The one and only you…


This question arrived via my many wonderful Facebook friends

...could you include a few tips on how to make a story original please? Given that so many are published every month and there are only so many tropes and whatever, how original does it have to be?

As original as you are.

I’m sure none of us likes to think we exactly resemble someone else – in looks we may be similar, but what goes on in our heads is entirely our own. Books are the same. Or they should be.

Each character I write has different characteristics. Not only that, but they respond to the problems I throw at them in different ways.

If i start with a ruthless billionaire and a girl who has battled her way out of adversity, there are two main roads that occur to me immediately – girl doesn’t want to bend and yield to his way, and he certainly isn’t going to bend to hers. Girl needs sanctuary for some specific reason and he can provide it – but what will the payment for this be?

Together with just those 2 out of quite literally thousands of possibilities I might consider, there are as many exciting and original storylines in a particular genre as there are real-life situations in this world. And each pair of hero and heroine will respond differently to circumstance, so the odds for any two stories being the same, shoot off the scale.

If I were more specific, and gave a bio of the hero and heroine as well as a situation to start their journey, each one of us would come up with a different interpretation and tackle the story in our own unique way. We all have learned responses, differing viewpoints and beliefs, and all authors are great observers of human nature, so we have an endless bank of possibilities to draw on right there. You might pull out one thread and develop it, while I might pull out another, and so on.

I am never tired of writing in my genre, or likely to run out of ideas. If a snatch of conversation, or a glance between two people doesn’t inspire you, pick up any newspaper or magazine, and there will be numerous story lines to spark off ideas. My head is full of far too many ideas as it is, but I’m always alert to interesting situations and people.

When Harlequin asks its authors to take part in writing a linked series of books, it’s in full expectation that each author will bring their unique voice and ‘take’ to the overall story, so within each specific genre there will be complete originality and variety for the reader. That’s why it’s so important never to try and copy a particular style, but to show what you have to offer, because THAT originality, your voice, you, is what editors are looking for.

To return to the question I was asked, my instant response was that there are as many original love stories as there are loved up couples in this world, and I never have any difficulty thinking of my protagonists as unique individuals as they are so real to me. Let your characters be absolutely real to you and your readers will believe in them too.

Love to everyone

Susan xx


Slouch at your peril

 Slouchy-me and bestie who used to be in fashion – I’m her tomboy friend – not quite a helpless cause, but definitely echoes of the teenage me ?

Actually, excellent posture is a very nice thing – both to behold, and it makes you feel good about yourself… no noses in the air – but chin up, rather than tucked into your chest. Draw your rib cage up and out of that tummy too.  Shoulders back! As we get older we tend to hunch over, as do some taller women. Stand and sit tall and proud. NO HUNCHING EVER!

This isn’t just to look better than slouchy-you, it’s for the sake of your health too. Believe me, I’m a slouch. I slouch over every inch of our sofas in the most ungainly positions – unless we have guests, of course, when I’m the epitome of decorum. No crossed legs. Ankles may be crossed – and fingers too ? but not legs.

LOL – when I entered my teens I was such a tomboy – and painfully shy – together with the wildest of waist length red hair and freckles – that my parents despaired and sent their wild critter to be trained by Lucy Clayton – then a famous model agency. Like the touch-typing my mother also decided I must master, so I could always earn a living, these seemingly shallow skills of learning how to walk and sit and get out of a car without showing my knickers, have been invaluable throughout my life. (thereby hangs many a tale!)

When I learned to play the piano at the age of four, it was impressed upon me that my arms must be at right angles to the keyboard – not that I ever understood angles etc, but I did understand what felt comfortable. My mother even found half sized music so I could keep my chin level rather than crane my neck to see the notes. Starting with Tunes from the Farmyard, I progressed to simple Bach – all in half sized music books – I can still remember my absolute joy at turning those black dots into recognisable music – and without any aches and pains at all, even when I reached the Royal College and was practising for at least 6 hours a day. (no half-sized music by that time! But my learned posture saw me through)

Of course, when I took up singing as a career and wrote books about it posture and breathing was one of the most crucial elements to delivering a good, steady sound that could be adapted as necessary to whatever part I was playing, and so the good posture habit continued.


A couple of years ago I was in such agony that I thought ‘this is it’ I’m going to be a creaking, aching wreck for the rest of my life. I couldn’t even put my socks on. My usually bendy back refused to bend. A physiotherapist reviewed my sitting position at the keyboard, and threw a complete epi-fit when she saw me swinging around to use my iPad. ‘But your spine is twisted,’ she said. ‘Also, your heels aren’t on the floor, and your arms aren’t level as you work on the keyboard – and you’re working at the keyboard all day long!’

All those lessons learned in my youth had been cast aside by me and boy, did I pay the price!

Ditching my posh office chair, I use a dining chair that supports all of my back and keeps all the angles where they should be. No swivelling around for the iPad. I remove my wireless keyboard and put the iPad in front of me. I rest my feet on an old Apple box so that my feet are flat – and hey presto! I’m bendy again.

Don’t make my mistake. Respect your body and it will serve you well ?

Love to all,



Today is the first of my ‘health for authors’ issues – with a side-note of, ‘don’t binge on chocolate’! (Do as I say, not as I do, by the way ?)

Staring at a screen for hour upon hour is not good for our eyes. That we all know, but do any of us do anything about it?

I have Thyroid eye disease, which is manageable, not the end of the world, and, thanks to our truly magnificent NHS (huge thanks and incalculable appreciation to everyone of you who works in this sector), i have my eyes checked on a three monthly basis, so I’m not going to cry about it – but whether you have eye issues or not, there are some simple rules, which I strive to obey so my consultant doesn’t shout at me.

Take a break from the screen every half hour to change focus.

Make sure you keep your eyes well lubricated (these half hour breaks are when you remember to use your eye drops) (chronic dryness is part of my condition, so I never forget, or I’m in agony, especially when I wake up in the morning and can’t open my eyes until I hold them open and swill them with eye drops. I’m also allergic to most preservatives, so that might be worth checking if you can’t find an eye-drop to suit) I have surgical plugs in both eyes to hold what tears i have on the surface – I did worry that these might be like birthday candles, which gave my consultant a chuckle, but if you need them I can assure you that they are so discreet you won’t be able to see them, and they do help, if not at night so much for me at least

Go forth and write, mes braves, but not at the expense of your health, or God forbid, your eyesight.

Much love

Susan xxx

Huzzah, I’m back…sort of!

Having stretched my birthday over two weeks, I am now, finally back to writing- and with a touch of realism to add to my generally upbeat posts: sometimes, the book doesn’t write itself – Ah, if only… if it only would, I could recline on a chaise longue and sip Mother’s Ruin all day…


Actually, that’s not a bad idea –

This tongue-tickling tipple is a tasty mix of raspberry infused Manchester Gin on the rocks, with frozen raspberries, pieces of lime, and a splash of tonic – and very nice it is too – though I’m not drinking it now, as I need a clear head to write to you.

And it doesn’t answer the problem of what to do when I start a book, then decide I should have started it somewhere else, and then have to assemble all the crucial plot elements and emotional development issues, so I can reassemble them in this latest incarnation of my story.

Aaaargh! Yes. I have those days too – when instead of improving my word count I actually lose half my words because I don’t need them in this latest version. It’s frustrating, and worrying, and actually, I want to tear my hair out right now. But I won’t, because I’ve faced this wall before, and I know that if I take it carefully I’ll get over it and move on.

The same goes for you. And I don’t advise turning to drink. In fact, I find one of these far more efficacious ?

Courage mew braves! There are words to be written, and we’re going to write them. Even if they’re the right words in the wrong order, wel’ll sort it out. One step at a time and several bars of chocolate later, and we’ll be smiling again!

Here’s to you!

Love Susan xx


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,



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




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,




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)



Janet Lomb

Rebecca sun

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


If you could DM me on facebook, or reply to 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,


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.

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

You have to be in it to win it!

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Susan xx