What were you doing eleven years ago? I know what I was doing. I was part of a group of authors planning a new blog called the Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills.
Blogs were the new thing eleven years ago. This was before Facebook and Twitter and social media. The idea of readers being able to interact directly with authors was new and exciting. It was exciting to me, a fledgling author who fangirled plenty over my favorite authors.
Over the past eleven years I’ve written hundreds of blogs for the Jaunty Quills. I’ve read thousands of blogs posted by my fellow Quills and our guests. Some days writing my post was a chore. Some days it was cathartic. Some days it was pure fun.
But the best part of every blog I ever wrote was reading the comments you, the readers, made in response. I can honestly say I read and responded to almost every single one. There might have been a few days when I had a newborn, was recovering from a natural disaster, or was traveling when I might have missed a comment or two. But I think those missed comments are very few.
Eleven years ago when Cindy Kirk, Margo Maguire, Robyn DeHart, Anne Mallory, Shirley Karr, Kimberly Logan, and I started the Jaunty Quills, we didn’t have any idea the blog would still be around a decade later. We didn’t have any idea that we’d become good friends. I still chat daily with former members Robyn, Anne, and Margo. I expect to keep in touch with the current Jaunties.
I hope to keep in touch with you, too, readers. Please find me on Facebook or sign up for my newsletter. You can find out all about my new adventures with my daughter Princess Galen, Sparky the dog, and the long-suffering Ultimate Sportsfan (my husband).
We’ve still got about a month left, and to celebrate we’re bring back some of the original Jaunties. Stop by November 4 to read a guest post by original Jaunty Margo Maguire and November 9 to read founding member Robyn DeHart’s post.
This isn’t goodbye. It’s so long for now.
Last month I was fortunate enough to attend the first ever Historical Romance Retreat (HRR) in Spokane, Washington. This was a chance for historical romance readers and authors to mix and mingle in a gorgeous historical setting. The event was held at the Davenport hotel, which was built in 1914 and has housed distinguished guests like Amelia Earhart. This is the lobby and restaurant area.
All the attendees were encouraged to dress up for the various events. Dressing up wasn’t mandatory and the half that didn’t dress up had just as much fun as the half that did.
The retreat started with a soiree where authors and readers mingled, then we adjourned to the historic Bing Crosby Theater where we watched an old Greer Garson movie while snacking on old time candy.
The next day we attended panels and workshops. I went to one on Feminism in Historical Romance led by Eva Leigh, Tessa Dare, and Eileen Dreyer. The chats were followed by high tea and my favorite event of the retreat, the gaming night. We learned games from the past and gambled with real coins from the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Finally we made our way to an Absinthe party where we tried absinthe and other drinks from the past.
Saturday was a book signing and the Grand Ball. It was really quite the event. If you love historical romance, put this on your calendar for next year.
And check out the giveaway on my website. Win an Historical Romance Readers tote bag, a signed copy of Anna Campbell’s A Scoundrel by Moonlight, a ripped bodice sewing kit from Tessa Dare, a screen cleaner from Darcy Burke, a deck of cards from Rose Lerner, a luggage tag from Sabrina Jeffries, and a pen from Sabrina York.
Most of the kids are back in school now. My daughter has been back to school for almost a month. She’s in first grade now and a pro at the whole school thing (or so she thinks). All summer long she waited anxiously to find out who her first grade teacher would be. She really wanted one particular teacher, and when I asked why, she said it was because that teacher is nice and pretty. It doesn’t take a lot to impress elementary kids.
My daughter didn’t get that teacher, but she was happy with the one she got because her teacher has long hair. She’s also nice and pretty, but the long hair clinched it. I don’t remember ever caring about my teachers’ hair or if they were pretty or not. In 7th grade I did have a male teacher who was good looking. His name was Coach Mali, and I think his looks were more distracting than helpful.
Every kid wants a nice teacher, though. My favorite teacher was also one of the nicest. Her name was Mrs. Fannett, and she taught eleventh grade English. The class was not easy. Mrs. Fannett was not easy. We had to learn about infinitives and gerunds (something I never understood until I taught 10th grade English myself!) and read books like The Scarlet Letter and Faulkner’s The Bear. Now I love a lot of classic literature. I adore Shakespeare and Dickens, and I like Twain too. I did not, and never will, love Hawthorne and Faulkner. I respect those authors and their talent, but they’re just downers. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Hemingway.
But somehow Mrs. Fannett made those books accessible. Somehow she got me to read them and, if not enjoy them, understand them. She pushed me to be a better writer. She pushed me to find a better word, a more descriptive phrase, a more complex sentence. Writing was always one of my best subjects. I could get an A with very little effort. Mrs. Fannett made me want the A+.
When I taught middle and high school English I tried to be a teacher like Mrs. Fannett. I don’t know if I succeeded. The most frequent comment students gave me was about how calm I was.
Hmm. Well, I guess calm is a compliment of sorts, considering some of the chaotic places I taught. I would have preferred inspiring or fascinating, but kids tell us the truth, not what we want to hear. Maybe if my hair had been longer?
Do you have a favorite teacher? Or maybe your kids had a great teacher. What made him or her so great?
I don’t like surprises. My husband once threw a surprise birthday party for my 40th birthday. It was really sweet of him and the best party ever, but it freaked me out. The whole night was completely surreal. I woke up the next morning unsure if the whole thing had really happened. But he also surprised me with a new car. That was in the garage, so I knew the night had happened.
I loved the party—all my best friends were there—but I sometimes think I might have enjoyed it more if I’d been able to anticipate it. There’s enjoyment in the anticipation too.
Recently I was nominated for an award, and I found the anticipation of he ceremony so much more fun than the actual event. I loved shopping for the dress and shoes, looking for cute accessories, and dressing up that night. As soon as my category was called, I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the night. I didn’t win, but a good friend of mine did. I loved her surprise! I like surprises for others, just not me.
Do you like surprises? If you do, I have a tote bag with a surprise mix of books for you! Just tell me whether you do or do not like surprises and why!
Tote bag/book winner chosen randomly and notified and contacted Sunday!
J Quills: Hello! This is Jaunty P. Quills, Porcupine Extraordinaire and gold medal Olympian! I’m here with Vanessa Kelly. I won’t call her a former Quill because ”Once a Quill, Always a Quill.” Welcome back, Vanessa! What have you been up to? Win any gold medals in Rio?
Vanessa Kelly: Now that I think about it, Jaunty, I’m pretty sure I saw you in Rio. Wasn’t it at a gas station late one night, after a party? There seemed to be some sort of kerfuffle going on, which I have to say didn’t surprise me one bit. I know what porcupines can be like when they celebrate a little too, ahem, vigorously.
J Quills: Gas station? That wasn’t me. I’ve never even met Ryan Lochte! Don’t take away my pine nuts! Anyway, moving on…Our readers are already big fans of your historical romances. Tell us about your newest, My Fair Princess.
Vanessa Kelly: Jaunty, I am so excited about this book! It’s a spin-off from my bestselling Renegade Royals Series, which features heroes who are the illegitimate sons of England’s royal dukes. This new series is called The Improper Princesses, and the heroines are the half-sisters and cousins of my renegade heroes. The first book, MY FAIR PRINCESS, features an unconventional heroine. Gillian Dryden was raised in Sicily, and is something of a hellion. She’s a crack shot, carries knives in her boots, and is the scourge of bandits and smugglers everywhere. It’s up to the very sophisticated (and handsome) Duke of Leverton to turn Gillian into a proper English lady. Let’s just say that things don’t go as planned.
J Quills: It sounds pine nutlicious! You also write contemporary romances with your husband under the penname VK Sykes. Anything in the works as VK Sykes?
Vanessa Kelly: Hubby is hard at work on another baseball romance in our Philadelphia Patriots Series, and also a romantic suspense. We hope to have both of those books out in early 2017.
J Quills: This is a really important question, Vanessa. Of all the Jaunty Quills, I was always your favorite, right?
Vanessa Kelly: Jaunty, I’m shocked—shocked—that you even had to ask. Of COURSE you were always my favorite. In fact, I modeled the hero of my latest book after you. Yeah, I told my readers the inspiration was Chris Hemsworth, but that was a flat-out lie. After all, no one sports a cravat like a handsome porcupine.
J Quills: I knew it! Kristan, who is your next hero modeled after? Hmm? Let’s read an excerpt of my—I mean, Vanessa’s new book MY FAIR PRINCESS. Then keep reading to see how to win a print copy of SECRETS FOR SEDUCING A ROYAL BODYGUARD, the first Renegade Royals book, and a $10 Amazon gift card.
Vanessa Kelly: In this excerpt, my heroine is hot in pursuit of dastardly smugglers—until my hero decides that such activity is TOTALLY unladylike, not to mention dangerous:
The next thing Gillian knew, he was shoving her down onto the sand. He came down on top of her, mashing her flat.
It took her a moment to catch her breath, since there wasn’t a particle of air between them. She was certainly becoming intimately acquainted with various parts of Leverton’s impressive anatomy.
“Who is it?” She felt a spurt of hope. Perhaps some of the smugglers had returned. Now that Teddy was safely out of the way, Leverton might even help her track them. They might not see eye to eye on everything, but he would be furious that smugglers were trespassing on his lands.
“Wait,” he breathed out.
He cautiously lifted his head to peer over the rise of sand between them and the beach. The sound of a cantering horse, hooves thudding into the hard-packed flats, quickly grew and then faded away down the beach. Leverton still didn’t move, his attention focused in the direction of the mysterious rider.
“Could you please get off me,” she finally said. “You are completely squashing me.”
He looked down at her and frowned, as if surprised to see her there. Gillian raised a sardonic brow.
“I beg your pardon,” he murmured, as if they were on the dance floor and he’d simply trod on her foot.
He rolled off, but kept an arm slung across her waist. Gillian tried to push it away, but it felt like a tree trunk was pinning her down. She let out an aggrieved sigh and dropped her head back onto the sand.
“Whoever it was, he’s long gone,” she said. “Why are we still lying here?”
“I just wanted to make sure,” Leverton answered. “I think it’s now safe to get up.”
“I should hope so. I feel like I’ve spent half the night lying on this blasted beach.” With nothing to show for it but sand in her breeches and an irate duke.
Leverton rolled into a crouch and then smoothly rose. He reached down a hand to pull her up. “And whose fault is that?”
Gillian pulled the tails of her coat back in place and started brushing herself off. “Not mine. If you hadn’t shown up, I could have tracked the smugglers back to their lair. That, as you must admit, would have been very helpful.”
“Their lair? Good God, you’ve been reading too many lurid novels. Wait, I forgot,” he said, holding up a hand. “You actually believe you’re living in one. You fancy yourself some sort of heroine, dashing about, trying to right all the wrongs of the world.”
“No, I fancy myself as the hero.” She wiggled a leg, hoping to at least shake some of the sand from her backside down to her boot. “The heroines are always moaning and falling down in a faint, waiting for the men to rescue them. I don’t have time for that sort of nonsense.”
Giveaway! Vanessa’s heroine Gillian Dryden is a woman of many talents—crack shot, knife-wielder, and the scourge of bandits and smugglers. Do you have any special talents? Comment below to win a print copy of SECRETS FOR SEDUCING A ROYAL BODYGUARD, the first Renegade Royals book, and a $10 Amazon gift card.
*The winner will be chosen randomly from all comments and his/her name will be posted on Sunday.
First, Vanessa Kelly brought readers The Renegade Royals. Now, in a delightfully witty new series, she introduces The Improper Princesses—three young women descended from royalty, each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .
Despite being the illegitimate daughter of a prince, Gillian Dryden is happily ignorant of all social graces. After growing up wild in Italy, Gillian has been ordered home to England to find a suitable husband. And Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper, distractingly handsome Duke of Leverton, has agreed to help transform her from a willful tomboy to a blushing debutante.
Powerful and sophisticated, Charles can make or break reputations with a well-placed word. But his new protégée, with her habit of hunting bandits and punching earls, is a walking scandal. The ton is aghast . . . but Charles is thoroughly intrigued. Tasked with taking the hoyden in hand, he longs to take her in his arms instead. Can such an outrageous attraction possibly lead to a fairytale ending?
The Book Depository: http://bit.ly/20ClmA2
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. The Renegade Royals, her last series, was a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes contemporary romance with her husband as VK Sykes.
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