It’s Monday and the sun is shining and it’s another slice of life with the Ferranti family…

 

jimmy-chew

Happy Monday, awesome peeps!

The sun is shining. The weather man’s crystal ball reckons frosts and crisp grass is coming in my future. I love this time of year. In this business, things ebb and flow. Seems this author is in a state of flow. Long may it last.

Here’s the latest family saga with Nico, Bronte and their family, which has a new member.

Do I hear an ‘Awwwwww’ for Jimmy Chew.  Get it?

***

It’s Saturday morning in the family-kitchen at The Dower House…

Dressed in soft jeans and their favorite T-shirts, the kids are busy completing homework tasks at the kitchen table. Tonio helps Luca with basic math. He’s doing a great job. Bronte checks the message from Nico on her cell phone, bites back a smile. Her heart melts at the picture he’s sent. Aww, how cute. How gorgeous. Her eyes mist as she taps out her response. Boy, oh boy. Her kids are gonna go absolutely mental when they see their papa’s surprise. Over the past couple of week they’d weighed up the pros and cons. The decision is made. The Ferranti’s are about to have a new addition to their family.

“Have you tidied your bedrooms?” she asks. Heads lift showcasing three guilty faces. Again, she bites back a smile. Little monkeys. “Well, I suggest you get right on it. I want every single piece of Lego in the box, Luca Ferranti.”

Her beloved boy makes a horrible face. His dark curls bounce as he shakes his head. “But, mama. I’m building a space station.”

“Then use the table and not the floor. Papa hurt his foot this morning,” Bronte says. And the air had turned blue with a roar of expletives in rough Italian. Words which made Tonio run for cover.

Tonio grins at the memory. “Si. He was so mad.”

“He was hopping on one foot. He said bad words,” Sophia says, tossing her papa under the bus. She closes her spelling book, tucks her pencil in her beloved Frozen pencil case with a picture of Anna on the front. Bronte reckons her daughter and her best pal must have watched the movie hundreds of times and never tire of singing the songs.

“Hmm,” Bronte says, eyeing Sophia. “Last time I looked you had the entire contents of your dressing up box all over the carpet, including play makeup. I want everything put away nice and tidy in the right places. Capisce?”

Sophia lifts her chin. “You are not Italian.”

Sophia’s emerald eyes dance as her mama bends to go nose to nose with her. “I’ll have you know, Missy, I am an honorary Italian and that makes me very speshul. And since I am the boss around here, you will jump to it!” She plants a kiss on her daughter’s little snub nose.

Sophia grins and rolls her eyes. “Okay. Okay. Do we get a treat for tidying our rooms?” she asks, as usual pushing her luck with her mama.

Bronte fold her arms and gives a grinning Tonio, Luca and Sophia big wide eyes. “Well, you’ll never know until you do it, will you?”

“Are you gonna give us another room inspection?” Luca growls, remembering what happened the last time his room failed a spot inspection by Nico. No candy for a whole week.

Bronte checks the time on the clock on the wall. “Well, you have exactly twenty minutes before the Big Boss arrives home, so if I were you I’d make the most of the time instead of standing here debating with me.”

As her children slink out of the room, she shakes her head. Good God, a snail with a limp moves faster than those three. When she has the room to herself, she grins as she dances a merry jig on the spot. Omigod, they are going to go crazy. She can’t wait for Nico to arrive home with his precious little package.

Twenty minutes later…

The sound of a car on gravel has Bronte slip on her shoes and head for the kitchen door. Nico exits his shiny black Range Rover. When he spots her, his smile is wide and wicked.

He cranes his neck to look beyond her. “Where are they?”

“Tidying their rooms. You’d have thought I was sending them down a coal mine as slave labor.”

His laugh makes her smile. Then her smile goes all soft and trembly as Nico lifts the pet carrier from the passenger seat. Inside the box a beautiful little face peeks out at her and sniffs Nico’s fingers as he opens the lid and lifts out the most gorgeous ball of fluff she has ever seen.

Bronte’s fingertips press on her lips. “Oh, Nico, he is the cutest thing. Our very own Bacon Freeze.”

Si,” Nico grins as the tiny ball of fluff licks his neck and chin. “He is eight months old, house trained, and smart. The shelter staff are sad to see him go.” He places the wriggling pup into Bronte’s outstretched arms.

“Poor baby,” she whispers as she presses soft kisses on the clipped fur. “Poor little thing.”

Nico’s face goes serious. “Si. His elderly owner had a heart attack and passed away. The puppy has been in the shelter for six weeks. He needs a home and plenty of love.”

“And who’s a beautiful boy, then?” she says to the delirious pup.

Grazie, cara,” Nico says as he opens the trunk to remove a doggy bed, and box of essentials which include food and water bowls, toys, a selection of chews, dry dog food and a leash in bright red leather.

“I’m talking to the dog,” his wife says, tossing him a saucy look. “It’s been a long time since you were a boy.”

His response is to drop a hot kiss on her mouth. “You sit with him the family room. I’ll get the kids.”

She bites down hard on her bottom lip. “Nico, they are going to go nuts.”

Si. I cannot wait.”

 

 

Meanwhile, Sophia is folding her dressing up clothes. Shoes and bags go in the big wooden box first. Then the dresses and then the accessories, as her auntie Rosie calls the myriad of plastic bracelets and necklaces and tiaras and magic wands. And while she’s at it, she lines up all her dolls on her bed. One has a plastic shoe missing, so she bellies beneath her bed to grab it. When she’s fitting the shoe to the foot, her papa pokes his head around the door.

“Sophia, cara. Mama wants you in the kitchen.”

“I’m nearly finished. Is this my room inspection?”

Nico cranes his neck around the door and scans the room. He holds out his hand for hers. “Good job.”

With Sophia’s hand in his, Nico enters Luca’s room to find him and Tonio flying the Millenium Falcon from Star Wars. “Come down stairs, mama has something for you,” he says to the boys.

Luca makes a face. “I haven’t finished yet.”

“Do it later,” Nico says, shocking both boys into silence. When have they ever been told to, ‘do it later’ when it came to cleaning their bedrooms? Never.

Luca shoots his papa a suspicious look. “Are we in trouble?”

Sheesh. How hard is it to get these kids down stairs for their surprise? Nico shakes his head. “No.”

“What is it then?” Luca asks in a sulky voice. The boys trail behind Nico and Sophia as they go down the stairs. “You’re acting funny.”

Nico turns to his youngest son. “How am I acting funny?”

“You’ve gotta funny look in your eye as if you’re gonna laugh or cry.”

By this time they’ve reached the door to the family-kitchen-living space. Bronte is sitting on the couch with the puppy on her lap. When Sophia makes a gasp, Nico releases her hand and grabs his phone from his jean pocket. Eyes like saucers, Sophia takes hesitant steps towards her mama, with a silent Tonio and Luca hot on her heels. Sophia drops to her knees.

“Who does it belong to?” she whispers, her little hand trembling as she strokes the soft, downy fur.

“He belongs to us,” her mama whispers, her emerald eyes swimming.

“He’s mine?” Sophia whispers.

“No,” her papa says. “He belongs to the Ferranti family, to everyone.”

“Wow,” Luca whispers. “If I’d known we were gonna get a puppy, I’d have tidied my room weeks ago.”

Tonio sinks to the edge of the couch and leans into Bronte. “He’s really cute. What’s his name?”

“Well, his previous owner called him Jimmy,” she says as she hands him the pup.

Sophia turns anxious eyes on her mama. “Why couldn’t they keep him?”

“His owner was very sick and couldn’t take care of him. He sadly passed away, so Jimmy needs a new home. What do you think, will we keep him here with us?”

All three children nod, and when Jimmy barks and wriggles to be free, they all laugh.

And so the Ferranti family have a new addition to the household.

“I think Jimmy’s a boring name,” Luca says, gently stroking the puppy.

Nico starts to laugh. “What’s so funny, papa?” Sophia says.

Nico moves to sit. He slides his arm around Bronte’s slim waist. “His full name is Jimmy Chew. And with mama’s love of shoes, I felt he was meant to belong to us.”

Bronte gives him big eyes. “I don’t believe it. You made that up.”

“No. I promise you. His owner named him Jimmy Chew because, like you, she adored Mr. Choo’s shoes.”

“Wow.” Bronte slides her arm around his waist and cosies in. “Rosie would say it’s karma, baby. Karma.”

Si. I understand the workings of the Universe. I am Italian.”

 

FINE

 

Awwwwww. I want a Bacon Freeze (as Sophia calls a Bischon Frise). H says no because he’d be the one to do the walking and pooper scooper. But I still want one.

AND we have Golddigger book two, MILLIE, on Friday.  Every Friday all the way up to Christmas you’ll have a 30-40 minute read (depending on how fast you get through it) Golddigger story to keep you going. I’m having the Best time writing these. They’re great fun, and I hope you enjoy them.

Love and hugs,

Christine X

 

 

 

Soccer star, secrets, lies, glitter and lust… It’s the HER RULES release day…

HER RULES 3D

HER RULES

A queen of hot contemporary romance is back with plenty of laughs, tears, thrills and spills! USA Today Bestselling author, CC MACKENZIE returns with a brand new, burn-up-the-sheets story to set your eReader aflame. No cliffhanger. Ooooh-la-la, we’re off to gay Paris!

“I miss you. The Old You. The new one sucks.”  Olivier.

Greetings, my darlings,

Today I am beyond thrilled to announce the release of book two of The Rules series –  HER RULES! Although the stories are linked, each book stands alone.

Readers are loving the leading characters we met in HIS RULES – Anastacia Morgan, the fiercely independent and whip-smart head of Ferranti Communications, and Olivier Conti, the drop dead gorgeous Italian soccer star determined to march her down the aisle. Shame the woman he loves is kicking and screaming all the way…

Set in the stunning city of Paris, Anastacia and Olivier have arrived to film the next stage of their Ferranti Boutique hotel campaign. The bad times are behind them and they’re looking to embrace a glittering future together. Until a blast from her past, Jake Thornton, arrives.

Jake wants Anastacia back. She wants him long GONE. And Olivier wants Jake… dead.

However, help is at hand. Anastacia has not arrived in the city of love alone. Her two best friends, Danni and T.C., are in Paris, too. And both are having their own man trouble.

Meet Pascal Wolfe, the charismatic, gorgeous and wealthy designer who has more than just shoes and handbags in mind for Danni. She might be attracted, but Danni’s not ready to trust the well-named Monsieur Wolfe.

And meet Sean Kennedy, the tough ex-mercenary turned personal protection expert, who rubs T.C. up the wrong way. On the face of it the pair have nothing in common, and when they meet, they have even less. Except what they do have is a wise-cracking nothing held back chemistry.

With an ex-boyfriend creating mayhem for Anastacia and a stalker causing big trouble for Danni, the stage is set for an explosive summer…

BUY NOW

AMAZON  iBOOKS  KOBO  BARNES & NOBLE

In the next post, the cover reveal for A DADDY FOR DAISY!

Do I hear a yay?

With much love and lots of hugs,

CHRISTINE X

Pre-order for HER RULES out now and exclusive extract

pre order banner for FB for Her Rules with release date

It’s been a busy week in the MACKENZIE household.

Like everyone else we’re shocked that it’s only four short weeks until the fat man in the red suit slides down the chimney. Where did autumn go?

For once I’m ahead of the game with my book releases, she says.

The first book of the Ludlow Hall off-shoot series, Ludlow Nights – HIS RULES, is gathering amazing reviews.

“I loved Anastacia and Olivier. Like all of CC’s heroines she had spunk! Olivier reminded me soo much of Nico sometimes I must admit I wanted to reach into the book and smack some sense into him, but through it all you just know his hearts in the right place, his machismo just gets in his way sometimes. I laughed each time she put him in his place as I pictured a puzzled expression on his face while he tried to figure out what he’d said wrong this time!

Anastacia faced some very difficult times growing up and it’s made her a very strong woman. There were a couple of scenes that brought me to tears as she came face to face with her past, I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll leave it at that.

I can’t wait for the next book to come out!”

Readers are loving more Nico and Bronte (Nico is a gift as a character and a joy to write) and they’ve fallen hard for Olivier and Anastacia. Their journey to the land of happy-ever-after is proving to be a rocky one.

And their story continues in HER RULES. It’s full of laughs and many challenges as they move the advertising shoot to Paris. Unfortunately, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Mix a professional disaster with a personal crisis and Anastacia is ready to swing for a certain someone.

Daniella Pebbles is with her best pal in Paris, too, covering fashion week. She meets her Waterloo (pardon the pun) in the city of love when one Pascale Wolfe decides that she belongs to him. Unfortunately for Pascale, Dani’s having none of it, and so the fun begins.

And T.C.’s in Paris, too. Will she finally meet the one? Or will she find herself in very hot water? Read the story and see.

Here’s the blurb:

Style guru Danni Pebbles is in the stunning city of Paris for fashion week and discovers that the powerful and wealthy Pascale Wolfe has more on his mind than business – but, given her past, that makes Danni even more determined to keep him at arms length.

One woman stood out, a fragile rose, among hot-house blooms at the show in Paris fashion week. Imaginative,  innovative and shy – Daniela Pebbles is nothing like any woman wealthy designer Pascale Wolfe has ever known. The cynical Frenchman was determined to discover why Daniela wanted to keep him at arm’s length. But, given her past, could Pascale really convince Daniela that their night of passion could become a lifetime together?

EXCLUSIVE excerpt HER RULES

 

Anastacia rose and moved to the window to stare down at the busy river Seine flowing through Paris. Oh, it stuck in her craw that her boss had had to clean up her mess. It was the first time she’d failed so spectacularly, and she had no intention of ever repeating the incredibly humbling experience.

“Ana…” Olivier took a step towards her. Anastacia hardened herself, and her stupid emotions, against what she knew was coming.

“I can’t do this with you.” She faced him, took the hit to the heart, but for once in her pitiful life listened to her head. “In fact I won’t do it. Let’s just keep our relationship professional. Get the job done. Go our own way.”

He stood utterly still.

Any flicker of warmth in his eyes for her now gone.

“If that is what you want.”

“It is what I want.”

She told herself to just hold it together.

She could do this.

“Ana…”

When he shifted to take another step toward her, she held up her hand in the universal signal to halt.

He stopped dead.

Logic in total control now, she spoke,

“I want my life back. I want me back. I want the life I had before you were in it. I was happy then. I’m not happy now. I want a life where I’m not abused on social media. I want a life where people don’t care if I’m too fat or too thin, too tall, too short. Where people don’t care about my hair or whether my breasts are my own. Where I am not measured by what my boyfriend does for a living.” Her steps were jerky as she stalked to the window and back again. Her hands thrust through her curls to her scalp, gripped and pulled. “Jesus, all this nonsense, all this hassle because of football. It’s crazy!”

She took a deep and cleansing breath, desperately trying to ignore how grave, how devastated and how shocked he looked.

Her eyes found his and held firm as she said, “So… I’m stepping off the crazy.”

“I did not handle today well,” he said, his deep voice a rumble in his chest. And she could see by his face how much that admission had cost him. But she refused to listen to the clarion call of her heart. A heart begging her to forgive and to forget. Eyes fixed on her face, he continued, “I did not realize how much the negative attention of my fans has affected you…”

Her double hand-swipe through the air had him stop again in his tracks.

Was he serious?

“Yes, you did know, because I told you time and time again. But you just shrugged it off as part of the circus that is your life. That circus is not my life, Olivier. I knew it going in. I knew it was a mistake to get involved with you while trying to work together. I knew it and I did it anyway.”

All of it, every single part of the mess they were in, was all her own damned fault.

She refused to acknowledge how sad, how pale, he looked.

His Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat. “So, this is it?”

“Earlier this evening you dumped me. You made your feelings crystal clear,” she reminded him with a bite to her tone.

He nodded. “I was upset…”

“Yeah, well, we’re both upset. Let’s for once be adults about this.”

A wave of exhaustion swept over her and washed away all the conflict, all the anger, leaving her feeling nothing but empty.

His dark eyes burned into hers and she thought, Here we go, he’s going to fight.

“I will not give you up.”

She merely raised her brows.

“You do not get to choose my future. I do.”

*****

PRE-ORDER LINKS – RELEASE ON 15TH DECEMBER 2015

iBOOKS   AMAZON  KOBO  BARNES & NOBLE

new1 copy

And if you missed HIS RULES – here are the links:

iBOOKS  AMAZON  KOBO  BARNES & NOBLE

I’ve already begun BREAK THE RULES, which is out early 2016 so stay tuned.

And I know you’re all waiting for the next Ludlow Hall story, A Daddy For Daisy – I can confirm that I’m writing the story right now, and it’s rocking! Do I hear a YAY? So glad I waited until my head was in the right place for Janine and Josh’s tale. There is no way I could ever release a book unless it was the very best work I can do. I can confirm that I’ll be sharing an exclusive cover reveal with you guys along with the blurb very soon.

AND I’ll have some Vampyre news, too.

Right, back to the grindstone.

Love and Hugs,

Christine XX

FROM THE LAND OF THE KAMA SUTRA CAME THIS……

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Greetings my lovelies,

This summer I took a break from the keyboard to take time to heal a heart broken by bereavement. The journey to wellness continues and with the help of a wonderful woman, Debra Holland MS PhD, I’m learning to understand and accept feelings that have at times overwhelmed me and paralysed my creativity.

But this is me all y’all are dealing with and nothing ever keeps this writer down for long. I’m hoping to finish HER RULES in a few days. The book’s in final revision/edits. I’ll give you guys the cover reveal and taster next week. As soon as the work has gone through formatting and proofing by the awesome Jennifer Lewis Oliver, I’m diving into A Daddy For Daisy. Do I hear a Yay? Writing Daisy’s story has been a challenge because I was right in the middle of a heavy scene in the book when my mother died. And to be honest every time I read it through I’m an emotional wreck. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy, so I plan to hunker down in my office with scented candles and boxes of tissues to get me through it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that we cannot avoid the hard stuff, ever. And as Debra says, ‘You can use the emotions and the journey in your writing to help others.’  Amen to that.

Right, on to the reason for the title of this post, which some of you are probably thinking is a tricky piece of click-bait. Not so!!! If all y’all are sitting comfortably, I shall begin……

A couple of nights ago my fingers were doing a happy dance across the keyboard writing a fun scene from HER RULES. (It’s a pure joy being back in my happy place.) H knocked the door and popped his head in to see if it was safe to enter (in spite of a big red sign saying KEEP OUT) *Eye-roll* He had a huge grin on his face, so I surmised whatever he had to say was good news.

“What’s up?” I asked.

He made himself nice and comfy in a sofa chair and the grin morphed into a toothy smile.

“You’ve gotta read this. It’s a pretty intense review for Reckless Nights In Rome in Amazon, India.”

Now with almost fourteen books published and six in the pipeline, I have a policy – set in stone – that after the first few reviews of a new release (just to make sure my readers are happy bunnies) I don’t read reviews. And neither does H, usually. His job is to keep a track of number crunching a variety of data feeds. But for some reason what was happening in India had caught his eye and the way he was laughing I feared the worst. My heart sank.

“Is it crap?”

He shook his head and now his blue eyes were dancing.

“Nope. Four stars. But you have got to read it. I’ve sent you the link.”

A little bit narked that I had to leave a good bit in my work in progress, I did as I was told and went into my emails and clicked on the link.

Whoa.

Those awesome readers in India sure do their homework when they leave a review. Not only did the reviewer analyse the character traits of the hero and heroine, but she’d researched me, too. Bloody hell. So then it was on to the story. I’m not going to copy and paste the whole thing here, but the part that caught my eye and had tickled H was this sentence:

“A woman’s orgasm has never been so well explained in any of the books I have read till now.”

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I blinked and read it again.

Seriously?

I did that?

Me?

“Gosh, that’s simply amazing,” I said feeling proud.

My man blinked like a camel in a sand storm.

“Er, I think I had a hand in your orgasmic education.”

This might be TMI for some of you, but once we realized what he said we haven’t laughed so hard for so long in months.

Gotta love him.

Please feel free to share with the world a piece of writing that hit the spot for you. Keep it clean. And it doesn’t need to be about intimacy. It can be about anything that touched you, in a good way.

Big Hugs,

Christine XX

READ THE REVIEW HERE

For those of you struggling (I’m sending you virtual hugs) to cope with the ravages of loss, grab The Essential Guide To Grief and Grieving by Debra Holland  MS PhD (who also writes a fabulous historical western romance series).

New Release – Ludlow Nights – His Rules

new1 copy

iBOOKS    AMAZON   KOBO   BARNES AND NOBLE

Hi guys!

Where have you been? I hear all y’all ask. I’ve been writing and just to prove it, I’ve a new release out now. This book is the first of six in a new franchise, Ludlow Nights. All the stories are a fast-paced, hilarious and sexy. I had the best time writing Olivier and Anastacia’s story. The characters virtually leapt into my mind fully-formed – a rare and precious thing. The last time it happened was with Nico and Bronte. And we meet them again in these stories! I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

HIS RULES

“Though She Might Be But Little, She Is Fierce”….. Shakespeare

Ambitious, workaholic Anastacia Morgan runs Ferranti Communications with a cool-head and an iron will. Her latest project is ensuring sports star Olivier Conti does what he’s told in a series of adverts. Olivier is impossible with a huge ego she’s made up her mind to ignore. His smile may do wonderful things to her libido, but Ana is determined to succeed where other women fail and resist the gorgeous soccer star.

However, in this game there are no rules and Olivier’s never missed a penalty, yet.

*******

I’m beyond thrilled that iBooks have given me a special pre-order system for the Ludlow Nights series. Next up is HER RULES  and BREAK THE RULES and you can grab the books coming this year here:

 iBOOKS USA     iBOOKS UK 

Christine X

“One Day, I Want To Write A Book”

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This is a long post, so grab a coffee or a glass of wine, settle down and relax.

You know, I can remember the exact moment I said those words. I was ten and an avid Enid Blyton fan. Who remembers The Famous Five? I read them all, again and again and again… well, you get the picture. At eleven I found Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. Who remembers The Chalet School books? Read them, too, until they were in tatters.

 

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Then I went to High School and over the years was force-fed Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Albert Canus, Donald Rawley and of course Mr. Shakespeare. Many authors are much loved but my favourite author of all time, the one who really sparked my imagination, the one whose characters made me laugh and cry and read her books again and again was the fantabulous Georgette Heyer. One of her best has to be The Grand Sophy – still makes me laugh out loud.

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During this time I wrote a descriptive essay that made my English teacher, Mr. Henderson, cry, in a good way. He read it to the class (I was so embarrassed my face was radioactive) and the story made two of my mortal enemies cry, too. (I defy any fifteen year old girl not to have the odd nemesis in her life.) And Mr. Henderson said I should seriously think of becoming a writer. My parents immediately vetoed that brilliant idea, nipping it brutally in the bud, by stating that, ‘Writers make no money, honey, and we cannot afford to keep you. Become a shorthand/typist and live in the real world.’ So I did, which is why I can touch-type at over 100wpm. (Ha!) Karma, as they say, is a beetch.

And so, I scribbled stories, lots of stories. Mainly about love (I’d hit puberty and had strict parents who banned boys) so I wrote about my ‘perfect man’ (Ha!) and listened to David Bowie and Bryan Ferry (loved Bryan). As for books, I found romances, lots of romances and paranormal/fantasy, lots of those, too. Then I fell into international banking (trade finance) and met H, got married and had three children, dabbled in many things. Travelled the world. But right at the back of my mind I kept thinking, ‘One day, I want to write a book.’

By this time I was reading thrillers and fantasy like Eric Van Lustbader and devouring every single thing he wrote.

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Then we were back home in the UK, H had retired early (due to overseas service) and I joined a multi-national construction company. Wrote a ‘How-to’ book for sales staff that the staff, strangely enough, enjoyed because it was ‘chatty’ and ‘funny’ and ‘relevant.’  And all the while I was thinking, ‘One day, I want to write a book.’ The construction company was sold, the recession was knocking at the door, I was implementing change in the company, stressed and overworked.

So H sat me down and said, ‘What do you want to do?’ and, you guessed it, I said, ‘One day, I want to write a book.’ He looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘Then do it. You’ll be good at it.’

How’s that for confidence?

So, then the decision became, ‘What will I write?’ And more importantly, ‘What sort of reader will I write it for?’

My first ever serious attempt was a fantasy about mages and witches and alternate realities. It didn’t have a title. But it did have a ten year old hero and dark and gothic castles, blood feuds, demons – blah, blah, blah. Then I wrote a short ghost story about a banshee, which was so bloody and gothic and horror-filled I actually scared myself. But I was so gripped and excited and tormented by the thing that I knew right then writing a story was what I wanted to do. But I wanted to do it well. And so began the intensive journey of applying myself to learn my craft, including how to edit. This was 2009.

After many pitiful attempts at fantasy and a complex futuristic vampyre paranormal (the first chapter and pivotal moment finaled in The Romance Junkies competition in the USA) I decided to write a romance. After all, I thought, how hard could it be?

Right?

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It didn’t take long to discover that there’s a hell of a lot more to this romance business than meets the eye. A lot more. So I joined an online writer’s group. And we set ourselves goals and tasks and scenes and swapped stories about our characters. The girls were ruthlessly honest but great fun. Through those wonderful and generous women, I joined Harlequin’s on-line forums where the editors run tons of wannabe author competitions where thousands (yes, thousands) of readers can vote and comment honestly. Competitions like ‘The first 1,000 words of a contemporary/sweet romance’ and ‘A 3,000 word pivotal moment of romantic suspense.’  But, best of all, were the online workshops run by their bestselling romance authors – most of whom were USA Today and New York Times Bestselling romance authors – and these girls knew the romance genre inside out. They shared techniques. They answered seriously dumb questions and gave honest feedback with a generosity of spirit that I came to realise is prevalent in the romance industry. As for the fans, well, all I can say is that they are THE most voracious readers and utterly loyal when they find a writer they like.

And so we come to ‘So You Think You Can Write?’ competitions and ‘New Voices.’  Of course, I entered those (under the name Scottygirl) and had lovely feedback. And I found amazing friends that I still have today, among them finalists. Meanwhile, I was writing scenes. Scenes that had to grab the reader. I experimented with manipulating reader emotions, making the reader laugh (came second). Then I wrote a heart-wrenching scene about a young widow of two years who has a one night stand with a hot Spaniard (came joint first. I won author Tessa Radley and she spoke to me all the way from New Zealand to give me writing advice – I’ll never forget it. It’s still a highlight of my life. She said she’d buy everything I wrote. Gulp.) Then I finaled in two more competitions, one where I made readers cry. I felt I was finally getting somewhere. Time to submit the first three chapters of my book I was polishing to such a shine it could be seen from outer space. It took six long months to receive a reply. A rejection. But it was a good rejection because it was two pages long and told me exactly what to improve and to please re-submit. So I knuckled down to re-write it and…. got breast cancer.

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Now, to most people breast cancer is pretty devastating news. Don’t get me wrong – it was more than devastating to me and my family. I had a long road ahead. BUT, overnight I lost the fear of failure. I don’t think I’ve ever written so much so fast before or since. Everything that was buried deep in my subconscious spilled onto the page. Everything. Meanwhile, I underwent half a dozen operations and began treatments. When I couldn’t type, I wrote in journals in bed. H used to find me switching on the light in the middle of the night and scribbling like a demon because an ‘idea’ or ‘a plot twist’ had entered my mind and I just had to ‘get it down’ because believe me, when we wake in the morning our mind is empty.

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It was during this time that the Italian Nico Ferranti sprang to life in my head as a three dimensional character as did Bronte Ludlow and her pal Rosie (about whom, the editor of the publisher I’d submitted the work to who read the first three chapters said to ‘tone Rosie right down’.) So I worked on Nico’s back-story, what or who had made him the man he was today? What age was he when the worst thing that could happen to a child happened? What are his strengths? Weaknesses? Goals? And I did the same with Bronte. Poor Bronte, God love her, I killed her parents; her fiancé betrayed her; she lost her family home; she discovered her father was not her father; she had endometriosis, which meant maybe no children. She was beautiful, but couldn’t see it. She hated her breasts, etc., etc. BUT I made her resilient, she set up her own business with her pal Rosie and they triumphed; she wasn’t looking for love; she fell out with her (half) brother because she wanted to reach out to her real father; she stood up to Nico who wanted to buy the home left to her by her mother; she was her own woman and she rocked!

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And so the time came to send the entire re-written book to the publisher. However, there’s a twist to the tale. During the time of my return to health and re-writing the story, in the United States of America, a movement had been born. Independent authors. I’d been following a couple of bloggers who were talking about it, especially J.A. Konrath & Co. Interesting, I thought. At the same time the publishing industry was going through (still is) a seismic change. Did I, I wondered, have the time to wait, maybe six to twelve months for a publisher to get back to me? And after I spoke to some Big Name independent romance authors who were ‘breaking through’ and took their advice, I decided I didn’t have the time to waste. H and I talked and talked and talked for weeks, did our due diligence and H said he’d format and deal with the technical side of submitting digital books to the distributors, accounting and the tax authorities. In the meantime two romance editors I’d met on-line offered to edit and proof my book. So, on the 12th April 2012 we published Reckless Nights In Rome. To say we were petrified would be putting it mildly. I didn’t worry about the book or what was happening to it, got my head down and wrote A Stormy Spring and then Run Rosie Run and they were both published by Christmas 2012. That Christmas Reckless was a perma-free and Stormy and Rosie were all in the top ten of iBooks in thirty countries and selling in Barnes and Noble and doing well in Amazon.com. And that’s when I found my readers. Readers who buy everything I write. Everything. Each story is written with them at the front and centre of everything I do.

 

Some of you who are reading this have followed the ups and downs of the journey. In 2014 I had a sudden bereavement and a couple of health challenges connected to cancer treatment. But all the while I’ve never stopped writing, even if I had almost a year of not publishing new stories. My readers have been patient and loving and understanding and I want to thank each and every one.

 

It’s also true to say that as authors we don’t work in a bubble of one. My covers are done by Frauke and Gabrielle Prendergast who also designed the CC MACKENZIE brand. Formatting, distribution, sales accounting, invoicing and Chief Operating Officer of More Press is H. Author Engine, particularly Jennifer Lewis Oliver and Greg Carrico are awesome.

CC MACKENZIE now has ten books published in the Ludlow Hall franchise. This year there are the first books of a new Ludlow Nights series, books that are fun and fast pace with laugh out loud moments. The first of which, His Rules, is under the New Adult romance genre, will be available free and exclusive to my mailing list for a short time, with more to come. Four, yes four, vampyre books, the first and second out together on 28th March with book three on pre-order coming at the end of April and book four on pre-order coming at the end of May with more to follow. Plus A Daddy For Daisy – date to be advised. More short novels, but they’re a surprise. I love surprising readers.

I’ve truly been blessed by the support of generous authors who write in a variety of genres (not only romance) – Diane Capri, Jillian Dodd, Steena Holmes, Ruth Cardello, Marie Force, Lindsay J. Pryor, Natalie G. Owens, Dana Delamar, Kristine Cayne, Stacey Joy Netzel, L.C. Giroux, Liz Matis and Katherine Bone.

More recently I was part of a group of authors who wrote a continuity series based in the Island of Eden a world written and created by Lauren Hawkeye. This month we published an Eden boxed set with contributions by Lauren, me, Avery Aster, Opal Carew, Steena Holmes, Mari Carr, Cathryn Fox, Eliza Gayle, Adriana Hunter, Roni Loren, Sharon Page, Daire St. Denis and Elena Aitken.

On the night of Wednesday 18th April 2015 something amazing happened, we made the USA Today Bestsellers list. So now I can say I’m a USA Today Bestselling author. The reason I’m sharing this is not to toot my own horn, but to encourage those who don’t believe they can follow their dreams to – Go For It!

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So tell me, what are your innermost dreams and what are you doing to make them come true?

 

Big hugs,

Christine XX

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT?

Hello my darlings,

What on earth is this, I hear you cry? Well, along with working on five books – yes five – I’m almost finished the first story of a new venture called LUDLOW NIGHTS. This will be an Exclusive for a short time to my MAILING LIST  six part story. And the first part of the story is called His Rules.

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Ambitious, workaholic Anastacia Morgan runs Ferranti Communications with a cool-head and an iron will. Her latest project is ensuring sports star Olivier Conti does what he’s told in a series of adverts. Olivier is impossible with an huge ego she’s made up her mind to ignore. His smile may do wonderful things to her libido, but Ana is determined to succeed where other women fail and resist the gorgeous soccer star.

However, in this game there are no rules and Olivier’s never missed a penalty, yet.

EXCERPT:

“A footballer, Nico?” Anastacia shoved heavy curls the colour of jet over her shoulder, sat back in her butter-soft leather chair, and raised imperious black brows. “You cannot be serious?”

“I hope that is a rhetorical question,” Nico Ferranti returned mildly. His wife Bronte always said that good things came in small packages. Well, Anastacia Morgan was a size zero, five foot two inches in her size four bare feet, and a prime example of how good things did indeed come in a small package. She was dressed in an immaculately tailored business suit the colour of bone, personally designed for her. A suit that fit in all the right places. He knew for a fact Ana wore the fashion equivalent of stilts to boost her height. He also knew those stilts were even now discarded under her desk. At the moment she resembled a very angry angel. Nico wasn’t worried. He’d had plenty of experience of dealing with angry angels. He had two of them at home.

Now she was glaring at him over the reading glasses perched on her small nose.

She read the look on his face, uncompromising, and tossed down her silver pen in disgust. Her behaviour reminded Nico forcibly of his three year old daughter, Sophia, throwing a temper tantrum.

Dark eyebrows shot into her hairline.

“Can he speak in declarative sentences?” she wondered in a droll voice that made him raise his own brows.

“Tsk, tsk, Ana. Sarcasm is not a good look on you,” Nico told her in a very soft voice. A voice that made heat rise in her cheeks and told him his rebuke had been received loud and clear. “Just think of the nice fat fee you will make.”

The look Ana sent Nico was her own version of uncompromising.

She could stare down the Queen of England with that look, but not Nico Ferranti.

At thirty-six Nico was head of a global business that spanned hotels, and digital technology. A business he’d begun with a legacy from his paternal grandfather, brains and balls. Nico ran things his way, and everyone who worked for him knew it. Including the tiny angel who was showing her fangs and glaring at him out of navy blue eyes.

Four years ago he’d taken a big chance on Anastacia Morgan.

And he’d never regretted it.

One of Nico’s greatest skills was recognising raw talent in another. In Ana he’d seen a creative ambition, and a need for a financial freedom that matched his own. Ana was twenty-six and one of the top brand manager’s in the business. And since he knew that Anastacia Morgan cared as much for the Ferranti brand as he did, Nico had Ana on a very long leash.

Then Ana pulled out the big guns and gave him the death stare.

Nico waited.

After another minute had passed, Ana gave up.

“Okay. You’re the boss. But Nico… a footballer?” The last two words were said in a whine that made Nico bite down hard on his bottom lip. And Ana wasn’t finished, “What’s wrong with Tobias Aidin? He’s the next big thing. Dontcha watch prime-time TV? In less than six weeks he has over five hundred thousand followers on twitter. Not only does his voice make women’s toes curl, he can take direction and…” She stopped when Nico’s brows rose. He had to admire the way she took a breath and battled on. “Sportsmen, especially soccer stars, freeze, or take the piss when a camera’s rolling.”

Without comment, Nico focused on brushing a speck of dust from the sleeve of his immaculate grey suit.

“As you are aware, the new Boutique hotels specifically target young business executives and tourists who demand quality, cleanliness, and value for money. We need a well-known face and a name that resonates world-wide.”

I’ve never even heard of Olivier Conti,” Ana threw back.

“Every soccer fan in the world has heard of Olivier.”

She shrugged off his comment.

For a moment Nico wondered just who was the boss here.

“We’re selling a lifestyle here, Nico. Not flashy cars and even flashier women,” she said with a sneer that made him again bite down on his abused lip.

Little devil.

“Seven goals in the world cup in Brazil,” Nico went on relentlessly. “He’s the leading goal scorer in the Seria A.” He shook his head at her blank stare. “The Italian football league, for four consecutive seasons. Two of the top clubs in the Premier league are prepared to pay over one hundred million pounds for him.”

Ana narrowed her eyes until they were blue slits.

“How come you’ve got the skinny? Since when do you follow football?”

“Ana, cara mia,” Nico drawled. “Soccer is in my DNA. I am Italian.”

She couldn’t help but grin at the way his voice deepened, the way his accent grew stronger.

“Since he’s in such high demand, how the hell can we afford him?”

Nico unfolded his tall frame from the skinny chair.

“Let us just say the boy owes me a favour. Do not make plans for this evening. A car will pick you up at six-thirty. I have tickets for the game tonight. Milan against United.”

“Who?”

Nico gave the question and the cranky tone in which it was delivered, the attention it deserved, none.

He strolled towards the door.

“Hang on just a minute there, buster.”

Nico opened the door, turned to look at her over his shoulder, and almost burst out laughing at the unspeakable scowl on her face.

“Si?”

Ana sat back, and in an dazzling move that belonged to ballet, stretched up a long leg, pointed to a soft leather platform shoe with five inch heels. “These shoes and this suit are Victoria Beckham. How is this a good look for a football game? I’ll need time to go home, get changed into skinnies and a T-shirt that says, ‘Hump Me.’

“Nothing wrong with standing out from the crowd. The clothes and shoes are fine. If I were you, I would spend the next few hours boning up on the offside rule,” Nico advised before he closed the office door behind him.

With language that turned the air blue, Ana spun her chair around to stare unseeing over the city of London and Tower Bridge. Vast glass structures, tall buildings and clogged traffic, with a river running through it. In her past, she’d had other views of the city, but they’d been at street level. These days she gazed down upon the city from the fifteenth floor. And one day, Ana promised, she’d look down from the top floor.

One day.

Anastacia Morgan only looked forward, certainly not at the past. The past was behind her now, thank God.

Ana shoved back her hair. Hair that was too long, too curly, and it drove her nuts. However, her hair had become something of a trademark. It hung past her waist in glossy curls the colour of rich ripe chestnuts. A gleaming brown shot through with a rose gold that her friends told her was gorgeous.

Her friends also told her that her eyes were the darkest blue they’d ever seen. A couple of men had also said they felt they could drown in them.

At the moment Ana could care less about her hair or her eyes or her looks. All she cared about was the Ferranti brand, which encompassed the five star hotels, spas, and resorts world-wide. And now the new boutique hotels. Working for Nico Ferranti meant there was never a dull moment… but football? Her wide mouth was marred by the sneer on her full lips.

Then Ana remembered how much she owed Nico Ferranti. Four years ago, in the middle of the worst recession in living memory, she’d marched into Ferranti Enterprises with a marketing degree, a gut-searing desperation for a job and a smart mouth. And twenty pounds in her purse. Never look back, she reminded herself. Nico had taken a chance on her and she would never, ever forget it. Ana wanted only the best for the Ferranti brand. If that meant working with a football player, then she’d make damned sure the prima-donna (weren’t all footballers drama queens?) did the job.

Determined, she spun back to her desk.

Ana snatched up the phone, jabbed buttons.

“Linda, get me everything you can on Olivier Conti. Oh, and find me someone who can explain to me in words of one syllable the soccer off-side rule. No, I’m not being funny.”

*****

So that’s a tiny taster of part one! Want more? I need the promise of your first child, and chocolate and wine for a year!!  Kidding!! All y’all need to do is to subscribe to my mailing list either on the top right hand of the blog or on the link!

Easy peasy.

Big hugs,

Christine XX