Now, I have to tell you, writers see cities differently than “regular” tourists.
When you write suspense, as I do, you look for places to stage murders or have people publicly discover bodies. This leads you to take pictures of alleyways and dark corners that most people wouldn’t dream of photographing.
Nancy, while she also writes suspenseful books, was on a different mission this time. She took pictures of buildings where her characters might live, or work, or set up shop.
In addition to the alleys and parks, however, I’m going to se up the headquarters for a secret
organization, so I photographed buildings that might suit that use. It was fun to imagine our future characters living and working in these fabulous cities.
Exactly! Visiting Brunswick, Georgia, convinced me Stefan and Mel definitely need to live there. I loved the historic neighborhoods, the lovely waterfront park, and the old buildings in the downtown shopping areas. I also like the way they treat their public spaces, with fountains, trees, and historical markers. We parked near Machen Square (which is bisected by Newcastle Street). The half on the right has this lovely fountain and seating area.
Brunswick was wonderful! Nancy and I visited a great bookstore there (big surprise!), and enjoyed a fun lunch together and even visited the local farmers market.
We talked with people on porches – it was so lovely and warm in Brunswick and Savannah! – and got great directions from local merchants.
Weren’t those people wonderful? I so enjoyed that. I was struck by this marker honoring Captain Mark Carr, Brunswick’s first settler.
He came in the British army but stayed to become a part of the colony. I wonder if he would’ve been relieved to die before he had to choose between the country of his birth and the one he adopted.
That must have been hard for so many of the colonists. Its odd how seeing markers like that make them real people, isn’t it?
Much as we loved Brunswick, our next destination called, and we were off to Savannah! It’s a lovely old city, settled in the early 1700s and a thriving city from that day to this one. The port is busy, the nightlife jumping, and the history vibrant and alive.
So true! The main thing I love about Savannah is that element of history. It’s everywhere around you, in buildings that date back from one to three centuries, in the monuments erected in the beautiful squares, and in the huge, old live oaks swathed in Spanish moss.
This is a photo of the memorial to General Casimir Pulaski, the Polish officer who headed George Washington’s cavalry. Because of his skill and the tactics he taught, he became known as the Father of American Cavalry.
It was so elegant and beautiful in its Square, I thought. And a fitting monument to a brave man.
As most of you would suspect by now, we did hit Colonial Park Cemetery right away on the first day, then went there AGAIN today before we left! You were expecting that, weren’t you? Grins.
It was an amazing place. The massive entrance arch was gorgeous, set in place by the Daughters of the American Revolution, was a fitting entrance to a misty, ancient-feeling place. There were so many historical markers. I had so much fun reading the markers and conning out the faded epitaphs, Nancy had to remind me of the time….
It was really cool. One of the things I find most interesting in the cemetery is the wall with tombstones stacked along it. When Sherman occupied Savannah, his army camped in the cemetery. They knocked over many of the tombstones.
Unsure where the fallen stones belonged and not wanting to put them in the wrong places, the people of Savannah set them up along the wall.
I loved that too, Nancy, although I damned Sherman all over again, the right b*st*rd. (All genealogists hate Sherman)
But I adored the city parks and squares, the fountains and the monuments. I loved the one of Pulaski that you already mentioned, but also the one of Sgt. William Jasper, who took one hill – quite bravely – then as he raised the colors and urged on his men, was struck by a musket ball in the thigh. He died of the wound, but not before rallying his men to a sound victory.
Just as there’s a Fort Pulaski in Georgia, there’s also a Ft. Jasper. Those Georgians remember their heroes.
Another great statue was that of William Oglethorpe, one of Georgia’s first governors. We found one of our fun restaurant adventures near here, but the BEST restaurant adventure was thanks to Bandit Buddy EC Spurlock who suggested Molly MacPhersons Scottish Restaurant. (That’s us at Molly’s up at the top of the blog)
OMGosh, I have just two words: Shepherds Pie. Oh, and four more: Guinness Battered Onion Rings. I sent my husband a picture of those to make him jealous. Bwahahahah!! Thanks for the recommendation, EC!!
Here’s a fab pic of one of the houses I’m considering as a headquarters for my very secret, hush-hush society for a series that will probably be out in 2016. It’s Kehoe Mansion, named for a prominent family who built an ironworks and prospered in the city for a couple of centuries. It was also used as a funeral parlor at one point….bwahahaha!
(It’s now a very highly regarded Inn.)
That was a beautiful one, Jeanne. I loved taking pictures of possible locations for my characters as well.
I was looking for places some of my Mage-book characters, Tasha and Lorelei, could locate their businesses. I found several good candidates, and now it’s just a matter of deciding. Lorelei’s shop was originally on River Street in Renegade, but I’ve decided to move her to new digs, maybe on Broughton Street.
Some of the other sights were just breathtaking, like the cotton exchange at night, or the riverfront, but they didn’t photograph well. The flowers and storefronts and everything else were wonderful, even in the rain. We wrapped up this morning and headed back home, with full memory cards, fuller memories, and the scene-sets for some FABULOUS books! :>
So what do YOU take pictures of when you travel? As you know from the swamp, birds and flowers often fill my camera!
Would you visit Savannah, Brunswick or the swamp after reading all this journeying?
Do you have a fun traveling companion? Your spouse? Sister? Friend?
(Nancy and I had a blast together, as if you couldn’t tell!)
Do you like pubs? We ate at an English Pub (Six Pence) and at a Scottish one (Molly MacPhersons) since they came recommended.
Do you research the restaurants in a town you visit, go with Trip Advisor or Yelp recommendations, or, as with books, do you rely on friends to give you recommendations?
What’s your favorite kind of food? Italian? Pub Grub? American? French? Canadian? Turkish? Grins.
What do you buy as a souvenir when you travel? Nancy and I both got magnets, and books, of course!
Hi, everybody! As you read this, Jeanne and I are on a research trip in coastal Georgia. As the blog posts, we’ll be getting a good night’s sleep in preparation for our Okefenokee Swamp trip tomorrow. After that, we’ll work our way north. Jeanne, what’s on your agenda?
Sleep. Ha! Seriously, Nancy, my plan is to take it allllll in. I’ve passed around the edges of the swamp before, travelling through various parts of Georgia, but never IN to the Okefenokee itself. I’m really excited about the trip. I’m looking forward to seeing some hawks and other swamp birds, hopefully some herons and bitterns. We’ll see who/what shows up. I’m a real bird watcher, so it’s going to be fun to see that. Hoping NOT to see any alligators. Really. They can stay far away from wherever we are. It’s going to be fun to see some of the sights you’ve seen and posted on your website, on various blog posts about the swamp, and the way you’ve lovingly described it in your fabulous books!!
I haven’t seen the Okefenokee in early spring, so this trip will help me when I get to the books that are set at this time of year. It will also introduce Jeanne to the wonderfulness of the swamp! *g* Here’s a photo I took as we headed down the Suwanee Canal early in the morning in February.
Isn’t that spooky? We can bet the mages will be heading into a landscape much like that at some point.
The mages headquarters, the Collegium is near Brunswick, a town that dates back to the 1700s. I’d like to see some of it. There are historic houses and shops, a waterfront, a marsh (not a 400-square mile swamp, but promising anyway), and various recreational opportunities. I suspect Stefan and Mel will end up buying a house there at some point.Here’s a link to the website.
I’ve actually been to Brunswick, lo these many years ago, but don’t remember anything about it. But I love new places, so I’ll enjoy catching a glimpse of life in South Georgia. Grins.
Some of my mages also live in Savannah, and it’s a great location with its historic squares, old houses, and scenic River Street. Two members of Griff’s team in Renegade are based there. Lorelei has a shop on River Street, and Tasha’s headquarters for her design and remodeling business will likely be there, too. Unless I totally fall in love with Brunswick and relocate her.
Tasha has a log cabin on the Big Satilla River, but that’s for getaway weekends, not her working base. Maybe she has a condo instead of a house in the city. This trip will help me decide.
Savannah is going to be aweeeeeesome! This is actually my part of the trip. I’m deciding between Savannah and Richmond, VA for one series of books, and pretty much have decided to set another set of books IN Savannah itself. These books are a couple of years off, but hey, you can never do your research too early.
Nancy’s already agreed to be a good sport and visit some of the nice, spooky old cemeteries in Savannah proper with me. Bwahahahaha!
The dh and I actually like visiting old cemeteries. Many years ago, before the boy, we visited one in Savannah.
I’m taking my small backpack with digital camera, spare batteries and extra memory card, the yellow pad I’ve used to take notes on my swamp trips, and an easel, big pad and tape recorder in case we get ideas we want to develop. Maps of Brunswick, Savannah and the swamp are also going along, as is bug repellent–very important in the Okefenokee in April. As is sunscreen.
I’d never taken a research trip with another writer until I went to England and roamed about with Anna Sugden. I’d be looking at what I’d come to photograph, lost in how the setting would work with the story, and then she’d nudge me and say, “You might want a photograph of those flowers.” Yes, indeed, a nice little detail I did want a photo of, for reference. But I was so busy filtering through the story forest that I missed the tree of the lovely detail.
It’s going to be an adventure! I’ve not taken a research trip with another writer either, Nancy. You’re one up on me having had a good roam about with Anna S. Still, it’ll be a fine sight better than when I took a research trip to Chicago with my husband a then-3-year-old. Eeek!! That wasn’t as productive as I would have liked. Ha! I already know this will be MUCH more the thing! And yes, maps, camera, extra memory, the cord to upload the photos….verrrrrry important!! I’ve only had a memory card fail once, but… So, I upload as soon as I can.
Nancy and I have already worked out a great place for a seafood dinner. Rewards for our labors as working authors, don’t you know! Slurp!!
Have you ever been to the swamp, Savannah, or the Atlantic coastal US? Do you like seafood? What’s your favorite? Do you ever go to the cemeteries when YOU go sightseeing? If you were going to a place to learn about it, what would interest you most–shopping, food, history, recreation, or a combination of some of those? What place would you choose just to explore?
We’ll check in as we get a chance along the way and catch up at night, when we’re in the hotel with its nice, free WiFi.
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.
After Bandita Susan’s post the other day about “I Do” – and receiving a very cool wedding invite just today! - I’m in the mood for a wedding! Also, I’m ever so fond of Bandita Anna S’s Quick Fives, so I thought I’d try my hand at it and make it a combo! Grins. By the way, Bandita Nancy was also a bit of the inspiration for this post, since she and her DH have been married 26 wonderful years, as of yesterday! (Congrats, Nancy!!)
This one, however, is about relationships. Whether you’re in one or not, you have an idea of what works and what doesn’t. As Romance writers and readers we delve into the whole dynamic of relationships, and get to see both the best and worst of what happens. As writers, we often create terrible relationships in our characters’ past so that they are overcoming those wounds in the present, and with the help of their heroine or hero, they come to see the joy and grace that CAN be in relationship.
In short, we create characters who have either found the will to love again, or have opened up to it when they meet their match.
So….here we go….
1. What’s the longest running HAPPY relationship you know of?
For me, this is my Aunt, as she and my Uncle were married for 53 years prior to his passing and were always giggling and happy with one another as well as respectful and supportive! Oh, wait…there’s also Pat Cochran – Bandita Buddy Extraordinaire – she and her Honey have been married quite a while too! And Bandita Jo has put in some years as well….
(And NO, that picture on the right is NOT a picture of any of the aforementioned! Hahahah!)
2 A If you’re married, how long have you been married? (Or if widowed, how long were you married?)
I’m joyfully heading for the fifteen year mark! That’s me and the DH up there with the Dalmatians.
2B If you’re not married, but in a relationship, how long has it been going on? Or what’s the longest running relationship you’ve had?
This IS the longest relationship I’ve had (Almost 17 years together!), and although I’d been married before, I gotta say…this is GREAT!
3. What is the best thing, to you, about being in a relationship?
For me, its about laughter, connection, sex (sorry, honey, gotta brag!), and shared experiences…and of course love, love, love!
4. If you were/are single today, and were a heroine or hero in a book, what would be the most importantpositve trait you’l look for in a mate? (Isn’t that kilted groom pic on the left fun? Pic from Wikimedia commons, as is the Grace Kelly photo.)
For me, the positive trait I looked for and found (besides physical compatibility!) was laughter/sense of humor!
5. If you were planning a wedding for yourself today, or vow renewal, and money was no issue, would you go for a big party and a new wedding dress?
White or cream or a color?
Or would you go for a big party or BBQ, and just have fun with friends and family?
Or would you go to the beach/mountains/special place with just a few close friends and say those words all over again?
Describe!! (There’s a picture – above right - of the incredibly elegant Grace Kelly on her wedding day…do you think Nicole Kidman’s going to pull it off in the new movie?)
If I were doing it again – the wedding or vow renewal with the darling DH – I’d do it in October and have all the pumpkins and hay bales and corn stalk bundles and mums I could possibly find. Grins.
(Cake pic from Yahoo Images, pumpkins and other pics from my collection)
This should be fun! I can’t wait to hear what YOU would do!
And just because it’s FALL and FOOTBALL season and I’m LOVING it (and the delight of going to a wedding again!), I’m going to randomly give out some Starbucks Cards to today’s commenters!!
This is your roving Romance Bandits Reporter, coming to you (somewhat) live from the awesome, major, fabulous Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony!! WOOHOOOO!!!!
There are Bandits in full force here, from the awesome Nancy Northcott to Donna MacMeans, Suz Ferrell and Susan Sey to…well a LOT of Banditas! Many of our favorite guests are here too, and all are decked out in their finery for one of Romance Writing’s finest hours. (This is, from L to R, Gerri Russell, a frequent Guest; board member and outstanding writer Dee Davis; “Mr. Marriott” – the hotel’s Atlanta Ambassador!; Bandita Nancy, and frequent Guest, TICD, AKA Claudia Dain!)
Nominees are nervous, former winners are more relaxed, even though they’re giving awards out, and more and more people fill the ballroom. As with any Red Carpet Event, it’s about the gorgeous dresses and the fabulous shoes. So here’s an amazing selection…I didn’t get all my subject’s names, but I asked them to come on the blog and identify themselves, or their purses and shoes!!
Much as I wanted to, I didn’t list Golden Heart finalists and winners because their books are not yet available. :> But some of these shoes and dresses belong to finalists!!
RITA Finalists include: (Winner marked with asterisks!)
Contemporary Single Title:
About Last Night by Ruthie Knox
Barefoot in the Sand by Roxie St. Claire – one of our guests! – (pictured to the left in coral with her editor, Micki Nuding!
(1) Forever and a Day; (2) Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis
Melt into You by Roni Loren
Sugar Springs by Kim Law
**The Way Back home by Barbara Freethy
Zoe’s Muster by Barbara Hannay
Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin
Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie – another of our frequent guests!!
Defiant by Pamela Clare
A Lady Never Surrenders by frequent guest Sabrina Jeffries
The Recruit by Monica McCarty
**A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
(Just so you know, Pride and Prejudice over there on the right, is a PURSE!!)
Too Dangerous to Desire by Cara Elliott
Wedded in Sin by Jade Lee
(To the left is me with the elegant Sharon Wray whom I know from Washington Romance Writers!)
**Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher
An Heiress at Heart by Jennifer Delamere
A House Full of Hope by Missy Tippens (Missy finaled in the Golden Heart with us in 2006!)
My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
Naomi’s Christmas by Marta Perry
The Soldier’s Wife by Cheryl Reavis
The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck (Gorgeous cover on this one!!)
(To the right is Laura Griffin who won the Romantic Suspense category, holding her lovely, lovely RITA!)
A Cold Creek Noel by RaeAnne Thayne
From Father to Son; and Making Her Way Home by Janice Kay Johnson
**A Gift for All Seasons by Karen Templeton (now a member of the prestigious Honor Roll!)
A Life Rebuilt; and A Texas Chance by Jean Brashear
No Ordinary Joe by Michelle Celmer
Out of the Depths by Pamela Hearon
(The ever-popular-on-the-Bandit-Blog-Guest, Dianna Love, who was a presenter, looking FABULOUS, dahling!)
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements:
The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Le Huber (Also up for BEST FIRST BOOK)
Before and Ever Since by Sharla Lovelace
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris
A Girl Like You by Maria Geraci
**The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James (Also Won BEST FIRST BOOK)
Time’s Echo by Pamela Hartshorne
The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek by Jane Myers Perrine
(Check out that AB-FAB fascinator!! Hope this lovely lady will come on the blog and give a shout out!)
Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden
Edge of Oblivion by J.T. Geissinger
Immortally Yours by Angie Fox
(1) Lothaire; and (2) ** Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole
(With this win, Kresley is ALSO now a member of the prestigious RWA Honor Roll after tonight!!)
Mark of the Witch by Maggie Shayne
Moonglow by Kristen Callihan
Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione
(The totally cool purse on the left is currently Bandita Nancy’s but Cassondra and I both covet it….beware, Nancy, beware!)
Breathless by Sophie Jordan
The Duchess of Love by Sally MacKenzie
Room at the Inn by Ruthie Knox
**Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James
(Check out these AMAZING dresses and fascinators to the right!! LOVE it! Ladies, I hope you’ll come on the blog and say hellow and identify yourselves!!)
Sleeping with a Beauty by my good friend Leslie Kelly
The Valentine’s Curse by Jodi Thomas
Celebrity in Death by JD Robb (Remember, Nora Roberts Writing Institute in two weeks….Grins)
Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry
Don’t Cry for Me by the fabulous Sharon Sala
Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan
Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard
(1) **Scorched; and (2) Twisted by Laura Griffin (See the picture above of Laura with her lovely RITA!)
Vortex by Cherry Adair
(To the left here, check out the lovely Rita Nominee Leslie Kelly and her handsome hubby!!)
Short Contemporary Romance Series:
Becoming Dante by Day Leclaire
Cowboy in the Crossfire by Robin Perini
The Last Single Maverick by Christine Rimmer
(Those totally hot shoes are red suede at the back and a black harlequin pattern across the front strap! GORGEOUS!!)
A Marriage Worth Fighting For by Lillian Darcy
**A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan
Surgeon Sheik’s Rescue by my dear friend, Loreth Anne White
The Tycoon’s Secret Daughter by Susan Meier
We’ll Always Have Paris by Jessica Hart
(The ever-popular Guest, Addison Fox to the left there, was gorgeous in an off the shoulder number. Go, Addison!!)
And last but never least, Young Adult Romance!
Bound by Erica O’Rourke
**The Farm by Emily McKay
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Also up for BEST FIRST BOOK)
(To the left, check out the wonderfully funny ladies, Jill Shalvis (front) and photobomber Kristin Higgins!!)
Several up for BEST FIRST BOOK which did not final in a category:
Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan
Firelight by Kristen Callihan
Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan
Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
That’s a great list of books! (Winners are marked with a double asterisk!)
(Just so you know, The Haunting of Maddy Clare won BEST FIRST BOOK!)
So, Banditas and Buddies….
What’s your favorite of these Red Carpet looks this evening?
And for you, do you go for Basic Black?
Or are you a color-all-the-way gal?
Have you read any of the finalists’ books?
Any great recommendations from either the finalist list or winners?
(All of the photos are mine, and taken with everyone’s permission. This totally cool purse on the right is a champagne bottle in a champagne bucket, but it’s a PURSE! Totally COOL!! I wish I could have used ALL the pictures I took!!)
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…
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.
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!
Yes, it is. Today was supposed to be a visit with screaming-funny author, Lexi George.
Y’all know I don’t bring guests to the Lair unless I love the books, and I DO love these books. But some stuff happened, and…ahem..well..it’s my fault she’s not here. There was a timing issue. Bottom line? I blew it. *hangs head* She will join us in August and she’ll bring her hunky Dalvahni Demon hunters along with her. So watch for that.
But in the meantime…
YES! I’m starting a series. I’m calling it Cassondra talksBandit to Bandit.
I’ve wanted to do this for a long time–interview the other Bandits. Ask them the questions that don’t usually get asked.
I make no promises about the timing of the interviews, or who will be my guest. And chances are good I may scare some of the other Bandits away and nobody else will agree to let me interview her.
Enter at your own risk. Muahahahaha!
Sven is bringing around drinks for everyone, and the house lights have been dimmed.
So for my first interview in the Bandit to Bandit series, please give a rowdy lair welcome to our own Nancy Northcott!
Cassondra: Nancy, most of us know you have a thing for super-heroes, comic books, science fiction and fantasy. That came from when you were little, I’m guessing.
What was the first book you remember being read to you?
Nancy: It was a picture book version of Silver Chief, a story about a wolf and a Mountie. It had no super-powers, no paranormal elements, not even a mystery.
Cassondra: This is not the Nancy we know. *raises eyebrow* How did you get from Silver Chief to Super-heroes.
Nancy: I discovered super-heroes when I saw the window of the M&M Soda Shop in my hometown of Davidson when I was seven. I was walking down the street with my grandfather (my mom’s father) and spotted a Superman comic (I think it actually may have been an issue of Superman’s PalJimmy Olsen) lying in the window. It had a Phantom Zone story on the cover, if I remember right, and I was intrigued with the bright colors and spooky ghosts. So I asked my grandfather to buy it for me.
“Honey,” he said, “are you sure your mama wants you to have that?”
“She won’t mind if you buy it for me,” I replied, with greater insight than I realized. And so it all began.
And Cassondra, you’re not that scary. So far.
Cassondra: Hmmm. I’ll have to try harder.
What’s the first book you remember reading by yourself?
Nancy: I don’t really remember what that was. I suspect it would’ve been in the Dick & Jane series.
Cassondra: I know nothing of this series, but since I’m a romance writer, based on the cover I’d say Dick and Jane had something going…Ahem…
What book did you read over and over as a child?
Nancy: The D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, an oversized, beautifully illustrated picture book about the Greek gods.
Cassondra: Oh, jeez. I knew you were a geek, but I had not fully comprehended the extent of it, or how early it started.
Nancy: It’s never too late to be enlightened. Anyway….I discovered that book in the school library when I was in third grade, and I checked it out over and over and over again. This was about a year after I discovered super-hero comic books, so maybe the two are related. From a third-grader’s perspective, the Greek gods seemed a bit like super-heroes.
Cassondra: Okay, yes. I can see that connection.
Nancy: The dh learned of this a few years after we were married. The book was back in print, and he gave me a copy for Christmas. I later enjoyed reading it to the boy.
Cassondra: Okay now for the serious stuff…
What are you willing to tell us about your first date?
Nancy: Hmm. It was with a guy I met at the Latin club banquet. He was taller than I was–always a plus!–as well as a year older and actually looked pretty good in a toga (with a shirt–remember, this was high school a few decades ago). I thought he was interested in my friend, but he called and invited me to go with him to hear a chamber orchestra.
All I knew about classical music was what my piano teacher had managed to instill in me and I’d absorbed from being in the band. Still, he was cute and nice, and into Latin, so why not? We had a great time and dated for a while.
Cassondra: What was the best date you ever went on? (No, it doesn’t have to be one with your significant other. Shhhh. We won’t tell.)
Nancy: That’s kind of a toughie. My view of any date is shaded by what came after it.
Cassondra: That is so quintessentially Nancy.
Nancy: *rolls eyes* So I’ll pick the night the dh and I got engaged, which happened on the sidewalk as we walked from dinner to a play. It’s tough to focus on the stage when you feel as though you have champagne fizzing inside you, but we stayed for the whole thing. That was 26 years ago, so what came after obviously shades it rather nicely.
Cassondra: What do you collect, and why?
Nancy: I love dragons (big surprise!), so I collect dragon pictures and glass goblets with blown glass dragons in the stems. I have four different goblets. They’re not very expensive, which adds to their appeal, but I haven’t seen a new one lately. We drank champagne out of them when Renegade sold.
Cassondra: You love dragons. So it’s no coincidence that you were the Bandit who found Ermingarde and brought her to live here in the Lair.
Nancy: I guess it’s not a coincidence. She turned up in our back yard when the Golden Rooster was here overnight. Our house was too small for her, so I brought her to the lair, and that was that.
Cassondra: Good thing we had a turret. Ahem….What toy do you still have from your childhood?
Nancy: A small, red (now faded) stuffed dog I hid in the Barbie airplane box in the basement because he had holes in him, his stuffing was coming out, and my mom was going to throw him away. As the years went by, I kinda forgot about him. I found him again when we cleared things out before my parents moved out of the house. His foam stuffing is rock hard now, and he looks pretty bedraggled, but I’m never getting rid of him.
Cassondra: Okay that’s just totally awesome. *sniffle* A beloved stuffed animal goes straight to my heart.
If I say the word “hero” what male actor comes immediately to your mind?
Nancy: Christopher Reeve. His Superman was superb–
Cassondra: *interrupts* I totally agree.
Nancy:….and the way the man turned personal tragedy into an opportunity to help others was awe-inspiring. Even without a red cape and spandex, he was amazing.
Cassondra: We all know you’re a history geek. But what is up with you and Richard III? I happen to know you’re crazy about that era, and it comes up frequently in conversation when we’ve been together. It comes up from YOUR side of the conversation, since I know zip about this time in history. What’s up with that?
Nancy: I read Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time on a recommendation from a law school classmate. Richard III has a reputation, thanks to Shakespeare, of murdering many, many people. So, the gist of the book is that Tey’s Inspector Grant sees the NPG (National Portrait Gallery) portrait of Richard III and does not believe this is the face of a murderer. He then starts looking into the history of Richard’s reign.
I’m an English history geek. The mystery just drew me in. So I went out and read everything I could get my hands on, on both sides of the question, but with particular attention to the sources that believed Richard III was not a murderer.
I still read about this now, and I have to say I think the traditional case has a great many holes in it. It bothers me to see historians write about other figures in the Wars of the Roses and credit them with intelligence and political ability, then flip to say Richard hoodwinked them and murdered them. The internal inconsistency makes me nuts.
Cassondra: Only you, Nancy, would be driven nuts by this.
Nancy: I’m restraining myself here with an effort because I could go on about this at very great length..
Cassondra: Yes, we see that this is, indeed, the case.
Nancy: Ahem….and your Bandit to Bandit would turn into Nancy’s Soapbox on Historical Controversy.
Cassondra: Thank you so much for not taking it there.
Nancy: I was talking to Anna Campbell and Duchesse Jeanne about this in the bar at the Washington, DC RWA conference when Anna C started laughing.
“What?” I said. I mean, to me the fact the National Portrait Gallery had rearranged things and stuck Richard in with the Tudors, the ones who, yaknow, knocked him off the throne, was a matter of great moment. Quite annoying, especially as it took me half an hour to find him.
Shaking her head, Anna chuckled. ”You talk about these people as though they’re your neighbors.”
Well. Yeah. Because they interested me at least as much as my neighbors did. *g*
Cassondra: So you’ve studied all of this at great length and been to see the sites involved?
Nancy: The last time we were at the National Portrait Gallery and I was seeking out the portrait of Richard III, the dh waited in the lobby. Someone taking a poll for the gallery approached and asked him why he’d come there that day.
“My wife,” he replied. ”When we’re in London, we have to come here so she can see Richard III.”
He reported that the woman didn’t seem to know what to say to that, but he was merely speaking the truth.
And just think, this is me being restrained!
Cassondra: Indeed. And this is why we love you. *grin*
Last question…Most of us have something–some hobby or dream–that we’re saving for “later.” Later when we have time. Later when we have money. Later when we retire. What are you saving to do when “later” finally gets here?
Nancy: Assuming “later” arrives with considerably more money than we currently possess, I’d like to spend two weeks in England and have box seat tickets on Centre Court for the second week of Wimbledon.
Cassondra: Me too! I love tennis! It’s my sport of choice.
Nancy: Thank you for having me kick off your series, Cassondra. I hope we haven’t scared anybody.
Cassondra: I guess we’ll see whether they come back for seconds. Thanks so much, Nancy, for being my guest and guinea pig.
So, Bandits And Buddies…
What’s the first book you remember–whether it was read to you, or you read it yourself?
Who is your favorite super-hero?
And when you think of the word “hero” (or heroine) what actor comes to mind for you, either male or female?
Are you like Nancy?—Are you a geek about something? Is there something you love, like Nancy’s comic books or Richard III, that you obsess over but nobody else around you gets?
Do you have a toy from childhood–one you’ve saved–that means something to you?
Sven is serving drinks, and Ermingarde is toasting marshmallows on the front lawn.
Hey, don’t question it. She. Breathes. Freaking. Fire….
It’s her way of fitting into the lair festivities.
The guys who keep the Lair running are passing around snacks. Grab some food and drinks, tell us about youself, and join the fun as we get to know our favorite history and comic book geek, Bandita Nancy.
Want an exclusive sneak peek atNancy’s latest book in her fabulous Protectors series, Guardian?
Check out the Member’s Den and see this month’s exclusive excerpt.
If you’re not a member, what are you waiting for? Sign up today! It’s really easy. Bandita Buddies get access to exclusive content. Receive our monthly newsletter and be entered into the draw for unique, Members Only prizes.Tell us your birthday for a special greeting from the Banditas and the Lair hunks.
I’m here with Jeanne, my evil twin, and Nancy, the third Boom Bandit. For any new readers, I should explain. We have been so named because we like suspense, mayhem, and of course, blowing up stuff.
Blowing up stuff in our books. Mostly. Ahem…
Anyway, here we are, and we’re talking about our top five Christmas albums, and some of our favorite Christmas songs.
Tis the season, yaknow?
Yes, I get it. Some people don’t like Christmas music, don’t like being reminded that it IS Christmas, and would prefer not to hear about it. In truth I went through a spell where I felt that way. I was sick to death of the crowds and the money mongering, all to the same melancholy musical backdrop that takes over radio frequencies from November until New Year’s Eve.
Then I watched the film Elf, and something shifted. Partly because in that film, for the first time ever, I heard the song, Baby It’s Cold Outside.
I hear you asking the question. “How could this be, Cassondra? How is it that you could live this long without hearing that song?”
I. Don’t. Know.
I started playing gigs all around the state (singing and playing guitar), when I was fifteen. I started playing piano for money(all over the southeastern United States) when I was seventeen. But that was mostly gospel and country. I grew up in a fundamentalist church. My whole childhood was swallowed whole by gospel, country, classical (checked out from the library) and folk music (albums sneaked out of the attic upstairs, when my mom wasn’t looking). Almost no jazz, or jazz-influenced music at all. I got a hint of Big Band from the Lawrence Welk Show, but that was it. That could be the reason I missed out on the jazzier side of Christmas. The only Christmas music played around our home–or actually, around our town, that I remember–was the kind that centered on the religious. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie…
Santa Clause was comin’ to town, but only in a church-approved sleigh, yaknow?
Granted, Christmas is a religious holiday, for many. But still…where were all of these songs I missed? Merry Christmas Baby, you sure did treat me right…
I have this one memory. I think it was from fourth grade. Each of us had to bring a Clorox bleach jug from home. (For those of you who don’t know, these jugs are opaque white plastic, like the one on the right. We cut the top off of the jug, just at the top of the label, where that ridge is in the picture. We removed said label, turned the bottom half of the jug upside down, then cut holly leaves and berries out of construction paper and glued them onto the front of the upside-down jug, to make a marching-band-style “hat”. Then we had to wear these godawful abominations and stand on a stage, on risers in front of family and friends, while we sang really bad, really depressing carols at the Christmas program.
It. Was. Awful.
Maybe that’s what turned me against Christmas carols to begin with.
Honestly though, when you think about that Baby It’s Cold Outside song, and its real meaning, there’s no mistake. It’s a romance novel in the making. A really steamy one. Our intrepid hero is working his butt off to get our heroine to stay for the night. She’s resisting in a rather ridiculous must-play-hard-to-get fashion. He’s hoping for wild monkey sex, right?
You know he is. I mean, he’s a guy.
In case you haven’t heard the song, here’s one of my favorite versions, from one of the favorite albums I list, below.
My suspicion is that this song was considered inappropriate by a lot of people when I was growing up. Maybe there just weren’t a lot of recorded versions out there. I dunno. It certainly would have been inappropriate in MY house. You know…because of the whole “potential for wild monkey sex” thing. Nothing sexual about Silent Night. Well, maybe the “round yon virgin” thing. But I digress.
Flash forward to adulthood, and to the movie Elf and Christmas music came alive for me again. I started buying albums full of Christmas music from Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and their ilk.
Jeanne grew up in a church-going area too. She sang in the church choir when she was old enough, and of course, carols were the order of the day. But mostly, her favorite thing about the season is that it’s COLD. Baby, it’s cold outside, dear Lord LET IT SNOW in this winter wonderland. This is where our twin thing diverges. I’ll go to a nice warm beach, thanks.
Nancy had her share of carols and Christmas music. About this formative experience, she said, “I sang in Junior Choir. Considering I can’t carry a tune in the proverbial bucket, this was probably more fun for me than for my more gifted choir-mates. Enthusiasm counted for a lot, though, and I was enthusiastic. In high school, I went caroling with friends a couple of times, again hoping enthusiasm made up for being pitch-challenged.”
So for the three of us, carols were the order of the day.
But back to my (relatively) recent discovery of the NON-carol Christmas song…
Many of these songs have nothing to do with Christmas itself. They’ve just become standards of the season. And yet, the newer music is, mostly, my favorite. I still do love the traditional carols though, and I’ve figured out that for me to like them, they have to be upbeat and maybe even a bit jazzy.
So to that end, we give you the Boom Bandits’ Top Five Christmas albums, which will end up being fifteen, since there are three of us. Then again, Jeanne and I are the evil twins of the lair, so we may have some duplicates. Still…although we have a number of evil twin crossovers, we do not always tow the evil twin line.
Cassondra: Anything Manheim Steamroller because they just rock. It’s feel-good music.
Jeanne: Windham Hill’s Winter Solstice. Because of the sheer musicality of it, and this amazing, ancient-sounding stuff you don’t hear on common playlists.
Nancy: The Roches~~We Three Kings. This is a capella, beautiful harmony.
Cassondra: Amy Grant’s Home For Christmas. Just a really warm, easygoing, family-at-home, glass-of-cider album.
Jeanne: Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas–It’s jazzy and fun and it’s got my absolute favorite, O Holy Night, with someone who can hit all the notes crisp and clear.
Nancy: Joan Baez~~Noel. Lovely voice. Folk music delivery of various carols.
Cassondra: James Taylor’s At Christmas. This is from 2006. There is not a bad track on this cd. If I started naming my favorites, I’d name almost every one. I’d never heard In the Bleak Midwinter until this album.
Jeanne: Anything Manheim Steamroller. They just rock. (Cassondra: I see the evil twin thing starting)
Nancy: The Homecoming Orchestra~~Christmas Baroque. This is brass renditions of traditional carols. This was one of those bargain bin purchases.
Cassondra: Amy Grant~~A Christmas Album (her first one). I love most of the songs, but the top ones are Tender Tennessee Christmas, Breath of Heaven, Grown Up Christmas List, and Emmanuel.
Jeanne: Amy Grant~~ A Christmas Album–Ahem…Notice the exact repeat of my evil twin’s opinion…verbatim….I love most of the songs, but the top ones are Tender Tennessee Christmas, Breath of Heaven, Grown Up Christmas List, and Emmanuel. And yes, I am serious. We scare each other at times.
Nancy: Manheim Steamroller~~Christmas Extraordinaire. Fabulous Orchestral renditions of holiday favorites. Heavy on brass. (Cassondra: I’m getting the idea that Nancy likes brass. Hmmm..and we all like Manheim Steamroller. Which is kind of cool.)
Cassondra: Rod Stewart’s new Christmas album~~Merry Christmas Baby. The songs We Three Kings and Auld Lang Syne are worth buying the album for, but you’ll like the others too. Stewart is an icon for a reason. And he has some wonderful duets on here.
Jeanne: Handel’s The Messiah–You just can’t beat the sheer magnificence of this choral performance. My father loved opera, so he had Handel’s The Messiah on the stereo a lot, and I grew up singing it. It’s still one of my favorites.
Nancy: Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra~~Christmas at the Pops. I mean, come on. It’s Arthur Fiedler. It doesn’t get better than that. (Cassondra admits that she has to agree, and likes this album too.)
Okay, okay…we can’t do this without some honorable mentions:
Jeanne’s new current favorite is Blake Shelton’s brand new Chrismas CD. In particular Oklahoma Christmas. (Cassondra: Just the name makes me want to buy it.) A second honorable mention goes to BoyzIIMen’s Christmas Interpretations, and in particular, their version of Mary Did You Know. The bass on that song is so deep and resonant. You just wouldn’t know they were that good until you hear this song. Third is Take Six’s He Is Christmas–I love this a capella group and their incredible sound.
For Cassondra: Anything from the Rankin Bass Claymation Christmas shows like Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer, Silver and Gold–anything by Burl Ives. The soundtrack from The Muppet Christmas Carol. Martha Stewart’s Christmas collection. This is a compilation, of course, but it’s an easygoing grouping of jazzy favorites, and is perfect for fixing dinner with a glass of wine, or eating dinner with friends and wine, or relaxing by the fire with wine…ahem…
Nancy: There’s this album my parents got as a gas station giveaway, back when gas stations had to care whether you bought your gas from them or someone else, but it’s on vinyl, so I never get to play it anymore. :-/ It’s called This is Chrismas. I really like the various artists and styles.
Cassondra: OH…A favorite song I MUST mention is Trisha Yearwood’s version of Mary Did You Know. It’s haunting, and like Amy Grant’s Breath of Heaven, makes you think about what that time must have been like for Mary and Joseph, outside of the idealized manger scene. A pregnant young virgin, trekking cross-country and the man who was taking care of her, who must have had some serious “are you freaking kidding me?” moments when he was taking the whole thing on faith, based on the word of some shimmery dude who poofed into his room out of thin air. Bandits and buddies, now that’s a romance novel, complete with conflict, and if we tried to sell that story to editors, they’d say, “No way. That would never happen.”
So, Bandits and Buddies,
Tell us YOUR favorites.
Do you have a favorite Christmas Album?
A favorite Christmas song?
Do you like traditional carols, or the newer, jazzier, FUN Christmas songs?
Or do you put on the dark shades and stick in the earplugs and listen to classic rock for six weeks, waiting for the whole thing to be over and done with?
Do you celebrate Christmas at all? Or do you celebrate Hanukkah? Or perhaps another holiday? If so, is there special music attached to the midwinter celebration or holy day that you love?
And as long as we’re mentioning the movie Elf, what’s your favorite Christmas movie?
Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!Prizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Dianne Love, Sabrina Jeffries, Marquita Valentine, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Lydia Dare, Deb Marlowe, Addison Fox and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays!Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!
Woooooohoooo! Its a Launch Day in the LAIR!! We get to celebrate one of our very own, NANCY NORTHCOTT!!!
Today is the publication day forRenegade, Nancy’s first book in her mage Protectors series from Grand Central Forever Yours. And guess what!! The esteemed Library Journal’s Xpress Reviews gave Renegade a starred review!!
Sven had a special drink – The Renegade – made up, which is absolutely fabulous! He has a “breakfast version” with OJ, and a “Post Lunch” version that has (I think…) rum in it! Hahaha!
NANCY!!! Girlfriend, we are SO excited for you! Tell us your call story!
Nancy: Thanks, Jeanne. I’m grateful for all the encouragement and support you and the other Banditas and our buddies have given me. It’s a big day for me and a long time coming, so we’re going to party hearty in the Lair!
Let’s see if I can focus after having Sven’s special drink. Ahem!
As you know, my agent sent the manuscript around last fall and followed up by email around the first of the year. In late January, she emailed me to tell me an editor who had Renegade was out of town but wanted to talk when she returned. We figured this probably meant an offer was coming, but you never know for sure. She closed the conversation with “Today, I heard ‘Renegade,’ by Styx, on the radio. Maybe it’s a sign.” I hoped so!
A couple of days later, I heard the same song on the radio while I was out running errands. I stopped at a local business to browse and overheard the manager ask a guy at the desk, “So what’s your name?”
“Griff,” he replied, and a chill went down my spine. The hero’s name is Griffin Dare.
My agent called a few days later with news of the offer. She and the editor worked out the details, and now here we are! Forever Yours is a digital-first line, so the book is now available only at e-book stores, but a print-on-demand version will be released December 18.
Jeanne: Woot! Love that! I’m a big believer in signs and omens and portents as you well know. So, you have an agent you really like, what does she think about the Light Mages? And why are they called that?
Nancy: Thanks! My agent liked the book immediately. Though there have been occasional magic-based paranormals, those were far outnumbered by vamps and shifters in recent years. She thought the time might be right for something different, and these are mages in the high fantasy sense, with a magical society distinct from our own.
I wanted them to have a fully developed culture, right down to their own code of laws, The Caudex Magi, and a magic system that would have clear rules and limits as well as room to expand. I also liked the superhero groups and secret identities that hooked me in grade school, so keeping the mages secret from the Mundane, or nonmagical, world came naturally to me. My agent liked all of that and gave me some good suggestions to help clarify the world for people who can’t see what’s in my head, only what’s on the page.
As for why they’re called Light Mages, that answer lies in their history. They’ve protected humanity for millennia. Somewhere in the dark ages, they adopted this coat of arms, which also appears on my website’s Introduction to the Protectors page. They battle the forces of darkness and so chose as their motto Servire Luci, which translates as “To Serve the Light.” Hence the name Light Mages, though they usually call themselves, as I do, simply “mages,” because it’s easier and flows faster.
Jeanne: The art is amazing! I love that coat of arms. And I’m grinning over the motto being in Latin – that’s so “you”! *ahem* I guess I’d best get back to the story instead of oogling Griff on the cover. *snicker* Let’s talk heroine first, so I can keep a clear head. Ha! I know that your heroine, Val, is a Shire Reeve – kind of like a magical sheriff – tell us how you came up with that designation.
Nancy: Here you’re homing in on my love of trivia. The modern term “sheriff” derives from “shire reeve.” I chose the older term to give it the air of being slightly different and of tying into an old tradition. Since I had the Canadian and US mages organize their territories by shires, also to tie into the old English tradition, “shire reeve” seemed a natural fit.
Jeanne: Very cool! And how did you come up with this fabulous plot with the ghouls?
Nancy: Seeing as you were there, you should…what? Oh, explain it for OTHER people! Right.
Jeanne: Snork! Exactly!!
Nancy: I wanted a type of villain that hadn’t been used a lot, and I’m naturally drawn to things that go bump in the night, a category that seemed to include ghouls. I wanted something that would set a dark tone and be menacing in different ways. We kicked the idea around in our brainstorming group, with Donna and Cassondra and later with Joan, and the ghouls are what we came up with. They’re sort of like vampires in that they can draw from their victims, but they draw life energy or magic instead of blood. Usually. Their talons can also inject potentially fatal venom or rip deep wounds in mage or Mundane flesh. Or in ghoul flesh, for that matter. They aren’t known for getting along with each other.
This might be a good place to pop in the trailer, which will go on the bandit site sometime this week. The Members Only excerpt is up now.
Jeanne: I just LOVE that trailer! Yum, yum, yum. I’m going to switch gears here for a minute to your hot, hot (and did I mention hot?) hero, Griffin Dare. He’s an outlaw when the story starts. Tell us about that! And I want to know, why a quarterstaff?
Nancy: Why, thank you, Jeanne! The guy standing in for Griff on the cover, Mr. Anonymously Gorgeous, certainly is hot! I don’t want to say too much about why Griff is an outlaw. I think I’d rather let people discover that as they go. But I will say that six years ago, he killed the head of the southeastern mages’ council and fought his way out of the Collegium, their headquarters. He had been the shire reeve until that one act made him the mages’ most wanted fugitive. But in this, as in so many things, the motive is critically important and the truth is not always as clear as it seems.
I chose a quarterstaff because I wanted him to have something unique. My research into medieval weapons convinced me the staff was both lethal and versatile, and I haven’t seen it used often in romance or even in fantasy.
Jeanne: Why don’t you give us an excerpt! I want every one to get a taste of the deliciousness that is Renegade!!
Nancy: Thanks. While they read, the dh and I will have another one of Sven’s Protector drinks. The boy, alas, could not join us tonight because he’s away at school, trying to finish up a project so he can enjoy his Thanksgiving break.
Excerpt: This takes place shortly after Griff rescues Val. Her eyes are bandaged, so she’s unable to see him.
The silence stretched between them until fear churned in Val’s gut. Had she made a mistake, pushed him too far?
“Assuming I’m this person,” he said in a flat, hard voice, “what does that make me to you? I already have an idea, but give me the whole picture.”
She raised her chin a notch, bracing herself for an outburst. “You’re a rogue mage, a murderer several times over, and possibly a ghoul ally.”
A creak alerted her as he shifted toward her, leaning so close she could feel his breath on her cheek. Her mouth went dry, but she held her position. She couldn’t let him intimidate her.
“If I’m such a bastard, why the hell aren’t you dead?”
“I asked you first.” Thank God, her voice held steady. She swallowed to ease her tight throat.
“If you believed everything in your precious annals, you wouldn’t risk challenging me. Yes, I’m Griffin Rhys Dare.”
Val’s heart thudded in her throat. He’d just confirmed her guess. Yet she was, for whatever reason, still alive.
“What do you want with me?”
“I want you to listen. To consider evidence you haven’t seen before.”
“So you’re going to tell me you’re innocent? I’d expected better of you.”
He let out a weary sigh. “I’m not in league with the ghouls, and I never killed anyone I didn’t have to.”
The first part, she’d believe. But the second…“You’ll never convince me the mages who tried to apprehend you were ghoul allies.”
“Of course not.” He sounded sad. If only she could believe he really was. “They were trying to capture me. I was defending myself—and those who rely on me for protection.”
“Such as?” Impatient, Val shook her head. “Regardless, you should’ve come in, made your case, not slaughtered—”
“We’re not going there. Not tonight.” His cold, hard voice warned her not to press. “I brought you here to talk to you. To show you things you can’t see well enough now to read.”
“So you do have a jailhouse alibi.” That seemed beneath him, and his thinking her fool enough to buy it stung.
“I have the truth. If you’re willing to see it.”
“Right. What do you really want?” A slight sound, not quite a sigh, came from him, as if he were hurt. Like he cared whatshe thought. Oh, he knew just how to play her.
“I want safety for our people,” he said, “and for the Mundanes, whether you believe me or not. Listening won’t cost you anything but a couple of days for your eyes to heal. What if I’m telling the truth, Valeria? What if there’s something rotten in the Collegium’s heart? Can you shrug off that possibility so easily?”
What was or wasn’t happening in the Collegium was her business, not his, but listening might help her better understand his angle. “I’ll hear you out, but you’ll have to explain right now.”
Jeanne: Sigh. I love Griff. Grins. Tell us what’s next for you and the mages?
Nancy: There’s a novella, Protector, scheduled for March 2013, and the second novel,Guardian, should be out in May. I’m also blogging on Fresh Fiction today. There’s a list of upcoming guest appearances on my website. I’m also going down to the Okefenokee Swamp again soon, to do research for the third book, which has the working title Warrior.
Because I’m so happy about launching Renegade, I’m running the Everyday Magic contest for my newsletter subscribers and a separate contest on Fresh Fiction. Each of these prize packages includes a handmade glass goblet with a dragon in the stem. There are no dragons in Renegade, but I happen to like them, so I figured, why not?
So, Banditas and Buddies…who’s your favorite outlaw hero?
Nancy’s giving away a Keeper Kase with a signed Renegade cover card as well as one from my upcoming release, Deadly Charms, and an assortment of others. She’s also giving away a handmade glass goblet with a green glass dragon in the stem. The winner will be chosen from the commenters on this blog post and on Nancy’s post November 26.
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.