Archive for March, 2009


Is it woo-woo or does it work–our writing rituals and talismans!

woman-in-a-mans-shirtRobbie: I’ve thought hard about what rituals I perform before I can slip into ‘the zone’. Emails and surfing the net, cups of tea, thinking about doing the laundry…yep. But there’s something I hadn’t noticed before. I always write (at home) dressed a certain way. No, not in black lingerie or a lucky multi-coloured beanie, lol. But in one of my husband’s shirts.


Hmm, even that sounds a little weird. Let me explain.


My dh isn’t a small man and through his business he’s often given shirts from other companies. Shirts that don’t fit him but do fit me, and in a wonderfully roomy, comfie sort of way. If I need to go out in the morning, when I return home I’ll change into an Ark Marine or a Suzuki Australia button-down before diving into my WIP. Not a very flattering wardrobe for a romance writer, I confess, but I do own some impressive shoes, if that helps J



lapis-puffy-heartYvonne: I’m totally a creature of habit when I’m working on a book and if I don’t follow each step in my routine I definitely falter by the wayside. For total immersion I find I need to close my office door, light my oil burner and add pure essential oils that enhance mental focus, I switch on my water fountain and turn my iPod on, put my earbuds in, open my file and I’m off. Well, in theory I’m off. Sometimes when things are still not flowing I will choose one of my collection of puffy hearts (crystal/semi-precious stones) and I’ll hold it in my hand until it’s warm, spending that time mentally seeking an answer to whatever problem I’m facing with the manuscript. For me, these steps anchor me to my work and help me get into ‘state’ for writing. If I miss out something as simple as shutting my office door, I’m nowhere near as effective or productive as I am if I’ve closed it.  And I’ve noticed, if I just get a whiff of the oils I use for focus at any time I’m in my office, it’s as though it automatically switches me into work mode. I tend not to work anywhere but in my office so these steps really work well for me (well, most of the time! J )



t-shirt1Bron: Does time spent circling around the writing before starting count as a pre-writing ritual? 🙂  I write in splendid isolation, in a corner room far away from the mid-house activity and the internet computer.  I play a few games of spider solitaire, hearts, freecell, while listening to music on my iPod.  I need a cup of coffee when I first sit down and if I also have Starburst Babies (my current addiction), then I’m an even happier camper.  I also am a bit specific about what I wear: a very good friend gave me citrine earrings last year for my birthday. One of citrine’s properties is turning negative energy into positive, so a perfect choice for me!  Now the weather’s cooling down I always wear cosy, fluffy socks, sweats or jeans and one of variety of my writing T-shirts.  This is my current favourite which I bought in a charity auction last year as it’s signed by a host of my favourite authors. 



writer-at-workSandra: The writing rituals and talismans are on the simple side for me. I like to have a cup of tea beside me and absolute silence. I can’t seem to work if there’s any noise. So many authors I know love to play music, particularly if it’s evocative of the mood they’re after, while they write. I wish I could – but it just distracts me. I’ve also discovered that I work best at my desk on my trusty desktop computer. I have a laptop and it’s great if we’re going away and I have to work – but the words just don’t seem to flow as well.



laptop-in-bed1Rachel: I don’t have a talisman, and my rituals change constantly – much like the location of my writing. I have a writing desk, but after I’ve been there a month or two it always starts to feel… stale. So I take my laptop and any notes I have and move to the dining table. It’s fresh and full of possibility and I love it! Then after a month or two or three that starts to feel stale too. So I take my laptop and notes and move to the bedroom (which is where Marian Keyes says she writes all her books!). It feels great and relaxed and I love writing there. And then… you guessed it, after a month or two I move on again. I think I have some nomadic genes. Speaking of which – perhaps it’s time I moved…




iced-coffee2Paula: Hmmmm… writing routines and talismans?  Can we call Subway and iced coffee a talisman?  Seriously!   I actually think of it more as ‘getting in the mood,’  because sometimes sorting your bookshelves or flipping through iTunes is more appealing than putting words on a blank page J    Sometimes I’ll listen to my story soundtrack (music I specifically pick to convey the mood and feel of my characters and theme), sometimes I’ll think about fragrances and scents that my characters encounter (men’s fragrance is a favorite!!).  But the routine I seem to be attached to is Subway and iced coffee.  While I eat I get rid of my emails (if I haven’t already earlier that morning) because I cannot bear the thought of leaving them unanswered.  Then I have to re-read my last chapter before I can get into the story.    And I simply must close my door.  No distractions because the narrative in my head is disturbing enough J




 So, those are our rituals, folks. Do you have rituals in your work or daily life that you just can’t do without?


Following Up With Heroes

Mr. Darcy - sigh

Mr. Darcy - sigh

Following Up With Heroes

It seems only logical to follow up the heroine discussion with … heroes. And I have to confess that though I demand a strong heroine I secretly read for the hero I can fall in love with. And there are so many good ones out there. So, I’m making a list, and checking it twice (or maybe twenty times), of some of my favorite heroes. And I’m going to limit myself to five.

First has to be my husband (and not just for family political reasons), he’s the quintessential strong, silent type and is both wise and kind. So while he’s not much chop at a dinner party he’s great in a crisis. And I think there’s something of him in all the heroes I’ve written.

So now that’s ticked that one off the list…

2. Mr. Darcy, (Paula you really do have to read some Austen) What’s not to love about a great looking (in my mind he’ll now forever be Colin Firth striding out of that lake in the BBC version), kind and wealthy (have you checked out Pemberly) guy?

3. Daniel Craig aka James Bond. Suave and deadly fighter of the bad guys – also very nice in a pair of swimming trunks.

4. I’m a recent convert to Buffy so I’m going to put Angel in here. Someone else fighting for the good guys. And there’s such a great conflict between Angel and Buffy – the vampire in love with the vampire slayer. I’ve yet to reach the episodes where Spike comes into play as a hero (not really sure how that’s going to work) and it’s hard to imagine preferring him over Angel but apparently some do, so I’ll withhold my judgment.

5. Given that I’m a creature of the moment I’m going to put in Miles Calverleigh because I’ve just read Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer and he was great. (And I’m not going to mention Suzanne Brockmann’s SEALs or Susan Elizabeth Phillips football players, or Morelli or Ranger, or …you get the picture. And I can’t believe I’ve got no cowboys on my list because I do so love a good cowboy).

So, I’d love to hear who yours are, who I’ve forgotten and who I should be reading.


Hooray for Heroines!

I’ve been thinking about women. It was the 99th International Women’s Day last week (March 8th) which started my contemplation and it’s been on my mind ever since.

I think women are great. I’m proud to be one. And one of the things that hooks me when I open a romance is the heroine. Sure, we all want to read about a great hero, but if we can’t relate to the heroine, if she’s weak or TSTL then we won’t go on her journey with her.lizzie396_396x222

One of my favourite heroines is Elizabeth Bennet – she’s smart and won’t lower her standards just to get married, even though society is pressuring her to become someone’s wife. She’s also witty and she loves her sisters. Who wouldn’t want to be her friend? When I reread a favourite heroine’s book, it’s almost like revisiting an old friend.

There are heaps of fabulous real life heroines too – they’re all around us.

I admire women who are passionate about life.
I admire women who make changes happen.
I admire women who are raising the next generation.
I admire women who stand to be counted.
I admire women who are happy with themselves.

Who are the heroines you’ve stood up and applauded, either fictional or in real life?


What do you like to win?

I’ve just run a whole lot of contests, giving away ARCs, signed copies of books, and a gift certificate to a bookstore, so I’ve got prizes on the brain. 😉 And now I’m going to pick your brains’ on the topic.

My question is: as a reader, what do you most like to win? Do books top the list? ARCs? Gift certs? Promo items?


Jan Colley and her Friday Night Mistress

Thanks so much to the Desirabelles for inviting me to blog with you this week. And hello to all my old pals from the Diamonds blog. I am excited to announce the release of my sixth book for Silhouette Desire.

jans-bookFriday Night Mistress began life around Christmas 2007 when for some inexplicable reason, I began to hear Strauss waltzes in my head from morning to night. I have two very old CDs of Strauss’s Famous Viennese waltzes, but suddenly, I couldn’t get the music out of my head so I figured I was meant to write a ball story. My first idea didn’t fly but we eventually wrangled something from the ashes, which turned into two books about Kiwi brothers, Nick and Adam Thorne. I did stage a ball in Friday Night Mistress but as it turned out, the real ball bonanza was relegated to the second story, Adam’s book, which is set in England and Vienna.
Friday Night Mistress takes place mostly in Wellington, New Zealand, a pretty city at the bottom of the North Island.   wellington

msoundsNick and his love interest, Jordan, also take a trip on a chartered boat to the Marlborough Sounds, one of the loveliest parts of the country in my opinion. 

Nick Thorne is a financier, a serious, rather conservative man. I fell in love with the Venezuelan supermodel, Enrique Palacios, when I saw him on the Armani Code ad.  A little more delving delivered a wonderful You Tube clip of him in many poses.

armaniThis is one of my favourites (left) – and there actually was a steamy stairwell scene in the book…Gorgeous, intense, purposeful,   he clearly needs a shake-up.   Who better than the flashy, flighty heiress, Jordan Lake, who just happens to be the daughter of Nick’s father’s most hated enemy?

mischa-bartonThat’s Mischa Barton of OC fame (right). Aside from the problems that arise between their families, Jordan has exactly the right amount of flair, notoriety and vulnerability to rock Nick’s ordered and organised world. Nick prides himself on his sense of honour and duty. So much more responsible than his playboy brother, Adam, whom we meet in Friday Night Mistress, and who has Nick shaking his head over the relentless pursuit of his prim and proper PA…

You’ll be happy to know that since I finished writing Adam’s story – which was THE BEST to research – the Strauss music has subsided to an occasional treat.

Now a little story. My neighbor has told me she got goose bumps when she heard Strauss blaring from my house. Apparently the couple who built this house fifty years ago were keen ballroom dancers. We have a lovely big, long lounge with a huge curved window. They used to have dancing afternoons where their friends would come around and they would move the furniture back and waltz around the room. I like that! I always love hearing about different eras in a house’s life. One of our houses was built in 1848 and had a most interesting history – including a suicide – but even Google can’t help me with this place.

I was going to kick off the comments with a question pertaining to family feuds but let’s have some fun. 

house::Shines torch under your chin::  Do you have a snippet of fascinating history from a house you’ve lived in? It can be as creepy, crazy or cuckoo as you like. And if you raise the hairs on the back of my neck or tickle my funny bone, or even just dazzle me with the truth, I have two copies of Friday Night Mistress to give away. Good luck!