Lilac Mills tells us about Xmas
- How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
Oh, I can mull something over for years before I bite the bullet. I’m currently just finishing up some edits for Canelo (the book is due to be published in the spring) on a story I first began about 13 years ago. I wrote about thirty-thousand words, then life got in the way and I did other stuff instead, but I always intended to come back to it, and when my lovely editor asked me if I had any ideas in the pipeline, it seemed an ideal time to develop and complete this poor little book-baby. The story has changed considerably from the very first half-draft, but then novels often tend to, but the concept is the same.
I also have an ideas folder, which I’m continually adding to, but what usually happens is that something will come to me which takes precedence over all of them, and I simply have to write it until the story is out of my system.
- How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
It depends on the book, but so far not too long, because I’m writing about what I know or have experienced myself. A Very Lucky Christmas came about from my grandmother’s tradition of making her own Christmas pudding and putting a sixpence in it for luck. Unlike Daisy, no one in my family actually swallowed the darned thing, but there were a couple of near misses and one cracked tooth.
- How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?
I was accepted by a publisher on the first submission, but that wasn’t just luck. I had invested a great deal of time in researching publishers, and I knew what Canelo was looking for, so my pitch to them was right, and I sent them the sort of novel I knew would fit in with other novels in their chick lit stable. Of course, there was always the possibility that they did not want to take on another author in my genre at the time I submitted to them and I was fully prepared for that, or that my writing wasn’t as good as I hoped it was!
4. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?
Not necessarily, and many authors don’t. I just happened to think going down the self-publishing route was viable for me at the time. I’m quite impatient, and want my stories to be published as soon as they are ready, and not to have to wait to fit in with a publisher’s time-frame. Self-publishing has been a worthwhile experience though, as I have gained insights into marketing and advertising that I otherwise might not have done.
- Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?
My publisher liked the fact that I had an online presence and also liked that I had already published three books which were fairly well received by my target audience. It could very well have gone some way towards influencing Canelo to make me an offer. Self-publishing can be a risky business though and may backfire if you don’t do it right. Editing and proofreading is a must, as is a professional cover. The right marketing helps too, because no matter how slick and polished your novel might be, if readers aren’t aware of it, it’s not going to sell.
- Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?
It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve only been writing chick lit for eighteen months, with four novels published so far. Unless I write something which catches the imagination of the public in a huge way, I think it will be a while yet before my income from writing matches my income from my day job. And even then, I’m not sure I’m prepared to give up my job. It’s steady income, I know what is going into my bank account at the end of every month. I can’t say that about my income from book sales.
- What do you read when you are ill in bed?
Nothing. I’m rarely ill, but when I am it tends to be the flu, and all I want to do is to curl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself.
8. What is your favourite genre?
It has to be chick lit, although I do like the occasional psychological thriller. Besides writing in the chick lit genre, it does help to read it too, to keep abreast of trends and to see what other authors are writing about.
- In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing?
I’ve just read a book by Stephanie Dagg called Fa-La-Llama-La: Christmas at the Little French Llama Farm. It was hilarious. Her second in this series is due out soon, and I can’t wait to read it. There’s something about her dry humour that strikes a chord in me.
10. What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?
I didn’t write in school, apart from those things pupils were forced to write. I didn’t do any creative writing under my own steam. I don’t think I thought it was possible. To me, authors were magical beings, creating stories out of thin air. I didn’t ever believe I could join their ranks. I didn’t actually start writing until I was in my early forties, but I didn’t start with a short story, or a novella, or even a 100,000-word novel. Nope, I went for it big time, and produced a massive 320,000-word effort. Looking back, some bits of it weren’t too bad, a few bits were actually quite good, most of it was meh, and there were some parts which were pretty dire. It will never see the light of day, but I cut my authory teeth on it, so to speak. It’s hidden safely away in the depths of my laptop and there it will stay.
Previous Books: Summer on the Turquoise Coast, Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm and Love in the City by the Sea
Lilac Mills writes feel-good romantic women’s fiction, and is the author of Love in the City by the Sea, A Very Lucky Christmas, Summer on the Turquoise Coast, and Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm. Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework! Home for Lilac is Worcester, England.
Danger lurks around every corner!
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Maria Grazia Swan
He hadn’t noticed her carrying the package. He chided himself. He’d been so taken with her baby blues, wavy blonde hair, and pouty scarlet mouth, she could have brought a suitcase into his office and he wouldn’t have seen it. He hesitated. Based on her frantic demeanor, the innocuous brown paper bag could contain anything from a body part to a gun.
Pausing to take a quick breath, he unfolded the top and peered inside. “Why am I looking at a shoe?” “A red stiletto to be exact.” “You need to explain,” he said, lifting his gaze. “Why did you bring me a shoe?” “I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know where to go.” “Mrs. Rose—” “Ruby,” she said hastily, cutting him off. “Call me Ruby.”
“What’s so special about this shoe? And please, as simply as you can, tell me why you need my help?” “Take it out. Take it out and look at it.” Her voice was growing shrill, and hoping she wasn’t on the verge of hysteria he reached in and pulled it out. The shoe was glossy patent leather with an unusually high narrow heel. “I don’t think I’ve ever laid eyes on a shoe like this. How can you walk?” “Look! Look! Don’t you see it?” “See what? It’s a red shoe with a very narrow, very high heel that’s clearly expensive, and—” “Blood! It’s covered in blood!” she exclaimed cutting him off a second time. “It was sitting next to my husband when I found him.”
A sudden chill rippled down his spine.
Suicide Blonde Karen M. Bryson
When I left Florida as a wide-eyed twenty-year-old, I vowed never to set foot in the Sunshine State again. I was determined to do whatever it took to make it in Hollywood. I wanted to be better than where I came from.
Now here I am right back where I started twenty-five years ago.
Apparently that old saying is true: you can take the girl out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the girl.
As I pull my rental car into the Swamp Angel Trailer Park all kinds of memories flash through my head. None of them positive. This is the place where my sister, Layla, and I grew up. The place where she apparently still lived. The place I couldn’t wait to escape from.
I rented a Jeep for one week. I don’t plan on extending the rental. My plan is to get my sister’s affairs in order and get the hell out of Florida for good.
While most of this booming bayside city has experienced a major revitalization, entering the trailer park is like stepping back in time. It’s barely changed in the last quarter century.
It’s still a festering sore in the armpit of the city.
Swamp Angel Trailer Park is right in the heart of Suitcase City. It’s a seedy part of town a few blocks west of Big State University. The rundown section of town was so named because many of its residents are so transient, they never bother to unpack their bags. It’s the kind of place where nobody knows your name and people like it that way.
When Layla’s father died, she inherited the trailer we grew up in. I’d be surprised if it’s worth forty thousand. I can make that in a month renting out my beach house in Malibu.
As I pull the Jeep up to the front of the trailer, I notice there aren’t any other vehicles parked outside. Layla was a graduate student at Big State University. We’re a few miles from campus, not really close enough to walk. I wonder how she got to class without a car.
Seeing the crime tape over the front door feels surreal. You’d think after playing a detective on television for twenty years I’d be used to it. But when it’s stuck across the door of your childhood home it feels a lot different.
I don’t have a key to her place, but I do remember where the spare keys were hidden. One was underneath a garden gnome in a patch of weeds that was supposed to be the front yard. The other was under the upper left corner of the tacky straw welcome mat outside the front door.
The straw welcome mat must have bitten the dust because it’s been replaced with an even cheaper looking Wipe Your Paws fake grass mat.
With no spare key underneath.
Fortunately, the sun-cracked garden gnome produces the goods. The key is old and a little rusty, but it still manages to unlock the trailer door.
My plan is to sell anything that’s worth selling. Donate what’s still usable to a thrift store. Then toss whatever remains into the trash.
Armed with heavy duty plastic bags and a pair of rubber gloves, I charge into the trailer ready for action.
Forbidden Distraction Siera London
“Where did I go wrong?” Jared whispered. He felt the muscles along Vivianne’s back tense. “Have I hurt or offended you in some way?”
He couldn’t stop himself from massaging the tension from her lower back. Maybe, she thought he slept with the women who’d accompanied him to SCMC fundraisers. Jared thought of his parent’s marriage. He grew up watching how his father’s betrayals chipped away at his mother’s adoration. Johnson Pierce thought his money would cover his sins. That trinkets and trips could sustain his wife’s love and his only son’s respect—he’d been wrong. His father’s infidelity was one of the reasons that Jared had waited until the right woman had come along before he gave his heart. Vivianne was smart, funny, and giving. She was it for him and he could never be unfaithful to the woman he loved.
“No,” came her soft reply, a slight moan escaping on the tail end. “Of course not.”
Yet, she was leaving him.
They’d reached his corner office. With a touch of added pressure, she walked through the door he held open. Once she was inside, he engaged the lock. She jumped when the ‘click’ sounded in the room. In a flash, he had her back pressed against the closed door, his big body trapping her.
“Then why try to leave without my knowing?” She let her head fall back against the door. For the first time, he could see the mental anguish she was under. She was suffering, too. “You want another man?”
He had to hear her say the words. After more than a year of torturing himself to stay away from her, he needed to understand her reasoning. Before Vivianne, he’d been with women who only wanted sex. He’d felt deep in his soul that Vivianne wanted more from him. The way she’d touched him, caressed his face during their lovemaking like she was imprinting his every nuance into her memory. She’d tempted him beyond sanity with her slow and thorough exploration of his body. Dark hair to match his own, dark eyes that flamed higher with each touch, skin so rich, he’d be the wealthiest man in the world if he possessed her.
“It’s purely for therapeutic reasons…”
So, she would share her body, a body that occupied his dreams, with another man for medicinal purposes?
Love Thy Sister Maria Grazia Swan
Crawling away from the pain. She had to get up from the floor. Her mouth foamed. She felt like her chest was exploding.
“One big explosion, followed by a smaller one. Just as pleasurable but not as powerful,” the man had said last night in the bonding anonymity of the dark motel room, his voice an oily whisper.
What was that smell? Maybe decaying food the other girls left behind. She concentrated on the noises from below. A door slammed somewhere in the building. She didn’t care who saw her, she needed help.
Air, she had to get some air. She grasped the front of her smock until it ripped. Her long black hair fell over her breasts.
“One big explosion….”
Was it last night or just a few hours ago?
VENGEANCE John Ling
Maya Raines hated the idea of walking into a trap, but she decided to do it anyway.
She was dressed in a Muslim robe — long and loose and rustling in the wind. Her face was covered by a veil. She carried a grocery bag as she moved along the sidewalk, being careful not to trip on the pockmarked concrete and scattered rubble.
All around her, ominous black flags hung from the shopfronts and soared from the rooftops, declaring the rise of an Islamist caliphate. And just ahead, a roadblock had been set up, manned by jihadi fighters. A modified pickup truck — a technical — was parked on the intersection, with a machine gun mounted on its rear bed.
Maya could hear Arabic being spoken in the distance. It sounded harsh and strident; completely different to the gentle melodic rhythm of the Malay language that she was used to. These men were foreign Sunnis. They had come from as far afield as Egypt and Libya, drawn to Malaysia by the promise of killing local Shiites.
Maya felt the slow burn of anxiety in her stomach…
Facing the Past Alexa Padgett
“Hank. Thirteen hours. At dawn, Jonathan, gone for thirteen hours.”
Hank turned toward Nancy, his look hollow. Nothing moved across his face, through his eyes. He tilted his head, marginally interested as she swallowed then gasped for air. Hank closed his eyes. “I can’t see any better in the dark than they can,” he said. “You heard the detective say they brought in the dogs. A helicopter from Fort Worth. It’s a full-scale search, almost everyone in town was out looking till it got too dark.”
A faint hum. Louder, a thwap, thwap overhead, a blinding spotlight. Again.
“They could miss him from up there.”
“We’ve already missed him,” Hank shot back, eyes glinting in the semi-darkness.
Nancy shrank back, away from him.
He lowered his head nearly to his knees. Inhaled, exhaled. “My son.”
Cicadas hummed, pressing their bodies against the house. Nothing could hold them together. Not with Jonny missing.
A whippoorwill called. Hank stood there, between the foyer and the living room where Nancy huddled.
“What are we going to do?” she asked him.
Another pass from the helicopter. A dog barking.
Hank hesitated again before seeming to consciously lift his leg to step into the room.
He lay his hand on her shoulder, fingers against her collarbone, his face telling Nancy he was too used up to do more as darkness crowded out the faint porch light.