Saturday, December 30

Fall in Love Anthology: The First Review

I hope you all had a good Christmas. I did, and I got some lovely presents that included various Mummy-related things. The baby (whom we have been referring to as Flump, after the fluffy cartoon characters) even got some things of its own, too. Those have all been packed into a capacious storage box and put in the loft with the other things we've already been very generously given. I quite fortunately hit I-Can-No-Longer-Button-Up-My-Jeans time right before the sales too, so I've managed to get some nice things in the maternity sales for not a lot of money.

Back to writing-related subjects, and hot on the heels of Haunted Hearts' first review, Fall in Love: An Anthology has also just received its first review. This, too, comes from new blog Romance Reviewed, and I, along with my anthology-mates Nell Dixon and Rebecca Ruger, can bask quite happily in the glow of the compliments we have received.

Here's a snippet:

... [T]his tale really ends the anthology on a high note ... Jessica Raymond manages to pack a great deal of back-story and incident into fifty pages of text, while never making the story feel rushed or confusing ... [T]he tale feels expertly paced, an intriguing storyline interspersed with memorable characterisation, some expert dialogue and some touchingly romantic moments ...
"The Little Shop of Dreams" was awarded a maximum 5 roses from Romance Reviewed, and you can read the full review of the anthology here.

Saturday, December 23

Merry Christmas Everybody

Well, the cookies are cooked and iced, strawberry creams set (and sampled), presents wrapped, and afternoon nap has been taken. Therefore, I am pretty much ready for the start of our Christmas celebrations tomorrow. I hope you are too.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all visitors to my blog a very Merry Christmas; I hope you all have a wonderful time full of fun, relaxation, good times, and good food. If I don't blog again before 2006 runs out (which is a possibility), then may I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Thanks for visiting.

Just finished reading: Sugar and Spice by Beverly Barton, Joanne Fluke, Shirley Jump and Fern Michaels

Wednesday, December 20

Haunted Hearts: The First Review!

It is so frosty today that it almost looks like it has snowed. All the trees, hedges, and lawns are frosted white and there suddenly seem to be cobwebs everywhere, laced with little ice particles like threaded white ropes. To me, it smells like it could snow, and it certainly feels cold enough. White Christmas? Maybe? Go on...

Anyway, I have an exciting announcement to make today: Haunted Hearts has received its first review! It's by Gray from Romance Reviewed, a new blog dedicated to book reviews focusing mainly on romance. HH got 5 roses and the most wonderful review that makes my jaw drop. Here's a snippet:

The author’s special touch is in making her characters feel real, and it’s the little things that do that; for instance, their mannerisms and personal quirks. Jessica Raymond proves to be a mistress of the art of description and there are many beautifully written scenes in the novel; descriptions of eyes glinting in the moonlight are guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine of any reader. The sexual tension is palpable throughout and the overwhelming emotion of the story makes some scenes intensely romantic.

You can read the entire review here.

Sunday, December 17

The Twelve Days of Tagmas

Yup, here's the second tag list I mentioned. This one has been passed on by Laura Hamby, whose festive romance novella "Christmas Grace" appears with Robin Bayne in the anthology Christmas Grace, just released from By Grace Publishing. Laura, the amazing multi-tasker, authored this list *herself* so I feel it deserves prompt attention :) It works on the same principle as the previous one I did, where we bold up the things we've done.

1. Used real snow to make/eat a snow cone
2. Slept in your car while parked at the side of the road
3. Didn't go to bed until 4 in the morning on New Year's Day
4. Dyed an Easter egg, using all the colors available
5. Catch a scent on the air that reminded you of something from your childhood
6. Taken a picture of the sky because it was a remarkable shade of blue that day

7. Caught a fish and cleaned it yourself, then cooked it for dinner
8. Wished you bought two pairs of your favorite shoes
9. Made a list like this

10. Taken art lessons
11. Taken ballet lessons
12. Driven a really scary stretch of road
13. Read a book from cover to cover in one sitting
14. Written a letter to your Congressman (MP)
15. Changed political parties

16. Made a boat yourself, and sailed in it
17. Worn mismatched shoes by accident
18. Been so happy you wanted to burst into song
19. Watched Barney, as an adult, without becoming annoyed
20. Thought you could walk to Sesame Street
21. Invented something
22. Came up with a new recipe
23. Snorkeled or dived a coral reef
24. Been in a shark cage
25. Been told that a character in a Nora Roberts book reminded a friend of you
26. Howled in the car with your kids
27. Loved someone so much your heart hurt
28. Painted a house

29. Painted a picture in the style of a famous painter
30. Seen the Mona Lisa
31. Seen the Hope Diamond

32. Been the president of the PTA
33. Sat on Santa's an adult
34. Lost your spouse
35. Driven a race car
36. Eaten fried okra
37. Climbed Mt. Everest
38. Seen Mt. Rushmore
39. Saved a baby bird that had fallen from its nest
40. Tried a food you always thought was gross and discovered you loved it
41. Been to Hawaii
42. Been to Africa
42. Had an "old-time" picture taken with your family, your friends or alone
43. Made good friends via the Internet

44. Met a movie star
45. Seen the Queen of England in person
46. Indulged in a tinsel fight while decorating the Christmas tree
47. Attended a family reunion
48. Couldn't turn out the lights for the night after reading a Stephen King novel

49. Gone on a cruise
50. Can you remember where you where the day the Challenger exploded? (No, but I remember where I was when Columbia disintegrated -- The Bloke and I were away at a Cotswolds hotel for our first anniversary and saw it on the news.)

I'm not going to tag anybody to do this list, because I'll be able to hear the groans from here! So, instead, if you *think* I would have tagged you for this list (or you would just like to do it), please feel free to do so and let me know so I can come and read.

Saturday, December 16


Maybe it's just me, but I like being tagged for stuff :) Here's another one from Nell:

Four Things

Four jobs I've had:
1. Deli assistant
2. Pub washing-up girl
3. Secretary
4. Professional procrastinator

Four places I've lived:
1. Buckinghamshire
2. Ditto
3. Ditto
4. Ditto. Yawn.

Four favourite foods:
1. Cheese
2. Rice
3. Gravy
4. Avocado

Four movies I could watch over and over:
1. Practical Magic
2. The Goonies
3. Overboard
4. Romancing the Stone

Four TV shows I enjoy:
1. Sex and the City
2. Friends
3. Spooks
4. Nick & Jessica: Newlyweds (it's my guilty pleasure, okay?!)

Four places I've travelled:
1. Florida
2. France
3. Cuba
4. Belgium

Four places I'd like to visit:
1. New York
2. Italy
3. Jersey
4. Louisiana

Four websites I go to daily:
1. Yahoo
2. My online bank
3. Remote email access
4. A bunch of blogs

Four people I tag to do this list:
1. Sue aka Ms Creativity
2. Laura Hamby
3. Lis
4. Jill

I've already been tagged to do another list, but I don't think I'll hit you with two in one day...

Wednesday, December 13

I Wrote Actual Words

Seems like a strange subject to have on a writer's blog, yes? But, you see, the truth is that I actually haven't written anything new (Moonlit Romance Authors Blog writing prompts excepted) for a number of months now. I've had projects in my schedule and I've worked on their ideas (as well as a couple of others that popped up along the way), but I hadn't actually typed "Chapter One" and started writing the real story.

Until today, when I wrote ten pages: just under 2,500 words. (Have updated my word counter accordingly.) It felt so good! And here's a strange thing... It was so hard to get started on this, because I've sat down many a time in at least the last month (probably more), thinking: "I must start writing..." but would end up doing some stupid distraction activity. I was worried today might be the same: that although I'd actually manage to start writing, I'd only manage a couple of lines and that they would be on a par with drawing blood from a stone. But I got more done than I was expecting and the words pretty much flowed through the keyboard.

Nice, huh? :)

You may notice that I've removed the word counter for the "Fax Suspense" idea I was working on. It was a bit of a seat-of-my-pants idea and wasn't actually on a schedule (as opposed to "One Shore Thing", which is), plus I was struggling to find the right characters. So I've shelved that for now and might start working on it again next year.

Just finished reading: Heat of the Moment by Diana Duncan

Tuesday, December 12

A Picture Says Four Words

In this case, those four words are...

We're having a baby!

I am 13 weeks' pregnant and Bloke and I are so excited! This may explain why I haven't been as up-to-speed on the blog lately, and why my brain keeps running away when I need it ;) Everything is going well so far and we are on target for an ETA of 18 June 2007. It also seems that I am not the only person in the online romance-writing community who currently has a bun in the oven! I know of at least three others -- something in the water maybe?

*Big grin*

Some more great news this week -- my critique partner Nell Dixon's medical romance Charlie Darling has had its full manuscript requested by Mills & Boon. Go Nell!!

Just finished reading:
Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts

Thursday, December 7

Tagged by Robin Bayne

I've been tagged for a list by Robin Bayne, co-author of Christmas Grace, a seasonal anthology that is being released this month by Moonlit Romance's sister company, By Grace Publishing. In this list I have to "bold up" the things I have done. Here are my answers, Robin!

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain (It was pretty small... In fact, it was probably just a big hill.)
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said “I love you” and meant it
9. Hugged a tree -- for photo purposes only
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played Dungeons & Dragons for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a TV game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (only the kind you shoot cans with in amusement arcades)
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad -- and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

I tag Nell, Sue, and Liz Fenwick!

Saturday, December 2

A Gremlin Ate My Email

Public service announcement in the world of Jessica Raymond -- my Outlook mail program has been invaded by gremlins and glitches and after a week of slowness, has now officially given up the ghost and refuses to open. Something to do with corruption, full disks, write-protection, and that wonderful message "access denied"... So all of the emails I have saved in my individual folders, plus anything that anybody sent me before last night, is being held hostage. There is a chance they could be recovered, but it's not looking likely :(

So if you happen to have emailed me lately, especially if it's something important, please forgive me for not replying, and consider re-sending your missive. I *can* now access my email in a new program, but it means I have no record of any emails I received before today. Ever.

Wednesday, November 29

Contracted -- A Writers' Challenge

I'm back from my trip and into the swing of normal life again! I always miss home so much when I'm away -- anyone else?

I have two exciting contest announcements today, and another one to come in the next couple of days. Both of today's are being run by my publisher, Moonlit Romance.

The first is a writing contest which will run through 2007. Regular visitors to my blog and website will know that I was published in Fall In Love: An Anthology through entering a Moonlit Romance writing contest, so I can't recommend Contracted -- A Writers' Challenge highly enough! :) Here are the details:

Contest 1: "Contracted -- A Writers' Challenge"
Unique Enterprises, the parent company of By Grace Publishing and Moonlit Romance, is sponsoring CONTRACTED– A Writers' Challenge during 2007. We will hold 2 challenges, January-June and July-December, with the winner being announced and published in September 2007 and March 2008.

This contest is open to unpublished in romance authors only. The novels entered into the contest must have 12 chapters, and may be any romance sub-genre. All novels must meet the guidelines for either By Grace Publishing or Moonlit Romance. Please see the Guidelines at and

To Enter: Please send a query letter to Laura Hamby ( along with the completed entry form you'll find in the files sections of the Moonlit Romance and By Grace readers loops (click here for the Moonlit loop and here for the By Grace loop). All attached files must be saved in .rtf format, or they will not be opened. There will be 2 rounds of CONTRACTED— A Writers' Challenge in 2007.

Entry deadlines:

Round One — December 15, 2006
Round Two — May 15, 2007

Please put "Contracted -- A Writers' Challenge Entry" in the subject line of the email.

Contestants will compete for 6 months in two different forums: the public Blog Challenges and the private Editors' Challenges, based on a monthly challenge theme. Once a month, contestants will provide their Blog Challenges to Laura Hamby to be posted on the Unique Enterprises' Authors' Blog, in addition to submitting their private Editors' Challenge to Laura Hamby to be forwarded to the judging Unique Enterprises editors. Both the Blog Challenges and the Editors' Challenges will be rated on a rubric that will be provided to each contestant before each contest begins. In order to continue from month to month, contestants must complete both the Blog and the Editors' Challenges. Contestants who fail to participate in both monthly challenges every month will be disqualified. Standings will be determined by averaging the Editors' and Blog Challenges together.

Contestants who do not satisfactorily pass the monthly Challenges will not proceed to the next month's round. Points will be awarded on a 1-5 scale, and those authors not achieving an Editors' and Blog Challenge of 3.5 or higher won't progress to the next level. These contestants will receive a critique of the first 3 chapters of their novel from Unique Enterprises' Senior Editors Sheila Holloway or Laura Hamby, and will be encouraged to participate in the next Writers' Challenge.

At the conclusion of the 6 month competition, the authors who have made it successfully through the Writers' Challenge with a 6 month average of the equivalent to a 3.5 will have one month to revise, edit and polish their novel for the Final Competition. For entrants in the January-June contest, their final product will be due August 1, 2007. For entrants in the July-December contest, their final product will be due February 1, 2008. Contestants will receive the Final Judging Rubric at the conclusion of the 6 month competition.

Winners will be publicly announced on the Unique Enterprises Authors' Blog on September 1, 2007 and March 1, 2008. The winning novel will be published in September 2007 (1st round) and March 2008 (2nd round).

The winner(s) of CONTRACTED–A Writers' Challenge will win a contract for their completed, ready-to-publish novel with either Moonlit Romance or By Grace Publishing. The runners-up will receive comments on their novels from the judges, and are invited to resubmit their novels to By Grace Publishing or Moonlit Romance.

For further details and information about this exciting contest, please email Laura Hamby at Please put "Contracted-- More Details" in the subject line.

Contest 2: Moonlit Romance 1st Birthday Contest

Come celebrate with Moonlit Romance as they turn one year old. Enter their contest to win this gorgeous handmade moon pendant!

All you have to do is read one of Moonlit's books, write a review, and send it to The winner will be chosen by drawing. Contest ends February 1, 2007. Selected reviews will be posted on the Moonlit Romance blog.

Tuesday, November 21

Gifts For You, Gifts For Me

I'm going away for a few days so won't be back on my blog until Sunday at the earliest. Because of this, I wanted to remind you all that the Spooky Contest I am running in conjunction with Nell Dixon is open to entries until this Saturday, November 25th. If you'd like to find out more and submit your entry, just click here.

I found this great site today, where you are offered a number of visual picture choices on your favourite things, and from that the program works out ideal Christmas gifts for you. You can also answer it for friends and family to get some ideas on what to buy them. I did it for myself and all of my suggested gift selections were lovely! The site also told me this about myself:

If you want to have a go either for yourself or you family or friends, just click here.

In the meantime, have a great rest-of-week everybody, and Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating it.

Just finished reading: Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson (a novel that, for some reason, does not believe in speech marks)

Saturday, November 18

Premium Bond

Last night myself, The Bloke, my sister and her fiance trundled down to the Odeon to see Casino Royale. The men being the men were desperate to see the new Bond film, and my sister and I were brought up on Bond films so we weren't averse to the idea either.

Daniel Craig was very, very good indeed. When he was first announced as Bond I, like many others, thought the choice would never work, but then I watched Layer Cake (another of The Bloke's favourite films) and after that I was confident that Craig could pull off playing 007.

He has. So many people were ready to hate him in the role, but in the lead-up to the release I hadn't heard a single bad review about him or the film. In fact, a number of reports suggested he might possibly be the best Bond yet. To put it plainly, he rocks. He plays Bond straight without the cheesiness (although there are some of those Bond one-liners), suave without the sliminess, manly without the scariness, and smooth but with that edge of ruggedness he needs. He is the grittiest Bond yet, but there are still laughs and times for emotion. And though some have accused Daniel Craig of not having the right looks, I came out of the cinema fancying him. Though the film begins with him as your classic womanizer and a bit of a loose cannon, partway through, I, for one, started to see him morph into a bit of a romantic hero.

The plot of the film is good, too. Some Bond films get a bit yawnsome with their plot and villainy detail, but this one doesn't. The action is fantastic -- the free-running chase near the beginning is, in particular, truly exciting to watch. Settings are gorgeous, characters vivid, and "You Know My Name", the theme song co-written and sung by ex-Soundgarden alumni Chris Cornell also rocks. Vesper Lynd is beautiful and sassy, and I am in love with her purple evening gown.

An excellent, excellent job. Highly recommended.

Thursday, November 16

The Inspiration to Write

On Monday, Sue aka MsCreativity blogged about what inspires her to write and, in doing so, she inspired me to do the same thing! Make sure you’re comfortable -- this is my story. (It's long.)

I’ve always been a reader. Always. When I was little, every Saturday morning my dad would take my sister and I to our nearest mid-sized town, where he would get shopping and do odd jobs and then take us to the library. You could (and still can) take out ten books at a time on your library card and my sister and I used to pore over the shelves for things we hadn’t read. Once I started getting pocket money I would treat myself to a lip balm from Boots as well, and maybe a packet of strawberry laces from the sweet shop. Even now I get nice fuzzy feelings when I think of the journey home, listening to Dave Lee Travis's "wack wack oops" snooker quiz on Radio 1 with a bagful of books and my little purchases by my side! :)

I read many different kinds of books over the years, but like Sue, Enid Blyton was one of my staples. I enjoyed the Famous Five stories (particularly the one where they stay in a yellow gypsy caravan), but my favourites were the Magic Faraway Tree books, the St Clare’s school stories, Hollow Tree House, and – rather controversial these days – The Three Golliwogs. I was also a big fan of Joyce Lankester Brisley’s Milly Molly Mandy books and my all-time favourite children’s book was, and still is, Elizabeth Goudge’s The Little White Horse.

I must have been about eight when I first began to write; tales of adventure, usually revolving around my friends and I off into the woods with a knapsack of food and a mystery to solve. I didn’t know it then, but I was already doing what many fledgling writers do – emulating their favourite authors! Around the age of twelve I entered the WHSmith Young Writers Competition (I don’t think it's active any more) with a story about a wizard who lived on Atlantis. I lost the story ages ago, but the story basically explained what happened to Atlantis. If I remember rightly I blamed it on a band of fraudulent ne’er-do-wells who somehow managed to sell the island to a higher power…

I didn’t write for a while after that, but I was still reading. Around this time the “Point Horror” book series launched, and my friends and I were mad about them. We used to consult over who had what book and make sure that we each bought (or asked for at birthdays) different titles, so between us we had a full library that we could swap and share. Not long after “Point Horror” took off, a new series, “Point Romance”, was launched, and I fell headfirst into that, too. After I’d entered my teen years, I started my “adult fiction reading career” with that classic title – Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. I devoured the rest of the series, but I never liked her other series half as much (particularly the ghost-written ones). Soon afterwards, my parents separated and I, feeling dreary and gothic most of the time, read only Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

When I began to study English Literature for GCSE and A-Level I started to make my own selective reading choices in the bookshops. I widened my horizons, picking up books I’d never heard of to try something new and catching up on the classics that other classes had been set at school that I thought sounded interesting. Around this time, I was living with my dad and his second wife. One day a package of Mills & Boon books arrived at the house, sent on a Reader Service promotion (with a free pen in a velvet pouch and, if I remember correctly, a dusky rose-coloured wine glass!). I can vividly remember taking one in to read during a bath – a Christmas story – and shivering in the rapidly-chilling water over an hour later because I could not put that book down. Shamefully, I can’t remember the title or the author.

I began to write again. I flirted with some poetry and wrote a few short stories, then tried to start a thriller about an American town dominated by an evil river. It didn’t go very far. Life intervened for a few years: I finished school and got a job (whilst working another part-time job in the evenings), and though I continued to read, I stopped writing. Then the new millennium hit, and things went pear-shaped. My dad got divorced again. I relocated, moved in with my mum, and started a new job, working for a pensions provider. A couple of scant months later, my dad passed away.

My world was rocked. It had come from nowhere. I felt like I’d been hit by a bus and though my mind and feelings were in a state of chaos, something felt very clear to me. It was trite phrase -- over-used, bandied about -- but suddenly it was all I could think about.

Life’s too short.

As my compassionate leave from work drew to a close, I called and told them I wouldn’t be coming back. The one thing about the job that had excited me was that it was the first time I had brought home a paycheck that, after tax, amounted to slightly over £1,000. But the work bored me. Nothing was interesting. I didn’t live for it.

I took the summer off, using some of the savings my grandparents had left me to help out with shopping and to buy myself books and a laptop. I surfed the net. Tried to think about what I could do next. Then one day, another promotional package from Mills & Boon dropped through the door. I consumed the books in less than two days, went online and ordered more. I found and joined the message boards. I scoured Amazon for books on how to write romance.

And I started to write.

The process from my initial beginnings (writing along to my stream of consciousness with no idea about my plot of my characters) to where I am now is long-winded, and since I’ve gone on rather longer than I’d expected already, I won’t bore you with it! The summer I’ve just described -- when I discovered romance writing good and proper as an escape from what had happened and as something I instantly fell in love with and thought, “yes, I can do this,” – was five years ago. In that time I’ve started a number of different projects. Two have been published. I wrote a number of short stories, as well. One has been published.

I’ve known, pretty much since then, that writing romance is my “calling”. It’s all I want to do (besides having a family and living a happy, comfortable life). And sometimes it’s hard work. Very hard work. But I still love it. It’s a constant. My love affair with it is my longest love affair yet (I met The Bloke just before Christmas, later that year).

So, getting back to the point… what inspired me to write?

My love of books.

The way I devour a great story, and the hope that I can create one for somebody else, if not for myself.

A life-changing event that showed me that life really is too short, and doing something you enjoy should be prized much more highly than doing something that just means you can afford to shop in nicer places.

And, above all, an instinctual love for writing that is always, always there -- even on the difficult days.

What inspires you to write?

Just finished reading: Heart of a Mercenary by Loreth Anne White

Sunday, November 12

Remembrance Sunday

While watching today's National Service of Remembrance live from the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, I felt I should post something in memory of the many servicemen who have lost their lives in times of conflicts, as well as those who came home battered and changed, and the families who suffered bereavement and loss. I wasn't sure what to write, but then I read a very meaningful post on Natasha Oakley's blog which sums up what I was feeling.

Many things struck me as being moving while I was watching the service, but a piece of information that has stuck in my mind is this: The Royal British Legion, the UK charity that provides financial, social and emotional support to millions who have served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces and their dependants, takes responsibility for the sale of poppies in the lead-up to Remembrance Day. They say that up to one thousand ex-servicemen are sleeping rough on the streets of London on any given night. In order to help these veterans and the many others who turn to the Legion for support, the charity needs £75 million a year.

Only a third of this amount is collected through the annual sale of poppies.

You can visit the Poppy Appeal website by clicking on the banner below. They offer many other ways to help, including a download of a virtual poppy to your mobile phone.

Wednesday, November 8

Julie Cohen's First Page Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, romance author Julie Cohen blogged about a "first page challenge", in which she posted the first page of one of her novels and annotated it to show how she had portrayed what her characters were like and what there problems were right from line one. She threw down the gauntlet to other writers to do the same with their first page, and many took up the challenge -- including (to name just a few) Donna Alward, Jenna Bayley-Burke, Michelle Styles, Kate Walker, Amanda Ashby, Fiona Harper, Ally Blake, and Liz Fenwick.

After I'd read all of these contributions and seeing how well-written they were, I got panicky about posting my own! But I've decided to do it now, because I think it's an excellent exercise in making sure your writing says what you mean to say about your characters, rather than just being words.

So here is the first scene of Haunted Hearts...

Beth Albright gazed up at the imposing Georgian country house and hoped that it really was haunted. [This shows that Beth is intrigued by the paranormal and is a hopeful, positive person.] Any paranormal investigator would be thrilled at the chance to investigate such a classically old-looking mansion such as Hoblington Grange, and she was no different.

She stepped down from the porch, walked across the gravel, and peered down the flagstone path at the side of the Grange. Her arrival had been right on time [she's a punctual person who plays by the rules], yet nobody seemed to be here. [Why would somebody who had arranged a paranormal investigation not be eager to greet their investigator?] Three rings of the doorbell and a couple of heavy knocks on the hulking wooden front door had not yielded any results. She shrugged and headed for the side-path that led to the back garden. [She doesn't want to let this investigation go easily and is prepared to go looking for her client.]

It felt more than a little strange to be back in Little Hoblington after the years she'd spent away, let alone being back in the grounds of the Grange itself. [She used to either live or spend a lot of time in the village -- where did she go, and why did she leave? She also used to spend time at the Grange, but is excited to be back here.] A lot had happened since Beth's last visit to the house--a weekend break from university [she's educated] that hadn't gone exactly as planned--but in contrast, the big red-brick country mansion sat here all along, apparently unchanged by the passage of time. [She had moved on emotionally once she'd left Little Hoblington, even if nothing else moved with her. Did she want to put something behind her?]

An overgrown butterfly bush came into view as Beth neared the end of the path. It shook violently. A hand appeared and dropped a bunch of clippings on to the ground before vanishing again. [The person clipping the bush is doing it quite roughly. Is it because they are angry, or because they're just trying to get the job done?]

"Hello?" She quickened her step. "My name's Beth Albright. I'm here for the paranormal investigation."

The bush stopped shaking. [The other person has heard Beth, but why have they not reacted immediately to her presence?]

"I'm sorry to intrude back here, but nobody answered the front door. I was told to be here at ten o'clock but perhaps I'm a little early?" Beth suggested out of politeness. [Being a professional, she wants to be sure the person knows that she was here at ten a.m. (on time), but adds the latter part of the sentence in order to allow them a get-out clause.]

She stepped over the pile of clippings and raised her head to greet the new owner of the Grange. [She's eager to meet the person even if they're not so enthused.]

Instead she found herself unable to breathe. [Why? Whose presence could shock her so, and why does it have this effect on her?]

A matter of inches away stood a tall, well-built man. [This guy looks after himself and can handle his own.] He held a rusty pair of secateurs in one hand, while the other was loose by his side. [He's doing the job with what equipment he's got, even if it's not the best, or perhaps he simply doesn't look after things that well.] His dark brown hair was short but unkempt [he makes an effort at neatness, but it doesn't always carry through -- has he given up?], and smudges of dirt decorated his stubbled jaw and white polo shirt. Exceptionally dark blue eyes bored into hers [he's assessing her] and for a minute, Beth felt as though she'd been transported back in time to that last awful visit to Little Hoblington. [This man is somebody from her past who brings back bad memories.]

It wasn't the new owner of the Grange who stood before her. [She had assumed the same person who'd owned the Grange when she had known it before was no longer here.] Nor was it the well-spoken woman who had called her two weeks previously to arrange the paranormal investigation. [This man hadn't arranged the investigation, so who did, and why is he here?] It wasn't even a gardener.

It was Sam Aston-Wilkes. Her first love. The man she'd given her heart to--along with her innocence--and who had later discarded her as if she were as useless as the wandering branches of the butterfly bush he had just been decimating so well. [Kinda speaks for itself, I think...]

I would love to hear your comments if you'd like to leave any, as I've been hesitant about posting to match Julie's challenge! This has been fun, though :)

I hasten to add that all the annotations I have made are my intentions as an author of what questions or insights I hope are coming across to the reader as they read. I realize that somebody may read the opening scene and get a totally different idea of things, not understand some pointers, or find a couple of new ones. If this is the case, It would be great to know which notes you do or don't agree with and whether there are any clues to the characters you've spotted that I haven't pointed out.

Just finished reading: Love on the Rocks by Veronica Henry

Wednesday, November 1

Five Things About Me

Nell has tagged me for a "Five Things You May Not Know About Me" list, which I will do a little lower down this post. In the meantime -- updates!

Haunted Hearts is selling well and is now available on Fictionwise, a superb site that I believe is the Internet's most comprehensive collection of popular fiction and non-fiction available in many different e-book formats. Their current Top Ten includes Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts and Lisey's Story by Stephen King. When I first heard the news that HH was up on Fictionwise and I logged on to have a look, I was surprised and thrilled to see it featured on the homepage only inches away from those two authors! :D

I've now completed my initial plans for my beach-themed novella, which will be part of a duet with Nell, due for release in May 2007 with Moonlit Romance. Writing in earnest will begin this week. I'm also hoping to start fleshing out plans for my "fax suspense" novella idea, as I'd like to have both of these projects finished by Christmas so I can get on with planning and writing my possible-mainstream idea, The Truck of Luck.

Don't forget -- the Spooky Contest Nell and I are running, with signed copies of Haunted Hearts and From Darkness: An Anthology among the prizes, is open until 25th November. If you'd like to enter, click here. Good luck!

Now, on to my "Five Things..." list:

1. I know a lot about cheese. I worked on a deli for about three and a half years while I was studying for my GCSEs and A-Levels, and can slice a turkey crown, peppered salami, and crumbed ham (the messiest), split a whole Edam, cut a wedge of Parmesan (the most rock-hard cheese in the world), and can usually tell the weight of a block of cheddar just by looking at it. I was also a bit of a dab hand at spit-roasting chickens, but I can't say I've done that since I left...

2. I once smacked Deal or No Deal host Noel Edmonds on the bottom. (Stop laughing at the back!) When I was about five he lived in a village not far from us and he frequently flew his helicopter around the area. One time I was at the park with my mum and she'd bought me a packet of crisps from the pub over the road. Noel landed his helicopter in the park and was talking to a few people. He said hello to me and asked for a crisp, to which I (apparently) responded with a firm 'no' and smacked him on the bum. Lovely!

3. My family name on my mother's side and its coat of arms is engraved on the outside of the Canongate Kirk, the parish church of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. An ancestor of mine, Thomas Moodie, was a local merchant and left some money to the disposal of the Crown, which King James VII ordered to be used to build the church. It was completed in 1690 and the initials of my ancestor and his coat of arms were engraved on the front of the church below the Royal Arms.

4. I was born on John Lennon's 40th, and what turned out to be his final, birthday.

5. I'm only 5 foot 1!

A note from Sharon, the creator of People Collection (which seems to have originated this "Five Things..." list), says:

Remember that it isn’t always the sensational stuff that writers are looking for, it can just as easily be something that you take for granted like having raised twins or knowing how to grow beetroot. Mind you, if you know how to fly a helicopter or have worked as a film extra, do feel free to let the rest of us know about it! :)
I tag Phillipa and Fiona!

Just finished reading: Decent Exposure by Phillipa Ashley

Wednesday, October 25

New *Spooky* Contest!

‘Tis the season of Halloween, and to celebrate this auspicious time of spirits and spookiness, you could win two – yes, two! – signed books: one will be a hot-off-the-press copy of Haunted Hearts, by myself, and the other will be a copy of From Darkness: An Anthology, which features my good friend and critique partner Nell Dixon. Your prize parcel will also include pens, notepads, fridge magnets, bookmarks and some spooky candy!

Cue Me In, a novella by Nell Dixon, features in "From Darkness", a spooky anthology published by By Grace Publishing.

Fae Heath wants to be on TV, but not just in any show. She wants to become one of the presenters on Ghost UK, the leading show on supposed paranormal activity. With the reluctant help of her sister Izzy she intends to win the TV company’s competition to find a new presenter. Tall, slim, blonde and with a fabulous pair of kick-ass leather boots, how can she fail?

Haunted Hearts by Jessica Raymond is a romance novel with paranormal elements, published by Moonlit Romance.

When Beth Albright comes to Hoblington Grange to perform a paranormal investigation, she is blissfully unaware that her client is Sam Aston-Wilkes, her first love. In the gathering storm that greets her, the house she has come to examine seems almost alive, and the terrible pressure only grows when Sam reveals the heartbreaking truth about why he broke up with Beth. He seems determined to protect her by any means, even if he can't protect himself, yet she still just wants to solve his problems. Beth's doubts about whether she can fix the shattered heart of the man she never stopped loving begin to increase as the forces of the Grange, both past and present, close ranks to influence Sam and Beth's destiny. Will they make it through the storm, or, as those before them, will their love be doomed to fail?

To be in with a chance of winning this spooktacular prize, just answer the following question:

What kind of work does Beth do when she is not carrying out paranormal investigations? (Click here for a hint!)

Send your answer to, including the following details:






Plus, go to Nell’s site and answer her question to gain an extra entry into the contest. Contest closes on 25th November 2006 and worldwide entries are welcome.

Good luck – and Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 21

Haunted Hearts is OUT!

Huzzah, what a joyous day! Haunted Hearts is now on release from Moonlit Romance! You can purchase a downloadable e-book copy in either PDF, HTML, or Mobipocket format, or you can order a print paperback. The link to purchase is here!

In other news, this weekend some of the Moonlit Romance authors are participating in a writing workshop. Why not join us? Here are the details:

Unique Enterprises Writers' Workshop

Unique Enterprises, parent company of By Grace Publishing and Moonlit Romance, is proud to present our Writers' Workshop interactive website. We will be offering workshops on writing
romance on a quarterly basis.

Our first workshop will start Friday, October 20, 2006, and will conclude on Sunday, October 22, 2006. Our topics for this inaugural workshop are self-editing, writing techniques and characterization.

The site of our workshop is Wet Paint websites are designed to be interactive websites, but you must be a registered user with Wet Paint. You may sign up to be a registered user by going to the website given above and click on "join this community" in the page toolbox located in the upper right part of the site.

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the craft of writing, get your work before Unique Enterprises editors and network with other authors of romance.

Maybe I'll see you there? :)

Friday, October 20

Final Day of Contest

Today (Friday 20th October) is the last day for entries into the contest that myself and Nell Dixon are running to celebrate the release of Fall in Love: An Anthology. All you need to do is answer a question on my website, and if you answer Nell's, too, you get another entry into the contest.

You can win: a signed copy of the anthology, a box of chocolates, a box of English Breakfast teabags, and other assorted goodies. If you'd like to enter, click here!

Monday, October 16

Come Chat With Me

Let's chat, let's chat away... etc.

Tomorrow there will be a chat in the Moonlit Romance chat-room (the link is on the homepage) to celebrate the release of my novel Haunted Hearts, published this month by Moonlit. It will be an hour long, from 2-3pm New York time (which equates to 7-8pm UK time).

Do join me, if you can, for chats, fun, and maybe a little prize giveaway!

Just finished reading: To Love, Honor and Defend by Beth Cornelison

Saturday, October 14

I Left My Brain In Lichfield

This week has been mad and I don't know where my brain has gone. I can't retain any information and everything seems to be shooting past me unnoticed!

So, to summarize what I've been up to...

Last Saturday the Bloke and I went to Lichfield to attend author Phillipa Ashley's wine-tasting party in celebration of the release of her new book, Decent Exposure. Nell and her hubby were there, too, so we had a lovely time catching up and chatting and swapping little prezzies.

On the Sunday, we set off back down the motorway to a secret hotel my Bloke had booked as a birthday treat. It turned out to be the newly-refurbished Copthorne Reading, which was right on the edge of a 33-acre lake and very, very quiet. We had a gorgeous suite-room with complimentary bathrobes, free chocolates, a living area, and a massive balcony overlooking the lake! I recommend...

Monday was my birthday, so after heading home we spent the evening at my sister's with her fiance and my mum. I got some lovely presents (including a gorgeous little butterfly-patterned book bag from Paperchase) and we had a lovely meal.

I was back at work on Tuesday, with lots of typing and things to do because my boss and another colleague had just got back from the Frankfurt Book Fair. Then yesterday, the sis (who is getting married in a year's time), my mum, and sis's future mother-in-law set off to Birmingham for the National Wedding Show, which was good fun but tiring on the feet!

I really want to get started on my plans for my beach-themed novella (plus another novella idea I've had, which, for now, I'm calling "fax suspense"...), but I've been so busy this week that whenever I've had a moment to myself I've been catching up with laundry, or emails, or eating, or falling asleep.

On a separate note, some of you may have noticed that Haunted Hearts has not yet come up for purchase on the Moonlit Romance website. There have been a few technical difficulties, but the book should be up soon. As soon as it is I will put details and a link here on the blog as well as on my website.

And speaking of my website, don't forget that the contest Nell and I are running to celebrate the release of Fall in Love: An Anthology comes to a close on October 20th, so if you haven't entered, click here and get your entry in!

Tuesday, October 10

My Author Event is TODAY!

All right, this is a little late notice (Blogger wouldn't let me in earlier...), but today is my Author Event Day on the Moonlit Romance Readers Loop. This is a two-hour event, starting at 6pm UK tie (1pm New York time) and will involve excerpts from both Haunted Hearts and The Little Shop of Dreams, as well as chats and three great contests!

It's quick and easy to join the group by clicking on the above link. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 7

Departing for a Party

So I have a new web browser now, and it sometimes insists on showing me archived pages of sites instead of the latest, updated ones, so I'm not entirely sure whether the link to buy Haunted Hearts is now up. Keep checking at the Moonlit Romance website!

Yesterday I went to a wedding-dress sale with my sister, who is getting married next year, and my mum. The Sis tried on four different dresses and kept laughing every time she looked in the mirror because "she felt like she was playing dress-up"! She looked beautiful, though, and it's so amazing to get a glimpse of how she's really going to look on the Big Day next year :D :D

I tried on a bridesmaid dress, a strapless Cadbury-purple satin gown with boned bodice and diamantes on it. It was a little much but the cut of it was reeeeally nice. I like trying dresses on. We should all do it more. It's fortunate that next week we're going to a huge wedding fair at the Birmingham NEC. Changing rooms, here we come!

Bloke and I are going away today, to attend a launch party in celebration of the release of my friend Phillipa Ashley's new Little Black Dress book, Decent Exposure. Nell's going too, so I'm expecting to have great fun.

We're booked into a lovely hotel with a lake in its grounds, and then tomorrow we're going to another hotel to celebrate my looming birthday, although I don' t know which hotel this is and where. I will tell you next week!

Thursday, October 5

Introducing Fergus the Cat

Isn't it lovely???

I got this late last night, right before I was about to log off my laptop and go to bed. I hereby introduce you to Fergus the cat, who you can see here on the cover for Haunted Hearts. He is a cute yet mysterious character in my book (out this Friday!), and I hope you all like him.

I've also got some news on a couple of events. I'll be holding an Author Day/Evening (depending on your time zone) on the Moonlit Romance Reader Loop next Tuesday, 10th October, from 6-8 pm UK time (1-3 pm EST). This is a Yahoo group you can join quickly and easily by clicking on the above link. This two-hour event will be filled with chat, questions, fun, excerpts, and a few lovely little contests. I hope to see you there!

The second event will be my release chat at the Moonlit Romance chatroom, to celebrate the publication of Haunted Hearts. This will take place on Tuesday 17th October, from 7-8 pm UK time (2-3 pm EST). Do come along to chat with me and some of the other Moonlit authors!

Just finished reading: The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

Sunday, October 1

A *Different* Kind of Contest

Today I have another announcement, and for some reason, it's one that I've been very excited to make for a while. I'm not quite sure why, but here it is!


Fall in Love with All Things English!

To celebrate the release of Fall in Love, the wonderful English-set anthology that myself and Nell Dixon have contributed to, we are holding a joint contest. You could win a hamper of goodies, including a signed print copy of the anthology, chocolate, English tea, and a host of other surprises.

For your chance to win, go to my website here and answer the question (there's a hint provided), sending your answer along with your name, email, and postal address to

PLUS! If you visit Nell's website and answer her question as well, you'll get an extra entry and an extra chance of winning!

Contest ends on the 20th of October and is open internationally.

Look out for news tomorrow of my upcoming chats and author days!

Thursday, September 28

To Contest Or Not To Contest

Today, Nell and Rebecca and I are blogging at the Pink Heart Society on the subject of writing contests. As regular readers of my blog know (I think there are some of you out there...), our three novellas appear in Fall in Love: An Anthology because we each won a place in a Moonlit Romance writing contest.

In our blog-post today we talk about the do's and don'ts of entering contests, why you might want to do it, how to know which one(s) is/are right for you, and where you can find them on the web. We'll be popping in throughout the day to answer any questions and just have a general chat about the subject, so come along and join us!

Tuesday, September 26


Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the lovely messages I have received, both by blog comment, messageboard post, greeting card, email, and -- from my Bloke -- via the medium of flowers. :)

There have been many things to deal with in the last few days since my great news, and there are plenty more still to come. It's all quite exhausting at the moment, but it's good fun, too. I would love this to be my life!

My release date for Haunted Hearts is set for Friday 6th October 2006, and as before, when I have more information and links, they will pop up here on the blog ASAP. I've now created a page for HH on my website, complete with blurb and excerpt, so if you'd like to head over and take a peek, just click on the above title. Don't feel shy about telling me what you think of it, either!

I hope to have news of an author chat [with me, the author ;)] and contests very soon, so keep checking back. Also, this Thursday, 28th September, I shall be guest-blogging at the Pink Heart Society with my anthology-mates Nell and Rebecca Ruger on the subject of writing contests. Come along and have a chat with us!

Sunday, September 24

Okay, Here's the Deal...

Quite literally.

Let me start, as I should, at the beginning. Picture this: it is Friday night (pre-payday), and I am at home watching Supernanny and promising myself that I will never have more children than I can handle. My mobile rings. It's Nell.

She tells me that, in a Yahoo Messenger chat with the Moonlit Romance editor, she has inadvertently sold an idea that we had roughly discussed before but which we currently had no storylines for! (At least, I hadn't.) This will be an anthology along the same lines as Fall in Love, but using summer as the theme, instead of autumn. I'm not surprised at Nell getting a request for a submission before the project is finished (much less started :D ) -- it has happened before and I am sure it will happen again! We already have a release slot, too, so I need to get thinking about my beach-themed romance novella.

Then we move on to the subject of Haunted Hearts. While they had been talking on Messenger, Moonlit's editor had asked Nell for a summary of HH's plot (which she knows only too well, having read her way through 4 different versions of it). Nell gave it, and the editor told her to tell me to send it in ASAP, regardless of whether I had finished my revisions.

(Picture me, opening and closing my mouth like "a codfish", as Mary Poppins would say.)

Nell: "I thought I had better warn you!"

Thank God she did, as well. I got up early Saturday morning, had done my shopping and general errands by 9.45am, and got on with the revisions of the last two chapters of HH. Literally ten minutes after I had finished them and saved to disk, a message popped up from the Moonlit editor, asking how it was going. I told her I'd finished, and she asked me to email the file over straightaway.

As I am putting the attachment on the email, she says: "I've been authorized to send you a contract if I like what I read, so Moonlit can publish it in October."

Me: "This October??? "

Moonlit editor: "Yes."

I send the email. Nell and I chat nervously for about forty-five minutes while I make a final check-over of HH for spelling errors and so on, which I hadn't had a chance to do.

Another message pops up:

"I'm still reading. I'll be sending the contract shortly. I love it, and on the draft you've sent me, there's not going to be much editing to do. I'm so drawn into it, Jess. I can't stop reading it."

I practically explode from excitement, and ten seconds later, Nell expresses the same feelings.

Thus ends the recap.

Can you believe it?? Haunted Hearts has been over three years in the making, and on the morning I finally finish it, it sells within the hour and gets a release date which will occur within the next month.

I still can't really believe it myself. And again, I have surprised myself with how I feel. In January, when I typed "The End" on the first draft of HH, I blogged about how I didn't care if I ever sold it -- what matters is that I wrote it. And now that I have actually sold it, it's as if I don't care if I ever sell anything else again.

Which is stupid. Of course I care! A full-time writer is what I want to be! But if I tried my hardest, and couldn't sell another story, a little part of me wouldn't mind too much, and I think it's because HH is so special to me. Some people call this "the book of your heart". It's the first story idea I had that I really and truly loved and believed in. It's the first book I ever finished (and so far, is still the only book I have ever finished -- although that should change soon). It tells the story of the characters I have loved the most out of everything I have ever written. And as it stands, I think it is the best thing I have ever written. (And yes, I know, I've not written a lot, but it still is...)

So there you have it. Haunted Hearts by Jessica Raymond is coming soon, to be published October 2006.

(Still can't believe it...)

Saturday, September 23

Big News Brewing

I haven't got the energy to tell the whole story right now, but I promise you tomorrow I will post full details of a very exciting announcement.

Check back here Sunday!

Print Copies Are Up!

If you've been waiting to order a print paperback copy of Fall in Love, you can now do so here.

(Thank you!)

Now, must get on with editing the final two chapters of HH...

Friday, September 22

Hiding Lights Under Bushels

Just had lunch with a friend at the noodle bar.

The waitress comes over with the chip-and-pin machine for my friend to pay for the meal while I put a tip on the tray. My friend says, "Don't worry, I've already put a tip on to the card receipt."

Me: "Oh, have you?"

My friend: "Yep, and besides, today's my treat."

Waitress (to me): "Oh, you're being treated?"

My friend: "Yes, she is. We're celebrating."

Waitress: "What's the occasion?"

Silence. My friend beams at me and puts her card back in her purse.

Me: (mumbling): "I, um... sort of... wrote a book* and it came out this week..."

Waitress: "Wow! That's definitely a cause for celebration, well done!"

*Okay, I know I didn't really write a book, just a novella, but it would be hard to explain that on the spot while you're leaving a restaurant.

You would think I would want to shout my achievement from the rooftops! I feel more able to do it online than in person, though, because when confronted with actually telling someone about it in person today, I completely clammed up and felt really shy. Is that normal?!

Thursday, September 21

Just Another 8,000

I had a slow start to Writing Wednesday yesterday, but managed to pull myself together enough to get three more chapters of HH revised. I now only have two more (about 8,000 words) to do now, so I should definitely get it all done by the end of this weekend, as planned. You can hold me to that!

Did I mention how much I love Sam, the hero of HH? He was gorgeous before, but now, with all his brand new conflict and behaviour alterations... Sigh...

It's funny, too, but I've had this mental picture of Beth, the heroine, in my head ever since I first thought of HH three or four years ago now. She wasn't based on anybody in particular -- just a woman I could see in my mind. But now that Lost has graced our screens, I have realized that Evangeline Lilly (Kate) fits her description perfectly.

On to other things, and after making my regular daily trip over to Nell's blog, I have realized that it would be a good idea for me to provide a blurb for Fall in Love: An Anthology here in case you, kind reader, are thinking of buying it! So here it is:

September Song by Nell Dixon

Erin came to New Bay on her year out from college, keen to experience the lifestyle of a vibrant seaside town famous for its surf and its surfers. Attractive and fun-loving, Erin doesn’t expect to be left with a very expensive spare ticket to the hottest concert in town. Her boss Kelly’s solution is to recruit Dan to take the ticket off Erin’s hands and to escort her to the concert. Ex-champion surfer Dan soon accepts the offer. But why would Erin want to go on an enforced date with the geekiest looking guy in New Bay? And why doesn’t Dan surf?

Autumn Splendor by Rebecca Ruger

What happens when an artless little country miss meets an infamous rake from London? Folklore tells Isabelle Covington that the circumstance of their meeting means this man will be her mate. Christian Noble, the Earl of Somersby, presumes nothing more than a dalliance while visiting in the country. But something funny happened in the little hamlet of Sudbury and the earl finds himself beginning to believe what Isabelle and her legends are telling him... that this must be love.

The Little Shop of Dreams by ME!

Tess Worthington has finally achieved her dream of opening a gift shop in an Oxford shopping centre despite emotional struggles and debts, so when the handsome stranger she’s noticed around the mall asks her out, her happiness seems complete. Property consultant Mack Brady falls hard for Tess the more time they spend together, and after a magical Halloween celebration, he just knows she’s The One. But when the property deal Mack is brokering at the mall turns sour, Tess fears that not only has the man she’s just fallen in love with broken her heart, but he might also have taken her dreams—Little Shop and all.

I'd also like to say a very sincere and heartfelt thank you to everybody who has bought a copy of the anthology. Some of you have already told me what you thought of it, and... well... I'm kind of speechless. Thank you so much.

Tuesday, September 19

It's Out!

The "Fall in Love" Anthology is now available to buy!

At the moment only e-book copies can be purchased, but paperback copies will soon also be available. The choice of format covers HTML, PDF, and Mobipocket, and if you'd like to purchase an e-copy of the anthology, you just need to click here.

I would love to hear what you think of my novella, The Little Shop of Dreams, so please feel free to leave a comment anywhere here on my blog, or you can contact me through my website.

Sunday, September 17

Reader, I Married Him

Another chapter of HH is done, and the changes in this one flowed right from my fingertips. Perhaps the more you edit, the easier it gets. I definitely hope to have this all finished by the end of the coming weekend.

Things are still on track for the release of the "Fall in Love" anthology tomorrow, so check back here around this time tomorrow for link and purchase information. I have that excited, anticipatory feeling I used to have when I was younger on the day before my birthday. :)

Tomorrow also sees the first episode of Reader, I Married Him -- a three-part miniseries on BBC Four all about romantic fiction and more precisely, "the enduring appeal of the love story and the integral part it plays in readers' lives". Some of my fellow members of the Romantic Novelists' Association participated in the making of this miniseries, and apparently tomorrow's premiere episode includes a focus on Mills & Boon. I already have the programme marked for reminder and recording on Sky Plus.

Just finished reading: Warm and Willing by Kate Hoffmann

Wednesday, September 13

Progress and a Postponement

Is postponement the right word? It doesn't feel quite right.

Anyway, it's been a good Writing Wednesday (I even got up at the same time I would if I was going to work!) and I've got two more chapters of HH revised. I know it probably sounds as if I could do more than two in one whole day of writing, but both of these chapters needed large rewrites. I think I probably actually wrote about 2-3,000 brand new words today, as well as chopping and swapping all the other bits. Sounds like a right hatchet job, doesn't it?!

I'm very proud of the two chapters I've done today, and I hope I'm not setting myself up for a fall by doing that. A few times before I have finished a chapter, read it through afterwards and thought "I am not bad at all!", only to read said chapter again a few days later and think it sucks. But the two I did today... I don't know. I really feel like I've used new knowledge to rewrite them and I think I've done a much better job of my conflict and tension-building, too. I hope so.

So, the postponement pertains, unfortunately, to the release of the "Fall in Love" anthology. Moonlit Romance's beloved senior editor, Sheila, has been unwell and the release has now been put back and pencilled in for next Monday, 18th September. This is not concrete, however, but rest assured you can check back here to my blog for the latest update and links once the anthology is out for purchase. Get well soon, Sheila!