Behind, “Behind the Shadows”

Today’s blog is a work of pride and joy, as it features a book, Behind the Shadows, that my story, Left in the Dark, is in.



 To purchase a copy of  Behind the Shadows


Behind the Shadows is the brainchild of both Zukiswa Wanner and Rohini Chowdhury.

It has been an absolute pleasure working with Zukiswa and Rohini, both of whom, are talented writers and the editors of Behind the Shadows.

I am sure that sifting through the submissions for this Anthology of Short Stories could not have been easy but Rohini and Zukiswa’s passion for writing, fuelled them.


Firstly, questions for the Editors of the book.

I asked Rohini Chowdhury how she felt now that the anthology was done and dusted?


Well, there was a huge sense of celebration, and of satisfaction for a job completed and completed well. As every writer/editor knows, there is also always a big sense of relief when a project is finished. Now, of course, the equally important task is ahead of us – of making this anthology visible, and hopefully converting that visibility into sales. Given that this has become a joint venture between us and the twenty-one writers who contributed to the anthology, there is a profound sense of community here, and the feeling of a team that is pulling together to turn a dream into a reality.

You can view more of Rohini’s work at:


Zukiswa Wannerhad this to say about how they selected the final twenty one stories.

We waded through hundreds of submissions and chose the 21 we did based on the writers’ following the requirements on theme, length, and of course submissions
of edits on time. And of course it was also a matter of having stories that really resonated with us. If something didn’t gel with Ro but worked with me, I let it go unless I felt really really strongly then I fought for it and vice versa.

Visit Zukiswa, she will love it.


The Last Rhino by Lauri Kubuitsile

1. What is your story about?

My story is called The Last Rhino in Mutare. It’s about a young white girl
living in Zimbabwe during the time of the farm invasions and all of the
problems with the economy and election violence. She lives in Mutare a town
in the eastern highlands and is friends with a man who works at the tiny
game park there. She feels lost, she can’t find a place to fit in. That’s
really the main theme of the story, fitting in when you’re different from
everyone around you.

2. Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

I love Mutare and they actually have a small game park there which I’ve
visited. This story was written quite a few years ago. During all of the
difficulties. I often thought about the place since a lot of the violence
took place there. The inspiration came from my worries for the people of
Mutare and also my own constant battle with trying to find a place to fit
in. Like Delia, my protagonist, I’ve always been an outsider no matter where
I’ve found myself, always I wondered if somewhere there were people that
spoke my language and could pronounce my true name without having to twist
their tongue, just as Delia wonders in the story.
3. What are your thoughts on the African/Asian Anthology.

I have to admit I haven’t read the entire book yet, just bits and pieces. I
need to move it into my Kindle which is my main way of reading books
nowadays. I’ve been travelling a lot for the last two months and haven’t had
a chance. But I am excited and honoured to be part of the book. I am a big
fan of cross cultural initiatives such as this. Finding our commonalities
and our differences goes a long way to finding our way to each other and
that is really what it is all about. It’s the way to find peace and respect
for each other. Stories are perhaps the truest way for us to get to know
each other.

You can contact Lauri  at:

email: or


Mrs Tan’s Memoir by Damyanti Ghosh


1. What is your story about?

My story “Mrs. Tan’s Memoir”, is about an Indian woman, married to a Singaporean man for decades, who still feels like an outsider in her adoptive country, in her family, her home, her job.

2. What inspired your story?

The woman who serves the soup to the protagonist in the story is real. She still stands each evening in the food court opposite my condominium, and dishes out her food, without a smile. My story started as her story, but somehow became the story of Mrs. Tan. The rest of it is a re-imagination of various bits and pieces from the notebook where I keep jotting down things I see, and I have very little clue how it all came together to become a story.

3. What do you hope the African/Asian Anthology would achieve?

I hope it will bring smiles and tears to many readers, just as it did to me. Some of the stories in the collection are very moving, and I’m a little awed by the combined talent of the contributors.

Damyanti would love a visit to her blog:


The Thing that Ate your Brains by Jackee Batanda


1.What is your story about?

The Thing That Ate your Brains is a family drama story capturing issues of loss, divorce, and deep faith. It explores the conflict between traditional beliefs and religion- in this case, the dead girl’s mental illness is blamed on tradition and can only be healed once the rituals are done, but the parents are Christians and do not believe carrying out rituals.
Lyaaka, the narrator, addresses her dead cousin, Adongo, who was mentally ill, later fled the home, and when she returned, she was already dying of HIV/AIDs.
In the story, when the family breaks down after Adongo’s disappearance, and the family stops searching, only Namaqua, her sister, does not give up on ever finding her sister. So I meant it that Adongo finally re-appears to Namaqua, to give it a sense of finality that she finds home and peace.

2. Why did you choose to write it?

A family tragedy was the inspiration for this story. The story is close to me. A similar story happened to a cousin of mine, whom I only heard about in conversations, and when I heard the details and about her death, I decided to write a short story to capture her spirit and keep her alive. Many of the incidents have of course been changed for purposes of fiction, but the spirit of the story remains.

3. What are your thoughts on the African/Asian Anthology?

The anthology is a brilliant piece of work and a fabulous south-south collaboration. It has exposed me to new writers and their works, as I am sure I have been a new discovery for some of the writers in the collection.
When I first saw the call for short stories and the theme Outcast, I knew, I had to submit, The Thing That Ate your Brains. It fitted well with the theme, and I was sure that this would be perfect home.
It is interesting that most anthologies are mainly only Africa or only Asian, so having a collecting targeting writers from Africa and Asia is makes Behind the Shadows, a book that must be on everyone’s night stand, and it works to introduce African writers to Asian writers and the reverse.

So I am really glad to be a part of this collection, and wish for bigger things for it.

You can follow Jackee on twitter or visit her on her blog.




Cape Farm No. 432 by Jayne Bauling

1. What inspired you to write your story?
When I heard that the theme for the Behind the Shadows anthology was
‘Outcasts’, I started thinking of the sort of people who’ve been shunned as
outcasts through the ages. I also wanted to give the story an obviously
African aspect as it was to be an Asian-African book, so the combination of
lepers and Robben Island seemed a gift.

2. What do you think of the variety of stories that make up the anthology?

I’m enjoying reading the stories. They’re such a good mix. There’s
humour, there’s tragedy, and a lot more. My own story is set back in the
1800s, but balancing that there’s a wonderful story set in the future
3.Do you think there is a need for cross-cultural stories? Why?

Cross-cultural stories are valuable on several levels. They can educate
as well as entertain, promoting understanding.

You can contact Jayne at


This part of the blog is really unashamed, self-promotion:)

Left in the Dark – Elaine Pillay

I took a writing course and the story took shape. “Left in the Dark” is based on a true story. Writing it was a personal battle of “is this something I should tell everybody?” But how will we learn cultural and personal balance if nobody tells their story?

When I was young, my mom had suffered a nervous breakdown and I remember never being told what had happened to her. I was never allowed to see her and I made meaning of what was going on with my mom from stories that the adults around me shared with each other. I know that parents do this to protect their children and maybe at the time it is the right thing to do. Who knows?

In my story, I also wanted to show, how cultural and societal obligations can often be at the expense of your own life and your own happiness.

And that as much as it is difficult to choose in these situations, you have to take care of yourself, first, so that you can take care of others.

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Writing Romance with Liz Fielding


I have always loved Liz Fielding’s work and today she is on the blog and giving away a copy of her “Little Book of Writing Romance”. If you are an aspiring romance writer, this little goodie is for you. To win a copy of the book, tell Liz what your favourite first line is and what about it grabbed you.


Thanks so much to Elaine for inviting me here to talk about my Little Book of Writing Romance. It’s always so much easier to write about writing than actually do it!

My Little Book is a primer, an entry level aid for the writer who has a story to tell, but is struggling to get it out of her head and onto paper. To quote the theme song for the movie of ErichSegal’s bestselling book Love Story, “How do you begin…”

I know how that feels, I’ve been there and I have written the book I wish I’d had when I was starting out.

My purpose is to explain, in the simplest terms — no jargon! — and using examples from my own work, how to make the transition from the story in your head to words on paper. How to write a compelling opening, deepen conflict, write honest emotion, hopefully with a touch of humour to leaven the mix. How to write crisp dialogue, develop the romance, add a little sizzle.

It’s a simply written, straightforward guide to writing romance — or any kind of popular fiction, since the same basic requirements apply whether you’re writing a thriller or a romcom. You’ll notice that I didn’t use the word “rules”.

Lesson one is simply this. Do not allow yourself to be hidebound by some arbitrary “rules” laid down by one person.

The only rule in writing is that you take the reader on a magic carpet ride. Transport her. Thrill her. Enchant her. Imagine that you are Scheherazade, spinning stories that will keep you alive for another day and then ask yourself is every scene moving the story forward, is every kiss heart-stopping, does every plot twist leave the reader gasping? Will she be able to stop turning the pages?

So where do you begin?

With action.

Begin your story at a moment of crisis, a point in time when your character’s life is about to change for ever. The day when the clock strikes thirteen.

The first page of your book makes a promise to the reader. It sets the tone — Come with me and I will entertain you, amuse you, warm you, bring a tear to your eye, a sigh of contentment to your heart. You make that promise by showing the reader your lead character talking, moving, reacting.

Dig deep for emotion.

If you find yourself writing “…this was beyond anything she’d ever felt before…” stop and ask yourself what she is feeling. Make a scene of it. Like the method actor, use your own experience to make the reader feel it too. (Okay, you won’t ever have fallen in love with a vampire, or been held up by a masked gunman – I hope – but we’ve all experienced the emotion of falling in love. And we’re all been afraid.)

Create characters that your reader will care about.

Not perfect creatures, but real people with flaws we can empathise with. If they were perfect there would be no conflict, no story. And use a light touch with the descriptions. Allow the reader to create her own image.

In a short romance it’s important to keep the conflict simple, which is not to say feeble.

It’s the driving force of your story and has to sustain the book, block the happy ending in a convincing manner. If misunderstandings could be cleared up by a chat over a cup of tea, the barrier between your hero and heroine must be so great that they’ll talk about anything but what they’re feeling.

You keep them talking by using an external conflict. The blockage is the internal conflict, the emotional pain that keeps them apart. (Think of a couple breaking up. They’re arguing over the assets, not talking about what happened.)

Again, in a short romance, there’s not much space for description.

The place your characters inhabit should be glimpsed in the opening so that the reader is grounded in their world.

The important word in that sentence is “glimpsed”. The setting is a backdrop to the action; it should underpin it, not overwhelm it. A snapshot, a brief, thumbnail sketch will allow each reader to fill in the details from her own mental picture gallery and see it clearly in her mind’s eye.

Finally, offer a glimpse at the beginning of your story of the ending, so that the final scenes will be completing a circle.

In my Harlequin Romance, The Last Woman He’d Ever Date, my heroine is late for work because she’s stopped to deal with a problem in her garden. She dislikes her job but it’s vital to her sense of self to hold onto it. By the end she has resolved that issue and will move on with or without the hero.

My Little Book of Writing Romanceis a hand in the dark for the beginner, a prompt for the writer who feels a little bit stale. It’s a “show and tell”; explanations followed by examples.


For a chance to win a download of my book, I’d love to know your favourite first lines and what about it grabbed you, so that you had to read the book.



WILD JUSTICE now FREE on Kindle –

http://lizfielding.blogspot.com – @lizfielding


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Joss Wood: SA’s Mills and Boon Writer

I am always thrilled to host a romance writer. Today, I am both thrilled and proud to host, Joss Wood, a South African writer, who has just been snapped up by Mills and Boon.

Joss has kindly agreed to guest blog and take us on her writing journey.

Thank you so much for inviting me to be on your blog, Elaine. My name is Joss Wood and my first book for Mills and Boon Riva, ‘She’s so Over Him’ set in Cape Town, will be released in theUKin September, 2012.

I saw a wonderful image the other day, a cartoon saying that ‘I am in a complicated relationship with a fictional character’ and that’s what I love and do best. I revel in creating complicated relationships between headstrong, smart and sexy people and telling their story.

So, a little of my journey to publication…

I distinctively remember writing my first book at the age of eight…it was a romance, complete, if I remember correctly, with a chaste kiss. Since then, I never stopped writing completely and delved into it when I had time and frequently put it on hold ( a fancy way of saying that I gave up) when I was reminded of  how incredibly hard it was…as any author will know.

About six years ago, I was sitting in a wicker basket hanging from a massive tree on the edge of Lake Malawi and I’d just finished a lazy, sun-shiny conversation (the only type you can have in Malawi) with good friends and realized that writing made me happier than anything else and it was time to either take it seriously or give it up completely. I decided to take it seriously and started applying myself to learning the craft….I went on writing courses, I did on-line courses, I read books, I scoured the Internet for articles on writing.

And I wrote. And then I wrote some more. I managed to get an agent for a short time but when she immigrated toAustralia, and shut down her agency, I genuinely thought that it was the end of the road. It’s so difficult getting an agent and the slush pile takes years…I think that was the lowest point in terms of my writing and I seriously wondered whether it was worth the time and effort.

Yet something inside me wouldn’t allow me to completely give up hope…

On a whim and without much expectation I entered a SA short story competition in 2010 that was run in one of our local magazines in conjunction with Mills & Boon. I didn’t win but came within in the top ten. The stories were sent off to M&B and Flo Nicoll asked me to develop the characters into a novel. I worked on it with her for about six months and then she sent it off to the powers that be. I really thought I had no chance, it was taking so long! Then Flo said that the Riva team had liked it but could I do some revisions (and they wanted the revisions in a week! Gasp! Dismay!). Long story short, Flo called and gave me the news, said they liked the revisions and said they’d buy my second book as well. My husband, who was home at the time, was listening to my conversation and later told me that he was rolling on the floor laughing because all he heard me say was ‘thank you, thank you, thank you!’ like the village idiot! LOL!

My advice to aspiring authors? I don’t know if I’ve been in the game long enough to presume to tell anyone what to do but I can tell you what I decided as I entered this brand new, shiny world.

  • I decided to try and be as professional as I could and to listen to what my editor was telling me on all my work…they know the market, they know what sells and they know what they want. I considered every single suggestion Flo made and ran with most of them. I learnt more from Flo in six months than I did my entire writing life.
  • I realized that the character motivations have to be water tight and consistent throughout the book. The setting can be great, the dialogue sparkling but if the characters aren’t working their butts off for their happy ever after then the book won’t succeed. 
  • Dialogue is important! The characters can’t talk enough.
  • I learnt that the second book is harder to write than the first…
  • My first draft is always a dumpster fire and the real writing starts on the second and third draft. Who says an average romance is 55 000 words? Not to the author it isn’t.
  • Respect your readers and give them your best work. If you don’t believe in what you’re writing then they won’t.
  • I learnt that I am insanely, absolutely in love with Google…where else can you find a quick answer to a strange question in thirty seconds?

There are only a few other things about writing that I know for sure:

I know that the possibility of me throwing someone against a wall for saying that ‘romances are written to a formula’ is quite high.  Contrary to public opinion, writing romance is incredibly difficult….

I know that writers write, they put black letters on a white screen every day, or at the very least, a couple of times a week.

I’m quite convinced that successful writers give up their time to write. They prioritize it…if you’re not willing to give the time─ especially as a wife and mother, as I am─ then I don’t believe it will happen unless you are spectacularly talented and abnormally lucky. It’s not something you can fit in between the school run and coffee with your friends or your son’s cricket match. And if you need to do all that─ and I did─ and if you have a  job (and I do) then it means waking up early and going to bed late and writing during your lunch hour and at weekends. It takes time and dedication and sheer, unrelenting hard work.

But when you get that call from the editor telling you that they want to buy your book or see your book cover or hold your book in your hands then its worth every revision, every tear, every minute you spent in front of your computer having complicated relationships with imaginary people.

Thanks again, Elaine…

Follow Joss on Facebook: Joss Wood

TWITTER: @JossWoodbooks



Joss Wood wrote her first book at the age of eight and has never really stopped. Her passion for putting black letters on a white screen is only matched by her love of books and travelling (especially to the wild places ofSouthern Africa) and, possibly, by her hatred of ironing and making school lunches.

 Fueled by coffee, when she’s not writing or being a hands-on Mom, Joss, with her background in business and marketing, works for a non-profit organization to promote the local economic development and collective business interests of the area where she resides.  Happily, and chaotically, surrounded by family, friends and books, she lives in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa with her husband, young children and their many pets.






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Wendy S. Marcus

Wendy S. Marcus has taken time out from her hectic writing schedule to grace us with her presence today. So, I hand you over to her.


Hi Elaine! Thank you so much for having me here today to discuss my writing routine and plotting vs. pantsing. First off I’d like to introduce myself to anyone who doesn’t know me. My name is Wendy S. Marcus and I write medical romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon. My third book, The Nurse’s Not-So-Secret Scandal, is out now, but more about that later.

The three best pieces of advice I received as a new writer were:

1)      Don’t write the first thing that comes to mind. Or even the second. Those phrases are overused. Be original.

2)      Do what works best for you.

3)      A good book is written in revision.

I’m a pantser who, somewhere in the murky middle of a manuscript, wishes she was a plotter. I read about authors storyboarding and collaging, writing in depth outlines and synopses, planning their books down to the last detail from start to finish, or doing a quick and dirty first draft in two weeks so they can get to know their characters and flesh out their storylines.

For better or for worse, none of those things work for me.

My stories evolve as I write them, as my characters grow and develop and take on lives of their own. While I typically start off knowing the basic story I’d like to tell, how I get from page one to the happily ever after is a mystery until I actually get there. (As an example, I am presently 45,000 words into a 50,000 word book and I still have no idea how I’m going to end it! Yikes!) Being a panster is not for the faint of heart. Trust me. Because when you hit a snag and the story isn’t working and your deadline is fast approaching, there’s no detailed outline or comprehensive synopsis to refer to for guidance.

So what do I do?

Each day I start off by reviewing/editing/revising what I wrote the day before to get me back into the story and remind me where I was headed. Then I review any notes I left myself which might contain ideas/suggestions for upcoming scenes or information I need to add/address as the story progresses. Before I begin to type I spend some quiet time visualizing the scene before me as if I were watching it on television.

Warning: While the scene is usually amazing in my head, it rarely turns out amazing when I try to put my vision into words. Don’t fret! Get it into the computer as best you can. You can fix it later. My typical routine is: I write a scene. After I get the entire scene down I review it from start to finish and edit for clichés, mix of action/dialogue, and I make sure the reader can follow/picture what is happening. Then I take a break to walk my dog or have lunch. Afterwards I review it again and make more changes, layer in emotion and clarify GMC (goals/motivations/conflicts). Then I move on. Typically it takes me reviewing/editing/revising a chapter three times before I’m happy with it. And that doesn’t include the final review/edit/revision when I read the entire manuscript from start to finish in the computer and then print it out, punch holes in it and place it in a three-ring binder so I can read it like a book.

My method is time-consuming and I break the cardinal rules of “Don’t edit as you go or you could be wasting your time editing a scene you later wind up cutting from the book.” And “If you spend all your time perfecting chapter one, you’ll never move on to chapter two.” This is where the ‘Do what works best for you’ comes into play. This is the system that works for me. I can’t bring myself to move on until I’m comfortable that I’ve done the best job I can on what I’ve written.

That said I do need to limit the amount of time I spend on each chapter and on final revisions to make sure I finish each book in the time allotted.

And now for some information on my latest release, The Nurse’s Not-So-Secret Scandal, which is available now in the UK, Aus/NZ, U.S, and France.



The shocking secrets of nurse Roxie Morano!

Between family nightmares and a series of lousy men, nurse Roxie Morano’s life is a disaster zone. But enigmatic (and gorgeous!) new colleague Ryan ‘Fig’ Figelstein is ignoring her hazard warnings – instead, he’s signaling his attraction! Now Roxie’s bulletproof heart is at risk for the very first time…but dare she dream Fig will stick around when he discovers all her secrets?

To read an excerpt from The Nurse’s Not-So-Secret Scandal, or to learn more about me and/or my books visit my website:

So what about you? Are you a writer? If so, are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you edit as you go? If you’re a reader, have you ever read a medical romance?

One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to win a copy of the 2in1 UK edition of The Nurse’s Not-So-Secret Scandal which includes a complete novel by Emily Forbes.

Thanks for stopping by!

About Wendy S. Marcus

Wendy S. Marcus lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York with her husband, two of their three children, and a much loved Bichon Frise named Buddy. A nurse by trade, Wendy has her master’s degree in health care administration. After years of working in the medical profession, Wendy has taken a radical turn to writing hot contemporary romance with strong heroes, feisty heroines, and lots of laughs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and blogging/e-mailing/tweeting with her online friends. To learn more about Wendy visit her website,

Find me on Facebook. (Please add link to word Facebook:!/pages/Wendy-S-Marcus-Author-Page/184507031577429 )

Find me on Twitter: (Please add link to word Twitter:!/WendySMarcus )

Find me on Goodreads: (Please add link to word Goodreads: )




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Marguerite Kaye: Let’s talk about Sex

Today, I am pleased to welcome Marguerite Kaye. She has graciously offered a signed copy of her latest offering “Rake with a Frozen Heart” and is here to tell us how to write a sizzling hot love scene. Yep, ladies, take notes from the best in the business. I hand you over to Marguerite Kaye.

Let’s talk about Sex

One reviewer of my book, Innocent in the Sheikh’s Harem, said it was probably the hottest Harlequin Historical title she’d ever read. Let me say up front, that I don’t discreetly close the bedroom doors in my books, but that doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t. Rule number one in writing a sex scene: if you’re not comfortable with it, then don’t. If you’re embarrassed, your hero and heroine will be too, and you’ll have your reader squirming – and not in a good way!

But if you do decide you want to show your characters getting intimate in front of the camera, then here’s my rule number two: give it context. Years ago, I remember reading an interview with a Mills&Boon editor who talked about the sandwich-choking kiss. No, that’s not some sort of weird eating fetish, it’s a kiss that comes out of nowhere and makes the editor choke on her lunch. Whatever the form of sexual contact, whether it’s a sizzling glance  or a tangle of naked flesh, it needs to be believable in terms of the stage of the relationship between the hero and heroine, and it needs to make a point about the romantic journey they’re taking. Gratuitous sex has no place in a romance, so think about what it is they’re doing and why, and how they feel before they do it, and how doing whatever it is they’re doing changes them. And make sure that your writing tells that story.

Which brings me to my rule number three: experience, don’t describe. Sex in a romance is about emotion, not technical detail. How does what the hero is doing make the heroine feel – and remember, she’s got more than one sense. And let’s not forget that there’s two (usually!) people involved here – show us what’s going on in the hero’s mind. I’ve always found that writing intimate scenes gives me lots of opportunity for insights into my hero and heroine’s characters. It’s not just about the release of sexual tension between them, it’s about their history, their emotional conflict. Whether they’ve had lots of sex in the past or none at all, whether it’s been traumatic or meaningless or simply not very good, all of this will add to how they experience this sex in every sense. For me, this is ‘show, don’t tell’ at it’s best.

Telling it from the hero and heroine’s point of view should mean that the reader is not embarrassed – she’s involved, she’s emotionally connected, so she shouldn’t feel like she’s intruding. To make sure you keep it that way, here’s my rule number four: think sensual, not instruction manual. You don’t need technical details. You don’t need to write a step-by-step guide to orgasm. It’s about how what’s happening is affecting your hero and heroine. They’re not going to be analysing every move, they’re feeling it.

The words you choose are very important here. What kind of language would your heroine use  – unless she’s a gynaecologist, I doubt it will be medical! The name a Regency virgin would give to her lady bits isn’t going to be what a Twenty-first century heroine would use. And the hero? His language is likely to be different, but be very, very careful about using explicitly sexual slang. Remember, you’re writing a romance and not pornography. Obviously, the kind of language that’s acceptable will vary according to the audience you’re writing for, but generally speaking, I’d steer clear of using words which might jolt and jar the reader out of the magic of the moment. Of course euphemisms, especially for lady bits, can be unintentionally hilarious or more often clichéd – I’ll put my hands up to having used petals unfurling and flowers opening – but for me, it’s better to err on the side of risking a laugh than offending your reader.

Which brings me to rule number five: there are no rules! What works best really depends on you. There’s no formula for how quickly or slowly a hero and heroine get physical, for how often, and in what way. What works for one story almost certainly won’t work for the next one you write. Sustained sexual tension can be every bit as exciting and sensual as explosive, multiple-orgasmic sex. The important thing to remember is that your hero and heroine are falling in love. And however you write it, by the end of the book, by the end of their journey, they won’t be having sex, they’ll be making love.

Current Release

Rake with a Frozen Heart is out now from Harlequin/Mills&Boon Historical in the UK and North America, available in paperback and digital form. It’s been chosen as the Mills&Boon Book of the Month for May.


Waking up in a stranger’s bed, Henrietta Markham encounters the most darkly sensual man she has ever met. The last thing she remembers is being attacked by a housebreaker – yet being rescued by the notorious Earl of Pentland feels much more dangerous!

Since the cataclysmic failure of his marriage, ice has flowed in Rafe St Alban’s veins. But meeting impetuous, all-too-distracting governess Henrietta heats his blood to boiling point. When she’s accused of theft, Rafe finds himself offering to clear her name. Can Henrietta’s innocence bring this hardened rake to his knees…?

Biography and Contact Details

Born and educated in Scotland, Marguerite Kaye originally qualified as a lawyer but chose not to practice. Instead, she carved out a career in IT and studied history part-time, gaining a first-class honours and a master’s degree.

A few decades after winning a children’s national poetry competition, she decided to pursue her lifelong ambition to write, and submitted her first historical romance to Mills&Boon. They accepted it, and she’s been writing ever since.

There’s excerpts, background and ‘buy the book’ links on my website ( or you can go straight to my Amazon page (

I’m always happy to chat on Facebook ( or Twitter (@margueritekaye).

And if you want to see the ideas and inspiration behind some of my stories, then check out my boards on Pinterest (


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Jade Lee – The First Kiss

I am beyond thrilled today to be hosting Jade Lee and grateful that she has taken time out from her busy schedule to give aspiring writer’s advice on “How to Write the First Kiss”.

Remember to leave Jade a comment on how you write to win a copy of her latest book “Wedded in Scandal”. You can also download a free copy of Jade’s “Engaged in Wickedness”.

Jade Lee, welcome and thank you.

First kisses are awkward, difficult, and sometimes just plain messy.  Oh wait, I’m supposed to talk about WRITING the first kiss.  Okay, let me switch gears from my adolescent nightmare to a how-to on first kisses in a romance novel.  Well, they’re awkward, difficult, and sometimes just plain messy.

There are as many first kisses as there are characters who kiss, so that’s a lot.  How do you make yours special?  When starting this blog, I had a whole list of considerations, but they all boiled down to one thing:

BEGIN HOW YOU END.  In my mind, the first kiss always reflects how the characters end up.  Sex in the middle of the book tends to be more about issues that the relationship faces.  We’re frustrated with each other — angry sex.  We’re coming together after nearly dying — life-affirming sex.  We’re exploring each other’s wild side — fun, unpredictable sex.  That’s in the middle of the book and those physical scenes give dimension and extra layers to the characters.  That’s great, but it’s not the first kiss.

For the first kiss, I like to have an echo or a foreshadowing of how they’re going to end.  Not a direct copy, but a hint.

Let me explain — At the end of your book, the couple  is going to live happily ever after.  Duh.  But HOW?  There’s going to be a dynamic to the relationship that is unique to that couple.  Is he the long suffering male with the wacky heroine?  (You can restate that as is he the only one who GETS the heroine?)  Then that first kiss has to be EXACTLY what the heroine needs at that moment.  And no one else would possibly think that she would need that kiss.

Or is your couple the dominant vampire alpha with an equally alpha female?  Then that first kiss has to be a struggle for control, for dominance.  Usually the alpha male will initiate it, but that’s not necessarily true.  In that dynamic, the heroine usually gives into the passion first (gives way to the alpha male), but afterwards the alpha male feels completely stripped of his power.  That foreshadows that at the end of the book, he will give up all his considerable power and dominance to serve her needs.

What if your couple is the mind vs. emotion dynamic?  Usually that’s the incredibly intelligent geek man with the emotional sensitive heroine.  At the end of the book, they balance each other out.  Their first kiss should startle the hell out of him, but then his emotional side takes root  and it rocks his world.  For her part, it should begin as an impulsive act that she later thinks and analyzes to death.  What that shows is that the first kiss gives them both a sudden dose of what they haven’t got — either the emotional side or the thinking side.

So that’s it in a nutshell, but there is infinite variety within that structure.

So now it’s your turn.  Ask me questions, talk about your current WIP.

One lucky commenter will win a copy of my latest novel WEDDED IN SCANDAL by Jade Lee.

But EVERYONE gets a FREE copy of the prequel novel ENGAGED IN WICKEDNESS.

Engaged in Wickedness free!

Click here and follow the instructions!

Jade Lee’s Books

Jade Lee Bio

USA Today Bestseller, JADE LEE has been scripting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls.  Ball gowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began.  And as a Taurus, she lives to pit a headstrong woman against a tortured hero just to watch them butt heads on the way to true love.

Now an author of more than 30 romance novels, she finally gets to set these couples in the best girl-heaven of all: a Bridal Salon!  This way she gets to live out all her wedding fantasies, one by one.  (Let’s be honest, what girl has only one idea for her dream wedding?)

And don’t forget Jade’s other name, KATHY LYONS.  That’s Jade’s lighter, contemporary side.  She writes for Harlequin Blaze merging hawt sex and funny relationships into really great reads.

For more on Jade Lee and her books, visit


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Heidi Rice

I have to say that the Mills and Boon Author’s have been great to this blog. Today, we have Heidi Rice and she is going to tell us how she builds the Perfect Hero and Heroine. So, I will stop writing now and give you over to her.

Hi there, I’m really excited to be chatting about how I create my Heroes and Heroines on Elaine’s blog today.

I guess the first thing I should say is that when I create a Hero and Heroine they are far from perfect. To be believable and relatable as characters I like to think of them as real people, with real flaws, real passions, real pain and very real vulnerabilities, and with that comes lots of intriguing layers to their personalities which even they are not aware of. In fact they’re so real to me, I hear them having conversations in my head (with each other, not with me you’ll be glad to know!).

When it comes to my Hero, I need to be able to fall in love with him myself. Which often means he’ll be a bit of a bad boy – because that’s an archetype I’ve adored ever since I first saw Rebel Without a Cause on late-night TV. He’ll have some aching vulnerabilities that he hides behind a façade of sexy, laid-back self-confidence that only the heroine can see and eventually heal. But as each Hero I create is an individual, they’ll be a lot of different facets to his personality, his past and his present that are very specific to him.

For example, the hero I’m writing at the moment is a Mexican-American called Zane Montoya who after a delinquent childhood and a spell in the LAPD, now runs a successful private detective agency in Big Sur California. Zane is drop-dead gorgeous (one of those guys that stops traffic!) and on the surface appears to be effortlessly successful with women. So successful in fact, that he’s never had a long-term relationship. Don’t get me wrong, Zane’s not fickle, or a player, he adores and respects all women, and finds them endlessly fascinating. But he has never been able to settle down in a relationship. He doesn’t see this as a problem, if he thinks about it at all, he probably believes that he’s doing each woman he dates a favour by letting her go before things get too serious. But actually there’s a much more complex reason for Zane’s pattern of behaviour, his inability to nurture relationships with women past that early, fun-filled, flirtatious and completely shallow ‘getting to know you’ phase. Zane’s actually scared of revealing too much of himself to anyone, of letting anyone get behind that charming, sexy, super-seductive façade because the man beneath has a deep-seated fear that he may be just like the man he most despises — namely his father. But this is something Zane doesn’t realise until he meets a young Scottish wildlife artist called Iona MacCabe.

Iona is my heroine, and like every heroine I create there’s a little bit of me in her. She’s smart, witty, refreshing honest, pretty (see, just like moi!!) but also too trusting and too much of a romantic. She wants  desperately for her relationships to work that she allows men to walk all over her. And she’s had her confidence shattered by a guy called Brad who walked into the little teashop where she worked in her small Scottish home town of Rainbow Glen and whisked her off to LA after a whirlwind romance. Finally, after six months of trying to make the relationship work, with no help at all from the selfish and self-absorbed Brad, she hired Zane’s private detective firm to confirm what she already knew — that Brad the cad had been cheating on her with a string of different women. Iona gets rid of Brad, but her confidence is at an all-time low. So when Zane asks her on a date, she’s determined to be a realist. She’s sure this is just a pity date, but why not make the most of it? What has she got to lose? She’s not about to fall for another guy with a pretty face and too much charm. What she doesn’t realise (and neither does Zane) is that Zane has reacted to Iona in a way he’s never reacted to the other women he’s dated. He feels protective of her, he admires her courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. He knows she’s vulnerable, and on the rebound, the sort of woman that he would usually shy away from, but he can’t resist her. Thus, he’s already more invested in this relationship than he’s ever been before. So when Iona sees past Zane’s usual tactics of keeping his dates at arm’s length she’s in a unique position to shake him up the way no other woman ever has…. And when Iona realises that Zane fancies her for real, and not just out of pity, she’s going to get all shook up too.

Hmmm, that’s what I like when I create a Hero and Heroine, two people who are going to be in for some seriously shocking surprises!!

Ok, I hope I haven’t gone on too long. I now need to get back to these two and see what happens next.

Thanks for having me Elaine!

Heidi Rice’s Books

If you would like to purchase books written by Heidi, please visit

About Heidi Rice

Heidi Rice has always had big dreams. First, to marry Paul Newman and when that did not go according to plan, to become an actress. Thankfully, for Mills and Boon readers, acting did not work out. Heidi also thought of directing movies but then eventually chose to become a film journalist. She met and married her Alph hero and had two sons. Heidi has always loved romance novels and tried her hand at writing one. In 2007, her first novel, Bedded by a Bad Boy, was published by Harlequin Mills and Boon. Her second book, The Mile High Club, was nominated for a RITA Award in 2008. Heidi Rice topped the Waldenbooks Series Romance Bestseller list twice in a row in 2009 with her fourth book, Pleasure Pregnancy and a Proposition. Her sixth book, Public Affair, Secretly Expecting, made her a USA Today Bestseller.

Heidi Rice lives in London and loves travelling especially to America.

For more on Heidi Rice visit


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