Wednesday, May 30

Award Season

This evening the Romantic Novelists' Association will be holding their annual Summer Party in a very lovely library in Westminster, London (see this post for pics from last year's event). One of the main events of the party will be the announcement of the winner of this year's Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award. You may remember my proud announcement a few weeks ago that my novel, Haunted Hearts, is on the shortlist for this prize.

Unfortunately I won't be attending the party; I'm more uncomfortable by the day as we wait for Flump to enter the world, and I'm quite wary of going too far from home in these final days in case something happens. I will be sad to miss the party, the announcement of the winner, and the chance to catch up in person with many of my friends from the RNA and online.

The shortlist of contenders for the award is as follows:
It would, of course, be hugely exciting if Haunted Hearts is declared the winner, but I'm up against some very strong competition! If my book doesn't win, I dearly hope that somebody I "know" from online wins instead -- so my support is behind Phillipa Ashley, Judy Jarvie, and Anna Louise Lucia.

I'll be online first thing tomorrow morning looking for pictures, gossip, and reports from the do!

Monday, May 28

A Couple of Reminders

There are three days left to place bids in Brenda Novak's Diabetes Auctions: most of the lots close this coming Thursday, 31st May. I'm thrilled to say that my Taste of England gift box has received an astounding 26 bids and currently stands at $96 USD! Click here if you'd like to consider bidding on my donation, and I highly recommend that you take a look around at the other items while you're there. Once they're gone, they're gone!

Also, there are still three weeks left to enter the brand new contest that Nell Dixon and I are running to celebrate the recent release of our summery romance duet book, A Taste of Summer. Do you like fudge? Reading? Sunbathing? Then our lovely collection of prizes will be right up your street! Click here for your chance to win.

I've been doing quite a lot of work on my plans for Wisteria Cottage in the last few days, and yesterday I did at least two hours' worth of work and research. I wasn't going to force myself to start writing the first chapter before Flump's arrival, because I thought that a finished plan file and a nice blank "Chapter One" waiting on my laptop would be a nice starting-point once I've established some sort of routine with the baby and feel ready to write again. But I actually feel virtually ready to start writing now, and seeing as I have three weeks to go until my due date (but am full-term today!), I still have some time to fill.

Maybe that word counter will start creeping up some time soon :)

Just finished reading: Driving Him Wild by Julie Cohen

Saturday, May 26

A Countdown to Flump...?

Big Brother is due to start here in the UK next Wednesday, May 30th. They start advertising it ten days before the launch night, and right now there are little countdown-style adverts sprinkled among the commercial breaks on the network channel the show will be broadcast on. See here for yesterday's advert:

Now, it's probably just me being weird, but every time I've seen one of these adverts -- starting from the "ten days" version -- I've had this weird feeling that somehow it's a countdown to Flump's arrival. One of our friends has already bet that the baby will arrive on May 30th (and also that it will be a boy), so they'll be in the money if it turns out to be true.

But will it? Am I just being suckered in and brainwashed by advertising (and how ironic that such a thing should happen as a result of viewing advertising for a show called Big Brother)? If I'm right, will this post get comments like "spooky!" after the event, or will I be wrong and blog again next Thursday to assure you all that Flump is, in fact, still in utero?

I guess we can only wait and see...

Just finished reading: Angels Fall by Nora Roberts

Thursday, May 24

Pucker Up

One of the great online romance sites, eCataRomance, is posting a brand-new smooch excerpt (a kiss scene from a romance novel) every day in May. I'm pleased to say that I am the author of today's smooch!

You can read this exclusive little scene of mine from A Taste of Summer, in which Noah and Carrie kiss for the first time, by clicking here.

Just finished reading: The Marriage Contract by Anna Adams

Wednesday, May 23

Turning the Pages

Not long to go now, as you can see from the Flump's Progress ticker above. My due date was one calendar month last Friday (the 18th) and Flump will be full-term as of this Monday coming (the 28th).

Everything is ready now. Nursery is painted and furniture set up. Flump clothes are washed, folded and put away. Birth pool has been inflated, filled, tried out by me, then emptied and deflated again. Drinks and snacks for labour (as well as choccy biscuits for midwives and birth companions) are sitting in a bag in the kitchen. Birth plan has been finalised and copies printed. All we need now is for the little one him-/herself to arrive -- but not before next Monday!

Recently I've been taking full advantage of "me" time while I still have it. I've been having nice long baths and reading lots of books, because I expect I won't be able to do either of those things for quite a while -- I'll miss them! I'm almost getting through a book a day at the moment, which is doing wonderful things for my TBR shelves :)

What are you reading at the moment?

Just finished reading: House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels

Sunday, May 20

Excerpt from ONE SHORE THING

I just realized that I'd promised to post an excerpt on Friday, yet I completely forgot! I blame Flump hormones.

So here's an excerpt from "One Shore Thing", the novella of mine that comprises one half of A Taste of Summer. You can also read an excerpt from Nell's novella, "Making Waves", over on her website. I've also put up a permanent link to the buy the book over there to the right, on my sidebar.


At closing time Carrie went out to the back-room and collected the shopping bags she’d acquired at lunchtime. It was about time Carolyn-Ann Vaughan disappeared altogether and that required a few changes, the means for which were inside those bags. Noah set the alarm and locked the door, and they walked down Cove Street together toward the soft whisper of the surf.

“How did you find your first day? Think you’ll stay?”

Carrie looked up at Noah’s smiling face. As they exited the cobbled lane on to the main road sunlight struck them. It burnished Noah’s dark blond hair, making some strands appear lighter than others.

“I loved it and I’d definitely like to stay. That’s if you’ll have me, of course.”

He bumped his upper arm against her shoulder. “Yeah, I think you’ll do.”

She laughed and for a few moments they walked along to the simple soundtrack of the surf washing the sand below them and the cries of the seagulls that soared overhead. A strand of hair loosened from Carrie’s ponytail and drifted across her nose.

“Do you, uh, have any plans for dinner?” Noah’s hands were buried in the pockets of his cargo trousers and he gazed studiously at the sea as if to emphasize the breeziness of his question.

“Not particularly. The last couple of days I’ve just thrown together a salad.”

“Salad? That’s not a proper dinner! Tell you what, because you did such a fabulous job today, I’ll treat you to fish and chips. Atlantic Fresh, the bar down the promenade, only uses fish that has been caught that day and you cannot beat the taste. It’s nothing like what you would have had in London, believe me.”

She looked up at him and smiled. “All right, you’re on. That sounds miles better than lettuce and tomato. But I have to be somewhere in—” she glanced at her watch “—ten minutes and then I have a couple of things to do at home. Shall I meet you in Atlantic Fresh at, say, half-past seven?”

Noah nodded. “Perfect. See you then, Carrie.”

She waved as he left the promenade to walk up the hill.

In another five minutes’ walk along the seafront, Carrie reached her destination: Tresses on the Breeze hair salon. The door was open and delicious smells of coconutty cleanliness wafted out on to the pavement.

She gave her name at the desk and barely had time to open a magazine before someone sat down next to her.

“It’s Carrie, isn’t it?” A tanned young woman held out a hand, her wrist ringed with beaded bracelets.

A cautious jolt shot through Carrie. “Um, yes.” She shook the woman’s hand.

“I’m Vanya, your stylist. What can I do for you today?” She indicated that Carrie take her hair out of its ponytail.

Relief sighed through Carrie when she realized that she hadn’t been recognized. She released her hair and turned away slightly so Vanya could look at it. “Actually, I’m looking to make quite a change…”

Just finished reading: What's Cooking? by Sherryl Woods

Friday, May 18

A Taste of Summer: AVAILABLE NOW!

A Taste of Summer is now available to order from the Moonlit Romance website -- yay! Here's the back-cover blurb to whet your appetite:

A Taste of Summer: A Moonlit Romance Beach Duet
featuring "Making Waves" by Nell Dixon and "One Shore Thing" by Jessica Raymond

Making Waves
by Nell Dixon

Cassidy Jones needs a holiday and her friend, Tammy’s cottage in New Bay sounds perfect. The beach could heal the bruises from losing her job and her fiancĂ©. Josh Parker is also looking forward to a much needed break after eighteen months of non-stop work. His friend Tammy’s cottage would be just right for some time alone. Or would it...?

One Shore Thing by Jessica Raymond

Desperate to escape London, Carrie Vaughan heads for the Cornish coastal town of New Bay. Noah Trevanion needs an assistant in his deli shop. He is delighted when Carrie walks through the door. Soon, their relationship becomes something special. But even in New Bay, where the sun shines and the sea whispers, could Carrie's past catch up with her?

You can order your own paperback copy for $8.81 (approx. £4.50) or download it as an e-book in either HTML, PDF, or Mobipocket versions for $2.00 (approx. £1.00). Click here to buy!

I'm also pleased to announce that my new contest begins today.

You could win:
  • A paperback copy of A Taste of Summer, signed by myself and Nell
  • A paperback copy of Fall in Love: An Anthology, signed by Nell
  • Inflatable pink beach ball (suitable for ages 1+) and a frisbee for beach fun
  • SPF30 green tea sunscreen from Alba Organics
  • 400g Cornish cream fudge assortment box (coffee, chocolate, vanilla, rum & raisin) from The Buttermilk Fudge Shop in Padstow, Cornwall
  • Assorted Jessica Raymond goodies, including jotter pad, pens, post-it notes, fridge magnets and bookmarks
  • Assorted Nell Dixon goodies, including pens, cards, fridge magnets etc.
To be in with a chance of winning all these great prizes, just answer this easy question:

What is the name of the fish-and-chip shop where Carrie and Noah are due to meet for dinner? (click here for a big hint)

Email your answer along with your name, mailing address and email address to to enter the prize pool. You can also gain an extra entry by going to Nell's website and answering her question!

Contest ends 18 June 2007 and worldwide entries are welcome. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 16

Worst Night's Sleep... Ever.

  • Dog barked for an hour.
  • I had to make two bathroom visits.
  • Hips went dead every twenty minutes because of sleeping on my side.
  • Turning on to other side with approximate 5-and-a-half pound baby inside = bump ache.
  • Pelvis clunks disconcertingly if movements too sudden.
  • One hour of Braxton-Hicks contractions.
  • Loud bird outside started dawn chorus at 4:10 a.m.
Tonight I'm going to try sleeping on the sofa. Apparently that can sometimes make these last few weeks a little easier. At least then I don't have to wake up The Bloke by getting up to go to the bathroom and if I have no luck sleeping I can switch on the TV, work on my laptop, or turn on a light and read.

On the up-side, the release of A Taste of Summer is now only two days away! On Friday I'll post an excerpt from my novella, "One Shore Thing", and links to buy the book. I'll also be announcing news of an exciting contest that I'll be running in collaboration with my fellow author Nell Dixon, so make sure you check back for that.

I also got some good work done on my plans for Wisteria Cottage yesterday. I may even be ready to start writing the first chapter soon, which will be a really good distraction for me. I have my hero and heroine models in mind now. Regular readers of my blog may not be surprised by my hero choice, but what can I say? I had no choice. He MADE me pick him.

Just finished reading: The Carriage House by Carla Neggers

Saturday, May 12

Eight Things About Me

I've been tagged by Lis to do the "Eight Things About Me" list. Here are the rules:

  1. Each player starts with eight random facts or habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their eight things with a copy of these rules.
  3. At the end of your blog you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  4. Don't forget to leave them a note saying they've been tagged.
Hmm, not sure I'll be able to tag eight other bloggers, as most people seem to have done this list already! And I make no excuses for the fact that my "Eight Things..." list is baby-focused. I can't think of much else at the moment.

  1. As I write this, Flump has a case of the hiccups. He/she gets them at least twice a day. It's not particularly uncomfortable, just a bit weird -- like having an extra little heartbeat that you can feel in the bottom of your stomach.
  2. I have three separate checklists of "Things I Need For Labour/Birth". One is a list of things for the homebirth (e.g. towels, birth-pool), one is a list of things for the hospital bag in case we need to transfer in (e.g. dressing gown, babygros for Flump), and the other is a "cross-over" list of things that will be in use for the homebirth but which will need to be packed into the hospital bag if we transfer (e.g. my aromatherapy stuff and facial spray).
  3. I must have drunk enough milk to fill Lake Windermere during this pregnancy.
  4. We don't know whether Flump will be a boy or a girl, but we have names chosen and ready for both. It's weird to think that one of those choices will become so familiar to us, and yet now we don't even know who that little person is...
  5. Flump's already head-down, but isn't engaged yet. Apparently this tends to happen about two weeks before labour in first-time mothers (but there are no guarantees).
  6. I try to make a little time each day, or every other day at least, to listen to my CD of Relaxing Birth Music while lying down with my eyes closed. There is one track in the middle that always makes me tearful because whenever it starts I picture us holding Flump and saying hello to him/her.
  7. I've never loved pillows and cushions as much as I have while being pregnant.
  8. For a long, long time I only had two ambitions for life -- to be published and to have a family. I've already accomplished one, and in just a few weeks' time I will have achieved the second. Not bad for twenty-six years of age ;)
I've taken a quick skip around the blogs to try and find some people who haven't done this list yet, so I hereby tag: Liz, Sue, and Phillipa (when she's back from her hols).

Just finished reading: The Daddy's Promise by Shirley Jump

Wednesday, May 9

A Taste of Summer

An exciting post today -- the cover for my next book, A Taste of Summer, has been released!

Isn't it lovely? The book features two summery novellas, one by me and one by my (ahem, award-winning) critique partner and Moonlit Romance labelmate Nell Dixon. Following is a little taster on each of our stories; mine is called "One Shore Thing" and Nell's is called "Making Waves".

"One Shore Thing" by Jessica Raymond

Desperate to escape the seemingly never-ending repercussions of her failed marriage, Carrie Vaughan abandons London for the Cornish coastal town of New Bay. She finds a small apartment with sea views and the perfect job as a delicatessen assistant and life, for the first time in a while, begins to look rosy again.

Noah Trevanion, fourth-generation Cornishman, has only ever worked in one place: Cove Street Deli. He's also been the sole employee since his parents left him the business. Having finally decided to get an assistant, he is delighted when it is Carrie who walks through the door, job advertisement in hand.

The two quickly become friends as Noah teaches Carrie the arts of bread-baking, ham-slicing, and cheese-cutting, and soon it is clear that their relationship could easily be something more. Together it seems they are the perfect fit, able to help each other realize a future filled with laughter and happiness. But even in placid, picturesque New Bay, where the sun shines and the sea whispers, could it be that Carrie's past is about to catch up with her...?

"Making Waves" by Nell Dixon

Cassidy Jones needs a holiday and the free loan of her friend Tammy’s cottage in the small surf town of New Bay sounds perfect. Battered and bruised from losing her job and her fiancĂ©, Cassidy’s looking forward to some time alone to regroup and recover her confidence.

Josh Parker is also looking forward to a much-needed break. Since he set up his online consultancy business eighteen months earlier he hasn’t taken a holiday. His friend Tammy’s cottage will be an ideal venue for much needed R-and-R.

The fly in the suncream? Tammy forgot to tell Cassidy and Josh they would have to share.

The book is due to be released next Friday, May 18th, and I'll post up links to purchase along with news of an exciting celebratory contest soon.

Just finished reading: Sanctuary by Nora Roberts

Thursday, May 3

It's Getting Real...

...this baby business. I'm 33 and a half weeks pregnant now. Babies are classified as being "term" (on time) any time from 37 to 42 weeks, which means Flump could be here in just three and a half weeks' time. (Of course, he/she could arrive before then, but hopefully won't.)

I've written out my birth plan and gone through it with my birth companions (The Bloke and my sister) and also with my midwife, who says it's well thought-out and a very good care plan. My eco-friendly birth pool has also arrived, though we've yet to do the test-run of inflating it, filling it, and emptying it again.

Birth pool, you say? Yep. After a lot of thinking, talking, researching, and reading, we've opted to have a home birth. Nobody in their right mind is a fan of hospitals, let's be honest, but I've had panic attacks in the past for various reasons and being stuck in hospital is one thing I really don't fancy. Funnily enough, the more information I read about home births, including stories and accounts of women who've been there and got the T-shirt, the calmer I began to feel about impending labour; I even started to feel a little excited about it all. Wouldn't it be nicer to go through it all in your own surroundings, with your own things, and be tucked up in your own bed with a cup of tea, a slice of toast, and your baby just a couple of hours afterwards?

So that's the plan. And it means Flump really can't arrive until three and a half weeks from now, because home births are not allowed to take place outside of the 37-42 week period. So stay in there for now, little one. (And don't hurt Mummy too much when you do decide to come out...)

In Diabetes Auction news, my "Taste of England" gift basket has already had 21 bids and currently stands at $68 USD! Click here if you're interested in making a bid, and take a look around at the other fabulous items while you're there.

Tuesday, May 1

Go Bid!

Brenda Novak's stupendous auction in aid of diabetes research starts TODAY!

My gift basket is now live and ready to be bid on -- click here to see it. Be sure to take a good browse around all the other wonderful lots while you're there. I'm about to do the very same thing myself!