Archive for the ‘excerpts’ Category

Apr

1

2010

Getting Away With It

Filed under: excerpts, Getting Away With It

It’s April Fool’s day, and that reminds me that my next book, which is my first book for Headline Review, starts on April Fool’s day. And the very exciting thing about this next book, besides that it’s for Headline Review, which means it’ll be all glossy and beautiful and chunky like Headline Review books are, sitting there on the shelf, all delectable and gorgeous—anyway, the thing is about this next book, is that we finally have a title for it.

It’s called GETTING AWAY WITH IT, and it’s out in October this year. Which gives me something less than six months before I hold it in my little sweaty hands.

Great title, though, isn’t it? We had quite a bit of debate about this one, until we came up with something just right for the book. And I’m really happy about it.

So to celebrate that, and to celebrate April Fool’s day, I’m posting a short excerpt from chapter one of GETTING AWAY WITH IT, where the heroine Liza, who is a stunt woman, is being filmed driving a super-fast, super-expensive, Ferrari Enzo, on a mountain road winding along a sheer cliff.

***

“Slower, Liza,” said Hogan through the walkie-talkie.

The Ferrari arched gracefully around the curves. Below me, the shadows were disappearing from the desert. I was mid-descent, but still high enough so that it felt as if I pressed the throttle a little harder, I could fly. Right up into the lightening sky, among the effortless clouds.

“Happy birthday to me,” I said, my voice lost in the thunder of the engine, and I edged it faster. The car growled in appreciation. The road straightened for a short stretch, dipping downward, and I used the straight to pick up some more speed.

“Slow down, Liza,” crackled Hogan. “Now.”

“Yeah, right,” I said, though he wouldn’t be able to hear me.

A camera and crew perched near the guard rail on the bend ahead, waiting to pick up the wide shot as I passed. I’d cut it fine, kick up some gravel for them. I smiled, reached for the handbrake for the turn, and it was at that exact moment that I realised I was going faster than I’d thought.

“Shit,” I muttered, maybe I yelled it, I don’t know because the car was so loud, and I turned the wheel and engaged the handbrake and the car began its sideways slide, gravel spitting exactly as I wanted it to, all I had to do was power out and away, it would be fine. Fine.

Shit.

At times like these, everything slows. I saw Rory, that was the cameraman’s name though I didn’t know I’d known it, and Wanda beside him wound in a yellow scarf. Rory’s face was obscured by the camera but Wanda was focused on the car, smiling with her eyes screwed up. She had no idea anything was wrong. Don’t take a camera out, that’s the first rule, but the rule should be don’t take the camera crew out.

I needed the throttle or I’d plough sideways into both of them and carry them over the cliff. I punched it and the car, the amazingly responsive car, shouted and leapt as more petrol fed into its hungry engine. The front tyres gripped the tarmac and sped me away from the crew and I held tight, tried to keep it on the road but I was going too fast.

“Fuck Liza, what the fuck are you doing?” yelled the radio.

The back end of the car slid and I steered into it but there was a cliff wall ahead of me and a dropoff behind me, not quite sheer at this point, no, but enough to tumble me into the desert, and I felt the moment when the car decides it’s going to spin and there’s not a bloody thing you can do about it, nothing but ride it out and hope there’s enough room.

There wasn’t. I braced my body against the back of the seat.

I saw every last rock and scrubby bit of brush on the side of the road. A small weed, spitting pink flowers. I heard gravel flying from the tyres. I got a glimpse of Wanda’s yellow scarf far off to the left, safely out of the way, and then I felt the crunch of the guard rail against the side of the car and a sickening tilt.

April Fool, I had time to say, or maybe only to think, and then the car was flying.


9 Comments

Feb

10

2010

Nina Jones excerpt and signings

Filed under: excerpts, Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom

I’ve been working like crazy to get ready for NINA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF GLOOM to come out next month. I’ve ordered some gorgeous postcards to promote it, and I’ve set up a book signing on 27 March at the Waterstones in the Oracle, Reading.

I’ll also be talking about the book and signing copies, as part of the Reading Library Local Author Day on Saturday 6 March, from 11 pm.

Don’t worry, I’ll be reminding you of all these things, and if you’d like to be reminded in the comfort of your own inbox, please sign up for my newsletter by sending me an email via the “contact” button, above.

Meanwhile, I’ve added an excerpt and a really cool photo to my website, here.


2 Comments

Feb

24

2009

Girl from Mars excerpt 2

Filed under: excerpts, Girl from Mars

Here’s another excerpt from Girl from Mars, which I’m posting to amuse Donna Alward, because as I said in the previous post, I’ve named a foul-mouthed character after her. This is from chapter two. Fil, the heroine and an artist with long-running British comic Girl from Mars, is going to an editorial meeting for the comic with her friend Stevo, another artist. Recently, Stevo’s dropped the bombshell that he’s fallen in love, and since then he hasn’t been hanging out so much with his friends, Fil and Jim and Digger.

***

“I really could’ve done with some extra time in bed this morning,” Stevo said.

“Stop bitching,” I said. “It was an X-Files marathon again this weekend and I haven’t slept since Friday. I tried to nap during season six but Jim kept prodding me with his foot.”

Stevo didn’t say anything and I realised he probably didn’t want to stay in bed to sleep. I felt my cheeks flush as I punched the lift button for the third floor.

This was my chance to ask Stevo about his boyfriend Brian, maybe even arrange a day when Brian could come and meet Jim, Digger and me, and therefore put Digger’s fears at rest. But Stevo was staring at the lift doors, and something about him radiated “keep off” vibes.

None of us had mentioned Stevo’s boyfriend, not at the pub, through the gaming, or the X-Files. But I’d thought about him, out in the fresh air, flying kites and laughing with a man whose features I couldn’t make out, while Digger, Jim and I were left behind in a stuffy room watching stories we’d seen before.

The lift arrived and I examined Stevo surreptitiously in the smoky mirror. What did a person who was having lots of sex look like?

He was the same. His job at UPC was drawing for Combat comics, and you’d never guess from his exterior that he was a genius at drawing mega-violent battles. He was short, slight, tidy, with combed black hair and round glasses. No love bites, no rumpled clothes or bed hair. I knew that most of his air of privacy and self-containment was shyness, a quiet barrier meant to keep others out of his space. I didn’t have a problem with that, as I had barriers enough of my own, but I’d never felt as if it had excluded me before.

I was the one who’d brought Stevo into our little social circle in the first place, when we’d both started working at UPC three years ago. We were the newbies at the company and ended up sitting together at a monthly meeting. He’d doodled a picture of a dwarf cutting off a giant’s head with a battleaxe and rolled his eyes when Anthony introduced him to the assembled throng, as if to say, What is this, a tea party?

He came round to our house initially to talk about work, but stayed to hang out. He’d been shy at first, but eventually he’d blended in. He taught Jim mah jong; he impressed Digger because for a small guy he could put away vast amounts of curry; and he was an awesome artist, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of war films and pop music.

But right at this moment I felt as if I’d never known him at all.

When the lift stopped we were the last two to get off. I cleared my throat, wondering how to broach the subject.

“So, how’s Br—” I began, and then the door to the conference room down the corridor slammed open.

“Brown! Ng! Get your ratty arses in here so I can start the goddamn meeting!”

If Anthony Alward’s speech were put into a speech balloon, it would consist mostly of the symbols @$%*!.

“All right, Chief,” I said, hastening into the room. I wasn’t sure how he’d got the nickname; I suspected he’d cultivated it himself. When I’d told Digger and Jim about this, Digger was very impressed at the concept and spent several days suggesting alternate nicknames for himself, including “Andre” and “Stud Man”.

Stevo and I squeezed onto the last free corners of a table. Aside from me and two women from sales who were wearing near-identical skirt suits and sitting together on a single chair, everyone else in the room was male. After shooting Stevo and me a look of daggers, Anthony began.

“Right, so now that you lot have bothered to show up, we’ll start with Lacey…”

I immediately zoned out and gazed happily at the walls. Here, framed, hung originals from Girl from Mars issues dating all the way back to the comic’s creation in 1951. Near the door was the splash page for Issue 1, showing Girl from Mars’s spaceship crash-landing on Earth, drawn by creator Dennis McKay. Pages from every decade since, including issues I’d read under my duvet at night as a teenager, circled the room. And then, glory of glories, three hundred and sixty degrees around the room, was my own front splash for Issue 662, “Sirius Business”.

A dream come true.

“Are you with us, Brown?”

“Um. Yes, Chief.”

“About shitting time. Now sales on Girl from Mars this quarter have been down seven point six per cent, and reader feedback says—”

Sales. I studied one of Wayne Jayson’s covers from 1984. I liked his angles and his starkness. Maybe I’d try a bit of a tribute with my next project, a nice little extra for long-term fans. I squirmed in my seat, picturing the geometry.

“—And we’re very excited about it. Sound good to you, Brown?”

“Um.” I sat up straighter and tried to figure out from Anthony’s face what he was very excited about. Unfortunately he looked about as excited as a brick in the rain.

“Sure,” I said. Damn. I didn’t need to pay attention to sales figures, but I came to these meetings to find out what was going to happen to Girl from Mars, and I’d just missed it.

He nodded grimly. “Obviously we’ll discuss this in more detail once we’re under way. That’s enough for today, get the hell out of my fucking face, you lot.”

I listened hard as we filed out of the room, trying to overhear someone discussing what Anthony had said about Girl from Mars. Mostly people were talking about lunch and their weekends.

Sixty seconds! My attention couldn’t have lapsed for longer than that. How much information could Anthony have conveyed in a minute? I jiggled on my feet until the lift door opened and then I pulled Stevo out of the building, fast.

“What was he talking about?” I demanded as soon as we were on the pavement of Vauxhall Bridge Road, pulling up our collars against the April rain.

“Who?” Stevo began walking towards Victoria.

“Anthony! He said he was excited about something. Anthony never gets excited about anything. It must have been something big. What was it?”

“Hmm. I don’t recall. Must not have been listening.”

I shoved my hands in the pockets of my jeans and exhaled sharply in irritation.

“You could at least pay attention, Stevo, it’s your job.”

“Doesn’t seem like you were paying attention.”

“I was! But then I was thinking.”

“I come to these things because I have to, Fil. Not to act as a tape recorder for you.”

“I was only not listening for like ten seconds!”

He shrugged. “Sorry.”

But he wasn’t. He was all detached again.


7 Comments

Apr

15

2007

website update

Filed under: contests, excerpts, the web

I’ve given in One Night Stand to my agent, and am waiting (quaking in my boots) to find out what she thinks.

Meanwhile I’ve been working on my website. I’ve updated my books page, and posted excerpts for All Work and No Play… and One Night Stand.

I’ve also posted some details about the courses I’ll be leading in August and September, and I’ve put up a photo of myself with cleavage on my home page.

If you’re Italian I’ve also got a contest.


6 Comments

Mar

3

2007

One Night Stand excerpt

Filed under: excerpts, One Night Stand

I’ve had the cover for my next Little Black Dress, One Night Stand, but I’m waiting a little bit to post it for one reason or other. But while I’m waiting, I thought I’d post an excerpt. It’s a long one, so I’m doing just a bit in the regular post, and you can click “More” if you want to read the rest.

The heroine, Eleanor, writes erotic novels. She’s pregnant by mistake after a one-night-stand with a mystery man she hasn’t seen since. And she’s recently discovered that she is wildly in lust with her best friend and neighbour, pastry chef and womaniser Hugh.

The first part is from the novel she’s writing, The Throbbing Member of Parliament, which is becoming more and more like her real life.

***

    The Chancellor walked into Lucy’s bedroom. His brown eyes gleamed at her with a heat greater than the candles that lit the room, greater than the flames that roared in the fireplace.

    All her dreams, all her desires were coming to fruition at last.

    “Lucy,” he said, “I want you.”

    His beautiful, scarred mouth smiled and even in the flickering candlelight she could see the shadow of the bruise that blackened his eye. Wounds gained in her defense, for her pleasure.

    She lay on her bed, transfixed by the sight of his tall, lanky body.

    Slowly, he removed his shirt, his chest appearing inch by inch as he undid his buttons. His skin was golden in the firelight. A sensation grew inside her inexorably, rising from her stomach up into her throat as he divested himself of his trousers and his pants and approached her, gloriously naked, every bone and muscle and inch of skin perfect. His erection, huge thick and hot, swayed towards her.

    Lucy’s hands flew to her throat.

    “Jesus Christ, will you get the hell away from me with that thing before I throw up,” she gagged, and only just had time to reach the bin before she puked all over her satin lingerie.

I groaned and pushed the keyboard away from me. I tried to take a sip of the ice-cold water that was the only thing I could stand the thought of just now, but the glass suddenly seemed to have a sickening, evil, hitherto-unknown smell of its own.

The mere idea of sex made me shudder. All that touching, and sweating, and panting, and heaving. All that hair and liquid. And why?

So it could get you pregnant and make you feel worse than you’d ever felt in your life.
(more…)


14 Comments

Nov

29

2006

Driving Him Wild

Filed under: excerpts

Driving Him Wild

Destination: desire

When smart-mouthed New York City cab driver Zoe Drake finds a tall, dark and brooding man on her doorstep, she doesn’t know what to think – does he want something, or has Christmas come early this year?

Nick Giroux is looking for his long-lost father – not a new-found woman! But there’s something about him that makes Zoe let down her ice-cool defences. She’ll use her profession to drive Nick to Maine…

…and maybe drive him wild on the way!

I’ve put up an extract from Driving Him Wild, here. It’s the bit with the pigeon in it.

It’s out in February 2007, but it’s orderable on Amazon now.


4 Comments

Oct

27

2006

first page challenge

Filed under: excerpts, writing

I’ve been emailing a friend of mine, an aspiring romance writer, and we were talking about how to create character and conflict from the very first lines of your book. To show her what I meant, I took the first page of two of my books and added notes to show how I tried to portray from line one what these characters were like, and what their problems were.

I thought it might be kind of interesting, and could maybe help other people, so I’m posting them below.

BUT…here’s the challenge. I challenge any other writers reading this blog to do the same thing with their first few paragraphs–post them on your blog (or, if you don’t have one, in the comment section of mine, below), and comment on how you create character and conflict right away.

If you do post, please tell me, and if possible, leave a link in my comments section so we can all have a look at each other’s!

Here are mine:

From BEING A BAD GIRL (Mills & Boon, April 2006):

“Okay let me get this straight. Tequila, then salt, then—” Marianne stood, container of salt poised over the cocktail shaker.

“No!” Warren hurled himself across the bar and grabbed her hand. “No salt in the margarita! You put it on the rim of the glass!” This woman is doing something she’s never done before, and making mistakes. She’s probably never had a margarita, which makes her pretty naïve–about drinking anyway. So why’s she in a bar?

Marianne’s hand, jogged by Warren, shook a dollop of rock salt into the container. She looked down into the aluminium cylinder, and an expression of wild regret passed over her face. She is bothered by making mistakes, out of proportion to the mistake that she has made. A problem here. Then she shook her head a little, and smiled.

“I think salty tequila could be good.” She raised the container to her lips, took the tiniest of sips, and grimaced. “Yeah, it’s a taste sensation.” However, she’s trying to change her gut reactions, and have a sense of humour about them. A trait that a reader can, hopefully, identify with.

From DRIVING HIM WILD (Mills & Boon, February 2007):

He’d been sitting here so long his rear end was starting to go numb. This guy is a man who puts his goals above his personal comfort.

Nick shifted his weight, stretched his legs in their lightweight outdoor trousers, he’s an outdoorsman settled his back more comfortably against the tastefully neutral-coloured wall, and then he was motionless again. And patient. And in control of his body. I’ve tried to make him heroic in the first two sentences.

There was a clock on the wall down the corridor from him, near the creaky elevators. It ticked in the emptiness, a constant artificial monotony that dragged on Nick’s nerves. It wasn’t the noise that bothered him. He was used to noise: the constant rush of the ocean and the whirr of leaves and the bickering of birds. Those were timeless sounds. But this tick was a precise measurement of time passing. He is bothered by this setting; he belongs elsewhere. Every second ticking by was another second he had to wait for the mysterious Ms Drake and the answers he’d waited far too long for already. Mystery. Conflict. There is a problem here–he wants answers about something and he’s willing to put himself outside his comfort zone to get them.

***

Now post yours!


70 Comments

Oct

19

2006

Spirit Willing deleted piano scene

Filed under: excerpts, Spirit Willing Flesh Weak

Am brain dead.

But I thought, while I’m brain dead, that I’d post a couple of deleted scenes from Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak. Just because.

This is one that went because my agent thought it was too cheesy. I like it. Then again, I like cheesy, far too much for my judgement to be trusted. It was from chapter ten. And I really did lie on a piano to research it, though I can’t sing that well.

Rosie, the fake psychic and professional liar, is playing a game of drinking Truth or Dare with Harry, a gorgeous journalist obsessed with the truth.

***

Harry walked me over to the grand piano in the centre of the room. He dropped my hand and I opened my mouth to protest but then his hands were at my waist again, lifting me up and setting me on the cover of the piano.

I giggled again. I was sitting on a grand piano, in a bar, in a hotel, in Milton Keynes, England.

I seemed to be a little bit drunk.

Harry sat down on the piano stool and opened the cover over the keys. He hit a key or two, experimentally, and then nodded, satisfied.

“I dare you to sing a song,” he said.

“Do you play the piano?” I asked.

“My parents made me take lessons from the age of eight.” He played several quick, jazzy chords. “I can play Mozart, Chopin, and most of the Monkees’ songs. So what are you going to sing?”

Why was I not surprised that Harry Blake, the well bred, had taken piano lessons as a child? Briefly, I wondered what my parents would have said if I’d asked for piano lessons at age eight.

Get a job, probably.

“‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ by The Ramones?” I suggested.

Harry’s long fingers danced over the keys, feeling out the Ramones tune briefly. “I think that song needs some electric guitars, not a grand piano.”

I watched his hands. Had I always found a man who could play the piano sexy?

I couldn’t remember any other occasions. In fact, I couldn’t remember watching a male play the piano since junior high school when geeky Donnie Deconzo used to play the intro to “Axel F” from Beverly Hills Cop whenever he got near a keyboard.

But Harry’s hands were so dextrous. I leaned over towards him, so I could see them more clearly.

“What are you going to sing, then?” he asked, still strumming out a vague, jazzy, improvised melody.

“You decide,” I said, mesmerised by the movement of his fingers. “It’s your dare.”

Harry looked up from the keys and met my eyes. Slowly, he smiled.

He stopped his melody and picked out another. Immediately I knew the tune, and the first line, and why he’d chosen it.

“‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,’” I said, but what I was thinking of were the first words of the lyrics. About someone being too good to be true.

Sneaky so-and-so.

“Do you know it?” Harry asked, filling in more of the chords as he continued with the melody.

“I know it. Do you want the Andy Williams version?”

“I don’t think the Ramones do a version,” he replied.

I crossed my legs and leaned back on one hand in “lounge-singer vamp” style. “I’m ready whenever you are,” I said.

He immediately segued into an introduction. Watching him, addressing every word to him, I sang.

I’d trained my voice, though for rather a different purpose, and when I began singing, I heard the room go quiet around me.

And Harry’s eyes were on me. Blue, steady, keen, smiling. I looked back and told him I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

I told him touching him would be heaven.

I saw him moistening his lips with his tongue when I sang how much I wanted to hold him.

His eyes told me that for once, he believed me. And then some.

Oh, this was fun. And sexy as hell, I thought, and then as I finished the first verse, I realised suddenly that I had no idea what the second verse was.

I paused, and Harry filled in with an improvised chord progression. “You okay?” he asked.

I had it. I gave him what felt like a catlike smile. “I’m great. Ready when you are.”

“You can really sing,” he commented.

“All that time in the shower must’ve paid off,” I said, and waited for him to work through his improvised bridge.

On my cue, I began singing again:
“You’re like a dream, Harry Blake,
Am I asleep, or awake?”

I saw his eyebrows raise themselves in surprise and amusement when he realised that I was making up the words. I reached forward and twirled a lock of his silky, wild hair around my finger as I sang.

“You have the funkiest hair,
C’mon and dare me a dare.
I don’t need E.S.P.
To know you want to touch me.”

And then I was telling him again how he was too good to be true.

And he was. Too honest, too principled, too well-bred for me to even think about getting tangled up with.

But I still couldn’t keep my eyes off him.

I shimmied on the piano to the build-up to the chorus, and then sang it out to the room and to Harry Blake. Loud, dramatic, throaty and full of all the desire I felt sitting on this piano feeling Harry touching the keys and sending musical vibrations through my body.

The next verse was a repeat of the first, and I lay on the piano to sing it. My belly and chest pressed against the cool glossy surface of the instrument. I could feel every note against my skin. I propped myself up on my elbows, my face only a few inches from Harry’s, and sang the verse and the chorus, my voice getting softer, huskier, and more intimate with every line. I slowed down the pace, a caress of a chorus instead of a flourish, and Harry followed me. Or maybe I followed Harry.

All I knew was that we were together, note for note, beat for beat.

We finished the song with a whisper and a tickling of keys. There was applause, but I barely heard it. I was caught up in Harry’s blue eyes, and couldn’t look away.

The last echo of the music died off. It felt very quiet, and Harry felt very close.

“Truth or dare?” I murmured.


14 Comments

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