Last year my friends Theresa Romain, Vanessa Kelly, Kate Noble, and I got together to write an anthology. We’d never worked together before, but we enjoyed each other’s books and thought our writing styles complemented each other. The great thing was that our personalities clicked too. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to work with these ladies. Even when we aren’t working on a project together, we like to email back and forth and keep in touch.
It’s been extra exciting to keep in touch lately because Theresa, Kate, and I are each releasing our novellas separately this summer, while Vanessa’s will be released in the fall. Theresa’s novella, Those Autumn Nights, came out on Tuesday. I love the cover, and it’s kind of cool to see Theresa’s vision for her story.
My own novella, The Summer of Wine and Scandal, releases singly next week on June 29. Here’s my cover.
I hope it looks suitably summery. Funny story about this novella. I didn’t have an idea for the plot. The anthology follows the village of Hemshawe and the Gage family through all four seasons of the year. My season was summer. So I thought about what I liked about summer. On those sultry nights, I do like to settle back with a good book and a chilled glass of wine. And what goes with wine (besides books—but then everything goes with books!)?
Scandal, of course.
So the title became The Summer of Wine and Scandal, and the plot evolved from the title. In the story, Peregrine Lochley is a wine connoisseur who gets roped into judging the wine at the local fair. There are just two problems. First of all, he has a distinct dislike for British wines. Secondly, the woman he’s falling for is part of a family who makes wine.
There’s scandal in the story too. Caroline Martin has a dark secret. She can hardly forgive herself for her mistakes much less expect anyone else to.
The novella is up for pre-order now, and it’s only 99 cents through the July 4th holiday. Theresa’s novella is only 99 cents as well. If you’re looking for a quick read while you’re at the pool or on a plane to that sunny beach, grab your copy.
Weekend before last, my mom and my daughter and I road-tripped to Louisiana for a family wedding. We’ve made the trip back to Louisiana so often since moving to the Midwest that we’re pros at packing and route-planning. Still, every time we go, something is entirely different.
I refer, of course, to the books we bring along.
Choosing books for a trip is by far my favorite part of packing. This time around, Little Miss R asked me to get a few Ivy & Bean and Nancy Clancy books for her at the library, and she also brought the Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel trilogy. By the time we got home last Monday evening, she had half of one book left unread. Now that’s good estimation, Little Miss R.
I overpacked books, as usual. Some nonfiction (The Year of Living Danishly, I Want My Epidural Back, and You May Also Like), romance novels by Sarah MacLean and Elizabeth Hoyt, and my Kindle—which has about 50 books on it that I haven’t read and really, really want to. I did read three books while on the trip, which wasn’t as many as I’d thought I would. I forgot to account for the fact that on a road trip, each adult spends a significant amount of time driving and therefore not reading.
Ah well. It was a great trip, and the wedding was beautiful, and the books were good, and the TBR stayed big. And with another road trip coming up to the RWA national conference next month, I’ll get a chance to pack up more books soon.
Are you traveling this summer? What books are you going to take with you? One random commenter will get an assortment of Jaunty books, including
I Kissed a Rogue by Shana Galen
His Seduction Game Plan by Katherine Garbera
Christmas in Good Hope by Cindy Kirk
Fortune’s Prince Charming by Nancy Robards Thompson
Fortune Favors the Wicked by Theresa Romain
International entries welcome! The winner will be chosen and announced on Sunday.
Hi, everyone! Amazingly talented author Rose Lerner is visiting today to tell us all about the new GAMBLED AWAY historical romance anthology. In five all-new novellas, authors take the theme of characters wagered in a game of chance and turn it into, well, amazingness.
Welcome, Rose, and thanks for being here!
There’s a line in Jeannie Lin’s story in our Gambled Away anthology that made me cry.
When I was a child, I’d received a lantern once for the Spring Festival. It was pink and painted with flowers. I’d loved that lantern for an hour. A breeze had caught it while it hung from a tree in our courtyard, tipping the candle inside over and igniting the paper.
I’d wept after the servants put the fire out as I stared at the ruined shell. I would never have that bit of happiness, the glow of that moment in the same way ever again.
I wanted the moment with Gao back with the same empty sorrow now.
That feeling is all too familiar to me.
The past can never return. It’s unalterably lost to me, the moment it happens. That’s just what “past” means. Surely tautologies shouldn’t be frightening.
Because it isn’t just grief; it’s fear. An ever-present fear that what comes next won’t be as good as what I used to have, or as what I have right now. And that fear? It doesn’t just come when things are good. It comes when things are okay, or even when things are bad. What if I move forward and it’s worse?
I just read Marie Kondo’s The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up and it really did change my life. I decluttered my house when I never thought I could do that. I got rid of an entire bookshelf of books, you guys! AN ENTIRE BOOKSHELF. I feel like you probably get how huge that is.
What that book, and that process, taught me is that I was clinging so hard to my past that my fingers were cramping. My heart was cramping. I didn’t even realize. I had clothes in my closet I hadn’t worn since college…but I loved them in college and maybe…if I got rid of them…the person I was in college would be gone forever.
I am tearing up just writing that sentence. Which is weird, right? I mean, the person I was in college is ALREADY gone forever, because I’m not in college anymore. But also, I’M STILL ME even without velvet minidress overalls. Aren’t I?
I think my mom dying when I was 23 (ten years ago last month) had something to do with it. It felt like I’d lost such a huge chunk of myself—of my past, of memories of my past—that I’d better do my very best to hold on to what was left.
That fear of moving forward, of taking a risk, of becoming someone new, of losing the past, is a huge theme in my novella for Gambled Away. My hero Simon is terrified that maybe he and his best friend since middle school are growing apart. And my heroine Maggie has created a life for herself that’s really pretty good—that’s great even—and can’t admit to herself that maybe…just maybe…she’s feeling a little bored with it. That she wants more.
I was startled when two other stories in the anthology—Jeannie’s, about a sheltered, scholarly girl whose longing for more freedom lands her smack in the middle of a murder investigation, and Molly’s, about two people dealing with addiction and abuse and the aftermath of war—shared strikingly similar themes:
If I change, I can never go back to the way things were.
If I move forward, what will I have to leave behind?
What is left of me when I’m separated from the people I love?
I wonder if writing stories about gambling, about risks, naturally pushes you to write characters who are afraid of those risks. Who need to move forward in one painful burst of energy, one moment of decision, one turn of the cards. Because they can’t bring themselves to do it any other way.
I think that’s part of why I love romances so much. They remind me that the future can be better. That the risk is worth taking.
(And I’m just realizing this is basically what I talked about last time I was here too!! Here’s what I said: “Because in a romance, the risks you take for happiness always pay off.” Embarrassing! But it is reassuring to know I’m consistent. 😉
Tell me about a change for the better you’ve made in your life!
To two random commenters, Rose will give Gambled Away ebooks. Open internationally. Winner will be announced on Sunday.
Rose Lerner discovered Georgette Heyer when she was thirteen, and wrote her first historical romance a few years later. Her writing has improved since then, but her fascination with all things Regency hasn’t changed. She lives in Seattle with her best friend.
Get revenge. Pay a debt. Save a soul. Lose your heart.
Spanning centuries and continents, five brand-new novellas from beloved historical romance authors tell the stories of men and women who find themselves wagered in a game of chance and are forced to play for the highest stakes of all: love.
“Gideon and the Den of Thieves” by Joanna Bourne
London, 1793 – Soldier of fortune Gideon Gage has come home from halfway around the world, fully prepared to face down a ruthless gang to save his sister. But there’s one member of the gang he could never have been prepared for: fascinating Aimée, driven from her own home by the French Revolution and desperately in need of his help.
“Raising The Stakes” by Isabel Cooper
California, 1938 — When the flute she won in last night’s poker game unexpectedly summons an elven warrior bound to her service, two-bit con artist Sam takes quick advantage. With Talathan’s fairy powers at her command, her shakedown of a crooked preacher is a sure thing…but would she rather take a gamble on love?
“All or Nothing” by Rose Lerner
England, 1819 – Architect Simon Radcliffe-Gould needs someone to pose as his mistress so he can actually get some work done at a scandalous house party. Irrepressible gambling den hostess Maggie da Silva would rather be his mistress, but she’ll take what she can get…
“The Liar’s Dice” by Jeannie Lin
Tang Dynasty China, 849 A.D. — Lady Bai’s first taste of freedom brings her face to face with murder. A dangerous and enigmatic stranger becomes her closest ally as she investigates the crime, but can she trust her heart or her instincts when everyone is playing a game of liar’s dice?
“Redeemed” by Molly O’Keefe
Denver, 1868 — After agonizing years in the Civil War’s surgical tents, Union doctor James Madison has nothing left to lose. But when beautiful, tortured Helen Winters is the prize in a high-stakes game of poker, he goes all in to save her—and maybe his own soul.
GAMBLED AWAY on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited: http://amzn.to/1OkRanq
The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome author Lily Blackwood, author of The Beast of Clan Kincaid. I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy, and I absolutely loved it. Keep reading to find out how to win one of two copies of The Beast of Clan Kincaid (open internationally).
Shana: Welcome, Lily! Tell us about The Beast of Clan Kincaid. This is the first book in the Clan Kincaid series, right?
Lily Blackwood: Thank you so much for having me here, with The Amazing Jaunty Quills! Yes, The Beast of Clan Kincaid is the first book in my Highland Warriors Series. It tells the story of Niall Braewick, who at the age of twelve, suffers a terrible tragedy. His parents, the Laird and Lady Kincaid are horribly betrayed and murdered, and his clan, all but destroyed. He fears his two younger brothers are dead as well. Seventeen years later, he returns to the place that was once his home. Known by all as “The Beast,” a famed gallowglass mercenary, he is intent on reclaiming that which is rightfully his…however, he keeps the truth of his birth concealed. When he meets Elspeth MacClaren, his enemy’s eldest daughter, their connection is instant and electric. She’s the answer to his vengeful prayers, because…what better way to have revenge against his foe, than to seduce his daughter and use her toward his own ends? But can he have his revenge and keep the love of the woman who has, against his every wish, stolen his heart? Elspeth makes it very difficult for him.
Shana: I loved your hero, Niall Braewick (aka The Beast). He’s so deliciously alpha and so tortured. Tell us more about him. Tell me how to pronounce his name.
Lily Blackwood: I love him too! As far as pronunciation, Niall’s name is pronounced similarly to “peel”. I don’t base my characters on actors, but I took some inspiration from Rollo and Kalf on Vikings, and Game of Thrones’ Drogo. All exceedingly competent, strong men (with muscles! And tattoos! Rawr!) and very interesting as far as their personal stories go. What I loved about Niall was that despite his tragic past, and his very justifiable hate for his enemies, he is never blinded to what is right and wrong. He’s an Alpha to the core, but maintains at all times a very strong understanding of justice, and conscience, and I think in the end that makes him an admirable hero.
Shana: You previously wrote Regency romances as Lily Dalton. What drew you to writing about Scottish-set historicals?
Lily Blackwood: I love Regencies! I love Scottish! Like many historical readers and writers, I love all things historical. Like many readers, I started out reading authors like Kathleen Woodiwiss. I loved that one of her books might be a medieval, while the next was set in England…the next, Russia! So I’m pleased to be able to enjoy telling stories in different sub-genres. While on one hand, I’m totally drawn to the idea of the strict rules of society and behavioral expectations in the Regency era, I’m just as attracted to the wildness of the Highlands. Scotland is such a magnificent setting, and clan politics were so dynamic. I can only imagine how difficult it was for a man and a woman to find true happiness…true love in that time period, so I love imagining if that perfect dream came true for two very special, deeply conflicted people.
Shana: Tell us a bit about your writing schedule. I know you have a family and a day job. How do you do it all?
Lily Blackwood: It’s a challenge! I usually get up between 4:30 and 5:00 to write new pages for an hour or two before driving into the city to work. I will usually read over my pages in the evening, and do a lot of polishing and expanding then. Weekends are where I get the bulk of my writing done. I get up early! The family sleeps in. It’s just coffee, me and my time machine.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Lily Blackwood: Are Niall’s two younger brothers dead? Hmmmm. Maybe…maybe not. The Rebel of Clan Kincaid releases in December, and The Warrior of Clan Kincaid in 2017. There are a lot of surprises in store! I hope readers love them.
Readers, now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite setting for historical romances? Scotland? England? France? Russia? Two readers who comment will be randomly chosen to win a copy of The Beast of Clan Kincaid. Open internationally! The winner will be announced Sunday and contacted via email.
It’s Memorial Day in the United States, which is also the official beginning of summer. You know what that means, right? Time to go bathing suit shopping. I try and avoid it every year, but finally my hand has been forced by the multiple pool party invites and my daughter’s pleading to go to the pool.
I hate shopping for swimsuits. I usually buy them online, try them on at home, send them back, and repeat. The past few years I’ve noticed quite a few out-of-the-ordinary swimsuits available for sale.
One of my favorite styles this year is this retro 50s style. Here it is in a black and gray from UniqueVintage.com.
What do you think? Would you wear it?
Here’s another like it in red. I like this model because she looks like a real person, not like a model.
Cute, right? I think I have an idea of what I would actually look like in that suit.
I don’t know that I’m two-piece ready, but I thought this one from Modcloth.com was pretty cute. It’s almost more like a shorts set. Would you wear it?
But my favorite so far is this swim dress from UniqueVintage.com. I like the color and the style.
Are you buying a new swimsuit this summer, relying on the old one, or avoiding the pool and beach altogether? TWO people who comment will win DIGITAL copies of both EARLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN and THE ROGUE YOU KNOW (must be able to read on Nook, Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, or Google Play). Winners announced and contacted Sunday.