Monday, December 31, 2012

Ring in the new

So – resolutions for this year? Actually, M&B asked me this, so I’m going to paraphrase my reply because I rather like having positive ones instead of negative ones.

#1 Work a bit harder (all right, at the back – what I mean by that is focus and do my daily work quota BEFORE I touch social media, and not let myself get distracted by the internet) and write books that really touch my readers’ hearts.

#2 Build on the progress I've made at this year at the gym so I can run a mile on the treadmill at a constant rate of 5 miles an hour by the end of April (that one might need tweaking as the muscle at the side of my calf really hurts if I overdo things – and because my gait is a bit weird the best compromise is neutral shoes, so I guess I need to work with my limits and stretch them gradually. I found out what they were, the week before Christmas, so I guess it’s learning to pace myself!).

#3 Tick something off my bucket list - I want to go to a live performance of my favourite piece of Beethoven for the very first time. (Shocking that I haven't done it before. And I want to do it NOW while I can still hear and enjoy it.) I have to admit that’s a terrible cheat as I actually had a couple of performances in mind when I said that. The next step was to negotiate a bit with DH, the kids and my BFF to find out who wanted to go with me and whether it was doable. Result: I’ve booked tickets for September – and I’m REALLY looking forward to it!

So what are your plans for this year?

Ring out the old...

This time last year, I didn’t make my normal resolutions. I didn’t promise to diet, exercise and write a best-seller. I said that I was going to be a tortoise and have a quiet, slow, organised, well-paced year.

Um. Didn’t quite work, because I’m naturally a hare and being a tortoise doesn’t suit me. But it was relatively quiet, which helped.

But I did make some major lifestyle changes. My very first Cherish/Harlequin Romance, ‘Ballroom to Bride and Groom’, meant going to ballroom dance classes in January last year (just how I talked DH into that, I’m not sure), and we enjoyed it so much that we kept going – it’s really nice to do something just for us. And my Feb Medical Romance, ‘The Brooding Doc’s Redemption’, triggered me into going to find out about getting a personal trainer in May… and as a result I joined my local gym and I’ve stuck to it. Better than that, I enjoy it. I haven’t lost a lot of weight, but I have changed shape, and even some of the more negative people in my life have made a positive comment about it.

Workwise, it’s been up and down. Some things have been tricky (and my confidence still hasn’t quite recovered – I’m faking that one until it does), but the two big highlights were being shortlisted for the RoNA Rose award in Feb and getting my pin from M&B for my 50th book in Sept.

Verdict? 2012 wasn’t so bad.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A special free holiday gift from Liz Fielding

Liz Fielding is my all-time favourite category romance author, and I'm thrilled to be able to play host to her today. What's all this special free gift thing about? Well, I'll let Liz tell you that herself...

Dangerous Flirtation is vintage Liz Fielding. One of my earlier books, I've given it a light brush up and a fabulous new cover and it's yours to download free from 28 December to 1 January.

Here's the blurb -

Rose has her life all mapped out. A job she loves, a thoughtful, reliable fiancĂ©. Everything is just perfect until a stranger with laughing blue eyes and a roguish grin bursts into her life and turns her life upside down with a birthday kiss. Jack Drayton offers romance, excitement and passion – and he challenges her to accept. Dare she?

And an excerpt:

Reluctantly she lowered her window. ‘Why are you still here?’ she demanded. ‘Didn’t Anthony pay you enough to move on?’ It was hateful, but she couldn’t help herself.

‘There isn’t enough money in the world for that, Rosie.’ He smiled, apparently relishing the memory. ‘I told him he’d better put it back in his piggy bank and save up until he can afford to buy you a ring.’

She stifled a groan. Behind them someone hooted politely. Jack ignored the hint and leaned on the roof of the car, staring down at her. ‘Where’s he taking you for your birthday treat? A burger bar?’

‘A concert and then dinner at Michel’s,’ she said, a little smugly.

He let out an ironic whistle. ‘Just as well I wouldn’t take his cash. Which concert? The Jay Livingstone Trio is playing at the jazz club, or perhaps that isn’t quite his cup of tea?’

She stifled a groan. She had wanted to go. It wasn’t often these days that such a group could be tempted into Melchester, but Anthony loathed jazz and she hadn’t even dared suggest it. ‘It’s not my jazz club,’ she retorted, disappointment lending a sharpness to her voice. ‘If you must know, we’re going to the Guildhall, The Shostakovich Cello Concerto.’

‘Wouldn’t you rather come and listen to Jay?’ he asked.

‘You have tickets?’ she asked, surprised. They had not been cheap.

‘No need. Jay’s an old friend.’ He bent down beside her window, examining her face under the lamplight. ‘What do you say?’

Her heartbeat began to accelerate again. ‘I...’ She tore her eyes away from his. ‘No. Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.’

‘I wasn’t being ridiculous, Rosie. You’d much rather come with me. Admit it.’

‘I’ll admit nothing of the kind.’ She put the car into gear and glared at him. Laughing, he stood up.

‘Better run along, then. You mustn’t be late. I’ll see you later, cheer your soul with a little blues.’ He glanced at the instrument case in his hand.

She stared, horrified. ‘You wouldn’t?’

His eyes gleamed wickedly in the subdued light. ‘I think you know that I would.’

‘Haven’t you caused enough trouble for one day?’ she demanded.

His eyes teased her. ‘Rosie, my darling,’ he drawled. ‘I haven’t even begun.’ And with that he stepped back, leaving her free to drive away, but she couldn’t. Not before he told her why he was tormenting her.

‘What do you want from me?’ she demanded.

‘Use your imagination,’ he said, roughly.

She gasped then. She wasn’t going to use her imagination. It was a dangerous thing, the imagination. It conjured up strong hands and warm kisses to torment her.

‘What do you want?’ she demanded again. He didn’t elaborate, refusing to make it easy for her, but it was there in the raw challenge in his eyes and she felt as if a trap were closing around her.

The knowledge that she had sprung it herself offered precious little comfort. She only knew that if she stayed another moment she would lose everything she wanted. Peace, contentment, security. Precious things. All Jack Drayton could offer was momentary passion, a transitory, crazy sort of excitement that would destroy her peace of mind and when it was over, leave nothing but the misery and humiliation her mother had suffered when her father had walked out on them both.

She was going to marry Anthony and she didn’t know what she was doing even talking to this man.

The person behind had clearly had enough and an impatient horn galvanised her into action. She eased off the handbrake and stepped on the accelerator. The car shot forward and abruptly stalled. She grabbed at the ignition key, but the car wouldn’t start and the irritation from behind had suddenly become a chorus of people eager to get home. ‘Idiot!’ she said, furious with herself. Why on earth had she even spoken to the man? She was going to be late and Anthony hated to be kept waiting. There were tears pricking at her eyelids when the door opened beside her.

He took one look at her face and swore volubly, then put an ice cold hand on hers, stopping the desperate churning of the engine. ‘Move over, Rosie. You’re in no fit state to drive,’ he said, very gently.

‘And whose fault is that?’ she demanded, angrily.

‘That’s open to debate. You didn’t have to stop.’ He threw the saxophone onto the back seat and waited and conscious of the queue of cars behind her, she moved over. He pushed the driving seat back as far as it would go and climbed behind the wheel. The car, infuriatingly, started at the first touch.

Everything would start at his touch, she thought, hopelessly. Even her. Especially her.

Here are some links, but it's available in English at Amazon worldwide; download it with my warmest wishes and tell all your friends!

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Germany

Thursday, December 27, 2012

the best kind of Christmas

Current work: On holiday :o)
Listening to: daughter playing piano
Reading: Fiona Harper, Snowbound with the Earl; Donna Alward, Sleigh Ride with the Rancher (enjoyed both and am looking forward to the third in the trilogy later today)

Hope everyone has had as lovely a holiday season as we have. It was just the four of us for Christmas Day, so it was quiet and relaxing and just lovely to chill out together. Board games, It’s A Wonderful Life, and – umm, too much chocolate.

Went for a walk by the sea yesterday – it was mild enough to tempt me to go for a paddle, but I was talked out of it :o) Very impressed with Cromer’s tree made from lobster pots.

Today we’ve been messing about with one of Madam’s presents – the cake pop maker. Very labour intensive, and the candy melts (used to cover them) are a bit too sweet for me. But she enjoyed it, which was the whole point of it. And I have been to the gym (I think I needed to, given that I was also very bad with the Brie…).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Current work: On holiday :o)
Listening to: Christmas songs
Reading: Nikki Logan, The Patter of Paws at Christmas (well, how could I resist ‘A Puppy for Christmas’? And these are very unusual puppies. Loved it, especially the mobile phone scene)

After a minor disaster (my fault for assuming that a computer program would be the same across ALL platforms) in which I lost the last 1,000 words of my book (and they weren’t straight 1,000 words, they were threaded in, so I couldn’t just dash it all down as notes and then tidy up)… well, the book is done, the new outline is done, all is on my ed’s desk for new year (so January’s going to be screamingly busy), and I am taking a few days off because I really need to refill the well.

So far, we’ve been socialising a lot, playing board games, and watching films. The kids wanted the Batman trilogy. Hmm. So far… very dark. And it’s really interesting that the superhero genre has as many restrictions as the romance one (i.e. we need the tragic loss in childhood for which they blame themselves, the hero has to be super-clever, and the hero has difficulty fitting into society). I did like the first one, but I found the second one quite disturbing. (Today, I’m hoping to persuade them into watching my all-time favourite film. Because it wouldn’t be Christmas without Capra.)

And, as it’s Christmas, do go and see my tree over at the Harlequin Romance Authors’ blog – there’s a chance to win books… :o) (remember to check the other trees, too…)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Off on the BICO tour again!

Current work: polishing new Cherish (aka M&B #55)
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: next on TBR (I am having SUCH a readfest when my deadline is done)

Off on the Baby It’s Cold Outside tour again today!

There’s a gift card up for grabs with my interview over at Entangled in Romance

And later today I’ll be interviewed at My Book Addiction  (I’m posting this UK time, so try about eight hours from now!)

Other than that, today was pump class/a bit of cardio at the gym; next up is polishing the book; after school, possibly sorting out son’s main Christmas present (otherwise he’ll have to wait for new stock next month – ahhh, the guilt, but the situation isn’t actually within my control); dance class tonight; and then possibly wrapping presents. Possibly. (Have I mentioned that I loathe wrapping?)

Have a nice day :o)

Monday, December 17, 2012


Current work: polishing new Cherish (aka M&B #55)
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: next on TBR (I am having SUCH a readfest when my deadline is done)

Had a really lovely weekend, and am very grateful that we were able to do so, after the shocking and tragic events in Connecticut on Friday. Bestest cousin came to stay. Bit shocked to discover that I’ve never taken her round Norwich – so we grabbed daughter and had a girly afternoon in the city. Lunch out at Carluccio’s, a spot of shopping (where she was naughty and spoiled us, and daughter needs to remember this is shared nail polish…), and a stroll round Norwich Lanes.

Then we had a lovely bit of serendipity - we went to Norwich Cathedral to light candles for my parents, and it was the carol service with the choir singing. Made it feel really special and Christmassy - it's one of my favourite places in the world anyway, but to hear those beautiful voices in that amazing space, with a huge Christmas tree and lights - just magical. (And I love the colours of the robes. Turquoise for the women and purply-blue for the men.) Then we met up with DH and went to Valerie's Patisserie for cake (very nice and we will have to go back a few times to work our way through the cabinet. I loved the giotto – coffee cake). It was dark when we came out, so all the Christmas lights were on – really pretty.

Home for dinner; and, because bestest cousin is a foodie, it was immense fun. Salmon baked with lime; rosemary potatoes; steamed asparagus, mangetout, broccoli and carrots. (See, this is all healthy stuff. I did watercress sauce rather than hollandaise – OK, because M&S were out of fresh hollandaise and I’d forgotten, but it’s still healthy.) Fresh fruit salad, aka pineapple (any excuse to use my flashy pineapple corer), raspberries, kiwi fruit and pomegranate; there were also chocolate brownies and Ben & Jerry’s for those wanting to be naughty (NOT me). Then cheese and crackers (with celery, walnuts, figs, black and white grapes and parma ham – oh, and the cheeses? I’m the only one who likes blue cheese, so we skipped it and had Cornish cruncher (v strong and salty cheddar), Wensleydale with cranberries, and Somerset brie).

I probably deserved to put on more than 1lb this weekend. (Sunday was full Christmas dinner, though I never do Christmas pudding – fruit salad again, or wild berry roulade. And then a birthday tea for my aunt.) Will have to work very hard at the gym this week.

Ahem. Anyway, it was lovely to spend quality time with my closest family. We all ate too much. (Did I mention that bestest cousin bought me some Charbonnel & Walker choccies? Glorious presentation, almost like a hat box, and the chocs are the sort you savour. Edict from food police, i.e. moi, to my three locusts: if you want one, fine, but you have ONE and savour it. If you’re thinking about scoffing them, then please go and scoff the Lindt instead, because these are special.)

Righty. Back to the book. I have a deadline!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Another book up for grabs!

Current work: dirty draft of new Cherish (aka M&B #55)
Listening to: Beethoven (and plotting to go to a concert next year)
Reading: next on TBR (I am having SUCH a readfest when my deadline is done)

Busy morning – gym, top-up shop at the supermarket (my closest family up this weekend for ‘early Christmas’ – oh, and did I mention I was out all day yesterday at my stepmum’s? The tough bit was putting wreaths on both parents’ graves, but the nice bit was going out for lunch with her and it was all nice and festive).

So today I’m up to my eyes and will leave you with a link for the next stop on the BICO tour. (Remember the holiday hop ends today, too, so click on that mistletoe ball to find out where you can win stuff!) Thank you, Crystal, for hosting us today and for such a nice review.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Harlequin's Open House (aka books up for grabs!)

Current work: dirty draft of new Cherish (aka M&B #55)
Listening to: Joe Bonamassa
Reading: next on TBR

Over at Harlequin today for their Christmas party – you’ll find me with the Medical authors, talking about holiday traditions, and with the Romance (Cherish) authors, talking about holiday movies. Do come over and say hello – there are lots of prizes up for grabs today!

If you haven’t already registered with them, you’ll need to go to

Otherwise, the Medical authors are at

And the Romance/Cherish authors are at!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Off on the BICO tour again!

Current work: dirty draft of new Cherish (aka M&B #55)
Listening to: Beethoven
Reading: next on TBR

Did the Bodypump class this morning and was quite pleased with myself for managing it OK. (Next week, I might do 15 mins on the cross-trainer afterwards as I did miss the cardio component of the workout, but the strength training was great.)

There’s a book and a giftcard up for grabs this week on the Baby It’s Cold Outside tour – we’re over at the Book Goddess later today ( and also at Feeling Fictional (

There's still time to be involved in the Entangled blog hop (just scroll down a tad to enter the one from Aimee and me and click on the mistletoe ball to find out where else is hosting a prize).

And tomorrow is the eharlequin open house, with lots more on offer – so do come back for the link!

One more link, before I go - sent to me by my friend Jackie Braun yesterday - this is GLORIOUS, so enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

things really do happen if you try…

Current work: dirty draft of new Cherish (aka M&B #55)
Listening to: Beethoven
Reading: Kate Harrison, The 5:2 diet book (very interesting and has given me something to think about)

I had a bit of an epiphany on Saturday. I think I might have whined here about the fact I’m working really hard at the gym, I’m eating sensibly, and I’m not seeing much difference on the scales. Anyway, for the last couple of weeks my gym trousers have been a bit loose (aka annoying), so I decided to get a new pair in the next size down. Except M&S didn’t have them in-store. So I decided to bite the bullet and try on a fitted pair (bearing in mind that I couldn’t quite squeeze into the next size up, six months ago). They looked OK. Daughter persuaded me to try the next size down. I was expecting them to look horrendous, but… they fitted.

So that’s really spurred on my motivation. Proof that if you keep trying, and if you listen to people who know what they’re talking about and are prepared to make tweaks and changes to incorporate that knowledge, you will get there. Sometimes it’s slow and steady (and yes, I know I said that this year I was going to be a tortoise, but I’m really a hare and tortoising just doesn’t suit me), and sometimes you think it’s just not going to happen, but if you keep going then you still have a chance of succeeding. (If you give up, or if you keep doing the same thing rather than being open to change, then you’ve taken away that chance.)

Remember the Entangled blog hop is still going on. There’s still a chance to win a copy of BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE on this blog (here’s the link) and do click on the mistletoe ball on the right-hand sidebar to find out where the other blogs offering prizes are!  (Click here to go to our fellow Flirtettes' post.) And if you'd like to nip over to Amazon and like our book, we'd be ever so grateful. Links are in the sidebar right under the book cover :) (I really hate self-promo, and it makes me feel really needy and big-headed at the same time, but sadly it's how things have to be in  the 21st century. New Year's resolution will have to be to learn to like it!)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Celebrating Liz Fielding - and get a FREE book!

I'm delighted to welcome Liz Fielding to my blog - as well as being a good friend, she's my all-time favourite romance author, and this month she's celebrating the twentieth anniversary of her first M&B hitting the shelves. 

She's giving everyone a special Christmas gift - a free e-book!

But I'll let Liz herself tell you all about it... 

Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog, Kate! I’m having a bit of a fan girl moment here. You are an inspiration – and I’m loving Baby It’s Cold Outside!

I’ll keep this short; I know how busy you all are at this time of year, but I’m celebrating the twentieth anniversary of my first book – An Image of You - hitting the shelves in December 1992. I’ve just re-released one of my early romances, OLD DESIRES, as an eBook. To thank my readers, and as a little Christmas gift to everyone who has supported me, you can download it free right now (9 – 13 December) from Amazon.

To whet your appetite, here’s a little taster:


His voice grated against her spine and she stopped and turned slowly back to face him. He hadn’t moved.

‘Yes?’ she asked, from the safe distance of her porch.

‘There was something else.’

‘Can’t it wait?’ She fumbled desperately in her pocket for her keys.

‘I don’t believe it can.’ Her margin of safety proved illusory as in a stride he was beside her, his eyes smoky dark as he searched her face. It was a look that seemed to touch her, stroke her, burn her up until she thought she would cry out. After a moment, or it might have been an age in which she felt as if she was suspended at the top of a roller-coaster, waiting for that dizzy freefall plunge, he spoke. ‘I don’t believe it can wait another moment.’

She closed her eyes in an effort to blot out the desire in his eyes, not quite trusting it, but knowing that it was far too late for her to fight the echoing response he must all too clearly see in hers. Knowing that she was helpless to resist.

He took her face between his hands, tilting her face upwards cradling it in his long fingers until she could bear it no longer. ‘Please…’ The word, barely more than a sigh, escaped her lips, but whether she was begging for release or capture she scarcely knew. Until he kissed her and by then it was too late.

Old Desires is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US (and from all other Amazon sites if you’re an expat).

Friday, December 07, 2012

Entangled blog hop - win loads of things!

All righty - today is the start of the Entangled blog hop. Aimee Carson and I are giving away a copy of BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE. All you have to do is leave a comment with your email address below to be in the draw.

Even better, you can have more than one chance to win!

Now, I was going to do this as a Rafflecopter thingy, but Aimee's in deepest Alaska (which is why we're sharing a blog today) and I am on deepest deadline, and I don't want to risk messing this up. So I'm afraid we're doing this in old technology!!! If you tell us in the comments that you've done any of the following, you get an extra entry for each :)

Like or friend us on Facebook (Kate = and Aimee =

Putting a link to this giveaway on Twitter to spread the word (

Add our book on Goodreads (

Add us on Twitter (Kate = @katehardyauthor and Aimee = @aimeecarsonmb).

As it's Christmas, I'm also giving away a print copy of my latest Harlequin M&B release, 'The Hidden Heart of Rico Rossi' :o)


When I was offered the opportunity to join three of my favorite authors in a holiday anthology, I jumped at the chance. What’s not to love about this time of the year, especially with time off to enjoy food, fun, and family? But for some people going home takes courage. Which is exactly the case for my heroine in ‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE TEMPTED, part of the BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE anthology. With a pierced eyebrow and a fondness for grunge wear, Evie is the black sheep of her well-to-do, traditional family. She hasn’t been home in a long time, and heading back during the holidays won’t be easy. Along the way she runs into her brother’s best friend, hunky Wes Campbell, who just might make going home more complicated…

I loved working with the Flirtettes. We had such fun brainstorming our ideas (and I had to do a lot of baking - I'm a 'method' author, and there's a recipe in every book, so the baking is important. Gingerbread cookies, in this case). Not everyone loves the holiday season - so Mitch, my hero, tries to avoid it as much as he can. Who better to pair him with than someone who loves it and can teach him the true meaning of the season?  (Oh, and you know what I look like from the pic at the top. My daughter asked why I changed my hair just after I put up a new author photo. Um. So this is a pic of my new hair, as of last night - and going from deep red back to something nearer my natural colour is definitely a challenge and might have given me a new idea...)

Do remember to check out what the other authors are offering! Click on the pic to join in the hop :) And you might especially want to hop over to see our fellow Flirtettes Heidi and Amy over at Heidi's blog...

And there's a Twitter party tonight at 9pm EST - all you need is the hashtag #EntangledUndertheMistletoe and be in with the chance to win prizes! (Sadly, I won't be there because the time zone means I'll be asleep!! But do go along to check it out.)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Win a book at Good Choice Reading!

Off on the blog tour again today at Good Choice Reading - we've all been interviewed, so head over and find out all sorts of weird and wonderful things about us. (BTW, you *will* need tissues for mine!)

And do leave a comment to be in the draw to win a book :o)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Off on tour! (aka win a book...)

Current work: dirty draft of new Cherish (aka M&B #55)
Listening to: Fleetwood Mac and Daughtry
Reading: next on TBR

Am up to eyes in deadline, but managed two challenges at the gym this morning (a mile on the treadmill – and yes, some of that was running – and ‘climbing Kilimanjaro’ on the stepper. Couldn’t have done a minute on it, six months ago – and ten minutes on level six was fine today).

Today, the Flirtettes and I are at another stop on our blog tour – at Once Upon a Twilight. Do go over and talk to us – there’s a chance to win a book and a gift card!

Monday, December 03, 2012

something to celebrate (and smiling from the wrists up)

Current work: dirty draft of new Cherish (aka M&B #55)
Listening to: Beethoven
Reading: next on TBR

Had a lovely weekend with my best friends from uni. Much playing of board games, much laughing, much consumption of wine, and surprisingly little consumption of chocolate…

Today, I’m smiling from the wrists up – it’s the second anniversary of my dad’s death today, so I’m a little bit sad and trying to remember the good stuff rather than that terrible last year. (Dementia is such a cruel illness. It takes away a little bit every day.)

But I do have something nice to celebrate – Liz Fielding, whom I’m very proud to call a good real-life friend as well as one of my all-time favourite authors, is celebrating her 20th anniversary of her first book on the shelves. I’ll have a link later in the week to something special, but in the meantime she has guests over at her blog, and I’m thrilled to be there with her today, along with my fellow Baby It’s Cold Outside authors. Do go over and say hello, and congratulations to Liz on such a fantastic milestone!

Heidi Rice is launching the Baby It's Cold Outside blog tour over at Entangled in Romance - do go and say hello to her, too! And we're at the Totalbookahlic blog as well, if you'd like to find out a bit more about us and our characters :o)