Thursday, 29 January 2009

Going Large

It's been that kind of week. Everything has just been bigger than usual. Like, for example...

1. My smile (and Orlando Winterton's head, probably) when I found out that Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure had won a Cataromance Reviewer's Choice Award.

2. The cover of At the Argentinean Billionaire's Bidding which, along with that of Sarah Morgan's The Prince's Waitress Wife, was blown up to larger-than-life proportions in Borders in Oxford Street at the launch of the International Billionaires series on Tuesday.
(Felicia Field is the girl with the ball. She's the partner of England flanker James Haskell, and the gorgeous face of Mills & Boon's partnership with the RFU.) (Thank goodness.)

3. My sense of gratitude and good fortune to be doing what I'm doing after an evening/late night spent with fellow Presents authors Susan Stephens, Sarah Morgan, Carole Mortimer and Abby Green at the rugby launch party (and afterwards in the hotel bar...) Intelligent, interesting and talented to a woman, these girls know how to laugh and drink champagne in exceptional style. (The hotel barman couldn't stay the distance and went to bed long before we'd finished. )

4. My hangover the next day.

5. My status in the Birthday Cake-Creation division of the Domestic Goddess Stakes , thanks to the impromptu construction of Krispy Kreme doughnuts bought as I hurried back from London on Daughter #3's birthday on Wednesday. In all my years of sobbing and swearing over elaborate crinoline Barbie confections and fairy castles painstakingly engineered from ice cream cones and swiss rolls, none of my efforts have ever been greeted with such delight as this one, or eaten with such speed and relish.

I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere...

Monday, 26 January 2009

Crazy Mad Fangirl on the Loose

Those nice ladies/therapists at the Pink Heart Society have very kindly/rashly given me a Male on Monday slot. Guess who I’m blogging/obsessing about?

Here’s a clue...

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Reality? What's that?

Yesterday the writing went well, which you'd think would be very good news. Right up until the last moment (or actually, maybe around 7 minutes after what punctual people would consider to be the last moment) when I had to leave to collect the girls from school, streams of fabulous words were flowing into my head and my fingers were flying over the keyboard. It was with the greatest reluctance that I dragged myself away from the computer and into the car, where my brain continued to come up with yet more streams of fabulous words.

This, it turned out as I drove straight through a red traffic light, was in fact quite bad news.

Honestly, it’s a dangerous job this romance writing, you know.

Monday, 19 January 2009

When Mills and Boon is better than Shakespeare...

In a bid to extend the cultural outlook of daughters 1 and 2 beyond X-Factor and the screens of their Nintendo DSs I took them to see the RSC production of Romeo and Juliet at Stratford on Saturday. They loved it. Me—not so much.

Bit of a facer, that. I’ve adored this play since I was sixteen and was desperately excited about seeing it again and hearing those lines that I sometimes say inside my head when I'm hanging out washing or can't get to sleep (I’m a particular fan of Juliet’s ‘gallop apace’ speech, and the deliciously gothic one in Act 4 about Tybalt festering in his shroud.) But this time I couldn't shake off the feeling that something was distinctly lacking.

I had plenty of time to think about it (three hours twenty five minutes, to be precise) and came to the conclusion early in the second half that my lack of enthusiasm was directly related to my job. While my girls were engrossed in the story I was thinking, where’s the tension? Where’s the realism? Where in the name of the bard is the pulsing, teenage hormonal sexual chemistry?? (In other words where's Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting??)

The playwright has actors to bring his lines of dialogue to life (ideally.) The novelist has to do it herself, getting across the mood of the speaker by specifically describing physical action, or by using tags. Your heroine will say something while fiddling idly/nervously/savagely with the glass on the table in front of her. Or she’ll say whatever it is softly/hesitantly/bitterly. What she won’t do is annunciate exquisite words of tenderness and love at the top of her voice while making exaggerated, sweeping gestures and looking beyond her man and out into the middle distance.

Call me an outrageous philistine and strip me of my BA(hons) but for romance give me Mills & Boon anyday. Next time I'll take the girls to see Macbeth.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

New Website!

Finally! I haven’t been this excited about anything for a long time. (Hmmm... is that quite worrying?) It feels a bit like having a new house, only cheaper and much easier to look after since no-one can come along and litter its pristine spaces with wet towels or empty biscuit wrappers, and even if they did (and this is the best bit...) it wouldn’t be me who had to tidy it up. That is the job of Martin, husband of my lovely friend Liz, fellow veteran of many a rain-(and wine-) soaked camping expedition and erstwhile employer at the marketing agency where I used to write bits of sparkling copy about luxury cars and cruises down the Nile. While I used to have to bow to his tyrannical demands, now I am the client and can ring him late at night to discuss fonts and layout and mock him for his dreadful spelling. It’s all most satisfactory.

Of course, the problem with improving one area of your life is always that it makes all the rest look even more shabby and down-at-heel by comparison, which is why I’ve given the blog a little bit of a makeover, with new pictures and a playlist for the most recent book. Now I'm off to redecorate the kitchen, polish the taps in the bathroom and have a seaweed body wrap and facial peel.

(I wish.)

Monday, 12 January 2009

More Rugby Talk...

...This time at 8.30 in the morning on Radio London. The daughters thought this was a huge laugh as it meant the school run was postponed by 15 minutes and they were allowed to watch morning TV while I talked gumshields and glamour and tried to stack the dishwasher very quietly. Also being interviewed was Felicia Field, uber-gorgeous partner of England flanker James Haskell who also happens to be a Mills & Boon fan. What a girl, and what a fab ambassador for our readers. If you want to hear her inside view of real life with a rugby hero, listen here. (It’s about 2.35 into the programme...)

And (thanks so much to Marilyn for reminding me!) here’s the full line up of the books in the International Billionaire’s series, which starts next month.

The Prince’s Waitress Wife – Sarah Morgan (February)
At the Argentinean Billionaire’s Bidding – India Grey (March)
The French Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress – Abby Green (April)
The Ruthless Billionaire’s Virgin – Susan Stephens (May)
The Italian Count’s Defiant Bride – Catherine George (June)
The Sheikh’s Love-Child – Kate Hewitt (July)
Blackmailed into the Greek Tycoon’s Bed – Carol Marinelli (August)
The Virgin Secretary’s Impossible Boss – Carole Mortimer (September)

They’re all first and foremost stonking passionate and emotional romances by a bunch of totally fabulous writers (and me too) but all of them have a connection with one of the sexiest sports on the planet. Heaven in eight volumes.

Friday, 9 January 2009

It's all kicking off...

I’ve been doing a fair bit of publicity this week for the rugby series, (see here and listen here for the first fruits of it) This is huge fun and a great opportunity to ponder in-depth such questions as ‘What is the appeal of rugby players?’

Hmmm... let me think....

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

I shouldn't be here, but...

...Before I disappear into deep hibernation with only my laptop and my secret stash of Christmas chocolate to try and get this blooming book written, there are a few things I really should mention. Firstly that I have a book out this month, which seems quite amazing given that I never seem to actually get around to doing any writing at the moment. Taken for Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure which is the one that gave me countless sleepless nights and a few panic attacks this time last year is now available in the shops, at Mills & Boon’s website and on Amazon. Check out my lovely cover....

Secondly (squeaking with barely suppressed excitement here) I can finally reveal after a couple of months of maintaining an agonising and most uncharacteristically discreet silence that Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure has been (squeak) shortlisted for the RNA Romance Prize.

This is utterly fantastic news, and even though I found out a while ago my first reaction when I saw this last night was to let out a shriek and run for the fridge to see if there was anything fizzy and celebratory left lurking amongst the sad remnants of Christmas cheese and wilting parsnips. It was only later, when I looked again to check that I hadn’t dreamt it, that I experienced a thud of horror at the realisation that the lovely RNA people have kindly provided a link to my website... which, because I am a techno-dullard with personal organisation/ time management issues and a Phd in Procrastination, isn't there. So instead people are being directed here, and now I feel like someone who has drunkenly invited everyone they know round for a party and then forgotten all about it, so is caught out lying on the sofa in pyjamas eating Cheerios from the packet when guests start arriving. (If you have, by any chance, come here hoping for information about the nominated book, please accept my most embarrassed apologies. I blogged at length about it here and here and here and here if that’s any help at all...?)

As you can see, the other shortlisted books are utterly brilliant and by authors I adore. (With proper websites.) For this reason He and I made sure we celebrated the fact that I’m included in such talented company back in November when I first heard, so I won’t feel that I’ve missed out on a champagne opportunity when the results are announced at the awards ceremony on 10th February.

Orlando and Rachel seem to be having a bit of a moment just now, because I also found out last week from lovely Michelle Styles that Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure had made the Romantic Times Top Pick for this month. I don’t subscribe so I haven’t seen it myself but Abby Green sent over the review for me...
MISTRESS: HIRED FOR THE BILLIONAIRE'S PLEASURE (4.5) by India Grey: On the run from a forced wedding, pianist Rachel Campion lands on Orlando Winterton's doorstep -- ironic, because it was a prior chance meeting with him that gave her the courage to bolt. A former pilot, Orlando is living in seclusion because he's losing his sight -- information he doesn't share with Rachel, even after they become lovers. Orlando tries to send Rachel away for her own sake, not realizing her happiness is already linked with his. Vividly detailed characters, an intense conflict and a high level of sensuality make this a fabulous read. This is one for the keeper shelf. —Catherine Witmer

Final snippet of news is that this morning The Guardian newspaper is carrying a piece on its front page about a new M&B continuity series which has been written in association with the RFU and ties in with the Six Nations rugby tournament. This begins in February with Sarah Morgan’s delicious ‘The Prince's Waitress Wife'. My book At the Argentinean Billionaire’s Bidding is second in the series—it’s the one about lovely Alejandro D'Arienzo; ex-England international rugby player who returns to his native Argentina to take up polo and forget about the woman he thinks betrayed him. It involved lots of glorious rugby ‘research’ which I can’t wait to fill you in on-- as soon as I can justify writing anything that isn’t the book I’m supposed to be working on right now...

Blimey. I think that's it... I'm now off to look up my horoscope for this week. Bet it says; ‘The first 6 days of 2009 will be filled with so much excitement your head might explode. However, absolutely nothing interesting is going to happen to you in the following 359 days, although the full moon in the second week of July will lead you to discover a new brand of fabric conditioner and weird planetary alignments at the end of October may mean that a trip to the post office to renew your car tax will yield surprising results.’ Or something.

Monday, 5 January 2009

All over for another year

I've come to the conclusion that Christmas is a mini-metaphor for my whole life. At the time I’m so busy worrying about calories, feeling guilty for not buying enough batteries and obsessing about giving 27 of my nearest and dearest food poisoning from inadequately cooked turkey that I don’t remember to enjoy it properly. Afterwards, frantically hunting for bits of stray school uniform in the bottom 0f the laundry basket and nagging about homework and thank you letters, I think back over two weeks of lie-ins, all day champagne drinking and afternoons on the sofa watching films and think 'Blimey, that was fantastic.'

Anyway, the tree has come down and the decorations have been put away, meaning that this morning the only lingering traces of Christmas are my bulging waistline and the numerous crates of empty bottles outside awaiting recycling. On Saturday we enjoyed the last hurrah of the festive season by going for a long, long walk with some lovely friends through snowy woodland that looked more like Narnia than Cheshire. The eldest of their 3 boys had got a storm kettle for Christmas which he used to heat up delicious mulled wine for us all. Found myself considering swapping him for daughter #1, since teenage boy accessories are clearly far more useful than the quantities of nail varnish, body sprays and sparkly makeup that appeared under our tree, and boys seem to have a compulsion to Do Things, whereas teenage girls appear to be able to make elegant languor into a full time occupation. However, when we got back to our house and I fed them all I realised I couldn’t possibly afford to keep one.

So, today it's back to business. If only I could remember what that was. I have to confess that I haven't yet posted off the competition prizes, so will be making a trek through the snow to the post office this morning and steering my mind back to the long neglected book. I have so much to do in the next few weeks that if I think about it too much I'll cry. Or go back to bed. Or both.