LOL…no, not those facts! But now that I have your attention…
I recently finished the fourth book in my Bell River Ranch series, and the heroine, who is a gifted massage therapist, got me thinking about talent.
Everyone has a talent, thank goodness. But we all also have weak spots…things we’d love to be good at, but just aren’t.
For instance, I can’t sing.
My sweet mother-in-law, a great believer in positive thinking, warned me never to say anything negative like that about myself. But I’m a great believer in facing the truth, and the truth is…wow. I really can’t sing.
This doesn’t make me feel like a failure. It doesn’t even keep me from singing with mad abandon—whenever I’m alone. Not being able to carry a tune is simply the luck of the draw. It’s not even as annoying as some of my other DNA glitches, like fine, straight hair and 20/400 vision.
Besides, I’ve been aware of the singing problem since I was four, because that’s when I met my best friend, Celie. Celie has a beautiful voice. Right away I realized we weren’t hitting the same notes when we sang along to our favorite songs. Hers were the actual melody. Mine were sort of… free-form, impressionistic noise.
Kudos to her for never pointing that out or making me feel crummy about it.
In fact, the first time she ever mentioned the situation was quite by accident, when we were both grown and married with kids. Miraculously, both my children inherited their father’s lovely, accurate voice. One day, when Girlchild was about six, Celie heard her singing a silly Irish song called “Harrigan,” one of our childhood favorites.
“Awww, who taught you that song?” Celie asked fondly.
Girlchild smiled. “My mom.”
“Oh, yeah?” Celie looked perplexed. “But…who taught you the tune?”
And just in case I needed a refresher course in Reality, I got one the other night, right before Halloween. We had an awesome spider ready to hang by the front door. It was sound activated to descend ominously whenever a squealing trick-or-treater arrived. Unfortunately, only a particular high-pitched, horrible shriek could set it off. His Highness and I had thoroughly and hilariously tested that.
For the time being, though, Big Spider lay quietly on the kitchen island every day, watching us while we made sandwiches and took our vitamins. But then…one night, when I came in from my walk with my earbuds still in, still singing merrily along with Fun about how young we are tonight, guess what?
Yep. Big Spider went instantly into action, his fishing line extending with a panicked mechanical creak. He crawled halfway across the island before he ran out of line—and he probably thought that wasn’t nearly far enough!
So, there you go. Case closed. But hey, even if a career in opera is out for me, maybe I can help you get rid of your household pests.
How about you? Is there some talent you wish you had…but simply don’t? Does it bother you?
My author copies of my December Superromance, THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND, have arrived, and I’ll send a free book to one random poster today!
It all started with a house. Not just any house, a mansion in Grosvenor Square. During the Regency, Grosvenor Square was home to the fabulously wealthy and titled, so what better place to throw a party? Of course, that’s only the beginning of the story. Fellow JQ Vanessa Kelly is here with me to chat more about how our holiday anthology, A Grosvenor Square Christmas, came to be.
Vanessa: I had a blast working on the antho with you ladies, too! Actually, I think the original idea to write a Christmas anthology was yours, wasn’t it? And although I have menopause memory, which basically means no memory to speak of, I recall that the four of us brainstormed settings for an anthology of connected stories. There have been a number of these holiday or Regency anthologies, but most are set in the country at a house party. That makes particular sense for a holiday story, since the haute ton tended to head off to their country estates in the winter. But some folks must have stayed in London for Christmas, and we thought it would be cool to place the action of our stories at a grand holiday party in the city. And what could be a grander setting than a mansion on Grosvenor Square, one of the premier places to reside in Mayfair?
Shana: Exactly! We wanted to do something a little different, and someone mentioned it would be fun if we wrote about an annual ball, hosted by someone whose invitations were coveted. And then Kate or Anna said we absolutely must have an eccentric butler, and Philbert was born. He actually turned in to something of a sexy secondary character.
Vanessa: Philbert started out as something of a running joke when we were brainstorming common elements. Obviously, we needed the interior of the house to remain basically the same, and the owner of No. 3 Grosvenor Square had to play a role, too. And Regency authors and readers all know how important butlers were to the smooth running of any household. How could you throw the most successful party of the year, decade after decade, without a fantastically competent butler? We did initially envision Philbert as something of an eccentric and even comic character, but when we created our hostess—the dashing Lucy Frost, the widowed Countess of Winterson—Philbert’s role began to change. We began to wonder exactly why Lucy never remarried, and it appeared that it had something to do with Philbert, who morphed from a stodgy and eccentric fellow into a tall, mysterious, and attractive man. What happens to Lucy and Philbert over the course of the four stories became part of the fun of writing these stories.
Shana: Well, in my story Philbert was initially short, but I quickly came to see the error of my ways. As you said, we wanted the interior of the house to match up in our stories. We all referred to these pictures and more for inspiration.
Another element we had to work out was our timeline. Kate and Anna wanted to write stories set technically after the Regency, in 1825 and 1830, while I wanted to set mine technically before the Regency, in 1803. You anchored us in 1818.
Since Lucy Frost is rather young in my story, set in 1803 and has aged 27 years by the time Kate wrote about her, we also needed a model who had aged publicly over time. We used Helen Mirren, who was and still is quite lovely.
Also, in contrast, I think Kate and Anna’s stories are stand-alones, but both of ours have connections to books we’ve written. But despite all these differences, we made it work!
How do Nigel Dash and Amelia Easton fit into the world of your other books?
Vanessa: Nigel Dash is a secondary character in all four books of my Stanton Family Series. He’s the typical best friend and consummate good guy, always stepping into the social breach to save the day. There isn’t an awkward moment he can’t smooth over, or a grumpy old dowager he can’t charm. My readers loved Nigel and wondered when he would get his HEA. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that. Amelia is a new character, and I think she’s just perfect for Nigel.
Shana, your story is connected to your Sons of the Revolution Series, which are wonderful books. Where does The Seduction of a Duchess fit in?
Shana: Readers were always asking me if the widowed heroes’ mother, Rowena, got her HEA. They also told me they were craving stories with older heroines. I thought this was the perfect venue to tell Rowena’s story.
The last thing I wanted to mention is that the anthology is digital only and it’s FREE on most retailers. The anthology is composed of short stories, around 10,000 words each, and we’re hoping is that those of you who haven’t read one of us featured in the anthology will read our story and give one of our longer books a try.
BN (waiting for it to publish)
Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.
Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?
1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen
Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?
1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly
Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.
1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell
At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.
1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble
Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…
You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?
Every so often, the publishing industry seems to have a hissy-fit over a particular genre, declaring it dead or, at the very least, on life support. Lately, the talk has been about the death of historical romance–which is balderdash, IMHO–but a few years back to was all about the tragic demise of romantic suspense. Despite the popularity of a genre that has great crossover appeal with its ability to pull in mystery and thriller readers, there was no-way, no-how you could sell a romantic suspense novel to a traditional publishing house unless you were already a successful author in that genre. And, unfortunately, sometimes not even then–or at least that was the accepted wisdom.
But that carved-in-granite proclamation–that readers were bored with romantic suspense–never rang true for me. On TV, for instance, cop and detective shows always rank right at the top, with programs like Castle and Bones (both containing strong romantic elements) pulling in huge audiences. In books, Harlequin’s suspense lines keep steaming along, and historical mysteries written by authors like Deanna Raybourn and Elizabeth Peters (again, strong romantic elements) are very popular.
Personally, I think readers never stopped reading romantic suspense, as a perusal of bestseller lists seems to bear out. Readers simply found their way around industry roadblocks to find the publishers or indie authors who could give them their suspense fix.
And thank goodness for that because I just published my first romantic suspense novel this week. It’s called Lethal Confessions, and I co-wrote it with my hubby under our V.K. Sykes pen name. This book was a real labor of love for us and we had a great time writing it–although I will admit that the serial killer-villain scared the heck out of me. It’s an action-packed thriller with a strong detective-heroine and a really sexy hero, a former pro baseball player who’s key to hunting the killer down. Good, creepy fun!
So, what about you? Do you agree with the pundits who insist that romantic suspense is deader than a doornail? If not, who are some of your favorite romantic suspense or mystery authors? One person who comments will win a copy of Lethal Confessions!
Lethal Confessions is available now!
How They Met Themselves, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, watercolor, 1864
Not long ago the Norwegian and I were out for dinner when a complete stranger approached me and asked if I had seen the show Breaking Bad. I hadn’t, but he told me that Anna Gunn, the woman who plays Skyler White on the show, was my doppelgänger.
I looked her up when I got home. I could see a vague resemblance in the photograph. Of course, it piqued my curiosity about the show, especially since it has garnered so many awards. I started watching it and now I joke that I have a serious meth addiction. Really, I don’t. And I know drug addiction is no laughing matter, but the show’s writing is incredible and the acting is superb… But I digress.
They say everyone has a double. I guess mine might be Anna Gunn – sort of. We’re not identical. Our noses are completely different, and once I started watching the show and saw a more dimensional version of the actress, I thought she and I resembled each other less. Sometimes I think mannerisms and certain expressions make people similar even if they don’t look alike. In fact, that’s one of the story lines in my book, Celebration’s Baby, which will be out in April 2014. A secondary character, Maya, lost the love of her life years ago. He died in an accident and she hasn’t been able to love since. Fast forward years later, a man who reminds her of her old love shows up. She can’t decide if she’s attracted to him because he reminds her of her dead lover or if her heart is truly ready to love again.
He’s not exactly a doppelgänger, not in the true sense of the word. Then again, the meaning of the word has changed over the years. In folklore, doppelgängers are perceived as sinister versions of a person – an evil twin. In the old days, when you saw your doppelgänger, it was a harbinger of bad luck or an omen of death.
But, of course, the contemporary meaning of doppelgänger is simply a look-alike. Doppelgängers are a running gag through the sitcom How I Met Your Mother: at one time or another, the characters have spotted uncanny look a likes of each other, except for Barney (Neil Patrick Harris’s character). The absence of his doppelgänger is used as a significant plotline, which I won’t spoil in case you haven’t seen the show and want to.
Who’s your doppelgänger?
Celebration’s Bride is available now!
RT Book Reviews gives Celebration’s Bride 4.5 stars and says, “Thompson’s reality TV show setup rocks the pages with its quirky cast. Her couples’ imperfections make them realistic and alluring….”
Celebration’s Family - February 2014
Celebration’s Baby - April 2014
I’ve been on a blog tour for my most recent release, A Little Bit Scandalous, and I had set up this blog for a certain spot that I thought required original blog material, but as it turned out, they needed an interview. But I’d already taken the time to do this blog so y’all get it today. Without further ado, here are the first five…
Prologue - Monroe Grisham, Sixth Duke of Chanceworth, paced the front parlor of his country estate. If he didn’t get back to London soon he would go mad from sheer boredom. The soft butter-yellow of the room was annoyingly cheerful, and all the furniture felt small and dainty, making him keenly aware of his size. He wasn’t quite as tall as his brother, but Roe’s shoulders were broad enough to make him look as if he sat upon children’s furniture. So he found the largest piece to sit on, the settee. He’d sit in a different room, but damned if his mother hadn’t decorated them all roughly the same.
Chapter One - Caroline Jellico pulled on the trousers over her drawers and fastened them. She slipped the linen shirt over her head and straightened it, then tucked it into the waistband of the tweed pants. Her bound breasts felt strange against the strip of linen that held them tightly against her. She pulled up the suspenders and then donned the coat she knew she wouldn’t take off. Even if it proved to be hotter than Hades inside the gaming hell, she’d leave it on.
Chapter Two - Caroline swallowed the lump in her throat.
Chapter Three - The brown eyes staring back at him were rounded in surprise. Roe cocked one eyebrow. Reggie was doing her best to tempt the boy into some sort of reaction, but Grey sat stone still. “Reggie, I don’t think the boy is interested,” Roe said.
Chapter Four – Caroline did her very best to focus on her cards and the ones coming out of the deck. She felt certain she had an accurate count, but damnation if Roe wouldn’t stop talking. And damnation also that the lighting in his study was so much clearer and brighter than it had been at Rodale’s. She could see his features all the more, which meant he could see her features as well. He was still as bloody handsome as she remembered him being, if not more so. And just as cavalier.
So how about it, do y’all follow blog tours? What’s your favorite type of post on a blog, an excerpt, something personal, a recipe?