Happy memories, sad thoughts

I was a bit thrown – hence no Blog, by the news that an author I admired and was very fond of, as well as totally in awe of, had died this past week.

Sara Craven was a name I recognised instantly amongst a bunch of books I took home from my very first meeting and welcome at Head Office, which at the time was in Richmond. Several authors really stood out in that collection, and Sara Craven had me hooked into her story from page 1, so that by the time my train had reached its station, I was more of a confirmed fan than ever.

At an author’s lunch at the Savoy hotel in London I was utterly amazed to read the place name on the table setting next to me. And managed to goof totally by challenging my table neighbour – no doubt in a hoarse, quavering tone: ‘Are you the Sara Craven?’

Annie took this well. Being both a great wit, and fairly tolerant, she was infinitely kind to the newbie sitting next to her, and it was only later I learned that Sara Craven, whom I rate amongst the greats of Mills & Boon, was as modest as she was gifted and had no time for flattery. I’m still thankful she forgave me for my awkwardness and went out of her way to make me feel welcome, both on that occasion and every time we met in the future- though she did tease me about being the Sara Craven on numerous occasions, which made me warm to this great author even more!

I shall miss Annie dreadfully- her wonderful books, pungent wit, her keen intelligence and  kindness, and above all, her care for us, Sara Craven’s readers, for whom she created such wonderful stories.

Love to you all,

Susan xx

Pink to make the boys wink?

 

It’s  a pink morning!

Pink to make the boys wink? This lingo of its time, was enough to make me, a confirmed tomboy, swear off pink for my teenage years, throughout my twenties- and, I firmly believed at the time, for the rest of my life.

Eeeeuuugh! Make the boys wink, why?

Now I know that a shot of pink – in the sky, or clothing, is an uplifting sight, so I wear what I like, which today happens to be pink! First I pulled out a grey jumper, then thought, please no! Not grey again! Fortunately, Wiggy and the sailor know their mother, and if they buy me a top it’s invariably in a ‘happy’ colour. I should mention my son once took this to extremes with hilarious results.

Sure I don’t need to tell you, he’s the joker in the family!

I love colour; in life, in thought, in writing, and in the pops of colour throughout our home.

May your day be full of colour, vitality, good health and happiness,

Love to all,

Susan

 

Managing expectations

As already mentioned , I was destined to marry a prince who would ride into my life on a white stallion. (I was always something of a dreamer)

Actually, I did better, I married my very own hero, a hot, tough alpha-maximus. Talk about a rock to kick against! Between us, we broke down every door in our first house. And okay, that sort of passionate relationship wouldn’t suit everyone – and indeed, we’re more likely to be found reading to each other these days, but my sweetheart is a man of principle and strength, who makes me laugh in the best possible way, and who gave me his heart in exchange for mine. Fair deal, and one that is entering its fortieth year.

❤️Shared goals, shared principles, shared beliefs. Corny, maybe, but true.❤️

But, like many of us, I had to kiss a lot of frogs along the way…

Okay, glamorous frogs mostly, but still frogs 🐸 😉

Which brings me to my point: set your expectations higher than reasonable. Why not shoot for the stars?

Remember that what might seem to be the end of the road when you hold that coveted contract in your hand is actually just the start of an exciting adventure that will take dedication and long, long hours of work. So don’t waste a minute of that time staring over your shoulder to see how everyone else is doing. Concentrate on your work and being true to yourself. There will always be someone more successful who writes faster, and who reaches higher up the charts, but you are the one and only you, so believe in yourself and what you have to offer. That’s what the reader wants to read: your unique writing voice and your ability to tell a thoroughly engaging story your way.

Go forth with sincerity, joy and optimism to find your prince, your contract, your happy ever after ending.

Love to you all, Susan xx

 

 

Reconnected

This weekend I took my own advice and actually unplugged. From writing, at least. Otherwise, it was a hectic weekend with Paddington 2 to see – loved it!

More mince pies to bake. Yum!

🎁🎁🎁 Christmas presents to buy

Family to enjoy 💃🕺👭👯🏃🏃🏃👶👦👦

And I needed time to recover after having book #55 accepted. I still can’t believe I’ve reached that milestone!  When I was first signed, 5 books seemed unattainable, and it’s only thanks to you, my completely and utterly amazing readers, that I have reached #55

As soon as I have a cover for The Sheikh’s Shock Child you will be the first to see it!

It’s so good to be back writing book #56 after a short and hectic break. I really feel ready and raring to go.

My second Sapphire Sheikh 💙💎💙 is the story of Tadj and Lucy. Set in a glamorous marina, a superyacht, and a royal palace in London, (where shocking things happen), as well as the sultry and seductive desert of Qalala, I’m taking my H and h on quite an adventure, and one I can’t wait to share with you❣️

Hope you had a wonderfully refreshing and relaxing weekend, and that you are firing on all cylinders as you forge on into the week ahead.

Love to you all,

Susanxx

WINNERS!

🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Here are the 5 lucky winners for this month’s contest. Selected at random from my Newletter subscribers, they are: (I have shortened your email addresses/name to preserve your anonymity)

ingasmom (Val)

maz_5

ibrown7

Janet Lomb

Rebecca sun

Each of you will receive a digi file of the Blood and Thunder bundle, books 1-4!

Enjoy❣️❣️❣️❣️

If you could DM me on facebook, or reply to susan@susanstephens.net with NOVEMBER CONTEST in the header line, to let me know if you would like a Mobi or Epub file, I will shoot it over to you at end of play today. 😀

Thank you all so much for taking part,

Love

Susan xx

 

Grandies alert!

No writerly or cookerly (not a word, but I like it) words today, just a recommendation for a really great film. How is it, by the way, that kids get the best films? PADDINGTON 2  was fantastic!!! Such a fabulous cast, and great lines to be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Please sit through the credits at the end, as one of the best scenes in the film is about to hit you for six! Hugh Grant reallly comes in to his own as a brilliant villain. Thank you, dahlink❣️❤️❣️

Blood and Thunder books 1-4 is released today at a special bargain price, and is available NOW on all platforms 

Plus tomorrow I will be giving away 5 ebook copies of the box set to 5 lucky Newsletter subscribers. 

eepurl.com/8aEJj

Check out my facebook author page over the weekend to find out if you are one of the lucky winners 😘

https://m.facebook.com/SusanStephensAuthor/

You have to be in it to win it!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Love

Susan xx

Brass monkeys!

So today I step under the shower and it’s freezing!

A trip to the boiler in the garage tells me we have an electrical fault that cannot be mended with a simple lever adjustment – thanks to the magnificent Wayne for advice, and to Mr S for wise counsel from Paris. Yes, dear, I have my thermals on! (it’s always tough love in this family)

Meanwhile, preparations have been made, both an emergency call out and the old log fire and kindling standing ready (Just don’t snow.) 

When I think back to chipping ice off the inside of the bathroom window when I was a child, 🎻🎻🎻 this slight hiccup seems quite mild. And back then, ( in the dark ages), not everyone had a bathroom, so I think we’ll get along here with an extra layer and a few hooch-spiked mince pies to warm us up 😜

Stay warm, safe, and happy!

Love

Susan xxx

Mincepies and Mayhem!

Yes, I believe in letting my guests know what they’re in for when they arrive for a Christmas party, so Mincepie-making season is in full swing. (I did promise ‘hard liquor’ to wash them down, which probably accounts for acceptances to my invitations arriving so promptly! And will no doubt account for any ensuing mayhem at the party!)

I’m not too keen on bought mincemeat – too sweet – so I add a good slug of brandy, a grated cooking apple, and a good couple of handfuls of Zante seedless mini currants.

Pastry isn’t a problem as my maternal grandmother was a champion baker. ‘Eeeh, that’s champion’ 😜 All joking apart, pastry has never frightened me – though it may frighten my guests if I don’t get the balance of fat and flour just right – and before you ask – I cook and bake by sight, touch, and smell – if it looks okay and the Aga doesn’t go out, I’m probably all right.

Christmas decorations are creeping out of the cupboard Yes, I know it’s early, but I bought this new thingy – shown below – and I wanted to know if it would hang nicely above the inglenook. Mr S was pressed into action, with the agreement that once it was up it wouldn’t be coming down again until twelfth night. Meanie! So now it looks quite lonely, don’t you think?

I received a mail asking why I write a blog when I could be writing another book…

Because I like to wind down like anyone else, and I like to chat, so usually when Mr S is taking a bath, I Blog. I love chatting to you, my friends. It relaxes me, and I’m happy to share whatever’s going on – within reason, you’ll be relieved to hear – whether that be some writerly thoughts, or how to prevent mincemeat from setting your teeth on edge because it’s too sweet!!

OK – here we go – not pretty, but the pastry is super-light and buttery, and the fruit is juicy and well spiked with hooch. I promise to dust with icing sugar for my guests. I’m going to eat the one I cut into and don’t want the extra sweetness icing sugar brings, so, like so many things on planet-Susan, you’re seeing the naked truth. 😉

Have a great evening! Hope you didn’t expect anything that looks remotely shop bought!!!  I cut them out with two tumblers of different sizes. I did have cutters for a while, but lost them, and water glasses work just fine. Like so many things in life, it’s the taste and the bite that matters…

Love to you all,

Susan xx

Out with the old, in with the new 💃

Hope your writing mist clears in double-quick time, and you are back to this…

 before you know it!

I started the book again this morning – or rather, my hero started the book again, and I let him run with it. I’ve no doubt my secondary character was watching proceedings from somewhere, but poor old Tom stood in the shadows and didn’t get in the way.

I’m not fazed by the word count set back. What will be will be. So don’t you stress, either.

That amazing and inspirational woman Helen Keller wrote, Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

May your hope and confidence never die.

Love

Susan xx

Where to start. When to start. And when to pack it in and start again.

📕 Today I made the classic mistake of rushing headlong into the next book. Yes, the idea is clear in my head, but instead of introducing my red-hot hero on page 1, I chose to begin with a passage of introspection, courtesy of a bit-part character called Tom.

👨🏻‍🍳 Not Tadj, the impossibly red-hot, powerful and wealthy ruler of Qalala, but Tom, a restaurant manager. Tom would have done very well if I wrote beta male heroes, but for Modern/Presents/Sexy, poor Tom was way off base.

🚦So it’s not just the first line that’s so crucial, but where you start your book, and the character/s you bring into that first shot. Start somewhere exciting! Lights! Camera! Action! You’re the director. Dive into that shot to observe, then report the first of many dramas as it plays out. And get your hero on the page as fast as you can, so we can all enjoy him!

Don’t panic. I know when I’m beat and spent the rest of the day cleaning my study! Tomorrow I’ll start again in the right place, and with the hero I’m aching to write about centre stage!

⭐️ Make sure you’re signed up to my Newsletter (you can sign up on the Home Page right here on the SS site) for the big draw coming this weekend. 5 free copies of my latest red-hot bundle are up for grabs. You have to be in it to win it 😉

Released on Friday on all platforms, Blood and Thunder books 1-4 is available for pre-order right now, and for a special bargain price.

Good luck! And enjoy!

Love to all,

Susan xx