Friday, 7 December 2012

The Next Big Thing - Pam Hartshorne

I also tagged Pam Hartshorne (AKA M&B author Jessica Hart) in my Next Big Thing blog, and today I'm hosting her replies. Help me give a big welcome to Pam as she talks about her amazing timeslip novel, Time's Echo!

What is the title of your book?

Time’s Echo
How did you come by the idea?
I’m fascinated by the links between the past and the present, and have always admired Barbara Erskine’s books.  Time’s Echo falls firmly into that ‘time slip’ category, but I wanted to base my story on my research into the ordinary people of Elizabethan York.
What genre does your book fall under?

Tricky.  It’s part historical novel, part ghost story with a dash of psychological thriller and a seasoning of romance.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?

Also tricky!  Maybe Cate Blanchett and Harrison Ford (in his prime!)
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Arriving in York to sort out her dead godmother’s affairs, tsunami survivor Grace Trewe finds herself increasingly drawn into the life of Hawise, whose unthinking smile in the market place over four hundred years earlier sets in train a story of obsession that ends in tragedy and a desperate search for a child that even death cannot stop.
Will your book be self-published or traditional?

Time’s Echo
is published by Pan Macmillan in the UK and available as a paperback or an e-book.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

This was the first time slip I’d written, so it took me a long time to get to grips with a dual narrative and a much more complicated plot than I’m used to.  I messed around for over a year, but when I finally settled to writing a proper draft, I’d say it took me about six months.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Barbara Erskine, Susanna Kearsley
Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The ordinary people of Elizabethan York.  I feel like I know them now after so many years spent researching their day-to-day lives.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Time’s Echo
is really two books in one: Hawise’s story in the past and Grace’s in the present.  Hawise has to deal with what we think of as a contemporary issue of stalking and obsession, while Grace struggles to come to terms with her experience of being swept up in the Boxing Day tsunami.  I was interested to learn about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how something as apparently insignificant as a sound or a smell can trigger a reaction in sufferers that means they feel as if they are re-experiencing a past trauma. I wanted to play with the idea that if you can re-experience a moment in the past in that way, it might be possible to re-experience a more distant past.

This one is already on my To Be Read list! Thanks for dropping by, Pam!

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Next Big Thing - Jennifer Faye

Well, last week it was my turn to answer The Next Big Thing questions, but this week I am hosting brand new Harlequin Romance/M&B Cherish author Jennifer Faye! Take it away, Jennifer...

Fiona, thanks so much for inviting me to stop be your blog. Am so thrilled to be here. :-)

As Harlequin Mills & Boon’s newest Romance/Cherish author, I’m still walking on the clouds and pinching myself, making sure this is all real. I’ve had a dream most of my life to write stories to share with the world and at last my dream has come true.

I write emotionally stirring romances that will bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your heart with each happily-ever-after. If you want to read more about me, you can check out my website: (soon to be updated)


The following answers pertain to my first sale to Harlequin Romance / M&B Cherish. Squee!!!

Q. What is the working title of your next book?

Available July 2013 U.S./U.K.

 Q. From where did the idea come?

The story was something I developed this summer for the Harlequin Romance Fast Track. I couldn’t actually tell you where the idea came from. It started with the heroine being in the worst possible position and grew from there.

Q. Under which genre does your book fall?

I write for Harlequin Romance / Mills & Boon Cherish. I love the emotional depths you are able to explore within the line—from smiles and laughs to the occasional damp eye. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster with a happily-ever-after. 

Q: Which actors would you choose to play the part of your characters for a movie?

I’d picture Isla Fisher as my heroine Meghan.
And for the hero, I’d say he’s similar in looks to Adam Rodriguez from ‘CSI Miami.’

Q. What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

When a big, splashy wedding goes awry, the runaway bride is aided by a reluctant rancher, but their adventure has only just begun and as their complications mount, they’ll find out that their future plans are about to be revised in ways neither of them could have ever predicted.

Q. Will you self-publish or be represented by an agent?

This book will be traditionally published via Harlequin Mills & Boon.

Q. How long did it take to write the first draft?

Honestly, not long at all. At the time I was working one-on-one with my now-editor and I had deadlines to meet. I’ve always worked best under pressure. Shhh…don’t tell my editor.  :-) If you’d like to see how it unfolded. You can read about “The Call” here:

Q: With which books within your genre would your story compare?

I’m really hoping that it is different and that’s the reason my editor and Harlequin Mills & Boon has brought me onboard.

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

To be honest, the inspiration behind this book had absolutely nothing to do with my characters. I was currently working with a fabulous editor at Harlequin Mills & Boon and I wanted to keep working with her. So I had to come up with a great story, something that would make her sit up and take notice. So she inspired me to write a fresh story with a unique twist.

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Although the story is set in the American Southwest, it has a contemporary feel with a celebrity cook, who likes to turn up the heat in the kitchen. Things definitely never get boring for these two.

Fiona, thanks so much for having me as your guest!!! I’ve had a great time visting.

Friday, 23 November 2012

The Next Big Thing

I've been tagged by the gorgeous Heidi Rice has tagged me to join in with THE NEXT BIG THING, a series of questions on my next book. So here's the skinny:

What is the title of your book?
Kiss Me Under The Mistletoe

How did you come by the idea?
I was fascinated by the idea of a WAG (short for Wives And Girlfriends, normally applied to partners of famous men). In this age of unprecedented opportunity for women, why would she decide to define herself by her husband. And what would she do if she wasn’t married to him any more and lost that key piece to her identity?

What genre does your book fall under?
Romance/Women’s Fiction

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?
Ooh, interesting! Maybe Jennifer Connelly as Louise and Hugh Jackman as Ben.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A WAG leaves her celebrity life – and her cheating husband – behind and seeks to build a new life for herself in a crumbling deserted mansion in the country.

Will your book be self-published or traditional?
Traditionally published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Hmm. Not sure. This was an ‘elongation’ of an earlier book (think, the 12” compared to the 7”). I think the earlier version (60k words) probably took about 4 months, but I added another 30k words in four weeks!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Liz Fenwick’s The Cornish House took a similar theme – woman on her own moving to a new place, and a very special old house, rebuilding her life and finding love again – but our styles are quite different.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The idea of my WAG character, Louise, but also the location. When I was a teenager my father owned a boat that he moored near Dittisham, up the River Dart, in Devon. If we ever took the boat out to sea, or went down river, just for a few seconds we’d catch a glimpse of a marvellous old white mansion on the hill, half hidden by trees. I used to wonder who lived there and what it was like inside.
Years later I was very excited to discover the name of the house was Greenway and had once been owned by the famous crime writer Agatha Christie. And there, the idea for the story of a haunting old house on the riverside, once lived in by a famous woman, was born – although in my version, the former owner was a movie star and not a writer.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My heroine carries the scars of being a child carer for her ailing father, and the guilt she feels after his death has brought her to where she is now. Even with the seemingly ‘perfect’ husband and the life everyone dreams of, she hasn’t been able to be happy.

And I tag the following people to take up the baton and talk about The Next Big Thing:
Liz Fenwick
Jessica Hart
Nina Harrington
and brand-new author Jennifer Faye, who'll be giving her answers HERE next week!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Kiss Me Under The Mistletoe: Hero and Heroine

I've been using all my words to work recently, but in the meantime, I'll leave you with a couple of pics.

 Here is how I imagined Ben and Louise from Kiss Me Under The Mistletoe:

Saturday, 11 August 2012

RWA 2012 - part four: plans gone wrong and more food...

If anything, Saturday was even busier than Friday. I saw that Michael Hauge was doing another workshop, so decided to get another fix. Unfortunately, they had given him a room half the size of the one yesterday (which had been full), and people were lining the walls. I decided to sit on the floor at the front of the room.

 It was only after Michael started talking that I realised this was a repeat of the workshop I'd been to yesterday. Note to self: read programme properly before you plonk your bum down. And I was sitting right at the front, facing more than a hundred people. It was going to be really, really obvious if I left straight away. I decided to sit it out for a bit and then creep out after twenty minutes.

Bad plan. As the room started to fill, our illustrious speaker began to get worried about us all cramming in. He turned and asked me directly if I was okay sitting on the floor, especially as I wasn't leaning against the wall. I nodded fiercely and said I was fine, but a couple of minutes later when he said the wrong word, he said: "It's because I'm still worried about her..." and pointed over his shoulder at me. Flip, I thought. I can't leave now! The whole room is looking at me. I'm just going to have to wait a little bit longer...

Now, there may be those of you who are wondering why I just didn't get up and walk calmly out. I asked myself the same question, and I have only one logical answer: I'm BRITISH! It's part of my genetic code to have a really low embarrassment threshold. Add in the fact that I'm a shy introvert at heart and there was only one thing to do - listen to more of the the workshop and hope the pins and needles didn't eat my legs alive.

After forty minutes I was ready to go. Unfortunately, I suffered a bout of pins and needles so strong that it left my right leg totally numb. I could have stood up, but it was likely that I'd fall straight over again. Not the way to make a discreet exit! I just had to sit there a little longer and subtly try to get the blood to revisit my leg.

Yes, I finally made it. But walking those steps to the door was like walking the green mile... ;-)

Thankfully, after the next seminar I could head out for lunch with some of the editors and gals who write for M&B RIVA. If you haven't heard already, Harlequin is launching a new line next year called KISS! It's basically the North American version of RIVA. Stories will have a range of sensuality levels but will be fun, sassy comtemporary books united by a similar tone and 'voice'. Books will be by authors either currently writing for Presents Extra or Harlequin Romance. 

RIVA/KISS authors Kimberly Lang and Heidi Rice

We went to Benihana and sat round a hot plate while our chef cooked our food in front of us. First, he impressed us with his knife skills and then he started cooking our rice. 

Look, he even made a heart with our rice! I don't know if he knew that was significant or not, but I thought it was kinda cute. I had scallops and steak and Oh My Goondess! Heaven. Do we have this restaurant in the UK? I have to find out. Too lovely. (Newsflash: Two branches in London! Yay.)

Behind: Heidi Rice, Kimberly Lang, Aimee Carson, Exec Editor Tessa Shapcott & Susan Stephens
Front: Senior editor Bryony Green, Fiona Harper & editor Lucy Gilmour

Thursday, 9 August 2012

RWA 2012 - part 3: Fan-girl moments and crazy dancing...

Michael Hauge
By Friday things had shifted into high gear at the RWA conference.  I spent Friday in two double-length workshops given my screen writing guru Michael Hauge. If you frequent this blog, you’ll know how I rave about his approach to storytelling. I’d heard his workshop about internal conflict and romantic comedies before, but I always get something new out of it. And in the afternoon I listened to him give a breakdown of Pretty Woman, showing how it applied to his ideas – something he’s never done before, so it was really worth attending.

At the end of the second session, I decided to buy Michael’s book, Writing Screenplays That Sell, as I don’t have a copy yet, and I asked him to sign it for me before I left. When I told him my name, he said: “Fiona? Like the princess!” Consider me completely won over. (I don't care that she's green - the crown is all that matters!)

In between my day of workshops was the annual Awards Luncheon with speaker Robyn Carr. Another inspiring and entertaining speech! 

Robyn Carr at the Awards Luncheon

I had just enough time to nip back to my room and get ready to go out to dinner before the Harlequin party. Donna and I joined Jennie Lucas, Lynn Raye Harris and Jenette Kenney for dinner at the Hyatt to toast Donna’s status as a “RITA princess”. The champagne was our unofficial sixth guest, as it got a chair of its own at the table. Here we all are, looking pretty and serene before a night of partying.

Jennie, me, Donna, Janette and Lynn

And for the RNA bods: Jennie and Lynn's shoes!

What can I say about the Harelquin party at RWA? It's simply the best night out ever. Let'a just say that everybody dances like there's no one looking. All night. Since a picture says a thousand words, I'm just going to post some of mine:

Hyatt ballroom at start of the party
The cupcake dessert table - DIY decorations
Jennie Lucas caught in the act with her cupcake!

Dance your hearts out, girls!
Donna Alward, me and my lovely editor Lucy Gilmour
"We're lost in music..."