Posted by Donna MacMeans Nov 2 2013, 12:20 am in Donna MacMeans, Echoes in Stone, Gothic Romance, Kat Sheridan
It is my pleasure to introduce my long time friendKat Sheridan to you today. Kat just released her debut novel, ECHOES IN STONE.
Kat, you write gothic historical romance. What elements differentiate a gothic romance from a typical historical romance?
It has been said that in traditional romances, the girl gets a boy, but in Gothic romances, the girl gets a house. Or a castle. Or an abbey. The ever-popular Regency romance tends to be about manners, rules (and defying them!) wittiness, and the social dance among peers. Gothics are their dark, brooding cousin, drenched in incessant storms, steeped in atmosphere, with a strong suspense element. I once had a contest judge suggest that gloomy castles and rain were so clichéd that perhaps I might have my characters meet at a picnic on a sunny afternoon instead. This is akin to suggesting that fluffy pink bunnies might make appropriate Halloween decorations. Gothics also tend to feature heroines forced to work for a living. Governess is the perennially favorite occupation, but she might also be a music teacher, portrait painter, or secretary. She tends to be plucky and resourceful, although in early gothic romances she also tended to scream a lot and need rescuing. In modern gothics, she fights back and is just as likely to rescue the hero.
Who were your influences?
Like most fans of Gothic romance, I fell in love early with Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Daphne DuMaurier. In the acknowledgements of this novel I also thank Barbara Michaels for writing Master of Blacktower. The font on the front cover of Echoes in Stone, including the “swooshes” on it, are a direct tribute to one of the covers for that book. I also have almost the entire collection of Zebra gothics from the early 90s, the ones with the covers that have ladies running from houses, and a single light gleaming from a tower. I wanted that same concept on the cover of Echoes in Stone. There’s a castle with a single light in the tower, but instead of a screaming lady running, I wanted to show the dark, brooding man she was running from!
Tell us about your writing process?
My process includes the Write or Die application, a piece of software that times the writing and makes hideous noises at you if you falter. It also involves headphones and a tiara. The headphones are usually blasting Mozart or a favorite meditational piece that includes binaural beats. The tiara, besides just looking terrific, is used as a visual cue to Hubs, to alert him that I’m deep into writing and will toss him over the nearest parapet if he interrupts the muse. The accompanying photo shows me with Donna MacMeans, both of wearing our favorite headgear. Her excuse was that she was doing a book signing on a busy Saturday morning at Barnes & Noble. I had no excuse other than being at an age where wearing a tiara in public on a Saturday morning is not yet a sign of incipient senility, but it’s getting close.
What’s next for you?
I’m up to my glittery tiara in NaNoWriMo right now, working on another gothic romance. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an international event that challenges people to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s actually about half a novel for me, and a pretty steep challenge. My new novel involves a cursed necklace, seven generations of dead women, three ghosts, and an abbey. The heroine this time is the ward of the traditional dark hero (another classic trope!) , and a marriage of convenience. And lots of villains. I do love a good villain. Or two. Or three.
What’s your favorite drink? Favorite dessert?
I’m a diehard bourbon girl. Nothing is better at the end of the day than an icy Manhattan, although Hubs has tried for years to convince me that the maraschino cherries in them do not, in fact, count toward my daily fruit and veggie quota. I’m also a fan of coffee and anything coffee flavored. I am easily seduced by the occasional espresso martini. And although it’s probably sacrilegious for a romance writer, I’m not a fan of chocolate. I’d rather have cheesecake. Coffee-flavored cheesecake. Or bourbon flavored cheesecake. Or anything with frosting. Lots of frosting.
Can you share a short excerpt?
Jessa lifted her gray skirts and ran through the rain, but was sodden by the time she reached the small portico. The heavy wool clung to her body, deepening her chill. She raised her hand to the bell pull, but never reached it.
A bolt of lightning cracked overhead. The horses screamed. By accident or design, the coachman departed at a clattering pace, abandoning her alone on the doorstep of Tremayne Hall. A second flash of lightning followed hard on the first, as the heavy wooden door opened with a resounding crash.
Jessa recoiled, gasping, unable to tell if her racing heart owed more to the sizzle in the air or the figure illuminated in the flash of light.
They stood in a frozen tableau, staring at one another. Towering over her, the monstrous man looked large enough to manage any unwary hound of hell that crossed his path. A wild mane of unkempt ebony hair fell to his shoulders, leaving his face half in shadow. Powerful-looking thighs strained the seams of his black trousers. His knee-high boots, spattered with mud, molded muscular calves.
In that single flash of lightning, his black silk shirt, open to the waist, had revealed a fine mat of coal black hair curled against bronze skin. Nothing disguised the breadth of chest and shoulders.
Jessa raised her chin, drawing a sharp breath. Why am I not surprised to find the devil at the door this night? “I’ve come—”
“You lying, cheating bitch! Come back from the fires of hell to taunt me, have you? I killed you once; why will you not stay dead?”
With the shouted words still echoing around the half-lit room behind him, he seized Jessa’s wrist and yanked her into his arms.
Wow! Now that’s a tease!
I once had a friend insist you simply can’t have an ugly hero in romance. I reminded her how many women love Erik, the badly deformed Phantom of the Opera. My hero, Dash Tremayne, is scarred both inside and out. He’s described this way: “Slashing through his eyebrow, then curving in a long crescent the length of his cheek to the corner of his mouth, a jagged scar disfigured the rugged face. It lifted the corner of his mouth, lending it a sardonic smirk even now, when there was unmistakably no humor in his shadowed eyes.”
So I’d like to ask your readers – Can a romance novel have an “ugly” hero? How do you feel about less-than-beautiful heros or heroines?
I’m giving away a copy of Echoes in Stone to one reader. Just comment to enter. One name will be randomly selected from whatever hat I have handy (glancing around, it will probably be my jungle-print baseball cap!) If you are in the U.S or Canada, you’ll have your choice of an autographed print copy or a coupon for the e-format of your choice to be downloaded from Smashwords. International readers, I don’t want to leave you out. If you win and live outside the U.S. or Canada, you’ll be offered the Smashwords coupon, which allows you to download the e-book in any of your favorite formats.
To read more about Echoes in Stone, you can find Kat at http://katsheridan.wordpress.com/
Posted by Donna MacMeans Oct 23 2013, 12:15 am in Atticus Finch, characters, Donna MacMeans, Ebeneezer Scrooge, Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Scarlett O'Hara
My daughter brought home a TIme Magazine publication, The 100 Most Influential People who NEVER LIVED.
Which got me to thinking. I imagine there are more imaginary people who influenced me in some way than real people. We discover imaginary people in every fiction book we read, in most television shows, in most movies. Our world is populated with imaginary people!
So I was thinking about how they might have influenced our lives. For example – Did the spunkiness of Scarlett O’Hara speak to you when things got rough reminding you that “tomorrow is another day” and thus another opportunity to make things right? How about the fictional character of Cinderella giving us hope that every woman is beautiful and can rise from misfortune to capture the heart of a prince? Were you motivated by Atticus Finch to stand up for what’s right, even when others tell you you’re wrong? I think maybe in a way I was.
I remember watching A Christmas Carol every year at Christmastime. I never got tired of it. It clearly depicted that how we live our lives is reflected in how we’ll be remembered, and that our choices have consequences. Ebenezer Scrooge – I owe you for reminding me that the little things count for good and bad.
I’d like to say that I was influenced by Harry Potter to believe in magic but I think he came along too late to be much of an influence for me – unless it was to point out the potential of the young adult market but I attribute that to a very real J.K. Rowling than to her characters. No, I think the characters that taught me to believe in magic were Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. I remember seeing a televised stage production of Peter Pan on tv when I was little. Mary Martin played Peter Pan and a tiny flashing light was Tinkerbelle. I’ll never forget when the children were sprinkled with fairy dust and they flew – they really flew – right off the stage and into the air!! How can you not believe in magic when you see that at an impressionable age?
So what “people who never lived” had an influence upon you? (Perhaps Dracula or Frankenstein given the season ). I’ll let you know if they made Time’s list – and I’ll drop some of the names on the list as we go through the day. It’s fun to see the names of the characters and say “Oh, I remember that one!”
I’ll pick a random name from the people leaving a comment and we’ll talk about a prize from my backlist. So let’s chat memorable characters.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Sep 24 2013, 11:45 pm in Bandit Booty, Donna MacMeans, Love of Pens, The Casanova Code
I had such a good time chatting with everyone about pens, penmanship and Illya Kuryakin that I’ve decided to award two prizes.
The winners are :
Shannon and Sue Leech!
Congratulations! If you can visit www.DonnaMacMeans.com and send me your contact information, I’ll send out a copy of the Casanova Code ASAP.
Thanks again to everyone who stopped by.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Sep 23 2013, 12:22 am in Donna MacMeans, Pens, Sisters in Crime
Long before there were computers and smartphones, there were pens… and letters…and really nice handwriting! (Sadly, I lack the latter.)
Back when I attended Randallstown Elementary school, every student graduating from fifth grade got a cartridge fountain pen. At that time, fountain pens were fairly common. Bic ballpoint pens were just finding favor, but they just didn’t have the class of a fountain pen. For those that are unfamiliar with fountain pens, the early ones were directly filled from a tiny bottle of ink. For clumsy people like me – that’s an accident waiting to happen.
The cartridge pens were much easier to fill. You’d buy little plastic tubes of ink, break the wax seal with something sharp and then put the cartridge in the pen. The inks came in all sorts of colors (unlike the Bic ballpoints. At that time you could only get blue, black and red). My favorite was a teal blue – peacock blue! Big surprise there.
By the time I went to Junior high school, the television show, the Man from U.N.C.L.E., was all the rage. Darn, I should have remembered that crush I had on Illya Kuryakin (aka David McCallum) when Patricia Sargeant did her blog on crushes. He was hot. For those that don’t remember, here’s a stroll down memory lane. I’m not high-tech effort to embed a video, but if you’re a Man from UNCLE fan – check this out http://youtu.be/RPf5FkYolS8 . It brought back lots of memories.Anyway, they had a communicator pen. At the time I had a gold pen that you could twist to release a blue ballpoint nib or a red ballpoint nib (the nib being the writing piece of the pen). If I took the top off, the pen looked high tech enough to pretend it was a communicator.
Lately, I’ve collected “special” pens to use at book signings. Unfortunately, the one I used most often – a pink plastic pen in the shape of a feather – broke. So I can’t include it here. The pen on the left is a peacock pen (you knew that was coming, right?) and the one on the right I picked up in Scotland. The barrel is made from the stems of heather. Pretty unique.
While in a celtic frame of mind, I also picked the pen filled with celtic symbols at Edinburgh castle, but darn if I can find it now . I think it’s buried in my office somewhere which means it might not surface for years.
I have a number of pens given to me for various purposes, but I’ve not used them. The quill pen was a gift from my local Sisters-in-Crime chapter for speaking at one of their meetings. The quote on the paper holding the pen in place is from Victor Hugo and says “It has the lightness of the wind and the power of the lightning. ” Love that quote.
The gold pen was a gift from my local RWA chapter to celebrate my first book sale in 2006. It’s hard to see but there’s a crystal in the top of the pen that sparkles different colors in the sunlight.
I have a theory that pens are going the way of horse and buggies as the ability to text and submit applications strengthens and grows. I think that’s sort of sad.
What about you? Do you have a favorite pen, or just one that you grab from the bottom of your purse. LOL Maybe I should ask if you have a favorite stylus :-) Do you believe good handwriting is still important? Do you have nice handwriting? Tell me your “ink” on the subject and I’ll send someone a copy of THE CASANOVA CODE.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Aug 27 2013, 12:06 am in Bandita Booty, Donna MacMeans
Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment on Friday. The winner of a book from my backlist is
Nancy S Goodman
Nancy – Please go to www.DonnaMacMeans.com and let me know which of my books you’d like as a prize. I can send you any one except The Education of Mrs. Brimley as I don’t have any more copies of that release. But any one of the others is available.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Aug 23 2013, 12:45 am in Abandoned books, DNF books, Donna MacMeans, technology
They say confession is good for the soul, so I thought I’d air mine.
I have been carrying around a massive ton of guilt regarding books that I’ve started and never finished. I’ve always been a “finish what you start” person and always applied that to books as well. But these days…not so much. I thought I was alone in this and kept this dereliction of reading responsibly to myself, but a recent facebook post from Trish Milburn got me thinking. Check out the chart that accompanied the facebook post.
I know – the percentages quoted of people reading at all are depressing, but see that little block that says ”57% of new books are not read to completion”? That’s me! Perhaps I’m in good company. Now I don’t know if that’s 57% of “all new books published” or 57% of new books a typical reader purchases…but I’m thinking it’s the “all new books” version.
In preparation for this blog, I googled “Reasons for not finishing a book,” and found I wasn’t alone. I discovered there’s even a Goodreads list of the top books not finished. While I haven’t found that list (Goodreads is a total mystery to me), I understand that Catch-22 and some books of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy occupy the top spots (I finished both of those in my early years in high school.) They noted in the article that most finished books result from book clubs and school assignments. In other words – there are repercussions if you don’t finish. While that may be true, there are many books that I simply can’t put down. I’ll stay up all night if necessary, and then mourn a little bit when I come to the end. Don’t you love it when that happens?
I feel as if I’m abandoning more books in the most recent years than say ten years ago. I saw an article that said technology such as Kindles, Nooks, and Ipads make it easier to abandon books. I don’t know if this concept is true – but I do know that when I abandon a book on my kindle, it’s “in my face” longer. I see those little percentage of completion dots whenever I access the menu. If I abandon a print book, I simply slip it into a box destined for the local library and don’t have to see it again . But books on Kindle are different.
I’ve noticed that I tend to abandon the book about the 25 – 28% mark (Kindle makes this so easy to ascertain) – or, surprisingly, right after I finish chapter six. I wonder why that is?
For what it’s worth, I ALWAYS finish books that are assigned to me for judging purposes. It may be a struggle…but I always finish those.
So please tell me I’m not alone. Are you like me? Are there books that you just can’t bring yourself to finish? What makes you put it down – can’t relate to the characters? Action is just too slow? The writing style is just too convoluted? Tell me because I’d like to make sure that my books are ones that you’ll finish to the end . I’ll pick a name from the people leaving comments to receive one of the books from my backlist (except Mrs. Brimley – I’m out of those copies and have to scour the half-price books to find them).
Posted by Donna MacMeans Aug 12 2013, 12:22 am in butter cow, Donna MacMeans, fair food, muddy pigs, peacocks, state fair
Last night I played hokey from my computer and went to the Ohio State Fair with my dh. It’s been years since I’ve gone – but the weather was perfect, we wanted to walk, and both of us had a craving for junky, calorie rich fair food!!!!
Now Ohio is in the heart of agricultural country and while I live in a good sized city, I only have to drive about five minutes to be in cornfields. Thus it’s not surprising to see this bad boy welcoming fair visitors.
I love to look at the handmade quilts – it’s on my must-see list for the fair. The quilts were housed in a building with all sorts of handmade crafts. I was greeted by this hand-hooked peacock rug (peacocks everywhere!) and then deeper into the exhibit, a peacock made out out brillo pads. Seriously, they had a whole exhibit of brillo art! Crazy!
I found the quilts and loved this one of Victorian ladies. The sign next to it said it took two years to complete the intricate embroidery. The cakes, cookies, pies and relishes were in the same building which made us hungry to
find our own dinner. Out to the midway for the vendor trucks! We found corn dogs on a stick, cheese on a stick, steak on a stick. Deep-fried candy bars, deep-friend Oreos, deep-fried cheesecake, and deep-fried ice cream (not sure how they pulled that off). New to us this year were muddy pigs – have you heard of this? Chocolate covered bacon, brought to you by the same people famous for their pork sausage. I didn’t have the nerve to try it, but in retrospect, I wish I had – just to see. Maybe next year.
We had messy sandwiches washed down with fresh squeezed lemonaide, and then headed for the animal sheds. I first paid homage to the roosters because a certain crazed one would be after me if I didn’t. We visited the dairy barn and saw the butter cows – both of these beauties were carved from some enormous amount of butter and then kept on a refrigerated view. I wonder what happens to all that butter once the fair runs its course?
. Outside the barn I saw this little cutie, a newborn calf just hours old. The hair on its head was still wet. I tried to see the horses, but the Ohio student band was performing in the arena.
We finished off the day with giant cream puffs, then stopped at the taffy truck to pick up a box of taffy for my son who loves the stuff.
How about you? Do you have a state fair in your area? What’s your favorite thing to see or to eat?
Posted by Jeanne Adams Aug 8 2013, 12:02 am in Agnes Jayne, Crossfire Series, Donna MacMeans, Erica Bauermesiter, FATS simulator, Gail Barrett, Gideon Cross, Hagerstown Community College, Jeanne Adams, Jeanne Ford, John King, Lost Art of Mixing, Nora Roberts, Nora Roberts Writing Institute, Susan Donovan, Sylvia Day, Young Writers Institute
I like meeting new people.
I’m an extrovert, so this is one of those pastimes that thrill and excite me rather than terrify. It’s why I get myself into trouble when it comes to saying “no” to projects, meetings, running events, heading up the PTA, etc.
But I will never regret saying “YES!” to helping put together the inaugural Nora Roberts Writing Institute at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, MD.
The fun people I met this weekend were wonderful. Exciting. Engaging. Like most events where writing-talk is involved, I came home eager to sit at the computer, eager to dive back into the story. It made every moment of committee work, planning and oh-my-goodness-can-we-pull-this-off nail-biting worth it.
New writers, beginning writers, came from all over the country to hang out in “Nora Country” in Maryland and learn about the process and art of writing. Washington County was the very first county in America to be named for George Washington – even before there WAS a country – so it’s fitting that these budding genius writers should start in such an auspicious place. I’m hoping some fabulous new blockbusting writers were born this weekend.
They certainly heard about the ups and downs, pains and joys of writing from the absolute best. Encouragement was the byword for the whole event, and “Go for it!” the unofficial slogan.
First off the bat on Friday night was Sylvia Day. Now you can’t have been in the writing/reading world at all for the last couple of years without hearing about Sylvia. She’s a Number One bestseller in FORTY – yes that’s 40! – countries. Her bestselling Crossfire series has just been optioned by Lionsgate Productions and is headed for TV. And before that, she was writing for Random House, Kensington, Tor and about five other publishers and nearly burnt herself out. She talked about that, and how you had to continue to read, to continue to feed the creative process by devouring books and stories and wondrous tales just like you did as a reader, before you started down the writing path. Otherwise, the well runs dry.
Oh, and as a writer? You better think about strategy…where you’re going, how you want to get there, and what you want it to look like when you arrive. Grins. With strategy, even if you get off track, or fabulous things happen, there’s a road map to which you can refer.
Hot-selling suspense author Gail Barrett and New York Times bestseller Susan Donovan, both Maryland authors, shared their wisdom about what’s hot, what’s selling, and what to do to keep yourself on track as a writer. And everyone shared their processes – all different! – which reassured every single writer there (me, included) that you don’t have to write like anyone else does to be a success.
The second keynote of the weekend was the fabulous Erica Bauermeister. Now you might think this event was totally focused on Romance, thanks to Nora’s name being on the marquee, but no! Erica writes fabulous interconnected shortstories. Rich, brilliant language and delicious metaphors and wonderful stories of life and loss, survival and joy all weave in and out thorugh Erica’s books. I loved her School of Essential Ingredients and was introduced to her wonderful work sheerly because of this event. I immediatly went on to buy Joy for Beginners, then The Lost Art of Mixing. What a delight they each were!!
Erica talked about coming to the writing game from a different path – from teaching, and real estate and cooking! And she talked about patience. About letting the story come to you, and flow through you, and be organic. She also talked about how her characters talked to her. Some of them liked to be written in the dining room. Others in the family room. And if she got stuck in her writing of a scene, she’d go to the kitchen and cook whatever was being prepared in the book to move the story forward.
Now that’s a thing to learn!
Writers Agnes Jayne (whom you met earlier this month), our own Bandita Donna MacMeans, and TV writer Jeanne Ford, also held panels and workshops along with wonderful research sessions on weapons, cybercrimes and biotech. Laura Reeth, Nora’s publicist, taught new writers the first things you should do to start making your stories “discoverable.”
I wanted to be in every session. I wanted to be in the audience soaking up the knowledge, absorbing the words and wisdom and stories. I wanted to go through the FATS simulator too. (That’s Firearms Training Simulator – you get to “ride along” and move through scenarios as if you were a law enforcement officer!)
I too was teaching. I figured the best way I can pay back all the wonderful help I’ve been given along this writing path, is to pay it forward to others – give a helping hand, as I was given one.
But most of all, I learned. Even from the podium, moderating, and from the stool in the front of the theatre where Erica and I presented, I learned. I learned from the questions other writers asked. I learned from the answers other authors gave. I learned just how much I love to be with people who love to write, to read, and to dream.
It was an utter, absolute blast.
So what, specifically, did I learn?
I learned that even the most accomplished writers often think their first draft is utter and complete crap. And that’s okay.
I learned that writers and readers love a good story enough to walk through the rain to hear it.
I learned that writers are among the most generous souls ever. (At least THESE writers were!) Every single presenter and writer present was willing to share of their knowledge and experience.
I learned that you actually can have too MANY contracts! (Sylvia Day had a year where she had due dates for books 15 days apart for much of that year and it nearly made her quit writing.)
I learned it’s never too late to start. (Erica Bauermeister didn’t start writing until she was in her forties)
I learned that the question someone thinks is “dumb” is exactly what everyone is wondering, and therefore is NEVER dumb.
I learned that pretty much every writer shared my perception that this is a “brave new wild west world” in publishing
And I learned that having a fellow Bandita on a project like this is worth it’s weight in gold. Thanks, Donna!!
So, Banditas and Buddies, although I’m exhausted, elated, and recovering from the long, fun weekend, I want to know….
Have you read Erica Bauermeister’s books? (If not, you should consider it! They’re gorgeous!)
Have you read Sylvia Day’s Crossfire Series? What do you think of Gideon and Eva’s Stories?
Have you read any of Sylvia’s SJ Day books? Or her Livia Dare stories? Or other books she’s written as Sylvia Day?
What about Gail Barrett’s Intrigues?
Picked up a Susan Donovan book? Wasn’t it great?
If you could hear any author speak – romance author, thriller author…any one! – who would you love to hear talk about their writing, their process and their characters? (They can be living or dead!)
(Next year’s event will be in June, and all pictures were used with permission. Nora’s photo by Bruce Wilder)
Posted by Jeanne Adams Jul 19 2013, 12:10 am in Agnes Jayne, Donna MacMeans, Erica Bauermeister, Jeanne Adams, Nora Roberts, Nora Roberts Writing Institute, Sylvia Day, The Problem With Power
Hi Everyone! First, let me say that I’m in Atlanta at the wonderful RWA Conference, but I want to welcome a fun friend to the Lair today – Agnes Jayne! I met Agnes at a meeting.
Yes, a meeting. Ha!
We’re working together on the most fabulous Nora Roberts Writing Institute. http://www.hagerstowncc.edu/nrwi This totally cool writing and learning experience is about to launch on August 2nd, and features not only the two of us but amazing keynotes such as NYTimes Bestseller Sylvia Day and critically acclaimed author Erica Bauermeister, as well as my fab fellow Bandita Donna MacMeans! (If you’re thinking about writing, or just beginning as a writer, you should come!)
When I found out that she’d also recently published a fabulous adult paranormal THE PROBLEM WITH POWER, I knew I had to introduce y’all to Agnes. :> So even though I’ll only be on sporadically today, I hope you’ll give my friend a great Lair welcome!! So….let’s get to know Agnes Jayne!
Welcome to the Romance Bandit Lair!
Agnes: Thanks, Jeanne! It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s been fun to work on the committee together for the inaugural Nora Roberts Writing Institute with you, and this is just an added pleasure.
Jeanne: *blushing* Thanks. So, let’s get this party started! When did you first start writing?
Agnes: I first started writing in second grade. It was a compelling story about a small kitten named Buffy who was always in trouble. I hid the story in my Grandma’s newspaper and she told me she thought that it was done by a professional writer. I think that this little comment and her constant encouragement was enough to keep me going. Agnes Jayne, my pen name, is after her.
I didn’t start writing fiction until a few years ago when I started teaching at the college level and began to meet other writers. Then I submitted a small poem to a website and they took it. Then I submitted a short story to a writer’s competition and I received an honorable mention. Those small affirmations, as well as the support of friends and family, were enough to make me believe that I could write a novel.
Jeanne: That’s cool. I think that early encouragement, no matter how small, is so important!! What was the first book you remember reading by yourself?
Agnes: My first, full length novel was The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I was sitting in the back of the room by the bookshelf at Catholic school. My teacher had just yelled at me for talking in class, and it occurred to me that if I was reading, I wouldn’t get in trouble for talking. I became so absorbed in the book that I missed the spelling test that day, but the teacher congratulated me on a full hour of silence and reading became my new hobby from then on.
Jeanne: Heehee. Silence as reward. Well, for a teacher I guess having a student actually engaged in something productive can be forgiven for missing the spelling test! And I adore The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Such a wonderful story. So, before we get to the excerpt. You have to tell us, do you plan a sequel/prequel/series with these same characters?
Agnes: I do plan a sequel with this book; I’m working on it right now. There are a few loose ends in The Problem with Power that lead into my next book. The working title is The Devil You Know – it might change, but it’s a good theme for what I have planned next for my characters.
Jeanne: Oh! I like that!! Are there any ways in which you are like your heroine?
Agnes: Emily is the sort of person that I wish that I were. She is braver, more levelheaded, and far more organized than I would be in almost every situation. She’s also loaded with personal power. There are a lot of scenes where she rises up and fights where I would be more inclined to hide under the bed. There are some similarities though – she is pretty awkward around guys, she feels like an outsider most of the time, and she is a die-hard caffeine addict.
Jeanne: Emily is my kind of woman. Seriously. So what about the flip side? Are there any ways in which you are like your hero?
Agnes: *laughs* Actually, I would not be drawn to Nicholas in real life, and this was difficult when I was writing his character. Nicholas has a lot of swagger for my taste, and he’s kind of arrogant, and I had a lot of fun reversing the roles in some of the exchanges between he and Emily. When I wrote Nicholas, I was thinking of someone who would be a foil to Emily, but also someone who had something in common with her. Both Nicholas and Emily are living with a sense of loss, and I think that’s what draws them together despite their differences in the novel. Even against the fantastic backdrop of sorcerers and demons, I wanted my characters and their love story to be believable.
Between us, my book boyfriend in the story is Steph – he’s nerdy, quirky, and kind of an anti-hero. I feel like my affection for him shows a lot in the story. Steph tends to steal the scenes, and I had to rein him in a lot in the book, but I’m looking forward to writing something where I can cut loose with his character.
Jeanne: Oh, how fun! I’m glad Steph will get his own story in which he can find away to be romantic despite his quirks! It seems that’s what you’ve done with Emily and Nicholas, so tell me, does Steph….
Agnes: *Agnes shakes her head* Not telling! Don’t want to spoil it!
Jeanne: *Snaps fingers* Drats! I was hoping for the inside scoop. Ha! Shifting gears, did you read the same genre in which your book is written when you were teenager/young adult?
Agnes: Yes. I have read, breathed, slept, watched, gamed and painted the fantasy and paranormal genres for as long as I can remember. Any story with magic compels me.
Jeanne: You’ve hit on common ground for several of us with that! So, what was your favorite book in this genre?
Agnes: So far, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is my favorite book in the genre. I think of my book as more of a contemporary fantasy than a paranormal. With Neverwhere, Gaiman created this world of magic alongside (underneath) the real world, and both worlds operated in tandem. This was an idea that really appealed to me.
Jeanne: That IS a compelling book, and incredibly well-received across the genres as well. Interesting!! So last but not least…Who is your favorite author from the past? Present?
Agnes: I have a special place in my heart for Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and the Brontes. Give me manors, moors, and handsome, surly strangers, and I’m happy.
Jeanne: Ha! There again you’ve probably resonated with three-quarters of our readers. So, do you have a fun question for our readers today?
Agnes: I do! As a new author, I am honored to be leading a few sessions at the upcoming Nora Roberts Writing Institute. As I mentioned in the comments of one of your earlier posts, my favorite Nora Roberts story is Charmed because I loved the characters and the way that she created a contemporary fairy tale.
What about you, Banditas, and Bandit Buddies? Is there a magical story that’s close to your heart? (And it doesn’t have to be a paranormal!)
And what is the first full length, adult-type book you remember reading for yourself?
Jeanne: What great questions! Bandita Buddies, Agnes will be giving away copies of THE PROBLEM WITH POWER to two lucky commenters today!
If you’re not today’s lucky winner, you can get the book at your local Barnes and Noble, or online, or Books a Million or.. Well you get the idea! Just get it! It’s a great read. And now *drum roll* an awesome excerpt from the book:
The excerpt below describes a chance encounter between Nicholas and Emily. They still don’t like each other much in this part of the book, though the attraction is evident.
A small noise caught her attention, and Emily walked to the opposite side of the dock. There, crumpled up against a piece of old driftwood, covered in river slime and mud, lay Nicholas Flynn, unconscious and by the look of him, badly injured.
Emily’s heart lurched, and she swore under her breath. She thought of leaving him there for a moment, but her conscience wouldn’t let her. She moved to Nicholas, crouched beside him, and ran her hand along his neck and listening for breath. A pulse, dull but steady, greeted her fingertips. She ran her hand along his face, pushing the wet hair from his eyes. A small scrape on the side of his face was the only damage to his otherwise perfect features, but he was very still and cold from the river. His chest heaved. Coughing water, he spluttered and then gave a sharp intake of breath. He head lolled towards her, and he opened his eyes.
“Emily,” he sighed, with the ghost of a grin on his face, “I was just dreaming about you.” His eyes closed, his head dropped, and he was again unconscious.
She held him for a moment, waiting for him to return to her. No luck. She grudgingly admired his sleeping face. His hair was plastered against his head in thin lines. His eyebrows were golden brown. Long dark lashes framed his closed eyes. His mouth was full and soft. She wondered what it would be like to kiss him, and a grain of self-reproach bubbled to the top of her mind. That, she thought, would be the wine talking.
Posted by Christina Brooke Jul 3 2013, 12:02 am in A Perfect Distraction, Anna Campbell, Anna Sugden, Barbarian's Soul, Caren Crane, Christina Brooke, Donna MacMeans, Donna Richards, In a Heartbeat, Joan Kayse, Kick Start, London's Last True Scoundrel, Midnight's Wild Passion, Nancy Northcott, Renegade
Hellooo Banditas and Buddies! I’m so pleased to announce that LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL is out and my unrepentant bad boy the Earl of Davenport is unleashed upon the public.
If you are a friend of mine on facebook, you might have noticed I’ve been posting quotes from this book periodically. You might be able to tell I had a LOT of fun writing the battle of the sexes interplay between my straitlaced, no nonsense heroine and my charming rogue. Here’s the blurb:
LONDON’S ULTIMATE BAD BOY…
Physically reckless, irrepressibly roguish and poised on the brink of ruin, Jonathon Westruther, Earl of Davenport, returns from the dead only to throw himself into dissipation. Until he meets his worst nightmare: a straitlaced former schoolteacher he can’t get out of his head. He resolves to seduce the delightful Miss Hilary deVere by fair means or foul. But when his past returns to endanger Hilary, he must protect her at all costs…
MEETS ENGLAND’S MOST PROPER MISS
Dismissed from her post at a ladies’ academy because of prejudice against her uncouth family, Hilary will do anything to avoid going back to live with her loutish brothers. She longs for a London season to show the world a deVere can behave with utmost decorum and find a respectable husband. Everything about Lord Davenport appalls her but desperation makes strange bedfellows. To get to London, Hilary strikes a bargain with the devilish Davenport, confident that she’s immune to his charm. But as she discovers surprising depths beneath his rakish surface, this infamous scoundrel becomes more temptation than even the most proper lady can withstand…
You can read excerpts here.
Today there’s a serious theme to our release party. We’re talking about pants.
Some of you may know that the hero on my cover (modeled by His Hotness, Paul Marron) couldn’t quite decide what colour pants to wear. At first he tried buff. Unfortunately, my publisher thought he looked like he was IN the buff and sent the cover back to the drawing board.
Then they tried pale blue. Ahem. Let’s just say The Author didn’t think the colour accurately reflected her hero’s um, personality. Although I must say, if it works for Daniel Craig…
We ended with a good compromise in dark brown.
So in honour of my hero’s pants, and the most satisfying way he manages to fill them out, I asked the Banditas (many of whom are self-confessed “pantsers”) for pants quotes from their books. I was delighted with the response:
This is from Caren Crane’s KICK START, where the heroine, Linda, and her soon-to-be younger man love interest, Jack, have shown up for the first day of class and Linda is ruminating on apparel:
Today, he wore jeans with holes in both knees and a concert t-shirt from ten years ago. He looked a bit too old for such youthful fashion bravado. Of course, today I wore jeans older than my college-age son, and a tight pink t-shirt that didn’t quite meet my waistband, so I couldn’t throw stones.
And a tssssmokin’ excerpt from Joan Kayse’s BARBARIAN’S SOUL: They are confronting each other in the house’s bath. She’s in the water and he is coming in….
Bran gave no response, only watched her, his features blank save for those green eyes which glittered with a dark emotion she could not define. Her instinct to flee from danger flared hotter. Still holding her gaze, he lifted his left hand and pulled the string at his hip. The piece of linen dropped to the floor.
Love this fun offering from a contemporary romance our Donna MacMeans wrote as Donna Richards, IN A HEARTBEAT. Donna says, “my heroine, Angela, is walking her dog off-leash in a section of a woods that she thinks is empty. Her dog, Oreo, races again and she hears a human cry of alarm.
“What in the– Oreo!”
Angela’s foot caught in the low branch of a bush, propelling her forward, head first into a blur of flannel.
She landed face down in a strange man’s crotch.
“Don’t move!” A strained voice, forced and breathless, warned. Taut denim brushed the humiliating heat of her cheeks. She breathed the deep, musky scent of the man’s most intimate parts. Oreo would be proud, she thought with a shudder.
Antonia is certainly a take charge woman in this tidbit from Anna Campbell’s MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION: “Take off your trousers,” Antonia said in a voice harsh with control. She expected Ranelaw to object to her commands. But he immediately rose from the bed, tugging off his shoes with more haste than grace before shedding his trousers.
From Anna Sugden: “Here’s an excerpt from A PERFECT DISTRACTION. (Christina: Can’t wait for this book!) This is the first time our heroine, Maggie, sees Jake ‘Bad Boy’ Badoletti .
Square-jawed and rugged, with piercing, ice-blue eyes and a crooked grin. He was clearly a warrior of the ice, but his broken nose and scars somehow added to his appeal and made him more intriguing. Unlike the hulking bodies of the thick-necks, Jake had the firm, solid lines of an athlete in peak condition. Lean, corded muscle shaped the snug-fitting black shirt and faded jeans. Exciting and enticing, he brimmed with charm and hints of danger.
From Nancy Northcott’s fabulous RENEGADE:
Suddenly conscious that she wore only bandages and his shirt, Val crouched beside Dare. His glance skimmed her bare legs, and the heat in it made her breath hitch.
He grinned despite the shivers he was probably trying to hide. “I like the new take on combat gear.”
“Your pants would’ve made the wrong fashion statement. Besides, I was in a hurry.”
Don’t forget to go out right now and buy Nancy’s new book, GUARDIAN!
And from LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL:
He really ought to take his wet shirt off, she thought, then blushed as the desire rose in her to see those wondrously muscled shoulders again. This time, not covered in plaster dust. This time, slathered in golden licks of firelight.
His evening trousers were mostly dry. Of course, thinking of his trousers led to thinking of his buttocks, and the tester bed upstairs, and all that pink–
What about you? What sort of pants do you like best on a hero? Do you have a favourite part of a book or movie that involves pants or a wardrobe malfunction? (I’m thinking granny pants in Bridget Jones’ Diary) Who do you think fills out a pair of pants nicely? I’m giving away a signed copy of LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL to one lucky reader today!