Kate Johnson is very excited to announce…

…that not one, not two, but THREE Choc-Liteers have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award!

The best part is that they’re all in different categories, so we’re not even in competition with each other. Hussah!

Christina Courtenay has been shortlisted for the Historical RoNA with her wonderfully evocative Highland Storms, sequel to Trade Winds. It’s set in Scotland, with a strong-willed heroine, brave and gorgeous hero, and even a stalwart dog. What more could you want?

Highland Storms

Jane Lovering has been shortlisted for the Romantic Comedy RoNA with her hilarious and touching Please Don’t Stop The Music. Set in York, it features a heroine running from her own past and a rockstar hero with a monumental secret to hide.

Please Don't Stop The Music

And the final nominee is… me! The Untied Kingdom has been shortlisted for the Contemporary RoNA. It’s set in a third world country fighting an endless civil war… called England. Its star is a man who is neither a rockstar nor a laird, but an army major, grumpy and weary and brave. And his heroine, a girl who is haunted by the memory of lime green hotpants.

The Untied Kingdom

While we’re not in direct competition with each other, I’ve seen the shortlists and boy howdy, there are some big names and some fabulous books listed there. So cheer for us Choc-Liteers on Monday, 5th March, when we take on the titans… er, I mean when the winners are announced!

Jane, Christina, and Kate
Jane, Christina, and Kate

Margaret asks – what do readers want?

We Choc Lit authors love to meet our readers and talk to them. We’re planning all sorts of meet-the-reader events this coming year, including an event at the Festival of Romance in Bedford in November – we believe in planning ahead!

We’d love to know what readers like and don’t like about meeting authors. We’ve done lots of different kinds of event and always had good feedback, but what do readers like best? Please let us know what you think?

The most obvious meet-the-reader event is of course the bookshop signing. But, as ebook sales grow and grow, and high street bookshops become harder to find, this kind of event might become less popular? I’ve done several local bookshop signings, enticing people to my desk with chocolate and other freebies like bookmarks and postcards, smiling breezily and telling people that of course they don’t have to buy a book, but thinking go on, please buy a book, please, please, please! They sometimes do.

Come and have a chocolate, people, no obligation to buy the books!

Come and have a chocolate, people, no obligation to buy the books!

Then there is the library event – Linda Mitchelmore and I have done a few of those, and always had good audiences. People seem to enjoy them, especially if they get three authors instead of just one. So I’m wondering, is it a case of the more the merrier, and do readers prefer a panel of authors to one solitary individual?

Margaret James, Linda Mitchelmore, Sophie King - three for the price of one!

Margaret James, Linda Mitchelmore, Sophie King - three for the price of one!

Or what about a Girls’ Night In event, usually held in a bookshop, but more of a meet-the-author opportunity than a hard sell of the books themselves? Some of us did one of those at Bury St Edmunds Waterstones in 2010.

Margaret tries to answer a difficult question at a Girls Night In event.

Margaret tries to answer a difficult question at a Girls Night In event.

What about events which involve quizzes, games and prizes? Do readers enjoy those, or do they sound too much like hard work for readers who want to be entertained and to relax, not be put on the spot?

Let us know what you’d like, and we’ll do our best to offer it over the coming year. But, before you ask – no, I’m afraid we can’t offer Mr Armitage or Mr Downey or Mr Leto as prizes. If we get a chance to grab them, we’re keeping them!

Choc Lit Christmas Special – Day 7

clxmaswreath Today we would just like to wish you all

a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!!

clxmastree1

We hope you have a wonderful day and if, by any chance, Santa should happen to bring you a Kindle or other e-reader, perhaps you’d like to download one of our novels to read over the holidays? Just click on the titles below for the Kindle links or go to http://www.choc-lit.co.uk/ for links to all other types of e-books.

The Importance of Being Emma – Juliet Archer

Starting Over – Sue Moorcroft

Turning the Tide – Christine Stovell

All That Mullarkey – Sue Moorcroftclxmasreddecs1

Trade Winds – Christina Courtenay

The Silver Locket – Margaret James

Please Don’t Stop the Music – Jane Lovering

Want to Know aclxmashenristree Secret? – Sue Moorcroft

The Untied Kingdom – Kate Johnson

The Golden Chain – Margaret James

The Scarlet Kimono – Christina Courtenay

Love & Freedom – Sue Moorcroft

Persuade Me – Juliet Archer

Highland Storms – Christina Courtenay

Star Struck – Jane Lovering

Please come back tomorrow when we’ll be talking about chocolate (another subject close to our hearts :) and giving away one more Choc Lit novel!


Choc-Liteers at the RNA Conference

Jane

Jane

The Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual conference took place this past weekend at Caerleon in Wales and almost all the Choc Lit authors were there. As we’re normally spread far and wide across the UK, it was great

Margaret

Margaret

to have a chance to catch up. Here are photos of some of us (plus a rather unusual conference attendee who couldn’t find his name badge!) – look out for more photos later in the week of us all dressed in our best party outfits for the Saturday night gala dinner!

A conference isn’t just a social occasion of course.  There were talks, panels and workshops and even a dancing lesson which proved interesting to say the least!

Squizzey

Squizzey

As it was Regency dancing, it took some getting used to and there were quite a few left feet in evidence :)   However, by the end of it we had (more or less) managed to get the hang of “Miss Poultney’s Delight” and felt we had more of an insight into the opportunities for flirting this kind of dancing afforded.

Christine

Christine

We were also inspired by such wonderful authors as Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Elizabeth Chadwick, given insights into the publishing industry today (and in the near future) by editors and agents, as well as tips on writing and promotion. It was all food for thought and extremely helpful. The collective buzz was phenomenal and I think most of us came away fizzing with enthusiasm.

Can’t wait to go again next year!

Please come back on Wednesday to see who this week’s Choccie Hottie might be and also for those gala dinner photos!

Evonne and Christina

Evonne and Christina

Here’s one gala dinner photo for now – more to follow soon:-

choclitladies1

Wanted: Blond Hero (by Christina Courtenay)

 

jason-lewis3After all this gadding about, I thought it was time to get back to the important things in life, namely our heroes.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, when I write my stories I usually base my heroes on a real person’s looks, more often than not an actor or someone famous. It helps to have a photo or two to pin on the notice board to fire the imagination. With my current WIP, that proved to be something of a problem however.alexanderskarsgard1

In my mind, I pictured my hero Brice as tall, blond and handsome, with the sort of Scandinavian looks most of us associate with the Vikings. And when I say blond, I mean really blond, not the golden-haired variety of someone like Brad Pitt or Daniel Craig. So in order to properly portray him, I started to search for a man like that, but I couldn’t find anyone who really fit the bill.

mattfelker4Sure, there are blond actors, but most of them tend to be dark gold or ash blond, not the white-blond of for example Legolas in Lord of the Rings. Men with hair like that seem to be as rare as they are gorgeous.

So far, my choice has been limited to the men in these photos – they’re not bad, but none are exactly right. I could of course use a combination of features from all of them, but that doesn’t work as well. So what I was wondering is this – can you help me? Do you know of any truly blond hunks I could use as a template for my hero? Or don’t they exist? I’d love some suggestions!

York Festival of Writing

This weekend I attended the York Festival of Writing, together with fellow Choc Lit authors Sue Moorcroft and Jane Lovering, as well as our lovely editor. We had a packed schedule of talks and workshops, both to take part in and to listen to, all very enjoyable!

The Friday evening’s “Authonomy Live” contest was great fun and I thought the authors taking part were incredibly brave – reading out an extract from their work to a huge audience and then being given comments by a panel of judges. Some great writing and a worthy winner. I also enjoyed the networking session beforehand, which was a bit like speed-dating, but with a view to getting to know new people – brilliant!

york5The following day there was lots going on – I was part of a new authors’ panel, then went to a wonderful talk by agent Carole Blake (of Blake Friedmann) and Patrick Janson-Smith (of Harper Collins). Later we all did a Choc Lit panel talk – the ideas behind Choc Lit and how it was founded, our individual paths towards publication with Choc Lit and finally descriptions of our heroes. The audience had lots of questions for us and time just flew by.

Throughout there was a chance to meet old and new friends, putting faces to names on Twitter, and catching up with other authors as well as browsing the book stall. Although as always at conferences, there wasn’t enough time for everything!

I’d been warned beforehand about the ducks on campus, but hadn’t realised quite how many there would be! A huge pond contained a variety of both ducks and geese and I spotted at least one beautiful black swan. They all waddled round outside the buildings as if they owned the place, totally unperturbed by all the humans around them, and some of the lecture rooms had spectacular views over the pond.

york3All in all, it was a great weekend and my only regret was that I didn’t have more time to explore York itself. I had to be content with glimpses of the fantastic city walls, surrounded by acres of daffodils – a glorious sight – but promised myself I’d come back soon!york2<–>

Christina Courtenay – It’s here!!

tskbookpile1

I’m very excited this morning as my advance copies of The Scarlet Kimono have arrived – aren’t they beautiful?!  I love the blue-ish background and dreamy sunset, and there are pretty silver swirls around the edges too.

I had some vague idea that holding book number two in my hands would feel different to the first one, but I was wrong.  It’s just as wonderful and seeing the pile of books on the table like that put a big smile on my face.

Official publication day is 1st March – it’s available for pre-order now at The Book Depository and Amazon.

Christina Courtenay in ‘Your Cat’ magazine

yourcat1My short story “Trans-mog-rified” about a naughty Maine Coon cat called Oscar is included in the January 2011 issue of Your Cat magazine, which is in stores now.  They are very kindly giving away three copies of Trade Winds, so if you’d like to win one, just fill in the form at the back of the magazine.