Yesterday was the release day for The Sport of Baronets, a prequel novella to my new Regency horse-racing trilogy. Two days ago, I turned in the second book in that trilogy to my editor. I’m not quite sure where the entire month of October went.
Anyway, now that I’m (temporarily) not on deadline, I’m ready to look around the real world again. Sunlight! Trees! People who don’t wear corsets! They’re all around, y’all. And this week, I’m letting myself enjoy the little things.
Sure, my Regency characters live a pretty good life, apart from all the emotional wringers I put them through. But do they get to…
…gorge on supposedly-for-Halloween candy?
No. They do not. Peanut butter hadn’t even been invented then, so my Regency characters each have a hole in their heart just the shape and size of a Reese’s. I’m not sure how anyone wrote a novel 200 years ago. The last third of my just-turned-in book was entirely fueled by Halloween candy.
…turn on a light when, thanks to the return of standard time, it gets dark out at 5 pm?
No. They do not. Even though I know from the movie National Treasure that Benjamin Franklin invented Daylight Saving Time (history is everywhere!), it’s never become a plot point in my books. My characters in The Sport of Baronets enjoy some long late-spring days, but when the sun goes down, they have to settle for oil lamps and candlelight. Which they seem to regard as both forgiving and conducive to romance. Oh, you characters.
…sit in a nice glider rocker while watching The Great British Baking Show?
No. They do not. Which is sad for them, for there is no greater bliss on earth than sitting in a nice glider rocker while watching The Great British Baking Show. At least to me, the day after a book deadline. Bart and Hannah of The Sport of Baronets would surely like the show, but they have to make do by watching a horse race. And for the chair, they use a jockey’s weight balance for…um, you know, you’d just better read that for yourself.
The Great British Baking Show airs on PBS on Sundays. Set your DVR!
National Treasure is pretty fun, especially the historian’s horror when they chuck the Declaration of Independence into the street or paint it with lemon juice.
Halloween candy should not be eaten to the exclusion of all other foods, even on deadline.
Um…I think that’s all the wise pronouncements I have for today. What’s up with you all? Did you have a good Halloween? What are you most grateful for that poor ol’ historical romance characters don’t get to experience? Do you like National Treasure and/or The Great British Baking Show? I’m feeling chatty, so just let me know what’s on your mind.
Ever had one of those weeks when you’re not quite sure what day it is? Or one of those years with months that zip by, so you’re constantly saying, “[name of month] already? How is this possible?”
That’s been 2015 for me. Just in the month of October, I’ve done page proofs for a novella and a novel, copyedited a different novel, and am racing toward a deadline at the end of this month. Ack!!
Yes, I drink a lot of coffee.
Since I’m more than a little scattered today, I thought I’d cheat on my post and share an excerpt with you all. This is from my upcoming novella The Sport of Baronets, which will be out on November 3 (less than 3 weeks away!). It’s an enemies-to-lovers prequel to the Romance of the Turf trilogy, set in the Regency horse-racing world.
* * *
When they reached the top of the ladder, Bart drew in a deep breath. He loved the scent of the hayloft, like clean grass and the warmth of late summer. Like foals untangling long legs for their first gallop, or colts sure and fleet of foot.
Beneath the stable roof, the ceiling sloped, its rafters and beams and trusses all exposed. The short span of wall above the platform and below the roofline was dotted with squat windows, which made it necessary to stack and shape the hay carefully.
Something that had been undone since Bart’s last visit to the hayloft the day before. Facing them was a fallen tousle of hay, haphazard as though it had been kicked about and shuffled.
Hannah tapped at a tangle of straw with one boot. “This is—”
“Not acceptable,” Bart finished. “I know.”
Her mouth opened, then closed again, and she gave a little shrug. “Not quite what I was going to say, but I bow to your authority. Since this is your stable.”
And the work of your wayward groom, she did not say, but Bart felt the awareness within himself, heavier than words. Whether Northrup had been careless or malicious, Bart should have checked more. Trusted less.
That was what they were here to do, at last. “His chamber is over the tack room. There—that door. Do you see it?” The smaller rooms next to Northrup’s, portioned out for under-grooms and stable boys, were empty at the moment. Some had been empty for the past year.
Hannah looked into the empty rooms with a sniff. “If you kept the number of grooms you ought, you would never have had any trouble with Northrup.”
“Is that some sort of I told you so? Because those cause freckles.”
She clapped her hands over her nose and cheeks. “I would disagree, but in my case, you are right. Everything causes freckles.”
“And I had as many grooms as I could. I had no hesitation about trusting Northrup, because I have known him longer than I’ve known…”
“Me, for example?” she suggested. “And you see how correct you were about me. As you divined within an instant, I am an evil Gorgon who wishes only to cheat you and lie to you.”
“There’s one honest statement from you, at least.” He found a hay rake and began drawing the untidy scatter into neat piles. “As it turns out, I did not turn to stone, and therefore you must not be an evil Gorgon.”
“That might be the kindest thing a Crosby has ever said to a Chandler.”
He fumbled the hay rake, and it clattered to the floor. “Is it? And what is the kindest thing a Chandler ever said to a Crosby?” He stumbled to right the rake. When he stood again, his face was flushed.
She blinked back at him. Her eyes were like a forest, dark about the pupils, then tawny and shading to a deep and verdant green.
“I’m going to search his belongings,” she said, which was when Bart realized he had been staring at her. Just a bit.
Well, it was only because he hadn’t seen her in a long time. One must study one’s foes to understand them. Or…something.
“That’s not an answer,” he muttered, pushing through the doorway to Northrup’s chamber after Hannah. Or maybe it was all the answer he deserved.
* * *
If you liked that, you can read all of The Sport of Baronets‘s first chapter on my website. And I’d like to give one of you an extra peek at its hero, Bart–aka Sir Bartlett Crosby, a baronet who first appeared in my Matchmaker trilogy. Bart is not the most outgoing or socially adept fellow, but he has a talent for working with horses. Training, driving, racing–you name it; he’s in his element.
I’ll give a print copy of the first Matchmaker book, It Takes Two to Tangle, to one random commenter on this post. Just let me know about a character with a talent you really enjoyed reading about. Was there a heroine who was a writer? A hero who threw pots? A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker? Do tell, and maybe we’ll all add some must-reads to our TBR piles. The giveaway is open internationally, and the winner will be announced on Sunday.
There’s something special about the beginning of a new month. My to-do list is looooong on the first, since I’m permanently playing catch-up–but it still feels like a fresh start.
For me, the start of October means…
- A new round of birthdays to prepare for. I take birthdays a month at a time, because I have a big extended family. All the relatives and friends who have birthdays in a certain month get their names written in my planner that month. (Yes, written: I use a paper planner. I’m kind of a Luddite like that.)
- A sharp drop in temperature. It’s like the weather could read the calendar. The forecast for the last day of September? In the 80s. For the first day of October? Ten degrees cooler. Yes, please and thank you.
- I’m done with copyedits on my April book, Fortune Favors the Wicked! Or I will be before the end of the day. Er…is my editor checking this post? I’m working on them, I swear. And they’re going GREAT.
- A treat for readers! Fellow Jaunties Shana Galen, Vanessa Kelly, and I–along with the awesome Kate Noble–are releasing a historical romance anthology on November 10. A Gentleman for All Seasons includes four original novellas, each set during a different season of the year. If you’ve pre-ordered the anthology, we’d like to share some bonus goodies with you as a thank-you. Just visit this form, and it’ll direct you to the secret bonus site. And if you haven’t pre-ordered the anthology yet, you can find the ebook at major vendors.
kindle • nook • kobo • ibooks
What’s notable about the start of a new month or about the month of October for you? To one random commenter, I’ll send a print copy of my marriage of convenience historical romance, Season for Scandal, which–you guessed it–begins in October.
I know it’s a bit early to talk about Christmas–or, rather, it probably seems early to you. I’ve been thinking about Christmas all summer. I’ve been imagining snowflakes and cozy fires, mistletoe and evergreens, holiday balls and hot cider. And then I’d step outside and the sweltering heat of summer would bring me back to reality. The fact is that if one is to publish a Christmas book, one must write that book in the off-season. This fall I have two Christmas novellas being released.
One is a re-release of my novella from last year’s anthology Christmas in the Duke’s Arms. It’s called The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe, and it’s about two secondary characters from Love and Let Spy, which is my James Bond-themed historical romance. In this novella Q and Moneypence get their happy ever after.
The second release is an anthology set in a London bookshop during the holiday season. This one is titled Christmas in Duke Street. In this novella Lucien, a former prince whose family was overthrown by a revolution, is in London searching the volumes of a little bookshop in Duke Street for documents proving his identity when he comes across Cassandra, a lovely widow looking for adventure.
It wasn’t all Christmas, all the time this summer. I was also able to write a bit about summer for an anthology that will be out in November titled A Gentleman For All Seasons. You’ll notice two resident JQs are part of the group of authors. My story, “The Summer of Wine and Scandal,” is about a London dandy and a country miss with a secret.
Do you have a favorite season to read about? I actually love fall and love writing books set in autumn. One person who comments will win a copy of my new release, The Rogue You Know.
The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on the blog Sunday.
This is Shana, posting for Kristan Higgins…
It’s release day for IF YOU ONLY KNEW, gang! I’ll be hopping and bopping around the country on book tour, and hopefully I’ll get to see you. Check my website for states and dates!
In the meantime, I thought Jaunty, our incredibly good-looking mascot, might want to interview Jenny, Leo and Rachel. Jaunty, take it away!
Jaunty P. Quills, Porcupine Extraordinaire: What? I’m sleeping, Higgins.
Kristan: Wake up. It’s interview time. They’re here.
JPQ: Let me comb my quills first.
Kristan: You’re perfect. Get out there.
JPQ: Fine. You’re right, I do roll out of bed looking magnificent. God, I love mirrors. Hello, Jenny, Leo and Rachel! Wait. Why are there three of you? Has Higgins started writing those ménage—
Rachel: No, no, Jaunty. Jenny and I are sisters, and Leo is just incredibly nice. I think he has a crush on my sister.
Leo: I don’t, but I wish she’s stop thinking dirty thoughts whenever she’s within fifty feet of me.
Jenny: Your dog is humping your leg, Leo. You may have the two of us confused, since you’re not the most observant man in the world.
Leo: I see all sorts of things, Jenny.
Jenny: I wish.
Jaunty: Okay, okay, back to me, you three. Rachel, you seem like the sweet one here. Tell me about your story.
Rachel: Thanks, Jaunty. Well, life was really wonderful a few days ago. I have three little girls, triplets, and I love being a stay-at-home mom.
Jaunty: How old are these triplet people?”
JPQ: Dear God. Anyway, you were saying?
Rachel: Well…I think…I mean, I’m probably wrong, but it seems like maybe…
Leo: Her husband’s cheating.
Rachel: I’m really hoping he’s not. He’s probably not. He said he wasn’t.
Jenny: I will go after him with a hammer if he is.
Leo: She’s good with tools.
Jenny: And you’re not. How did you ever become the super of my building?
Leo: Good looks and charm.
JPQ: Leo, I understand you teach piano.
Leo: It’s true.
Jenny: Yet I never hear him play. Not even Billy Joel or Lady Gaga.
Leo: This is why we’re not together, Jenny. Your taste in music.
JPQ: Jenny, you’re a wedding dress designer.
Leo: You are? I thought you were a caterer.
Jenny: Pay attention, man-child. Your looks aren’t everything.
JPQ: And both you and your sister have a somewhat idealized view on marriage, despite the fact that Jenny, your ex-husband left you for someone rather fabulous, and Rachel, your husband is probably, ah…
Leo: Screwing around?
JPQ: As a gentleman, I was looking for a more delicate way of saying it, but yes.
Rachel: Our parents had the best marriage, Jaunty. They were so happy together. No wonder Jenny and I are idealistic.
Jenny: (dark muttering)
Leo: Use your words, sweetheart.
Jenny: It’s just that nothing is what it seems. Including you, Piano Man.
Leo: I love when you look at me that way. Sorry, darling. I’m for recreation only.
JPQ: You are a very charming man.
Leo: Thanks, Jaunty. You ever think about trying the piano? Those little paws look quite dexterous to me.
JPQ: You know, I am rather musical. Shana Galen loves when I sing to her.
Kristan: Okay, you guys, I think we’re done for now. Folks, I hope you’ll pick up If You Only Knew this week, because a part of the sales benefits Fisher House Foundation, which provides gorgeous, state-of-the-art homes so our veterans and military members can have their families close by when they’re getting treatment. And I think it’s a book you’ll love, honest and true!
Thanks for the interview, Jaunty! You’re the best.
JPQ: You did mention me in the book, didn’t you, Higgins? You’re the only one, after all…
Kristan: Whoops! Look at the time! Gotta run!