Category Archive: Work in Progress

  1. 2016 Favourites

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    I think we can all agree 2016 has had its share of ups and downs. From a personal standpoint, the last twelves months have been a big for me. It was my first year as a full time writer, I hit the USA Today bestseller list, was nominated for an industry award with the Romance Writers of Australia, and signed my first ever book deal at auction. I listed some of these things, as well as other bits and bobs from my year over on the Lovecats Downunder blog.

    Since I don’t want to double up from that blog post, I thought it would be fun to share my favourite things from 2016…

    TV Shows…

    I’ve never been a big TV watcher in the past, I think because I couldn’t seem to remember when shows were on and would always miss episodes or lose interest. Thanks to streaming, I now watch a little more TV. It’s my fave way to unwind after the workday with my husband. Here are my favourites from last year:

    • Game of Thrones – OMG I love this show so much. I was very late to the bandwagon, and didn’t start watching until season 5 was already out. But now I’m all caught up and can say it’s hands-down one of the best shows I’ve ever watched.
    • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Hilarious, and definitely not my normal style. But I have a huge crush on Andy Samberg. True fact.
    • Better Call Saul – this is filling my drama needs post Breaking Bad. Saul is a fantastic character, and I’ve always had a soft spot for Mike.
    • The Good Place – wacky, off-beat and totally unique. My kind of comedy.

     

    Books…

    My goal is generally to read about 50 books a year, close to one per week. While I do read a lot of romance, I also enjoy YA (particularly fantasy and dystopian stories), any kind of survival story, crime, thrillers, and post apocalyptic fiction. These are my top picks for what I read in 2016 (if you want to see the whole list, you can see my Goodreads 2016 shelf)…

    • Wrong by Jana Aston hilarious, sexy contemporary romance. I read A LOT in this genre and this book totally stood apart from the crowd.shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024
    • Barbarian Alien by Ruby Dixon if someone had told me I would fall head over heels for this series, I wouldn’t have believed them. I’m not huge into sci-fi so I thought the whole alien hero thing wouldn’t be my jam. WRONG! These books are fun, steamy and I can’t get enough of them.
    • Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo  Fabulous high-fantasy YA trilogy with a Russian bent. These kept me turning the pages like crazy. I read the first two books in 2016 and can’t recommend them enough.
    • Girl Underwater by Claire Kells I’m not sure how to categorize this book, other than to say it’s about girl who survives a plane crash and it’s told in alternating chapters of the past and present day. A short read, but very gripping. Loved it.

     

    Makeup…

    I’m a total makeup junkie. Always have been, always will be.

    • Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara I’m hard on mascara – I want it to volumize, lengthen, separate and be the blackest of blacks. I’ll toss a new mascara out within the first month because I can’t tolerate shitty lashes. It’s serious business, folks. This mascara is everything – great brush, great formula, great staying power. Total winner.14520491_1804562526423874_8682631664677604818_n
    • Colourpop Ultra Satin Lip liquid lipsticks best liquid lipstick formula on the market and they’re only $6USD. Unlike a lot of liquid lippies, these don’t dry your lips out. They’re not 100% transfer proof, but the staying power is fantastic. Personal favourite shades include London Fog (Pictured) and Alyssa.
    • Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Liner I will be wearing glitter until the end of my days, that’s a promise. This is glitter without the hassle. It’s a liner, but works great dabbed over eyeshadow for a glittery look without the need for a glitter adhesive. Midnight Cowboy is personal fave.
    • Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer (or NYX Angel Veil primer for a budget-friendly option) this is a silky-finish primer that takes out shine and smoothes over pores to allow your foundation to lay more smoothly on your skin. Makes a good foundation look great. Definitely a staple in my makeup kit.

     

    Honourable mentions: Tarte Rainforest of the Sea foundation, Essie Gel Couture nail polishes, Milani Rose Powder blush, Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow kit in Gleam, Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder, and Laura Merceir Matte Radiance Baked Powder.

    Random…

    Awesome other things from 2016 that don’t have their own category.

    • Lapsang Souchong tea – I’m a sucker for anything smoky and while I’ve had this tea in the past, I rediscovered it in 2016.
    • My Macbook Pro – it’s light and sexy. ’nuff said.
    • Avocado and feta on toast – this will always be a favourite! Actually, I could just say avocado is a favourite full stop.
    • Visiting my family back in Australia – I spent a month back home and it was so good. Much needed.
    • Chicken and waffles – it shouldn’t work, but it does.
    • Getting my Canadian Permanent Residency – yaaay to not being kicked out of the country!

     

    Those were a few of my favourite things from 2016. What were yours? Let me know if you had a favourite book, TV show or something else from last year in the comments below.

  2. Excuse me. Have you seen my 2016?

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    I think I lost this year. It’s probably hiding with my missing socks and the backs of my earrings that I always seem to misplace. Oh, and about 3.2 million bobby pins.

    I remember back when time (aka the school year) seemed to drag on forever. The weeks would stretch out, making Saturdays feel so far out of reach. Now it feels like each year melts away faster than the ones previous. Anyone else feel that way?

    Obvious confession time: I have neglected this blog. There was no way for it to compete with the hamster-wheel of deadlines and revisions and copy edits and release activities.

    My year in a nutshell…

     

    But I want to make more of an effort to put my thoughts down here, not just for updates about my books but for me to share a little more of myself, some of my tips on writing and more about the book that I’m reading (let’s face it, I was a reader long before I was a writer!) If you want to see anything specific on this blog, hit me up in the comments.

    What’s coming up?

    2017 is already shaping up to be a busy year and I’m starting to get release dates pinned down with my publishers. Here’s what it looks like so far…

    Mr. Dangerously Sexy (Harlequin Blaze) is out in February. I can’t believe the Dangerous Bachelors Club series is about to come to a close. I have LOVED spending time at the Cobalt & Dane security company and injecting a little mystery/suspense into my books. You can check out the whole series here.

    Taken by the CEO (Entangled Indulgence) is scheduled for March. For those of you who read The Rules According to Gracie, this will be Emmaline’s story (told you I wouldn’t leave her hanging!) I’m hoping it will be the kick off to a new series, but more details to come on that in the future.

    Behind the Bar book #3 (Entangled Lovestruck) doesn’t have a title yet, but is scheduled for May 2017. I know it’s been a while between drinks for this series, but I’m super excited to be (finally) giving readers Noah’s story. Behind the Bar book #4 (which will be the final book in this series) is slated for September 2017.

    And that’s just the books that have been scheduled! I’m working on a few other projects at the moment, including an exciting longer-length contemporary romance series that will be out in 2018 with Sourcebooks Casablanca. More details to come as they are available.

    For my aspiring writers…

    The Toronto Romance Writers (my FAB RWA chapter) is holding a competition next year for unpublished authors. Winners will get their work in front of agents and editors, and there’s an opportunity to win critiques from authors (including yours truly) as well as the grand prize of a 3-month mentorship with the incredible Molly O’Keefe or Eve Silver. It’s a great way to get feedback if you’re starting out as a romance writer. More details on the TRW website.

  3. The Year Ahead…

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    It’s mid-way through February and I’ve barely stopped since J and I got back from Europe. There were copy edits, proofs and final bits and pieces for Loving the Odds which is out next month. I’m also working on the third book in the Dangerous Bachelors Club series for Harlequin Blaze (yes, this series finally has a name!!) So there has been lots of BIGFAT time (BIGFAT = Butt Is Glued Fingers Are Typing, which I’ve borrowed from my old writer’s group back home).

    Plus, J and I are going through the process of applying for Permanent Residency here in Canada. It’s hard to believe our two-year Visas are going to be done so soon and we’re not quite ready to leave. Thankfully, that process is going well so far.

    That has meant that planning for the year has taken a bit of a backseat, as has this blog. But here’s what’s going on in 2016:

    • The Dangerous Bachelor’s Club series is contracted to be six books long, so I’ll be working on the next few installments of that. I’m so excited to flesh out the world I created last year and also to give HEAs to the characters you met in A Dangerously Sexy Christmas.
    • I’ve started working on a new series for Entangled Indulgence, which surrounds a wealthy Australian family who run a department store company. The first book has been drafted and (bonus!) the heroine is Emmaline Greene, whom you met in The Rules According to Gracie (Behind the Bar book #1). A lot of readers wanted to know if poor Emmaline would get her own HEA after what happened to her in that book. Good news is, yes! I wasn’t going to leave her hanging ;)
    • Speaking of the Behind the Bar series…I’m toying with writing a third book. If you read Pretend It’s Love then you may remember Noah, who was Des’s groomsman and practically-adopted brother. I just can’t seem to leave this world behind.

    In terms of non-writing stuff that’s happening this year:

    • I’m going back home for a visit!! I love living in Canada and being able to travel, but it’s been almost two years since I left and I miss my family a lot. I also miss Australian coffee and smashes avo on toast. So, I’m killing two birds with one stone ;)
    • I’ve set up my Goodreads challenge at 60 books for the year. It’s been a slow start, but after I’ve met my latest deadline I’m going to spend a week catching up. Plus I’ll have that super-long 35-hour travel time to and from Australia in May, which should help.
    • I’m getting back into making YouTube videos are a little unexpected downtime with my channel. I was a beauty blogger and vlogger before I started writing fiction, so I really enjoy making chatty videos and helping other on their writing journey.

    Speaking of which, here’s my latest video and my first one for 2016! I recently participated on a romance author panel and I had such a wonderful time, I thought I would share some of the common questions that I get asked about my work and about being a romance author.

  4. Book birthday, updates & a new video

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    Today is release day for Pretend It’s Love!!!

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    Needless to say, I’m pretty excited. It’s always great to see a book be released into the wild after months of writing, revising, editing and tinkering (oh, and sleepless nights. There are usually a few of those!)

    I’m particularly excited about this book because I had such a great time writing it. Not all books fly out of my fingers, to be honest – I wish they did! Each book has it’s own journey and sometimes the characters take their time opening up to me. Or sometimes the story veers off-track and needs to be redirected. But Pretend It’s Love made me laugh, cheer and smile a lot while I was writing it.

    This is book #2 in the Behind the Bar series, following on from The Rules According to Gracie.

    Bar manager Paul Chapman is sick of his family’s traditional ideals. Marriage, babies, and a white picket fence? Not his gig. But now that his ‘golden child’ big brother is tying the knot, Paul’s screwed. His ex will be there…and she’s having his cousin’s baby. Unless he wants to show up to the wedding alone and face his family’s scrutiny, he needs a girl on his arm. Now.

    Cocktail specialist Libby Harris has spent her life earning the nickname Little Miss Perfect, all to win the love of her wealthy, controlling father. But she deviated from his plan, and now her business is on shaky ground. If it fails, she might as well kiss his respect—and her dream—good-bye. Her only hope? Convince the hottest bar in town to take on her product.

    Luckily for her, the owner’s brother is sexy as sin and in need of a perfect girlfriend…

    Find out how to get your hands on a copy here.

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    So many people asked me if there would be more stories in the series after the first one came out and I was thrilled to be able to give Paul his HEA. Now, in other good news, I’ve been given the green light to write Emmaline’s story (Gracie’s sister) although it won’t be part of the Behind the Bar series. But I didn’t want to leave her hanging after the hell I put her through in The Rules According to Gracie, so don’t worry – I have plans for a very special HEA for her.

    So, what’s coming up next?

      • My first book in the Security Company series for Harlequin Blaze is out November 1st!! I’ve already submitted book #2 in this series, which will be out April next year.
      • The Lovecats Downunder have just announced an exciting new project, which will be coming out December 1st. Hot Christmas Nights (A LoveCats Downunder box set) will feature 7 steamy Aussie and NZ Christmas novellas.

    NB. My story is actually linked to my Kite Harbor series and features Neve Ritter, the globetrotting sister of Nate from A Kiss in Kite Harbor.

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    Oh, and I made a video recently too. This one is all about finding publishing opportunities for your romance novel – where to look to find special calls and how to jump over that slush pile.

  5. Update: Box Set & YouTube

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    Box Set 1One of the things I had on my list of writing goals for 2015 was to try branch out. Namely in the form of self publishing. I knew I wanted to be a hybrid author (meaning an author who does both indie and traditional publishing) as soon as I started writing but last year was all about getting some stories out into the world via the two publishers I’m signed with.

    This month I’m making good on my goal. The Small Town Summer box set is now out *happy dance* Working with these eight amazing author was an absolute dream and the final product is something I am truly proud of. My story, A Kiss in Kite Harbor, is the kick-off to my new small town contemporary romance series which will have all of the hallmarks from my Harlequin & Entangled books, in addition to a fun and diverse cast of small town characters.

    For a very limited time we’ve got the box set at 99c! You can find out more about my story where to find the box set here.

    For the writers who follow this blog, I’ve also done a discussion video on my thoughts around the pros and cons of indie vs. traditional publishing. Hopefully it might help some of you who have a manuscript near complete and are wondering which direction to take! As always, these are just my thoughts and experiences…it’s no gospel by any means ;)

    Phew! That was a long post. Next week I’ll be away at the Romance Writers of America conference, which is very exciting! But I always look forward to coming back home and getting stuck into some more writing and, of course, chatting with my lovely readers <3

  6. Cover reveal! Kite Harbor is getting closer…

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    Working on a new series is always so exciting; there’s so much possibility, so much open space ahead of you. It’s easy to get carried away (if my planning notebook for this series is anything to go by) and sometimes I have to reign myself in. I’m the kind of person who loves to jump in with two feet and I can easily get lost in my work, forgetting that it’s not a good idea not to sit at my computer for ten hours a day!

    Anyway, I wanted to share one of my favourite parts of the process of creating a book with you: the cover! Yep, I’m totally a visual person and the cover is super important to me. (It’s also why I can easily spend hours creating boards for my stories on Pinterest…not to mention mentally spending all of my savings on a new wardrobe!) I’m the kind of writer who needs to ‘see’ their characters before they can start writing. If I don’t know how they look the words won’t come.

    Now, without further adieu, here’s the gorgeousness that is my new cover:

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    Click the image to see this bad boy in all its full size glory

    I’m so in love with it. The colours, the sexy couple…everything! Hopefully you love it to.

    Last month I shared a little snippet from this story (you can read it here). As I mentioned last month, this story will be coming out in July in a box set with eight other amazing authors who are all contributing small town stories set during summer. There’s everything from sweet to sexy in the mix, but they all have a satisfying HEA that will give you the warm and fuzzies.

    I’m curious, if you’re a reader or writer, does the cover of a book matter to you? What kind of covers do you like? If you have a favourite cover be sure to give it a shout out in the comments below.

  7. Guess where I’m going next?

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    No, I’m not moving again. I’m talking about travel of another kind…within my stories!

    If you’ve read any of my stories you know I favour big Australian cities, mainly my home town Melbourne. I love the bright lights, the waterfront scenery, the hustle and bustle. The shopping (oh, the shopping). I’m a city girl in real life.

    But I’ll let you in on a little secret…I want to live in the country too. I’ll never give my big cities away for good, but the idea of a small idyllic place away from the constant noise of a city is deeply appealing. That’s why I’m excited to announce I’m working on my first small town romance!

    Honestly, I’m so excited about it I’ve been laying in bed at night thinking about the town and the characters, unable to get to sleep because I want to leap out of bed and keep writing. Here’s a few important details:

    • My first small town book will be a novella set in the fictional town of Kite Harbor, Maine
    • I’ve got plans to set several books in this town, and possibly turn it into a series
    • You won’t have to wait too long to find out more! The novella will be coming out in a boxed set with eight other amazing authors in the next few months

     

    I feel like I’m about to take a leap and do something really exciting. I’m pushing the boundaries of my writing and I hope you’ll all come on this journey with me. For now, here’s a super early teaser between the hero, Nate, and the heroine, Shelby.

    “So you thought you’d be able to play hermit for two weeks, did you?” he asked as they pulled into an empty space in White Tail’s parking lot.

    Judging by the number of cars circling the lot, the chances of bumping into someone she knew would be high. Shelby fished around in her bag and pulled out a pair of over-sized Prada sunglasses. Not exactly a master disguise, but better than nothing.

    “I prefer devoted daughter to hermit.” She hopped down from the SUV and tilted her face up to the sunshine. “I wasn’t planning on throwing rocks at anyone who came to visit the house if that’s what you mean.”

    “But you’d hoped that no one would stop by.”

    Busted. “Well, I certainly hadn’t bargained on anyone catching me butt naked.”

    Nate had the good sense to look embarrassed. “You had a pair of panties on if memory serves me correctly.”

     

    Small Town Summer Intro Graphic edited-2

     

     

  8. My Writing Process

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    I’ve been tagged to participate in the Writing Process blog hop by the lovely Amber A Bardan, whose debut novel is being published by Ellora’s Cave. Thanks for tagging me, Amber!

    1. What are you working on?

    It’s probably easier to list what I’m not working on…or at least it feels that way at the moment. I’ve just handed in a first cut of my second Harlequin KISS book (working title: OLD FLAMES FALL HARD), it’s a companion to ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET featuring a feisty former ballerina and her childhood crush turned CEO. There’s a steamy kiss in a run down old theatre, some good old dining table sex and a hero with a phobia that only the heroine can help him overcome.

    I’m also planning for my third Harlequin KISS book, which will be part of an Australian-set continuity with three other amazing KISS authors. This features another dancer heroine (are you sensing a theme yet?) and some steamy scenes on a yacht.

    I have a few non-contracted projects on the go as well, hopefully I can find homes for these as well. There’s a super sexy novella with one of my favourite tropes ‘the best friend’s older brother’ and the start of a series surrounding a private security firm.

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    Here’s the inspiration for the hero from OLD FLAMES FALL HARD – I do love a little Jake Gyllenhaal, don’t you?

     

    2. How does your work differ from others in the genre?

    I like to read about real people with real problems, so you’ll always find real conflicts and relatable emotions in my books. Yes, there might be CEO heroes and prima ballerina heroines but their conflicts are things that real people face.

    For example, in ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET the heroine Jasmine has been in a terrible car accident and in addition to losing her career as a professional ballerina she’s sustained some nasty scarring on her leg from multiple surgeries. She’s very self conscious about her scars, and I felt that this was something that people could relate to. Luckily for Jasmine the hero will do everything can to show her just how gorgeous she is, scars and all.

     

    3. Why do you write what you write?

    Romances are all about the characters and I’ve always been fascinated by people and why they do the things they do. Thus, it makes sense that I gravitated to a very character-driven style of writing. I love creating characters and then pulling them apart to understand what makes them tick. I also love the steamy stuff (yes, I’ve been known to skip ahead and read the ‘naughty bits’.)

     

    4. How does your writing process work?

    Honestly, some days it feels less like a process and more like a battle with a toddler after copious amounts of red food colouring. I’m a wannabe plotter and a resigned pantser.

    I do some planning up front, mainly around the characters. The first thing I do (after I’ve had a spark of an idea) is to get some pictures of my hero and heroine and write out a little list of their physical attributes. They also have to be named straight up. If I don’t know what they’re called or what they look like, I can’t progress. Pintrest comes in very handy for this and I make boards for every book I write – you can check them out here.

    After I have those basic details I do a timeline of key events in their life that have made them who they are. In conjunction with this I do their GMC’s (Goal, Motivation and Conflict – both internal and external). Then I write.

    After I finish the draft I’ll hand it over to my trusted CP and maybe a beta reader. Then I tweak and revise until I feel it’s ready for my editor or submission.

     

    I know a lot of people have done this blog hop, so I’m going to make it an open invite. If you want to answer the above questions then consider yourself tagged! Be sure to let me know if you decided to take it up and leave a link so I can check your answers out :)

  9. Writing Goals for 2014

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    When I started writing back in late 2012 I also started recording my progress. At the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild meetings I recorded my words written each month. At home I recorded each submission I made, each competition I entered and how many words I’d written on each of my projects. Then, on the days I felt like I’d made no progress or I questioned whether I was taking my writing seriously, I would look at those recordings.

    There’s something to be said for not only setting goals, but writing them down. I found a great infographic on goal setting (I prefer my numbers with pretty pictures) and how those who set goals and write them down are more likely to be successful.

    Take the number with a grain of salt (aren’t 50% of statistics made up anyway? I kid…but really?) but I think the message is spot on.

    Therefore, I bring you my writing goals for 2014 in no particular order:

    • See my debut novel to publication – tentative date is August 2014
    • Finish Book #2 as part of my contract with Harlequin KISS / Mills & Boon Modern Tempted
    • Attend a writing retreat and the RWA Conference (so I can collect my ‘First Sale’ ribbon – woo hoo!)
    • Write an erotic romance story – I want to push myself to write something a little different this year
    • Write and submit three books in total (Harlequin Book #2 + 2 others)
    • Write on average 8-10,000 words per week (when I’m not editing)

    2014

    This is my gorgeous diary where I’ll be recording my progress – goal setting a tracking requires pretty stationary!

    Since I’m on a roll with goal-setting, I also set some reading goals for 2014. So far I’ve read three books. I’m on holidays at the moment, so I’m using this time to get a head start on the 50 Book challenge, but I know reading productivity will taper off once I’m back in the office next week…boo :(

    Do you have any writing (or general) goals for 2014? How do you keep yourself on track? Tell me in the comments below ♥

  10. Timeline of a romance novel

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    If there’s one thing you will need to acquire on your journey to publication, it’s learning to wait. Note, I didn’t say ‘patience’ because that would imply you can wait without becoming annoyed/cranky/addicted to checking your email fifty billion times a day…and we’re not asking for miracles here. But learning to wait is important because you will be doing a lot of it.

    Now, relative to others I have spoken to on Twitter, forums etc. my journey was rather quick…especially considering I was submitting to a bigger publishing house who’s known for delays due to the huge volume of submissions they process. In fact, I know some people that have waited over six months (and some even a year) to hear back on a single submission. However, I thought some of you might be interested in a break down of Love en Pointe’s timeline, from writing the first word until the fatefully day that someone said ‘yes’.

    Timeline of a romance novel – first word to ‘the call’ and beyond

    1st November 2012 – Decided that NaNoWriMo was a great idea. Started writing Love en Pointe.

    15th November 2012 – Decided that I was insane to start Nano. Feeling like a hermit, exhausted.

     30th November 2012 – Finished Nano with just shy of 35,000 words. I was damn happy with myself.

     20th February 2013 – First draft of Love en Pointe (and my first ever novel) is finished! Celebratory drinks.

    12th March 2013 – Start editing…it sucks.

    31st March 2013 – Entered into Romance Writers of Australia contest (Got TERRIBLE feedback, I’ll do a post on this in the future).

    14th May 2012 – Saw a tweet pointing to a pitch contest with Harlequin KISS over at the blog of the fabulous Nicola Marsh. It was closing that day, so I decided to throw my hat in the ring. This was my pitch:

    Teaching ballet to toddlers was not exactly what Jasmine Bell had in mind when she embarked on a career in dance; however, after a horrific car accident shatters her leg and her self-worth, Jasmine reluctantly hangs up her pointe shoes.

    Grant Farley is a brooding football player with a wild-child past, who lands in Jasmine’s studio when he is sentenced to undertake ballet lessons for discipline. Good-girl Jasmine knows he’s trouble, she’s had guys like him before, but when sparks fly in the studio Jasmine can’t keep their student-teacher relationship professional.

    When Jasmine falls hard for the tough guy with the heart of gold, Grant’s dark past reveals itself and Jasmine feels like she’s stepped back in time. Grant must convince Jasmine that he’s mended his ways and has the strength to mend her heart.

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    15th May 2013 – Received an email from the editor at Harlequin KISS saying I didn’t final in the top three, but they thought my idea had potential and they wanted to see the full manuscript. *I got so excited I accidentally deleted the email and had a heart attack before finding it in my trash folder.

    19th May 2013 – Madly finish editing and submit to Harlequin KISS.

    30th May 2013 – Received an email from the editor with a request to revise and resubmit.

    31st June 2013 – Submitted revisions.

    5th October 2013 – Received an email from the editor with another request to revise and resubmit.

    22nd October 2013 – Submitted revisions.

    8th November 2013 – Received an email from the editor with another request to revise and resubmit.

    2nd December 2013 – Submitted revisions

    13th December 2013 – Received ‘The Call‘ from London.

    Now I’m working through the latest round of revisions (minor tweaks this time) and will submit my story in January. The tentative date for publication is August 2014, which will be a few months shy of two years since I wrote those famous words “Chapter One”.

    I hope you found this interesting, and for all those aspiring authors out there I hope it gives you some insight into one possible road to publication. This isn’t the only way, it’s just the my way :)