Tag Archives: romance

COVER REVEAL: The French Prize

6 Replies

It’s here! It’s here!

The gorgeous cover of my shiny new romantic adventure, The French Prize. Coming September 1st to a book store near you. I’m so excited!

The French Prize by Cathryn Hein

Australian born medieval historian Dr Olivia Walker believes she’s found her Holy Grail when she levers La Tasse du Chevalier Gris from the harsh Provencal dirt. For it is this pottery cup, with its ancient riddle, that could lead her to the resting place of one of the most famous swords in history — the warrior Roland’s legendary Durendal. But she soon discovers the man who employed her to find La Tasse, starched but sexy Frenchman Raimund Blancard, has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancards have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. All the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail — and will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Stay tuned for pre-order links and more!

THIS WRITING LIFE: Riding a Post RWA Conference High!

I’m home and back on the writing job after a week away in Western Australia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia Riding the Waves conference. What a ball was had! Romance writers are the kindest, friendliest and most generous people out there which makes conferences a hoot. They’re also hugely inspirational, loaded with wonderful craft and business information, and a fantastic way to connect with people who understand exactly how crazy this writing affliction can be. I always return from conferences more than a little bit excited and ready for action, which is just as well considering I have edits coming and a new book to write. This lark can’t all be flitting around Australia, hanging with glamorous authors…

I had hoped to share a pile of glossy, vibrant photos with you, but some numpty managed to upset the camera settings and half of them came out blurred. Sigh. Fortunately a few survived that I can present for your viewing pleasure.

Oh, and so you’re warned, this post is LONG!

Opening night on Thursday was Destiny Romance’s first birthday and, boy, was it loud. Plonk a hundred or so romance writers in a room, feed them cupcakes and bubbly, and you have a racket on your hands. But what a fun night, and what a delight to receive a fabulous Classic Penguin goodie bag at the end of it. Mine contained Anna Cowan’s much lauded Untamed and Peta Crake’s Harbinger, both of which I was thrilled to collect. Afterwards, Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia authors were treated to dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant and more chatter.

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny's fabulous first year

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny’s fabulous first year

Fab bag and even more fab reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Gorgeous bag and even more gorgeous reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Friday saw dedicated delegates attend either the Venus On The Half Shell workshop presented by Kim Hudson, or the Elizabeth Jolley Conference – Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century. Me? I snuck off and played golf at Joondalup Resort. What can I say? A girl has to wear off cupcakes, fizz and spaghetti vongole somehow, and the course was brilliant!

But I was back in time for the all-important Harlequin Nautical or Nice cocktail party. At my first RWA conference, back in 2007(?), hardly anyone dressed up. A feather boa here, a quirky outfit there, but mostly normal cocktail-conference dress. Now everyone’s into it and the atmosphere is fantastically silly.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

???????????????????????????????

Ondine series author Ebony McKenna. You can show me to my berth anytime, Ebs!

Paula Roe as the world's most glittery desert island!

Paula Roe as the world’s most glittery desert island!

Rural romance author and good buddy looking super cute in her onesie!

Rural romance author and good buddy Rachael Johns looking super cute in her onesie!

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Saturday morning saw the conference proper begin. Julia Quinn’s keynote address of her top 4 list of top 4 lists was wonderful and if there’s one thing I’ll forever remember from Riding the Waves it’s her saying: You will never hurt your career by helping another author. Yeah.

Harlequin’s sponsor address followed with Margaret Marbury (Vice President, Harlequin Single Title – HQN, Mira, Luna) and Sheila Hodgson (Harlequin Mills and Boon, London) talking enthusiastically about eHarlequin, their range of imprints, and what Harlequin can offer authors.

Paths to Third Party Publication saw Abby Zidle (Simon & Schuster, New York), Nina Bruhns (Entangled Publishing), Sheila Hodgson, Bernadette Foley (Hachette Australia), Kate Cuthbert (Escape Publishing), Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press), and moderator Alex Adsett (Alex Adsett Publishing Services) take the stage to discuss how to submit to publishers and what they’re looking for. My impression was that they were all hungry for your work. Really hungry, and throughout the panel I kept thinking what a great time it was to be an author. We are wanted, no longer beholden and we have options. A lot of options.

Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

L to R: Alex Adsett (moderating), Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

Morning tea: bacon and egg muffins and pastries. Enough said!

For my first breakout session I did Nina Bruhns’s session on Save the Cat! which I loved. She talked about the 10 types of movies (fascinating stuff), loglines and why you need them, and Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheets for plotting. Really useful stuff and some of the worksheets are available on Blake’s website under the Tools tab. Quite a few writers I know swear by his Save the Cat! book and after the amount I got out of this session I’ve decided to join the crowd and have just ordered it.

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

I loved Nina’s “when you’re stuck” tip, which I’ve heard a few times before but it never hurts to hear these things again. If you’ve come to a standstill, make a list of 10, 20 or more different things that could happen in your book. Be outrageous, take the editor off your shoulder and just brainstorm. It doesn’t matter if they’re clichéd or unrealistic, write them down. The more you list the more likely you are to come up with something fresh and unexpected to brighten and intrigue your reader. I’m testing this right now as I broaden the plot outline of my next rural romance and have already come up with a couple of good ideas.

For breakout session two I moderated the Shark In Your Story panel (which for some daft reason I couldn’t stop thinking of as the Jump The Shark panel) with Helene Young, Shannon Curtis and Bronwyn Parry. As you’d expect from ladies so highly acclaimed for their romantic suspense novels, the panel was full of fascinating titbits, especially when it came to crafting great villains (Shannon likes to get her freak on; Bronwyn tends to get her ideas for villains from the news). I wish it had gone on longer but there was lunch and more chattering to be had!

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

For breakout three, I joined best-selling historical romance author Anne Gracie and a round table of published authors to discuss business. Again, I wish we had longer because I feel like we barely skimmed the surface, especially when it came to rights and contracts. These are issues authors can never know enough about. Maybe next year in Sydney, when author day returns, we’ll get to talk about the business side of writing a bit more.

Thanks to the Australian Romance Readers Association we had another authorfest on Saturday afternoon with an ARRA booksigning event. 50+ authors seated in the one room with their books for sale and pens poised for signings.  Not quite as loud as the Destiny Party, but close! I sat between paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin and best-selling author of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots (and others) Loretta Hill. Kylie’s books sold like crazy which was delightful to see, and I was seriously chuffed to do a few signings myself. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that thrill. It’s something very special.

All action at the ARRA booksigning

All action at the ARRA booksigning

Amy Andrews came prepared...

Amy Andrews came prepared…

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona MacArthur only needed her charming self.

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona McArthur only needed her charming self.

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Me!

Me!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Oof, those romantic suspense types... Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Oof, those romantic suspense types… Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin.

Kylie Griffin. There weren’t many of those books left by the end.

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener. I was thrilled to score Michelle Diener’s kindly donated raffle prize, complete with pretty bookmarks, and look forward to sinking my nose into her stories.

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Then it was out for dinner and a frock up before returning to the Esplanade Hotel for dessert and the RWA’s Awards Gala, where there was much applauding and cheering for our contest and RuBY winners, and where I was delighted to see Bronwyn Jameson awarded life membership of the RWA. So well deserved. Then we had… dancing! I tell you, these romance girls (and boys) know how to rock on.

A glamorous night awaits!

A glamorous night awaits…

...with desserts. Lots of desserts!

…with desserts. Lots of desserts!

The rural romance girls!

The rural romance girls.

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Harlequin Sexy author and hot sheik expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Harlequin Sexy and Presents author and hot sheikh expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Me and Fiona McArthur

Me and Fiona McArthur

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel's bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel’s bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews…

...Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

…Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

Sunday morning. Ahh, yes, a few bleary eyes can be seen, but all in good cause: ie fun. Harlequin’s second sponsor address followed and my heart was all a-flutter at Kate Cuthbert’s news that Escape’s Australian-set rural romances are doing well in the US. Could this be the start of an Aussie invasion? I hope so!

Then the scary Submission Island panel with Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary Agency), Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum (PanMacmillan/Momentum) and Alex Adsett. Manuscript openings were read out and the panel held up STOP signs when they’d heard enough. Wow. Just… wow. If you ever needed a show of how hard it is to hook an editor or agent then this is it. But what also sank in for me was how subjective opinions are when it comes to manuscripts. Some panellists dropped out early, others hung on to the last. Sometimes there was a point where a few would be put off by the same sentence or paragraph and cards would flip up all at once. Overall, it was a insightful demonstration of how authors not only have to have thick skins, but tenacity too. Keep trying. Just because one or two agents or editors don’t like your work, that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there who’d love it.

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

I did Anne Gracie’s The Power of Detail for my first Sunday breakout session and enjoyed it immensely. Anne is a passionate speaker, with a real knack for getting information across in a way that resonates, and I walked away with excellent tips on how to bring the particular and every person together in my writing.

For the post lunch breakout I attended the self publishing panel with Cathleen Ross, Nina Bruhns and Kandy Shepherd. As with all the other panels, this contained more gems of insight from highly experienced authors, from the importance of meta-data, to advertising, to making sure that your books look as professional as traditionally published editions, and beyond. Given the attendance and range of questions, I suspect there’ll be even more on self-publishing at next year’s conference.

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

My last session was a free-for-all chat with Julia Quinn where delegates could ask her anything. I was so pleased to hear she was an edit-as-you-go writer too, because that’s how I work and I can’t help feeling that it somehow lets me down productivity wise. Doesn’t look like it’s hurt Julia!

Those that attended the Navigating the Choppy Waters of Online Reviews panel with Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), Kat Mayo (Bookthingo and Booktopia) and Kate Cuthbert said that was worth attending too, offering plenty of cautionary advice about social networking and online communities.

We closed the conference with plenary addresses from Kim Hudson and Sarah Wendell, more raffles (I won something, rah!), the announcement of next year’s conference venue (Romance Rocks at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, double rah!) and Anne Gracie’s now traditional stand-ups where we celebrate all our achievements for the year (rah, rah, rah!).

After that, it was back to the bar for more chatter, a few drinks and farewells.

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

To the Riding the Waves conference committee and the RWA, I say thank you and bravo. Wonderful, wonderful conference and I can’t wait to do it again next year. So much so I’ve even put my hand up to help.

So now I’m home, furiously plotting when all I really want to do is soak up the glorious weather we’re having and snuggle down on the patio with a book from my RWA haul. But where-oh-where is a girl to start when she has all these beauties on offer?

Books

 

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Christina Phillips

Oh, I do love Fridays. Not only is it the end of the week, which means fun, frivolity and very, very soon FOOTBALL, it’s Friday Feast time. And I don’t know about you, but I’m thoroughly enjoying these posts. Everyone has such wonderful food stories to share and today’s guest is no exception.

I am a huge admirer of Christina Phillips. Her writing is beautifully lyrical, her stories compelling and her heroes… well, let’s just say they make me gooey. A lot gooey, in fact. Maximus, Maximus, you sexy Roman hunk of….

Oh, sorry. Where was I? Yes, praising Christina. Wonderful writer. Fabulous books. You must check them out. No, seriously, you must. Forbidden, Captive and soon, writing as Christina Ashcroft, Archangel of Mercy.

Here’s a look at Forbidden to give you a taste.

He was a master of seduction – but no match for the magical allure of the woman he wanted most…

Carys knew from the moment she first spied on Maximus in his naked barbarian glory that he was a dangerous Roman centurion – his taut, battle-scarred flesh marking him as a fearless warrior. But her desire for him was as undeniable as it was illicit.

Charged by his emperor to eliminate a clan of powerful Druids in Britain, Maximus never expects his mission to be thwarted by the clan’s ethereal princess, Carys, his daring voyeur. Falling under her spell, he doesn’t realize her true heritage – until he captures her heart as well as her body.

As Carys’s loyalties are twisted, and freedom is no longer her single-minded obsession, an avenging former lover threatens to crush Maximus’s people into oblivion. Now Carys and Maximus must overcome the devastation of war and face the ultimate sacrifice if their forbidden love is to survive.

Think of it… Maximus in his naked barbarian glory. How can you possibly resist!

Oof. Look at me rabbiting on again. Without further ado, here’s Christina.

Thank you Cathryn for having me on your blog today! I love the idea of your Friday Feast blog posts and all the delicious recipes. I’m sure I’ve whacked on several kilos just by drooling over the photos!

Since I’m a bit of an undomestic goddess I thought I’d chat today about a recent wine tour we enjoyed in the gorgeous Margaret River region of Western Australia. It was to celebrate my husband’s birthday and my daughters discovered a fantastic villa right on the river – Riverzedge Retreat.

Two weeks before the weekend we sat him down and told him we were going away and he needed to take time off work (yes he does need to be told this!) The weekend arrived and the weather was perfect. The villa was stunning and our bedroom was fabulous. I’ve always had a craving to sleep in a four poster bed and although it didn’t quite have the four posts it did have the most gorgeous drapes, and combined with the breathtaking views it was a little slice of heaven!

On the Saturday morning the seven of us trudged down the hill to wait for the tour bus. Aha! As an added surprise we’d told him we were taking the tour bus and I will never forget the look of absolute astonishment on his face when instead of a bus, an amazing white limo pulled up!

I would now love to give a detailed description of every winery we visited and wines consumed. Unfortunately, I enjoyed myself far too much at the first stop with a selection of Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignon Merlots and the entire day is one very happy blur!!!

However, I do remember we stopped for lunch at the Voyager Estate with its magnificent Cape Dutch architecture. The grounds are absolutely beautiful and after we’d eaten (I believe more wine was also consumed!) we had a leisurely wander around the lovely rose gardens.

One of the experiences I’ll never forget is the adorable kookaburra that woke us each morning by dive bombing our windows. I’m originally from the UK and a total City girl, and even after living in WA for thirteen years the incredible wildlife still leaves me breathless. It was kind of surreal to hear this kookaburra doing his best to wake us up, then we’d walk out onto the balcony and there he’d be, perched on the rail and giving us the beady eye. It’s the closest I’d ever got to this cheeky bird and I discovered they are a lot bigger than I’d imagined when, as a child, I’d warble “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree…” We also had a family of ducks who’d waddle right up to the back door looking for edible goodies.

It was a wonderful weekend away with great company, plenty of wine and delicious food (none of which I had to cook and in my book that is a huge bonus!!)

As a side note, when I was researching for my Roman/Druid romances I came across several fascinating tidbits. Apparently the Romans thought it was common to drink wine neat and instead they’d cut it half with water. But what really knocked me sideways was how during the earlier Republic period it was against the law for Roman women to drink wine at all. The reasoning behind this was because, naturally, women were unable to control themselves and if they drank wine they would sleep around. A man was within his rights to kill his wife if he discovered she’d been drinking and in order to discover if she had he would kiss her on the lips! So much for romance 🙂 Needless to say none of my heroes harbour such barbaric prejudices!

Sigh. That sounds so wonderful. Thanks, Christina. Fabulous post. Margaret River is one of the few Australian wine regions I’ve yet to visit and this just makes me want to go there more. Although I’ll definitely have to drag along the golf clubs so I can wear off all that delicious food and drink with some exercise.

Now, Christina has a special gift for ten lucky commenters. Share your favourite wine region or, if wine isn’t your thing, simply your favourite tipple, and you could score a very attractive and handy present!

Get commenting because entries close midnight, Tuesday, 21st February Australian Eastern Standard Time. And don’t forget to include your email address or a link so we can contact you. Open internationally.

If you’d like to know more about Christina and her beautifully written books, please visit her website. You can also connect via her blog, Twitter and Facebook.

 

The contest is now closed. Christina has generously offered a prize to all who participated, with details on how to claim in the comments section.

Thank you for joining in the Friday Feast fun!