's encouraging ANYONE to 'explore diverse aspects'??? Nope - she's just TOLD US she thinks it's CRAP. And not only that, but anyone who reads across the lines currently available on the market will see that she plainly DOESN'T KNOW WHAT SHE'S TALKING ABOUT. Now, I obviously haven't attended any of her courses and for her to have achieved her place at the University she obviously has to be a highly intelligent woman and naturally she's entitled to her opinion but for goodness sake DO SOME RESEARCH into what you're commenting on!!! As a professor of women's studies then surely the fact that Mills And Boon Novels have been around for as long as they have and sell at the rate they do means she should understand they're more than a ' heroine sticks to being what she is... buys some sensational dresses... keeps plodding on - and at the end of the day hero notices heroine...' I mean COME ON!!! For such a highly intelligent, well educated woman SERIOUSLY???

Oooohhh and she doesn't stop there...oh lord no... If you're gonna dig yourself a hole I always feel it's important you dump the shovel and go get yourself a JCB - DO THE JOB RIGHT!

"It's bad for women to suggest that the whole of their lives will be sorted out if they simply attract the right man. That is not the reality and it stands in the way of women taking responsibility for their own lives and for the lives of their children. Mills and Boon just says (insert patronizing voice here) ' Make yourself attractive darling and some lovely bloke will come along and take care of it'. And that simply doesn't happen and it also encourages women to be dependent - to underachieve their potential - and to not fully realize themselves as human beings..."

H-E-L-L-O????? Now maybe I've missed whatever book (and yes that's SINGULAR for a purpose) she read to form this *educated opinion* but speaking for my own work and ANY OF THE VERY VERY MANY books I have read across the lines in the last FIVE YEARS since I took up this profession I can honestly say I have yet to find one that tells me 'Make yourself attractive darling and some lovely bloke will come along and take care of it' - and quite frankly if I had found one I'D HAVE THROWN IT ACROSS THE ROOM. I think were she to bother taking the time to read enough to be able to VOICE what is obviously supposed to be an EDUCATED opinion she would also have found VERY MANY books that encourage women to be strong and independent and both achieve their potential AND fully realize themselves as human beings!!!!! Only when she has read a selection of books from all the lines and been able to find this commonality in ALL of them can she be claim to be EDUCATED ENOUGH to make such a SWEEPING GENERALIZATION!

You'd think a smart woman would have quit at that. BUT-OH-NO...

"I would say as the kind of book that is read by somebody who feels that their life is lacking - is making them miserable - is making them unfulfilled in some kind of way - and so what they are turning to to make up that missing part is romance. So as I say I see them as a literature of unhappiness rather than happiness. They're a classic literature for - you know - rather miserable, rather disappointed, rather jaundiced people..."

At this point you can picture my jaw hitting the keyboard... A LITERATURE OF UNHAPPINESS RATHER THAN HAPPINESS??????????????????? W-H-A-T??? At this stage the twit-o-meter in my house has just EXPLODED - red alarm lights are flashing - and the DEFCON ONE idiot alarm is sounding like some of those sirens I kept hearing in New York this summer.

Now I like to think I'm a fairly typical female whose had her fair share of disatrous relationships along the way, has been out there in the dating scene, has had squabbles with family and financial woes and jobs I hated and days I just wanted chocolate and a duvet and to not leave the house... Did I run out to my local bookstore to grab an M&B to make-it-all-better..? WELL HELL - if I did then I need a REFUND. AND none of them came with the free PAT ON THE HEAD...

Seriously? That's what this woman THINKS? This EDUCATED woman??? NEWSFLASH 'darling' sometimes women just read FOR THE SHEER HECK OF IT. Like they eat chocolate or have a glass of wine or buy shoes or go have a facial or watch a romantic comedy at the cinema with their girlfriends. Does it mean they're not lacking in something in their lives - oh c'mon - tell me one woman who isn't MADE TO FEEL SHE MUST BE because twits like this TELL US WHY WE ARE. I'm all for understanding the psychology behind things - don't get me wrong - after all, women do that from an early age, don't they? You know - ripping things apart to understand why? But to make another SWEEPING GENERALIZATION and claim that ALL WOMEN who read Mills & Boon's are miserable shells of women - well frankly - I'm not buying it. But then frankly yet again - I'm the kinda gal that believes we women should GIVE OURSELVES A BREAK every now and again and not be made to feel we have to be fulfilled to OTHER PEOPLES standards in order to be happy. If reading a Mills And Boon fills your happy quota for a few hours then READ ONE - if chocolate makes you feel all yummy inside for a full five minutes then EAT IT and deal with the consequences on your hips for the next six months afterwards - and if a bubble bath and a glass of wine helps wind you down at the end of the day THEN RUN THAT BATH AND POUR THAT WINE (I'll have a glass with you). And don't let ANYONE tell you that you're a LESSER being because you feel the need to.
And Mary Evans - I'm only thankful there were a great many more people in this radio show with a balanced opinion and demonstrating enough common sense to make you sound as opinionated as you did. You give women's studies a bad name. Todays woman has the right to read whatever she wants to read and telling her that by doing so she's sad, miserable, lacking and incapable of knowing the difference between REAL LIFE and FICTION is just plain PATRONIZING. Is THAT what you teach your STUDENTS???? Well HEAVEN HELP all those kids that read Harry Potter then - their whole lives are about to be screwed up without them being able to FLY or own a talking OWL...
*DEEP BREATH*
And again I'm going to say that on the whole this show was highly entertaining, informative and amusing in places too - I am kinda picking on the commentaries from people who are plainly very Anti-Mills & Boon. And yes I am bright enough to know that in order to show a balanced opinion you have to look at both sides of the coin but - and here's where things get right up my left nostril - seriously - isn't all this flaming of Mills & Boon getting a tad BORING for you folks??? Live and let live I say. Sales and longevity speak for themselves I say. Read what you wanna read and write what you wanna write I say. The days of BOOK BURNING are long since gone and if it came down to stats of the so called 'literary snobs' versus the 'number of people who buy these books' then really - how much more do I need to say??? LEARN TO LIVE WITH IT PEOPLE - the books are here to STAY. Welcome to the phenomenon known as POPULAR FICTION.
And frankly, in my humble opinion - in a world desperately short of HAPPILY EVER AFTERS we can ALL do with the escapism these little books bring... But then what do I know... I'm obviously LACKING in something while I hang around here waiting for some bloke to come make everything right for me...
*BOO-BLOODY-HOO.* Woe is me. How can I possibly go on for one more day????
And I leave you with the wise words of novelist Celia Brayford from the same show:

"The language is extremely tired and hackneyed. I do think they make an effort to remove cliches but you can always see the holes where they've cut them out. I think they're very mediocre and competant in literary terms and not more than that. It's a kind of lowest common denomenator of reading for people who can only just about read."
Right - back to the books with pictures I go then... A is for APPLE... B is for...
You can listen to the entire show on the BBC Four Website here - but be quick - they don't tend to stay on the site for long... It's called GUILTY PLEASURES...
Now - I'll just - put this soapbox - back in the - cupboard... and go back to writing the kind of heroine who'll simply put on a dress and WAIT.... that'll fill 50k - right???

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autumn In Her Eyes


I'm fully prepared to blame the PHS Hugh Jackman Tour if I'm back here changing my hero casting for this new book in a coupla weeks... After all, he wouldn't play as Connor last time... But hey - I'm prepared to give it a go again! After dealing with a GABE...
This top pic from the tour did it. It's exactly the kind of exuberance for life I wanted Ronan O'Keefe to have in this new Romance - for a reason I can't divulge here... bwahahahaha.... But I found a few pics that summed him up in my eyes and I already had my heroine picked out... Kerry Doyle is an older heroine than I've done before and Ronan is younger than her - and it's a round the world story - and it's an Autumnal ending (in Paris if I can make it all work!) - oh and then there's the small matter of the secret thingie... bwahahaha again...

What I'm also having a BLAST WITH is that over on The Pink Heart Society Loop I put the call out for help with *off the beaten track* or *romantic* or *unusual* or *little gems* of places for Ronan to show Kerry on her big adventure.... and I have some FABULOUS ideas already... all backdrops you understand but oh-my-oh-my how many lightbulbs are all the lovely ladies over there setting off in my head!!! I'm starting to think I might just ENJOY this one you know... Here's hoping those aren't famous last words...

Interesting Stuff


So I'm gonna direct you to a couple of different places today just to keep you occupied...

First up over at Natasha Oakley's Blog she's telling us about a BBC Radio programme this Thursday which debates the merits of Mills & Boon... and I've already been over to join in the discussion some... Isn't it about time interviewers and the press did their research properly and realized that the Category Romances we all love so much have come a long way since the Seventies and Eighties?????????? I mean - sheesh! And who really has the right to tell fully grown women what they can and can't read???

And if you need an explanation of this pic then you need to come visit me - guess where???

Sunday, September 23, 2007

And it's goodbye to Gabe


But only 'til next year!!!!

Oh the relief!

Yes the *precious* will be released next year in the newly re-named MODERN HEAT series (In May possibly) as Claimed By The Billionaire Bad Boy - and we all know he's a bit of a bad boy, don't we ladies??? He proved a tad of a hit with some of the lovely editors too ;) Let's just say he's apparently as memorable in print as he was here on the blog...

How much can I NOT WAIT for 2008 and Alex and Gabe's stories now? Huh? Huh??? Remember Gabe appears first in Alex's story in His Mistress: His Terms and specially for my lovely readers there's a nice linked scene in the two books. Same scene, same dialogue - but taken from two different couples POV's. So if, like me, you've always wondered what other people are thinking at the same party... The scene appears two thirds of the way through Alex's story and right at the start of Gabe's and I'm quite chuffed with it. Kinda links them that extra little bit, y'know???

And also a wonderful excuse to put them both on the same blog at the same time. Yup, still easy amused me.

These two guys are probably the hottest hero's I've written so far imho - but I'll leave it to you to decide!!! And maybe you'll pop by and let me know? Don't worry - if I know me, I'll remind you when they're coming out...
And its EVEN MORE EXCITING cos it looks like Modern Heat is hitting the shelves on a regular schedule in the USA and Canada from January of next year so we get lots of lovely new covers to drool over - HOW COOL IS THAT???
Now - onwards and upwards - I have a Romance to write in roughly a month. No pressure. So shall pop by and tell you about some of my London adventures - the amazing knack I have for meeting writer's on planes - and introduce you to my new hero and heroine so you can help me from the side-lines the way ONLY you guys can.
But for now - let's raise a glass and say BYE GABE...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Packed, Spruced-Up and Ready To Go (Again!)


Yup. Travelling time again. I am getting soooooo good at this you know...
It's that time of year in the UK again when lots of the Mills & Boon authors make the annual trip to London for entirely too much good food - lots and lots of glasses of nice stuff - and enough gossip to keep us going for another year. Gotta kinda love that a teency ikkle bit, don't ya??? It's one of the many benefits of being a member of the *sisterhood*.
We also get to do things like have lunch with our editors to see how our writing is doing, learn from the Richmond team about the BIG PLANS for next years CENTENERY CELEBRATIONS (I'm a tad excited about that part myself!!!) and watch some of our friends (*waves at both Kate's*) get special pins to commemorate their 25th and 50th titles!!!
And with any luck and a following wind we might even hear something about flipping GABE...
WATCH THIS SPACE...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Does Age Matter?


Over at The Pink Heart Society today our Jenna has been chatting about a young man called Channing Tatum. Who? Many of you may ask... and d'ya know I'd have been right there with you if I hadn't ended up seeing a film called Step Up one night at the cinema on a girlie night out... And yes, as Jenna rightly says, the chap is young at 27 but oh my, as Jenna tells us HE CAN DANCE...

Now I will confess I have used dancing in several of my books now ~ right back as far as The Bridal Bet and Her Real-Life Hero ~ to as recently as Breathless! and I love a hero that can dance and who has natural, erm, rhythm... Several of them have even commented on how it can be as close to making love in public as two people can get ;) So I'm all for a hero inspiration with a few *moves* and that puts Channing Tatum on my list.

But what about his age? Well this chap, as Jenna says, is 27 in real life. And in my hero inspirations of old I've used pics of guys who are anywhere from 30 to 42 in real life and I've aged them anywhere from 30 to 37 odds in my stories...Hmmm... so would I dismiss the picturesque Channing due to the fact he is a mere sprig of a thing at 27... I dunno that I would. 'Cos in my story he could be 30, right? Though I def see him as a Modern Extra hero rather than a Romance hero (mind you finding this next pic might have something to do with that too!) - kinda depends on the story, doesn't it? I know I have a story just waiting for Jensen Ackles and he's only just hitting 30 next year so I guess, shallow and all as the confession makes me, it's more about the kind of *look* I want than the actual age... But this is a personal preference, isn't it? Or is it - dah-duh-da? (that was dramatic music there in case you missed it...)

See, when it comes to heroine's I know in my choice of reading I'll struggle a bit with a younger heroine. Now good writing will, of course, always win me over - but when it comes to a modern day love story a la Romance and Modern Extra, a heroine of 18 to even 24 just won't do as well in my imagination as one from say 26/27 to late thirties. Why Trish? Well, it's a statistics thing as much as a personal thing for little old me. Statistically women are marrying later, having children later, building a career before they settle down and going through more than their fair share of Mister Wrong's to get to Mister Close-to-right-as-possible or, with luck, the Mister Right we romance author's write about. And as a single gal of a certain age myself (be kind!!!) I just struggle some with a heroine who finds Mister Right in the 21st Century before she's lived a little and spent time getting to know herself. I'm not saying it's not possible, or doesn't happen, it just wouldn't be my reading or writing preference on the page. Now in a historical - yes absolutely! 'Cos that was a sign of the times, wasn't it? Women married younger, and not just 'cos there was security in marriage and it was expected of them, but because lives were shorter then - death during childbirth figures were higher - diseases were rife...

But nowadays we have a longer life expectancy (with any luck) and a little known thing called divorce, which means people maybe don't have to take marriage as seriously as they did centuries ago... And, for me, as both a reader and a writer, it means I like my heroines to have a little more maturity. I like it if they've struggled with a career, I like it if they've worked hard to pay their own way, I like it if they've had a chance to discover a few Mister Wrong's along the way and so many other things too - 'cos then I kinda think that seeing the perfect guy for them come along makes the happily ever after all the sweeter, you know? But maybe that's just me? Am I alone in this or is it simply a sign of my own age???

So I guess a lot of those things carry over into a hero too. I like if he's spent time getting to know himself too - 'cos really is there anything sexier than a hero who's his own man? I'm not talking set in his ways, but confidence and life experience and a modicum of success add as much to sexiness on the page and in real life as looks do, don't they??? It's part of that whole *aspirational hero* theory, isn't it? My heroine's sure as hell wouldn't want a man to ride roughshod over them, trying to take control of their lives - but they also sure as hell will appreciate one whose strong and capable of 'stepping up' when she needs him to. In fact, she might even be a little impressd when he does. And maybe a man of 27 or younger is capable of that, I'm nto arguing that, but I just dunno I'd be convinced and if I'm not convinced then how can I write a convincing story? So would I dismiss Channing - nope - but along with a brand new name, character, back-story, career etc etc etc - I'd make him older on the page. But that's a personal preference... Would it be yours?

So as a reader do you prefer heroine's of a certain age or is it all about the story? As a writer are you put off by the thought of too young a hero - or like me is it the visual representation and nothing more 'cos everything else is all in the realms of the imagination??? Huh? Huh???

Meanwhile... As it's the lil pink dancing chap's birthday and he's been getting all these lovely prezzies I guess I should give him something too... And being as and how I worry for his welfare with all that bouncing up and down all over the internet while we don't know what he's bouncing under...

I'm giving him a nice pink Hard Hat - just in case... Happy Birthday lil guy!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Alright I can admit it


This last book took it outta me.

BUT it's looking like there might be light at the end of the tunnel now and we just have to wait for my lovely Ed to come back off her sunny holi-times to see if the thing is now polished and shiny enough to make me believe I can write again...

Next one is due by the third week odd of October...

NO PRESSURE...

Now I just need to get my computer to work properly again - finish up my stuff for the rest of the PHS's birthday month - look after the ten horses/ponies and five cats and two dogs while rest of family jets off to Spain - do all the laundry that mean I'm running out of clothes - book my London trip for next week - answer all the emails I'm behind with - find a way of fixing the water tank that's now leaking over my floor - do all the mail out stuff I'm sposed to have done when I came back from the States - update my newsletter - look at PHS stuff for November - finish critiques - tidy spare room enough to be able to WALK IN IT and... Well, that's a START, right???

Never let it be said that published authors don't have times when they just want to stay in bed...
Oh, and I'm blogging here today:

Monday, September 3, 2007

PHS HUGH JACKMAN TOUR 2007


Yes it's that time of year again... Oh the HARDSHIP ... the TORTURE.... the AGONY...


All those hours trawling through DREADFUL pictures to try and get the RIGHT ONES... I've SLAVED... I've SUFFERED...

Okay enough of that.

IT'S HUGH JACKMAN DAY!!!!!!!!!

This was just the mostest fun last year you know and I'm planning on sitting in front of my keyboard with a HUGE cup of coffee and just hopping from blog to blog to blog to blog for hopefully the ENTIRE morning... And the joy of TIMEZONES is the tour is pretty much NEVER ENDING... Hee! Isn't it as well I kicked that Gabe one outta the cave???

The toughest thing of course is picking just the ONE favourite picture of this lovely man! How does one narrow it down to ones absolute fav??? Each one has its own merit I feel ~ my one of Hugh on the sofa from last year was popular... but this one of Hugh in a sweater... yum... And then there's the Hugh with longer hair I stole - erm - BORROWED from Ally Blake during the year... But I tried to use it for hero inspiration in a book at the tail end of last year and knowing what a great guy he is in real life just messed me up so I had to change him mid-book. Darn the man for being talented, gorgeous AND NICE! C'mon!!! How's a gal supposed to work with THAT??? So that pic has bad memories - and therefore got eliminated.

But then there's upside down Hugh...

I mean anyone that can look equally as good upside down as they are right side up - well....

Is it any wonder we ended up *adopting* him over at The Pink Heart Society??? You can't really blame us. So do you have a favourite pic of the lovely Hugh??? Did you have more luck than me when it came to *casting him* as a hero in your WIP???

It's a VERY LARGE cup of coffee I have... so COME ON... GUIDE ME around the internet...


Let's all take time out and take the PHS HUGH JACKMAN TOUR 2007!!!


And if you've just popped in to see what I'm up to at the mo and are now wondering what the heck I'm talking about ~ well get thee over to The Pink Heart Society today and ALL WILL BECOME CLEAR!!!
Oooohhh and you GOTTA WATCH THIS cos I think I WIN NATASHA when it comes to the Youtube choice... HA!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Burghley & Stuff


Am having a *miss my horse competition days* day today just so you all know. That's what happens when they put Burghley Horse Trials on the television!

Not that I ever in a bazillion years was good enough for Burghley but I like to think me and Charlie did okay at our own wee standard...

But since I started writing full time, heck even in the couple of years before that when I was writing in the evenings and weekends while I worked with horses during the day (anything from a 40 to a 60 hour week gang! Go ahead and be impressed that I managed to write ANYTHING during that time cos lord knows I look back now and wonder how in heck I did!!!) I've not competed. And I miss it - I do... Though Charlie seems to have enjoyed the holiday too but I betcha if I got him fit again he'd be VERY HAPPY to go play...
And it's not just the dedication required in spending months getting him fit or the concentration in learning a dressage test or the thrill of galloping across a cross-country course or the horrific *stage fright* I used to get outside the show-jumping ring (actually it's DEFINITELY not the latter) I miss most. It's not even the combined elements of One Day Eventing I miss most, or the friends I made or the getting all the varying kits together for each discipline or the bathing Charlie (which he still HATES) to return him to that *other* shade of white he does actually possess beneath the layers of mud and *&%!! and it's not the huuuugggeeeee row we used to have on the morning of a competition when I tried to plait him and he kept tossing his head cos he didn't want to look like a *big sissy* or the number of times I had to slap him at the event cos he wouldn't stand still to have his boots taped on so they wouldn't fall off half way round the course ~ well yes, okay it is I do miss all those things... but I also miss THE SIZE I USED TO BE BECAUSE OF ALL THOSE THINGS...!!!
Writing + lack of competing = weight gain!!!!!! So when Charlie comes in off his summer hols from his paradise of five acres and trees and a nice ikkle river I really must try and organize my writing time to get back on him!!! As much for his good as for mine. He's what we in the trade like to call a good-doer (bit like myself) and now that he's gained a few years (a bit like myself) he needs the exercise more (a bit... well you get the gist...) If I make it for his sake in my head I'm maybe more likely to do it aren't I????
So that's the thought for the day while I clean house and try and get through my monstrous pile of laundry and finish up my contribution for The Pink Heart Society's Birthday Celebrations and send my notes off to lovely competition winner Janet and generally clear the deck for either A/ Flipping Gabe to come back or B/The process of getting ready to write the new Romance line book I have due in end of October - tentatively titled 'World In His Eyes' (not that I'm likely to keep that title you understand) - SIGH. Anyhoo you'll know fairly soon what I'm doing 'cos I'll either A/ Be back here to weep or B/ Come back to introduce a new hero and heroine...

Meanwhile - if you're interested - this Youtube clip from a film is the closest I could find to something to show you how it feels to go Cross Country with my lovely Charlie (and yes he used to start like that and yes there are at least a coupla fences in that course I wouldn't have attempted...)... It's pretty much what we used to do Once Upon A Time... SIGH AGAIN...
And maybe you can tell me what it is you give up in order to make time for writing???

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Something Special


It's a very special day today at The Pink Heart Society...
And there's a HEAP of fun headed your way all through September to CELEBRATE!!!
And if you're a MODERN EXTRA fan then you won't want to miss the second week when I'll be there on the PHS YAHOO LOOP with pretty much ALL the other Modern Extra Authors talking hot heroes, books, WIP's and what we love about the line!!!
So COME CHAT TO US AND ASK ALL THOSE QUESTIONS YOU HAVE....
p.s. Gabe has left the building again... here's hoping he might stay away this time!