First I want to thank the Jaunty Quills for inviting me to guest blog. It’s wonderful to be here!
They say write what you know. I write Regency period historicals. Although I love to travel, I can easily say I’ve never been in England in the early 1800’s. My hero in my new release, A Spy Unmasked, is a spy and expert safecracker whose latest mission is to investigate a series of suspicious deaths of prominent members of the London Inventor’s Society. My lady heroine is an inventor. So how did I did use my background here?
I’m a licensed patent attorney and in my past I worked with some interesting inventions and eccentric inventors. It was a bit like Shark Tank, but instead of asking for money to invest in their inventions, clients wanted patents to protect their works. I’ll always recall some of my favorites, a retracting needle to keep medical workers safe, a nifty mixing bowl with a no-slip rubber bottom, a light up hood to help you find your car in a crowded parking lot, and yes, even sex toys (they’ll remain anonymous). So how on earth did I “write what I know?”
A Spy Unmasked is right up my alley. My heroine, Lady Sophia, is a feisty female inventor who’s a woman ahead of her time. Before I was a lawyer, I was an engineer and Sophia is a character of my heart. She’s also a bit like me in that I loved hanging out with my dad and tinkering in the garage. Sophia is on a mission for justice, and she is just what my hero needs.
What about my hero? What in the world do I have in common with a spy and master safecracker? I admit to being a lover of Ian Fleming novels and James Bond movies. He’s elegant, self-confident under pressure, and always sexy. He has style, class, and sophistication. So who’s my favorite Bond actor? Although I enjoy watching Sean Connery master the part, I have to say Daniel Craig stole my heart in Casino Royale. When I was thinking of my own hero, the result was the cunning spymaster Robert Ware, the new Earl of Kirkland. Just like Q from James Bond, my hero has cool gadgets. Robert is an expert in the fine art of finessing open safes. He has state of the art lock picks and he uses them on more than one occasion. The scenes where he’s opening safes were very fun to write.
So what do you love about spies in books? And if you’re a writer, how do you write what you know? Please share for a chance to win an ebook of A SPY UNMASKED (the first book In The Crown’s Secret Service Series).
About A SPY UNMASKED
The mission did not go quite as Robert Ware—known in society as the new Earl of Kirkland—planned. A spy in the service of His Majesty, Robert is a “guest” at a masquerade party as he retrieves vital information for a murder investigation. Until he’s quite unexpectedly interrupted by an exquisite, masked woman with glittering green eyes. And a pistol she has cocked and aimed right at him…
Lady Sophia Merrill has defiantly taken up justice’s shining sword, determined to expose the brigand who murdered her eccentric but brilliant father, and stole his latest invention. Now she must masquerade as Robert’s betrothed in order to infiltrate the Inventor’s Society and find the killer. But the undeniable potent attraction between them not only imperils the investigation, but Sophia’s reputation… and both of their lives.
About Tina Gabrielle
Best-selling author Tina Gabrielle is an attorney and former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. She often picked up a romance and let her fantasies of knights in shining armor and lords and ladies carry her away. A Spy Unmasked is the first book In The Crown’s Secret Service series. The second book in the series, At The Spy’s Pleasure, is coming in April 2015 from Entangled Publishing. She is also the author of adventurous Regency historical romances, In The Barrister’s Bed, In The Barrister’s Chambers, Lady Of Scandal, and A Perfect Scandal from Kensington Books. Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks, and her first book, Lady Of Scandal, was nominated as best first historical romance by Romantic Times Book Reviews. Tina loves to hear from readers. Please visit her website for free monthly contests and giveaways. www.tinagabrielle.com
I love Thanksgiving. In fact, it’s probably my favorite holiday. Aside from the terrors of Black Friday shopping, it’s got everything going for it: friends and family gathered together at one of the prettiest times of the year, celebrating a unique and meaningful holiday. And then there’s the food, which is so awesome that it’s worth the extra pounds you gain over the four day weekend. Thanksgiving is also lacking the pressures of the Christmas Season, which carries a whole pile of obligations that can feel overwhelming.
But the real beauty of Thanksgiving is in it’s very name and nature–giving thanks. It’s a reminder that despite our very real worries and woes, we probably do have much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my wonderful husband and my family, for my friends, for the fact that I have a roof over my head, a comfortable bed to sleep in, and the bounties of the earth and sea to nourish me. This year, I’m especially thankful I get to spend Thanksgiving with my 91 year old dad, who is hand’s down the coolest person I know.
That’s my dad a few months ago at Williamsburg, hanging out with the town crier. The perfect picture for Thanksgiving, don’t you think?
I have another reason to be thankful this week–I have a new historical romance release coming out. Tall, Dark, and Royal, the second novella in my Renegade Royals Series, will hit the shelves on Tuesday. I’m so darned blessed that I’ve been able to publish this series, and that my readers have been so supportive. I am truly thankful for them.
Here’s what the story’s about:
He’s the man behind the mission to track down the illegitimate children of England’s Royal Princes and help them get their due. But his deepest desire is far more personal…
Magnificent and stubborn. Over twenty years apart had not changed Chloe Steele, or Dominic’s love for her. He’d been a street urchin, a boy raised at court, and finally a magistrate, yet he’d never belonged anywhere—except by her side. Now Chloe devoted herself to girls threatened by scandal—like she had been. But she was in danger, and Dominic was determined to help—and hopefully make up for lost time…
Even in childhood, Dominic had made Chloe feel safe. Now she also felt thrillingly flustered by the powerful man he’d become, and by the longing he inspired. Because Dominic meant not only to protect her, but to untangle the lies that had separated them. Yet for Chloe, surrendering to temptation may be easier than risking a future that could ruin them both…
To celebrate the release of Tall, Dark, and Royal, I’ll give away an ARC of the next book in the series, How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy, out in January. Just tell me what you’re thankful for this week for a chance to win!
I didn’t intend to write a Christmas novella. Actually, I did. It’s part of the Christmas in the Duke’s Arms anthology I did with Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, and Miranda Neville.
So maybe I should say that I didn’t intend to write two Christmas novellas. I was writing a scene for Danielle Gorman’s Ramblings From this Chick blog next month, and I couldn’t stop writing. I wrote 10 pages then 20 pages then 30 pages…You get the idea.
And I was having fun with the story! I get quite a few emails from readers who want to know more about Blue, one of my spy characters. I thought I made it clear he and Helena lived happily ever after, but I guess it wasn’t crystal. So I decided to keep writing Blue’s story and it turned into my new novella, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS BLUE.
In this story, Blue and Helena once again encounter some difficulties in their relationship. Add Blue’s parents, his 10 brothers and sisters, the agents of the Barbican, and Christmas Eve, and you have the story.
Here’s the cover.
Buy links coming soon. Look for the book December 10.
How do you like to celebrate Christmas Eve? With spies and family and secret messages?
The Lady Authors have published their second anthology, At the Billionaire’s Wedding.
A stately home in the English countryside seems the ideal place for a bad boy billionaire and his bride to tie the knot. Until the Internet fails. And the oven breaks. And paparazzi invade. And police crash the bachelorette party. And four unlikely couples discover that passion never waits for perfection, and happily ever after is just an “I do” away.
Last year, after we finished At the Duke’s Wedding, Caroline Linden, Maya Rodale, Katharine Ashe, and Miranda Neville discussed our next collaboration. “Let’s do a contemporary,” someone said. “Yes, let’s!” we all cried as one. So what, that we were four historical authors with almost no experience in writing about modern life. How hard could it be?
“I have a billionaire who needs a wedding,” Maya said. For Maya had briefly ventured into the twenty-first century with her Bad Boy Billionaire series of novellas. So we borrowed Maya’s couple, Duke and Jane, and proceeded to make their weeklong wedding celebration rife with laughs and sexy times and near disasters as four new couples found love and HEA.
As we wrote the connected stories in At the Billionaire’s Wedding, we had to meet the challenge of a whole new time period: The Present. How could we possibly write about things we knew about at first hand? It was difficult, but we are Professional Writers. We buckled down and gritted it out. It turned out there are many similarities between Regency and modern England, where we wisely decided to hold the wedding.
Historicals: Hot dukes.
Contemporaries: Hot showers.
Contemporaries: Shirts that button all the way down.
Historicals: Colin Firth in a wet shirt.
Contemporaries: Strippers dressed as servants.
Historicals: An elopement to Gretna Green in a coach and four.
Contemporaries: Two hours from the airport in an Aston Martin.
Historicals: Gorgeous gowns that require an expert maid to get into.
Contemporaries: Gorgeous gowns that require a “zip!” to get out of.
Historicals: Fantastic foreplay.
Contemporaries: Ultra pleasure condoms.
Historicals: Sex in a closed carriage.
Contemporaries: Sex in a stretch limo.
Historicals: Sex by candlelight in the Gold Saloon.
Contemporaries: Sex by floodlight in the Gold Saloon.
Historicals: No internet.
Contemporaries: Internet—wait, WTF, WHY is there no internet !?!!?
What’s your favorite similarity/difference between contemporary and historical romances? The Lady Authors will give a digital copy of At the Duke’s Wedding to one commenter. (Winner randomly chosen and announced Sunday).
Today The Jaunty Quills have a special treat for you. Rita winner (the Rita is the most prestigious award conferred by the Romance Writers of America) Joanna Bourne makes her debut on the blog, and she’s graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us about life, love, and Rogue Spy (which releases tomorrow!).
Keep reading to find out how to win your copy of Rogue Spy.
Shana: Welcome, Jo! Can I call you Jo? Tell readers who might not have read you (shame, readers, shame!) about Rogue Spy and the other books in the Spymasters series.
Joanna Bourne: I’m going to offer the cover copy, since it’s informative without Giving Away Too Much.
Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.
Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.
Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever.
Shana: You’ve traveled widely and said in other interviews (yes, I stalk) Paris would be where you’d choose to live. One of many reasons I love reading your books is because it’s so obvious you have been to Paris and know the city well. If readers were to visit Paris, where would you recommend they go to really get the sense of stepping into one of your novels?
JB: Go to the Marais. It’s a big section of old Paris that didn’t get neatened out of existence by Baron Haussmann in the Nineteenth Century. (The Victorians were very fond of doing away with all that untidy history stuff.) There you can see the Medieval city and the grand houses of the aristocrats of the Seventeenth Century.
My Spymaster people are quartered in the Marais in the 1790s. Some of the streets I mention are very much today as they were then. The Marais is a fine place to soak up atmosphere. The whole of Paris was once a city of small, crooked, cobbled streets and narrow stone buildings.
Shana: What is your writing process like? Do you have a daily page or word goal? Do you write early in the morning or late at night? Do you plot or fly by the seat of your pants?
Joanna Bourne: I make outlines. I create a detailed scene-by-scene plan of the story. Not that I follow that, you understand, but I write it out. I do this to give myself confidence and to set my mind at ease. Also, the publisher wants a synopsis before I start writing. I truly hope they never go back and compare that neat initial synopsis with the manuscript I actually turn in.
But I’m naturally a Planner, I think. It is my process. I couldn’t do some of the mystery thrillery suspense bits of a story without knowing how the details fit in place. I have to be very structural.
As to the nitty gritty of writing — once I get my mind centered on the story, I write. Time of day isn’t so important. I guess I don’t approach this in an orderly fashion.
Hmmm … I find I sometimes work better when I’m out at coffee shops or the library. That’s about it for ‘writing habits’.
I haven’t tried setting page or word counts. Mostly I write about five or six hours and then run out of steam.
I recently set up one of those ‘walking desks’. It is an experiment in progress.
Shana: I want one of those desks. Do you have a day job or do you write fulltime?
Joanna Bourne: I’m lucky enough that I can work full time. No day job. I have such respect for writers who hold down full time jobs or maybe have kids, and still keep up a productive writing schedule.
Way to go, says I.
Shana: Did you do any special research for Rogue Spy? Tell us one interesting fact you’ve learned from your research for Rogue Spy or another of your books.
Joanna Bourne: I have the notion of placing a scene in the next book at one of the clothes-washing areas outside of Paris. The city’s laundry would be carted out to the green fields of what was then the countryside, washed in the waters of the Seine, and spread out to dry on the grass and over the bushes.
There’s nothing like period prints and painting to give us the details of the past . . . one painting, being worth a thousand words, as it were. I’ve been able to find dozens of wonderful pictures of French laundresses going about their work and bright French clothing lying over the fields.
Shana: Finally, tell us what’s next for you.
Joanna Bourne: Next up is the Séverine story, set in Paris in the early 1820s. I’m early in the process on that one and really don’t know exactly how I’m going to put it all together. Some intriguing stuff going on though. A hero nobody’s seen before. Well, except Séverine’s seen him.
Shana: Oh, I’ve been waiting for this one!
Readers, now it’s your turn. If you could visit any country or city in the world, which would you choose? One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win a copy of Rogue Spy. [U.S and Canada only). The winner will be announced on Sunday.
Visit Jo’s website to learn more about her.
Order Rogue Spy now
Check out my Facebook page this week for a chance to win 3 of Joanna Bourne’s backlist. Super easy entry!