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Meet Harlequin Presents Author Annie West and a Giveaway!

Today I’m honored to be hosting Harlequin Presents Author Annie West. 
Annie, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
Thanks for inviting me, Nas. It’s lovely to be here! I’m imagining sunny skies, crystal water and white sand instead of the drizzly rain I’ve got today.
Yes, I do have white sandy beach, sun and surf here. And it's like this all year around! Commiserations on your drizzly rain.  To kick off I asked Annie her views :
 On Writing and Reading…
So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I started my first manuscript in about 1996 and my first book was published in 2000. However, it was a small press which then closed due to distribution problems.  I sold my first book to Harlequin in 2005 and I’ve been writing for them ever since. I love it!
I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
All sort of things. Books I’ve read, films, TV programs, radio interviews, conversations people I meet, even traveling to new places. That’s the wonderful thing about delving into your imagination – you draw on so many things.
What do you love most about being a writer?
I adore it when the characters become so real they have conversations in my head and I have to race to get their words down. Sometimes it feels as if their story is progressing all by itself (rare but wonderful!). My other favorite time is when readers contact me because they enjoyed a story of mine – particularly if they enjoyed an aspect of the book I did too. Oh, and being able to start work in my PJs is terrific – except when I forget the time and answer the door midmorning and realise I still haven’t got changed.
What do you like least about being a writer?
Days when getting the story down is like pulling teeth, or when I have to get revisions done in a hurry (they often seem to coincide with holidays and family celebrations). If I don’t get the job done, no one else is going to come in and finish it for me.
Where were you five years before?
Same as now. But five years before that I was wearing a suit and advising on government policy.
Wow!...and then you turned to fiction?
Where do you envision yourself five years from now?
I’d love to say having a writing retreat somewhere wonderful while I wrote a book – pick a place: a cottage in Scotland, an island in Greece, an apartment in Paris, the Great Barrier Reef. Chances are I’ll be sitting here looking out over my garden, day dreaming about a tormented pair of lovers.
Do you have a favorite locale or setting for your novels? What is it and why is it your favorite?
The settings for all my books are places I’ve enjoyed. Often I have to cut some of the descriptive detail in the final version but having a good feel for the location really helps me in writing the story. One of my favorites would be my fictional alpine kingdom where “Protected by the Prince” and “Prince of Scandal” is set. It’s based on a few places I’ve visited and others I’ve read about. Whenever I sat down to write those stories I had a lovely feeling of entering that world of castles, quaint market towns, wooded mountains, snowy chalets and so on. Sometimes I could even smell the mulled wine and the hot chocolate! I loved the mix of real places that held great memories and the chance to let my imagination loose on the royal fantasy.
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
Argh! That’s too hard! Possibly either my first sheikh story “The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride” or one of my two “Prince” books.
What one specific piece of advice would you give a would-be writer trying to kick-start a career?
I think that if you really want to kick-start a career, you need to treat it like one, rather than as a hobby. There’s nothing wrong with writing solely for your enjoyment but if you want a career you need to focus on more than just the fun of it. Write even on the days you’d rather be doing other things. Set yourself achievable goals and stick at them. Focus on finding out where your voice and your talent best belong so you can target that type of writing. Finish a book and then start another one because the best way to improve your writing is to keep at it. It can be hard getting there, but it’s a terrific career!

On Romance...
 
What is your all-time favorite romantic movie?
Possible the BBC TV adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth. Not technically a movie but a program I’ve watched again and again and still love.
What is the most romantic gesture or gift you have received?
A surprise trip away with just my husband to celebrate a significant anniversary. As we usually celebrate just with a special home-cooked meal, the flight to another city and four days sightseeing at leisure was tremendous.
How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?
My husband is particularly good at this! The occasional surprise (like tickets to a concert) or even just time together on the weekend over coffee – just the two of us. Remembering to step off the treadmill of day to day responsibilities and take time to talk together is important.
What tip would you give your readers to make their lives more romantic?
Remembering not to take your lover for granted makes all the difference.
Where is the most romantic place you’ve ever traveled?
Two places come to mind instantly: a starry night in Egypt looking over exotic ruins and the edge of the desert; and watching the sun dip down over the sea on a Santorini clifftop.

All About her...
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I’ve always been a reader. I’ve loved romance since my teens and finally just had to try my hand at it. I still love nothing better than to read a great romance.
Besides writing, what other talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be multilingual. I know a bit of German and even less Greek but it would be terrific to be fluent in another language (or three).
Who is someone you admire and why?
My parents. I want to be like them when I grow up. Seriously! They care about other people, they take an interest, they have humour and respect for each other and appreciate the good things they have.
What quality do you most admire in a man?
Honesty/integrity.
What is the one thing you've always wanted to do, but never had the courage to try?
Parasailing or hang-gliding.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’ve always wanted to be an archaeologist and I’d love to give that a go. Of course I’d like to be on a dig with a gorgeous, hunky male archaeologist with eyes that crinkle when he laughs, broad shoulders and a quick wit.  I’m sure there’d be some adventure thrown in.
To finish up, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
Definitely read as much as you can in the genre you want to write.  You need to feel at home there.
Write and keep writing because you can fix a poorly written page but a blank page won’t get you anywhere.
Occasionally read your dialogue out loud. You’ll soon hear if it’s stilted or not flowing.
One enormously important tip and so hard to do – don’t send off your story as soon as it’s finished! Put it aside and write something else. Come back to your story later (weeks later for preference) when it’s no longer so familiar to you. You’ll have a far better perspective for picking up problems in the pace and elsewhere.
Finally, I’d say don’t rush your ending. We spend a lot of time perfecting the opening of our story but sometimes forget that in a romance the ending is the payoff for the reader who stayed with us through all the emotional turmoil of the story. They want to believe that the happy ever after you’ve painted really does work. I’ve put an article about that on my website which gives a bit more detail on that.
NOW TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK….
Can I be greedy and mention two? My two royal romance stories, both with a touch of Cinderella but definitely updated to today.
“Protected by the Prince” which is also "Passion, Purity and a Prince"has a hero “Like Prince Charming’s far more experienced and infinitely more dangerous older brother.” Alaric is a charmer, adept at hiding his dark past, until he clashes with a prim archivist who’s uncovered a secret that threatens to disrupt the country and the coronation. Tamsin is far more than she first appears and soon Alaric finds his world and his plans turned upside down. He goes to desperate lengths trying to control the situation…
“Prince of Scandal” is a marriage of convenience story, except in this case it’s pure inconvenience. Raul is furious that an archaic law forces him to marry, especially when he discovers the ‘lost’ princess he has to marry is a mud-spattered farmer who says precisely what she thinks and won’t quietly do what’s expected. Luisa is determined not to be taken over like some chattel in marriage, despite her instant attraction for Raul.

They’re both intense, passionate romances with a touch of the fairytale, balanced by real contemporary characters.
“Protected by the Prince” was a February North American release and “Prince of Scandal” is on sale mid April in the UK and August in North America. There are excerpts from both on my website: http://www.annie-west.com
Thanks for sharing your insights about writing and some fun facts about your life, Annie, it's been a hoot having you here.
Nas, the interview has been fun. Thanks for having me visit. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the visitors to your site!
The goodness doesn't end there though, folks. Annie has generously donated a copy of PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE to one lucky person. If the winner already has Alaric and Luisa’s story, she’ll provide an early copy of PRINCE OF SCANDAL instead.
All you have to do is “LIKE” her Facebook page and leave a comment or question for Annie and you'll go into the draw for this book.}

88 comments:

  1. Thanks Annie and Nas! So great to meet another author with some wonderful stories.

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  2. great interview and great writing tips too. Thanks so much

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  3. Hi Nas, it's lovely to see the interview online - thank you for inviting me to visit.

    Hi Lydia and Lynda. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and Lynda, I hope the writing tips work for you. They did for me! I'm wondering what you write.

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  4. I love the premise of both books Annie! Thanks both to you and Nas for the interview.

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  5. Hi Donna, it's great to hear you enjoyed the premise of the stories.

    I have to say I was thrilled about writing them both as to me they had fascinating characters in situations that intrigued me so I was eager to see what happened next. That may sound odd, but I never have every scene plotted so writing is the way I get to find out the story.

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  6. Hi Nas and Annie

    Great interview Ladies I really enjoy learning more about one of my favourite authors.

    Annie

    Love love your stories they always take me on a fantastic adventure to a wonderful HEA I am soo looking forward to the release of Prince of Scandal can't wait to feel a part of the adventure as your magical voice always draws me in

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  7. Who doesn't love a royal story! (And only a few weeks to go before the real wedding, can't wait!) Annie, do you have all your conflicts etc worked out before you write and if so, how do you about it? Thanks in advance.
    Jo Graves

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  8. Hi Helen, it's great to see you here. Are you snaffling time before you head to work?

    So glad you enjoyed the Q&A and to hear that you've enjoyed my books so much. It's a real thrill to think I've one of your favourite authors. I'm preening! I hope you enjoy Raul and Luisa's story too. So far the feedback I've had from the UK where it's just out has made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

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  9. Annie, what a wonderful interview. Chock full of great tips for writers too.

    These books sound exciting. Thanks again Nas. I love your interviews. :-)

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  10. Hi Annie

    I am on holidays from work till 1st May and I have been catching up on some reading and spending time with my family and getting to know my new grandson Josh, having a great time LOL

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  11. Hi Joanne. Are you going to watch the royal wedding? I think I might. I had to smile when I heard the engagement announced. It almost seemed as if I'd written my two royal stories to fit in with the timing of the wedding. Wish I could say I'd heard on the grapevine that it was coming up but sadly not.

    Joanne, I do tend to have the conflicts between my hero and heroine in my head before I start writing, but not always. I've been known to begin a book when I only had the first scene in my head because it called to me so strongly. That said, the first scene would be based on a conflict that I found exciting and intriguing. I'd then have to ensure I had the back story sorted out (and therefore the current conflict) before I wrote much more. If I've got two 'real' characters in my head and they have a situation that puts them in conflict (major conflict, not a simple spat) then I'll happily write on. I know then that I've got enough to begin my book and some of the details and secondary conflicts emerge as I write. Does that make sense?

    My worry is that if I don't have those two characters who are rounded and well-motivated and real to me, plus a situation that puts them in a conflict that can't be sorted out in a 15 minute chat, I'm in danger of getting to the middle of the book and have it sag and go nowhere. I think the best conflicts are one that tap into the characters' emotions as that drives the story strongly. For instance in 'Protected by the Prince' Tamsin is sure of herself professionally but her past makes her doubt herself in personal relationships. Alaric's plan to keep her close and negate the danger she represents makes her focus for once on the personal and not the professional - just what she doesn't want to do. That means her responses tap into her deepest fears, hopes and emotions, which I believe, make the story stronger, especially when discovers Alaric's motivation and fears their relationship is based on falsehood. I could detail this for all four characters in these two books but it would be a very long post!

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  12. Hi Robyn,
    I'm sitting here smiling through the sniffles (head cold today). It's terrific to hear you've enjoyed the interview and especially the writer's tips.

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  13. Helen, enjoy your holiday! How terrific you have plenty of time to spend with little Josh and the others. I hope he and his mum are doing well. All OK? What a terrific Easter holiday you'll all have.

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  14. Hello my lovely friends,

    Thank you all for welcoming Annie West in my absence! I adore you all for your absolutely stunning comments and questions.

    Hi Annie,

    I'm late to welcome you, sorry.

    I loved reading Prince Alaric and Tamsin's journey. The Royal protocols, then the sleigh ride, you made it all come alive! And it was a super Cinderella story with an unique twist which was so charming!

    I did say in the post to Like your FB page, but it seems my lovely friends have to go and send you friend requests on your Facebook.

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  15. Nas, fantastic interview! Annie, that's one of the best tips I've ever read-treat your writing like a career, not a hobby. That's why I allow it to always take last place in my life.

    I'm going to try and change that as soon as possible.

    Thanks!

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  16. Hi Nas, as you can see, I'm enjoying myself here.

    As for FB - I only have the one page there. I'm still to learn my way around the place completely.

    Thanks for the positive comments on Tamsin and Alaric's story. As for the sleigh ride - it was such fun researching that, as you'd see from the pic on my website. I don't often get to research all my books in person in such detail.

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  17. Ah, Words Crafter, I remember having someone say the same thing to me about treating my writing seriously. It made a huge difference to me. I'd been doing a lot of writing but not in such a focused way. After hearing that and changing my ways, I had my book accepted within a year. Hope it works for you too.

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  18. I cottage in Scotland sounds like a lovely place to write! Or a castle... I wouldn't say no to a castle...

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  19. Lacey, a friend and I keep talking about a writers' retreat in a Scottish cottage but I suspect we'd spend too much time talking and sightseeing instead of writing. As for the castle - sigh. I spent a night in a castle a couple of years ago when I was planning these royal stories. There was a writing desk in the window embrasure looking down (a very long way) to the river below. It was the perfect place for writing - absolutely wonderful. A little too pricey to stay for long but just perfect for inspiration. And that bed! It was like sleeping on a cloud.

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  20. Annie, fabulous interview! And I must say your recent two royal stories are among my favourites of your stories as well. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that fairytale kingdom where everything happens - seems to add an extra gloss of romance to the wonderful stories somehow. Sigh, swoon, drool! By the way, can I come and have a writing retreat with you in your cottage in Scotland. I think I'd like that very much!

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  21. Oh, waving madly to Nas! Hi, Nas!

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  22. Royal stories are among my fave and I'm really looking forward to yours Annie! Your stories are always so rich in emotion and even more important for me - a really good yarn!

    Can't wait to get my hands on these princes - er books...
    Kaz Delaney

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  23. Anna, laughing here, since it's our conversations on a writing retreat in Scotland I was thinking of. Just afraid you'd send me off on foot for more supplies when the porridge got low.

    Thanks for the wrap on my two 'Prince' stories. How cool to think they're 2 of your favourites! I'm chuffed!

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  24. Kaz, I love the fact that you're looking forward to getting your hands on Raul and Alaric - well, their stories. Thanks for the lovely compliment about my books being emotion-rich. That's one of the things that appeals to me in a story too.

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  25. Hi Annie and Nas!

    Terrific interview!

    Annie, I adored your Prince Alaric in Protected by the Prince! And I have to say that I LOVE the sound of your mud-splattered princess in Prince of Scandal! Raul has met his match! Delicious! I'll be haunting the book shops DownUnder in May to snaffle my copy!

    You've given some wonderful advice for writers here too.

    :)
    Sharon

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  26. Hi, Annie and Nas!

    Annie, add me to Prince Alaric's fan club! Actually, can I be president?

    You'd make a fabulous archaeologist but, with all due respect...don't do it! I want you to continue writing your wonderful, intense Presents stories. Is that selfish of me?

    Congrats on your royal releases, Annie!

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  27. Nas thank you for bringing me a interview with one of my favorite authors. Annie thank you so much for sharing your answers with us I loved learning more about you , you already know that I simply love your books,your stories transport me to a whole new world!

    Alaric and Luisa’s story was brilliant I could not put it down !Prince of scandal I know is going to be another brilliant read!

    Take Care,
    Desere

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  28. Hi Sharon,

    What a thrill to hear you loved 'Protected by the Prince'. Argh - I never know whether to call it that or 'Passion, Purity and the Prince' as the same book has different titles in North America and elsewhere. Love the thought of you haunting bookstores for Raul. I'm sure he'd appreciate the vote of confidence.

    I'm glad too that the writerly advice seems good to you. It's something I always love reading in other interviews. Sometimes I find something new and others something not so new to me but I've forgotten and need to concentrate on - always a good way of reminding myself of some of the things to look out for.

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  29. Vanessa, how are you? Of course you can be president of Alaric's fan club. Fortunately I know he's so sensible his ego won't become unmanageable at the idea.

    Oh, I'd love to try my hand as an archaeologist. I know one (well she was for years and years) and I realise that it's a lot of hard slog and not many treasure trove discoveries, but it still sounds brilliant. She was talking about the need for volunteers in a dig in Cyprus. One day...! Wouldn't that be great background for a story?

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  30. Hi Desere, it's great to catch up with you here! You know I love hearing your feedback on my books - must say it's terrific to hear you couldn't put Alaric and Tamsin's story down. What a compliment. I love it when I pick up a book I can't put down, even though it can be difficult with all the other things I'm supposed to be doing.

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  31. Thank you Annie it is great to catch up with you as well. Alaric and Tamsin's story was a masterpiece !

    Thank you again for sharing your answers with us and thank you for the chance to win a copy of Prince of scandal your awesome !

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  32. Hi Annie and Nas. What a fun interview. Annie, it sounds as if you have a very romantic husband. I enjoyed your advice to writers. It's good to take time away from a story and reading/polishing it again before sending it off to a publisher.

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  33. Hi again, Desere. It's my pleasure to share! I love mixing with other romance readers and writers - that's one of the best things of being a romance writer.

    Basking here in the idea of Alaric and Tamsin's story being a 'masterpiece'. Wow.

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  34. Shelley, hi. Yes, you're right - I'm very lucky with my husband. In some ways I think men can be more romantic (though I bet they wouldn't like to think so). That tip about putting a story aside and waiting before polishing/submitting is so important. I remember times when I didn't do that. Nothing worse than getting a rejection, rereading the submission and seeing, after a nice break away from it, how easy it would be to tighten it!

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  35. I am only telling the truth it was amazing !

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  36. Yes, I also agree, Alaric and Tamsin's story was a classical with a *spoiler alert* virgin heroine and a Prince, but then their encounters are so sensual and hot!

    And it was portrayed with so much reality....how Tamsin's Cinderella character blossomed under Alaric's attentions. So much like reality!

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  37. Another great interview! Thank you, Nas and Annie!

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  38. Fantastic interview....Great tips and love the covers....It is nice to meet you as well.

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  39. Hi Annie, hi Nas. What a wonderful interview and fantastic advice to writers, Annie.

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  40. Another lovely interview, thank you! Always interesting to read how a writer got started.

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  41. Its those simple things in life that keeps the romance alive. Like taking her to the beach and having lunch on the patio of a restaurant. We love splitting a plate of nachos.

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  42. Hi Nas and Annie!
    Great interveiw! And it's true...rushed revisions always seem to come at the busiest times! I can't wait to check out your books.

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  43. Desere, I'm not complaining, believe me! It's music to my ears.

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  44. Nas, it was interesting writing a sexually inexperienced heroine, but given her history it seemed inevitable. That really did make the whole awakening theme fun to do. Personally what I liked about portraying Tamsin was that though she lacked experience in some areas, she was no pushover and wasn't hanging around waiting for Prince Charming to come and sweep her off her feet - she was getting on with her life. I enjoyed the fact that she was incredibly competent in her own area, just as Alaric was in his. I did feel like they were equals in so many ways.

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  45. Talli, Nas does a good interview, doesn't she?

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  46. Hi Savannah and Kandy. I'm glad you liked the writer's tips. Savannah, I loved both these covers. The cover art always comes as a surprise to me when I receive my books so it was brilliant with these two, seeing such fabulous, romantic pics.

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  47. Hi Liz, I'm with you, I love hearing other authors' stories about getting started. Here in Australia I look I'm the published author liaison person for Romance Writers of Australia and one of my fave things is to read the call stories of newly published authors as they join the published author email loop. Sigh. It's like the Happily Ever After endings I strive for in my stories.

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  48. Stephen, didn't I say men were the romantics? I think you're right about the simple things. It doesn't have to be an expensive restaurant, just time together enjoying each other's company.

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  49. Hi Wendy, I hope you like the books.

    I think it must be Murphy's Law that revisions always come at the worst time. I remember receiving some on Christmas Eve - NOT what I wanted to see when I quickly checked the email. It would have been so much nicer to have the book accepted with out change - now that would have been a terrific Christmas present.

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  50. Another wonderful interview, Nas!

    Annie, thanks so much for sharing your writing experiences AND your thoughts on relationships. Big fan of psychology, so I'm always interested in hearing how others interpret human interactions. (Especially when a romance author is doing the pontificating!)

    EJ

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  51. Hi E.J.

    I'm glad you found the interview of interest. It's fascinating to find out how others interpret things. Most authors I know spend a lot of time mulling over relationships and likely interactions as that's at the core of so many stories, particularly romance. I've so often seen several people interpret/react to the same words/news/event in so many different ways it's astounding. Just goes to show I suppose, how we colour things based on our own experience and circumstances.

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  52. Nas, I hope you don't mind me sharing this here - it's a bit off topic. I've just found out today that there's an English language manga comic of one of my books available! This is a first for me. I've only ever seen the Japanese language ones so this is a real treat. If you're interested in seeing the cover it's at http://www.amazon.com/Mills-Boon-comics-Ransomed-ebook/dp/B004WIOXAY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=A24IB90LPZJ0BS&s=books&qid=1303173781&sr=1-1
    I love it when editions come out unexpectedly!

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  53. Those questions get better and better, Nas! (I particularly like the one about setting for stories -- perhaps because of Annie's unique answer.)

    Now I'm wondering if advising on government policy gave some unique insights into the ways of princes. ;-)

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  54. Hi LP. I'm smiling here at the thought my old policy work might have given me an 'in' on the ways of princes. How terrific to think back on a career filled with gorgeous, charismatic princes. Sigh. Sadly that wasn't the way of it. I did learn some useful things though. Like the importance of editing and rereading documents that had to be absolutely correct, and getting used to having others editing your work occasionally.

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  55. Hi Annie,

    I just saw the cover of the manga edition on Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mills-Boon-comics-Ransomed-ebook/dp/B004WIOXAY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=A24IB90LPZJ0BS&s=books&qid=1303173781&sr=1-1

    and it's only $2.99! I'm going to try downloading now....and it'll be my very first romance manga!

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  56. Hi Annie and Nas -- what a wonderful interview!

    I am rubbing my hands together in glee because this weekend I get to hunker down with Prince of Scandal and I am soooo looking forward to Raul and Luisa's story (especially after devouring and swooning at Alaric and Tamsin's story).

    However, Annie, you are very wicked as you have me dying to fly off to Santorini to experience an amazing sunset. Sigh.

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  57. Hi Nas, I hope the download worked. A writer friend in Australia downloaded it today and read it. I was so pleased when she told me it gave her a good idea for her book - she says it's such a condensed version of the story that it helped her think about turning points and so on.

    Personally, I just loved the pics!

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  58. Oh, Nas, I just realised. Check the site before you buy the manga. It's in 2 parts.

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  59. Hi Michelle. I hope you enjoy Raul and Luisa's story. I'll be interested to hear whether you prefer that one or Alaric and Tamsin's. I can't pick between them but that's to be expected.

    I have wonderful memories of that sunset in Santorini. Really spectacular and perfect for a romantic rendezvous. The moonlight in Egypt was fantastic too and very special. Funnily, the most romantic looking evening of all in Upper Egypt was the one when I was ill. Typical!

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  60. How great after the first publishing setback you didn't give up.

    A writing retreat in Greece sounds wonderful. I'm waiting for someone to send me to Paris.

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  61. Wonderful interview- Sorry for the quick comment- but homework waits.

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  62. I enjoyed your interview, Annie. Had to laugh about getting caught in your PJs half way through the day. I always feel like I have to explain or something.

    I also adore Colin Firth's Darcy and I see they've remastered the series for DVD/BluRay. It's on my wish list for Mother's Day.

    I love a good Cinderella story, will have to check these out.

    cheers,
    Deb

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  63. Hi Theresa.

    Well, I came close to giving up a few times before that acceptance by Harlequin. After having been published once I thought it would be easier and instead it was a real uphill battle, especially since as a published author I couldn't enter a lot of writing contests for feedback. I think the most challenging time for me was not when I first started writing but when I was close to publication again but not close enough - it was only the support of other writers that kept me going (and the fact I couldn't bear not to write at all).

    Theresa, if you find a writers' retreat in Greece, or someone willing to fund trips to Paris, let me know!

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  64. Hi Summer - thanks for popping by. I understand completely about the need to get homework done!

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  65. Hi Debra, it's amazing the number of writers who can relate to that pjs story. I should say that it doesn't happen often - I usually managed to get showered and changed early - but often enough to get caught out. Thanks for the news about the P&P DVD. I'll look out for it!

    Interesting that you like Cinderella stories too. Since writing these two books I've been fascinated by the number of other readers who do. They say that writers tend to focus on one particular theme in many of their books - like Beauty and the Beast or the Ugly Duckling or Cinderella. I love finding those themes in books I read or hearing others talk about their faves.

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  66. So you didn't get to rub shoulders with the "princes of power" during your former career, Annie? Only think of their fingers rubbing the pages of your well-researched, meticulously edited reports! (If it's any consolation LOL...)

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  67. Azarimba, sadly not. I don't count politicians and government gurus as princes. It definitely had its interesting moments, but not quite as interesting as developing a romance from a spark of an idea to a complete novel.

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  68. I love her advice for writers, especially about setting goals and treating writing as a career. How true!

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  69. Hi Susan,

    It was that advice about setting goals that really helped me turn my career around.

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  70. Great tips for those who want to make writing a career. Like Annie, I enjoy creating fictional settings.

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  71. Hi Sally, I'm pleased you enjoyed the interview.

    Hi JL, isn't it fund creating fictional settings? There's such freedom in it, even though I do tend to borrow from places I know or have researched. When I write about real places and use the atmosphere of that location I still tend to develop a spot within that which is all my own, even if it's just a house or cafe that only exists in my book. One of the fun things about being a fiction writer!

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  72. Hm, I meant to say it's 'fun' creating fictional settings.

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  73. Great interview, Nas and Annie! Ooh, Sheikh stories, I'm intrigued...

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  74. Hi Deniz,

    I have to say I've got a particularly soft spot for sheikh stories. How about you?

    Once I couldn't understand their allure, but then I read some (some very good ones). My problem after that was that I feared I couldn't do justice to the whole Arabian Nights fantasy and readers (and I) would be disappointed. But they say you should keep trying new things so because of that (but mainly because of my nagging crit partner) I tried to write one and got absolutely hooked. Loved writing that story. Now I come to think of that my heroine there was a marine archaeologist, so you can see my fantasies coming into play nicely (G). I've now written sheikh stories and each has had its own particular appeal for me.

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  75. Again I can't type. I meant to say I'd written 5 sheikh stories.

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  76. Five, wow!
    I'm only just starting to get into that world... Not sheikhs for me, but Ottomans :-)

    I do like that idea of trying new things - anything can be edited, as long as it's on paper, after all.

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  77. Ah, Deniz, the Ottomans. I've read so many books about the Ottoman Empire. In fact, when I was writing my first sheikh book (The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride)I was remembering my visit to Topkapi Palace in Istanbul as I described my hero's sprawling palace full of courtyards and pavilions and fountains etc. The visit to the jewel room there helped inspire an heirloom necklace that had a pivotal role in the story.

    I so agree with you about the ability to edit anything and trying new things.

    Are you writing something Ottoman-inspired now?

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  78. What a great interview! Annie has some great answers. I love her most romantic places--one day, one day! For now, we have an adoration of Pride and Prejudice in common.

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  79. Sorry, late to the party again. But just wanted to say, great interview! I love the sound of your books and promise to look them up!

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  80. Hi Amie, isn't that version of Pride and Prejudice just sumptuous? I know so many people who adore it. They must have made such a profit with sales of it.

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  81. Hi Serenity, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, and that you're interested in looking for my books. I hope you enjoy them.

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  82. Hi Annie - yay for sprawling palaces! When I started my story, I swore I wouldn't go there, since I wanted... well, I thought I wanted a simple romance, which just happened to be set in Constantinople (in 1493), with no swashbuckling and so on. The hero and heroine had other ideas - as did the Grand Vizier, who arrests my heroine's father. Mayhem ensues [g]

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  83. Deniz, that sounds marvellous! Just the sort of historical romance I'd love to read. Much as I enjoy so many British-set historicals, something different would be terrific. And I have no problem with a bit of swashbuckling...and a bit of mayhem. What a terrific setting! The premise sounds like it might be intriguing too.

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  84. Nas, as it's just about the end of the week, I thought I should thank you again for inviting me here. It's been enormous fun chatting and even being interviewed! Thanks everyone who stopped by and left a comment - you made me feel very welcome!

    I promised to give away a copy of PRINCE OF SCANDAL to someone here. I've just done a random draw and the winner is LYDIA. Congratulations! If you contact me at annie@annie-west.com with your postal address I'll organise to send the book to you.

    In the meantime, thanks again, everyone for your hospitality. I hope to catch up with some of you again sometime.

    Cheers,
    Annie

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  85. Hi Annie,

    Thanks for giving us this week out of your busy schedule and sharing with us your writing journey and tips! And thanks for the giveaway!

    Congratulations Lydia! One very sensational story in PRINCE OE SCANDAL would be yours!

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  86. Thanks so much Annie! It helps to hear that when I'm knee deep in editing and feel like the story'll never be ready for the light of day. I hope to begin querying by autumn...

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  87. Absolutely my pleasure, Nas, I had a lovely time.

    Deniz - oh I know that feeling of being mired in edits. Good luck with the autumn queries. It's great to have a deadline. Hope it works out wonderfully. I'd love to read it when published!

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