Last month I was fortunate enough to attend the first ever Historical Romance Retreat (HRR) in Spokane, Washington. This was a chance for historical romance readers and authors to mix and mingle in a gorgeous historical setting. The event was held at the Davenport hotel, which was built in 1914 and has housed distinguished guests like Amelia Earhart. This is the lobby and restaurant area.
All the attendees were encouraged to dress up for the various events. Dressing up wasn’t mandatory and the half that didn’t dress up had just as much fun as the half that did.
The retreat started with a soiree where authors and readers mingled, then we adjourned to the historic Bing Crosby Theater where we watched an old Greer Garson movie while snacking on old time candy.
The next day we attended panels and workshops. I went to one on Feminism in Historical Romance led by Eva Leigh, Tessa Dare, and Eileen Dreyer. The chats were followed by high tea and my favorite event of the retreat, the gaming night. We learned games from the past and gambled with real coins from the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Finally we made our way to an Absinthe party where we tried absinthe and other drinks from the past.
Saturday was a book signing and the Grand Ball. It was really quite the event. If you love historical romance, put this on your calendar for next year.
And check out the giveaway on my website. Win an Historical Romance Readers tote bag, a signed copy of Anna Campbell’s A Scoundrel by Moonlight, a ripped bodice sewing kit from Tessa Dare, a screen cleaner from Darcy Burke, a deck of cards from Rose Lerner, a luggage tag from Sabrina Jeffries, and a pen from Sabrina York.
Last week, my Holiday Pleasures historical romance quartet was re-issued as an ebook bundle. The four books in the series–Season for Temptation, Season for Surrender, Season for Scandal, Season for Desire–were released in time for the holidays in 2011 through 2014. If you haven’t read the series, the bundle offers these four books at a significant discount over buying them all separately. You can find more info here.
It’s been fun to take another look at my first historical romance series. Season for Temptation was my historical romance debut, and it’s got rompy energy out the wazoo. (Not a Regency-correct term.) My style’s changed over time, which you can see if you read all four books in order, but I’ve never had so much fun writing a book as I had coming up with the love story of James and Julia.
In the months before Season for Temptation came out, I amused myself by making comparison tables on my blog. Since at the time I was one of about five people who had ever read SFT, I pretty much amused ONLY myself. Now that the Holiday Pleasures series has been re-issued, I thought it’d be a good time to revisit those comparisons again.
From May 2011:
Lately I’ve been working on the page proofs for SEASON FOR TEMPTATION, and also listening to Harry Potter books on audiotape. (They make great company when you’re cooking, for example.) This is probably why I’ve begun to notice a number of eerie similarities between SEASON and the Harry Potter series–similarities that, I think, cannot fail to turn SEASON into an international publishing phenomenon.
But wait, there’s more!
See what I mean? I can’t fail. I fully expect to see children wearing cravats and waving sword-sticks at the movie version of SEASON FOR TEMPTATION sometime in 2014.
Alas, there was no movie version in 2014. But I continued to be inspired to create parallels; viz. this post from August 2011. Clearly I was into the table functions of Word.
I’ve been watching a lot of Food Network lately, maybe to inspire myself to cook more during these dog days of summer. (Not that the inspiration is very practical, since I usually watch cooking competitions that involve bizarre ingredients like canned haggis.) This is probably why last night, instead of sleeping, I started thinking of how much my favorite show, Chopped, has in common with SEASON FOR TEMPTATION.
If you’ve never seen Chopped, here’s the format: four chefs, three rounds of competition (appetizer, entrée, dessert). In each round, the chefs have to base their dishes on the cray-cray ingredients out of a mystery basket, and after each round, one chef is eliminated from the competition.
So how is SEASON like Chopped? There are several scenes set during meals, and I think the parallels are fairly uncanny:
See what I mean? That. Is. Amazing.
If you’ve read SFT, what do you think of my comparisons? Or if you haven’t, what other goofy and/or inappropriate things would you like to see a romance compared to? I can’t promise I’ll create another table, but I DO promise to give one of you a print copy of a Holiday Pleasures book. Winner’s choice! One winner will be chosen at random from among all comments on this post, and will be announced on Sunday. International entries welcome.
J Quills: Hello! This is Jaunty P. Quills, Porcupine Extraordinaire and gold medal Olympian! I’m here with Vanessa Kelly. I won’t call her a former Quill because ”Once a Quill, Always a Quill.” Welcome back, Vanessa! What have you been up to? Win any gold medals in Rio?
Vanessa Kelly: Now that I think about it, Jaunty, I’m pretty sure I saw you in Rio. Wasn’t it at a gas station late one night, after a party? There seemed to be some sort of kerfuffle going on, which I have to say didn’t surprise me one bit. I know what porcupines can be like when they celebrate a little too, ahem, vigorously.
J Quills: Gas station? That wasn’t me. I’ve never even met Ryan Lochte! Don’t take away my pine nuts! Anyway, moving on…Our readers are already big fans of your historical romances. Tell us about your newest, My Fair Princess.
Vanessa Kelly: Jaunty, I am so excited about this book! It’s a spin-off from my bestselling Renegade Royals Series, which features heroes who are the illegitimate sons of England’s royal dukes. This new series is called The Improper Princesses, and the heroines are the half-sisters and cousins of my renegade heroes. The first book, MY FAIR PRINCESS, features an unconventional heroine. Gillian Dryden was raised in Sicily, and is something of a hellion. She’s a crack shot, carries knives in her boots, and is the scourge of bandits and smugglers everywhere. It’s up to the very sophisticated (and handsome) Duke of Leverton to turn Gillian into a proper English lady. Let’s just say that things don’t go as planned.
J Quills: It sounds pine nutlicious! You also write contemporary romances with your husband under the penname VK Sykes. Anything in the works as VK Sykes?
Vanessa Kelly: Hubby is hard at work on another baseball romance in our Philadelphia Patriots Series, and also a romantic suspense. We hope to have both of those books out in early 2017.
J Quills: This is a really important question, Vanessa. Of all the Jaunty Quills, I was always your favorite, right?
Vanessa Kelly: Jaunty, I’m shocked—shocked—that you even had to ask. Of COURSE you were always my favorite. In fact, I modeled the hero of my latest book after you. Yeah, I told my readers the inspiration was Chris Hemsworth, but that was a flat-out lie. After all, no one sports a cravat like a handsome porcupine.
J Quills: I knew it! Kristan, who is your next hero modeled after? Hmm? Let’s read an excerpt of my—I mean, Vanessa’s new book MY FAIR PRINCESS. Then keep reading to see how to win a print copy of SECRETS FOR SEDUCING A ROYAL BODYGUARD, the first Renegade Royals book, and a $10 Amazon gift card.
Vanessa Kelly: In this excerpt, my heroine is hot in pursuit of dastardly smugglers—until my hero decides that such activity is TOTALLY unladylike, not to mention dangerous:
The next thing Gillian knew, he was shoving her down onto the sand. He came down on top of her, mashing her flat.
It took her a moment to catch her breath, since there wasn’t a particle of air between them. She was certainly becoming intimately acquainted with various parts of Leverton’s impressive anatomy.
“Who is it?” She felt a spurt of hope. Perhaps some of the smugglers had returned. Now that Teddy was safely out of the way, Leverton might even help her track them. They might not see eye to eye on everything, but he would be furious that smugglers were trespassing on his lands.
“Wait,” he breathed out.
He cautiously lifted his head to peer over the rise of sand between them and the beach. The sound of a cantering horse, hooves thudding into the hard-packed flats, quickly grew and then faded away down the beach. Leverton still didn’t move, his attention focused in the direction of the mysterious rider.
“Could you please get off me,” she finally said. “You are completely squashing me.”
He looked down at her and frowned, as if surprised to see her there. Gillian raised a sardonic brow.
“I beg your pardon,” he murmured, as if they were on the dance floor and he’d simply trod on her foot.
He rolled off, but kept an arm slung across her waist. Gillian tried to push it away, but it felt like a tree trunk was pinning her down. She let out an aggrieved sigh and dropped her head back onto the sand.
“Whoever it was, he’s long gone,” she said. “Why are we still lying here?”
“I just wanted to make sure,” Leverton answered. “I think it’s now safe to get up.”
“I should hope so. I feel like I’ve spent half the night lying on this blasted beach.” With nothing to show for it but sand in her breeches and an irate duke.
Leverton rolled into a crouch and then smoothly rose. He reached down a hand to pull her up. “And whose fault is that?”
Gillian pulled the tails of her coat back in place and started brushing herself off. “Not mine. If you hadn’t shown up, I could have tracked the smugglers back to their lair. That, as you must admit, would have been very helpful.”
“Their lair? Good God, you’ve been reading too many lurid novels. Wait, I forgot,” he said, holding up a hand. “You actually believe you’re living in one. You fancy yourself some sort of heroine, dashing about, trying to right all the wrongs of the world.”
“No, I fancy myself as the hero.” She wiggled a leg, hoping to at least shake some of the sand from her backside down to her boot. “The heroines are always moaning and falling down in a faint, waiting for the men to rescue them. I don’t have time for that sort of nonsense.”
Giveaway! Vanessa’s heroine Gillian Dryden is a woman of many talents—crack shot, knife-wielder, and the scourge of bandits and smugglers. Do you have any special talents? Comment below to win a print copy of SECRETS FOR SEDUCING A ROYAL BODYGUARD, the first Renegade Royals book, and a $10 Amazon gift card.
*The winner will be chosen randomly from all comments and his/her name will be posted on Sunday.
First, Vanessa Kelly brought readers The Renegade Royals. Now, in a delightfully witty new series, she introduces The Improper Princesses—three young women descended from royalty, each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .
Despite being the illegitimate daughter of a prince, Gillian Dryden is happily ignorant of all social graces. After growing up wild in Italy, Gillian has been ordered home to England to find a suitable husband. And Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper, distractingly handsome Duke of Leverton, has agreed to help transform her from a willful tomboy to a blushing debutante.
Powerful and sophisticated, Charles can make or break reputations with a well-placed word. But his new protégée, with her habit of hunting bandits and punching earls, is a walking scandal. The ton is aghast . . . but Charles is thoroughly intrigued. Tasked with taking the hoyden in hand, he longs to take her in his arms instead. Can such an outrageous attraction possibly lead to a fairytale ending?
The Book Depository: http://bit.ly/20ClmA2
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. The Renegade Royals, her last series, was a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes contemporary romance with her husband as VK Sykes.
Author Social Links:
The other night my husband, who I call Ultimate Sportsfan (USF), and I turned off baseball and turned on a new documentary about romance writers and readers. Have you seen Love Between the Covers? It’s on iTunes and Amazon, and I’d seen clips of it, but I hadn’t had a chance to watch the whole thing. I really enjoyed it. It’s always interesting to hear about other authors’ experiences and paths to publication.
Check out the trailer (at the end is my editor and the owner of my publisher, Sourcebooks).
USF found them movie interesting because it was an inside look into the romance genre. He sees a lot of the inside of the industry, but he only sees it from my perspective. This documentary widened his field of vision a bit.
My favorite part of the movie was the interviews with the romance readers. They’re the true stars of romance. In a sense, we’re all readers, and it’s amazing how books can change and affect our lives so completely.
My other favorite part was watching interviews with two of my friends here at the Jaunty Quills! Jesse and Kristan were both featured, and I think they both came off as very professional and insightful. I have a small cameo in the movie. I’m signing behind one of the authors the cameraman is filming meeting readers. I only saw it because I recognized the dress I was wearing.
So that’s the exciting story of my motion picture debut!
Have you ever been in a movie? If not, what’s the best film you’ve seen lately? One person who comments will win a tote bag filled with an assortment of romances! **Winner chosen randomly and notified on Sunday. Sorry, only open to readers with a U.S. address because those books are heavy.
You’ll have to watch the movie to see Kristan and Jesse and to spot my cameo, but here’s an extra I enjoyed.
When an author turns in a book, it’s still far from done. There are editorial comments, revisions, maybe a second round of both if you’re lucky–and then copyedits and the final review of page proofs.
Copyedits are the last chance to make significant changes to the manuscript (er, not that I would do that. If my editor is reading). At this stage, a copyeditor–often a freelance editor, and OFTEN A SAINT (more on that soon)–reviews the manuscript as a Word file, making a bible of the unusual terms in the story, checking the timeline for consistency, confirming words were in use at the time if it’s a historical manuscript, and so on. Here’s part of the bible the copyeditor created for my upcoming historical romance Passion Favors the Bold.
I *love* these lists because they make the book sound so cool. Did I really write about heart-sorrows? What does Derbyshire have to do with the devil? Just how much gold dust are we talking about??
I mentioned above that copyeditors are saints. Well, I can’t be sure they ALL are, but the one I had for my 2014 historical romance Season for Desire was incredible. In that book, three coded messages had to be integrated before being decoded. Which meant? The copyeditor had. To check. Every. Bit. Of. That. Here’s some of the text with the copyeditor’s markings:
Do you see what she noticed there? I had left out an R–and what’s more, it was an R in the enciphered text. She put together the message and caught the mistake, which means that if a reader actually wanted to solve the puzzles–and I have no idea if any did–they could do it without being thrown off three-quarters of the way through. Bless you, copyeditor, and I hope someone gave you cookies. Or wine. Or both.
So, there’s a little peek behind the scenes of a couple of my books. Readers, is there anything else you’re wondering about how a book gets written or made? Fellow JQs, surely I can’t be the only one to drive my copyeditor to drink…can I?