The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome Kate Noble back for Bring a Friend Friday. Kate’s new book, The Game and the Governess, is the first in the new Winner Takes All series. Keep reading to find out how to win an autographed copy of The Game and the Governess!
Shana: What a fabulous premise for your new book, Kate. Pride and Prejudice meets Trading Spaces. Tell us more.
Kate Noble: Oh, I love this story, and I’m so excited that The Game and the Governess is finally out in stores. It’s the beginning of a new trilogy, which kicks off with three friends making one incredibly ill-advised wager…
Ned Granville, the Earl of Ashby, has never been short on luck. So when he makes a bet with his best friend and secretary John Turner – namely, that he can win any woman without the benefit of his title – he has no reason to think anything will go wrong.
Thus, Ned and Turner switch places for a two-week trip to the country. But once they do, Ned’s luck suddenly abandons him: the ladies now have eyes only for Turner. But when Ned meets governess Phoebe Baker, he becomes intent on gaining her affections.
Phoebe wants nothing more than to keep her head down, teach her students, and go unnoticed — especially by the Earl of Ashby. But his rakish secretary has the infuriating habit of constantly crossing her path. Yet Phoebe cannot deny that her pulse quickens in Ned’s presence. But what will happen when the truth comes out? And just who will win the dangerous game of love they’ve unwittingly been playing?
Shana: You aren’t just Kate Noble. You’re also Kate Rorick. Tell us what your alter ego is up to.
Kate Rorick: My alter ego is as busy as my Kate Noble one. Kate Rorick writes TV, web stuff, and books. I am currently a writer for the new TNT show The Librarians (coming this December!) as well as having worked on the Emmy-award winning web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which spawned the novel The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, which I wrote.
I’m really quite tired.
Shana: One thing I’m super-jealous about (besides your beautiful covers) is your co-workers. Didn’t you work with Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek: The Next Generation recently?
Kate No..Ror…Kate: Ha! Yes, Jonathan Frakes is not only an actor but an accomplished TV and film director. He directed an episode I wrote for The Librarians and is, without question, a super-great guy.
Shana: Tell us about your writing process. Plotter or pantser? Silence or noise/music? Do you have daily page or word goals? Do you use images of people or settings to spur your imagination? Tell us everything, Kate!
Kate: For books, I consider myself something in between a plotter and pantser. I do write an outline, which helps steer me as I go on, but I find that the details I come up with in the moment are really what enrich the story. Heck, sometimes I come up with the plot of my next book while I’m pantsering on this one.
In terms of how I work, I try very hard to set hours for myself, but often life gets in way. So I have a dedicated group of fellow writers who I will often meet at various coffee shops around the city, and there I manage to get work done, away from the distractions of the house.
However, my ability to churn out word count is entirely dependent on how close I am to my deadline.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Kate: I’m currently hard at work on the next book in the Winner Takes All trilogy – The Lie and the Lady. It’s John Turner’s story – when he met the Countess of Churzy, he was pretending to be his employer the Earl of Ashby. But now, he’s determined to win the Countess with his own name, and on his own terms…
Readers, now it’s your turn. If you could trade places with one person, who would it be? One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win an autographed copy of the Game and the Governess. (This giveaway is US only.)
Jaunties, we get a lot of questions about covers. I thought you might enjoy hearing from someone who designs book covers. Please welcome Misty Helm.
A Day in the Life of a Graphic Designer
Hi all! I am Misty and I am a graphic designer. I have been creating various web and print designs for close to fifteen years now, but it has only been in the last year that I finally threw my name into the cover design ring. Today I thought I would share with you a bit of the process that goes into designing those wonderful covers that you see online and on bookstore shelves. I cannot share all of my trade secrets as the cover design business can be somewhat competitive and each artist has their own signature style, but I can show you the basics of what goes into the design process.
I start with a set of basic images that I believe will blend together to make a sharp city set contemporary romance cover. They look something like this:
Can you picture all of these in a single image? I’m not a fan of the bright pink dress, so my first step would be to change the color of the dress without losing the integrity of the couple.
Now each artist creates their designs differently, for myself personally I like to set up the layout and then work within the confines of what the final image will be. I do this by combining all of the images into a single picture with multiple layers (I should be naming those layers as I go, but I’ve never taken to that notion so I leave them as is).
This is where I begin to work my magic, by blending these images into one solid piece. I like the city scene as is, but in order for it to look a bit more natural I will need to either cut, or erase portions of that city scene.
From that moment in time I work almost uniformly until I come up with an almost finished product that I personally like. With the above images I’ve managed to form something like this…Now for me I like this image as is, but most importantly to me is the author’s vision. It is at this stage that I would typically send this piece off to an author for final approval.
As I designed this for today’s blog, I shared it with a street team to get their opinions on it and everyone came back with the general consensus that it was too dark!! The biggest challenge and the key in any cover design is to make that client happy, a happy client means a happy designer. I took this back to the drawing board, shifted a few of the images, tweaked some of the coloring and added text to give it an overall book cover feel. For me working in text is one of my favorite things, it can present a challenge finding just the right font to make the image come together and sometimes it can make or break the entire cover. The image bellow is making its public debut and is the finished cover.
I would tell anyone who wanted to get into to design to just start playing. Grab yourself a copy of GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) and Google tutorials. You won’t learn how to design over night as it takes practice and coffee…a lot of coffee! But it’s fun to learn and understand what goes into deigning something that looks so simple to make. This is actually how I got my start. I was bored and one day a friend handed me a digital design program for my computer, and the rest is history. It took a lot of practice to hone my skills but by the time I entered college to study design, I was not a novice. I had already done several commission pieces for friends and local business owners. I chose to go to college in order to better my skills and understand composition. I am very new to the cover design world but it has been a virtual lifelong dream to be designing quality eye catching covers for the authors I love.
Being self-employed means that the job is always with you. Working from home means it is always around you. Sometimes it can be hard to escape—I mean even if you love what you do (like I love writing) at some point you need to stop doing/thinking about it and just chill.
I used to find this really hard because the story is always there and there’s always the temptation to just go and do…
This year I set myself working hours. The only time I’m allowed to work extra is if I’m on a deadline (a publisher imposed deadline not one I’ve made up). This has had the added bonus of reducing the amount of time wasting that would otherwise happen during work hours—you know the internet, facebook, sweeping the floor and any other random procrastination activity that I’m able to dream up.
I still get the procrastination bug, but because I know I can’t catch up later there’s a lot less of it.
The other thing I’ve started doing is taking a couple of days off between jobs. Finish the first draft of a WIP? Take a day or two to catch up on some favorite DVDs or and read some books.
Finished a round of edits? Yay go play with that random story idea from last week for a day and see if goes anywhere (I count that as time off writing because it’s more daydreaming and what if?)
These are important little breaks as they allow the brain to recharge and the well of creativity to be topped up. After all you only get out what you put in.
The other change I made this year was dedicating two days a week only to writing/editing. No blog writing or posting, no website updating or any of the other admin tasks that need to be dealt with. The other three days of the working week I set aside an hour in the morning and I get through whatever I can. So far this seems to be working really well as I’m always very impressed by my word count and also happy to discover I don’t fall behind on the admin stuff.
Restricting my working hours has made me more productive and also more accountable. It’s also given me the time to pursue doing the other crafty things I love like cross stitch and sewing.
While writing is a job I love, it isn’t my whole life just a part of it.
Want to win a digital copy of The Changeling Soldier? Comment below and tell Shona how you like to relax after work. Winner will be randomly chosen and announced Sunday on the blog.
The Changeling Soldier
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Her time in the mortal world is running out…
After fleeing Annwyn three centuries ago, Ella built a life in the mortal world making gowns for European royalty and playing in mortal intrigues. Now those Courts are long gone, and she dresses Hollywood starlets. Mortals come and go, but Ella always ends up alone. She longs for the home she left behind.
He’s been dreaming of the coming battle all his life…
Isaac Norton is a returned soldier. Now home, he’s restless and his recurring dream is becoming more frequent: he’s fighting on a snow-covered field stained with blue blood. When he sees Ella, he knows she isn’t human. And she knows what he is, a changeling.
Ella can give Isaac the answers he needs, but there will be a price to pay: his soul.
Three time ARRA finalist Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back.
With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she writes contemporary, paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi romance. You can find out more at her website.
The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome back historical romance author Theresa Romain. Theresa’s upcoming release is To Charm a Naughty Countess. Keep reading to find out how to win a copy!
Shana: Welcome back, Theresa. The important question first: How is Little Miss R?
Theresa Romain: She’s doing great—thanks for asking! (Readers, Little Miss R is my kindergarten daughter, who seems to be a romance heroine-in-training just like Princess Galen.) Lately she has started writing her own books, which have “chapters.” I put that in quotation marks because each chapter is about one sentence long. But she’s so proud of her stapled-together stories! The last one was about two kids whose mom made them work a lot; not sure what she is trying to tell me. J It’s fun seeing her discover the joy of words—not just reading them, but writing them too.
Shana: Tell us about To Charm a Naughty Countess. This is part of the Matchmaker Trilogy, of which It Takes Two to Tangle was the first. The heroine, Caroline, was introduced in that book, right? What makes the Countess of Stratton so naughty?
Theresa Romain: She’s naughty because she doesn’t play by the rules of romance or society. For example—in the first chapter of the book (which you can read on my site), we see her in bed with a lover. Sometimes historical romance heroes get to start the book that way, but how often does a heroine have a lover? It was fun swapping the usual gender roles for this book. Since Caro is widowed and wealthy and knows she’s beautiful, she takes her pleasure where she wishes.
As for her attitude toward society: Because she once had neither rank nor reputation, she doesn’t take them for granted—and she can’t bear the idea of losing them again. And so she breaks through the strata of society by being pleasant to everyone. She wants to make herself socially indispensable.
Of course, this comes at a high price. Being Caroline—always entertaining, always on display—is exhausting, and it’s all a surface. No one knows what she’s truly like or what she really wants, because she doesn’t dare let anyone see. She doesn’t dare risk losing the goodwill of society.
Until our hero turns up, that is.
Shana: The hero in To Charm a Naughty Countess is rumored to be mad. The blurb mentioned anxiety. We don’t often think of people suffering anxiety in the nineteenth century. It seems more a product of current times, though I know people in every time think their period is the most stressful ever. Did you research anxiety and the treatments for it then?
Theresa Romain: I did research anxiety, because I needed to know if that was even a concept in peoples’ minds at the time. And as a general word for anguish or distress, it’s been around since the 1500s. So during the Regency, people might have used “anxiety” to talk about a feeling rather than a condition or diagnosis—which does still make sense to us today.
Of course, Michael doesn’t like to talk about his anxiety at all. About some things, he’s very confident, such as his ability to handle his dukedom’s affairs. Emotional matters and social situations are different, because they’re out of his control, and that’s what triggers his anxiety.
Two hundred years ago, there was no such thing as mental health treatment or medication—and even today mental health diagnoses aren’t as well understood by most people as physical ailments. I wanted to give Michael a hope for recovery that would have seemed plausible in the Regency, and one way that jumped out at me is what we today call cognitive behavioral therapy. Caroline uses these methods, which seem like common sense to her, to get Michael to confront the false beliefs at the heart of his anxiety. But his recovery is on his own shoulders.
Shana: Tell us about your writing schedule and style. Plotter or pantser? Early morning, midday, or late at night? Daily goal or whatever you feel like? Any must-haves when writing?
Theresa Romain: Coffee is the only must-have to get me started. Everything else varies! I usually start with a synopsis or outline for my editor, so I have to come up with the bones of a plot and a basic idea of character. Details get filled in as I write, and sometimes the story or characters twist in a way that surprises me. I do most of my writing during the day while my daughter’s in school, but every day is different since I have another job too. Sometimes I get more writing done in the evening, and I even have a notepad on my nightstand to jot down middle-of-the-night ideas (though my writing’s usually illegible in the morning). I set weekly goals to keep me progressing toward deadlines…but sometimes that deadline itself is also very motivating.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Theresa Romain: Thanks for asking! To Charm a Naughty Countess is the second book in my Matchmaker trilogy, and the third will be out next January. It’s called Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress, and readers will meet the hero and heroine as secondary characters in Countess. That book is set in Bath, which I loved researching—and let me just say the characters’ backgrounds led me down some interesting research pathways as well.
I’ll have another release before then, though. The fourth historical romance in my Holiday Pleasures series—Season for Desire—will be out in October. The hero’s a grumpy American who sets off fireworks (the romantic kind, not the literal kind) with a woman who seems to be a spoiled aristocrat, but who proves to be more than either of them expects.
Readers, now it’s your turn. While Michael can handle matters of business with great confidence and efficiency, the only part he really likes about a ton ball is the end of it. What would be your favorite part of a ball? Would you dance every reel with dashing young nobles, or would you rather find a special someone for a quiet walk in the garden? Or maybe you would enjoy tasting the lobster patties—or spiking the punch?
One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win a copy of To Charm a Naughty Countess. This giveaway is open to entrants from U.S. and Canada. The winner will be announced and contacted Sunday.
TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS
CAN A RECLUSIVE DUKE…
Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause–after first refusing his suit.
WIN LONDON’S MOST POWERFUL COUNTESS?
Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Stratton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael–her counterpart in an old scandal–returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart . But if she gives herself to the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the hard-won independence she prizes above all.
It’s ten years ago this week that my life changed…forever.
I’d just turned forty and was going through a divorce and struggling with writing and meeting my close deadlines for Harlequin Presents when my heart and life felt completely broken. Facing the first Easter without my two little boys, I jumped on a plane and headed to Hawaii to write at a beach front resort where I wouldn’t have to think about anything but my book and getting through the holidays in one piece.
I was down at the pool working in the shade under an umbrella, when this surf instructor walked a little girl back from a meeting. Someone shouted his name, thanking him, and it caught my attention since my then five year old was also named ‘Ty’.
Ty, the surf instructor, and I chatted for a few minutes, and after he walked away, I thought–’now theres a story.’ I didn’t even know what the story was, just that this sexy surfer represented a world I knew nothing about, but a world women would love. I booked a lesson with him for the next day, and spent the two hours interviewing him by the pool because I wanted to hear his story.”
I left Waikiki with a ten page synopsis which I sent to my agent, and she took it to my new editor at Warner Books and they bought the story, slated for publication in mid 2006, since I had my first single title, The Frog Prince, releasing in 2005.
During the next year, Ty and I dated long distance, and I knew he and I would never be able to go ‘the distance’. How could we? We were so different. I lived in Seattle and was 40 and an ambitious, career focused woman and he was 9 years younger and had never even dated a ‘chick with kids’ before me. How would we ever work?
Friends didn’t think I should get too invested in him. They knew my heart was already banged up but I loved his world in Hawaii and the freedom and opportunity to be yourself. I loved escaping from suburban mom world, and it helped me grow as a woman and a writer. I knew when Ty and I ended it would hurt, but I had to take the risks. I had to find out how and when the journey ended.
It’s been ten years, and we’re married and we have a little boy who turns 5 in a couple weeks. A couple years ago I was able to move from Seattle with my older children and Ty and I have bought a historic property in San Clemente, California, where Ty will set up a second outpost of his Waikiki surf school.
I sometimes think that if he hadn’t been a surfer, and I hadn’t been a writer, we couldn’t have made it work. But we’re both about creating a moment–having a passion–and it makes us respect the other. As a surfer, he knows how to read the water and the waves and he’s patient when he needs to be, and he can charge it when the wave is there. As a writer I know how to focus on the end goal, and be flexible with the middle bits, turning pieces and tweaking and massaging story elements to make something work.
Ty and I have our bumps. He is a laid-back surfer and I can be an intense writer but he believes in me in a way that no other man ever has. He’s the first person to tell me to ‘go for it’, and he’s absolutely confident that I can succeed at anything I want to try. I love having a man on my team that is really on my team, and so as I continue to write for Harlequin Presents and trade books for Penguin, I also write stories for Tule Publishing, a small, indie publishing venture that is all about the author. The romance industry is filled with smart, creative women and they are the real talent in the publishing industry. I believe authors should feel validated and be respected and its my mission and passion to encourage and support them…and all smart, creative women.
Bestselling author of 45 romances and women’s fiction titles, Jane Porter has over 12 million copies in print and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award five times, most recently for her novella, Take Me, Cowboy (Tule Publishing). Her next release, Beauty’s Kiss will be available in April 2014. Jane makes her home in sunny San Clemente, CA with her surfer husband. Learn more about Jane at janeporter.com.
One lucky commenter on the blog will win a $15 Amazon gift card and some other fun goodies!