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!

Monday, September 11

T minus 5 days

It's come around so quickly -- the "Fall in Love" anthology, which contains my winning novella, The Little Shop of Dreams, is released this coming Friday, September 15th! Hurrah! On the day itself I will post details on how you can buy a copy and provide links.

At the moment I am still in the middle of revising Haunted Hearts. Somehow life keeps getting in the way. But I would really love to get it all done by the end of this weekend, next at the latest. I am thinking of doing NaNoWriMo this year for my next idea, and the intention is that all of your planning is done by November 1st, at which point you start writing, so I would have a month and a half to get all my preparation done. Seems like a lot but all I have to go on so far is an opening scene and that's it! However, we all know how good I am at sticking to my plans, so maybe I'll start writing before November... :)

I am feeling very positive about where to target my writing now. In a previous post I talked about how I wasn't sure of the line I should be targeting, but thanks to a Q&A last week on, I am now very sure! When I first started seriously writing romances I always had the intention of going for Silhouette Sensation, known in the US as Silhouette Intimate Moments (SIM). A couple of months ago it was announced that SIM would be transforming into a new imprint called Silhouette Romantic Suspense (SRS), and I began to doubt that the new SRS line would be right for my ideas. But following the Q&A with Patience Smith, Associate Senior Editor, I am fairly certain that this is the line I should be targetting, since my new ideas fit it perfectly, and what's more, Patience says -- and I quote -- "we are actively looking for new blood to mesh with the established authors".

If you are interested in the new SRS line, you can read full guidelines here and see the complete transcript of Patience's Q&A here.

Just finished reading: Stitches in Time by Barbara Michaels

Sunday, September 3

What Kind of Writer am I?

What kind of writer are you?

You're a Plot writer!
Take this quiz!

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In other news, this afternoon I broke our lawnmower. I was getting increasingly annoyed with the height adjuster that would *not* stay where I wanted it (high) but kept dropping down to the last notch (lowest of the low). I haven't mowed the lawn for a while, since I've been letting it grow after all the deadeningly hot sun, so it was way too long to mow closely. And because the mower kept dropping to the lowest height, the blade was closer to the ground than the wheels, so the lazy little feature that makes the mower roll along by itself when you depress the handle didn't work. I was pushing and shoving manual-style and trying not to macerate the grass down to its roots, and so intent was I on getting the bloody thing to move that I did not notice the lead, and -- yes -- I mowed over it and sliced it in two. I'm sure there used to be an urban legend about somebody who electrocuted themselves by doing this, but thankfully it didn't happen, and thankfully we now have an extremely good reason to buy a new mower.
Just finished reading: Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak by Julie Cohen

Saturday, September 2


I got back on to revising HH today, after spending most of the morning sorting out all my accounts and filing. (Score.) Still, I'm now pretty much halfway through my revisions, and I don't think the second half of the book will need as much revamping as the first part, apart from the black moment at the end, which now has to change.

I now understand why people say editing is HARD. I do not think it is my favourite part of the writing process. It can be quite difficult to remember whether I've added or deleted something another character should know, and later comments on, and there's a part of me that worries about whether the whole thing might now sound really disjointed and pasted together.


I forgot to mention in my previous post about the Moonlit Authors Blog that there is also a Moonlit Romance Readers' Group. Here we discuss lots of different things, chat, and have frequent mini-contests! At the moment there is a membership contest running where you could win a free download of any Moonlit novel, simply for joining the loop. Why not join us? It could be you!

Just finished reading: Rage by Jonathan Kellerman