Good news for my American and Canadian readers: Gifts of Honor is only $0.99 until the 21st December! Get in the Christmas spirit with this heartwarming military holiday anthology from Carina Press!
The internet is abuzz with the news that Torstar has agreed to sell Harlequin to Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation, where it will become a division of Harper Collins. Though not normally one to get embroiled in romance industry happenings, I thought I might as well share my $0.02 – or R2 in South Africa – this once.
Putting on my management consulting hat for a moment, I can’t say I’m totally surprised. Torstar reported a 7% loss in revenue at the end of 2013 and book publishing – especially in the US market – was one of the segments that decreased. When the COO was swiftly appointed to replace the retiring CEO (rather than finding and appointing a big-name external with an editorial background) I did wonder about what felt like a playing-it-safe hire given the degree of flux in the industry at the moment. Surely this was the time to bring in fresh blood and big vision? But executive moves are my bread and butter and I tend to consider them far more than most people, who probably couldn’t really care less.
With today’s announcement, the recent C-suite reshuffle leapt immediately to mind. Retrospectively it makes sense – who better to steer a company through a merger than the tried-and-tested operations guy? Equally it’s not hard to see how a shift in the top brass could open the way for a merger; without the advocacy of a long-serving CEO, a newer executive may struggle to influence the relevant stakeholders. At the end of the day Torstar needed the money, and Murdoch was willing to pay it.
From an industry perspective I think it’s a bit sad. It’s certainly the end of an era, plus it’s almost never good for a company to be subsumed into a huge corporate as that almost always means cost-cutting and big compromises. News Corp will see value in the Harlequin brand but not necessarily its culture or identity. Harlequin as we know it may eventually go the way of Silhouette, now not much more than a logo.
As an author published by Harlequin’s Carina Press, it’s hard to see the positive side. Harlequin’s existing value is in its distribution and readership, so it’s unlikely authors will see either of those increase. It also already has a large, well developed marketing and publicity department so it’s unlikely authors will feel anything there, although if HC decides to run HQN’s marketing on its own, I’m the sure the job losses in the HQN department will be palpable! From an administrative angle I wonder whether, as happened to Lyrical Press authors when it was acquired by Kensington, existing books will be temporarily pulled from sale while authors sign new contracts. And what will the terms of those contracts be?
So much remains to be seen here, but as a slightly tangential aside I wanted to take this moment to acknowledge how much I love my other publisher, Samhain. I don’t know whether it’s down to Samhain being a genuinely independent, private company or simply its culture, but my author experience has been that of a small, intimate start-up while the sales numbers comfortably compete with Carina’s despite its much greater resources. Soon I’ll have some exciting news to share about an upcoming project over in Samhain’s corner, but in the meantime I’ll settle for feeling grateful I’m one of their authors.
It’s April 14th, which means two things: only one day left for US citizens to file their taxes, and release day for LOVE IN STRAIGHT SETS! Its release is part of Carina Press’s Sports Week, spotlighting sexy athletes and the men and women who love them.
In addition to being in Kansas on vacation – where the state has kindly decided to make up for nine months of tropical South Africa by going through three seasons in four days, topping it off with a dusting of snow this morning – I’m all over the web like a zombie plague.
That’s it for now, but watch this space for even more surprise appearances from my tempestuous tennis player Regan and her sexy Zimbabwean super coach!
Faithful readers, I hope your Valentine’s Week (if there is such a thing) is going better than mine! I got back to Joburg on Monday evening after an awesome extended weekend in Cape Town and have spent the ensuing several days trying to get around this petrol-fueled city without my car, which is being held hostage by the world’s most inefficient panelbeaters. Commuting to work via taxi and begged rides from co-workers is really less than ideal, and I can’t wait to retrieve my beloved, TARDIS-blue Honda tomorrow. At least I hope the mechanic meant it when he said tomorrow…
So to cheer myself up in this final furlong before the weekend, why not have a cover reveal? There are almost exactly two months to go before the release of my second sports romance with Carina Press, LOVE IN STRAIGHT SETS, the story of an uptight professional tennis player and her deliciously laid-back coach. I love this cover almost as much as I love this novel (which is a lot). Please to enjoy!:
Regan Hunter came to tennis late in life, but she’s worked hard to become one of the world’s top players. Beating the odds has made her unstoppable on the court and neurotically controlling off of it. So when her manager hires a new coach, a has-been who left the sport after a scandal, Regan wants him gone, fast.
Ben Percy, a former Grand Slam winner, is well aware of Regan’s reputation for driving coaches away—usually screaming. But working with the notoriously mercurial Regan could be just the break he needs to take his career to the next level, and he’s never been one to scare easily. He must stick to only one rule: hands off Regan.
Keeping his distance from Regan is more difficult than Ben ever imagined. Behind her tough, sexy exterior is a woman he wants to get to know better. And Regan feels a connection with her patient, easy-on-the-eyes coach that’s hard to ignore. But with the biggest championship of all on the line, romance may be completely out of bounds…
I won’t lie, probably one of my favorite elements of this cover is the hero’s slight resemblance to Roger Federer. Did you know that ol’ Roger is half South African? Or that he’s on a huge, billboard-sized ad for Moet Chandon that I pass every morning on my way to work? In fact sometimes I sit at the red light and just stare at all ten floors of him. Certainly improves the morning commute!
Tuesday is generally my least favorite day of the week – yup, even worse than Monday. On Monday I still have a little optimism and energy left over from the weekend, but on Tuesday that’s all gone and I’m facing four more days before the next one. A friend of mine once mused that one day she woke up and found that twenty-seven years of Tuesday had simply passed her by, and ever since then I’ve tried to do something a little special, a little remarkable on Tuesday to prevent that happening.
Today I’ve got TWO bits of excitement to share. I’ll start with the abs-less piece of news first: Carina Press has acquired my second contemporary sports romance, LOVE IN STRAIGHT SETS! It’s slightly quirky and offbeat in that the heroine is the sports star, a highly strung professional tennis player who falls hard for her annoyingly laid-back coach. Here’s the blurb:
Professional tennis player Regan Hunter is at the peak of her career – and the end of her tether. Beating the odds to excel in her sport has made her unstoppable on the court and neurotically controlling off of it, and two months before the Baron’s Open – her best chance at winning a Grand Slam – she’s fired so many coaches that there are none left. Her anger when her manager lays down an ultimatum that sticks her with an untried amateur is nothing compared to her fury at the new coach’s attempts to wrest control from her grasp – or to the sizzling attraction that instantly blazes between them.
Former Baron’s Open-winner Ben Percy lost everything when his father embezzled his money and left him flat, but his only complaint about the life he’s built for himself is his lack of funds, particularly when he’s trying to save enough to bring his sister over from their native Zimbabwe. Coaching the notoriously mercurial Regan Hunter could be the career break he needs – or a career finisher if he fails to get her to a Grand Slam win. His dubiousness grows when her manager delivers a strange condition – if he touches Regan, he’s fired. But as he’s increasingly intrigued by the complicated, fascinating woman behind her take-no-prisoners façade, he realizes the contest for her heart will be fiercer than any Grand Slam final.
LOVE IN STRAIGHT SETS will be released in the first week of April…but before that hits the virtual shelves, I’ve got two firsts on March 4th: my first release with Samhain, and my first contribution to the world of romantic suspense! And so without further adieu, I give you the cover reveal for SECURE TARGET, the tale of an Afrikaans-speaking super-cop with a huuuuge… gun.
SECURE TARGET is already available for pre-order from Amazon and Amazon UK. I love the Samhain “warning”: Contains a sexy South African cop with the heart of a lion and by-the-book determination, and a mild-mannered receptionist with a reckless streak a mile wide. Throw in love on the run, and it’s full “steam” ahead!
Hey hey it’s release day! My military holiday novella HERO’S HOMECOMING hits digital shelves today, both on its own and as half of GIFTS OF HONOR, one of Carina Press’s holiday collections.
I can’t explain how proud I am of this novella, and that it appears beside the incredible STARTING FROM SCRATCH by Stacy Gail. I was in the middle of writing HERO’S HOMECOMING (for NaNoWriMo) when I got the news that THE STRIKER’S CHANCE had been accepted by Carina Press, so not only do I have great memories of its composition, the subject and setting are both very close to my heart.
HERO’S HOMECOMING is set in my hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, which sits just down the highway from Fort Riley, home to the famous 1st Infantry Division, aka the Big Red One. I grew up with live tank fire rattling the windows, military-brat friends PCSing in and out, and lots of high-school classmates enlisting after our May 2001 graduation with no idea that in a few short months the world – and the US’s military engagement in it – would drastically change.
Living in the shadow of a military installation brings the reality of war to the home front, from standing behind uniformed men in the checkout line at Target to reading Fort Riley’s most recent killed-in-action list in the local newspaper. HERO’S HOMECOMING is my humble effort to capture that fraught coexistence – and the awe-inspiring love that can spring out of it.
Today is my last day in the States after a brilliant three weeks spent getting married (!) and taking a road-trip honeymoon from Kansas to California. A full recap entry is forthcoming, but in order to cheer myself up ahead of the 40ish hours of travel awaiting me tomorrow – and in honor of the Christmas decorations I saw for sale in Topeka’s Cracker Barrel restaurant last night – I thought this was the perfect time to reveal the cover for Hero’s Homecoming, my military holiday novella!
So without further ado:
I’m so proud of this novella, which is significantly darker and more angsty than The Striker’s Chance, and I’m hopeful readers will love it as much as I do. It’s available now for pre-order on its own from Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble or as half of the Gifts of Honor anthology alongside the inimitable Stacy Gail!
I’ve always been an academic overachiever, and until The Striker’s Chance released a little over two weeks ago I would’ve taken a B and a B- very, very badly. But when they’re given by romance-reviewing powerhouses Smexy Books and Dear Author, those letters make me giddy!
From Mandi at Smexy Books: “When they do finally make it to the bedroom it made sense and didn’t feel rushed. They have good chemistry together as Holly really gets to know the real Kepler. I like this author’s voice. Looking forward to more.”
(I also made it into Mandi’s USA Today column!)
From Jayne at Dear Author: “I love the transition for Kepler from last chance, to team leader, to inspiration for kids. I can see him settling into his new leadership roles and the maturation that follows. His love for the game and determination to play his best shines through.”
Amidst the pre-wedding chaos on the work and home fronts, it’s indescribably awesome to see my characters resonating with readers and garnering the (qualified!) accolades they totally deserve. Plus each review shows me ways to improve as a writer and illuminates facets of my story I never thought about, so selfishly I love to see them rolling in, good, bad, and otherwise!
Release week excitement continues as I guest-post on a couple of fabulous blogs this week! I’m talking about reconciling romance and feminism at RR@H:
And I’m detailing my journey to publication at Carina Press:
I’m really proud of both these blog posts so take a look and leave a comment if the mood strikes, and be sure to come back to this lilttle ol’ blog tomorrow for a giveaway!
It’s finally here – release day for my debut The Striker’s Chance!
I have a guest post scheduled today at the Contemporary Romance Cafe, so check back for an update a bit later. I’ll also be at RR@H Novel Thoughts and Carina Press tomorrow and on Delilah Devlin’s blog on Friday, with a giveaway in between, so stay tuned!
And if you haven’t already gotten your copy, you can find full and updated links to buy The Striker’s Chance – including the audiobook, which still blows my mind – on the Books page!