Saturday, June 30, 2007

Some brilliant things about today...

  1. Being #1 in the Jarrolds local book charts again (for the Almanac of Disasters - happy wiggle from me)
  2. DH telling me that the lovely presenters on Radio Norfolk have been trailing said book AND saying nice things about me (very good for a writer's confidence)
  3. The support of my lovely author friends in coming to see the new blog and redirecting people from theirs (I am still absolutely fuming with Bravenet - I can see the blog now, for the first time in 24 hours, but I still can't post - and there is NOTHING anywhere about service outages. Not impressed and I'm staying here at Blogger)
  4. Blogger being reasonably easy to mess about with
  5. The pharmacist in Boots being kind and sympathetic and finding me some seriously good painkillers which means I can function until my dentist is open again on Monday morning. (I have a fracture in my tooth - this has been going on since September, but my dentist said we could force it or do it the gentle way and wait for it to get bad enough for me to pin down the precise tooth - this is all to do with referred pain and the fact tooth fractures are notoriously difficult to diagnose on x-ray. And no, that's not going in a Med! Am a tad spacey, though, so dinner tonight is courtesy of M&S so DH can cook it; I'm not trusting myself to drive or use sharp implements right now.)
  6. Getting a copy of 'Take the Lead' to cheer myself up (aka research for a scene in the middle of chapter 1 of my Medical romance)
  7. Seeing Shrek 3 wth DH and the kids - latter were in hysterics. (And there's a bit of Led Zeppelin in the middle. Led Zeppelin and Antonio Banderas - it doesn't get any better than that.)

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #6 – Maggie Kingsley

Today I’m delighted to welcome Maggie Kingsley from Scotland – she was one of the authors whose books I read a lot when I decided I wanted to write a Medical Romance. I particularly enjoy her romances set in the Belfield Infirmary – and she also wrote one of the best ‘marriage in jeopardy’ books I’ve read so far, The Surgeon’s Marriage. Maggie’s kept me going at times when I’ve been tearing my hair out over a book; she tells me stories to make me laugh, gives me outrageous dares (our ‘bets’ are always payable in chocolate) and she was the one I turned to when my hero in Seeing Stars decided he was going to do his wedding vows in Gaelic… (She definitely deserved the book’s dedication!)

So here’s Maggie Kingsley:

Gosh, but this is a bit like This is Your Life, isn’t it?

Well, I can honestly say I knew Kate before she became a star medical romance writer. I’m a member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association, and that’s how I first met Kate, through romna, the online loop for the association. She’d obviously seen a post from me on the loop, and thought, ‘She doesn’t sound too much like an ogre,’ because she emailed me privately saying, ‘I want to be a medical romance writer and could you recommend any medical books’. I emailed back, recommending some books I’d found useful, and I also warned her that medical books were expensive – which they are, fiendishly so – and telling her that although it wasn’t easy to get the balance of medical detail and romance right it could be done.

Do you remember that, Kate? I didn’t realise you were already a published author – though not in the medical romance line. I thought you were just starting out, so you must have thought, Hey, I don’t need all of these nuts and bolts bits of advice about writing, but you never said so. I liked you as a person even way back then. Your enthusiasm just shone through your emails, and when you had your first medical romance published I was thrilled to bits for you.

Now? Well, we’ve been through a lot together since then. Good times for both of us, and sadly some bad times, and you’ve become not just a writing colleague, but also a friend, and I don’t use that word lightly. Hey, I’m a Scot. We don’t ‘do’ group hugs, and we’re not big on showing our emotions. Stiff, upper lip Calvinists, that’s us, but Kate’s one of the few people I’d willingly hug and say, ‘I’m proud of you kid, and here’s to your next twenty-five books’.

GIVEAWAY: Maggie’s giving away a copy of her August book, The Consultant’s Italian Knight.

GIVEAWAY QUESTION : Oops, almost forgot. Kate wants a question from me, and the person who gets it right will receive a copy of my The Consultant’s Italian Knight which will be available in paperback in August, so my question is ‘What’s Kate’s dog called?’ (I think she’s letting everyone off lightly, so I’m adding a rider: please tell me about an important dog – or cat – in your life.)

June 29 - Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #5 – Jan Jones

I’m delighted to introduce my next guest, author of romantic comedies Jan Jones. Um. You can guess how Jan and I met… actually, I’ll let her tell you that herself. Although we only live an hour or so away from each other, we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like – with me having two small children at home and Jan organising the RNA events and the conference (which is next week, so I really appreciate her doing this blog entry!), there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But it’s one of those friendships where you can just pick up where you left off and it’s as if you only saw each other yesterday. Which makes me feel very privileged. Oh, and she also sends me pictures of gorgeous men, which really helps the inspiration.

So here’s Jan Jones:

Hi, I'm Jan Jones and my claim to fame is that I first met Kate Hardy at an RNA chapter meeting just before she was famous. It was my first chapter meeting (and I'd bought Ladies-Who-Lunch shoes which pinched) and I was a tad nervous, but as soon as Kate and I smiled at each other and opened our mouths (it may have been to say 'Yes, please' to a glass of wine) we clicked. For the rest of the lunch, we talked so non-stop that we may very well have forgotten to eat.

At the time, Kate was in tentative discussion with HM&B about her very first medical romance. That, dear reader, was in October 2001. Yes, you read it correctly, 2001. Since then - this pains me a little but she IS a mate - Kate has had 25 books published. I have had, er, one. But, what the hell, Kate is mega-talented and knows exactly how to make her readers both laugh and cry. A rare gift.

(You can visit Jan's website here or her blog here.)

GIVEAWAY: Jan’s offering a copy of Stage by Stage, her 2005 NWS-award-winning romantic comedy, (or one of the Sexy Shorts compilations in which she have short stories if you've already got a SbS) [edit by Kate: Owen is a hero to die for. And the dialogue had me in hysterics for all the right reasons.]

GIVEAWAY QUESTION : I had great difficulty selling Stage by Stage because I was told over and over again that "theatrical backgrounds don't sell". So let your creative juices flow and invent a really compelling reason that I can use when pitching a stand-alone-sequel, also set in the touring-theatre world. (It may help if I let you know that Viggo Mortenson was the original inspiration for my hero, Owen.)

June 28 - Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #4 – Susan Stephens

Today’s author is one of my fellow Modern Extra authors – she also writes for Modern/Presents. I first met Susan Stephens at (oh, man, this is going to sound as if I spend my whole life doing this, and I swear I don’t, but…) an M&B author party. We were both very new at that point, with our first books just about to come out, way back in September 2002. And I was so relieved I wasn’t the only new author among this crowd of Very Famous People!

Like me, Susan’s on a tight deadline at the moment, but she’s been kind enough to write a few words for me.

So here’s Susan Stephens:

Congratulations on your 25th book, Kate!

It's always a pleasure to congratulate a fellow author on such an important milestone, and especially one with your energy. You write fast, you live life to the full, and you organise the pants off anyone I know!

In short, you are amazing.

Keep up the wonderful work, Kate.
Susan xx

GIVEAWAY: Susan is giving away a copy of her August Presents release, One-Night Baby.

GIVEAWAY QUESTION : My question is all about hero names. Question: What is the name of my hero in One-Night Baby [tip from Kate - the link to her website is above] and what kind of names do you like or dislike for heroes?

Thursday 28 March – quick note from Kate

Mood – pretty good
Music – Sheryl Crow
Current book – Spanish Doc c1

Finished wrestling with outline; currently wrestling with problem of which way to drive to school which doesn’t involve crossing the river. Road was flooded quite badly last night (obviously not as badly as in Yorkshire and the Midlands – am relieved to report my friends and their families are safe so far – but badly enough for me not to want to drive through because you can’t see any debris on the road which might do major damage to the car) so I think this morning we need to go the really long way round.

Have the terribly hard job of looking up inspiring pics for my Spanish doctor at the moment. One of these days, the Pink Heart Society will listen to me and give Antonio a Male on Monday slot… but they are being kind to me today and have invited me to blog about my all-time favourite category romance. It’s simply the best category romance ever written and I so wish I’d written it! Definitely one for the keeper shelf. And if you want to know what it is… go and take a look here.

June 27 - Kate’s 25th party, first three winners

We have winners from my initial post and my first two guests!
Please can the following email me with their snailmail details so their prizes can be posted to them?
Katie S - a copy of Breakfast at Giovanni’s
Cheryl S – a copy of Amy Andrews’ Single Dad, Outback Wife – and she’s also sending you a copy of Mothers-to-Be! (I still have major cover envy. I want a spaniel on my cover. I have a great cover model, provided the pose can be an undignified 'I want my tummy rubbed' one...)
Maureen – a copy of Liz Fielding’s Reunited: Marriage in a Million

Many thanks


(and please keep coming back – I have lots more guests over the next three weeks!)

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #3 – Jessica Hart

I’m very pleased to welcome Romance author Jessica Hart today. I had the privilege of being shortlisted with her for the RNA Romance Prize in 2006, and sitting on the same table as her so I could cheer when she won! I have to admit that at my first ever author lunch (the one Liz Fielding referred to yesterday), I was absolutely terrified of Jessica Hart because she looked so utterly glamorous in this amazing red dress and wonderful shoes. However, I’m delighted to say that once I’d plucked up the courage to say hello, I discovered that she was actually very easy to talk to. We have much in common – a love of animals, history, music – though Jessica’s historical research has gone much further than mine and I’m very proud of her for getting her PhD.

So here's Jessica:
The whole idea of a blog party is new to me, and I must confess I was a little anxious as I started this. When it comes to parties and blogging (and much else in life at the moment) my confidence hovers around zero, so a blog party seemed like a double whammy! But I can’t pass up the opportunity to congratulate Kate on 25 great books. Every book is a wonderful achievement, and writing 25 is definitely worthy of a special celebration. I hope you’ll be celebrating in real time as well as in cyberspace, Kate!

In spite of being utterly pathetic on the party front, I did, in fact, throw a cocktail party to mark 25 books myself. That was in the days before blogs were invented, and before I knew any of my fellow authors – or, indeed, many people in York. I was incredibly nervous about the whole thing, but I went ahead and invited everyone I knew even slightly for champagne cocktails between 6pm and 8pm. I frosted the glasses, set out an array of canapés (I love making fiddly-diddly things with dinky garnishes) and waited for two people to turn up, stand around looking bored and then make their excuses and leave, leaving me with three cases of champagne (OK, sparkling wine) and plates and plates of canapés curling at the edges. And you know what? EVERYBODY came. They drank every bottle, devoured the last peanut and left at 3.00 am.
It became a legendary party, and the most successful I’ve ever had. I spent all evening introducing guests I barely knew myself, and discovered to my surprise that everyone was absolutely delighted to come and help me celebrate – just as I know everyone here is thrilled to celebrate with Kate. So party on, Kate, and here’s to the next 25!
Love Jessica
GIVEAWAY: Today’s giveaway is an advance copy of Jessica’s September release, Outback Boss, City Bride.
GIVEAWAY QUESTION : What is the best – or worst – party you’ve ever been to?
In memory of good times – or in commiseration for the bad! – I’m offering an advance copy of Outback Boss, City Bride for the best answer. This book is the first part of the Bridegroom Boss duet which is out in North America and the UK this September, and I have to admit that my paperback copies haven’t actually arrived yet. They should turn up in July, though, so although the winner might have to wait a little while for her prize, it really will be hot off the press …
You can read more about the Bridegroom Boss duet at Jessica’s website,

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #2 – Liz Fielding

Today’s guest is one of my favourite people in real life – and she’s also the person whose books I turn to when I’m having a really, REALLY bad day because the warmth of her characters and the cracking dialogue always manage to make me smile again. She’s written several of my all-time favourite M&Bs, including Gentlemen Prefer Brunettes (I admit I shamelessly begged a copy), The Marriage Miracle and The Sheik’s Guarded Heart. I also enjoy reading her blog. So I’m delighted to welcome Liz Fielding as a guest blogger. Especially as she, ahem, had a hand in inspiring the hero by telling me all about this incredible Italian chef…

I can hardly believe that we’re celebrating the 25th Kate Hardy book, Breakfast at Giovanni’s and, having read it, I’m ready to tell you that, with Giovanni inspired by the fabulous Georgio Locatelli, this is a book that is definitely worth celebrating. It’s positively overflowing with gorgeous Italian men, fabulous Italian food. And the sexiest of romances.

It seems no time at all since I first met her, a bundle of nerves – can that possibly be right? – at her first AMBA lunch back in 2002. Actually, come to think of it, it is no time at all. How does she do it?

Math was never my favourite subject but even I can work out that she’s written five books a year, every year – as well as tackling a host of other projects – so, paraphrasing the lady in the delicatessen in When Harry Met Sally ... Can I have whatever she’s on, please!

Kate’s swift success comes as no surprise, though. From the beginning it was obvious that she had what Grace Green once described to me as “the tender touch”. Her characters have heart. They’re people you want to spend time with, people you’re rooting for from the word go. Those are the qualities I look for a in a writer, make her an auto-buy, bring me back again and again.

As I keep telling her, she should be writing “Romance”, but between Medical, Modern Extra and her non-fiction work, when would she ever have time?

I salute you, Kate, on this very special milestone, and wish you many, many more.

[Edit from Kate: thank you, Liz. Am blushing hugely now!]

GIVEAWAY: And for your wonderful readers, I’ve got an advance copy of my latest “Romance”, REUNITED: MARRIAGE IN A MILLION so that they can read it a full month before it hits the bookshelves in August.

GIVEAWAY QUESTION: What makes an author an autobuy for you?

quick note from Kate

Mood – pretty good
Music – The Click Five
Current book – outline of Spanish Doc

Was absolutely shocked to see the news last night and my thoughts are with those who’ve been affected. Hope everyone who normally comes here from the north and midlands is doing OK and their friends and families are safe.

Update on what's going on: piano lesson yesterday was great (am learning ‘Yesterday’ – right hand is already OK, left hand needs a bit of practice and I might even have the confidence to add chords in a week’s time); finished my MX and sent it to my ed (along with that pic of Jensen in the hope she’ll be so overawed by his gorgeousness that she won’t make me rewrite the entire book – especially the hero as I really like him, and that could be a bad sign); went shopping with DH last night and I think I might be making some progress on my greenhouse campaign. I was looking at the display greenhouse (which I didn’t like) when he reminded me that I was bequeathed one three years ago. However, am not allowed to have that greenhouse because he says it’s falling apart and it’s too dangerous. (Agreed. I’ve said all along I want safety glass. So that suggests he DH has been thinking about what I’ve been saying and is slowly coming round to the idea.)

Plan for today: guitar, tidy house, start licking outline of Spanish doc into shape and send it to ed, and party both here and over at Kate Walker’s place. Today's horoscope is v interesting: 'This is a terrific day for you, dear Aquarius, and you will find that there is a great deal of power at your disposal. This is a day of new beginnings. You have the opportunity now to start over and create a solid emotional base from which to work. Rid yourself of negative feelings and self-doubt. Use this day as an opportunity to strike out on new ground and achieve whatever you set your heart on.' I bet the entire SDP are groaning at that... :o)

Right – enough from me. Another guest blogger is about to arrive – and as Amy’s in a completely different time zone from me and has just come off night shift, go and give her a hug and answer her question below! (Did I mention she's a nurse as well as a writer? Definitely Superwoman!)

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #1 – Amy Andrews

Finished my book, so the party can start properly now! I’m delighted to say that Amy Andrews can join me from Australia. (That’s what I love about the internet – distance doesn’t matter any more!) And because it’s traditional to have a pic of your guests (though not all mine ‘do’ pics, be warned) here’s one of Amy with me at the M&B lunch in London last year.

Amy’s a nurse and a fellow Med author, and we’ve had a lot of laughs – and she’s also my shelfmate in the UK in July with her book Single Dad, Outback Wife (with a cover I envy so, so, SO much – just look at it below and you’ll see why).

So here’s Amy Andrews:
When Kate announced her 25th and asked if I wanted to join the party my answer was: hell, yes! Party? Me? I NEVER say no to a party. Especially if there's champagne, even the cyber variety. And I know Kate likes the odd tipple or two, so I know this party is going to be a blast. So I bought some with me – Moet, of course, only the best for Kate – and I also bought with me 25 reasons why drinking champagne is better than sex.

Nah, only kidding. I realised I couldn't possibly think of that many. 24 was my best and what's the point of that, seeing as how we're celebrating this amazing milestone and everything 25?
So anyway, I can think of 25 reasons why I love my husband so I thought I'd share those.
In no particular order:

1. He takes the garbage out (sorry, I didn't say they were going to be romantic)
2. He can fix anything
3. He's a great father
4. He still has the most amazing legs (which is more than can be said for me).
5. He never mentions how unamazing my legs are.
6. He knows how to use a vacuum cleaner
7. He can cook. And does. Often.
8. He doesn't mind eating cornflakes for tea when I can't be bothered to cook.
9. Despite the ravages of breast feeding and age he still likes my breasts
10. He will get up to the kids in the middle of the night
11. He rings all his nieces and nephews on their birthdays
12. He irons his own clothes
13. He makes eggs benedict every Sunday morning
14. He will give me a foot rub when I ask (and usually not expect sex in return)
15. In lieu of any dragons, he rescues me from the blue screen of death on my computer
16. He didn't cringe once when I insisted I just had to own a copy of "Achy Breaky Heart" (he even bought it for me)
17. He's getting better at buying me flowers "just because".
18. A few years ago, when he could have walked, he didn't
19. He understands that night duty = cranky mummy
20. He eventually realised that sex between a late and early shift was NEVER going to happen.
21. He never says "is it that time of the month"
22. His favourite car is a mini ( the older version)
23. He is NOT into sport
24. He's a dog person
25. After 21 years, he still loves me (despite being a far cry from the 16 year old girl I was when we first met).

Yeah, yeah, so enough of the mushy stuff – but hey, if you cant talk about lurve on a romance author’s site, where can you?

[Aside from Kate: absolutely! And, having met Amy's husband, I can tell you he's a lovely guy with a great sense of humour.]

Giveaway: On another subject - I have a copy of my July release "Single Dad, Outback Wife" to give away as part of Kate's 25th celebrations.

Giveaway question: Kate says I'm supposed to ask a question and if I wasn't so slack I'd be able to get you to go to my websiteand read an excerpt from the July book and answer a question, etc etc, but well, what can I say... I AM slack and the website's not updated yet, so just answer this question instead: "Which one of the excerpts on my website is your favourite and why?"

Yes, I said I was slack, not stupid :-)

Leave your answer here in the comments section. I'll pick my fav answer tomorrow
And before I stop rambling I'd like to congratulate Kate on her milestone - 25. OMG. Wow. Did I say how great that is? That's a lot of words and wonderful Kate Hardy hero and heroines. A lot of highs and no doubt some lows. Oh, and a lot of chocolate :-) and champagne.
Here's to 25 more, my friend.

and let the party begin! (aka Monday 25 June #1)

So today’s the day the blog party starts to celebrate my 25th Mills and Boon. It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve reached this milestone, because it feels more like yesterday that I had the launch party for my first book. (Is it really a little less than five years ago?) That book, A Baby of Her Own, started being written at my 6-week-old daughter’s hospital bedside, was accepted on her first birthday and published on her second, and Ottakar’s hosted a party for me with balloons and flowers and… considering what a stormy night it was and how many trains were cancelled due to bad weather, I’m surprised so many people made it to the party!

Obviously, an achievement like this isn’t made alone. I have a good support network – my husband has always championed my writing and takes over the lion’s share of parenting when I’m on the last couple of days of a deadline, my aunt and uncle have also championed me (to the point of taking a day off and coming to the Savoy with me when I was shortlisted for the RNA Romance Prize last year), my children do things that spark off lightbulbs (hence the purple hair in my third book and the ‘blutterflies’ in my twenty-fourth), and I have some very, very good friends.

So now I’m having a cyberparty to celebrate my 25th book. A global cyberparty because, over the last few years, I’ve made friends with a lot of authors who live thousands of miles away from me. I believe that all people are nice until proven otherwise, and I’m lucky in that my cyberfriends have turned out to be just as nice in real life as they are on the internet. (And kind. Even though some of them are at conferences/travelling/on screaming deadlines, they’ve still found time to do giveaways for my blog party.) Some of them I haven’t met yet, but we’re working on it… and in the meantime they’re doing guest blogs here.

Breakfast at Giovanni’s is my fifth Modern Extra. So just as an icebreaker (until this afternoon, UK time, when I’ve finished my book and have time to put up the contribution from my first guest!), I’m giving away a signed copy of Giovanni. To enter the draw, simply tell me the title of my first Modern Extra. (Clue: my backlist is on my website, and the MXs are in chronological order rather than grouped by setting.) And as it appears traditional for cat-owning authors to get their cat to choose… this is who will be picking mine in two days’ time!

Arrgh - what happened to my blog party?

I seem to be having major issues with my other blog provider. The site's been down since yesterday and I can't even get in to find out if there's a service outage. To say I'm annoyed is an understatement! Anyway, luckily I saved my posts in Word rather than composing them straight, so fingers crossed I can move the entire bl;og party across. I can't find cached comments for Thursday and Friday, so if you commented please could you come back and repeat what you said?

And I'm so, so sorry for moving everyone in the middle. This really isn't on.