Thank you Jaunty Quills for letting me visit your fab blog! Welcome to the second half of November! Hope you’ve done everything you wanted to do before the holidays hit. When I say holidays, I’m including Thanksgiving which will be here in a few days. Are you screaming yet? I hope not, but if you are, I can offer you a nice royal escape to a safe island in the Mediterranean with A PRINCESS UNDER THE MISTLETOE. It’s available NOW!
This book features a princess and her sister who have been banished from their kingdom due to rough economic times. Their lives have been threatened, so they must assume new temporary identities. Princess Sasha becomes Nanny Sara to widower Gavin Sinclair’s young son and baby girl. Despite Sara’s best efforts, she finds herself falling not only for the children, but for Gavin, too. But this is temporary and what will happen when Gavin learns who she really is?
One of the more fun scenes in this book was inspired by my precious great-niece who got bored during her naptime. Anyone who’s ever taken care of a toddler knows that boredom can be messy. As you can see in this photo, my great-niece creatively took care of her boredom. (Now for the clean-up, Mom!) In my book, the three-year old took a green marker to himself and his 6-month old sister, explaining his action by saying, “I’m a frog because I’m fast and Adelaide is a turtle because she’s slow.” (Now for the clean-up, Nanny!)
Do you have a fun story about what a child did while you were caring for him or her? Or maybe even a pet story? Please share in the comments. I’ll draw one commenter’s name to receive a $15.00 Amazon gift card. If you get a chance to read A PRINCESS UNDER THE MISTLETOE, please write me at leannebbb @ aol.com (no spaces). I’d love to hear from you!
Please welcome Colleen Thompson!
Thank you so much for inviting me to stop by the Jaunty Quills blog, signing “sister” (we Thompsons have to stick together!) Nancy Robards Thompson! I’m delighted to be back to chat about and offer your readers a chance to win one of two copies of my latest release.
[NRT: So happy to have you here today, Colleen. Yes, we Thompsons must stick together! ]
This month’s Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Cowboy Christmas Rescue, began with a seed planted by an editor suggesting she was open to collaborative efforts of HRS authors. Some time afterward, Beth Cornelison reached out to suggest the idea of doing linked stories, and since I’d previously worked with her on a Harlequin-created continuity series (The Coltons of Wyoming), I knew that she was not only very talented but a real pleasure to work with.
The setting of our story turned out to be the easy part, along with the hero featured in my novella, “Rescuing the Bride.” I’d recently completed another HRS book, Lone Star Redemption, where I’d left behind a secondary character I loved, a champion bull-rider whose serious injury had forced him to retire to run the family ranch in the tiny town of Rusted Spur, Texas. Angry and dispirited about being forced to give up the high-flying lifestyle he’d enjoyed before he was ready, he’d “settled” for his new responsibilities but clearly wasn’t settled in his own mind. So what, I wondered, would happen if he were also forced to settle into the even greater responsibilities of a wife and child after getting his platonic friend, April, pregnant—the result of a one-time encounter while both were drinking away their disappointments? Surely, Nate, who in his heart was the most honorable of cowboys, would do what he felt was the right thing and propose to the girl next door. And surely, paralegal April, who wasn’t the kind of woman to accept being anybody’s noble sacrifice, would come to her senses in time before settling for a loveless marriage.
Beth Cornelison, who’s wonderful at writing cowboys, liked the idea of this mismatched couple’s crisis forming the backbone of the book, but how were we to make April’s jilting the cowboy she’s already in love with at the altar into the inciting incident to get her novella, “Rescuing the Witness,” moving, too? What if, Beth suggested, moments after the bride says “I don’t,” shots ring out and guests at the outdoor wedding scatter as the groom’s father—who was standing just behind the bride at an altar decorated with Christmas lights and poinsettias for the coming holiday—is struck down? And what if Beth’s vet tech/rodeo clown heroine, Kara, disturbed that she still has feelings for her former lover, Sheriff (and groomsman) Brady McCall, had fled to the barn in time to spot a shooter who’s now bent on seeing her dead?
As we worked to overcome the challenges of writing two interlocking stories, each of which could stand alone while solving a larger mystery when read together, we each discovered twists and turns, complex interrelationships and hidden motivations that deepened our characters and made this special two-in-one Harlequin Romantic Suspense a more satisfying read. And we discovered something else as well: writing this book together wasn’t only twice the story; it was twice the fun.
In Cowboy Christmas Rescue, Nate Wheeler, whose life was forever changed by a bull-riding accident during the previous year’s holiday season, begins the story loathing Christmas music. To be entered to win one of two copies of the book, write the name of your favorite holiday song or movie in the comments below!
A former teacher and prolific speaker on the craft of writing, Colleen Thompson is the RITA-nominated author of 27 books, from the fast-paced romantic thrillers she has written for Harlequin, Montlake, and Dorchester Publishing to the action-packed historical romances she wrote as Gwyneth Atlee for Kensington. Other honors include the National Readers’ Choice Award, multiple Romantic Times’ Top Picks, KISS Awards and a Reviewer’s Choice Award, Publisher’s Weekly starred review, and appearances on the Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, Bookscan and Amazon bestseller lists.
Upcoming releases include “Rescuing the Bride” in Cowboy Christmas Rescue (Harlequin Romantic Suspense, 11/15) and The Off Season (Montlake, 08/16). Visit Colleen online at www.colleen-thompson.com.
I’m so pleased to welcome one of my favorite writers–and people–to the blog today. Historical romance author Manda Collins is here to talk about the connection between reading and writing. Manda also has a new book out this week, so please be sure to check that out, too!
On Reading while Authoring
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Stephen King
Like most writers, I came to the craft because I was an avid reader. Some of my earliest memories are of reading with my mother, reading books by myself, and memorizing favorite books. And that hunger for books didn’t ebb as I grew older.
Now that I’ve become a professional author (which is still surreal to me five years in) I am always curious to know what other authors read. I know many of us (myself included) prefer not to read in the genre we’re writing while we’re writing it. This is both because we don’t want to unconsciously pick up someone else’s style or plot points, but also because it can lead to something I tend to think of in terms of erectile dysfunction—ie. I can’t read certain authors whose writing is so good it makes me as a writer feel inferior and consequently, lose my writing erection.
And there’s no little blue pill that will help this, so it’s imperative that I avoid certain other writers while I’m writing. Especially if it’s someone I feel competitive with.
So, you’ll hear a lot of writers say that they read in other subgenres while they’re drafting. A personal favorite of mine is mystery/romantic suspense, because I like to put those elements into my writing but because I write historical and most of what I’m reading is contemporary or set in a different era than Regency, it’s not so close there’s danger of competition or picking up styles.
One thing I will not do, however, is stop reading altogether when I’m writing.
Years ago when I was still just thinking about becoming a writer I heard the horrifying bit of advice that “one should not read at all while they are writing.” I can’t remember where this came from—I’m guessing in the “how to write a romance novel” course I took when I was in college. (As part of the community education program, mind you—my college wasn’t THAT progressive when it came to exciting courses). But I do know I listened, then roundly ignored it. Why? Because reading fiction is such a fundamental part of my existence that to stop doing it for any extended period of time would make said existence not worth living.
I realize these are strong words, but it’s something I feel quite strongly about. Reading for pleasure is that important to me.
So, you can imagine that when I hear other writers say that since they’ve become writers they no longer read for pleasure because they can’t turn off their critical eye, it makes me really, really sad for them. Perhaps there’s some flaw in me that I can’t rely on my own imaginings for entertainment, and that I must rely on the creativity of others. But if it ever got to point where I was in danger of losing my ability to lose myself in a book because of writing, I’d stop writing.
You heard me right. I’d stop writing cold turkey if it kept me from being able to read.
I love reading that much.
NB: Of course I don’t mean that my authorial reading policy should apply to everyone. (One thing my college was great at was teaching me to adopt postmodern relativism, which is great for “live and let live” sort of feelings.) Another thing I’ve learned about writing since becoming an Author with a capital “a” is that every author should do what works for her. If what you need to keep the words flowing is a Real Housewives of LA Marathon and a few glasses of wine, I’m not here to judge. Same goes for reading or lack thereof. If you can’t read any fiction at all while you’re writing, I’ll feel bad for you, but I won’t look down my nose either. We’ve all got different needs for getting the muse in gear.
So, what about you? Could you give up reading for pleasure? What would it take to make you do it? What kind of trade off would be worth it? (Obviously we’re talking non life-threatening things—if I had to stop reading to keep a serial killer from murdering my family, I’d definitely stop reading.) What other form of entertainment would you, could you, give up if you had to? I’ll give away a copy of my new release GOOD EARL GONE BAD to one lucky commenter!
Vanessa, here – today is my birthday. So, to celebrate, I’ll also give away a copy of my latest book, HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER, to Manda’s winner.
I’m so pleased to welcome my good pal and fellow historical romance writer Sally MacKenzie to the blog. She’s got a new book out, and she’s here to chat with us about it.
Hello, Jaunties! Thanks for letting me stop by again to celebrate my newest release, What to Do with a Duke. Vanessa and I toyed with the idea of doing a video interview—we even went so far as to plan a meet-up at RWA last month—but then I got dreadfully ill and had to cancel that entire day. Ugh. But perhaps you’re lucky I couldn’t budge from my sickbed. While I like the idea of video interviews—and I like it when other people do them—I’m not exactly video ready. I always want to make faces at the camera or scratch my nose.
So here we go—and thanks, Vanessa, for the questions.
- Okay, so what is it about dukes? They’re practically tripping all over each other in historical romances. Why do readers love them so much?
Fantasy! Don’t we all want to think the wealthiest, most powerful man in sight, the man all the other girls want, wants us? It could be a billionaire, a CEO, a quarterback, a movie star, a Navy SEAL. Fantasy is also why heroes are usually tall, dark, and handsome—well, at least handsome. That’s not to say someone couldn’t write a book about a middle-aged, short, portly, balding night soil man—it’s a man’s character, not his appearance or position, that really counts, right?—but I do think such a hero would be a hard sell.
- WHAT TO DO WITH A DUKE is the first book in your new Spinster House Series. Can you tell us a bit about the premise of the series?
Yes! Or at least I’ll try. I was never good at “elevator pitches.”
In the village of Loves Bridge, not far from London, there’s a house where a single woman can live out her life unencumbered by a husband or father. In the prequel novella, In the Spinster’s Bed, the current Spinster House spinster runs off with her childhood lover—she’s the first woman in two hundred years to vacate the premises for her wedding rather than her funeral. The Duke of Hart—the Spinster House landlord—must come to Loves Bridge to select the new spinster from the three good friends vying for the position. There’s also a curse—until the Duke of Hart marries for love, no duke will live to see his heir born—which may nor may not be real, and a mysterious, meddling feline.
I usually don’t know where my story ideas come from, but this series was inspired by my last trip to England. In Exmouth we toured A La Ronde, an usual house built in the late 18th century for two spinster cousins and passed down through the terms of the surviving cousin’s will to spinster kinswomen.
Then in Moretonhampstead, we stayed at The White Hart Hotel where we met Poppy, a very opinionated calico cat. The moment I saw her, I knew she had to be a character in a future series.
- Your books have awesome titles. How do you come up with them?
Well, no, I do know how I came up with the title for my first book, The Naked Duke. A summer swim team mom, who had once been a New York editor, read an early draft of the book and pointed out the working title—and no, I’m not going to say what it was—was terrible. So I put on my thinking cap. What sells? If we’re to believe common wisdom, sex and power. My hero happened to be a duke and he happened to first meet the heroine when he was naked. So there you go!
The Naked thing carried me through seven books and two novellas, but then we ran out of aristocracy. (I did want to title The Naked Gentleman, A Naked Lady, but that didn’t fly with my then editor. I’m also sort of partial to The Naked Butler—perhaps that’ll be the title of some future story.)
So I had to put on my thinking cap again. I like titles to follow a pattern and I like short titles—easier to remember and to fit on a book cover. That’s how the Duchess of Love titles came about. The novella is simply The Duchess of Love, but the others are Bedding Lord Ned (bed rhymes with Ned, and there is a bed involved—and not, at least immediately, for the obvious purposes), Surprising Lord Jack (that’s my “chick-in-pants” book), and Loving Lord Ash, which, when I was planning the series, was going to Loving the Duke, but then I decided not to kill daddy off.
My Spinster House series uses rank and alliteration: What to Do with a Duke (my current release), How to Manage a Marquess (May 2016), and When to Engage an Earl (2017).
I have to say, I thought editors and publishers were the ones to come up with titles, but so far that’s not been the case with me. They do send me back to the drawing board, though, if they don’t like my suggestions.
- What’s your favorite thing about the Regency period, and do you bring that into your books?
Well, it’s not history. The Regency period saw a lot of interesting changes in England—the Napoleonic wars ended at Waterloo in 1815 (200th anniversary this year!) as just one example—and I do indeed do my research and try not to get things wrong, but history and historical events are not my focus. My obsession with the Regency is really Georgette Heyer’s fault. I read my first Heyer book in middle school when a friendly neighborhood librarian introduced me to her stories. I’ve been hooked ever since.
So my favorite thing about the Regency is perhaps more my favorite thing about Georgette Heyer’s books—wit and language. I’ve been known to slip Regency words into daily conversation quite unconsciously, even before I started writing. And I do love words. I’m always consulting my Oxford English Dictionary and other sources to see when a word or expression entered the language.
I also like the Regency’s social mores—or at least how I interpret them. My heroes and heroines are always aware that Society is watching them and, should they step over the line of what was considered proper, they flirt with scandal and social ruination. But, of course, they still misbehave!
And now for a giveaway. Do we have any Regency readers out there? What’s your favorite thing about the Regency? Or what’s your favorite sort of Regency hero—a duke or a dustman? Or if you’d rather have wombats waltz on your head than read a Regency, why? I’ll be giving a copy of What to Do with a Duke to one commenter—a signed paper copy if you’re in the USA or, if international, a copy through the Book Depository.
Please welcome Mary Behre to the blog. She’s a lovely person and a wonderful writer. Mary also has a really cool book-related hobby.
Hi Jaunty Quills! Thank you for inviting me back. Today, I’m going to talk about glass tile pendants. If you went to RWA Nationals this year, you may have seen folks walking around the hotel with unique book cover necklaces. Chances are if you saw them, you saw my handiwork.
It started back in 2012 when several of my writing friends in the LaLaLa sisterhood had debuts. Most of them were digitally published. I wanted to give them a lasting memory that they could wear. Voila! The book-cover pendants were born.
Since then, I’ve branched out to include friends from my multiple RWA chapters. In fact, I made two necklaces for Vanessa this year. One for her latest Regency and one of the cover of her latest novel as V.K. Sykes.
The pendants do have a few unique qualities. The first of which is that they are NOT waterproof. I had to remake one after someone wore hers into a shower. Lol. The second quality is that since they are handcrafted they are subject to subtle flaws. Most people don’t notice the blemishes, but as the creator and artist, I see every single one. <g> Finally, in order to make the pendants, I have to start with a high resolution photo for the pendant to be its best and brightest when the work is finished.
Making the pendants is a stress reliever. When I have a particularly difficult scene that won’t work, I’ll often take a break and make a few charms while I try to solve the puzzle in my head.
The one thing I’m really bad at is taking pictures of my pendants. Vanessa was nice enough to include hers in this post. Other than that, I only have a couple of other photos of the hundred or so necklaces I’ve made over the past three years.
Since this blog is part of my Energized tour, I’ll use some of my own creative energy to make a cover pendant for the winner of today’s question! What’s your all-time favorite book cover? Jaunty will select the winner and I’ll work with her on creating a beautiful pendant of that favorite cover.
ENERGIZED (A Tidewater Novel #3)
All it takes is a single touch.
She’s searching for a sign . . .
Hannah Halloran has always believed in her gift. The things she sees through her psychic touch have never led her wrong before. Not when they led her to an unforgettable night with a sexy marine at a bar. Not when she felt a need to leave her home and find the sisters she barely knows. And not now, when she is an unwilling witness to a brutal murder . . .
He’s ready to show her . . .
All Niall Graham wants is some peace. He’s recovering from the horrors of war, struggling to save his family’s restaurant, and desperate to forget Hannah, the beautiful woman who left him with memories of a mind-blowing night together and a bogus phone number. But a quiet life is hard to manage—especially when Hannah strides back into his restaurant with the news that a serial killer is on the loose and lurking closer than anyone could have guessed . . .
For more info on Mary and her books, please visit her website!