Posted by Anna Campbell Jun 10 2012, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, anthologies, Bandita Booty, Caulke Abbey, Ghost stories, Launch, Mammoth Books, National Trust, novellas, Secondary romances, Short Stories, The Chinese Bed, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance
by Anna Campbell
Hey, Banditas and Buddies!
Today is kind of a mini launch for a mini Anna Campbell.
Well, not that mini. It’s 13,000 words which translates to about 50 pages of a mass market paperback. Certainly enough to get your teeth into.
My long short story “The Chinese Bed” appears in the anthology THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE which is out on 7th June in print and digital format in the U.K., and as an e-book in North America. American readers can buy the print version on 7th August. But I’m pretty sure American Banditas can order it from the Book Depository who will post books without charging posting and packing anywhere in the world. I KNOW non-North American Banditas can order this great collection of supernatural love stories right now.
The Book Depository link is: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Mammoth-Ghost-Romance-Trisha-Telep/9781849014687 If you click on the cover at the top of this post, it will take you to Amazon.
Here’s a short excerpt to whet your ghostly appetites:
Marston Hall, Norfolk, 1818
Josiah heard the door open behind him. Odd how his senses remained so attuned to the world when he no longer existed as a physical entity. Then all thoughts but one fled his mind.
Isabella stared at him from the doorway.
“My love…” he choked out, stepping forward and reaching for her.
During their courtship, he’d inundated her with extravagant endearments. It had been a laughing game, how wildly he could compliment this woman he loved more than his life. He’d called her his treasure of Trebizond, his glorious angel of heaven, his exquisite diamond of Ind, his shining pearl of the Orient.
But all his playful words had meant only one thing. She was his love and he’d lay down his life for her.
Joy exploded with painful force. Surely he could touch her. If he could lift a book or open a door, surely he could touch this woman who turned his world to sunlight.
Still she didn’t speak.
He stepped closer, wondering at her silence, at her lack of movement toward him. She’d so rarely been still. It was part of the quicksilver brilliance of her character. She’d been endlessly fascinating, flashing like a jewel, his darling Isabella.
His darling Isabella who stared at him as though she beheld a monster.
Her expression made him pause before he reached for her. “Isabella?”
She was trembling and pale as she’d never been in life. He couldn’t mistake the terror in her beautiful black eyes. “Stay…stay away from me.”
Of all the shocks of the day, this was the worst. What the hell had happened on his wedding day? What the hell had he done?
“I don’t understand,” he said dully, lowering his hands to his sides.
“Don’t come near me.”
She sounded so frightened, his lovely girl who had never been frightened of anything in her whole life. This was the woman who galloped hell for leather at the most dangerous fences. This was the woman who faced down her ambitious father and insisted she’d marry no man but the Earl of Stansfield.
The Earl of Stansfield whom apparently she now loathed.
Questions jammed in his throat. Very carefully he stepped back, giving her space. He had to find out what was going on, but first he had to banish the dread from her expression. Her quivering fear struck him with painful force. He abhorred seeing it.
“I won’t touch you.” The words cut at him like razors. “Trust me, Isabella.”
A disbelieving huff of laughter escaped her as she retreated, preparing to flee.
“No…” He surged toward her again before he remembered she didn’t want him to touch her. Quickly he lowered his arm but not before he caught another flash of terror in her eyes.
Whatever he’d done, it set his intrepid bride quaking with fear. Good God, what was going on here?
She lifted her chin, a poignant echo of the woman who had led him such a dance. She still wore the beautiful dress of blue French silk she’d had made for the wedding. Delicate pearls and summer flowers twined in her coils of shining black hair. “You can’t hurt me anymore.”
He frowned. “Hurt you? I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Don’t lie to me, Josiah.” She backed off surreptitiously as if afraid he’d pounce on her if he guessed she tried to escape.
“I’d never lie to you.”
Bitter cynicism tightened her expression, although at least she stopped edging away. “Of course you would.”
With every moment, he understood less. Foolishly he’d imagined he’d understand everything if he could just find Isabella. Well, he’d found her and the mysteries became more bewildering than ever. “Tell me what I did, Isabella.”
Something in his tone must have convinced her to take his question seriously. A series of emotions crossed her face, fugitive as summer lightning. Puzzlement. Anger. Then a deep sadness that matched the stabbing grief he’d felt waking without her and realizing he and his beloved were both dead.
Grim premonition gripped him. “Isabella?”
Her black gaze settled upon him, somber and lightless as he’d never seen it. “You murdered me, Josiah.”
I had great fun writing this story. I got to play a bit outside my usual sandpit. There are paranormal elements (well, d’uh!) and two romances rather than my usual one. The first couple, Josiah and Isabella, were parted in dramatic circumstances on their wedding day in 1749 (they’re the ghosts) and the second couple, Calista and Miles, are alive and kicking but facing difficulties before their wedding day in 1818. Each find themselves under the malign and magical influence of a cursed Chinese bed, hence the title.
The Chinese bed is based on a real piece of furniture although I’m not sure if it was ever cursed. In 2007, I visited Calke Abbey, a National Trust property in Derbyshire, and saw this magnificent bed with its beautiful hand-embroidered Chinese silk hangings. When the Trust took over the house in 1984, they had no idea the bed was even there (the house was a junk fest – the family never threw anything out and would have probably appeared on HOARDERS if the TV show had been around at the time).
It seems the bed was a gift in 1743 from the royal family to the Harpurs but they never even unpacked it. Which given how glorious it is rather blew my mind. Because the hangings have been safely locked away in their cedar presentation cases since they were made, they are as bright and fresh as if they’d been sewn yesterday. The image of this spectacular, unused bed with its gorgeous embroideries played on my imagination and eventually turned into the Chinese bed in this story.
This is a slightly skew-wiff photo of Calke Abbey, a house that is definitely worth visiting. The other photos near the excerpt are also of Calke Abbey, the dome above the ruined orangerie and the beautiful peonies in the walled garden.
It’s a sad place in many ways (the family dwindled away from one of the richest in the kingdom to the point where the last owner lived in two dingy rooms while the building fell down about his ears) but haunting and extremely interesting. Here’s the website if you’d like to find out more: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-calkeabbey.htm
I’m giving away three copies of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE in my website contest right now so swing by and enter. Here’s the link: http://annacampbell.info/contest.html
Because I’m talking about ghosts, I couldn’t resist including a photo of my favorite ghost romance, THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR. Captain Gregg, you can come and haunt me anytime!
So do you have a favorite ghost romance? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? Let’s talk about things that go bump in the night (hmm, bumping with Rex is kinda appealing – yeah, I’ll stop now!).
To celebrate the release of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE, I’m holding a mammoth giveaway. Well, a giveaway anyway. One commenter today will win a copy of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE, which includes my story “The Chinese Bed.” Ghost romances never die!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 10 2010, 4:02 am in Anna Campbell, anthologies, Bandita Booty, Short Stories, The Mammoth Book of Regency Romance, Upon a Midnight Clear
by Anna Campbell
This is a bit of a launch party!
Whooo-hooo, drag out the cabana boys! Fill up the margarita glasses! Get Sven massaging! And tie up that rooster, he’s nothing but trouble!
On 24th June (U.K.) and 27th July (U.S.), THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF REGENCY ROMANCE hits the shelves. Some of the biggest names in historical romance have contributed to this anthology – Eloisa James, Loretta Chase, Mary Balogh and Mary Jo Putney. Not to mention our very own Christie Kelley.
Oh, and MEEEEEEEE!
I have a short story in this collection called Upon a Midnight Clear. Although as it’s about 50 pages (I haven’t seen a final copy of the book yet so I’m not sure exactly), calling it a short story seems a bit ridiculous. That’s half the size of your average novella!
I was delighted when Trisha Telep, the editor of the Mammoth books, invited me to contribute. I was doubly delighted when I had 13,000 words to play with and a chance to experiment with an idea I’d had for a while but which didn’t really fit the books.
This is my first reunion story. I love that theme in romance – you know, they got it so wrong the first time but fate offers them a second chance. All that lovely redemption and forgiveness and love overcoming the bitterness of the past! Sounds right up my alley.
Upon a Midnight Clear is set in the depths of winter on the snowy Yorkshire moors where the lovely Countess of Kinvarra, Alicia Sinclair, suffers a carriage accident while she’s running away with the man she hopes will become her lover. Imagine her humiliation when the only person who passes the wreck in this lonely location is her estranged husband, Sebastian, the Earl of Kinvarra.
Eleven years ago when both were very young, Alicia and Sebastian were joined in an arranged marriage. Immaturity and misunderstandings drove them apart and Alicia has been living in chaste limbo in London ever since.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Well, this is awkward,” Kinvarra said flatly, although she saw in his taut, dark face that his anger hadn’t abated one whit.
“I don’t see why,” Alicia snapped.
It wasn’t just her husband who tried her temper. There was her lily-livered lover and the perishing cold. The temperature must have dropped ten degrees in the last five minutes. She shivered, then silently cursed that Kinvarra noticed and Harold didn’t. Harold was too busy staring at her husband the way a mouse stared at an adder.
“Do you imagine I’m so sophisticated, I’ll ignore discovering you in the arms of another man? My dear, you do me too much credit.”
She stifled the urge to consign him to Hades. “If you’ll put aside your bruised vanity for the moment, you’ll see we merely require you to ride to the nearest habitation and request help. Then you and I can return to acting like complete strangers, my lord.”
He laughed and she struggled to suppress the shiver of sensual awareness that rippled down her spine at that soft, deep sound. “Some things haven’t changed, I see. You’re still dishing out orders. And I’m still damned if I’ll play your obedient lapdog.”
“Can you see another solution?” she asked sweetly.
“Yes,” he said with a snap of his straight white teeth. “I can leave you to freeze. Not that you’d probably notice.”
Her pride insisted that she sent him on his way with a flea in his ear. The weather—and what common sense she retained under the anger that always flared in Kinvarra’s vicinity—prompted her to be conciliatory.
It was late. She and Harold hadn’t passed anyone on this isolated road. The grim truth was that if Kinvarra didn’t help, they were stranded until morning. And while she was dressed in good thick wool, she wasn’t prepared to endure a snowy night in the open. The chill of the road seeped through her fur-lined boots and she shifted, trying to revive feeling in her frozen feet.
“My lord…” During the year they’d lived together, she’d called him Sebastian. During their few meetings since, she’d clung to formality as a barrier. “My lord, there’s no point in quarreling. Basic charity compels your assistance. I would consider myself in your debt if you fetch aid as quickly as possible.”
He arched one black eyebrow in a superior fashion that made her want to clout him. Not a new sensation. “Now that’s something I’d like to see.”
He knew he had her at a disadvantage and he wasn’t likely to rise above that fact. She gritted her teeth. “It’s all I can offer.”
The smile that curved his lips was pure devilry. Another shiver ran through her. Like the last one, it was a shiver with no connection to the cold. “Your imagination fails you, my dear countess.”
The working title for this story wasn’t Upon a Midnight Clear (although I wrote it around Christmas so this second title was in the air!). It was Ill-Met by Moonlight, the first words Oberon speaks to Titania in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. At last I got some use out of all that English lit at uni, snork! AMND is at its most basic level a story about two haughty and beautiful creatures who are estranged in their marriage and who, after a series of dramatic events, reconcile at the end.
Perhaps I should have called my story A Midwinter Night’s Dream instead!
You can buy THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF REGENCY ROMANCE right now from the Book Depository and have it sent anywhere in the world post free. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9781849010153/The-Mammoth-Book-of-Regency-Romance
Or if you click on the cover at the top of the blog, you can pre-order it from Amazon. We make life easy for you in the lair!
To celebrate the release of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF REGENCY ROMANCE, including my short story Upon a Midnight Clear, I’m giving away a signed copy today. Just tell me your favorite reunion story and why you picked it!
By the way, I’m traveling right now so I’m not sure how much I’ll be around but I’ve got my spies to tell me that everyone’s kicking up their heels appropriately!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jun 10 2008, 4:30 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Claiming the Courtesan, R*by Award, Short Stories
by Anna Campbell
Am I showing my age if I mention the song Short People by Randy Newman? For those of less advanced years, here’s a link to the video:
I must say I got a shock when I saw it went all the way back to 1977!
I suppose you could say this is sort of a follow-up post to the big fat books one. But ‘short’ is on my mind right now because, shock, horror, pain, agony, I have to write a short story this month.
Short does not come easily to me. Sheesh! I have trouble restricting myself to the 400 pages that Avon allow me to tell a story. Every book I’ve written has come out at least twice as long in its first draft. So with restricting myself to 100,000 words proving tough, you can imagine how I feel faced with something only a few pages long. Ouch!
In May, I had the pleasure of seeing my first published short story. I wrote short stories in my long, LONG writing apprenticeship. I entered them in contests with variable results – generally if it was a romance, I did OK. But the length always felt unnatural, especially as my ideas are usually complicated enough to last a whole novel.
Anyway, the Australian Women’s Weekly took on LADY KATE’S SCOUNDREL and I got a nice Regency illustration to go with it. I suspect the artist had seen the BBC PRIDE AND PREJUDICE – the hero has a definite whiff of Mr. Darcy about him, hasn’t he?
By the way, you can read LADY KATE here. The wonderful people at Avon Australia have put it on their website.
On a personal note, I got a real thrill from the AWW gig. The magazine is an institution here in Oz and my late mother would have got such a kick out of her daughter being in the Weekly. I mean, you can keep your publishing contracts from New York. You’ve REALLY made it if you’re in the Women’s Weekly! I knew Mum was somewhere chortling!
Which brings me back to my current short story project. On Monday, some good news became official. CLAIMING THE COURTESAN has finaled in the Romantic Book of the Year Award here in Australia. The R*BY is our equivalent of the RITA and is open to all romances published in 2007 written by an Australian or a New Zealander. There are two awards, one for category romance and one for mainstream. They make a lovely fuss of you – the finalists are announced in another huge magazine here called The Woman’s Day and we have a big awards night at our conference in August where the trophies are presented.
As a finalist, I also have the opportunity to write a romantic short story for The Woman’s Day. LADY KATE came in just over 4,000 words. This time, I have to restrict myself to 1,500 words. How tough is that? But it’s fantastic publicity for me and my writing so I can’t say no. And anyway I enjoy a challenge – at least when I’ve surmounted it, LOL.
Wish me luck! And I’ll let you all know when the story hits the presses.
In the meantime, writers, do you write long or short? Are there advantages you can see to either approach? Readers, do you enjoy romantic short stories? My mother, who was a lifelong romance reader, used to hate them because she just got interested and it was over! Does anyone have any favorite short stories – romantic or not? Are there times when you think short is BETTER?
Also, make sure you check out the Eloisa James/Julia Quinn charity auction. It’s for a really great cause and some wonderful items are up for grabs.
Please let me know if you haven’t read CTC. I’m giving away a signed copy to celebrate the great news about the R*BY!