I am a child of the 80’s and 90’s. (All of you cringing because I’ve either made you feel too young or too old, bear with me, I swear I’ve got a point here.) I grew up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Alias, and Star Trek: Voyager, all shows with incredibly strong women at their forefront. While each of these shows of course had a romantic element—and played a core part in my development as an author of romance—the emphasis was also on the woman as an individual, her struggles and her emotions. She was the main character in her own life.
In my debut historical romance novel, A Dangerous Invitation, Kate Morgan is a fence for stolen goods in the Ratcliffe rookery in London. In 1832, Ratcliffe was an area beset with thieves, scoundrels, and prostitutes; as were many other rookeries in the city, for the layout of London made it so you could turn the corner in leaving an upper-class neighborhood and end up in the slums faster than you could say “oopsie doopsie.” The novel starts three years after Kate has been abandoned by her fiancé and her father’s company has gone into bankruptcy, leaving her with nothing after his death. But Kate doesn’t wither away on the streets—she finds a way to survive, using her knowledge of importing goods from working with her father all these years.
Kate is outwardly fierce, determined to prove that she can exist in a man’s world. She’s more likely to shoot you with her flintlock pistol than not, and she’s quite quick on her feet. She’s found a place for herself in this ragtag world of criminals. When her fiancé Daniel O’Reilly returns to win back her heart and clear his name of the murder he was wrongfully accused of those years prior, she wants nothing to do with him. She’s certain that she doesn’t need anyone to protect her, and because she’s been hurt by him before, she doesn’t want to let him again. The book is as much about Kate’s struggle to realize she can be with Daniel and be independent, as it is about their romance and Daniel’s fight to overcome his alcoholism.
I’ve often heard people say that romance readers will forgive their hero far more willingly than the heroine, because the heroine is supposed to be a place holder for the reader. I so strongly disagree with this theory. Yes, in many ways, romance is about escapism. We want to travel to a world we can’t live in, and we want to be taken out of our lives for the duration of that story. That’s beautiful and magical, one of the reasons why I love romance so much. But I don’t believe our desires as romance readers or writers end with that escapism.
Romance novels follow two people falling in love. We know at the get-go that they’re going to be together, and they will get their happily ever after or at least a happily for now. Part of the appeal is going with them on this journey to become something more, better versions of them. Thus, I believe the heroine is just as central to the reader’s enjoyment as the hero, though maybe we don’t swoon and wish said heroine would be our “book girlfriend.”
So when people ask me why I’m drawn to writing strong women, I think it’s not just strong women I want to write, but women who feel real. Women who take charge of their lives, and women who still don’t have all their ducks in a row. Women who you could befriend in the supermarket and women who at first don’t seem like someone you’d ever like. Women with struggles that are very genuine, no matter what century they live in, for their emotional depth, insecurities, and successes resonate through the ages.
I say, let’s start a revolution. Let’s remember that we as women are worth something. That each of us has something intrinsically beautiful. We are not placeholders in someone else’s existence, and neither should our heroines be so.
So tell me your favorite heroine (in literature, television, movies etc) and you could win a copy of A Dangerous Invitation!
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A Dangerous Invitation:
Torn from her life of privilege by her father’s death, Kate Morgan relies on her knowledge of finery to survive in one of London’s dark and depraved rookeries as a fence for stolen goods . The last man she ever expects, or wants, to see again is Daniel O’Reilly, the man who promised to love, honor and protect her, but who instead fled amidst accusations of murder.
One drunken night cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved and the life he’d worked so hard to create. If he ever wants to reclaim that life—and Kate—he’ll not only have to prove he’s innocent of murder, but convince the pistol-wielding beauty to forgive his many sins.
With a killer on the loose, time is running out for them…
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!
Please give a warm welcome to our special guest, Judy Duarte! I had the pleasure of working with Judy on Harlequin’s 2014 Fortunes of Texas series, and I was thrilled when she agreed to join us today. So, without further adieu…
You Gotta Love Those Kids…
One of the things I love about writing a romance—in addition to creating a beautiful love story—is the chance to create unique and entertaining secondary characters who add that special something to the book. And that’s why I especially enjoyed writing A HOUSE FULL OF FORTUNES!
Everyone loves a funny sidekick, a dastardly villain, or an older and wiser friend. But personally, my favorite secondary characters are children.
Having raised five of my own, I’ve also been blessed with their cousins, their friends, and now their children—my grandchildren. Needless to say, I’ve put in my share of babysitting, volunteering in the classroom, chaperoning field trips, and teaching Sunday school. I’ve cooked for kids, cleaned up after them, rocked them to sleep and disciplined them. Over the years I’ve come to understand kids and to always expect the unexpected whenever they’re in the room.
When writing Toby and Angie’s romance, I had the opportunity to create not one, but three children. Toby Fortune Jones had taken in three foster kids who had nowhere else to go. And while his heart was in the right place, he found that it isn’t always easy to juggle the needs and personalities of three youngsters. He soon found himself relying on Angie Edwards to help him with his adorable brood.
Art Linkletter was right. Kids really do say the darnedest things. That’s what makes them so fun to include as secondary characters. But when doing so, a writer needs to make them as realistic as possible.
My daughter, who is also an author, once stopped reading a book because she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that the heroine’s son kept asking his grandmother for more helpings of her delicious okra and vegetable stew. My daughter said, “Have you ever heard a seven year old boy beg for okra? I’m sure there might be one or two out there, but at my house, it’s a battle just to get my kids to eat carrots with ranch dressing. I’m not buying it.”
So kids can be cute, they can be funny, and they can be a challenge. But when created realistically, they can add so much to the layers of a book. I tried my best to do that with Brian, Justin, and Kylie. I hope my readers agree—and that they’ll enjoy watching Angie and Toby fall in love, in spite of all the antics and obstacles they have to overcome in A HOUSE FULL OF FORTUNES!
Judy is giving away an Amazon gift card to one person who posts. So, please join in on the fun and leave a comment below.
I’m thrilled to be hosting acclaimed historical romance author Katharine Ashe at the Jaunty Quills today. Those of you who read Katharine’s books know they are beautifully written, lush, and wonderfully emotional. She has a new book out called My Lady, My Lord, and she’s here today with a great interview.
Thanks for inviting me to JQ today, Vanessa! I’m so happy to be here.
Hello everybody! Vanessa asked me if I’d like to interview Corinna Mowbray and Ian Chance, the heroine and hero of my new book, My Lady, My Lord, a historical romance with a very special twist. Corinna thinks it’s a great idea. She hosts a fashionable, elite salon in London, and enjoys conversing on all sorts of subjects. The trouble is, when we suggested it to Ian, he… well… he squared his handsome jaw and headed toward the card room.
“Like any barbarian would.”
Hi, Corinna! Lovely of you to join us. So, Ian’s decampment gave me an idea. Since you and he are opposite as opposites can be—
“A vast understatement. You might compare Genghis Khan to Cleopatra and find more points of similarity.”
Right. Anyway, I thought I’d give you a quiz to see how suited to each other you actually are, even though you seem so different. You know, whether or not secretly you’d be perfect together. How does that sound?
She stares blankly at me. This doesn’t bode well.
Okay, I say hastily, I’ve clearly caught you right before My Lady, My Lord begins. But if you bear with me I think this will be fun. I’ve found the ideal quiz on the Marie Claire website. It’s called “Is he the one?”
“The one what?”
The one. You know, the one.
I don’t think she knows. Not yet, at least. But she will. Oh, boy, will she know. Too well.
Please, Corinna, bear with me? But you have to answer the questions honestly. Every one of them.
“Of course. When I feel that I cannot answer honestly to my advantage, I will simply be silent.”
Great! Okay, here goes.
Question #1. When you two fight:
a) It’s like World War III. It takes days for us to start speaking again.
b) We have arguments like anybody, but we usually resolve things pretty well.
c) Fight? Please. We’ve never fought about anything.
d) We tend to have major blow-ups, but our hot make-up make-out sessions are totally worth it.
“I don’t know what a ‘make-out session’ is.”
So I guess we are, in fact, still at the beginning of the book.
“I beg your pardon?”
Oh. Er… Nothing.
“Katharine, Ian Chance and I have been quarreling for nine-and-twenty years. Since he is constitutionally incapable of rational argument—or rational thought, for that matter—we have never once resolved a quarrel. Next question?”
Question #2. How do conversations about your future together usually go?
a) We haven’t really discussed it.
d) We both want children. I’d just rather wait a few years, while he has major daddy fever.
c) We both want similar things in the areas of kids and lifestyle.
“Conversations concerning the future tend to end in him recommending the convent and me recommending debtors’ prison.”
I suppose that means you’ve never discussed children?
“The notion of Ian Chance procreating fills me with horror. The world has no need of another in his mold.”
But you think he’s handsome. You can’t deny that.
“No.” Her brow dips. “I cannot. But males of the species must be physically appealing to attract a mate.”
“Talking about me again, Corrie dear? How gratifying.”
Ian! You left cards for us? How nice of you.
He bows to me. “At your service, madam.”
Corinna crosses her arms. “He knew I preferred to do this alone. He’s come solely to vex me.”
“Of course I have. Vexing you is my fondest pastime.” He grins.
All right, you two. Let’s continue.
Question #3.What is your couple vacation style?
a) We haven’t been on a trip together.
b) We always head to our favorite place: the beach.
c) I like exploring new places, and he likes relaxing, anywhere and anytime.
Corinna? This quiz is for you, really, so you should answer first.
“A and C. There is no place in this world I mind being except in the same room with him.”
“You’re perfectly free to leave now, Corrie dear. I can handle the remainder of this interview alone, no doubt much more amusingly, too.”
“Answer the question, cretin.”
“A, of course. Though I do wish it were otherwise. Isn’t there a D for this question?”
Um. No. What would you want D to be?
He looks down at her with a devilish half-grin. “Anywhere, as long as the ride is long and the carriage closed.”
Corinna’s eyes pop wide. He shrugs innocently.
“Would you have me state a mistruth, madam?”
Of course she wouldn’t. Next question.
#4. Corinna, what do your friends think of him?
a) They love him.
b) They don’t really know him that well yet.
c) They’re happy that we’re so in love, although they sometimes worry that there might be something better out there for me.
d) They always seem to be unavailable when we want to double-date.
“What is this ‘double-date’?”
You’re just going to ignore C, aren’t you? At least the first part?
“It has no bearing on reality.”
For those of you in the audience, Ian’s just looking at her now, and he’s got this look on his face I’ve seen only…
Corinna glances up at him and the expression disappears from Ian’s face.
“Well, it doesn’t,” she says.
“How could it?” he replies. An obvious evasion.
Then I think maybe it’s not actually before the beginning of the book right now. Maybe we’re deeper into the book at this moment than I’d imagined. Because Ian looks like he’s withholding something. Something a little too revealing.
Question #5. Corinna, when you’re sick…
a) He brings me soup, makes me tea, and holds my hair back while I’m throwing up.
b) I refuse to let him see me any sicker than with a little case of the sniffles.
c) He mostly leaves me alone, but checks in on me occasionally.
d) He doesn’t really like to be around me when I’m sick.
“A,” she says quietly, then peeks up at him. Now he has a gentle sort of smile on his face. Her cheeks color up and she rolls her eyes away. “Of course. He has enough personal experience with it, the scoundrel.”
Now I’m positive we’re in the middle of the book at this point. Because there’s that morning when Corinna wakes up after a late night spent with friends and a lot of brandy, and… Well, let’s just say Ian knows precisely how to take care of her the morning after.
Question #6. Corinna, he likes you best…
a) In jeans and a T-shirt even though I generally prefer to dress up a little more.
b) In my underwear.
c) In my pajamas, when I’m just waking up.
d) In an outfit he chooses.
“Well— I—” she stammers. Her fists go to her hips and she frowns. “What sort of interview is this, Miss Ashe?”
“Perhaps I am the most appropriate person to answer this question,” he offers.
Corinna gapes. “He is not.”
Go ahead, Ian.
“A through C.”
Corinna’s cheeks get even brighter red. It seems that in fact she does know what a make-out session is after all.
Much farther along in the book than I’d thought, indeed.
Okay, final question, Corinna.
#11. My fantasy guy is…
a) The man standing beside me right now.
b) Someone who fits perfectly into my life.
c) Tall, dark, and handsome.
d) Someone who doesn’t let me get away with my own B.S.
Corinna remains completely silent.
“C?” I suggest. Ian pretty much fits that bill.
“D,” he says with assurance.
Corinna looks up at him stormily. But she doesn’t protest. Ian smiles.
All right! Let’s see how you did. I’ll just tally up the answers here… and… Aha! Listen to this:
Congrats! You’ve found yourself a great match. It’s clear that the two of you have made it through the tough stuff, and you recognize that a good relationship has its ups and downs. Plus, you have a clear picture of who you’ve fallen in love with and have managed to find that ever-elusive balance of passion, respect, and honesty.
Ian’s grin widens. Corinna glares and turns to walk away. But a little smile lurks at the corner of her lips.
Yes, indeedy. A match made in the heavens, proving that the gods have an excellent sense of humor.
~ ~ ~
Book #1 in a new series of historical romances… with a twist.
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.
Neighbors for years, they’ve been at each other’s throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?
Katharine, thanks so much for being here, and thank Ian and Corinna for us! It sounds like they have some grand adventures ahead.
Readers, what do you think about “perfect match” quizzes? Have you ever taken one? What was the result? One person who comments will win a Kindle copy of My Lady, My Lord.
~ ~ ~
KATHARINE ASHE is the award-winning author of twelve historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Editors’ Choice for the Ten Best Romances of 2012, and I Married the Duke, Historical Romance of the Year nominee in the 2013 Reviewers’ Choice Awards. She lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. For more about her books, please visit www.KatharineAshe.com.
Thanks for having me on Jaunty Quills! I’m excited to be here. My name is Mary Behre and I’m a paranormal romance writer. No vampires or werewolves, just psychics, ghosts, murder, and the occasional humorous catastrophe. And like Jules, the heroine of my debut paranormal romance, SPIRITED, I have an unusual ability.
My deadlines affect the weather. No, really. We’re talking winter storms that can stretch from northern Florida all the way to New York. Don’t believe me? Read on…
In January 2014, my editor gave me fifteen days to complete revisions. Normally, I could have done it in seven days. But we had a freak huge storm system blow through then another. Out of fifteen days that I’d been given to meet my deadline, the schools were closed for all but two and half (2 ½) days, including the weekends.
And it was so bitter cold, single digit temperatures plus wind chill, that the kidlets couldn’t go sledding for more than fifteen minutes at a time. After that, there was a hypothermia risk, asthma attacks, and children afraid their fingers would fall off like they saw in some movie staring Chris Pine.
I hear the naysayers out there citing coincidence. But what if I told you that the day after I turned in my revisions, it was seventy degrees? Do you doubt me now?
Or how about the fact that two weeks later, when my editor asked for a quick one-day turn around on a project, we had nine inches of snow dropped on us in a single night? And no school again.
Anyone who’s ever had a deadline with children in the house knows writing and kids don’t mix. At least, they don’t mix well in my house. My children figure if I’m home and awake and they’re home and awake, we should be doing fun things together like baking cookies, playing games or just hanging out. What can I say, my kids love me.
Twice is chance but third time’s the charm right? Well, in March, my editor sent me the copyedits for book two with a fifteen day turnaround. Once again, we had a freak weather system blow through. Freezing rain, sleet and snow for twenty-four hours straight. And no school again!
See. I told you my deadlines affect the weather. But I do have good news. My next deadline should be in the summer. It couldn’t possibly snow then. *crosses fingers*
It occurs to me that some might claim my deadlines influencing the weather could be considered a paranormal gift.
If you could have any psychic gift what would it be? I’ll give away a swag bag and a copy of SPIRITED to one commenter.
Mary Behre is the lone female in a house full of males and the undisputed queen of her domain. She even has the glittery tiara to prove it. She loves stories with humor, ghosts, mysteries and above all else, a good romance. When not writing, she enjoys reading, gluten-free baking, and hanging out at the beach with the most important men in her life, her family.
Her debut paranormal romance, SPIRITED (Tidewater Novel #1) was an award-winning manuscript before it sold to Berkley Sensation. The Tidewater Series is mix of humor, suspense, and a psychic love-connection. The first three stories are about three sisters separated years before in the foster care system. As they search for love, each other, and a way to live with their psychic abilities, they’re tossed into the middle of mysteries that only their unique gifts can help solve. You can find more information on Mary’s website.