Posts tagged with: Historical

Marisa Dillon debuts in the lair!

Several years ago, I taught a full day at the Antioch Writers Workhop and met Marisa Dillon who was clearly determined to write a romance.  We’ve been friends ever since.  It gives me great pleasure to bring her here today.

DillonM16 With Book Small[2]Hi Marisa!  Make yourself at home.  Tell me a bit about your story.

 Hi, Donna, thank you for inviting me. It’s so cozy here in the lair. At first, I thought it might be a bit drafty in February, with all the stone, but the bear skin rugs and the hot, mocha cappuccino, are keeping me warm.

My debut novel, The Lady of the Garter, is set in the late 1400s. The heroine, Lady Elena, is a strong, independent woman determined to achieve two goals: win the heart of Sir James, a knight in the Order of the Garter, and attain knighthood herself. The story grows as Elena disguises herself as a boy, becomes James’ squire and follows him into battle. But Elena’s determination and strength are tested as she confronts obstacles put in place by her nemesis, the evil Sir Nicholas. The twists and turns lead the reader on a romantic, high-spirited adventure that follows one woman’s pursuit of honor and true love. Here’s an excerpt:

James rubbed the back of his neck, then staggered forward. “Are you a gift from the duke? Where is my bloody TLOG_FINAL Extra (1) Resized Smallersquire, Edward?” he growled.

He’d obviously drank more than he’d eaten. She could smell the ale. “Your squire left when I arrived to tend to your bath, milord,” she answered. “He promised to return shortly.”

She hoped the threat of an interruption might keep James’ intensions honorable.

That made him smile. “Is this how you tend to the bath for your guests?” His grin turned wicked. “A bath with you would give me great pleasure,” he admitted, his heated gaze boiling her blood.

“I confess there’s scarcely enough room in here for me.”  

Her observation didn’t stop him from fumbling to remove his boots. Then he yanked off his breeches and shirt.

Elena sucked in a nervous breath—she loved seeing him naked. But if she didn’t take control of the situation soon, James would trap her in the tub.

“Come, you can sit on my lap,” he suggested.

She laughed louder than she should have, uncertain of what she wanted. But his smoldering gaze warmed her insides, making her wonder if he didn’t know who she was, what liberties she might take.

She wrung her hands, unsure what to do next. “Turn away and give me a moment of privacy, then I will tend to you.” She stepped out of the tub and draped herself in a towel the boys had left.

“That arse looks familiar. This is not my first time at Berkeley, girl. Pray tell, have we been together before?

Why historicals?

1325623091-fabio_romance_novelI cut my teen wisdom teeth on historicals, and have always loved stepping back in time to read a story starring an alpha male and the promise of a happy ending. Dukes, Viking lords, kings, chivalrous knights, they are the archetypes that satiate my appetite and fulfill my ideal of the ultimate hero. My older bookshelves are filled with the model Fabio on the cover. LOL. I hope some of your visitors remember him.

Dear Heaven – well I remember Fabio covers.  Those are a bit dated…Fabio’s flowing hair, submissive heroine at his feet.  I can tell from your excerpt that your heroine is hardly submissive.  What inspired The Lady of the Garter?

The inspiration for the story came to me after a trip I took back in time one autumn afternoon. I live in Ohio, and we have one of the largest and most authentic Renaissance Festivals in the country. I even dressed the part and took a ride on a warhorse. I was inspired by what I saw. The jousting reenactments, danger, romance, chivalry, comedy, comradery. It was all there and I wanted to write a story about that world.Ren Fair Fun

I love the idea of chivalry and romance mingling together. In the late 15th century, the notion of the knight in shining armor was not a fantasy, but a reality. (If history doesn’t lie) And as a lover of history and romance, I couldn’t resist researching and then writing about a group of knights who have been revered and served the English monarchy for generations. The Most Noble Order of the Garter was founded in 1348, holds the highest order of chivalry and is the Price William Orde of the Gartermost prestigious group in service to England. Even Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is a Garter Knight today.

I was drawn to writing when my fifth grade poem was read aloud and published on the class room door as an example of what the teacher wanted. From then, I was hooked. My early writing was poetry, and then I dabbled with writing scripts for neighborhood plays that I’d staged with my friends in my garage. Later, a degree in journalism. But my career took me into television writing and marketing, where I work now. It was just in the last few years, I was able to get back to my true love of fiction writing.

 Someday we’ll have to talk about writing for television.  I know you must be asked this all the time, but I know the readers want to know – where do you get your ideas?

When I’m daydreaming and while I’m writing. Sure it’s sounds corny, and you’ve heard it before, but sometimes the ideas just spill onto the page as if someone else is guiding me. I am a panster-style writer and I let the characters take me where they want to go.

That’s me as well.  I know the structure of a novel and what needs to be accomplished along the way, but most of the time the characters are directing the flow of the story.  So know that you’ve gone through the publication experience, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Dream big and don’t doubt yourself. Take workshops and join a local group that supports the industry. Success is not a limited commodity in the publishing world. Many authors are willing to give an aspiring writer a leg up. I had an aha moment when I took that workshop from you, Donna, a few years ago on plotting, and it helped me with this book. You’ve always been supportive. I’ll be forever grateful.Ren Fair Mysterious

Well, the pleasure is mine. I remember that workshop.  I do love to teach, and as I love romance so it’s a good fit. 😛  So what has been your greatest challenge as a writer thus far?

Finding the time to write. I’ve learned if you want to have a career at this, and you can’t quit your day job (I still have mine), you’ll have to learn to squeeze it in. Do something every day, even it’s just rereading what you already written. Never underestimate the power of revising.

They say a book is never written, it’s rewritten.   😛  What’s next for you?

Book II in the series. I’m well underway, but this one will have a Scottish bent. I’m also obsessed with Highlanders. I’d to ask your visitors what’s their favorite historical genre: Regency, Victorian, Medieval, Scottish or Ancient World?  And why?

 I’d like to hear that as well.  Someone leaving a comment will win an ebook copy of The Lady of the Garter.  

Darn Sticky Notes!

Nope this isn’t a homage to office supplies though Lord, I do love me some office supplies. Instead this title reflects what happens when your sticky notes get rearranged, lost or eaten by your cat.

You forget your extra blog day until the last minute!ice

Yep, that’s what happened to me. Since its near to midnight and my brain is on auto “Work was a Bear” I’m going to resort  to the tried and true Quick Five on Winter.

This topic is apropos for most of us as we dig out from snow and bitingly cold temperatures. (Expect for Anna C., Christine and Helen…and with their centigrade system I have NO idea what their temperatures are.) But here are 5 things I think about winter.

1. Animated weather reporting. Every modern-day TV station illustrates by haphazard graphics how cold it is going to get. Never mind we understand Farenheit and/or that C one, nope we’ve got to watch playful penguins, shivering snowmen and puddle paddling ducks in Wellies.

2. My thirst for snow cones drops exponentially with the thermometer. Yeah, not so much.

3. The new crock pot gets a workout. I’ve been craving soup and hot biscuits…or cornbread….or…or..brownies.

4. There are NOT enough socks in anyone’s dryer to keep my toes warm. Or my nose. Man, my nose gets like a little ice cube and I cannot sleep! But, if I put a sock on it, I can’t breathe. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

5. Excuse to keep up the Christmas tree. The kitties have been SO good with it this year! Only a little “Tag you’re it” with an ornament or two and no climbing. Plus…if I stand close enough to the lights, my nose warms up 😀

How about you? What are your top thoughts on winter? One lucky commenter will receive choice of a Kindle download of one of my books!

Bandita Buddy Karyn’s Timeless Romance!

by Anna Campbell

Oh, I do so love it when a Bandita Buddy makes good!

So when I heard that regular visitor to the lair, Karyn Gerrard, had published a novella, I thought it would be wonderful to turn the spotlight on her here at the Romance Bandits.

Karyn’s fun and sexy debut, TIMELESS HEART, is available as an e-book now. Here’s the blurb:

Sandra Cranston, an elementary teacher on leave, discovers an abandoned carriage deep in the woods. Inside is a man, Jerrod Ross, who fuels all of her wicked Regency dreams and fantasies.

Ross has been torn from the only world he has ever known—1821 Cornwall, England. How will he adjust to the future and his growing desire for the lovely lady who found him? More importantly, how will he ever return to his time?


“You’re awake, are you alright? I probably should have taken you straight to the hospital, but you didn’t have any ID,” the young woman began to explain.

“Where is your pot?” he snapped gruffly, effectively cutting her off in mid-sentence.

“Pot? What do you mean…”

“To piss in! A chamber pot! Surely you have such a contrivance!” he thundered.

“What is your name, sir?” the woman asked in a cool tone.

How officious she sounded. He supposed it was all he deserved, as he was treating her like some servant. Jerrod lay back down. He was in discomfort. “My name is Jerrod Ross, Squire from Pendern Hall. And who might you be, madam?”

“I? I am Sandra Cranston, Mistress of the walk-up second story flat,” she replied coldly.

© Timeless Heart by Karyn Gerrard

You can find out more about Karyn and her writing on her website:

By the way, every time I see that cover, I can’t help thinking they used Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky as the model. Here’s a pic!

Karyn, welcome to the Bandits and huge congratulations on the release of your debut romance TIMELESS HEART. Can you tell us about this story?

Anna, thanks for having me. I am thrilled to be here in the lair! Romance Bandits is the very first romance blog I ever visited when I first started reading the genre. For someone who is a voracious reader, can you believe that I only began to read romance over three years ago? I certainly embraced it, and have devoured hundreds of romance books in that time.

As for TIMELESS HEART, believe it or not, its origins came from a dream.

Anna, I know we have talked of this before, in fact, on a recent blog you had a picture up of Poldark. I saw BBC’s POLDARK (based on the books of Winston Graham) for the first time years ago on Canadian television (we are talking decades here, people!).

British actor Robin Ellis who played Ross Poldark was my first serious teenage crush.

I mean SERIOUS. I dreamed of this guy every night.

But it was one particular hot, naughty and wicked dream that stuck with me all these years. As wicked and naughty as a naive and innocent teenager can have!

I dreamed Ross travelled back in time, I found him, and whisked him to my home, or more specifically, my bedroom! *snort* When I decided to try my hand at erotica, this dream popped into my head. I just went with it. My hero from 1821, Jerrod Ross, is a nod to Winston Graham’s hero. He is from Cornwall, but that is pretty much where the similarity ends. But Ross Poldark was always in the back of my mind as I wrote this! (and my wicked dream!)

One of the things I loved about this story is the Nova Scotia setting which you don’t see in a lot of romances. What made you choose this setting?

I am originally from there! Nova Scotia is the oldest, settled province of Canada, steeped in Celtic/Gaelic history. (Nova Scotia means ‘New Scotland’ ) It is called ‘Canada’s Ocean Playground’ as it is almost completely surrounded by water. From the jagged western shore, to the big city arts and cultural life of Halifax, to the Highlands of Cape Breton, it reeks of romance. A perfect setting. I have resolved to use Nova Scotia and the other Maritime provinces as the setting for any more novellas I may attempt.

It is no accident that some well known romance writers come from there (not that I include myself with this stellar list) Like Deborah Hale, Julianne Maclean, and Donna Alward just to name a few. I plan to move back there as soon as my school teacher hubby can retire! I guess you can tell I love it. Not many books have been set in Nova Scotia, though NS author Pamela Callow set her MIRA bio-medical thriller DAMAGED (2010) in Halifax. Must check that out.

And it is also a case of ‘write about what you know’ I am very familiar with the areas I wrote about, felt like coming home.

The story is a really hot read while still giving plenty of attention to the characters’ emotional arcs. Was this a hard balance to achieve?

This was my first attempt at an erotica, I surprised myself how easily I could write these scenes! I remember a teacher telling me ‘write about what you know’ (it stuck with me)*snort* But I didn’t want it to be the sole focus of my novella, the emotional journey for characters is so important to me, in my romance reading and writing.

What good is one hot sex scene after another, if there is no underlying desire, love and emotion behind it? Of course, that is just my opinion, the way I like to write. I like to think my story is a romance first, with some really hot love scenes in it!

So to answer your question, surprisingly, no, it wasn’t a hard balance for me. Thank God!

I love time travel romance! Why does this particular genre appeal to you?

I always loved the concept, crossing chasms of time, to find that one person you can connect with on an emotional and physical level. It has a real fairy tale aspect to it, you can get lost in the fantasy.

It also has a built-in conflict, does the time traveller stay, or go back to his own time? Does the other person stay, or go with him? What a decision! Love, sacrifice, surrender, passion, time travel has it all! Also, depending on the era you set your story in, adventure can be a big part, that appeals to me as well.

I just finished Karen Marie Moning‘s series about Highlander time travelling laddies, and I was sorely tempted to turn Jerrod into a Highlander warrior from 1267 who maybe landed in the highlands of Cape Breton, I do love my hunky kilt wearing boyos. But, ultimately, I went with a hunk of Regency Squire.

I loved writing his reactions to something like a flush toilet! Seeing how someone reacts to the strange world around them also appeals to me! You can run the gambit of emotions in a time travel, you can throw in comedy, drama, adventure, suspense, anything at all.

Here in the lair, we love call stories. Will you please share yours?

It happened all so fast, my head is still spinning! This was my first submission to e-publishers, I sent TIMELESS HEART out to four of them early one Saturday morning . My hands were literally shaking. Response times for these e-publishers were 2-16 weeks. So I sat back and figured the rejections would start rolling in within 2-3 weeks. That night, I was reading (as always!) and took a quick break to check my email on my Ipod touch. There was an email from Evernight Publishing. My heart sank to the floor. Rejection already? Man, it must suck! I took a deep breath and opened it, it was a contract offer. I dropped the Ipod. Total shock.

I know luck is a big factor in getting published anywhere, so I was very lucky that Evernight decided to take a chance on me.

Did any writers influence you on your writing journey?

I got my butter dish out, Anna, so be prepared to be buttered up! LOL! You, for one. I absolutely adore the intimate and sensuous way in which you write.

Also your heroes are to die for. Memorable on so many levels. I strived for that in TIMELESS HEART. I can’t tell you how many times I said to myself when writing a scene, ‘What would Anna do?’ You really were an inspiration!

Hmm, SOOO glad I asked that question, LOL! Wow, definitely feeling buttered up! THANK YOU!

One of the very first romance writers I read was Mary Balogh. I love how she immerses the reader into her world so deeply. Also the historicals of Lisa Kleypas. She also has a talent for creating a world and fascinating characters and sexy heroes. Another romance writer I have taken to and have been influenced by is Elizabeth Hoyt, for the same reasons mentioned above. I do tend to focus on the heroes in stories when reading, and in my own writing.

Love those dark, tortured, sexy heroes!

Also, I know we have discussed this before, but I was greatly influenced by Taylor Caldwell, not really a romance writer, but romance was interwoven in her lush, rich dramas. I think people have forgotten about her the last couple of decades. They made TV mini-series out of her books back in the 1970’s, CAPTAINS AND THE KINGS comes to mind. Her book CEREMONY OF THE INNOCENT made a big impact on me as a teenager. After reading that, I wanted to write. I will never be Taylor Caldwell, but thanks to her and everyone I mentioned, I am writing. And I got published. Wow.

Oh, yes, I remember loving those Taylor Caldwell books too. Loved DEAR AND GLORIOUS PHYSICIAN. What’s next for Karyn Gerrard?

Anna, like I said, this happened all so fast, I am not sure where to turn next! I do have three full manuscripts finished, a Victorian, a historical-paranormal, and a contemporary. (I like to spread it around,*snort*) So I have lots of editing ahead. Also just finished an erotica/paranormal novella and now working on its sequel.

Maybe some Saturday morning very soon, I will try and control my trembling hands, and submit something again.

Karyn, I hope so. I really enjoyed TIMELESS HEART. I look forward to reading what comes next!

I have a question for everyone, if a 6’2″ hunk of magnificent Regency gorgeousness held out his masculine hand and said, ‘Come with me’, with that deep come-to-bed voice, would you go back to the past with him? Why or why not? And what do you think you would miss the most if you did go back to 1821? Or instead, tell me of a movie, book or TV show about time travel that you loved! I have a PDF copy of TIMELESS HEART from Evernight Publishing up for grabs to one lucky commenter!

Let the party begin! I brought my Irish Houseboys Liam and Lorcan and a case of Bailey’s, so let’s have fun!