I didn’t intend to write a Christmas novella. Actually, I did. It’s part of the Christmas in the Duke’s Arms anthology I did with Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, and Miranda Neville.
So maybe I should say that I didn’t intend to write two Christmas novellas. I was writing a scene for Danielle Gorman’s Ramblings From this Chick blog next month, and I couldn’t stop writing. I wrote 10 pages then 20 pages then 30 pages…You get the idea.
And I was having fun with the story! I get quite a few emails from readers who want to know more about Blue, one of my spy characters. I thought I made it clear he and Helena lived happily ever after, but I guess it wasn’t crystal. So I decided to keep writing Blue’s story and it turned into my new novella, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS BLUE.
In this story, Blue and Helena once again encounter some difficulties in their relationship. Add Blue’s parents, his 10 brothers and sisters, the agents of the Barbican, and Christmas Eve, and you have the story.
Here’s the cover.
Buy links coming soon. Look for the book December 10.
How do you like to celebrate Christmas Eve? With spies and family and secret messages?
The Lady Authors have published their second anthology, At the Billionaire’s Wedding.
A stately home in the English countryside seems the ideal place for a bad boy billionaire and his bride to tie the knot. Until the Internet fails. And the oven breaks. And paparazzi invade. And police crash the bachelorette party. And four unlikely couples discover that passion never waits for perfection, and happily ever after is just an “I do” away.
Last year, after we finished At the Duke’s Wedding, Caroline Linden, Maya Rodale, Katharine Ashe, and Miranda Neville discussed our next collaboration. “Let’s do a contemporary,” someone said. “Yes, let’s!” we all cried as one. So what, that we were four historical authors with almost no experience in writing about modern life. How hard could it be?
“I have a billionaire who needs a wedding,” Maya said. For Maya had briefly ventured into the twenty-first century with her Bad Boy Billionaire series of novellas. So we borrowed Maya’s couple, Duke and Jane, and proceeded to make their weeklong wedding celebration rife with laughs and sexy times and near disasters as four new couples found love and HEA.
As we wrote the connected stories in At the Billionaire’s Wedding, we had to meet the challenge of a whole new time period: The Present. How could we possibly write about things we knew about at first hand? It was difficult, but we are Professional Writers. We buckled down and gritted it out. It turned out there are many similarities between Regency and modern England, where we wisely decided to hold the wedding.
Historicals: Hot dukes.
Contemporaries: Hot showers.
Contemporaries: Shirts that button all the way down.
Historicals: Colin Firth in a wet shirt.
Contemporaries: Strippers dressed as servants.
Historicals: An elopement to Gretna Green in a coach and four.
Contemporaries: Two hours from the airport in an Aston Martin.
Historicals: Gorgeous gowns that require an expert maid to get into.
Contemporaries: Gorgeous gowns that require a “zip!” to get out of.
Historicals: Fantastic foreplay.
Contemporaries: Ultra pleasure condoms.
Historicals: Sex in a closed carriage.
Contemporaries: Sex in a stretch limo.
Historicals: Sex by candlelight in the Gold Saloon.
Contemporaries: Sex by floodlight in the Gold Saloon.
Historicals: No internet.
Contemporaries: Internet—wait, WTF, WHY is there no internet !?!!?
What’s your favorite similarity/difference between contemporary and historical romances? The Lady Authors will give a digital copy of At the Duke’s Wedding to one commenter. (Winner randomly chosen and announced Sunday).
Today The Jaunty Quills have a special treat for you. Rita winner (the Rita is the most prestigious award conferred by the Romance Writers of America) Joanna Bourne makes her debut on the blog, and she’s graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us about life, love, and Rogue Spy (which releases tomorrow!).
Keep reading to find out how to win your copy of Rogue Spy.
Shana: Welcome, Jo! Can I call you Jo? Tell readers who might not have read you (shame, readers, shame!) about Rogue Spy and the other books in the Spymasters series.
Joanna Bourne: I’m going to offer the cover copy, since it’s informative without Giving Away Too Much.
Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.
Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.
Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever.
Shana: You’ve traveled widely and said in other interviews (yes, I stalk) Paris would be where you’d choose to live. One of many reasons I love reading your books is because it’s so obvious you have been to Paris and know the city well. If readers were to visit Paris, where would you recommend they go to really get the sense of stepping into one of your novels?
JB: Go to the Marais. It’s a big section of old Paris that didn’t get neatened out of existence by Baron Haussmann in the Nineteenth Century. (The Victorians were very fond of doing away with all that untidy history stuff.) There you can see the Medieval city and the grand houses of the aristocrats of the Seventeenth Century.
My Spymaster people are quartered in the Marais in the 1790s. Some of the streets I mention are very much today as they were then. The Marais is a fine place to soak up atmosphere. The whole of Paris was once a city of small, crooked, cobbled streets and narrow stone buildings.
Shana: What is your writing process like? Do you have a daily page or word goal? Do you write early in the morning or late at night? Do you plot or fly by the seat of your pants?
Joanna Bourne: I make outlines. I create a detailed scene-by-scene plan of the story. Not that I follow that, you understand, but I write it out. I do this to give myself confidence and to set my mind at ease. Also, the publisher wants a synopsis before I start writing. I truly hope they never go back and compare that neat initial synopsis with the manuscript I actually turn in.
But I’m naturally a Planner, I think. It is my process. I couldn’t do some of the mystery thrillery suspense bits of a story without knowing how the details fit in place. I have to be very structural.
As to the nitty gritty of writing — once I get my mind centered on the story, I write. Time of day isn’t so important. I guess I don’t approach this in an orderly fashion.
Hmmm … I find I sometimes work better when I’m out at coffee shops or the library. That’s about it for ‘writing habits’.
I haven’t tried setting page or word counts. Mostly I write about five or six hours and then run out of steam.
I recently set up one of those ‘walking desks’. It is an experiment in progress.
Shana: I want one of those desks. Do you have a day job or do you write fulltime?
Joanna Bourne: I’m lucky enough that I can work full time. No day job. I have such respect for writers who hold down full time jobs or maybe have kids, and still keep up a productive writing schedule.
Way to go, says I.
Shana: Did you do any special research for Rogue Spy? Tell us one interesting fact you’ve learned from your research for Rogue Spy or another of your books.
Joanna Bourne: I have the notion of placing a scene in the next book at one of the clothes-washing areas outside of Paris. The city’s laundry would be carted out to the green fields of what was then the countryside, washed in the waters of the Seine, and spread out to dry on the grass and over the bushes.
There’s nothing like period prints and painting to give us the details of the past . . . one painting, being worth a thousand words, as it were. I’ve been able to find dozens of wonderful pictures of French laundresses going about their work and bright French clothing lying over the fields.
Shana: Finally, tell us what’s next for you.
Joanna Bourne: Next up is the Séverine story, set in Paris in the early 1820s. I’m early in the process on that one and really don’t know exactly how I’m going to put it all together. Some intriguing stuff going on though. A hero nobody’s seen before. Well, except Séverine’s seen him.
Shana: Oh, I’ve been waiting for this one!
Readers, now it’s your turn. If you could visit any country or city in the world, which would you choose? One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win a copy of Rogue Spy. [U.S and Canada only). The winner will be announced on Sunday.
Visit Jo’s website to learn more about her.
Order Rogue Spy now
Check out my Facebook page this week for a chance to win 3 of Joanna Bourne’s backlist. Super easy entry!
For the most part, authors work alone. We spend hours upon hours inside our heads, crafting worlds of our own making. Even when we work with others–web designers, publicists, or assistants—our interactions with our co-workers are confined mainly to email.
That’s why it’s so much fun to occasionally step out of my self-imposed solitude to work with others. Last year I worked with Anna Campbell, Kate Noble, and Jaunty Quill Vanessa Kelly to write A Grosvenor Square Christmas (which is still free, by the way!).
This year I had to opportunity to work with Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, and Miranda Neville to write connected novellas for an anthology titled Christmas in the Duke’s Arms.
The Duke’s Arms is a cozy inn in the Nottinghamshire countryside. A duke lives nearby as do several other interesting characters, which Neville, Burrowes, and Jewel bring to life.
For my part, I wanted to bring a little action to the sleepy village of Hopewell-on-Lyft. I introduced the idea of a highwayman who’d stylized himself The New Sheriff of Nottingham. He’s been attacking the post coaches and the locals, and it’s up to fledgling spies Pierce Moneypence and Miss Qwillen to capture him.
If you read my recent release, Love and Let Spy, you’ll recognize Moneypence and Q and hopefully enjoy a more in-depth look at their relationship.
Tell me, readers, with 71 days before Christmas, are you thinking about the holidays at all or aren’t they on your radar yet? Two readers who comment will win copies of Christmas in the Duke’s Arms (print or ebook). Winners randomly chosen and announced Sunday. Print books mailed out after October 27.
An anthology of Regency novellas by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel and Miranda Neville.
These yuletide tales are set in rural Nottinghamshire and feature couples who dream of holidays filled with true love, however unlikely that might be. A highwayman, a cozy country inn, a Christmas assembly and copious bundles of mistletoe contribute to merry, romantic holiday happily ever afters.
A Knight Before Christmas by Grace Burrowes
Sir Leviticus Sparrow is a man of business who means business when it comes to offering Penelope Carrington marriage under the mistletoe.
In The Duke’s Arms by Carolyn Jewel
What’s a Duke to do when he’s made an awful impression on the love of his life?
Licensed to Wed by Miranda Neville
If Lord Carbury could learn to take no for an answer, his marriage proposal might earn him a yes.
The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe by Shana Galen
Fledgling spies Q and Moneypence pursue love and a highwayman in The Duke’s Arms.
Buy It Now (only $3.99)!
First of all, I’m totally allowing spoilers in the comments and I’m making them in this post, so if you haven’t seen the series, and you don’t want it spoiled, click away now…
Now that they’re gone, we can talk.
I want to start with the casting.
Jamie–love Sam Heughan. He IS Jamie to me. I think he’s done a fabulous job.
Claire–don’t love Caitriona Balfe. I remember Claire seeming to practically look for trouble in the book, but I don’t remember being annoyed by it. Difference between print and film or the actress playing the part? Not sure.
Jack Randall/Frank Randall–Tobias Menzies is great. I don’t like him as Jack and I sympathize with him as Frank.
Next let’s talk setting. It’s gorgeous. I’d watch the show just for the scenery. Castle Leoch is visually stunning. Can you imagine living in a place like that?
The men’s clothing is awesome. I don’t love the bum rolls (is that what they’re called?). I appreciate the designer’s attention to costume accuracy, but why did anyone think that was a good look? Okay, I guess I have pictures from the 80s that call my taste into question as well, so who am I to talk?
The wedding…come on. You know you want to talk about the wedding episode.
Who’s watched it more than once? More than twice? If time constraints weren’t an issue, I’d have watched it more than once! It was very sexy, and by that I mean I am grateful for the casting of Sam Heughan. Some readers mentioned they didn’t like the flashbacks. Not sure there was a better way to film that episode. It would have been boring to watch all the lead up and have to wait for all the sexy times. And then it might have been sexy times overload. Perhaps the flashbacks increased the suspense? Of course, having to wait until episode 6 was maybe too much suspense…
So what are your thoughts on Outlander, the TV series? Love? Hate? Favorite parts? Least favorite parts. Spoilers allowed.