Posted by Anna Campbell Apr 10 2014, 12:02 am in A Countess Below Stairs, A Rake's Midnight Kiss, Anna Campbell, Days of Rakes and Roses, Epilogues, Eva Ibbotson, historical romance, Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase, Prologues, Regency romance, Sons of Sin, What a Duke Dares, writing
To prologue or not to prologue? That is the question.
Well, at least today! We can cover the meaning of life at some later date.
Not long after CLAIMING THE COURTESAN was published, I attended a one-day seminar by the legendary and wonderful Jennifer Crusie which covered many things, including her hints for how to write a great book. As a diehard admirer of her work (seriously, if you haven’t read WELCOME TO TEMPTATION, run to your nearest bookseller), I hung on every word. One thing she said categorically was no book needs either a prologue or an epilogue.
Interesting, huh? Especially as, having written my first four books without epilogues and then had numerous readers contact me asking me to write them, it’s clear that romance fans in particular ADORE epilogues.
With all those books, I felt I’d covered all the plot points in the story. They didn’t NEED an epilogue, although I think if I were writing them now, I would include epilogues. Romance readers, I think, just need that last little bit of happily ever after before they can close the book with a blissful sigh.
The first book I wrote with an epilogue was MY RECKLESS SURRENDER. Anyone who’s read that book knows that there was quite a complicated plot that went beyond what I could tie up in a satisfying way in the “I love you, you love me” part of the book. So, tiptoeing very carefully past Ms. Crusie, I went wild and wrote an epilogue. I know, I’m such a rebel.
Since then, all my books have had epilogues, not just for the sake of a few more kisses and vows of eternal affection, but because there were questions that needed answering beyond tying up the romantic plot.
I held off from prologues for much longer. Personally I really like a prologue when it’s well done. I think it’s a much more satisfying way of filling in important backstory than flashbacks or great wads of narrative. And because the reader sees the events on the page, it’s vivid and dramatic in a way something recounted later as a memory isn’t.
Interestingly two of my favorite romances of all time both include prologues. LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase breaks all the so-called romance rules in the prologue too – it’s long, it’s in omniscient point of view, it’s mainly narrative and there isn’t a whiff of a meeting between the hero and heroine. And you know what? It’s absolutely brilliant. We are so on the side of difficult, passionate, emotionally wounded Lord Dain by the time he turns up in all his cranky splendor in chapter one, thanks to that prologue, that we stick with him for the rest of the story. Lots of people obviously agree with me that this is a prologue that works a treat. LOS is regularly voted among the top three romances ever written.
Another of my favorite books, and definitely my favorite comfort read, is A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS by Eva Ibbotson. The prologue of this one reads like a fairytale and it sets up the story of gallant, generous, lovely Anna Grazinsky who needs every ounce of her courage to face life in England after the Russian Revolution. The prologue also sets up the Cinderella element of riches to rags and underlines the poignancy of the romance with the Earl of Westerholme who owns the house where she finds work as a housemaid.
When it came to my Sons of Sin novella, DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES, which is a story about childhood sweethearts separated by the heroine’s father, I wanted to show that dramatic moment in Simon and Lydia’s lives, the moment that set both of them off on divergent paths. They only come together again when Lydia is about to marry someone else. I could have covered the essentials in backstory, but it just didn’t seem to have the same impact and I wanted to show that these two, who are quite prickly when they meet again, had once shared a profound love.
Since then, ALL my book have had prologues. A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS needed an inciting incident to set Richard off on his quest for the Harmsworth Jewel. Again, it seemed better to do it on the page rather than have the characters recollecting it.
I’ve just received the advance reader copies of my next book WHAT A DUKE DARES which is out in August. And guess what? There’s a prologue in this one too!
One of the things a prologue does really well is create a sense of space between an important event that has later consequences, and the rest of the story. In Duke, my hero proposes unsuccessfully to my heroine in the prologue. They don’t meet again for another nine years which is when chapter one starts. Because of the prologue, you know what’s at stake for these two when he rescues her from bandits (of the non Romance Bandits kind) on her way back to England from Italy.
Again, I probably could have done it in backstory but I don’t think it would be nearly as vivid or have the emotional impact as when the reader sees the disastrous proposal in real time on the page.
Are you a fan of prologues and epilogues? Do you have any favorites where you think the prologue or the epilogue really worked well?
I’ve got a signed advanced reader copy of WHAT A DUKE DARES (along with its prologue!) to go to one commenter today. International. So good luck.
Posted by Christina Brooke Apr 1 2014, 12:02 am in Alexis Morgan, Allie Burton, Anna Campbell, April, coming attractions, Donna MacMeans, Elke Feuer O'Donnell, Jeanne Adams, Nancy Northcott, Robin Giana, Suzanne Ferrell, Tawny Weber, Ursula Le Coeur
March was an AMAZING month in the lair. Our fabulous Tawny Weber hit the New York Times List as a part of the Lucky 7 Bad Boys boxed set, which features her story Naughty Vegas Nights. And if that wasn’t enough, Anna Campbell won the Australian Romance Readers Award for Best Continuing Series AND was nominated for a RITA award in the historical category for A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS!
But never fear that we’ve been too busy partying in celebration of our banditas’ successes. We have an action-packed April for you this month!
On April 2nd, Robin Giana returns to the lair to discuss whether eyes are truly the windows to the soul. You can see her inspiration in the cover of her latest release, The Last Temptation of Dr. Dalton.
Our very own Thelma and Louise, Nancy Northcott and Jeanne Adams, hit the road on April 4 and 5 and will bring you their latest adventures on a research trip through coastal Georgia. Savannah, Brunswick, and (of course, since Nancy is involved) the Okefenokee are all on the itinerary, and there may be some surprises along the way. Safe travels, Nancy and Jeanne! No cliff-diving now, OK?
On 12 April, Nancy welcomes Alexis Morgan for her Lair debut. They’ll chat about Alexis’s new release, Immortal Cowboy.
Break out the cabana boys, because Tawny’s full-length paranormal, There’s A New Witch in Town will released on April 14th! A sexy fairy tale of a witch, a hot hero and a cursed town… and a whole lot of fun!
On April 15 Trish Milburn celebrates the release of CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF LOVE the second novella collection in the Starfish Shores series from MJ Fredrick, Tanya Michaels and (of course) Trish Milburn!
April 16 – Caren Crane hosts Deb Marlowe and various others of the Red Door Reads authors to talk about their exciting new novella adventure. Be sure to Like their Facebook page before April 15 so you will be first to hear all the news!
April 17 — Elke Feuer debuts in the Lair with her book, Deadly Bloodlines, in which “A serial killer is determined to repeat a murderous pattern that started twenty years ago.”
On April 18, Lisa Tapp joins Joanie to chat about her debut novel, FINDING BETH.
April 21 Allie Burton returns to the Lair with Atlantis Dark Tides, book 4 in her YA series, where treachery and spies determine the fate of the underwater world.
April 23rd brings debut author Ursula LaCoeur to the lair. Learn how the romance of New Orleans inspired her debut, The Willing Widow.
Suzanne Ferrell’s KIDNAPPED is FREE on Amazon, iTunes, and KOBO ebooks.
Susan Sey and Caren Crane will be participating in a huge Red Door Reads giveaway (prize is an iPad mini!) starting April 15. To keep in the know, Like the Facebook page.
Tawny Weber’s There’s A New Witch in Town will be out in the Dangerous Dozen boxed set on April 7th – for a limited time, the boxed set is specially priced for only .99 cents.
Posted by Kate Carlisle Mar 25 2014, 12:05 am in Anna Campbell, book release, Kate Carlisle, publishing
Today is Tuesday, March 25, which means it’s the last Tuesday in March, which means that many April books are being released today.
Wait… what? April books are being released in March???
It’s confusing, isn’t it? But it’s true. Several publishers release books the last Tuesday of the month prior to the official release month. Therefore, a book labeled “April 2014″ will be released on the last Tuesday of March, and a book labeled “May 2014″ will be released on the last Tuesday of April, and so on.
To make it more confusing, not all publishers do this. Not even close. Penguin, who publishes my mystery novels, release their books on the first Tuesday of the month of release. That means that the mass market paperback version of A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY, which is a May 2014 book, will be released on the first Tuesday in May. And the hardcover and ebook debut of THE BOOK STOPS HERE, a June 2014 book, will be released on the first Tuesday in June.
To make it more-more confusing, Harlequin, which publishes the books I write for Desire, goes for the “second-to-last Tuesday of the prior month” system when it comes to category paperbacks, but their category ebooks are released on the first day of the month of release. April 1, May 1, June 1, etc.
However, bookstores often disregard the official release date, especially when it comes to category romance. When the boxes arrive, the books go on the shelves. Very few authors get the Harry Potter treatment, with booksellers under threat of penalty if they open the boxes a minute too early. Which is both good and bad. Good, because readers who are excited to get their hands on the books don’t have to wait. Bad, because it means that those too-early sales won’t count toward first-week sales when it comes to the bestsellers lists. And hitting the bestsellers lists means more attention for the book, which means more sales down the road. Or at least, that’s the hope.
And self-published ebook authors, of course, have book releases any day and every day.
Are you confused yet?
The point is, today is March 25, which means that today is release day for many authors! Here are a few anticipated books…
- What a Hero Dares by Kasey Michaels
- What a Reckless Rogue Needs by Vicky Dreiling
- (side note: What a Duke Dares by our own Anna Campbell is available for pre-order!)
- Waking the Dead by Heather Graham
- Dash of Peril by Lori Foster
- A Match Made in Texas by Katie Lane
- Four Friends by Robyn Carr
What April 2014 book releases are you most excited to read? Do they come out today or next week? Did you already know all of this about book release dates, or was this new information for you?
Posted by Anna Campbell Mar 11 2014, 11:00 pm in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Harlequin, historical romance, Mills and Boon, Regency romance, Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed, Sons of Sin, travel
Thanks so much to everyone who went all posh and tea-drinking to help me celebrate the release of the U.K. edition of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED from Mills and Boon in London. I’m delighted now to announce that the winner of the book is:
Megan, can you please email me on anna @ annacampbell.info with your snail mail details and I’ll get your lovely purple book off to you. Happy reading!
Posted by Anna Campbell Mar 10 2014, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Great Britain, historical romance, International Releases, Mills and Boon, Regency romance, Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed, Sons of Sin, travel
Ahoy, my hearties! Feast your eyes on this purple beauty!
What’s that you say?
Is this a new release from Anna Campbell?
Hmm, the title sounds strangely familiar, yet I’ve never seen that handsome fellow and that blonde wench before. Who can they be?
Why, they’re the wicked and sexy Jonas Merrick and the brave and passionate Sidonie Forsythe from the first book in the Sons of Sin series, SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED.
Sidonie, as you’ll notice, has had a bit of a makeover and is now a blonde, but I must say I love the tension between these two in this picture. You just know sparks are going to fly!
If you’re regular visitors to the lair, I don’t think it will be any surprise when I tell you that I’m a bit of an Anglophile (along the lines of the way that Bluebeard had a few marital issues!). But while my books have come out all over the world (we’re currently at 16 languages), I didn’t have a British publisher.
You can imagine my excitement last year when Harlequin Mills and Boon in London bought the first three Sons of Sin books for a range of European territories, including a U.K. release. Yay!
Now I’m delighted to announce for U.K. Bandita Buddies that Rogue came out as a Special Release in both print and e-book in Great Britain on 21st February. A week after Valentine’s Day strikes me as a lucky release day for a romance.
If you don’t live in the U.K., but you’d like one of these gorgeous purple books, you can order them post-free from the Book Depository: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1455512079/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1455512079&linkCode=as2&tag=romanbandi-20 And I’m also giving one lucky person a chance to win their own lovely purple book at the end of this blog.
There’s a new blurb for the U.K. Rogue:
‘I’m your payment, Mr Merrick.’
When notorious Jonas Merrick finds the wife of his greatest enemy up to her neck in debt to him, he offers her a bargain – she can work off the debt…in his bed. But Jonas is more than a little surprised when her innocent, naive sister arrives in her place, bravely offering herself to the scarred, brooding rake. Unexpectedly moved by young Sidonie’s beauty, innocence and wit, the ruthless loner finds her seduction a much more compelling prospect. Instead of a martyr in his bed, he wants seven days to make her come willingly.
But when the week is up and the world intrudes…will beauty claim her beast?
Works for me!
The U.K. version of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED is available at all good booksellers including:
The Book Depository
Mills and Boon
You can read an excerpt here: http://annacampbell.info/rogue.html
By the way, the photos illustrating this post are from my visit to Haddon Hall which is one of my favorite stately homes. It’s one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been – no wonder it pops up as the setting for so many historical shows, including the lovely BBC JANE EYRE featuring Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester. When I visited in 2007, they had costumes from the series on show in the rooms where the scenes had been shot. A lovely touch!
If ever you’re in Derbyshire, don’t miss it.
So let’s stay British with our question today. If you’ve been to Great Britain, what were some of your favorite places and why? If you’d like to go to Great Britain, what would you especially like to see?
I’ve got a signed copy of a U.K. edition of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED up for grabs today for someone who comments. International giveaway. So good luck!
Posted by Anna Campbell Mar 4 2014, 10:30 pm in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Blythe Gifford, Harlequin Romance, medieval romance, Royal Weddings Series, Secrets at Court, The Witch Finder, Unusual romance
Thanks to everyone who swung by to make Blythe Gifford so welcome yesterday. We had a ball in the lair!
I’m delighted now to announce the winner of the prize. It’s:
Teresa, would you please email Blythe on blythe @ blythegifford.com (no spaces) and let her know whether you’d like a copy of THE WITCH FINDER or SECRETS AT COURT, and also what your mailing address is?
Congratulations and happy reading!
Posted by Anna Campbell Mar 3 2014, 12:03 am in Anna Campbell, anya seton, Blythe Gifford, Harlequin Historicals, historical romance, interviews, medieval romance, royal weddings, Secrets at Court, The Witch Finder, Unusual Historicals, Whispers at Court
I’m delighted today to welcome the wonderful historical romance author Blythe Gifford who is here to tell us about her new release, SECRETS AT COURT, the first of the Royal Weddings series.
RT Book Reviews really liked this story, saying, “Royals plus secrets plus impending exposure always equals drama of the highest order.”
Here’s the blurb:
THE THRONE OF ENGLAND IS AT STAKE!
Anne of Stamford has long been the keeper of her mistress’s secrets, but when Lady Joan marries the king’s son, court life becomes ever more perilous. Sir Nicholas Lovayne has arrived to uncover the truth about Lady Joan’s past, and Anne must do something—anything—to throw him off….
Longing to escape the intrigues at court, Nicholas hasn’t counted on the way Anne distracts him—her refusal to accept pity for her clubfoot touches something deep inside him. Will he be able to follow his duty when every fiber of his being tells him to protect Anne?
A hint of scandal this way comes!
You can find out more about Blythe and her books at her website: http://blythegifford.com/
Blythe, welcome to the Bandita lair! I’m so excited about SECRETS AT COURT, your new book. What were the inspirations behind this book?
Delighted to be here! When Prince William and Kate Middleton married, the Harlequin Historical line released a series of short stories that looked back at British royal weddings of the past. I was invited to participate, but had too many deadlines on my plate at the time. I loved the idea, though, and I envisioned a full-length book using the premise. Most of my books are set amidst the backdrop of real history and the medieval court of Edward III is familiar territory for me. Thus, I wrote a book centered on a very unusual royal wedding!
How fascinating. Can you tell us about this story?
SECRETS AT COURT, out now, is set around the wedding of the oldest son of Edward III, also an Edward. History knows him as the Black Prince. (As an aside, he was the first Prince of Wales.) His chosen bride, Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent, had a bit of a scandalous past and they, in essence, “eloped” and married without the church’s consent.
My hero, Nicholas, is charged with untangling the mess they made and getting the Pope’s dispensation for their marriage. My heroine, Anne, who has been with Joan all her life, is the keeper of her lady’s secrets. Secrets that, if Nicholas discovers them, could destroy the throne of England!
SECRETS AT COURT launches a new series for you, Royal Weddings. Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s to come in the series?
Right now, it is a series of two. Both of Edward III’s oldest children married for love, unheard of at that time. The second book, WHISPERS AT COURT, will center on the marriage of Edward’s daughter Isabella. After remaining unwed until the ripe old age of 31, she fell in love with a French nobleman who was held hostage at the English court. Release date is to be determined, but I hope it will be yet this year. (I’m madly wrestling with revisions.)
Can’t wait for that. Did SECRETS AT COURT present any special challenges?
Several. First, was understanding Joan of Kent’s checkered marital past. At one point, she was actually married to two men at once. (Yes, this is documented!) It was a rather risqué background for a royal bride. But sorting out the timeline and the legal aspects of her entanglements didn’t give me as much trouble as something more mundane: the floor plan of Windsor Castle. The castle was undergoing massive renovations during these years and trying to figure out what wings and rooms were finished was a real challenge. I finally found a solid source, available only in print, with color coded floor plans and filled my iPhone with pictures.
The use of real historical events is a trademark of yours, isn’t it?
History inspires me. One of the first books on my keeper shelf was KATHERINE by Anya Seton. It is the story of the lifelong mistress of John of Gaunt, another of King Edward’s children. They finally married, late in life, and her children were legitimized and sat on the throne of England. I love the idea that love can change history!
Oh, I adored KATHERINE. Speaking of great books, I read and loved your indie novel, THE WITCH FINDER. Can you tell us about that story?
THE WITCH FINDER is set on the Scottish Borders during the middle of the seventeenth century and one of the worst witch hunts in history. I was inspired by Sandra Brown’s famous comment: “If your heroine is an arsonist, your hero better be a firefighter.” In this case, my hero is a witch finder, a man expert in determining whether a suspect was really a witch or falsely accused. And my heroine, of course, is an accused witch.
Such high stakes in that story. I couldn’t put it down. How did you come to self-publish?
I actually wrote the book for Harlequin, but they were afraid it was too dark for their audience. Your enthusiasm for the story was a real boost, and I am so grateful! It encouraged me to go ahead and release it myself. And the reviews, I’m delighted to say, have echoed your enthusiasm.
I’m not at all surprised. As this is your first visit to the lair, we’d love to hear about your writing journey.
I started writing seriously after a corporate layoff. Ten years and one layoff later, I sold my Golden Heart finalist manuscript to the Harlequin Historical line! (But the behind the scenes story is that I started writing my first historical novel at age ten. In pencil.) I’ve now had nine books with them, one more coming soon, plus one self-published, I’m astonished to say!
One of the things I love about your books is that you set your stories in, for historical romance, unusual periods. If you were to persuade a diehard Regency reader to try a book set outside the first quarter of the 19th century, what would you say to them?
I think we read historical romance for two things: to be swept away to a different time and place and for the guarantee that all will end well. For readers who think an unfamiliar time period might be off-putting, I would assure you the happily ever after survives intact. So why not try being whisked away to a new time and place?
So here’s a thought starter: Do you read historical romance outside the Regency period? What time periods have you tried? (Or would you like to try?) And if you have read something “unusual,” how did you feel about that experience? Conversely, if you adore only the Regency, what is it about the period that draws you?
Blythe has very generously offered one lucky commenter today a print book of their choice, either SECRETS AT COURT or THE WITCH FINDER (international). Good luck!