Author Spotlight – Dani Collins

Minxes are thrilled to welcome Harlequin Presents author Dani Collins to our spotlight today 🙂

Dani is generously giving away a copy of her latest book An Heir to Bind Them to a blog reader so don’t forget to leave a comment! Dani Collins’ first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won this year’s Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. This summer she has five hot books from Harlequin, starting with An Heir To Bind Them in June. In August, watch for The Ultimate Seduction, the second book in the Harlequin Presents 21st Century Gentlemen’s Club mini-series. Also in August, she debuts with HarlequinE with The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection containing two titles: Playing The Master and Mastering Her Role. She also has an online novella with The Chatsfield series, The Secret In Room 823.

Dani Collins’ Masked Desires Contest

Dani is celebrating her sexy summer books by offering you a chance to express your secret desires from behind a masquerade mask. 

1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself

I tend to feel like the most boring person in the universe. I grew up in a small town outside of Vancouver, BC, married my high school sweetheart and we moved to a different small town when we had children. I’ve travelled some, but usually packaged stuff to civilized places. We’re the equivalent of middle American except in Canada. Sometimes I blame my bland existence for the 25 years it took to sell a book. No drama to draw from.

2. What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th?(Nora only!)

An Heir To Bind Them is my fifth published title with Harlequin. I have a romcom (Hustled To The Altar) that I indie published and a fantasy romance with a small press (The Healer.)

3. What inspired this book?

This book grew out of the story that was my First Sale, No Longer Forbidden? The hero in that book, Nic, told the heroine he had a half-sister and two brothers. I started wondering what had happened to them and wrote about their sister, Adara, in More Than A Convenient Marriage? This is Theo’s story and their youngest brother, Demitri, will have his story written later this year.

4. Who or what was the inspiration for your hero? [Pictures are welcomed!]

I don’t often use photos as inspiration. I’m personally in love with the iconic alpha male as depicted in Presents—tall, dark and handsome. Don Draper from Mad Men is a great example of my ideal. When I try to describe them, I consider their genetic background and figure out what skin tone they’re likely to have. I even had a blond hero, but even though I try to provide snapshots for the reader’s mind, I’m far more interested in my characters’ inner workings and spend a lot of time there. In terms of what inspires that side of things, it really does grow organically as I write the book.

5. Have you any burning ambitions to write a story in a different genre?

As mentioned above, I have dipped my toe into different romance genres. I have a pair of erotica romances coming out in August with HarlequinE (The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection). I’ve also written several different lengths which has kept me limber and learning new things. My journey to publication was a very long one. I took many detours along the way and have several manuscripts meant for different markets. I believe some can be rescued so I expect to appear in different genres of romance, but I am a die hard romance reader and writer. I don’t see myself making a big jump to horror or mystery or anything really different.

6. In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?

I treated writing like a job long before I published so there isn’t much that has surprised me. I’ve received more accolades than I expected (Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews, for instance.) That blew my mind after so many years of feeling like a failure. I expected a slow build and it’s turned into a meteoric rise. Some of that is planned. I am doing everything I can to finish books and get them published, but I really didn’t grasp how all that would feel. It’s great, but a lot more busy and demanding than I expected.

7. What was the most fun part of writing this book?

I loved pushing Theo out of his element with the babies. He comes to Jaya fed up that he can’t get a diaper on right. We’ve all been overwhelmed with childcare at some point and then cuddled a sleeping baby or been the recipient of a beaming smile and felt like a hero. I liked doing that to Theo.

8. Which of your characters would you most like to be?

That’s a really tough question because I tend to fall deepest in love with the ones who rise above the worst circumstances. Do I wish that on myself? No way! But do I want the sky-high standard of living my heroines enjoy at the hands of the hero? Um, YES.

9. Do you have a writing routine? Do you write every day, and is there a time of day that works best for you in terms of being productive?

I prefer to hit the computer first thing with coffee and still in my jammies. Lately I’ve been messing about on the internet for about an hour, which I’d like to scale back, but since quitting my ‘real’ job, I’ve been very good about getting real work done for a good six to nine hours with a walk in the middle of the day. Now, often this ‘work’ includes writing blog posts, organizing travel and planning promotions and related materials. I’d like to find a way to do less of that and more genuine writing, but this is the sort of demands I alluded to above that I didn’t realize were such a big part of being a professional author.

10. How long does it take you to complete a book?

Depends how long it is, what kind of story it is, and whether I work on it every day. I wrote the second erotic romance, around fifty-thousand words, last December. I worked full time until the middle of the month, then had twelve days off through the holidays. That was a really intense month and the manuscript needed quite a bit of revision. I wrote the Chatsfield novella basically over three long days and neither I nor my editor made any big changes. I was in the zone on that one, I guess. Contrast that to the fantasy romance which took years, but it’s an epic story with a ton of action and politics. The romcom was complex as I juggled several points of view and all the action takes place in one day, so I spent a lot of time figuring out the logistics. When I was working outside the home, I often gave myself a goal of a thousand words a day, which usually took about ninety minutes, Right now I’m planning to write over fifty thousand words by the end of June, basically my own Nano, and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable goal.

11. Do you have any tips, tricks or sacrificial rituals you do when you hit a story roadblock?

I often go back to the beginning and make sure I haven’t taken any wrong turns. Sometimes I find that I’ve had the character choose something that isn’t working, or I haven’t properly figured out why they chose that action. Long walks help, as does cleaning house. Sounds like punishment, but if I channel my frustration into dusting and scrubbing, at least I have a clean house when I’ve worked things out.

12. Are your family and real-life friends supportive? If so, in what ways? If not, do you have another support network for your writing?

I realized a long time ago that the writers whose husbands could afford to financially support them had a leg up. This allowed them to stay home and write and, as I observed it, they seemed to achieve publication sooner than I was able to. That wasn’t a luxury I had, but my husband has always pitched in with making supper or getting kids to practice so I can write. I dedicated my first book to a pair of friends I refer to as my kids’ Other Moms. We shared a lot of childcare over the years and it was a huge help in allowing me to make progress with my career. Among writers, one of my closest friends is Cathryn Parry. She’s incredibly positive and smart and always listens to me whine when publishing has hurt my feelings, then helps me put it in perspective and get back on the horse.

13. Where do you write?

Our house has an attic that was converted by previous owners into a playroom for their kids. It’s a perfect office so long as I don’t stand up too fast; the ceiling is slanted and I’ll hit my head. I sit at a computer desk older than my daughter (she’s leaving for second year university in the fall) and I sit on a ball.

14. Do you connect with your readers at all, and if so which is your favourite platform for reaching them?

I love hearing from readers and try to be accessible where they like to play. I’ll admit I’m fairly hopeless on Pinterest or Tumblr, but I go on Facebook and Twitter daily and glance at Goodreads fairly regularly. Here are my links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads And, please join my newsletter to be informed when a new book comes out.

An Heir to Bind Them

Off the boss’s payroll…and into his bed

Jaya. Her name reverberates around Theo Makricosta’s head in time to the whirring blades of his private helicopter. He must find her; only Jaya can help with the care of his infant niece and nephew…. It’s not because he hasn’t stopped thinking about the single night of mind-blowing passion he shared with the exotic beauty.

Jaya Powers couldn’t refuse her gorgeous millionaire Greek boss when she worked for him, and she can’t refuse him now! Only this time she has a secret. Their night together had consequences that will change Theo’s perfectly ordered existence forever!

Spiral – Zara Cox (with giveaway)


After the phenomenal success of High and Higher, now comes Spiral!! Put the date in your diaries – 24th June!!

Go back to the Indigo Lounge and meet Leia and Noah!



Seven Nights. Seven Highs. 

Welcome back to The Indigo Lounge, the scandalously sexy sky-high playground where anything can happen…


SPIRAL is the latest story in the sizzling Indigo Lounge Series, geared for fans of The Crossfire and The Stark Series.

Sinfully sexy venture capitalist, Noah King – a man with a haunted past and dark cravings – is a short fuse away from being consumed by his needs. When his desires propel him to the Indigo Lounge, there’s only one course of action – unleash his innermost hunger or lose his mind.


Leia Michaels has spent the last five years trying to find her way out of a shattered labyrinth of pain and tragedy. In a daring move, she takes a chance on a sizzling adventure aboard the Indigo Lounge.Within seconds of meeting on the luxury, decadent adults-only jet, they realize they’re better off apart…but their chemistry defies logic and their needs have gone far too long unanswered.


Seven Nights. Seven Highs. He will strip away her inhibitions and show her that edgy existence between pleasure and pain. Will she survive his dark secrets and risk revealing her own, or will her world spiral out of control?


Available here: Amazon UK & Amazon US from 24th June!!

Because Zara is such a special friend of the Minxes, we are hosting a brand new giveaway leading up to the release of Spiral on 24th June!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Spotlight – Sharon Ashwood

Thanks so much for being here with us, Sharon!

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

Sharon Ashwood is a novelist, desk jockey and enthusiast for the weird and spooky. She has an English literature degree but works as a finance geek. Interests include growing her to-be-read pile and playing with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle would never work out, so she writes her adventures instead.

What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th?(Nora only!)

Not counting the books under the bed (which will stay there!) this is around number twelve.

What inspired this book?

I was out for a walk by the beach and thinking about the next book I wanted to write. It was a perfect, sunny summer day and a bridal party drove by in a big white convertible decorated with yellow pom-poms. One fell off at my feet and I took it as a sign! So the series centers around a royal wedding—what I was really after was all the hope and joy and excitement I saw in that couple driving by.

Who or what was the inspiration for your hero?

I was entertained by the notion of James Bond with fangs. The heroes of the four books are named after the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (War, Plague, Famine, and Death) and are three vampires and a werewolf. If I had to pick actors for War and Plague (aka Sam and Mark) I think Sam would look like John Hamm from Mad Men—that sort of classic, clean cut but suave type—and Mark would be more a Joe Manganiello model. Imagine Joe in a doctor’s white coat coming to check your pulse!

Have you any burning ambitions to write a story in a different genre?

I’d like to try a straight mystery. I’d also like to write an epic fantasy someday—I think it would be a bit like climbing Everest!

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?

I didn’t anticipate the amount of publicity I’d end up doing. It takes a completely different skill set. I was fortunate enough to be taking business classes around the time I got published, so I signed myself up for one on marketing. I’m not sure whether or not it helped, but I love throwing around terms like “early adopters” and “SWOT analysis.” I’ll be fine as long as I don’t delude myself into thinking I know what I’m doing!

Do you write every day, and is there a time of day that works best for you in terms of being productive?

I work full time, so I write in the evenings. I CANNOT write in the mornings. I’m a drooling idiot before at least 9:00 a.m. and anything I write is pathetic drivel. I peak at around 9:00 p.m. and hit about a two-hour patch of focus where the best work gets done. I do believe in writing every day. There are times when enthusiasm tanks and habit is the only thing that keeps you going.

How long does it take you to complete a book?

How much time is left before the due date?

Do you have any tips, tricks or sacrificial rituals you do when you hit a story roadblock?

Sleep. Usually problems are because of fatigue. If that doesn’t work, I ask the question of where the book is going. I think the subconscious knows when the story goes off track and puts the brakes on even before the conscious mind figures it out.

Do you connect with your readers at all, and if so which is your favourite platform for reaching them?

I send out a newsletter periodically, but my favourite is one on one communication. Email me or contact me on Facebook. Sometimes I take a bit of time to respond if I’m racing to meet a due date, but I do respond to each and every one.

Contact: Sharon@SharonAshwood.com
Sharon has kindly offered a signed paperback of POSSESSED BY AN IMMORTAL to any commenter!! (international okay)

Possessed by a Warrior
A dazzling dress is wreaking havoc—and costing lives…
The violent death of her uncle sends Chloe Anderson reeling—and rushing to his estate. As coexecutor of Jack’s will, she assumes that he has left her something. What she doesn’t expect is a bejeweled wedding gown with a note warning her to trust only his business partner—dark, mysterious and sexy Sam Ralston.
Chloe’s been burned in love, but never bitten, and there’s something about Sam that keeps drawing her in, despite her fears. The attraction is mutual, intense, and it takes all of Sam’s willpower to hide his fangs. With Chloe’s career at stake and murderous thieves hot on their trail, the vampire vows to protect her. But can he save her from himself?
Possessed by an Immortal
Can a mother in jeopardy melt the heart of a jaded vampire?
After witnessing a murder, Bree Meadows is on the run with her young son. But the bad guys are in hot pursuit. Dropped in the middle of nowhere amid a torrential thunderstorm, things look pretty grim. To make matters worse, her son is in desperate need of medical attention.
Mark Winspear has been alone for too long. When the vampire senses a gorgeous female nearby, he discovers that her swift, selfless courage pulls at his instincts. The doctor has history with the same men who are after Bree—and he’s ready for revenge. Working together now, they discover an attraction that might save them both—if they’re lucky.
Excerpts available for both books at Sharon’s website.

Minx Birthday contest — WINNER!!!

Huge congratulations to entry #269 Tamara S!!!

We were thrilled with the almost 500 separate entries in our competition. Thank you so much to everyone who entered, your support is much appreciated 🙂

We are hoping to make contests/giveaways a regular thing on our blog so please do watch this space!

We now have a Minx newsletter (sign up for this is in the right side bar). Handy hint: some of our contests will be for newsletter subscribers only!!

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I’ll love ya, Tomorrow…

It’s only a day, away.

Tomorrow is release day for my second entangled novella in the Under the Hood Series – Love for Beginners, and I’m excited! I’m shamelessly hogging the blog today to tell everyone about it, and to say that if you intend to buy, tomorrow – 27th May – would be the PERFECT DAY to do so, as it will give the book a good launch day boost. Of course, if you like it, I’d also appreciate a review in any of the regular places. You know me, I love writing sexy, funny heroes, and Heath is one of my favorites. I had great fun writing this one – it pairs capable mechanic and co-owner of Under the Hood, Melody Swan with Alice Starr’s (who was the heroine in the previous book, Under the Hood) brother, Heath – known far and wide as The Ladyslayer…. 

She needs a lesson in love, and he’s the perfect teacher.
Mechanic Melody Swan is looking for a man who can share her hopes and dreams, but she swore she would never lose herself to passion. When sexy Heath Starr agrees to temporarily sub in the Under the Hood garage for his sister, Mel sees the perfect opportunity to enjoy being with a man without becoming attached.
Heath came to Meadowsweet to photograph nature, not find a hookup, especially since his last relationship ended in disaster. He vowed he’d never break another woman’s heart, and in turn, protect his own. Still, when Mel offers to serve as his outdoor guide, he can’t refuse.
Mel may say she’s only looking for right now, but her body is speaking a whole different language. And Heath’s viewfinder is drawn to her time and again. When the two find themselves isolated in a rustic cabin, they could both break their promises if they aren’t careful…

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Drinks with Rachel…

Minx friend, Rachel Lyndhurst is taking over the minxes today with a guest post…take it away, Rach!
Thanks for asking me here today, Minxes! It’s like coming home to a nice, warm and cosy place full of friends who have a lot to chat about. We’ve been pals for some time now, certainly before April 2012 when I was visiting to promote Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire. And so much has changed in that time; competition finals, completed manuscripts, contracts signed and books published by you lovely ladies – the Minxes must have special fairy dust sprinkles that’s all I can say. However, this also means we have all written a LOT of blog posts along the way and I don’t know about you,but after a few years you start to run out of steam!
Keeping your posts fresh and edgy becomes increasingly difficult as your rookie enthusiasm wanes and the demands or real life vie for your attention just as much as your new book. That’s just normal blogging too. When it comes to promotional blog tours you have to cram an awful lot of work in which must all relate to the same topic in some way – your writing and your books. Trends, markets and demographics change rapidly so you can’t afford to be complacent, for example the last year has been dominated by the young adult market from what I hear. People are buying, reading and surfing from loads more places than their home PC or laptop. How many people under thirty don’t have another ‘device’ these days? Not many, I’ll bet!
So, considering how much time she spends online, I decided it was time for my fifteen year old, gadget-dependant daughter to earn her keep and give me some hot promo tips (if she wasn’t going to pair her own socks…). She has given me permission to share her top ten blogging tips exclusively here, so here we go in her own words!
  1. Make it colourful.
  2. Use a catch line that attracts your audience. For example: “They do naughty things”.
  3. Pictures!!! Eye-catching and bold.
  4. Who is your target audience? Use things they like, like wine and garden programs or something, but make sure it links to your book!
  5. Be funny – ish. But not too much.
  6. Use awesome words like ‘paradoxically’.
  7. Make it smart casual. Not too casual or not too smart.
  8. If your post is boring then make up a hilarious or interesting story that is gripping.
  9. Separate your work out – don’t write one huge paragraph but several smaller ones.
  10. Use colours that match your theme. Like red is angry or passionate, blue is lonely, green is calm etc.
This list made me nod and laugh because I have read a number of blogs recently that are One Long Paragraph. Really. And even thought the wine and garden program tip made me wince a bit (guilt!) the list did spark some inspiration of my own. I now have my own bullet points, maybe even an embryonic branding exercise (ooh posh or what?) that I can use when preparing my posts and interviews.
Here’s the ‘reduction’ if you like (too much Masterchef as well as wine and gardening, yes, I know):
  • Make it fun.
  • Make it matter.
  • Make it real.
  • Make it exciting.
  • Make it SELL.
Phew, almost corporate there, eh? But I’m not giving myself hard and fast rules. No way, I’ve spent a lifetime following those and I’m naturally rebellious so this leads nicely into a blatant book plug (gotta do it!). The tagline for my new release Blackmailed by the Billionaire Brewer is: He makes the rules, she blows them sky high… Look here it is on the scrummy cover:

I love this tag because I was allowed to break a few of those ‘rules’ that can be drummed into you as an author in series-style romance. Entangled Publishing and my editorial team let me do some things that I thought I’d never get away with. There is irreverence, drunken antics, drunken sex, some very bad language, cigarettes are smoked and there is no audible rustling of foil wrappers …
So I’ll understand if I’m not asked back!
Here’s the official blurb for Blackmailed by the Billionaire Brewer:
Piper Reilly is in trouble. She needs a cash infusion, and she’s just left a scorching hot man in Florida to get her life in Colorado back on track. Then her surfside one-night-stand turns out to be her new boss, billionaire Matt DeLeo, with an offer she can’t refuse—agree to be the face of his brewery’s newest concoction or lose her job. A few weeks modelling for the billionaire playboy and her money worries are over, and she can definitely resist Matt’s gorgeous smile and muscular, tattooed arms—it’s strictly business.
 Matt DeLeo is in trouble. He’s found the perfect woman to sell Passion Creek Brewery’s newest brew, but if he wants her on his posters, he’ll have to keep his hands to himself. But all he wants to do is drink in Piper. And once the launch is over, it will take more than blackmail for Matt to get his way.
And, because I love you, here’s an ULTRA EXCLUSIVE pic of me drinking beer in the Canary Islands to prove I had to put a lot of research into this billionaire brewer book. It was hard work, I can tell you (hellish) and the reason why I now have too many chins …
So now it’s your turn to let rip. What rules do you hate, which ones would you like to see ripped up and stomped on in fiction as well as real life? Do you have any personal writing rules that you will never break? Spill!! (But I bag scrapping the difference between colons and semi-colons because they hate me and I am thick.)
Major buy links: http://bit.ly/1jzkKZP
Social networking links:
Thanks a million for guest minxing here today, Rachel! 

Author Spotlight – Zanna Mackenzie

1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself

I live in the UK on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with my husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read. Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is my ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, I can usually be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel I’m working on. I love it when the characters in my novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot! The recently released If You Only Knew is my third novel; my previous books The Love Programme, and How Do You Spell Love? were both published in 2013. If you feel so inclined you can find out more about me and my books over on my blog, on Twitter via @ZannaMacKenzie or on Facebook.

2. What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th?(Nora only!)

My latest novel If You Only Knew was released in February this year. It’s my third novel; the previous two books were both published in 2013.

3. What inspired this book?

Would it sound crazy if I said I don’t know? It was about two years ago that the idea for the book was ‘born’ so I can’t remember all the details now! Seriously, I think I had been watching a TV show The Adventurer’s Guide To Britain where the presenters visited areas of the UK and tried various extreme sports. I loved seeing the scenery and the people trying everything from abseiling and mountain biking to climbing cliffs and canyoning. I think that sparked the idea I’d like to write a novel with an extreme sports element to it. I loved Derbyshire and decided to set the book in the Peak District in a fictitious version of the area around Castleton. I adore coffee shops and so decided that the two main places in the book would be the coffee shop, owned and run by Faith, and the Carrdale Outdoor Extreme Sports Centre, co-owned and run by Zane. I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘first love comes back into your life’ scenario so I decided that would be the theme for this book. I wanted to complicate things even further for Zane and Faith though so I added some more bits and pieces to the plot! Matt was Faith’s first love; he’s now Zane’s business partner. Faith and Zane – both battered emotionally by the past – decide to throw caution to the wind, take the risk of getting involved and potentially getting hurt again, and begin dating. At this point, Zane knows nothing about Faith’s past with Matt and likewise, Faith doesn’t know who Zane’s business partner is. When Matt arrives in town a few weeks later, after trying to sort out the disaster of his own life in Austria (that’s a whole other aspect to the plot…) they all get a bit of a shock! All of the characters have their fears, secrets and worries; they make mistakes too, so things become decidedly complicated for Faith, Zane and Matt during the course of the book.

4. Who or what was the inspiration for your hero?

I knew I wanted Matt and Zane to be complete contrasts. Matt is full of himself and far too good looking for his own good, as well as confident and arrogant. He’s tall, blond, handsome – picture Ryan Gosling! Zane, on the other hand, I wanted to be ruggedly handsome rather than drop dead gorgeous. I pictured him as tall, dark wavy hair, stubble, a slightly dishevelled but sexy look to him. I keep a file of photos of actors and actresses I have seen on TV and in films who I think could provide the visual inspiration for characters in my books but nothing seemed to fit for how I wanted Zane to look. I watched various TV programmes and films again on DVD searching for ‘the one’ – the actor who I felt best captured the look, style and physical ‘attitude’ of Zane. Eventually, it clicked and I knew the New Zealand actor Kieren Hutchison ‘was Zane’. He had the right good looking but not too good looking, dishevelled appearance. You can see what I mean on the If You Only Knew mood board on Pinterest which has photos of how I picture the various characters, as well as the setting for the book and Faith’s trendy coffee shop.

5. Have you any burning ambitions to write a story in a different genre?

Funny you should ask! Yes, absolutely. I am just finalising the edits on book one in a series of humorous romantic mystery novellas. Soon the manuscript will be whizzing off to some publishers for consideration. I have my fingers firmly crossed this series of books will get to see the light of day. If the publishers aren’t interested then I might even be brave and contemplate tackling self-publishing for them providing I can get to grips with cover design and the formatting side of things for how to upload ebooks to Amazon etc. – I’m not the most IT proficient person!

6. In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?

A couple of ways spring to mind. Firstly, I wasn’t at all prepared for how much I needed to get to grips with a variety of marketing and promotional techniques. The author is expected to do all this side of things these days and it has been (and continues to be) a very steep learning curve to understand and implement everything! Secondly, the advent of ebooks and the current trend to give away or heavily discount ebooks is changing the face of publishing and means the money you earn per book sale is very low indeed. It’s hard work but hugely rewarding at the same time. I feel very privileged to be a published author.

7. Which of your characters would you most like to be?

I’d probably choose Kat from my second novel How Do You Spell Love? I can identify with her a lot and the various dilemmas she faces in the book. At the start she thinks she might be on the mend from past hurts and gathering the courage to move on with her ‘life plan’ in terms of relationships and career. When various things start to happen in the story she feels as though she’s being taken off on the wrong track, her life is going in a completely different direction to how she thought she wanted it to and she starts to question everything – relationships, friendships, her career ambitions. I think we can all probably identify with that feeling.

8. Are your family and real-life friends supportive?

If so, in what ways? If not, do you have another support network for your writing? My novels would never have got published if it wasn’t for my husband. For a variety of reasons I’d had yet another ‘creative meltdown’ and had ditched writing, doubting the books were good enough, convinced I was wasting my time trying to be an author. It was my husband who persuaded me not to give up. He cajoled me to try sending the books to publishers. I made various excuses; in truth I was scared to start sending the books out into the ‘big wide world’ for consideration. Eventually he nagged me enough so that I sent one completed manuscript to a UK publisher and another completed manuscript of a different book to an American publisher. I told myself to forget about them and not constantly check my emails for the inevitable rejections. About two weeks later I received an email which changed my life. The American publisher offered me a contract on the book I’d sent to them for consideration. I was so excited, dancing around the room and crying at the same time. A few weeks after that I received an email from the UK publisher – they also offered me a contract on the other book. I simply couldn’t believe it, I was stunned. So, yes, my husband has been, and continues to be, incredibly supportive. I think he has more faith in my work than I do!

9. Where do you write?

Our living space is open plan – the kitchen leads to the dining room/ office, which leads to sun room (a grand name for a porch facing the back garden!) and off this dining room/office is the lounge area. My desk is positioned right in the middle of all of this so it can be tricky getting some peace and quiet at times when I need to concentrate, especially as my husband is also self-employed and often works from home too. I love that I have a view of the back garden from the window next to my desk though– great when I’m in need of a spot of procrastination or inspiration!

If You Only Knew

Faith owns The Coffee Pot in the outdoor adventure sports mecca of Derbyshire’s Peak District. She hasn’t had a man in her life for a while, as she’s been too busy serving cakes to weary rock climbers and mountain bikers to find time for the complications of a relationship with the male of the species. At least, that’s what she tells herself. The truth is that since she got her heart broken she’s had problems trusting men. When she meets Zane, one of the new owners at the Carrdale Extreme Sports Centre, Faith finds herself enjoying his company even though part of her can’t help wondering why he’s so reluctant to talk about himself. Then the past comes back to haunt her in the shape of Zane’s business partner Matt, who just happens to be the guy who broke Faith’s heart all those years ago. With Matt out to cause trouble and Zane keeping secrets Faith’s life is about to get very complicated indeed…

Coping With Distrac…Hello, SHINY THING!!!

Happy Monday Everyone!!! Or it is Tuesday…?

For those of you lovely blog readers who don’t know or don’t remember me because I haven’t blogged for A VERY LONG TIME!!!, I’m Minx Maya aka, Scatty Minx aka Newly Minted Full-Time Writer With The Attention Span Of A Gnat!! 
I had fabulous, lofty ideas of how my days would go when I gave up full-time, great paying day job to become a full-time, write-a-million-words-per-day-writer at the end of March. 
I’d do the school run in the morning, then fetch myself a power-coffee which I will drink (pinky aloft) while surfing the internet for EXACTLY fifteen minutes. 
After which I would CLOSE THE INTERNET, write perfect words from exactly ten thirty until three (with a half-hour break for power snacks), do the afternoon school run and/or accompanying mother/kids bonding activities, put my kids to bed and then read through the day’s writing while indulging in copies amounts of self-congratulation.
Almost two months later…
STOP. LAUGHING. *Glares at blog readers* 
Ok, so I’ve learned two things very quickly.
1. I LOVE NEW, SHINY THINGS.
2. Pressure is by far my best motivator and I may need to embrace that process.
I’m choosing to take this as progress! And I’ve written some words I’m proud of. 
BUT I would appreciate some words of advice on how to get my butt in full time gear. Pretty Please? Or just feel free to tell me to stop whining and just get on with it. That’ll probably work too, lol! 
Maya xx 

Happy Birthday, Minxes!!

Happy birthday to us! It’s hard to believe that the decision we took to start this blog was 4 years ago now. Since then so much has happened to us and there have been so many changes–both personally and professionally.

However one thing has remained the same. We have stayed together and supported each other through life’s difficulties and been there at the front of the cheering section through some amazing successes.

We hope to be here with you for many more years so to celebrate our birthday and the support of you, our blog readers, we have an extra special birthday giveaway!! The details to enter are in the Rafflecopter, the contents of the Minx Birthday Giveaway Basket are as follows:

Paper copy of What the Greek’s Money Can’t Buy & What the Greek Can’t Resist by Maya Blake

Paper copy of A Hint of Scandal & A Touch of Temptation by Tara Pammi

Paper copies of Runaway Groom & Marrying Cade, Ebook copy of Mile High by Sally Clements

Ebook or paper copies of the bestselling Knight series: Knight & Play, Knight & Stay & Knight & Day by Kitty French

Ebook of your choice from Rae Summers and a paper copy of Waking up in Vegas or The Trouble with Mojitos by Romy Sommer

Printed Pocket Novel version of Hidden Heartache by Suzanna Ross
Printed Pocket Novel version of It Had To Be You by Suzanne Ross Jones

Copy of the Blaze anthology, a hand made bag and a paperback of Secrets of a Chalet Girl by Lorraine Wilson

A £10 Amazon voucher

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Spotlight – Samantha Birch

For possibly the first time ever, we’re featuring a non-fiction book on The Minxes of Romance. Today’s spotlight book is The High Street Bride’s Guide, a one-stop, design-your-own-wedding (affordably) book from Samantha Birch.

1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Well, I’m a twenty-eight-year-old writer from Derby, and I live in Hertfordshire with my husband. We finally got married last November after being engaged for four years – two years and eight months of which we spent in his childhood bedroom! We’re now renting a two-bedroom flat with a kitchen in the living room while we save up the deposit for a house.

2. What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th?(Nora only!)
This is my first published book! I’m so excited! I have no idea what to expect, but I’ve worked really hard so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best!

3. What inspired this book?
It was a mixture of planning our wedding, chatting to my friends and the jobs I’ve had: I’ve worked in-house at You & Your Wedding and Cosmopolitan Bride and freelanced for Brides. One day I gave a work colleague advice on her wedding and she told me I should write a book, which I took a bit literally! I realised me and my now-husband weren’t the only ones struggling to save up for our wedding and really wanting it to be as beautiful as our better-off friends’ big days. I wrote down all the ways we could make it happen for less, I did a lot of research into the most affordable brands and I put it all together into The High-Street Bride’s Guide.

4. Have you any burning ambitions to write a story in a different genre?
Funny you should mention that; I’m actually writing a novel at the moment. Writing fiction has always been a dream of mine, and I’ve finished two manuscripts in the past, but I wrote them both when I was a teenager and they lacked the maturity of my old age! The book I’m writing now is a steampunk fantasy, so a bit of a switch from a non-fiction guidebook, but I love the change of pace, and it appeals to my nerdy side.

5. What was the most fun part of writing this book?
The intros to each section; I could just have fun with them. I decided not to hold back, but just to write what I thought was funny, even if it wasn’t all cakes and flowers. After all, my readers aren’t only brides, they’re people; they have a whole life going on besides their wedding, same as I did. So I threw in bits like Dylan Moran’s wisdom on women and shoes and a parody of those White Fang-type movies, you know where the kid tells the wolf or whatever that he hates it so it’ll go off and be free…

6. Do you have a writing routine? Do you write every day, and is there a time of day that works best for you in terms of being productive?
Yes, I write every day, but not always on my work in progress. Having spent four years commuting in and out of London I’m now a freelance writer for titles like GLAMOUR, so I write articles as well as books. I’ll at least look at the book I’m working on every day – preferably in the morning, which tends to be my best time for inspiration – and I’ll play with some ideas and mull it over, but some days I’ll toy with new words and they just won’t feel right. I know that sounds crazy and I wish I had more control over it, but I’ve realised those days are more about thinking, letting my brain work on the story in the back of my mind or maybe working on a character board or something. It’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I’m okay with counting that as work; I can be impatient and I used to think words on the page were the only thing that mattered, but now I know sometimes they don’t come if you haven’t given yourself the headspace find them.

7. How long does it take you to complete a book?
Non-fiction is quicker than fiction for me. The first edition of The High-Street Bride’s Guide took a month flat, then I spent a week or two revising and extending it for Harper Impulse. Fiction tends to take more like a year, and because of the complexity of the novel I’m writing at the moment, I think it could take closer to a year and a half.

8. Are your family and real-life friends supportive? If so, in what ways? If not, do you have another support network for your writing?
Yes, my husband, my family and my friends have always been really supportive of my writing; I’m so lucky to be surrounded by so many encouraging people. My poor husband has to listen to excerpts of whatever I’m working on at random intervals; I’ll just run into the living room with my laptop and go: “Read this please!” then make him a coffee and disappear so I don’t have to be in the room while he does. Sometimes I want his feedback on where a scene is going wrong or whether it feels truthful, or I’ll be having an attack of self-doubt and I need him to tell me whether it’s founded. Others I’ll just be really excited that it feels like a scene has gone well and I’ll want to show it to him in the hope that he thinks it’s as funny as I do!

Recently I’ve found another support network for my writing too: the lovely authors at Harper Impulse! I hit a writer’s block in my current novel that made me nervous about going back to the manuscript, but they were quick to reassure me that I hadn’t gone mad and that most writers feel the same sometimes, and to fill me in on lots of tried and tested tips that got me back on the page again. At times like that it’s good to have people in the same industry to make you feel like you’re not alone; I’m now back on track and heading for the 20,000-word mark!

The High -Street Bride’s Guide

Brides-to-be, this one’s for you!
You can say your vows in a catwalk gown so beautiful it reduces your mum to tears (and not because she paid for it).
You can style a reception so stunning your guests won’t believe you didn’t hire an A-list planner.
And you can sprinkle the day with personal touches that make everyone feel like you gave them special attention before they even got there. Without spending a house deposit on it. Honest.
Samantha Birch has written for GLAMOUR, Brides, You & Your Wedding and Cosmopolitan Bride. She knows a thing or two about planning a wedding on a budget, how much you can expect to pay for everything and where to go to get it for less. And she’s put it all down here.

The High-Street Bride’s Guide is available from Amazon, Amazon UK, and iTunes.
You can chat to Samantha on Twitter or on Facebook.