Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Beach Bum's a-changing

Things are all go as usual here at Darkins HQ. It's been a busy and exciting few weeks as I put the finishing touches to Beach Bum, typed The End, and then read it through just to be sure. And then just once more, to be absolutely sure. And then ... you get the idea. Well all the hard work paid off: the lovely editors at Mills & Boon loved it and accepted it for publication!

Not only that, they've given it a brand new name, so it will henceforth be known as .... drum roll please ...

Bound by a Baby Bump

Gorgeous, no?! It will be arriving in May 2015, so reserve a spot on the sofa, put in an early request for a cup of tea, and start counting down the days :)

This good news means, however, that I'm finding myself in a place I'd almost forgotten about ... page 1! It's blank, it's terrifying, and sometimes feels like it's defeating me. So it's back to the notebooks, the synopsis, the research and the biscuit tin as I feel my way through the early chapters, working out what I'm writing about, who my characters are, and -- most importantly -- how to make them fall in love. It's scary, thrilling and full of all sorts of possibilities -- basically, it's like being a writer in microcosm. Love it.

I'll report back soon, when this story starts to reveal itself to me, and let you have a shifty at my notebooks!


Friday, 5 September 2014

Babbling about Food and Love

This week I've guest blogged over at Babbling About Books, And More (http://kbgbabbles.com/) talking about everything I've learned from Will and Maya about food and love.

A bit thanks to Katie for having me!

Head here to check it out.


Monday, 1 September 2014

Today's the day!

I'm beside myself with excitement this morning, because Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss is hitting bookshelves, real and electronic, across the world!

Working with the incredible team at Harlequin/Mills & Boon over the past year has just been incredible, and it's an amazing feeling knowing that the book I'm so proud of is winging its way to customers today.

I can't wait to hear what you all think of Will and Maya's story. Don't forget there's a sneaky peak of the first chapter and all the details of where to buy your very own copy on the book page here.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Sneaky peek and giveaway!

Excitement is mounting here at Darkins HQ, as the release date for Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss is just two weeks away. So to celebrate publishing my first novel for Mills & Boon I'm going to give away some free stuff! 

Here, for your reading pleasure, is the very beginning of FHMK, when the glorious Maya and (somewhat surly) Will meet for the first time. And if that's just not enough for you, then there are two copies of the book, in good old-fashioned paperback, to be won on Goodreads; so click the button below and throw your hat in the ring. As always, would love to hear what you think of it!

Ellie x

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss by Ellie Darkins

Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss

by Ellie Darkins

Giveaway ends September 02, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Chapter One

'You are going to try this one.'

Maya Hartney forced the corners of her mouth up into a professional smile while she waited for Will Thomas to bite. Behind her back she clasped her hands to stop herself chewing at a nail.

She'd tried dozens of combinations of dishes for this tasting, even though squeezing in an extra job next month was pushing her business to its limits. But it had been impossible to say no when Rachel, Will's assistant, had pleaded with her so earnestly to consider catering for an Appleby and Associates gala dinner.

These moments, waiting for a client to try one of her dishes, were nerve-racking but necessary. Once they'd taken a bite her nerves gave way to sheer pleasure. She loved to watch people enjoy her food. Ever since the first time it had happened, years ago, when she'd first cooked for her university housemates, it had given her a physical thrill. The joy that her food brought showed in the small smile people gave as they closed their eyes and savoured the taste for a moment. Now, ten years later, she lived and worked for that moment.

And she'd never had reason to doubt her food's capacity for bringing joy. Until now.

Will Thomas had already refused to try her starter, and her flutter of nerves congealed into a lump of dejection as she realised he probably wouldn't try this course either.

Maya swallowed awkwardly, thinking hard, wondering where she had gone wrong. Her late night last night had seemed worth it, if it meant she had this dish just right, but there must be something that she'd misjudged. She bit her lip for a second as she ran through the possibilities in her mind and her pulse picked up speed as she considered improvements she could make. Maybe the dressing wasa little too acidic? But then he hadn't even tried it, so he wouldn't know that. It must be the presentation that needed more work. The rest of the meal would have to be perfect to get this pitch back on track.

It had nothing to do with the fact that her mouth had watered the first second she'd seen Will Thomas and he'd met her gaze with steel-grey eyes. It was because she'd felt the chill of his presence since the second he'd arrived, and her whole body had wanted her to resist it. To fill the room with light and colour so that the cold couldn't take hold of her. She'd fought too hard against it to let it in now.

There wasn't a splash of colour anywhere in the office: grey walls, grey carpet, glass table and black leather chairs. She'd not experienced a chill like this for ten years, and would be a happy woman if she never felt it again. There was colour in every part of her life these days, displacing cold grey memories; now this room threatened to undo a decade's positive thinking.

When Will Thomas had walked in the room had suddenly made perfect sense. Charcoal suit, crisp white shirt, black hair with just a few flecks of silver at the temples. Grey eyes that bore an expression as clinical as their surroundings. Despite all this attraction had prickled at her skin, along with a warning, and she'd had to take a breath to steady herself.

His gaze had left his smartphone only briefly, dropped from her face to trace the contours of her curves and finally she'd seen a brief spark of heat in his eyes. The light had been there for just a fraction of a second before he'd caught it, extinguished it, and taken a step away from her, his eyes snapping back to his phone.

She'd crossed her ankles to stop herself taking a step forward, sensing that he wanted space, trying to respect that. Her eyes, though, had seemed desperate to pursue Will Thomas, to roam over the lines and planes of his face, down to where his shirt, crisp and starched and white, was open at the collar.

She'd introduced her starter: a salad of hand-harvested scallops, pan-fried and served with rocket and prosciutto, finished with a dressing it had taken two full evenings to perfect. He'd given it a derisive look and asked her to move on, his fingers twitching on the screen of his phone. Email withdrawal, she assumed. She'd catered for enough business dinners to recognise the symptoms. But the knowledge that he was choosing to check his emails over trying her food made her restless. Her food always spoke for her—what was she meant to do with someone who refused to listen?

On this man those chiselled cheekbones and intriguing silver eyes were entirely resistible.

She closed her mouth and bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from a very unprofessional outburst.

He had to try this dish. She was certain that it would fix their impasse. If he would just give the food a chance she could still win him over. She'd sourced tender duck from a nearby farm and selected only the most beautiful vegetables from her local supplier. The herbs had come from the garden of her cottage in the Cotswolds and the sauce, a delicate balance of wine, red berries and orange, was—as of last night's final run-though—perfect.

She wanted it to be right, needed it to be perfect, because if she could no longer rely on her food what else did she have to offer?

Taking a step towards him, she brandished the fork.

'You are going to try this one,' she repeated with renewed determination.

She tried to paste the smile onto her face again to soften the blow, but there was no disguising the fact that this was an instruction, not a request, and her frustration had made her words short and sharp.

Will met her gaze and seemed to study her; his eyes narrowed while he inspected her features, as if weighing up his opponent. He slipped the smartphone into his pocket and took the fork from her.

'Do I have a choice?'

Maya couldn't be certain but a ghost of a smile had seemed to flicker at the corner of his mouth. His eyes left her face only briefly as he forked a mouthful of the meat and dipped it into the sauce. She grew warm under his relentless scrutiny and thought again of that moment when she'd first seen him. His eyes had widened when he'd noticed her standing in the conference room, as if he couldn't quite take her in, as if he didn't understand her. She didn't want to be difficult to understand. She had no interest in being enigmatic. What she needed was for him to like this dish, to restore her belief in her food—in herself.

For a moment as he chewed she thought she'd done it, that her food had broken this man's icy resolve. He closed his eyes for a moment, and she was sure he was savouring the flavours she'd worked so hard to blend and perfect. His body stilled, his breathing was slow, his fingers were at rest on his phone. The muscles of his face hinted at a smile. But then in an instant it was gone; his eyes snapped open and she saw only indifference.

'That's fine.'

Fine? Fine? Perhaps she'd imagined it, she thought. That moment when it had seemed, however briefly, that he had been won round. Or maybe she hadn't, and he was just determined for some reason not to enjoy her food, whatever she put in front of him. Anger at his uninterest prickled—how could he be so determined not to enjoy something she had poured her joy and happiness into?

This wasn't going to get any better, she realised then. She just had to find a way to get through this. To protect herself from the barbs of his coldness until she could get out of there. She relaxed her hold on her anger, bringing it to the fore, letting it protect her from his cold indifference.

'Dessert?' she asked, dreading the response, dreading the rejection, but wanting to get it over with.

'I'm sure you've got that under control.'

'Blackberry fool?' Why not show him how his dismissal hurt? she thought. It wasn't as if he would even care or notice. And it might make her feel a little better.

His eyes held hers and she felt the heat in her face sink to her belly when he continued to stare at her. She shifted under his scrutiny, trying not to wonder what he was thinking, why he was studying her irises. It seemed that her anger could reach him where her food hadn't.

Will raised an eyebrow. 'It sounds like you've got the measure of things, Miss…'

'Maya's fine,' she said, her words still terse.

'Maya,' he repeated, his voice a little less steady than it had been.

He took a deep breath and she saw a blank mask descend over his face, shutting out whatever it was that had flashed between them in the past few seconds. It was a pattern, she realised. A few seconds when his features flickered with emotion, some pleasure or enjoyment. And then he chased it away, locked his face down hard. His voice too, when he spoke next, was the model of professionalism, his words hard and steady.

'Thank you for coming, Maya. Leave your quote with my assistant and someone will be in touch.'

Anger fought for room with sorrow and the pain that had haunted her since her childhood. Will had shut her out in a fraction of a second. It had taken him the space of a blink to forget whatever it was that had made him pause and consider her the moment before. And she couldn't help but remember how her parents had so easily done the same.

He'd reduced everything that she'd created to a string of numbers on a spreadsheet. A simple calculation that took no account of love and passion. She couldn't meet his eye—didn't know if he was even trying to as she shook his hand. As he walked out she let her frustration loose as she tossed cutlery and crockery back into bags and boxes and then packed away the barely touched food.

She tried rationalising what had happened to make herself feel a little better. It wasn't that he wasn't interested in her food, it was just that he only cared about the numbers. Perhaps she should have guessed the moment he'd walked into the room that this was just another business meeting for him.

She'd never been so infuriated by anyone in her life, she thought as she headed out to her car. It wasn't just his lack of enthusiasm for her food, it was the way that he'd seemed completely unwilling to let himself enjoy it, his determination to see life in columns and cells. He'd only tried one course out of three: her food had never stood a chance of impressing him because he had never been prepared to let it.

That thought drained her anger, sapped the tension from her muscles, as she remembered the last time her passion been faced with pure indifference.

Even if she was offered the job she knew she wouldn't be seeing him again. She knew that to cook, and cook well, for that man after today's disaster would be impossible—a complete waste of good food and time, and too close to too many bad memories. She couldn't do it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

My writing journey

For ages I've been meaning to write my own story, and get down on paper (or pixels) how I woke up one day as a published author... So from green biro to published copies, here's how it happened!

When I was ten years old, I decided I’d write a book. My first novel ran to seven pages of a lined A4 notepaper, and I only remember two things about it. One, the main character was an ill-disguised version of my best friend. And two, for some reason, I chose to write the whole thing in green biro – fortunately, for my editors, not a habit I’ve kept.

Fast-forward fifteen years, and I was still writing in fits and starts, though I didn’t seem to have the confidence to take my writing seriously.

I can pinpoint, though, two key events that finally kick-started my writing career, and for which I’ll be forever grateful. The first was the coming together (*ahem*) of two of my great loves: Mills & Boon and rugby (players…). When M&B announced that they would be releasing a rugby-themed miniseries, working together with the RFU, I was inspired. I put pen to paper, and started work on a novel featuring an ill-disguised Jonny Wilkinson (do you see a theme emerging?). I got about seven thousand words down before my hard drive died, taking all my hard work with it. Not enough words to have developed any real conflict, characterisation or plot, but there were one or two sentences in there – I seem to remember a honey-coloured shoulder – that made me think that I might actually be okay at this writing lark, given enough practice.

And that’s when I discovered NaNoWriMo.

Now, I’ve gushed before on the joys of NaNo, so I won’t do it again here, but suffice it to say that without these month-long writing exercises I might never have gone on to take my writing seriously, or to ever get to The End.

It took three years, and three completed NaNo manuscripts, before I turned around on 1 December, and thought to myself, I might actually have something here. Another year of hard graft later, the book was Hiding from Hollywood, and a year after that, it hit virtual bookshelves, edited and published by the lovely folks at Crimson Romance.

And while I was waiting for Hollywood to find the right home, I was working on something else, inspired by too many hours in front of food-themed reality TV (a habit I’ve not shaken. I’m counting down the minutes to tonight’s Bake Off … currently 54!). I had the manuscript finished and edited when I saw that Mills & Boon were running a pitch competition to find new authors, and thought that I’d run my foodie story idea past them – maybe they’d like it. And they did! I came runner up in that competition and the editors asked to see the partial manuscript, and then the full! Several rounds of revisions later, they offered a contract not only for that book, now titled Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss, but for the next one too!

And that’s where you find me now. I’ve just put the finishing touches to my second book for M&B, am working on promoting Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss, and am looking forward to receiving my first sales figures for Hiding from Hollywood. And, of course, trying to sort through the various ideas simmering in my brain to decide which story I’m going to tackle next!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Research -- it's a hard life...

Last weekend I had the absolute joy and privilege of attending my best friend's wedding, and acting as her maid of honour. Cue days and days of being immersed in the warm and fuzzies, as I watched two people looking like they were the happiest and luckiest souls on the planet promising to spend their whole lives together. Emotional doesn't even start to cover it.

And because the happy couple had made the extraordinarily brilliant decision of getting married on the beautiful Jurassic coast, I also managed to cram in a little research for #BeachBum! This is where I introduce Miss Krista Cartlidge, Head of Geography at Burlington Danes Academy, south-coast native and my other long-suffering BFF (yes, we're a BFF triumvirate). She is the fount of all knowledge geographical, and I am now officially fully versed in the creation of arches, stacks and stumps; coastal erosion; world-heritage status; and the watersports potential of several south-coast resorts. Thanks, Miss Cartlidge!

From the top of Durdle Door. Very tempted to perch my hero's house right here

So that he and my heroine can enjoy views as beautiful as this one...

And stroll along this beach hand in hand

And learn about stacks and stumps from Miss Krista Cartlidge!

And if you're interested to know what a geography teacher gets up to in their summer holidays, read on! This summer Krista will be taking on her most crazy challenge to date...

She is flying off to the Swiss Alps to trek the famously beautiful but difficult Haute Route. The trek normally takes 9 days, but she'll be doing it in just 7 so it is going to be tough! This is one of the stages of the STRIVE challenge which has been set up by the fantastic charity Big Change, who help young people across the UK to develop critical character traits such as resilience, leadership, confidence and team work. If you want to donate to this fab cause, head to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KristaCartlidge.

And now I'm off to plan my next gruelling research trip. Wine tasting in the south of France perhaps? A yacht around the Carribean? Would love any suggestions!


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

They're here!

Picture the scene: you return from a gruelling four-hour shift manning the desk at your local library, only to find the postwoman has left you a card. She tried to deliver a parcel while you were out. And your author copies of Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss are due any day. But you've a deadline tomorrow, and no time to head down to the village and back.

This was me, last Thursday....

So I wait Friday until morning, when the proofs I've been correcting are finished, and head to the post office, full of anticipation of paperback loveliness. I head up to the counter with grin on face and bounce in step, and deal with business first, getting my proofs in the post so they arrive on time. And then I hand over the red card, practically dancing now with anticipation. The lady in the post office digs round behind the counter, picking up and looking at different parcels in turn. It's not that one! I want to shout. It'll be a bigger box than that. But what's this? She's heading back to the partition, with a unfeasibly small parcel. It's got my husband's name on it. No parcel. No books. An electrical connector for a Golf GTI alternator. Sob.

So I trudge home (actually, I drove -- I'd bought the car with me, anticipating a great big heavy box) and get on with some chores, have a bit of lunch. The doorbell goes, and I open it to find a UPS guy with a great big box ...

They're HERE! They're BEAUTIFUL! They're ALL MINE!! OK, so this last part isn't true. They'll be winging their way shortly to reviewers, as giveaway prizes, and to some of the fabulous people who helped me get this book written. So maybe next time you get a card from the postie, Will and Maya will be waiting for you.


Monday, 7 July 2014

Let it rest

Those of you I've already regaled with my tales of home-made bread will know that I recently invested in a breadmaker. This is quite possibly the best thing I have ever bought (and I have been known to buy rather luscious shoes on occasion).

Simply put, a breadmaker works like this: flour and yeast goes in - bread comes out. Warm, smelling delicious and ready to eat. Now you might be wondering what all this has to do with writing and romance. Good point. I'm getting there, honest. Because here's the catch: as wondrous as the breadmaker undoubtedly is, the magic doesn't happen instantly. Flour to bread takes just about three hours, and if you try and rush the process, the goods just aren't up to scratch.

And this is much like writing a novel (see, told you I'd get there).

I've spent the past few months immersed in my #BeachBum world, trying to mould Rachel and Leo's story out of the myriad ideas, emotions and hunches I'd been scribbling in my notebook. And now that I've woven their lives together into a somewhat coherent narrative, they need a break. 

Like leaving the bread to prove, a stage which if skipped leads to a heavy, unpleasant loaf, I have to leave my characters to rest, to mature without me. And I have to give myself space, time and distance from them, to see their flaws and their strengths, and the many, many repeated words that undoubtedly litter their story. So while the story's out with my fab critique partner and beta readers, I'm not looking at it. It's the longest time that I've spent without these two characters in my life for months, and I have to admit to finding it a little strange. All the time, though, more ideas for them are occurring to me, and other stories, some which I've put on semi-permanent rest, are trying to inveigle their way into my mind, making me look ahead to a time when Rachel and Leo are truly done, and I'm ready to move on.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to that first read back, when I get to re-familiarise  myself with the #BeachBum world, and being able to see with fresh eyes exactly where I need to take their story. Accompanied by tea and a couple of slices of home-made toast, no doubt.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Beta reader needed and 10% off Crimson Romance

Well, despite various family dramas, I'm pleased to report that #BeachBum is continuing apace. The (scarily rough) first draft is complete, and the (only very rough) second draft is only an epilogue away from being done too.

And that means I need some help! I'm looking for someone, or someones, to read my rough draft and let me know what you think of it -- characters you love, plot points you hate, dialogue that sounds a little ropey (I think it's fair to say the manuscript will have at least two out of the three...). So if you love Mills & Boon Cherish (Harlequin Romance, to those of you across the pond) and want the chance influence the story, then let me know!

I'd also love if any new mums or mums to be would like to beta read, and let me know their thoughts on the pregnancy aspects of the story, as there's only so much I can learn from the NHS website and Netmums!

As it's so sunny out there, we all need a little something to read in the garden or on the beach, so use the code FFSAVE on the new Crimson Romance website, and get an extra 10% off (on top of their 30% off and 6-for-5 offers!) So if you've not read Hiding from Hollywood yet, head to http://www.adamsmediastore.com/crimson-romance!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Wanna see something pretty?

I'm absolutely thrilled to reveal the astonishingly pretty North American cover for Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss. I'm blown away by how beautiful it is, and how the very talented folks at Harlequin and Mills & Boon have captured the emotion between Maya and Will. That thumb on the jaw ... *swoon*

Just three months now until this is hitting the bookshelves, and I couldn't be more excited! Want to know more about the book? Here you go!

Food to heal his soul... 
Shy and vulnerable Maya Hartney has one great
passion—cooking. She’s turned her greatest pleasure
into a thriving business, and nothing fulfills her more
than delighting her clients. Until she’s hired by taciturn
workaholic Will Thomas to cater a charity dinner.…
Only, where Will’s concerned, Maya can do no right! The
solution? Sign him up for one of her cookery courses and
force the man to fall for her food. A week, one-on-one,
cooking and tasting, proves to be a lot more intense and
emotional than either of them are expecting! And it
comes with a delicious new taste sensation…a kiss….

As always, would love to hear what you think!

Love, Ellie

Monday, 7 April 2014

Book titles, serious research, and getting hitched

So many exciting things to update you about! Since my last post, life has been pretty exciting around Darkins HQ.

First up, news on my first book with Mills and Boon. Avid readers of the blog might know it as 'Food Glorious Food', as 'Will and Maya', or, because I'm lazy and madly in love with my heroine -- usually, just good old 'Maya'. But the wonderful folks at Mills and Boon have put their heads together and come up with the beautiful, swoon-worthy title: Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss. Needless to say, I LOVE it. This will be hitting bookshelves (real and virtual) from September 2014, so watch this space for more details.

In other news, they have also just okayed my proposal for my second book, currently untitled, but known around these parts as 'Beach Bum'. I have some serious research to do now, scouring interior design mags for coastal cottage ideas (VITAL to the story), checking out beautiful seascapes, and with any luck a trip to the beach to smell the sea air, listen to the seagulls and taste the fish and chips. Life as a romance novelist -- it's torture all the way ...

And as if that wasn't enough excitement, I lived out my very own HEA last month and tied the knot with my long-suffering boyfriend. I now feel well qualified to rule that married life is pretty bloody wonderful, and intend to introduce as many characters as possible to the institution.

All in all, 2014's proving to be a pretty spectacular year, and we're only in April. Can hardly wait to see how the rest of it pans out!

Much love


P.S. Will you forgive the blatant self-promotion if I point out this fantastic 5* review of Hiding from Hollywood by Coffee Time Romance? You will? Well, thank you very much! http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/BookReviews/hidingfromhollywoodbyelliedarkins.html#.U0J2-ag7t8E

Friday, 7 February 2014

More amazing news

It seems like 2014 is the year for Incredibly Exciting Events, and I have one more item to add to the agenda ...

Yesterday I received a call from Mills & Boon offering me a contract for my next book .... and the one after that too!

I'd spent the last few days with half an eye on my inbox after sending through a revised manuscript to the editor at Mills & Boon, but I was actually feeling pretty relaxed about it. After going through several rounds of feedback and revisions I was really happy with  my story, knew that the editors were enthusiastic, and that I couldn't have worked harder on it. So when I received an email from my editor asking if I was free for a phone call, I was quietly confident.

I tried to stay calm, reminded myself of the questions I'd want to ask about contracts and deadlines and schedules -- if the news was good -- and waited for the phone to ring. But as soon as the words 'two-book deal' were mentioned all pretence at cool flew out the window! I pretty much gushed for the rest of the call -- but at least had the presence of mind to put a bottle of champagne in the fridge!

I'm (obviously!) absolutely overjoyed at this news, and can't wait to share Will and Maya's story with you all. Publication's scheduled for September 2014 and I'll keep you posted with everything that happens between now and then. In the meantime, I owe an enormous THANK YOU to Alexia Adams, my long-suffering critique partner, and Flo Nicoll, editor extraordinaire at Mills and Boon, both of whom saw the potential in Will and Maya's story, and helped me pull it into shape. And to my family and friends who read drafts and delivered tea, food, mince pies and wine when I was bashing away at the laptop -- THANK YOU!

Now I guess it's time to get back to my notebooks and keep scribbling!


Monday, 3 February 2014

The Warehouse Part 3 FREE STORY

Have you been wondering what happened to those poor chaps we left handcuffed together in a warehouse? Read on for Part 3 of The Warehouse ... (or catch up with Part 1 and Part 2)

The Warehouse
Part 3
'Help or ... not help,' she wondered out loud. Just then she heard the screech of tyres as the car took a corner too fast.

'I'm going to go out on a limb and say "Not help."’

‘Right, well then, let’s…’ She pushed back against him and shuffled her feet beneath her. ‘Stand on three. One. Two…’ On three they stood, still back to back, and the cuffs pulled up her wrists. It was bad enough that she was handcuffed to her ex. That he was a good foot taller than her added another dimension to her pain.

‘We could try and run,’ he offered, hesitantly.

‘We could. We’d fall flat on our faces and likely be killed. But we could try.’

He snorted. ‘Right. And sarcasm’s got a much better chance of getting us out of here.’

The tyres screeched again, closer this time, and the heavy thrum of the engine told her they didn’t have time to waste.

‘We could hide,’ she suggested.

‘I don’t know about you but I can’t see a thing. We’ve got no idea where we could hide, what they’ll be able to see when they get here.’

‘Then we’ve got no choice. We have to face them.’

She kept her voice steady and hard as she said the words, as she acknowledged the truth of them, her heart sped slightly, and she felt a prickle of adrenaline under her skin. Behind her, his fingers twisted until they were touching hers, and she resisted the temptation to take comfort from that. She couldn’t go there, not again. If she could only get through this by relying on him, then she wasn’t sure that she wanted to.

He’d proved before that she couldn’t trust him; that the support and comfort he was offering now could – and likely would – be whipped away in an instant. The second it got hard, or scary, or awkward he’d be gone.


Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Warehouse Part 2 FREE STORY

It's time for Part 2 of The Warehouse, this time coming to you direct from the pen of Miss Iona V Andrew!

Follow the link if you need to catch up with what happened in Part 1.

The Warehouse
Part 2

'I'm not sure it really matters at this point. We always knew they had resources. I guess we just didn't figure they'd be this good.' 
She tried to peer into the gloom of the warehouse, desperate for any indication of what was out there. She could see the bare concrete floor extend into the darkness, two more sets of girders either side of them about 20 metres away. Above them the roof was too far to make anything out. No windows either, all she could sense was the huge space around them. Empty except for her, and her companion. She'd been trying not to let the cold get to her but the shivering was becoming harder to stop. Under her bare feet the concrete floor sucked all the warmth out of her body.she let out another sigh and watched her breath form a cloud in front of her. The anger was starting to give way to fear. It didn't matter how they got there or whose fault it was. All that mattered was how they were going to get out, before they both froze to death. 
'I can't stand much more of this. I'm cold, and I don't think I'm going to be able to stay awake much longer.' her voice had lost all the heat of her earlier rage. She sounded scared. She felt him tug on the handcuffs, trying to turn to see her. 
'Just hang on, they can't mean to leave us here to die. They would have just killed us before.'
She scoffed at his attempts to comfort her, but no sooner did the sound of her short laugh disappear into the silence of the warehouse than it was replaced with the sound of a distant car engine. 
Distant, but getting closer.

Feeling chilly yet?! Look out for Part 3 - coming soon!
Ellie and Iona

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Something a little bit different ... FREE STORY

A couple of months ago my best friend (the brilliant @ionavandrew) and I decided to see what would happen if we wrote a story together, passing a few hundred words at a time back and forth.

Iona writes gritty crime procedurals, I write people falling in love, so we handcuffed a couple together, chucked them into a warehouse and waited to see what happened!

Here's part 1 of 'The Warehouse' (from Ellie)...

The Warehouse
Part 1
She tugged against the cuffs and winced as the cold metal bit into her skin.

'Would you stop that?'
She directed an exasperated sigh at the voice behind her. 'And do you have a better idea for getting us out of here?'
A telling silence.
'No? Well good. Let's leave the ideas to me, shall we? Because the last brilliant thought you had got us here --' shackled back to back in an abandoned warehouse, with no food, no drink, and no hope of rescue. Bloody brilliant. She pulled harder at the cuffs, deliberately this time, pulling until they were tight against her skin.
'You've made your point.' This time the voice was thin, defeated. 'And I am sorry. I never imagined this would happen.' She leant her head back against the girder and let out a long sigh. How could he have imagined this. Before the moment that she was bundled into a van, a bag pulled over her head, her hands tied behind her back, she wouldn't have believed that this, that anything like this, actually happened in real life.
The rational part of her brain knew that it wasn't his fault. That the only people who really carried the blame for kidnapping her were the people who had kidnapped her. but she'd been angry with him for so long that it seemed more natural to be pissed at him than not.
'How do you think they found us?'

We'd love to know what you think! Part 2 (from Iona) will follow very soon :)

Ellie and Iona

Update: click here for Part 2

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Should All Romance Novels End with a Marriage Proposal?

I'm blogging today at my publisher's website - head over to -http://www.crimsonromance.com/featured/should-all-romance-novels-end-with-a-marriage-proposal/#sthash.EpRMuaTW.dpuf to check it out and leave me a comment!

Ellie x

Monday, 13 January 2014

It's here!

I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to finally announce ... HIDING FROM HOLLYWOOD is HERE!

The run up to today has been a combination of ridiculous excitement and sweaty-palmed nerves as I've gradually realised that those lovely, not so lovely and downright horrid folks who have existed in my brain (and the brains of a few trusted friends!) until now are going to be unleashed on the world.

I've loved spent the last two years with Abby and Ethan, working out who they are, making them fall in love, making them laugh, cry and *ahem* well, you know. I never believed when I was writing this story week after week, word after word, that one day I'd get to share it with the world but thanks to the brilliant folks at Crimson they're here! I hope you enjoy getting to know them just as much as I have.

The book landed on virtual bookshelves this morning, and hopefully those of you who preordered will have your copies sitting waiting on the ereader of your choice :) If you've not picked up a copy yet, it's available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.ukiTunes, and Google Play and other ebook sites. If you've read the book, I'd love to hear what you think of it - leave me a review on Amazon or Goodreads or contact me directly on Facebook, Twitter or by email. If you're a blogger or book reviewer and want a review copy of the book then drop me a line at elliedarkins@gmail.com.


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Media world domination starts here

Today  marked a huge milestone in my career as a writer - my first media interview!

Here I am in the studio of BBC Coventry and Warwickshire radio just before my interview with Bob Brolly.

The interview is here on the BBC iPlayer, and will be available for the next week.

I'm on from about 00:10 to 00:40 talking about Hiding from Hollywood, and my writing group, Harbury Writers. Also listen out for the surprise appearance from the husband-to-be discussing how he proposed to me!

Ellie x

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy 2014

Happy New Year you lovely lot!

And what a year it's shaping up to be. Today is Hiding from Hollywood launch minus 11, and I'm communicating with those around me mainly through squeals of excitement (and sneezes).

Will have lots more exciting things to share as l-day draws closer so watch this space!

Here's to a fabulous 2014 for us all.

Love, Ellie xxx