Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Bridesmaid's Secret - Inspiration

My hero and heroine in The Bridesmaid's Secret had a summer romance back when they were teenagers. I thought the 'flashback' scenes of Gwen Stefani's video for 'Cool' perfectly captured that wonderful sense of summer sun and first love:

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Golden Quill

Really excited to share that Blind-Date Baby won the Traditional Romance category of the Golden Quill awards. For a full list of finalists and winners, click here.

Writing Grace and Noah's story was a bit of a rollercoaster - I scrapped most of the book and had to rewrite it in a fortnight - so I consider it a bit of a miracle story. It was part of the mini-series. More info can be found

Friday, 21 May 2010

The Bridesmaid's Secret - Inspiration

This is the first time I've been asked to take part in an M&B contunuity - a series of books all about a family group. Because of the intricate nature of the family history and of the need to make sure everyone gets their facts straight, the editors for Romance come up with an over-arching storyline and a basic plot for each book. It's up to us authors to take the story, make it our own and breathe life into it.

I've realised since I've started writing seriously that two writers can take an identical idea and craft something very different an unique out of it, so I wasn't scared that being given a basic plot would stifle my creativity. I just had to find my way to tell Jackie and Romano's story - and, to be honest, it wasn't difficult. As I read the story outline my brain started buzzing with ideas to bring the rich conflict to life. Ooh, I knew I was going to have fun with this one!

First up, I had to get to know my characters... Jackie Patterson was never going to be an easy heroine. "Think Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada," the editors said. Ouch. Make your characters identifiable, all the writing books say. And with a M&B Romance, the heroine is supposed to be someone readers would want to be best friends with. I couldn't see anyone wanting to do anything but throttle Jackie. She's high-maintenance, demanding and hard as nails. But... Underneath all of that, there was a headstrong teenage girl who'd had her heart broken, who'd had to grow up fast and had punished herself mercilessly for her youthful mistakes. I knew Jackie's past held the secret to her likeability. The venomous editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine wasn't who she was really - it was just who she'd had to become to survive. And once I worked that out about her, I knew I could make her someone readers could warm to, even if she rarely let down her guard.

I didn't have a picture of Jackie to use as inspiration when I wrote the book, but if I had to find one, I'd say the the actress Jennifer Connelly is the right physical type. She has those refined features and that hint of determination in her eyes that I always imagined Jackie had. If you added honey highlights to Jennifer's long, dark hair, I reckon she'd be a dead ringer for Jackie.

As for my hero, Romano is a fashion designer, and a bit of a playboy. I can't say I always warm to playboy heroes - probably because I think the whole 'double standard' thing is unfair - but I can forgive a hero of this sort if he's got good motivation for being this way, and if he's willing to change once he discovered the error of his ways. Once I got into the story, I quite enjoyed writing a hero with a devilish streak, probably because I knew what was coming! I realised that once Jackie's secret was out, the news would change Romano's life for ever. It would be time to see whether he had it in him to step up to the plate and be the hero I hoped he could be.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Brides of Bella Rosa

I was very excited when I was asked to contribute to a new continuity within the M&B Romance/Harlequin Romance line - The Brides of Bella Rosa.

Here's the skinny on the new series:
Romance, rivalry and a family reunited.

Lisa Firenze and Luca Casali: for years their sibling rivalry has disturbed the quiet, sleepy Italian town of Monta Correnti, and their two feuding restaurants have divided the market square.
Now, as the keys to the restaurants are handed down to Lisa and Luca's children, will history repeat itself?

Can the next generation undo its parents' mistakes, reunite the families and ultimately join the two restaurants?

Or are there more secrets to be revealed...?

My book is book four in the series, the story of Lisa's middle daughter, Jackie - named after Jackie Onasis, and doing her very best to be as stylish and poised. But underneath Jackie's flawless exterior is a damaged woman, who has too many secrets to hold. It's only a matter of time before they all start spilling out...

Over the next couple of week I'm going to be blogging about the background and inspiration for the story, but if you can't wait until then, you can take a peek at my website, where I've posted some pictures and an excerpt.