Break out the cabana boys and get your dancing shoes on because it’s time for a very special SURPRISE Release Party in the lair!
By the time you read this, I will be at RWA in New York, squeeing and hugging the Banditas and Bandita Buddies who are there, and missing the ones who aren’t like crazy. Oh, and hopefully signing copies of my new book, HEIRESS IN LOVE!
Yes, it’s a long time since I had a new book out and finally I can tell you the reason–I’m so thrilled to be writing a brand new Regency historical series for St. Martin’s Press, called the Ministry of Marriage or M.O.M. for short. You can read more here.
The series is about six Westruther cousins, three boys and three girls, who have grown up under the guardianship of the Duke of Montford. In this first trilogy, we begin with the girls, Jane, Lady Roxdale in HEIRESS IN LOVE, Lady Rosamund Westruther (MAD ABOUT THE EARL, January 3, 2012) and Lady Cecily Westruther (A DUCHESS TO REMEMBER, July 2012).
Here is the official trailer, which gives you an idea of what HEIRESS IN LOVE is about. You can read more on my website.
Hope you were wearing flame-resistant glasses for that one! And I’m not talking about the candles:)
When Jane and Constantine first meet, they are immediately at loggerheads. Constantine has inherited the house Jane lives in but she doesn’t realize at first who this disturbingly handsome stranger is…
JANE OPENED HER EYES and a large form filled her vision—or at least, he filled the doorway—dark hair tousled beyond any recognizable style, heavy-lidded eyes trained on her, and a cigarillo clamped between very white teeth.
She gasped. The rider she’d seen from the upstairs window.
Now, he was close enough to reach out and touch. He smiled at her around that horrible cigarillo, Jane realized with dismay. Her heart lurched into a frantic dance.
Jane’s mind fixed on the source of that smoke as a drowning woman might clutch at a rope. She shoved Rosamund’s handkerchief into her pocket and scowled up at him. “I hope you aren’t going to puff on that disgusting thing in here.”
The man’s green eyes narrowed, observing her for a moment. Then his lips closed around the repellant object. The hollows in his cheeks deepened; the end of the cigarillo glowed amber. Deliberately, he removed the cigarillo from his mouth, tilted his head and blew smoke upward. The stream of cloudy gray passed between his well-formed lips, lifting, clouding, curling in tendrils to caress the plasterwork.
In that attitude, the slightly stubborn jut of his chin became pronounced. Despite her annoyance at his studied disregard for her wishes, Jane’s fascinated gaze traced the strong lines of his throat as they disappeared into a stark white cravat.
The stranger turned and pitched the butt off the terrace in a sailing arc, into the rain.
As if the heavens resented this wanton act, they opened, hurling water down in sheets. The wind gave a ghostly howl. Blood red curtains billowed around him, and the fanciful image of a devil stepping out of hell popped into her head. The gentleman moved inside and closed the long window behind him, shutting out the storm.
Jane shot from her chair, which brought her within discomfiting distance of the stranger’s tall form. He smelled—not unpleasantly—of horse leathers and rain and the exotic hint of Spanish smoke.
They both moved at once, and she fetched up against him in a heady brush of palm to chest, side to muscular thigh. Two large, strong hands gripped her upper arms to steady her. “Whoa there.”
The heat from his palms and fingers seeped into her chilled skin. He seemed even larger than he’d appeared from beneath her window. She had to crane her neck to look up at him and his decided chin.
A sudden fire glinted beneath those lazy eyelids. She almost expected him to hold her longer, but he unhanded her almost before she’d regained her balance. She retreated a hasty step and the backs of her knees hit her chair.
The stranger smiled, another flash made brighter by the contrasting swarthiness of his face. “No, no! Don’t go on my account.” His voice, a husky tenor, plucked its way down her spine.
Jane frowned. Who did he think he was? A gentleman did not barge into private rooms without an invitation. “Oh, I’m not going anywhere. You’ll find the other mourners in the drawing room, sir.”
“I know. That’s why I’m in the library.” The corners of his eyes crinkled. “You don’t have the faintest idea who I am, do you?”
She was beginning to think she did.
As if a new series and a new name weren’t exciting enough, I’m delighted to announce that Penguin Australia is releasing the Ministry of Marriage series in trade paperback at the same time as the mass market comes out in the U.S.
The Australian cover is slightly different from the U.S. one, although the beautiful girl in the pink gown is still there.
So to celebrate in style with my favourite people in Romancelandia, today I’m offering a signed copy of HEIRESS IN LOVE to FIVE readers who answer this question:
What’s your favourite first meeting in a romance novel? Any cute true life first meeting stories to tell?
And just for today, in a shameless piece of bribery, I am offering a bonus prize of one HARDBACK edition of HEIRESS IN LOVE! All you have to do to go into the draw is sign up for my newsletter here and tell me in the comments that you’ve joined my mailing list! Let’s party everyone!
It’s no secret in the lair that the Wells house is undergoing a major renovation at the moment. We have moved out while this is going on but I often drive to or past the site and feel both exhilarated and slightly nauseous at the mammoth task ahead.
I spent hours this morning choosing tapware, sinks, toilets and baths. I felt that I was quite decisive (for a Libran!) It’s amazing how quickly you can make up your mind when your builder gives you a bare weekend to do it. The fun part of choosing wall colours and tiles is yet to come and I daresay I’ll spend a lot more time on those things because that’s what interests me more than plumbing.
But it got me to thinking about dream homes and in particular, fictional homes.
I grew up on a diet of European fairytales and traditional English books like The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, so the homes I imagined for myself were usually situated at the edge of a wood, surrounded by fields of wildflowers. There’d be a great stone hearth in the living room and patchwork quilts on the beds. (That’s when I wasn’t imagining myself in a Hobbit house or a gingerbread cottage or Green Gables–not that I actually knew what gables were).
Of course, discovering Regency romance took me away from fairytale cottages to enormous Palladian mansions and landscaping by Capability Brown. Chinese silk wall hangings would cover my bedroom wall and of course I would have a separate chamber for my extensive designer wardrobe.
But the reality of living in subtropical Australia (not to mention one’s budget!) does tend to limit options somewhat. In fact, I love my 1920s Queenslander home with its gables (yep, I know what they are now!) and big deck and polished wood floors and tongue-and-groove walls. I miss living there and it’s only been a couple of months. I’m going to be terribly homesick before the work on it is finished!
But the gorgeous photos Christie posted of her finished renovation give me hope. In the meantime, I can still dream of Pemberley…
What fictional (or real) house would you love to live in? What luxury feature do you think is essential in a dream home?
There’s been a bit of debate in recent years about romance novels being made into movies. Some people say they’d love to see their favourite novels brought to the screen. Others have pointed out the ‘interiority’–if that is a word–of the romance novel. So much of the good stuff goes on inside the characters’ heads that it doesn’t translate well to drama.
I happen to think all many romance novels need to be effective on the screen is a good script and decent actors. After all, there are various dramatized versions of Pride and Prejudice, a love story without car chases or a tragic ending (or written by a man but let’s not go there!)
However, it seems that few movie makers agree with me:) Recently, I rediscovered an interesting compromise between a movie and the written word–talking books.
Now that I have an iPod (a cute little hot pink iPod shuffle) I can listen to books being read to me wherever I go. Driving, exercising, doing housework. I love being able to ‘read’ while doing mundane chores. Plus, if the narrator is talented, it often brings a new dimension to the reading experience.
For some reason, I seem to gravitate toward books I’ve already read: Georgette Heyer (three of which are read by the wonderful Richard Armitage), Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Rosenblatt reading these books is not to be missed) Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, to name a few. If you’re thinking of downloading Crusie’s books, I recommend “Faking It” — the voice of Clea alone is enough to give you your money’s worth.
Sadly, not every book makes it to audio but I think that as the popularity of listening to books grows, more and more books will be made into audio versions.
So what about you? Do you like audio books and do you have any recommendations? What romance novel would you like to see made into a movie?
It occurred to me today that I’m really rather odd. No, really! Hmm, I don’t seem to be hearing much argument from you folks in the lair. At least you Bandita Buddies could stick up for me! What’s that, Sven? Huh. It’s so hard to understand him when he mutters in Swedish.
It’s true. I do have a few, shall we say… *quirky* habits. Here are just a few of the more sane ones so I don’t scare you too much:
1. I always have to say ‘white rabbit’ on the first day of a month before I speak to anyone or I’ll have bad luck. And when I see the first star of the night (which my killjoy husband informs me is actually a planet, but anyhoo) I have to say that little wishing rhyme in my head.
Starlight, Star Bright First Star I see tonight Wish I may, Wish I might Have this wish I wish tonight
2. I don’t use bookmarks. I used to splay novels (ones I hadn’t borrowed from other people) face-down to keep the page I was up to but said husband threatened to divorce me for this. I acknowledged he had a point–not about the divorce but that kind of treatment does damage the spine of the book. So I now close the book and memorize the page number. Yeah, I know. Since I’m a writer with a lot of writer friends I have bookmarks coming out of my ears. You’d think I’d learn to use one.
3. I always cut my elder son’s 2 slices of toast into 8 triangles and arrange them in a particular pattern on his plate for his breakfast. He won’t eat the toast unless it’s in the same pattern every day. I don’t know who is responsible for this particular quirk but I think it probably started the day I first did it that way. Lesson to self: be careful of setting precedents like this because your mother-in-law will look at you strangely when you try to explain.
4. I get depressed if the sun stops shining for too long. When I finished my articled clerkship and was admitted as a solicitor, I wanted to go with my friends to London to work but I knew I couldn’t live without Australian sunshine for that long. Nor could I live without said husband. *G* So I content myself with visits. Interestingly, we spent a month there a few years ago and it did not rain once.
5. I can’t have clutter on my desk when I write. Nothing is more distracting. I can write with music blaring, in crowded places, with my husband interrupting to ask where he put something, with my kids riding their scooters and yelling outside. Heck I used to type with one hand and push the stroller back and forth with the other when they were babies. But write with lots of ‘stuff’ on my desk I cannot. And it’s not that I’m a neat freak. I could have piles of washing behind me as I’m an expert in denial (in fact, I often do. Oops!) But what’s in my line of vision has to be clutter free. (That’s not my desk in the picture, by the way!) If it was my desk it would not even have that much clutter. It would have the laptop and a coffee mug and that’s all. Maybe a refernce book, but only while in use. So…am I alone in my insanity? Or are there other brave souls in the lair who might possibly own up to some little quirks of their own? And if you don’t have quirks or don’t want to share them, what are the most endearing or annoying hero or heroine quirks you’ve read in romance novels?
Oh, and be aware that there are plenty of writers watching, so be prepared to have your little quirk show up in a book sometime!
Do you find yourself getting irritated for very little cause these days?
When I worked in a legal firm, I would often put in twelve hour days and work on the weekends, too. Life was fast-paced and stressful. And I found myself getting irritated at the least little thing in the world outside that went against me. I had so many pet peeves, I could have filled a zoo.
I’ve left that life now, but I still feel the stress of deadlines and balancing writing and family life. We’re about to start a house renovation and won’t that do a lot to improve my blood pressure?
Here are just some of my pet(ty) peeves:
*People who leave the toilet seat up, which is closely tied to people who refuse to replace an empty toilet paper roll
*People who assume that because I am at home with children my time is less valuable than theirs
*Litter in public places–how hard is it to find a bin/trash can?
*People who spend the entire train ride talking loudly on their cell phone
*Rudeness from people in the “hospitality” industry.
*Sultanas. I wish sultanas had never been invented. Nasty, squishy little surprises that creep in to all sorts of food that would otherwise be delicious… Uh, sorry. See what I mean? The more stressed we get the more petty our peeves become.
But I realized one day that I need to let go of these small irritations to become a more effective writer. When your head is preoccupied with little things, it’s very hard to get the creative brain working to its full capacity.
How do you let go of stress? I’ve found some things that work–exercise, especially yoga, hypnosis, meditation. I imagine a session with the boxing gloves would help(though the only time I tried it I couldn’t lift my arms without pain for a week!)
Sometimes, all it takes is reminding myself that this time next week I’ll have forgotten all about this particular incident. Have a little tolerance, for goodness’ sake!
OK, so tell me your day to day pet peeves… and now tell me how you decompress. I’d love to add some strategies to my list!
I’m packing. Again. Just returned on a 27 hour flight from Orlando a week and a half ago and now I’m off again, this time on a mere one and a half hour flight to Sydney, where I’ll attend my second romance writers’ conference for the month.
Romance Writers of Australia are congregating at Coogee Beach for four days of hugs, laughs and learning.
And I have nothing to wear.
OK, I do have clothes, but I’d been focusing so much on coping with summer in Orlando, I forgot to shop for winter in Sydney.
Do you ever gaze at all the clothes in your closet, willing something new and fabulous to simply appear? Sadly, this well-formulated technique doesn’t work–at least, not for me. Soon, I’ll give up and toss the old favourites into my suitcase.
No matter what I wear, there are some things I never get on a plane without–my laptop, a novel and some butter menthol lollies (candy?) in case I get painful sinuses on takeoff or landing.
But it’s always that split-second before I put my purse through the security x-ray that I wonder what on earth I have in there, what I’ve forgotten and what I might have to dash to the nearest 7/11 to buy.
So here are my questions for you all:
1. What do you never, ever travel without? My answer: A book
2. What do you often take but seldom use? My answer: Running shoes. I mean, really!
3. What do you always forget to take and always need? My answer: nail scrubbing brush (especially for beach holidays)
4. What have you left behind in a hotel room? By accident? On purpose?
My Answer…By accident: Shoes; On purpose? Hair products. I’m paranoid about them exploding all over my suitcase and I usually take only a little more than I’m likely to use.
5. What’s the niftiest travel gadget/product you’ve found? My answer: portable DVD player–it’s absolute gold on family holidays.
Music is very important to me in a number of ways. I have a list of songs I play to get me in the mood to write. I love introducing my children to great music and I love to dance. I love cheesey 80s hair band ballads and smoothly witty Cole Porter tunes and head banging hard rock and most things in between.
And then there are the anthems. Those songs you play at certain times in your life when you want to dance with joy or wallow in self-pity. They can express your mood, heighten your emotions or sometimes even change them. Isn’t that a powerful thing?
In the late (perhaps unlamented) television show, Ally McBeal, the neurotic Ally’s therapist recommended that she get herself a theme song. Something peppy and positive she could play in her head to make her feel better. Music can be wonderful therapy.
So today, I’m going to share a few of my favourite anthems with you.
Songs to Brighten Your Day:
Shiny Happy People (REM) Love Shack (B52s) Right by Your Side (Eurythmics)
Songs to Celebrate Being in Love:
It’s Only the Beginning (Deborah Conway) This Kiss (Faith Hill) Night and Day (Ella Fitzgerald) Love Story (Taylor Swift) I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing (Aerosmith)
Songs to Help You Wallow:
Everybody Hurts (REM) Fire and Rain (James Taylor) I’ll Never Fall in Love Again (Dionne Warwick)
Songs to Get Over Him By:
I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) You’re so Vain (Carly Simon) These Boots are Made for Walkin’ (Nancy Sinatra) You oughta Know (Alanis Morissette)
Songs to Celebrate You’re a Woman by:
Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves (Aretha Franklin & Annie Lennox) I am Woman (Helen Reddy) Man, I Feel Like a Woman (Shania Twain)
Songs for Australia Day:
Still call Australia Home (Peter Allen) Under the Milky Way (The Church) This is Australia (Gangajang) Solid Rock (Goanna) And no, I am *not* going to list Waltzing Matilda. Gah!
Songs to Miss Him By:
I Remember You–Love Letters in the Sand (Skid Row) Don’t You Forget About Me (Simple Minds)
Songs to Party By:
Let’s Get this Party Started (Pink) We Will Rock You (Queen) Jungle Boogie (Kool & the Gang) Dancing Queen (ABBA)
So what are some of your favourites? Do you have a theme song? If you had to choose one, what might it be?
Anyone who has suffered through one of my seemingly endless linguistic battles with Bandita Anna Campbell knows how much I love language, its etymology and its usage.
I love rhythm and rhyme, double entendres, plays on words, and… dare I say it… puns? I’ve even been known to dash off a limerick or three–strictly within the confines of the Lair.
And I love slang.
The slang or unique expressions a person uses says so much about them, doesn’t it? My critique partner, Denise Rossetti, knows she has nailed down a character once she discovers how or if they swear. What a person says when they drop a heavy object on their foot gives you a real insight into their personality, I always think! If you were a Professor Higgins type, you could probably track someone’s personal history via the expressions they use.
When I read my first Georgette Heyer, I fell in love with everything about the Regency period, but a standout for me was all of the cant phrases and amusing expressions her characters use. I sprinkle them sparingly in my own novels because I don’t want a reader to have to go and look them up, but I enjoyed them immensely in Heyer’s works.
The legal firm I worked in was another hot spot for slang and jargon, from both the legal and business world–latin phrases became everyday usage in a rather quaint fashion (“that’s very ejusdem generis of you”) Sadly, a lot of lawyers are unimaginative in their jargon, especially when in meetings–”touch base”, “win-win situation” and “we’re not on the same page” are just a few catch-phrases that used to make me roll my eyes. My boss participates in a lot of teleconference calls and I caught him one day marking off a bingo card entitled “Wank Words Bingo” Take a look! Print it out! You’ll never suffer through a meeting in boredom again.
Australia (my native country) is rich in colloquial sayings that sometimes take a bit of thought to understand unless you’re accustomed to hearing them. It’s colourful, irreverent, laconic and often a bit rude–and that seems to sum up the national character. Of course, many of our sayings originated in Cockney England but many are uniquely ours.
When I became a Bandita, another part of my education began. Although I speak the same language as my American counterparts, there’s a cultural gap that seems to span an ocean sometimes in terms of meaning and usage. The simplest things can trip me up when I’m in the States. For instance, for elevator, I say lift; for trash I say bin or rubbish and for sweater I say jumper, which can lead to confusion!
I’ve learned some fabulous expressions from my American colleagues and my favourites of those are mostly southern–
*Amen and a hanky wave *All y’all *I’m just sayin’
There are many others, but I’d love to learn more!
So I thought it might be fun if I give you Yanks a list of Aussie slang, and you can try to translate them for me. And then give me one from your own neck of the woods. You can let me guess or you can translate for me if you like! If you’re Australian and you know all the answers, why don’t you tell me one of your favourite Aussie sayings and I’ll add it to the list?
Ready? Here we go:
1 Fair dinkum 2 Strike me pink! 3 Flat out like a lizard drinking 4 How did you pull up this morning? 5 Budgie Smugglers 6 Love in the Sand 7 Deborah Kerr (only Queenslanders will probably get this one!) 8 Chockers 9 Gone walkabout 10 Kangaroos loose in the top paddock 11 Chunder 12 Maccas 13 Acker Dacker 14 A Clayton’s 15 Two Pot Screamer
With the Banditas shortly descending on Mickey Land and Joanie T’s determination to drag whoever will come with her on the It’s a Small World ride, I thought it fitting to do a tribute to all those catchy songs, TV shows, books, foods that you know are either in bad taste or bad for you but you just can’t get them out of your head or off your playlist or off your plate!
(Not that I would ever allege that It’s a Small World is in bad taste or bad for you, just so we’re clear! It’s the catchy part I was thinking of there. OK, Joanie? OK?)
Here’s my list:
Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Like the song says, I can’t get it out of my head once I hear it on the radio. Another catchy tune is the Woolworth’s supermarket Fresh Food People jingle (solely an Oz invention, I assume!) — caught myself humming along to that one in the supermarket the other day, talk about embarrassing!
And Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night by Black-Eyed Peas. They use a snatch of this song instead of a school bell at my son’s school and boy does that song run in annoying monotone circles round my brain all day!
Do you have any series that are just addictive? I can’t go past an Elizabeth George Inspector Lynley mystery. I just have to know what happens next in the saga of Inspector Lynley, even though I don’t care an awful lot about the murder mystery itself.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of reading matter, Marie Claire magazine. I buy it for the articles. Truly! I know it’s just a big ol’ waste of money but I can’t resist. Oh, look, free sunglasses this month. Shiny!
Wait for it… Entourage! Yes, I know, I know. It’s sick:) But I have to laugh sometimes at the parallels between the crazy ups and downs of Hollywood and the publishing world and shake my head over the insanity of it all.
I’m also getting a kick out of How I Met Your Mother, which brings back memories of my own crazy friends in those pre-married, pre-kid years. And look at that, Doogie Howser is all grown up!
The last one, which Vrai Anna recommended a while back is ACE OF CAKES. Not only do they make phenomenal cakes (anyone see the Hogwarts episode?) but they’re a fun group of people to watch.
My Sweetest Little Sin (yeah, you know I had to throw THAT in *G*) is choc chip cookies. I cannot resist them, especially the ones I make myself. I have to ban myself from the supermarket aisle with the choc chips in it so I don’t throw them in the trolley. I also cannot start the day without a jumbo cup of instant Moccona Indulgence coffee. I know. It’s sacrilege. I’m a coffee slob, what can I say?
Over to you, Bandita Buddies! What are your guilty little secrets, hmm? The winner will receive a signed copy of SWEETEST LITTLE SIN!
Disclaimer: Our guests run the gamut from personal friends, to interesting authors who've asked to appear, to authors whose books we love. We have not always read our guests' books before hosting them here. Some of them provide us with free books though most do not. We do receive a commission from Amazon for every book purchased through links on our site. For purposes of making purchasing decisions, visitors should assume the bandit sponsoring the guest has a personal connection of some kind to her guest and may have received a free copy of the guest's book.