Wednesday, 29 July 2009

RT Top Pick

More interruptions to my RWA conference blogging!

My next release, Invitation To The Boss's Ball, is a top pick in the September issue of The Romantic Times Book Reviews magazine, with a 4½ star (top-rated) review! Here's the reviewer's verdict:

INVITATION TO THE BOSS’S BALL (4.5) by Fiona Harper: IT consultant Alice Morton’s fledgling vintage clothing business gets a jump-start when her friend Jennies stepbrother, software tycoon Cameron Hunter, hires her to organize a fashion show and auction for the launch of his new building. It’s a huge undertaking, and Cameron's morphed from the gangly nerd Alice once knew into a smooth, sexy man who dates supermodels. There’s an undeniable spark between them, but even if Cameron wasn’t slightly out of Alice’s league, he’s not a forever kind of guy. Or is he? Soundly plotted, funny and emotional, this one has it all. And hunky Cameron’s a keeper.

Monday, 27 July 2009

London Treasure Hunt

I’m interrupting my own blogging on the RWA conference to tell you about a totally cool London happening.

Last year I had a book out called Saying Yes To The Millionaire, about safety-conscious Fern and daredevil Josh and their mad race around London for four days on a charity treasure hunt.

Little did I know that there was a real London Treasure Hunt last summer! And they’re having another one this year on Saturday 22nd August. It lasts one day and there’s a prize-giving party at the end of it.

I so wish I could do it! It would be amazing to dash around London, tasting a little of what my characters’ experienced, but unfortunately I won’t be able to make it. (Sob) Maybe next year?

If you’re interested in taking part – teams can be from two to six people – and registration is open now. ( It costs £20 per person to enter and they will be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Care and Ragalla Aid. Go on! You know you want to! I do! (Another sob).

Friday, 24 July 2009

RWA 09: Washington DC - Wednesday part 2

The Readers For Life Literacy Autographing is the point at which the RWA conference starts for me. I know that the official programme doesn’t get going until Thursday morning, but from this point on, I’m remembering that I’m an author, not just a tourist visiting a new city.

There were so many authors taking part in the signing that it had to be held in the largest space in the hotel – the Exhibition Hall. Tables are laid out in rows and every author has only a few feet to spread out her books and have space to sign them. The amount of organisation that must go into the event just boggles my mind.

When I arrived at my desk I found a cute little glow-in-the-dark bracelet and a note from my friend Julie Cohen, who I hadn’t bumped into yet. Here’s Julie with Kate Johnson, part of the UK contingent there at RWA. I know Julie isn’t actually British, but American, but she lives in the UK and she’s one of my RNA buddies, so she counts! And on the right is Harlequin romance author Donna Alward, experiencing the rush of her first RWA Literacy Signing. And below is me, ready to wear my pen out:

When the doors open to let the public in, I swear you can feel the floor rumble. There’s a stampede as eager readers rush to get a book signed by their favourite authors. Unfortunately, I’m not in the ‘stampede-worthy’ league yet, but one day—maybe.

I want to say a huge thank you and a big hi to everyone who stopped by my table and asked me to sign a book. I’m really bad with names, and I was still pretty jet-lagged, so I won’t embarrass myself by trying to mention you all individually. I know some of you said you read my blog so you get an especially big wave! One last picture is my roomie for the conference, Harlequin Presents author Kate Hewitt.

The two hours allotted for the signing sped by and afterwards I headed over to the Booksellers’ Best Awards, feeling a little nervous. Christmas Wishes, Mistletoe Kisses was a finalist in the Traditional Romance category. It was lovely to have fellow Romance author Donna Alward there (who was standing in for Jessica Hart) and Kim Young and Joanne Grant from Harelquin’s London offices (looking very glam on the left here). Even though the award went to Myrna Mackenzie for her wonderful story Her Millionaire, His Miracle, I had a really great time. It was a fun, friendly, low-stress kind of awards ceremony - just my thing!

Conference is no place to slacken off, even for a second, so the next stop was the bar where Donna and I met up with some of the other Harlequin Mills & Boon authors. Below is a photo of new Harlequin Presents (M&B Modern) authors Lynn Raye Harris, Kimblerley Lang with top-selling author Sandra Marton and another new Presents author Janette Kenny.

Here's a pic of Presents authors Kate Hewitt and Jennie Lucas.

By this time I was hungry – and when I say hungry, I mean hun-gry! I decided to order buffalo wings. We don’t have them in the UK, but I knew they were chicken wings (ever seen a buffalo fly?) and the sound of them has always appealed to me. ‘They’re spicy,’ Donna warned. ‘Yeah, yeah,’ I said. 'I love spicy. I eat spicy all the time.' Which I do - I'm certainly no wuss when it comes to a little heat in my food. No, siree.

Well it seems fated for me to have at least one food-related mishap each time I come to RWA (see here for the story of the pancakes in Dallas 07) and this was it. Spicy was not the word. They BLEW MY HEAD OFF! I mean, they tasted as if they’d been smothered in neat Tabasco sauce. If buffalo wings went up against a respectable Chicken Madras in a contest, they would whoop its ass! I will be remembering this if I ever get brave enough to order them again.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

RWA 09: Washington DC - Wednesday part 1

I think my optimism about blogging from the conference was a little premature! Not only was I very short on time, but I could never get a strong enough signal from the Wifi in the hotel lobby and meeting rooms to be able to get onto the internet. Anyway, here's the next post about my week in Washington DC:

Wednesday started off with a little bit of sightseeing. Historicals author Michelle Willingham had volunteered to act as tour guide for a group of assorted authors and editors. I was still a bit jet-lagged and very glad just to troop around after someone who would tell me where to go so I didn’t have to think too hard.

We got the metro to the Smithsonian and stopped to take a few photos as we walked across the National Mall to the Museum of Natural History. Here’s Kim Young and Jo Grant, lovely editors from the London offices of Harlequin Mills & Boon.

After looking at the dinosaurs, we went upstairs to stare at the gemstones.Here’s the Hope Diamond, which was truly stunning and my washed-out photo really doesn’t do it justice. Even the setting and necklace was exquisitely crafted. And that wasn’t the only piece of marvellous jewellery. We wandered round, speculating on which rocks would go best with our RITA outfits on Saturday night. Here’s a few pics of some of my favourites:

After that, we nipped along the road to the Museum of American History and took in an exhibition of dresses worn by first ladies from the time of Martha Washington right through to Laura Bush. Jewels first, and now frocks and shoes…you can tell it was a girls’ outing! Here’s Mamie Eishower’s wonderful red dress and shoes and Mary Lincoln’s gown. The lighting was quite low in the exhibit so you can’t see the fabulous pleating and detail where the black satin meets the patterned section of the skirt, but it was truly a work of art.

We then did a bit more sightseeing, before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the Readers for Life Literacy Autographing – but that’s a whole post in itself!

Me and Senior Editor for Harlequin Mills & Boon Romance, Kim Young

World War II Memorial

The reflecting pool with the Lincoln Memorial in the distance

Me with some of my sightseeing companions: Michelle, Kim, Elaine and Mary-Lou

The Washington Monument
(which I could see quite clearly as my plane passed over the city the day I arrived)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

RWA Conference 1 - Tuesday

It’s amazing how much you can cram into a few short days. This is the first time I’ve had a moment to blog about the RWA conference – partly down to the fact that the Wifi in the hotel lobby is a little patchy.

I arrived on Tuesday afternoon and immediately ran into my fellow Romance author, Donna Alward, in the lobby. Suddenly, even after the really long flight, the adrenaline was flowing and I was bouncing all over the place. I checked in and dropped my luggage off. My room is huge. Mahoosive.

The evening was spent having dinner at the hotel pub with Donna and Harlequin Presents/Modern Romance author Jennie Lucas. Much fun was to be had, mostly down to a Lemondrop cocktail that Jennie started and Donna finished. It was really nice to sit outside in the warm evening air and catch up on news, laugh an immense amount and strengthen friendships.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Blogs and Magazines

I’m off a-travelling on Tuesday. I’m attending the RWA conference in Washington DC this week. If you see me there, say hi!

I shall be blogging about my experiences, when time and jet lag allows, both here and over at the Pink Heart Society - along with some of my writing buddies.

In the meantime, check out the August issue of Prima magazine. On p146 there is an article on ‘How To Write A Bestseller’ and I’ve given some advice on writing romantic fiction.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Dresses, DC and Dallas

I'm a happy bunny at the moment. Finally, I am going to be able to wear the ball dress I bought from eBay back in 2007 for the RWA conference in Dallas.

The dress was a lovely Monsoon creation in black and green. Although I'd ordered the right size, it came up quite small and, since I was losing weight, I decided to see if I could slim into it. I got so close. So close. But then disaster struck - and no, it wasn't in the shape of a dozen doughnuts...

Basically, I was up early one morning at the conference (blame jet lag), was at a loose end and decided to try my party frocks on to decide which to wear to the Harelquin party, and well...the zip broke. You can read the whole story here. So, it was 6am and I was stuck in a full-length evening dress. Not a good situation to be in. Leaving the hotel room to get help would have made me look slightly (!!) ridiculous.

To cut a long story short, I managed to get out of the dress without assistance - but only by breaking the zip. The wonderful hotel concierge managed to arrange for it to be fixed for me but, when I tried the dress on again later that day, I realised they'd had to take it in to fit the new zip and now the dress was too tight. Sniff. I packed it away and hoped I'd be able to wear it again one day.

Well, that day is about to arrive. Not only can I do my dress up now, but I can do it up with ease. This year I will be wearing it to the RITA/Golden Heart ceremony at the RWA conference in Washington DC. Yay!

If you're in that neck of the woods on Wednesday 15th July, come and see me at the Authors for Life Literacy Authographing, to be held at the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel from 5.30 to 7.30 p.m. (Disclaimer: I may not be wearing the ball dress to that event, but I will smile and sign a book for charity for you if you come and talk to me.)