Monday, 7 July 2014

Let it rest

Those of you I've already regaled with my tales of home-made bread will know that I recently invested in a breadmaker. This is quite possibly the best thing I have ever bought (and I have been known to buy rather luscious shoes on occasion).

Simply put, a breadmaker works like this: flour and yeast goes in - bread comes out. Warm, smelling delicious and ready to eat. Now you might be wondering what all this has to do with writing and romance. Good point. I'm getting there, honest. Because here's the catch: as wondrous as the breadmaker undoubtedly is, the magic doesn't happen instantly. Flour to bread takes just about three hours, and if you try and rush the process, the goods just aren't up to scratch.

And this is much like writing a novel (see, told you I'd get there).

I've spent the past few months immersed in my #BeachBum world, trying to mould Rachel and Leo's story out of the myriad ideas, emotions and hunches I'd been scribbling in my notebook. And now that I've woven their lives together into a somewhat coherent narrative, they need a break. 

Like leaving the bread to prove, a stage which if skipped leads to a heavy, unpleasant loaf, I have to leave my characters to rest, to mature without me. And I have to give myself space, time and distance from them, to see their flaws and their strengths, and the many, many repeated words that undoubtedly litter their story. So while the story's out with my fab critique partner and beta readers, I'm not looking at it. It's the longest time that I've spent without these two characters in my life for months, and I have to admit to finding it a little strange. All the time, though, more ideas for them are occurring to me, and other stories, some which I've put on semi-permanent rest, are trying to inveigle their way into my mind, making me look ahead to a time when Rachel and Leo are truly done, and I'm ready to move on.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to that first read back, when I get to re-familiarise  myself with the #BeachBum world, and being able to see with fresh eyes exactly where I need to take their story. Accompanied by tea and a couple of slices of home-made toast, no doubt.

Ellie
xxxx

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Beta reader needed and 10% off Crimson Romance

Well, despite various family dramas, I'm pleased to report that #BeachBum is continuing apace. The (scarily rough) first draft is complete, and the (only very rough) second draft is only an epilogue away from being done too.

And that means I need some help! I'm looking for someone, or someones, to read my rough draft and let me know what you think of it -- characters you love, plot points you hate, dialogue that sounds a little ropey (I think it's fair to say the manuscript will have at least two out of the three...). So if you love Mills & Boon Cherish (Harlequin Romance, to those of you across the pond) and want the chance influence the story, then let me know!

I'd also love if any new mums or mums to be would like to beta read, and let me know their thoughts on the pregnancy aspects of the story, as there's only so much I can learn from the NHS website and Netmums!

As it's so sunny out there, we all need a little something to read in the garden or on the beach, so use the code FFSAVE on the new Crimson Romance website, and get an extra 10% off (on top of their 30% off and 6-for-5 offers!) So if you've not read Hiding from Hollywood yet, head to http://www.adamsmediastore.com/crimson-romance!


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Wanna see something pretty?

I'm absolutely thrilled to reveal the astonishingly pretty North American cover for Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss. I'm blown away by how beautiful it is, and how the very talented folks at Harlequin and Mills & Boon have captured the emotion between Maya and Will. That thumb on the jaw ... *swoon*



Just three months now until this is hitting the bookshelves, and I couldn't be more excited! Want to know more about the book? Here you go!

Food to heal his soul... 
Shy and vulnerable Maya Hartney has one great
passion—cooking. She’s turned her greatest pleasure
into a thriving business, and nothing fulfills her more
than delighting her clients. Until she’s hired by taciturn
workaholic Will Thomas to cater a charity dinner.…
Only, where Will’s concerned, Maya can do no right! The
solution? Sign him up for one of her cookery courses and
force the man to fall for her food. A week, one-on-one,
cooking and tasting, proves to be a lot more intense and
emotional than either of them are expecting! And it
comes with a delicious new taste sensation…a kiss….

As always, would love to hear what you think!

Love, Ellie
xxxx

Monday, 7 April 2014

Book titles, serious research, and getting hitched

So many exciting things to update you about! Since my last post, life has been pretty exciting around Darkins HQ.

First up, news on my first book with Mills and Boon. Avid readers of the blog might know it as 'Food Glorious Food', as 'Will and Maya', or, because I'm lazy and madly in love with my heroine -- usually, just good old 'Maya'. But the wonderful folks at Mills and Boon have put their heads together and come up with the beautiful, swoon-worthy title: Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss. Needless to say, I LOVE it. This will be hitting bookshelves (real and virtual) from September 2014, so watch this space for more details.

In other news, they have also just okayed my proposal for my second book, currently untitled, but known around these parts as 'Beach Bum'. I have some serious research to do now, scouring interior design mags for coastal cottage ideas (VITAL to the story), checking out beautiful seascapes, and with any luck a trip to the beach to smell the sea air, listen to the seagulls and taste the fish and chips. Life as a romance novelist -- it's torture all the way ...

And as if that wasn't enough excitement, I lived out my very own HEA last month and tied the knot with my long-suffering boyfriend. I now feel well qualified to rule that married life is pretty bloody wonderful, and intend to introduce as many characters as possible to the institution.

All in all, 2014's proving to be a pretty spectacular year, and we're only in April. Can hardly wait to see how the rest of it pans out!

Much love

Ellie
xxxx

P.S. Will you forgive the blatant self-promotion if I point out this fantastic 5* review of Hiding from Hollywood by Coffee Time Romance? You will? Well, thank you very much! http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/BookReviews/hidingfromhollywoodbyelliedarkins.html#.U0J2-ag7t8E

Friday, 7 February 2014

More amazing news

It seems like 2014 is the year for Incredibly Exciting Events, and I have one more item to add to the agenda ...

Yesterday I received a call from Mills & Boon offering me a contract for my next book .... and the one after that too!

I'd spent the last few days with half an eye on my inbox after sending through a revised manuscript to the editor at Mills & Boon, but I was actually feeling pretty relaxed about it. After going through several rounds of feedback and revisions I was really happy with  my story, knew that the editors were enthusiastic, and that I couldn't have worked harder on it. So when I received an email from my editor asking if I was free for a phone call, I was quietly confident.

I tried to stay calm, reminded myself of the questions I'd want to ask about contracts and deadlines and schedules -- if the news was good -- and waited for the phone to ring. But as soon as the words 'two-book deal' were mentioned all pretence at cool flew out the window! I pretty much gushed for the rest of the call -- but at least had the presence of mind to put a bottle of champagne in the fridge!

I'm (obviously!) absolutely overjoyed at this news, and can't wait to share Will and Maya's story with you all. Publication's scheduled for September 2014 and I'll keep you posted with everything that happens between now and then. In the meantime, I owe an enormous THANK YOU to Alexia Adams, my long-suffering critique partner, and Flo Nicoll, editor extraordinaire at Mills and Boon, both of whom saw the potential in Will and Maya's story, and helped me pull it into shape. And to my family and friends who read drafts and delivered tea, food, mince pies and wine when I was bashing away at the laptop -- THANK YOU!

Now I guess it's time to get back to my notebooks and keep scribbling!

Ellie
x

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Warehouse Part 3 FREE STORY

Have you been wondering what happened to those poor chaps we left handcuffed together in a warehouse? Read on for Part 3 of The Warehouse ... (or catch up with Part 1 and Part 2)

The Warehouse
Part 3
'Help or ... not help,' she wondered out loud. Just then she heard the screech of tyres as the car took a corner too fast.

'I'm going to go out on a limb and say "Not help."’

‘Right, well then, let’s…’ She pushed back against him and shuffled her feet beneath her. ‘Stand on three. One. Two…’ On three they stood, still back to back, and the cuffs pulled up her wrists. It was bad enough that she was handcuffed to her ex. That he was a good foot taller than her added another dimension to her pain.

‘We could try and run,’ he offered, hesitantly.

‘We could. We’d fall flat on our faces and likely be killed. But we could try.’

He snorted. ‘Right. And sarcasm’s got a much better chance of getting us out of here.’

The tyres screeched again, closer this time, and the heavy thrum of the engine told her they didn’t have time to waste.

‘We could hide,’ she suggested.

‘I don’t know about you but I can’t see a thing. We’ve got no idea where we could hide, what they’ll be able to see when they get here.’

‘Then we’ve got no choice. We have to face them.’

She kept her voice steady and hard as she said the words, as she acknowledged the truth of them, her heart sped slightly, and she felt a prickle of adrenaline under her skin. Behind her, his fingers twisted until they were touching hers, and she resisted the temptation to take comfort from that. She couldn’t go there, not again. If she could only get through this by relying on him, then she wasn’t sure that she wanted to.

He’d proved before that she couldn’t trust him; that the support and comfort he was offering now could – and likely would – be whipped away in an instant. The second it got hard, or scary, or awkward he’d be gone.

Again.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Warehouse Part 2 FREE STORY

It's time for Part 2 of The Warehouse, this time coming to you direct from the pen of Miss Iona V Andrew!

Follow the link if you need to catch up with what happened in Part 1.

The Warehouse
Part 2

'I'm not sure it really matters at this point. We always knew they had resources. I guess we just didn't figure they'd be this good.' 
She tried to peer into the gloom of the warehouse, desperate for any indication of what was out there. She could see the bare concrete floor extend into the darkness, two more sets of girders either side of them about 20 metres away. Above them the roof was too far to make anything out. No windows either, all she could sense was the huge space around them. Empty except for her, and her companion. She'd been trying not to let the cold get to her but the shivering was becoming harder to stop. Under her bare feet the concrete floor sucked all the warmth out of her body.she let out another sigh and watched her breath form a cloud in front of her. The anger was starting to give way to fear. It didn't matter how they got there or whose fault it was. All that mattered was how they were going to get out, before they both froze to death. 
'I can't stand much more of this. I'm cold, and I don't think I'm going to be able to stay awake much longer.' her voice had lost all the heat of her earlier rage. She sounded scared. She felt him tug on the handcuffs, trying to turn to see her. 
'Just hang on, they can't mean to leave us here to die. They would have just killed us before.'
She scoffed at his attempts to comfort her, but no sooner did the sound of her short laugh disappear into the silence of the warehouse than it was replaced with the sound of a distant car engine. 
Distant, but getting closer.

Feeling chilly yet?! Look out for Part 3 - coming soon!
Ellie and Iona
xxx