The Holiday Adverts Are Here!

The holiday adverts are here, you guys, and I couldn't be more excited! "What are holiday adverts?" you might ask. Let me fill you in.

Every year in the U.K., the major retailers put out holiday ads (usually Christmas-themed). They're huge productions with millions of pounds spent on them. Think Super Bowl ads that run for two minutes and feature a lot more Christmas cheer.

Living in the U.S., they snuck up on my every year. You see, we have Thanksgiving sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas. But here in Britain where Halloween is barely a holiday and Thanksgiving is an American curiosity there's really nothing standing in the way of Christmas. That means the festivities start early. Like really early. (I do realize the irony of this coming from a woman who put out a Christmas Eve/New Year's Eve holiday romance on November 1.)

Here are some of the best of this year:

John Lewis — Moz the Monster

John Lewis is, arguably, the king of the holiday advert. In this one, a little boy meets the monster under his bed who turns out to be an excellent playmate. But there's just one little problem...

M&S —Paddington & The Christmas Visitor Paddington Bear is a national treasure, and with the new movie releasing soon M&S grabbed the chance to feature the little bear from Darkest Peru. The story is adorable, but not without it's (ridiculous) problems. I kid you not, there has been an entire controversy over here about whether Paddington is sworn at by "Santa". It received such attention that an advertisement watchdog agency ruled on whether M&S had overstepped the line. (Spoiler: They hadn't.)

Aldi — Kevin the Carrot

I'm not going to lie. I feel obligated to include this one because I'm a romance author. Watch Kevin meet the carrot of his dreams amid a bunch of movie references. The advert is gorgeous.

And now for some oldies but goodies...

Sainsbury's (2014)  I'm not crying. You're crying.

Sainsbury's (2016) — Mog's Christmas Calamity

Poor Mog, always getting into a pickle.

M&S (2013) A beautiful, weird Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz mashup advert that manages to make everything from M&S look more gorgeous than it actually every is.

John Lewis (2014) — Money the Penguin

Oh no! Crying again! This is my absolute favorite ad. You have an adorable child, a romance, and it doesn't hurt that I love penguins. #MontythePenguin forever.

If you'd like to celebrate the Christmas cheer a little early with some romance, my holiday novella Kiss Me at Midnight is available for free at all major retailers!

The Governess Was Wicked Is Out Now! (Plus a Giveaway)

The wait is over! Today is release day for The Governess Was Wicked, and I couldn't be happier that the book is now in the hands of readers like you! The Governess was Wicked Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet-sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor. As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt...

Amazon | Amazon UKiBooks | Kobo | B&N

The love story between Elizabeth and Edward was a lot of fun to write, and it also introduces one of my favorite characters I've ever written — Lady Crosby (those of you who read The Lady Always Wins will recognize the acerbic matriarch).

The next books in the series, The Governess Was Wanton and The Governess Was Wild, are still available for preorder and will be coming out in October and November. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you don't miss any future release dates!

If you want to learn a bit more about how the entire series came to be, First Draught dedicated an entire episode to my path to publishing story:

I'm also over on T.J. Kline's blog where she grilled me about the books and gave me a quick pop quiz.

Plus I'm on XOXO After Dark talking about dream casting all my heroes and heroines.

And last but not least, I'm giving away two huge prize packs thanks to a little help from my author friends. You could win ebooks, signed paperbacks, audiobooks, and an Amazon gift card!. All you have to do is enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

VIDEO: Learn to Love Your Research

Yesterday night First Draught tackled the question of research and writing. How do you get the details right, where should you start, and how do you know that you're just avoiding writing the book? A.L. Parks shared her stories about interviewing members of the FBI, Alexis Anne discussed the pros and cons of writing about fictional vs. real places, Mary Chris Escobar talked about authenticity, and I tackled the historical side of things. UPDATE: Looks like a gremlin got into one of our computers and caused some feedback for a few minutes in the middle. Bad gremlin. The problem does resolve itself pretty quickly, and we will try to figure out how to prevent it in the future.

If there is a topic you want us to discuss, reach out to one of us! We're always happy to take suggestions.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Well, it happened. My critique partner and all-around-wonderful-friend Alexis Anne tagged me in the Ice Bucket Challenge. I asked for a little help... and got two direct hits in the face with very cold water! Good thing I had a plan in store for my helper...

VIDEO: Getting Ready for RWA

The countdown is officially on! In less than a week I'm going to be at RWA in San Antonio, so I'm starting to make all sorts of lists. Yesterday First Draught ran you through what to expect at the conference and answered some common questions about the RITAs, workshops, registration, and meals.

A few helpful links we mentioned in yesterday's chat....

Also don't forget that you can always reach out to us on Twitter, and let us know if you're heading to San Antonio!

REMINDER: First Draught Is Tonight!

Just a reminder that at 8:30 PM EST the women of First Draught and a couple special guests will be running you through everything you need to know in the run up to RWA in San Antonio. We're talking packing lists, schedules, book transportation, parties, workshops, lunches, everything! RSVP here for the live talk show or check back to find the archive YouTube video after we're off the air. We can promise you plenty of laughs and hopefully some helpful advice!

VIDEO: Everything You Wanted to Know about Critique Partners (But Were Afraid to Ask)

There's something about the start of the summer that always sends me into a flurry of activity. This year between an international family move, a college reunion, and a friend's wedding all of of my energy focused on traveling. Unfortunately that meant letting some things go by the wayside. I was in London the week that I would normally tape First Draught with Alexis Anne and Mary Chris Escobar, so when we reconvened on June 3rd we decided to give you a nice, long video discussion. We tackled all of the questions we commonly get about critique partners. How do you get one? How do you keep one? When is it time to let your CP go?

If you have any follow-up question we'd love to hear them! Just leave a comment here or tweet us.

First Draught: Music as Muse

I love technology. It lets me write and edit so easily I often take it for granted. It's brought some incredible people into my life and helped me keep in touch with old friends and family. It's fantastic. Until it doesn't work.

That's what happened Tuesday when the women behind First Draught and I tried to talk about music and writing. Our chat experienced major technical difficulties both as we were trying to get on air and then while it was going. However we pushed through, and here it is in all its hot mess, hilarious glory.

As always, comments and questions are welcome!

Plotting vs. Pantsing

Hello all! I'm resurfacing during a crazy couple months of drafting new stories to share a new author chat with you. Yesterday four of my favorite fellow authors and I sat down to debate the merits of plotting vs. pantsing (ie planning it all out or writing spontaneously). We also shared our methods for finishing that draft. Take a listen and join the conversation by letting us know what works for you!

VIDEO: Holidays Romances, Traditions, and Beer!

Authors Alexis Anne, Mary Chris Escobar, and I got together to talk holiday romances, writing about Thanksgiving and Christmas, and what we do to celebrate the season. Add in a dash of celebratory booze and you've got a pretty good chat.

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition in your family?

VIDEO: NaNoWriMo Day 25

I'm almost done! It's been a month of ups and downs, but I'm about 1,500 words away from hitting 50K and must closer to having a completed novel. I couldn't be happier heading into the hectic holiday time. I want to hear how your writing challenge is going. You can leave a comment here or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Happy writing!

VIDEO: NaNoWriMo Day 22

Day 22 is here, and I'm back on track (thank goodness)! NaNoWriMoers, how are you guys doing with your own challenges?

This is the hero chat with Alexis Anne I mention in the video. And here's a link to the heroine chat too.

As always, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Happy writing!

VIDEO: It's All About the Hero

My good friend Alexis Anne and I tackled the heroine in romance novels a few weeks ago. Now we're back and talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the hero. Join the conversation by leaving a comment here or on Facebook and Twitter!

VIDEO: NaNoWriMo Day 15 (A Little Late)

Day 15 of NaNoWriMo has come and gone. I recorded this video yesterday night to talk about discouragement, stepping back from your book, and why burlesque dancers might help me find a creative kick again.

The burlesque club I went to is called the Slipper Room on Orchard and Stanton in Manhattan's Lower East Side. The dancers are incredible. You get everything from traditional strip tease to aerialists to performance art. Here are just a couple photos I snapped while I was out.

Rosabelle Selavy, burlesque, Slipper Room, aerial, trapeze

Emily Shephard, fan dance, burlesque, Slipper Room

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter! I'm also sharing writing inspiration at Tumblr and Pinterest.

If you're doing NaNoWriMo too, just search for Julia Kelly to add me as a writing buddy (and keep me honest!).

Happy writing!

VIDEO: Where I Write

My novella is in the hands of some trusted beta readers, giving me the chance to do some housekeeping. I've been meaning to share a wonderful post on Wonkomance showcasing photos of romance writers' work spaces. I'm on there as well as my good friend Mary Chris Escobar who is about to release a new novella. Most writers are creatures of habit, so I love getting a glimpse at what makes them tick. Of course then edits took over my life, and I forgot about that post. The other day I read Serena Bell's interview on Miss Ivy's Book Nook talking about what she needs to write. I decided to record this little video for you guys to welcome you to my writing space (just in time for NaNoWriMo). Where do you guys like to work, and how to do you make it feel like home?

VIDEO: Talking about Strong Heroines with Alexis Anne

Yesterday night my good friend Alexis Anne sat down for a Google Hangout with me to talk about strong heroines. She also gets into the writing process a little and tells us about her new book The Storm Inside. It was ($0.99 on Amazon when I posted this and has some fantastic reviews, so definitely check it out. Isn't technology great?