Natasha Oakley - British Romance Author

Writer of tug-at-the-heartstrings, feel-good romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Next Survivor Series ......

This isn't at all writerly but it made me smile ...

Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, and complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of 'pretend' bills with not enough money.

In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.

Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time.

Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment.

He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care.

He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.

Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times.

The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

The men must shave their legs, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep fingernails manicured and eyebrows groomed.

During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.

They will need to read a book and then pray with the children each night and in the morning, feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair by 7:00 am.

A test will be given at the en d of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name.

Also the child's weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up.

The kids vote them off the island based on performance.

The last man wins only if...he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice.

If the last man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again for the next 18-25 years eventually earning the right to be called Mother!

After you get done laughing, send this to as many females as you think will get a kick out of it and as many men as you think can handle it.

Just don't send it back to me.... I'm going to bed!

Oh, and I've got a book to write and my children have got nits and given them to me!!! Just perfect!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy St George's Day

Today is St George's Day but, unlike pretty much everywhere else, here in England we don't have a public holiday for our national saint. There's a bit of a campaign going on about that at the moment. :)

Locally we do our bit. In fact, the largest St George's Day celebrations in the country are held each year at a place called Wrest Park which is down the road. If it's not raining I'll go and bring you back pictures ...

I know. No stamina!

Meanwhile, if you are based in the UK you have to go read today's post over at the Pink Heart Society. We've been asked to help with a hugely exciting project. Here's a taster of what you'll find there.

Hi there, my name’s Julie. I’m a documentary maker and a fan of romantic fiction. I want to make a warm, intelligent documentary that celebrates the Mills & Boon publishing phenomenon in the year of its centenary. I want the film to take us into the personal worlds of Mills & Boon novelists and avid readers, to uncover the secrets of Mills & Boon’s enduring success and find answers to the perennial question ‘What do women really want ?!?!’.

I’m at the very early stages of research and at this point I’m very keen to chat to avid fans of Mills & Boon novels, to hear what it is about the books that they love so much. I would also really love to hear from Mills & Boon novelists, to learn more about their lives & writing. I had a really exciting and inspiring meeting with Kate Walker last week and she very kindly offered to make this posting on my behalf. So please do get in touch if you would be willing to talk. All discussion at this point would be off-camera and you’d be under no obligation to appear in the final documentary.

I look forward to hearing from you and telling you more about my project.

All the best
Julie Moggan

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Romantic Times Award

I've been holding on to this bit of news for a while and very difficult it's been. The Romantic Times Convention is over I'm allowed to say I won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Harlequin Presents of 2007 with 'The Tycoon's Princess Bride'.

Here's hoping readers who discovered me as part of the Niroli continuity series will come and find me in the Romance line.

Trish Wylie won 'Best Harlequin Romance of 2007' which her lovely 'Rescued: Mother to Be' and Liz Fielding won a Career Achievement Award.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

A day in my life ...

I have to admit, even by my standards, this is a bit of a stinker.

8.45am Take offsprings one and two three miles to ATC hut. Need to be there by 9.00am.

9.30am Take offsprings three and four two miles to Frontiers Club.

10.30am Take offspring five to football.

12.00pm Pick offspring five up from football.

12.30pm Pick offsprings three and four from Frontiers Club.

1.00pm Pick up offsprings one and two from the hut.

3.30pm Offspring four to the Athletics Stadium.

4.45pm Offspring three to Pizza Hut for a party.

5.15pm Collect offspring four from the Athletics Stadium.

6.00pm Offsprings one and two three miles to nearby village for a pizza/movie party.

8.30pm Pick up offspring three from Pizza Hut.

10.00pm Pick up offsprings one and two from pizza/movie party.

And somewhere in there I need to cook, find the school clothes and write 2000 words.

Oh and, apparently, the laptop is now ready for collection. Must find out what they've done to it before I accept it back into the fold.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Lincoln Book Festival - Press Release

Janet, in the comments for the previous post wanted to know what I'm going to be doing at the Lincoln Book Festival so here's the Press Release.

The Lincoln Book Festival passionately presents…

100 Years of Romancing Readers
Celebrate 100 years of Mills & Boon with top romance authors Kate Walker, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley and Kate Hardy

Saturday 17th May 2008, 6.00pm, Lincoln Drill Hall, Lincoln
On Saturday 17th May, award-winning Mills & Boon authors, Kate Walker, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley and Kate Hardy discuss the world of romantic fiction and what it takes to write for Mills & Boon. From first glances until happily ever after, this lively discussion, commemorating the Mills & Boon Centenary, offers participants the chance to hear from four of today’s leading romance writers…

About the 100 Years of Romancing Readers debate:
As part of the Mills & Boon Centenary celebrations, the Lincoln Book Festival presents four influential romance authors for a unique opportunity to take part in a spirited conversation that celebrates the world of romantic fiction. The evening will also include an audience Question & Answer session, along with a book signing. The event will take place from 6pm - 7.30pm on Saturday 17th May at Lincoln Drill Hall. Tickets are £5, concessions £3.
The panel will feature bestselling romantic novelists:

KATE WALKER – Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife; The Duke’s Secret Wife
TRISH WYLIE – His Mistress, His Terms; Her One and Only Valentine
NATASHA OAKLEY – Crowned: An Ordinary Girl; Wanted: White Wedding
KATE HARDY – Sold to the Highest Bidder; The Doctor’s Royal Love Child
ANDSUZY CLARKE – Mills & Boon editor

Come and join Mills & Boon for a glass of bubbly and have your say…

About the panellists:

KATE WALKER published her first novel with Mills & Boon in 1984 and hasn’t looked back. She writes for the Mills & Boon Modern line and has had over 50 books published. The second edition of her award-winning The 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance is being re-issued on 8th April 2008. For more information, visit her website and online blog at
Kate will be leading a workshop on writing romance on Saturday 17th May, 2 - 4pm in the Ruston Room at Lincoln Drill Hall.

TRISH WYLIE has always been a keen writer. Now on her 16th title, writing for the Romance and Modern Heat lines of Mills & Boon, Trish’s creative passion looks set to continue unabated. Her latest book, Claimed by the Billionaire Bad Boy, is published in May. To find out more, visit her website and online blog at

NATASHA OAKLEY began her career in the world of theatre, before turning to writing. Her first book was published by Mills & Boon in 2004 and she writes for the Romance series. Natasha’s 2007 book, The Tycoon’s Princess Bride, is short-listed for the Romance Writers of America Prize (The RITA). For more information, visit

KATE HARDY has been writing romantic fiction since 2002 and has so far produced over 25 books for the Mills & Boon’s Medical Romance and Modern Heat lines. With a passion for writing, and also for cooking, Kate often combines the two, including recipes in her stories and creating heroes and heroines with gastronomic flair. Kate’s book, Breakfast at Giovanni’s, won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Prize for Romance in February 2008. For more information, visit

About the Mills & Boon Centenary:
In 2008, Mills & Boon celebrates one hundred years of publishing history. This iconic imprint has grown to become the UK's undisputed market leader in romantic fiction publishing; a household name entrenched in the hearts and minds of its global readership.

· A Mills & Boon book is sold every 3 seconds
· 10 million Mills & Boon titles were sold in the UK last year
· 130 million Mills & Boon books are sold worldwide each year
· In 2007, 1200 unsolicited manuscripts were submitted, of which only 27 went on to be published
· Mills & Boon books are sold in 109 countries and have been translated into 26 different languages

Lincoln Book Festival:
From Friday 9th May to Sunday 18th May, Lincoln turns literary as the Lincoln Book Festival brings together authors, fans and book-lovers of all ages for 9 days of discussions, workshops, signings and chances to meet your favourite literary idols. Featured authors include Colin Dexter, Iain Banks and Steven Berkoff.
For further information, visit

Kate Hardy, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley and Kate Walker
are available for interview.
For further information, or to schedule an interview,
please contact:Laura Meyer at Midas Public Relations
on 020 7590 8903 or email

Don't we sound great! And we didn't even write that!!! vbg

It'll be lovely if any of you can join us.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008


I am having THE most brilliant 2008.

'Crowned: An Ordinary Girl' has just finalled in the National Readers' Choice Awards. The winner will be announced at a reception on Thursday evening of the RWA National Conference - which, of course, I'll be missing. It seemed like such a good plan to take the children to the Dordogne this year but I'm experiencing a pang of regret I didn't decide to do the conference instead. What a truly bad mother I am! Or, maybe, I'm a good one because despite the massive temptation I'm still resisting ...?

I have, quite literally, just finished reading 'Crowned'. Twenty-five minutes ago as it happens. I don't usually re-read my books btw but I've decided to give Prince Seb's younger sister a happy ever after and I needed to check what I've already said about her. Actually not so very much, which has surprised me since she is so vivid in my head.

The only things I find I'm committed to is that Isabelle would have been 13 when her father died (assuming I've done my sums right), she's the youngest of three children, she's got a reputation as Andovaria's wild child and was twenty-two when Seb married Marianne. That gives me a lots of lovely choices.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oh dear!

Now I've bought a light for the cupboard-I-fondly-call-my-study. Just one click again. I'm beginning to think India Grey is in the right of it. She has a study without access to the internet - and a lovely cream leather chair.

My light is designed by Black + Blum. I like their things. Their sellotape holder is one of the most practical things I've ever bought. It's heavy enough to let you pull tape off with one hand. How sensible is that!

I'm thinking about work spaces again because I've come to the conclusion mine isn't working for me. The main gripe I have is that it's invaded. Often. It means when I come back to whatever I'm doing it's been moved or things have been placed on top of it. I think I've become so much 'white noise' now when I complain about it.

Any ideas?

But now I must stop shopping, stop blogging, stop thinking what I need to do about my poor neglected website - and WRITE.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cabin Fever

My children are back at school after the Easter break, my husband is stealing my car to get to work ... so really there is no excuse not to sit my bottom in the chair and get on with the WIP. I know, as a career author, I ought to say I begin at 8am and finish at 7pm having produced x number of words but the truth is ... I don't write like that.

I'm still struggling to get a feel for what's happening in this book and, right now, I feel like I'm squeezing a turnip through a sieve. I've come to accept that's part of my process. Just what I do. The huge downside of working like this is that I reward myself with food and, courtesy of India Grey, I now know Sainsburys is selling Ikea Dime bars. That won't help any.

Eventually I will speed up, the book will get finished and I will forget all the labour pains.

In the meantime, I've read a lot of blogs (cf the dime bar post). I've bought an outfit. Just a click away! Hopefully it will fit or I'll be a scary Mills & Boon panelist at Lincoln's Literary Festival next month. I've added twenty or so books to my Amazon basket. Fortunately felt guilty enough about the outfit not to click 'buy now'. I can now tell you James McAvoy's wife, Anne-Marie Duff, used to go out with David Tennant. I'm not sure how useful that information will be but it's now forever lodged in my brain.

And, this evening, I took myself to see George Clooney. Anyone else seen 'Leatherheads'?

Okay, I don't get it!

I know I was at a disadvantage because I've no idea how American football is played. (Truth be told, I have no idea how English football is played ...) But, I don't think I'd have liked the movie any better if I did. It's a strange one because it kept me entertained but I just kept feeling it could be so much better. Maybe it's because it harked back to the old black and white movies I love and ... wasn't. George Clooney isn't Cary Grant any more than Renée Zellweger is Rosalind Russell. There's a fair amount of slapstick which seemed out of place to me. And, worst of all, I think I connected with the wrong character ...

But good to be out of the house.

PS No news on the laptop yet!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Customer Service

is a concept entirely unknown to PC World. If you've not got time to read this blog I can summarise what's to follow by saying DO NOT BUY A LAPTOP FROM PC WORLD. And, yes, I do mean to shout.

I have just wasted another blasted day and I'm so cross you wouldn't believe it.

Remember my laptop died and I replaced it with a Toshiba? I liked the fact it has a curved front which is kinda kind on the wrists ...

Anyway I also bought my daughter one for her birthday. Not two months later it has packed up. I can cope with this. These things happen, BUT it's how things are handled once they've gone wrong that matters.

My husband and I took it to our local PC World and explained that while our daughter was using it the screen froze. She turned it off and it refused to turn back on. Man in PC uniform tried one or two things and confirmed it wouldn't start.

And this is where it starts to become ridiculous.

We can't have an exchange because we've had the laptop over 28 days. This is regardless of the fact it's had very moderate use, never been on the internet and is 'like new' being less than two months old. He then says has to go 'back to Toshiba' and this will take up to six weeks. They have to determine whether or not it was misuse in the home or a computer fault. Once they have made this decision they will decide whether to offer us a repair. Repair not a replacement note!

I'm fairly spitting tacks at this point but it gets worse.

It'll be easier FOR US if we contact Toshiba direct. They have a collection 'as and when' whereas if we phone it will be collected much quicker. He also said we could remove my daughter's coursework by plugging it into my computer at home.

Home we went and tried to save her work - but you can't. Whatever is wrong with the thing isn't allowing anything that simple. I also do a little internet searching on my customer rights. Apparently you shouldn't let a retailer send you to the manufacturer direct. You bought from THEM.

So back to PC World. Different man. This one much more irritating. Now he REALLY doesn't want to do anything to help. We remain calm, polite, but determined he will provide some level of customer service. We insist he signs a piece of paper as to the condition of the laptop we've left with him. We've taken photographs too. Belt and braces. I have zero confidence now.

And that's it. We wait now to see how reputable Toshiba are ... I'll let you know.

But we are without a laptop for an indefinite period. Can you imagine how I'd be feeling now if it had been mine that had died?????

If you are a writer of anything, if you in any way depend on your laptop for your work, derive any kind of pleasure from using one, DO NOT BUY FROM PC WORLD.

Boy, but I'm cross.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Winning Streak

Today was the Grand National. Even for a non-horsey person like me this is a big deal. For my extended family it means the 'family sweep'. At stake is a rather battered silver cup which I would show you except I was the holder for 2007 and I'm afraid I've not looked after it as I should.

We randomly pick three horses - one fairly hopeless, one okayish and one with a chance. This year, I'm pleased to say I lost. The cup goes to Auntie Mary! But, morally, it was my victory and my brother is still reeling from the shock. 'Comply or Die' was my choice (because he liked the going) and if only I'd had the courage of my convictions I'd be counting my winnings tonight. I'm not going to tell him my source either!

Tomorrow is my dad's 70th birthday so I've been chopping vegetables for England. Really not much energy left tonight for anything but a glass of wine - or two.

But I have written my Pink Heart Society blog for Monday. It's my turn to pick the Male on Monday. Jude Law, I thought.

If you arrive early you'll find a fabulous post by the lovely Kate Walker and Biddy's update on her writing progress. Biddy is an aspiring Harlequin Mills & Boon novelist and her posts always make me laugh. Go see.

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