Wednesday, May 30, 2012

June Releases

Lesley Cookman MURDER BY MAGIC
Murder by Magic
Accent Press
The 10th in the Libby Sarjeant series sees Libby and Fran helping a local vicar solve the mystery of a murdered flower lady.

Marie Maxwell RUBY

Corvus Atlantic
The Perfume Garden combines the gripping storytelling of Kate Morton with the evocative settings of Victoria Hislop to tell this sumptuous story of lost love and family secrets set between modern day Valencia and the Spanish Civil War. High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco's forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled, the garden, laden with orange blossom, grown wild. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed in her mother's will, she has left her job as London's leading perfumier to restore this dilapidated villa to its former glory. It is the perfect retreat: a wilderness redolent with strange and exotic scents, heavy with the colours and sounds of a foreign time. But for her grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed here during Spain's devastating civil war, Emma's new home evokes terrible memories. As the house begins to give up its secrets, Emma is drawn deeper into Freya's story: one of crushed idealism, lost love, and families ripped apart by war. She soon realises it is one thing letting go of the past, but another when it won't let go of you.

Sapphire Star Publishing
Paperback £9.87
Kindle £2.52
Is going back Robyn’s only way forward?

American-born Robyn Matthers is going home. With her dad in hospital, his roadhouse in ruins and the ice hockey team slipping down the league, she needs to take charge. But does she have the strength to do it?

Cole Ryan is a hockey player on a personal mission. He’s tall, dark, hot and Robyn’s noticed! But can she trust her feelings - or his? And what will Cole do when he finds out the truth about her?

With an ill father, a trailer trash step-mom and ex-boyfriend Brad desperate for another chance, does Robyn have time to contemplate a relationship? Can she start again? Does she really want to? And can two people really fall in love in three days?

Mills & Boon
1st June 2012
Bound in chains, enslaved barbarian Sir William Bradfer stands proud in the Constantinople slave market. As a warrior, he's trained in the art of survival. Lady-in-waiting Anna of Heraklea is betrothed to be married--against her will. Catching sight of the magnificent William, she finds a rebellious half-plan forming in her mind. Anna can offer this captured knight freedom in return for his hand in marriage!

Chrissie Loveday DARE TO LOVE
Linford Romance
In 1930 when Nellie marries James the owner of a pottery factory, her future looks wonderful. Moving into a different social class bring issues. She is now mistress of the house where she was a servant. She can now help her family financially but they have their own problems and Nellie can’t resist interfering. (The second book in the Vale family series)

June 4, 2012

The last thing Frankie expects to find lurking in a pile of innocent-looking birthday cards is a letter from her estranged husband—the man who broke her heart and threw away their marriage for a night of drunken infidelity. And the last thing she needs is to revisit those feelings of hurt and betrayal brought back by his words of apology and regret. After everything she’s been through, is it too much to ask to be left alone to try and build a new, independent life for herself?

Apparently it is. As letter after letter falls on her doormat, and the beautiful, eloquent words contained therein slip through her tightly constructed defenses, Frankie becomes a jumble of mixed emotions and desperate desire. Rage, sorrow, revenge and lust mix to make an explosive cocktail when Frankie and Mark find themselves face-to-face for the first time since the split.

Robert Hale Ltd
31st May 2012
hard back
Rosemary has spent much of her childhood at Bengairney Farm and regards the Carafords as her dearest friends, but her mother looks down on them as tenant farmers. She extracts a promise from Sam Caraford, calculated to keep them apart. Rosemary despises her mother’s choice of gentlemen friends and yearns for Sam's love.

The Wild Rose Press
Paperback $14.99
Ebook  $5.99
 29 June 2012
Georgina Blake flees a refined life in eighteenth century England to avoid a scandal. Determined to begin a new life, she voyages to the Cape of Good Hope, only to find death and destruction await, endangering those she holds dear.Though she is intrigued by stranger, Anton Villion, trader, adventurer and maverick, his arrival threatens her precarious security. Anton, himself privy to a painful secret, shadowed by heartbreak and seeking peace, is drawn to Georgina despite his hurt and mistrust, and his reservations about her history. In time, their growing love is thwarted by the past – and Louisa Somerville, hell bent on diverting Anton’s attentions. Fate has thrown them together but can Anton and Georgina salvage their bond before destiny tears them apart? Together, can they find the strength and courage to embark on a journey to redemption and everlasting love?
Knox Robinson Publishing Ltd
June 2012
£12.99 paperback
£5.99 Kindle
Halifax, 1876. On the death of her mother and sister, Isabelle Gibson is left to fend for herself and her brother in a privately-run workhouse. After the matron's son attempts to rape her, Isabelle decides to escape him and a life of drudgery by agreeing to marry a moorland farmer she has never met. But this man, Farrell, is a drunkard and a bully in constant feud with his landlord, Ethan Harrington. When Farrell bungles a robbery and deserts her, Isabelle and Ethan are thrown together as she struggles to save the farm. Both are married and must hide their growing love. But despite the secrecy, Isabelle draws strength from Ethan as faces from the past return to haunt her and a tragedy is set to strike that will change all of their lives forever.

Margaret Blake. TILLY'S TRIALS
Whiskey Creek Press
Price - not yet known
June 2012

Tilly thinks life will be good now she has part-inherited her mother's chain of tea shops. However her dad has other ideas. 
He has put Tilly's ex-husband in charge. Talk about a storm in a tea-cup!

Vanessa Devereaux (one of the featured authors) KEYBOARDS AND KINK Anthology
Evernight Publishing
June 8th, 2012

A night at home on the computer doesn’t have to be boring…
Feel like chatting? Or maybe doing something more daring? The stranger reaching out across cyberspace could be a creepy pervert, but what if he wasn’t? What if he’s a vampire, the sexy boy next door, or even your gorgeous boss? Thirteen tales explore all the delicious possibilities when online relationships lead to sexy encounters away from the keyboard.

Vanessa Devereaux THE EX LOVER (Book One of the Just For Your Pleasure trilogy - Set in Regency England)
Cobblestone Press
June 15th, 2012
A fever has left Gillian’s husband, William, impotent. With his brother about to wed they know they must produce an heir or lose the roof over their heads. Can they find the right man to father a child? William has three in mind, starting with Andrew, Gillian’s ex-lover.

Rena George. Danger at Mellin Cove
Linford Romance Library – Large Print
May 2012
'In Cornwall, a dangerous world of passions and intrigue awaits Hedra St Neot. She agrees to help her brother, Kit, to run his Cornish inheritance: a wild and beautiful estate at Mellin Cove. But will she stay to help handsome fisherman, Jem Pentreath, protect the local community from her rogue uncle's band of cut-throat smugglers? Or will she finally agree to marry Sir Edward Tremaine, the rich mine owner who is besotted with her?'

Short Stories

People's Friend Holiday Special
June 2012
The war's over and everyone expects Rose to go back to her old job and life. But she has other plans...
Linford Romance Library - Large Print
1st June 2012
Laura Sinclair's return to Orkney turns out to be far more complicated than she had expected. She's confronted with family secrets and the one person she wanted to avoid - her former love, Matt.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Interview with June Davies

It is a pleasure to welcome June Davies to the blog. June tells me she was born in an old house overlooking the sea on the Lancashire coast, and her love of the sea has continued through life. 

I’ve always been within walking distance of the seashore and it finds its way into many of my stories. Sometimes, as in THE DOG STAR, the sea is a powerful force driving for the inhabitants of 19th Century Monks Quay, while in other tales like THE FAMILY BY THE SHORE – which was the first of my backlist to go up on Kindle - it has a gentler presence, yet still influences the characters and their lives.

Would you say you always wanted to be a writer, or did it happen by chance?

I’ve always loved reading and books, and longed to be a writer! I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling away at some story or other, however the first one I actually recall writing was about a dog called Patch, and I would’ve been about five or six. While still at school, I secretly started submitting stories to magazines – and the avalanche of rejection slips began in earnest! During my later teens, I submitted a story that although not suitable, the editor saw some promise in my writing, encouraged me to send in more stories and set me on my way.

Hard work is essential, but sheer good fortune plays a huge part too. In those early days I mostly wrote stories for children, and had great fun painting and drawing illustrations to accompany them. I’d compile puzzles, quizzes and crosswords for younger readers, too. There were some mysteries, Roaring Twenties’ American gangster yarns and lots of westerns – published under a suitably rugged pen-name! -- articles about Lancashire and Yorkshire history, a little poetry and lots of short stories. I still find short stories terribly difficult to do, longer tales seem much easier to write and I think I’m better at them.

You’ve also had great success with Pocket Novels, tell us about the particular genre you favour. 

My earliest People’s Friend Pocket Novels were contemporary family sagas, and while I continue to write these, I do seem to favour historical romantic suspense. In common with the contemporary tales, however, these too are firmly rooted within families of characters, with other stuff going on alongside a developing romance in times long past.

History has intrigued me since schooldays, and when as an exceedingly mature student I unexpectedly had the opportunity to go to university and read History, it was like being given a passport to travel through time! I enjoyed every moment, not least the research and piecing together fragments of evidence to gain insight into past lives and events. There’s a real magic to it! Who walked or lived in this place? What stories could this candlestick or coin tell? Whether reading or writing, I love slipping back through the centuries and being part of it all for a while! Writers are always asked where they find their ideas.

Would you like to share with us what inspired you to write your latest piece, which I believe is a serial for The People’s Friend? Not as easy to write as they appear. 

SECRETS FROM THE PAST is a contemporary story about the Caldecotts and their old family home, Thurlestone Keep, in the Dales. The sparks behind the tale were a wild, windswept part of Yorkshire, a medieval house and an Ancient Egyptian artefact discovered in the 1920s.

Do you have an itch to write something entirely different?

Perhaps not entirely different, but certainly there are genres I’d very much enjoy revisiting, and one or two others I’ve so far only touched upon that it would be sheer joy to delve into and explore in a rather different way. I’d like to write another traditional Western. More children’s stories for readers 8ish and younger, and read-aloud stories for little ones. As for something different – Timeslip! The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier was my first taste of the genre, Alison Uttley’s A Traveller in Time is wonderful, and the novels of Susanna Kearsley . . . Wow, imagine being able to weave tales like those!

How did you first hear about the RNA, and has it benefitted your career? 

From the 1976 Radio 4 series The Small Intricate Life of Gerald C. Potter, written by Basil Boothroyd and staring Ian Carmichael and Charlotte Mitchell. Gerald is a mystery writer rattling away at his typewriter and struggling to get words onto paper, while his wife Diana ‘. . . belongs to the Romantic Novelist’s Association and writes hugely successful novels under the name of Magnolia Badminton.’ I didn’t imagine I’d be eligible for membership, so it wasn’t until donkeys’ years later when my editor set me straight that I lost no time filling out the forms and applying for full membership of the RNA!

Writing is a solitary occupation and from the outset, the RNA has been an invaluable source of companionship, support, advice, information – and fun! June Francis, then organiser of the North West Chapter, went out of her way to make me feel welcome. We arranged a meeting to discuss my current work and ambitions, and June took time and care to listen and help me benefit from her wealth of experience in writing and publishing.

Where’s the craziest place you ever sat down to write?
I haven’t been there yet! However, next week I’m setting off on my very first trip to Camp NaNoWriMo. ) I imagine the cabin to be somewhere like Jellystone Park. (Barney Bear and the original Yogi Bear and Boo Boo cartoons were great favourites as a child). I picture it being in the heart of the woods, surrounded by pines, overlooking a shimmering lake, blissfully quiet with the only sounds the song of birds, chirrup of crickets, a cooling breeze whispering through trees . . . and the scratch-scratch of my pen scribbling down 50,000 words. I can’t wait to get there. Hope I see a bear!

Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us today June, showing us a different aspect to the writing business. We wish you continuing success in the years to come. 
Best wishes, Freda 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interview with bestselling author Lesley Pearse

I’m delighted to welcome bestselling author Lesley Pearse to the Blog today. Lesley is one of the UK's best-loved novelists with fans across the globe and sales of over 7 million copies of her books to date. And a loyal member of the RNA. Please do tell us a little of your journey as a writer. Would you say it was an easy one?

My journey as a writer was a long and tortuous one. I wrote 3 books before 'Georgia', all of which were huge tomes, and pretty dire. I came up with the idea for Georgia after being told by Darley Anderson, now my agent, that I could write but the one he'd seen was rubbish and I was to go home and write about something I knew.
My second husband was in a rock band during the 60's, so I knew about struggling musicians, so this seemed to be a perfect choice of subject. I finished it in 6 months but it was 6 years, after many rejections and re-writes before it was finally accepted for publication. I was 35 when I first began writing, 48 when finally published, thought there were lots of short stories during that long period.

You are a hugely successful author yet your stories do not fit into an exact genre as they include traditional sagas, historical, contemporary and crime. What elements would you say you bring to each which makes them so popular? 

It is a fact that my books do not fit an exact genre. But whether saga's, historical, contemporary or crime they do tend to have a common link in that my heroines have troubled or difficult childhoods. That is maybe what appeals to my readers, or perhaps it’s just that I take them on an exciting and sometimes dangerous journey, to arrive at a safe haven at the end.

As a fan of your books one of my favourites is TRUST ME where you write about child migrants sent to Australia without their parents’ knowledge. Damaged childhoods does seem to be a theme close to your heart, why is that?

Yes, damaged childhoods are close to my heart because I had one. I know how it feels to be sad, unloved, a bit of a reject. I got over it and if I can help a few people to get over theirs too, then that makes me happy

Tell us something of your daily routine and writing schedule. Do you have an office where you hideaway to write, or can you write anywhere? 

These days I find I can only write at my desk in my office, with silence and no one but my dogs around. But I started out at the dining room table with the children underneath it playing with dolls and Lego. Dogs are good writing companions, they don't ask when you are going to make the tea, iron a shirt, or look over your shoulder. I walk them first in the morning and then sit down to write.

Sunny days I work in the garden, but I always write best in the evenings, often until the early hours. Would you say writing gets easier with success, or more difficult? The craft of writing becomes easier with practice, but success does have its own problems, namely that I am always worried my readers won't like the next one. I live in fear of people saying 'I used to like her books but she's gone off the boil.'

I know you’ve suffered rejections yourself in your early years, as do we all. What tips would you give an aspiring writer on dealing with these?

When I got rejected, and I did hundreds of times, I would throw the letter across the room in anger, then pick it up later and look for shreds of hope in it. As in 'This is rubbish but you can write'. But I was always stoic about them, as soon as the m/s had gone to a new publisher I could indulge in happy day dreams of a good outcome. I lived on those dreams for so long, I became a master.

Tell us how you relax? What interests do you have other than writing? 

I am not terribly good at relaxing. My passion is gardening, and it goes well with writing. I like DIY, sewing, reading and walking my dogs in the woods gives me time to think. I also like throwing parties, and that's about the only time I cook these days.

When you start on a new novel which comes first: plot, place or character?

It can be any way round. A place often gives me the idea for a plot. A plot suggests a type of character. I don't think I've ever thought of the main character first. One of the reasons I love doing historical books is that you have a readymade framework in which to put characters and find a plot.

Your latest book: The Promise, sounds like another must read. What inspired you to write it?

I was inspired to write THE PROMISE purely because I loved Belle so much I felt unable to let her go. Her time frame fitted in very well with WW1 and as I love writing about war, and men in uniform this was a bonus! But Belle herself was the inspiration.

On the outbreak of war, Belle Reilly's husband Jimmy enlists and heads for the deadly trenches of northern France. But Belle knows she cannot stand idly by when so many are sacrificing their lives. 

Volunteering to help battlefield wounded, Belle is posted to France as a Red Cross ambulance driver. There, a tragic accident brings her face to face with Etienne - a man from her past she's never quite forgotten. 

Torn between forbidden passion, loyalty and love, Belle is caught in an impossible situation. Will she succumb to the dark forces of this most brutal of wars? Or will fate intervene and finally lead her to lasting happiness?  

Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us today Lesley, as I know that you are a very busy lady. I’m sure our readers will be inspired to hear of your struggles and how you never gave up. We wish you continuing success in the years to come. 
Best wishes, 
You can find out more by visiting Lesley’s website.
Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Interview with Bestselling author Carole Matthews

I’m delighted to welcome Carole Matthews to the blog today. Carole is a bestselling author of hugely successful romantic comedy novels. As well as appearing on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestseller lists, Carole is published in 31 different countries and has sold over 3.5 million books. Previously unlucky in love, she now lives happily ever after with her partner, Lovely Kev, in a minimalist home with no ornaments or curtains. She likes to drink champagne, eat chocolate and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter. 

Carole, your latest book is SUMMER DAYDREAMS, tell us about the hero and heroine and how you set about devising them.

The story is about Nell McNamara, a lovely women who works in a chip shop but has the dream of doing something more with her life. Encouraged by those she works with, she sets out to become a handbag designer but has no idea of the difficulties she’ll encounter in pursuit of her dreams. Not least juggling a business, a small child and a relationship whose dynamics are rapidly shifting.

Years ago, while I was on Facebook, a status picture popped up that was Barbara Cartland. I assumed it must be another romance writer, so I clicked on it. I found, Helen Rochfort, designer and purveyor of magnificent handbags. I loved her handbags and bought one. She subsequently bought my books and loved them. We became firm friends. She designed a promotional handbag for THE CHOCOLATE LOVER’S CLUB. Then, over a long lunch - I think wine was involved - Helen told me the story of how she became a handbag designer. It was a fascinating tale and, there and then, we agreed that it should be a book. All I had to do was write it!

It’s the first time I’ve worked this way and the story now is largely fictionalised but all of it has a grain of truth in Helen’s story. She’s an amazing woman and we’ve had a lot of fun doing this. She’s gone from nothing to having her handbags in stores all over the world. An incredible achievement. It’s very hard for working mums and I think a lot of women will empathise with her journey.

I love the wit and humour in your books which seems to come naturally to you. Can you offer any tips on this skill to aspiring writers?

You know, I don’t think you can learn to be funny. You either are or you’re not. I’ve tried to write very straight romance, crime stories and gory vampire tales, but I just can’t knock the humour out of them. I was born near Liverpool and I just think it’s something in my genes. I always manage to find humour in blackness. The only thing I find with my books is that if I over-edit them, I knock the life out of them. I’d rather them be more raw, written from the heart and I think that’s what keeps them funny and pacy.

I’m sure that must be right. I like the fact that you seem to wear the badge of chick lit with pride but you’ve written many other kinds of material. Can you tell us about some of these? 

I’ve done radio plays, television scripts, film scripts, short stories, travel articles. But the majority have all been firmly based in chicklit. That’s probably why my scripts have never made it to television - they’re obsessed with crime drama! I adore chicklit and the badge has certainly never harmed my sales. My readers love it. I love writing it. It’s only the sneering media that constantly try to put it down. They love to do ‘romance is dead’ features when it’s a slow news day!

You tend to set your books in places you’ve visited. Is travel and adventure an important part of the inspiration process? 

Yes, definitely. Doing two books a year, I need a lot of material to write about. Travel and meeting all kinds of people in many different cultures really helps. Plus I find that if you visit the country you’re writing about then it invariably throws up plot lines that you hadn’t even envisaged. We’re recently come back from a research trip to Lapland for my Christmas 2013 novel where the temperature was minus 36. Even with a vivid imagination, I couldn’t begin to know how that would feel!

I’m shivering just thinking about it. And this picture of you and Kev in Peru looks much warmer. Successful writers always seem to be both prolific and businesslike. What is your daily routine and how do you manage to fit everything in? 

I think you have to be disciplined and hard-working to get on in any business, not just writing. My days follow a fairly strict routine. 8-9 I answer my emails from fans of my books; breakfast 9-10 when we usually try to walk to get a newspaper; then I write until 1 when I have lunch and read said newspaper for story ideas. Write again from 2-6. Quite often I have a couple of insomniac shifts where I write during the night too. But I must feel ahead of the game as I’m sleeping really well at the moment!

With doing two books a year, it’s a constant turnover and I can only do that as my partner, Lovely Kev, runs the office. He does all the accounts, website stuff and general admin - all of which I hate. I did enough years of that as a secretary to feel that I can leave it alone. Like everyone else, I think, we’re always trying to cram a quart into a pint pot, but I try not to work too late in the evening and have most weekends off. So we don’t have too bad a balance.

Where would you most like to escape to write?

I would love to have a beachside retreat where I could look out over the ocean and generally waft about in the style that writers in the movies do. But the reality of it is that I need to have a brick wall in front of me to focus on my writing. If I had a view, I’d never get anything done. Plus I don’t actually have the money for a beachside retreat, which is a constant source of disappointment for me.

Can you reveal anything of your work in progress to wet our appetites for more fun?

I’m now going to be doing a summer and a Christmas book each year. Barely will SUMMER DAYDREAMS be out when my next paperback comes out in October called WITH LOVE AT CHRISTMAS. It’s such a lovely story of a family Christmas and revisits the Joyce family who featured in THAT LOVING FEELING. It’s not a sequel, we just catch up with the Joyces a couple of years later. It’s great fun, but a bit of a tearjerker too.

I know you love chocolate as you’ve written about it in THE CHOCOLATE LOVERS’ CLUB but you’re also an expert on cupcakes. Can we hope for a book on this subject? And would you care to share a favourite recipe with us?

I’d love to do a book that featured cupcakes. I’d actually like to write a recipe book too. I really enjoy baking in general, but cupcakes are so much fun. They rarely go wrong and you can make them look spectacular with a few easy techniques. I foist them on to everyone who comes through my door.

This is my absolutely foolproof recipes for plain vanilla sponge cupcakes. Follow this and you can’t go wrong.

I always use Lakeland plain white cupcake cases as they are simply the best and hold their shape really well. You never get a problem with them peeling away from the cake as you can with cheaper ones. I always use Lurpak butter as it doesn’t make the cakes greasy or heavy, they come out lovely and light. For vanilla extract I use the Kirkland brand, which I also think is available from Lakeland, as it has a lovely flavour. If you can get hold of fresh farm eggs then use those too. The quality of the ingredients really does make a difference to the taste. Always use the ingredients at room temperature too as it makes a huge difference to how the cakes cook. Low, slow cooking always produces even results too.

225g self-raising flour, sieved
225g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter - preferably Lurpak
2 tsp vanilla extract - preferably Kirkland
4 medium eggs

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat the eggs together with the vanilla extract. Add the eggs and vanilla mix, a little bit at a time, and beat in well. Sieve the flour onto the mix and stir in.

Divide the mixture between the cases. Try to get them all as even as possible. Bake on 150 degrees C for 30 minutes until they’re golden brown and springy to touch. Test with a cocktail stick - when it comes out of a cake clean then they’re ready.

As soon as they’re cool, go crazy with your decoration. Cupcakes can never have too much glitz and glitter.

I’m drooling already and must instantly go shopping and get baking. Thanks so much Carole for a fun and thought provoking interview. I wish you continued success with your wonderful books. Best wishes, Freda To find out more about Carole and her books, visit her website at: 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me:

The RNA Summer Party and the Romantic Novel of the Year

As always the RNA Summer Party was a glam affair (the shoes, the frocks...)...and with two awards (The Joan Hessayon New Writer's Award and The Romantic Novel of the Year - presented by Kay Burley) the buzz was amazing. Here are the pics with a huge thank you to Liz Harris and Chris Fenwick...

The winner of the Joan Hessayon Award Evonne Wareham

Jane Lovering winning the Romantic Novel of the Year for Please Don't Stop the Music