The Jaunty Quills are excited to host veteran author Kieran Kramer. Kieran’s e-novella, The Earl with the Secret Tattoo, is coming December 18th. Keep reading to find out how to win one of three copies of the book, plus swag! Details below.
Shana: It’s great to have you here, Kieran! Tell us about The Earl with the Secret Tattoo. I love the title—a secret tattoo is so sexy!
Kieran Kramer: Thanks! My editor and I came up with the idea over lunch. We liked the idea of the secret tattoo. We wanted a fun novella that would involve a gentleman hero who has a secret occupation and a heroine who stumbles upon him being a total rake while in the line of duty. She doesn’t think much of him, but he has the same tattoo as a masked man who interrupted a robbery she was involved in with the Sherwood kids from the Brady household, a man she’s been daydreaming about ever since. She can’t believe the two tattooed men can be one and the same.
The story is meant to span the gap of time between the publication of the first and second book in my House of Brady series—in other words, to reward the readers who’ve joined me on this ride with my favorite blended family from Regency England!
Shana: Is The Earl with the Secret Tattoo part of your House of Brady series? Tell us more about the series and the other books.
Kieran Kramer: I wanted a series that pays very light homage to my favorite childhood TV show, The Brady Bunch. But the resemblance is so distant that if you haven’t seen the show, you wouldn’t miss a single tip of the hat to it. Each book is an organic Regency tale that stands on its own. My Marcia, for example, is a far cry from the Marcia on the show, who was the “It” girl of her high school. Lady Marcia Sherwood, on the other hand, could have been a reigning debutante during the London Season, but she gave it all up for a very good reason. The storyline of LOVING LADY MARCIA delves into that motivation, and Marcia has to come to terms with a lot of things she’s been avoiding before she can find true love.
The next book is THE EARL IS MINE. That’s Gregory’s story, and I was inspired by an iconic episode of the TV show in which Greg is lured into becoming a big rock star named Johnny Bravo. But the cool rock star coat Johnny Bravo wears doesn’t fit him, so the Hollywood moguls no longer want Gregory to play the role. My Gregory, who is named Lord Westdale (after the high school in the TV show), doesn’t fit a certain role in his life, either. I mention his coat in the very first line of the book, and the coat becomes a symbol of his conflict. But that’s about it. Unless you’re an avid watcher of the show, you’d never pick up on that coat reference.
I’m now writing SAY YES TO THE DUKE, which is Janice’s book. She’s the middle sister, and like the Jan of the TV show, is often overshadowed by her big sister Marcia. I don’t want to give anything away because as I write, things always change (which wreaks havoc on my back cover copy, LOL!), but I can at least tell you that this story takes the reader away from London drawing rooms into a country setting. And the hero is a bit unexpected.
So far, this has been a really fun series to write. I have no idea what’s happening yet in the next book. I also learn cool secrets about the family as I write! For example, I was shocked to learn something about Lady Brady in LOVING LADY MARCIA that I’ll let you discover on your own…I had no idea she had that kind of back story, and I only learned it as I was literally writing that chapter. But it made a lot of sense.
Bottom line: I’m excited to get to my computer each day, and I really hope the readers are having as much fun as I am with the series.
Shana: I read in your bio that you used to work for the CIA and are a game show veteran. Kieran, how did I not know this about you? Tell us more—if, you know, it’s not classified! Have you ever used any of these experiences in your novels?
Kieran Kramer: Haha! I don’t talk much about being in the CIA and prefer not to give workshops about it or write about it. If I ever did write about it, I’m required by law to submit my manuscript to the CIA to be redacted because I signed a non-disclosure form. I don’t give workshops about it because I’m always afraid of maybe stepping over a line and saying something I shouldn’t. Besides, I was there a long time ago!!!
But I can tell you a few things. First off, I was in a special program. Far fewer than than 1% of CIA employees were chosen for it, so it was a big deal, a great honor, and one thing in my life that I’m really proud of. I was there during the iconic CIA director William Casey’s heyday and during the Iran-Contra affair. At one point, I worked next door to the Iran guys, all of whom were called to testify on Capitol Hill, so every one of them grew beards. Ollie North visited several times. I did a lot of crazy things I can’t talk about and spent several months at the Farm with a bunch of people, including Valerie Plame, the poor CIA operative who was outed during the Bush administration. In general, I had the time of my life.
As for my TV career <ggg>, my mom was a Jeopardy champion in the 60’s, so game shows run in the family. I was on Family Feud and The Wheel of Fortune, each time selected in a local audition to be flown out to Hollywood for the taping. We won on Family Feud, and I also won on The Wheel of Fortune–$34,000. I’m a natural sort of quiet ham and wasn’t bothered by the red lights on the camera, which signaled that 30 million people were watching. At least that’s what the producers told us at Wheel. They also said hundreds of thousands of people try to get on the show. So the pressure was on! But I liked it. That wheel was heavy. Pat and Vanna are adorable. I wish I’d been published at the time—free publicity, right? I did call myself a romance writer, though, when Pat Sajak asked what I did.
Hmmm…maybe it’s time to get on another show. I can just see myself passing out bookmarks and handing the host a free copy of my latest book, LOL!!!
Shana: I know you’re a busy wife and mom, like I am, because Robyn, Emily, and I blog with you on Peanut Butter on the Keyboard. How do you find time to write and play all the other roles? Any tips for busy aspiring authors?
Kieran Kramer: I could talk all day about this. But it all comes down to being clear about what’s happening in your life right now—and what you want to make happen.
1) why you’re writing: for money, fame, personal enjoyment, to prove a point, or for the love of story? Is it a combination of all those, or several? Or one? You must know the answer to this question because every time you hit an obstacle, you’re going to have to call upon your inner reserves—and your motivations—to forge ahead.
2) Also know what you want to say: not in that particular book, but in general. What universal message is burning within you that compels you to go to the empty screen or notepad each day? You don’t have to get on your soapbox, but WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? What gets you out of bed each morning? Imagine that I’m shaking you by the collar and you have two seconds to spit out what you want to say to the world. That (whatever you blurted out) is probably a theme running through all your books. Write it down. Look at it all the time. Again, you’re going to use this as armor against all the flak thrown at you. You’re going to be safe inside that little world of self-knowledge you’ve accrued, and you’ll stay on track.
Yet always re-evaluate. I ask myself those two questions every day: why am I writing, and what do I want to say. I’m the type of person who’s very aware of the passage of time. I also want to enjoy my life and do something meaningful while I’m on the planet. So I check in with myself often. And if I’m not happy, I tweak things until I am. I’m not afraid to instantly do a 180 and go onto a different track, whether it’s in a story or in life. Change doesn’t equal failure. Neither does stopping for a while and re-starting the same thing. People grow into themselves at different rates.
Some well-meaning folks might say, “Come on, give up. You’ve been doing this too long and getting nowhere!” But if your gut tells you that you enjoy the journey you’re on, stick with it until you don’t!
And then you have other people saying, “Come on, don’t give up so easily. Stick it out! That shows perseverance, which is a great virtue!” And I agree that it is. But I don’t believe in sticking with something that makes me unhappy. So I make sure that I stay happy with what’s going on in my writing life. I speak up and I change course if I’m not happy.
I suggest to all new writers out there that if right now you’re not happy with how you’re handling your writing life, stop everything. Assess what’s going wrong and how you can get happy again. Ignore everyone else and listen to your own gut.
I also suggest that if you love what you’re doing, ignore those naysayers and keep doing it. My only caveat there is make sure you stay in balance, no matter what. Don’t ignore your kids or your partner in the name of getting a contract. Live life in a balanced way, and you’re much more likely to sell. Your writing will be rich; your muse, abundant. Desperation–or blind ambition–on the other hand, makes the best writers flounder and their stories contrived. So don’t get desperate. Pay attention to staying balanced.
In the end, it all boils down to following your own heart. Don’t give away your power to anyone else, even the people who love you most. Explain gently to them what’s going on, and block out time for yourself.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Kieran Kramer: My novella THE EARL WITH THE SECRET TATTOO is coming out on December 18th, e-format only, available on Kindle, Amazon, iBooks, etc. I also have a funny, romantic Christmas Eve scene with Alice, the housekeeper for the Marquess and Marchioness of Brady, and Marcia and her new husband Duncan from LOVING LADY MARCIA, appearing on the Heroes and Heartbreakers blog on Dec. 24th . Then THE EARL IS MINE will appear on shelves February 26. SAY YES TO THE DUKE comes out in the fall of 2013, and after I put that book to bed, I’ll get to work on Peter’s book, the fourth of the six books in the series, and maybe another Brady-related novella.
I also have underlying plans that I haven’t gotten to yet to review my chick lit novels and women’s fiction novel that I wrote before I was published. If I can revamp them, I might consider adding on a contemporary aspect to my career with those. But I have a feeling I won’t be able to—they might be too hard to revise, and I have to consider how viable they’d be on the market right now–which actually is fine because I have a really great desire to start fresh with a new contemporary series idea I have!
Um, when will this contemporary career happen? I don’t know! But I love being so busy, and I love being a writer.
Thanks, Shana, so much for hosting me today. You’re a great long-distance friend. I’ve so enjoyed our camaraderie on the Peanut Butter blog. You’re also a fantastic writer, and I wish you and the other Jaunty Quills authors continued fabulous success.
I really enjoyed answering your questions and would love to hear from your readers!! Meanwhile, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!! Everyone, have a great December filled with lots of great books!!
Readers, now it’s your turn. Tattoos: love them or hate them? Sexy or major turn-off? Three readers who comment will be randomly chosen to win digital copies of The Earl with the Secret Tattoo and swag, which includes a real temporary tattoo that matches the one on the book cover, romance trading cards, a signed bookplate, and bookmarks. This giveaway is open to readers in the U.S.