Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Nov 12 2013, 12:13 am in Beau Monde, Kathleen Baldwin, Lady Fiasco, Regency period, Regency romances, Suzanne Ferrell
Hey Banditas and Bandit Buddies, one of my favorite authors and all around fun people, Kathleen Baldwin is back in the Lair today. The last time Kat was here, we talked about her new YA book, The Diary of a Teenage Fairy Godmother, which if you haven’t read, you should just jump over to your favorite ebook retailer and snatch up a copy.
Today, Kat is back, but this time to talk about the re-release of her regency books, *which I just love!!*, beginning with LADY FIASCO, and our (both readers and writers) fascination with the Regency period of history.
Welcome back, Kat and take it away!
Our Grand Obsession.
The Regency era only lasted from 1811 – 1820. Nine short years. Why do readers clamor for that teeny tiny window of history? For that matter, why do I write about the Regency Era? Some historians stretch the Regency from 1810 – 1830. Even so, that is a mere twenty years. Not nearly long enough to justify the thousands of books set in that brief moment in history.
[Illustration from Jane Austen’s Emma.]
So why do we love the Regency? I puzzled over my obsession, and crashed head long into a dark side.
I could not escape the realization that in some respects the Regency was really quite horrible. It is almost a dystopian society. Sure, we write our romances primarily about the opulent upper ten thousand, the bon ton. These were the beautiful people, the beau monde, holding balls and soirees, their dining tables overflowing with stuffed guinea fowl, cream sauces, and decorated cakes, attended by liveried footmen. On one occasion, Prince George decorated his dining hall with gold fish that swan the length of the table in a special container. At the same time, London had ghettos teeming with hungry people who lived hand to mouth in unthinkable squalor and filth. Women turned to gin and prostitution to survive the miserable conditions of their lives. Children went to prison for stealing bread. The Old Bailey records the case of Mary Crawley, age 10, hung for stealing some gingham. Thousands more died in appalling conditions in prisons.
Are these real life Regency horrors much different some of our current popular dystopian fiction, such as Hunger Games?
Maybe yes, maybe no, but it certainly differs from the bucolic country life Jane Austen painted for us in her light-hearted comedies. Then it hit me – the Regency is full of stark contrasts.
● Britain was embroiled in a desperate and costly war with Napoleon. And yet British citizens loved all things French: French hairstyles, French silks, French Fashions.
●The people were terrified Napoleon would attack their homeland. At the same time, they admired Napoleon as a brilliant leader and “charming fellow.”
●Young ladies of quality were expected to be demure, modest and above all chaste. On the other hand, the fashion of the day called for very low necklines and soft fabrics that clung to the figure. It would be like running around in a nightgown.
● King George had been a reasonable and morally upright man. Unfortunately, he contracted a disease that rendered him mad. His son, Prince George, had never been a man of sound judgment, a spendthrift with eccentric tastes and a dreadful gambling habit, the government had to bail him out or by all rights Prinny ought to have been thrown into debtor’s prison. And yet, Parliament made him Ruling Regent of England during his father’s illness.
● Women were expected to be tame and ‘unexceptional.’ The slightest faux paux might cost a young lady her vouchers to Almack’s. But there were flamboyant young women like Caro Lamb who dressed up like a boy and ran around with Lord Byron, openly flaunting their affair. Nevertheless, she was invited to all the great social events.
So why do we love the Regency? I think it’s because of these oddities, these irregularities, the absurd figures from history like Prince George set against the harsh realities of the Napoleonic war. These peculiar contrasts provide rich fodder for stories. It’s sexy, it’s funny, it’s unpredictable. Anything can happen in this quirky society. And of course, in our fiction it does.
This week I’m launching the eBook version of my Regency romantic comedy, Lady Fiasco, originally published by Kensington.
Book 1, My Notorious Aunt, A Traditional Regency Romantic Romp
Can a lady with a reputation for disaster, stumble into love?
An unusual heroine, Fiona Hawthorn grew up running free. Without a mother to restrain her, she spent her days riding her horse neck or nothing across her father’s fields and swimming like a sea nymph. But in a prim and proper drawing room she’s bound to overturn the teapot or accidentally trip the footman. Her notorious Aunt decides to takes the hoyden in hand, but amidst the strictures of the Beau Monde, Fiona is a fish out of water.
When she was young, Lord Wesmont was her hero. But he came home from fighting Napoleon a hardened man. Nothing can breathe life back into his cold heart. Nothing except, perhaps, the love of an unusual young woman who regularly turns his life upside-down.
A Humorous Regency Romance
I’m giving away three copies of Lady Fiasco today. Tell me why you love the Regency?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Oct 22 2013, 1:56 pm in Bolognese sauce, Suzanne Ferrell
1 medium onion
4-5 stalks of celery
3 cloves of garlic
1 & ½ pounds meat (ground beef, pork, veal or a mixture)
1 cup good red wine
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 jar organic tomato paste
2 tsps Oregano (more if you like)
2 tsps Basil (more if you like)
4 cups of water
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup milk
- Mince onions, carrots, celery each in food processor. I also throw the garlic in with the celery and mince it, too.
- Heat 2-3 tsps of Olive Oil in large skillet with deep sides. Needs to hold lots of sauce.
- Add onions to hot oil, cook a few minutes over medium high heat, then add carrots, celery and garlic. Sprinkle heavily with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are dark in color, scraping up and bits that stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Move vegetables to the side and add ground meat to the center, breaking up with wooden spoon. Salt again. Let brown, scraping bottom and slowly mixing the vegetables into the meat.
- Pour in wine. Stir in, being sure to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. The browned bits add richness to the mixture. Let cook 2-3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir. Salt. Add oregano and basil. Reduce heat to simmer.
- Add ½ cup of water. Stir. Simmer. Let reduce. About 15 minutes.
- Repeat step 7 over 2 hours until all of the water has been incorporated to sauce.
**At this point, you can cool, then pour into containers to store in fridge for later use in the week.**
Finally, before serving mix in Parmesan cheese and milk. Serve over pasta.
We use it in spaghetti, with cheese and shells, or layered with breaded eggplant!
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Oct 12 2013, 12:31 am in credenza, DVD, electronics, Hunter/hubby, OSU football, Suzanne Ferrell, TV
FAIR WARNING: Any time I begin a conversation with “It all started when…”, I’m about to take you on a journey windier than a road trip through the Appalachia mountains!
So, IT ALL STARTED WHEN our DVD player died. It was a number of years old and had been a very important part of my conversion from full time night nurse to daytime romance writer. Why? Not what you might think. No, I didn’t spend hours watching romance movies. Three days a week I popped in a disc and watched this really buff, cute guy tell me how to exercise. Yep. Hubby did the exercises, too, although not at the same time. (He does the regular to expert ones, I’m on the modified ones!) So, when the instrument of my torture died, we needed to get a new one.
Now, here’s the first LEFT TURN in the story. I’m trying to get 1,000-2,000+ words written a day so I can have the next Edgars Family Novel VANISHED done before I travel home to see my mom. So, I didn’t really have time to run out and get a new DVD player. Answer? Put husband in charge of new purchase. This is good, because he likes to spend time researching what to buy before leaving the house–time I don’t have right now, so he is a happy man. (He’s hunting.)
Meanwhile, another issue popped up that required both of us to leave the house to attend to it, so hubby decides we’ll just stop and pick up the new DVD he’s selected while we’re out. RIGHT TURN. We made quick progress to the DVD section of the local electronics mega-store, but then we were derailed by this cute, (not super sexy, more like nerd girl cute) customer service person, who said the magic words to hubby, NFL Ticket and Direct TV and savings. Sigh, the hunter has a new scent. She was one of those speed talkers, too, but eventually she did show me (MARK ME AS SKEPTIC) the cost savings of switching our TV service. So we signed the papers and scheduled the install day. We also managed to buy the DVD player, so at least that part of the adventure was on task.
However, it didn’t quite stop there.
Once we got home, hubby studied our old TV. Okay…let’s please note, the thing was only 10 years old and yes we have exactly one TV in our house. The one we had before that was 18 when we got rid of it. But as we’re aging and our eyesight is aging with us, he thought we should get a new flat screen TV. Why? Because back at the electronic mega-store he’d seen several, and wow the picture was so much better on a bigger TV. Sigh. LEFT TURN. So, off he goes to see what the best deal he can get is. (Hunting again.)
Once he’s back home, he starts measuring the entertainment center. “Uhm, honey. The new TV isn’t going to fit.”
Me, “What are we going to do?”
Hunter/Hubby, “Mount it on the wall?”
Me, “And what will you do with all the electronic boxes for the TV and DVD?”
H/H, “Just set them on the floor.”
Me, casting him an are-you-serious look, “I don’t think so. We’ll need to buy a stand of some sort. One that can house all the electronics and still look nice.”
Hunter/Hubby smiles and heads to his office to start searching. Finally, we came up with one that looked nice and functioned well AND would hold the TV he’d ordered.
So now, he brings home the stand and with a little bit of help from me and a rather small amount of curse words (surprised me, too), he put together the stand. It’s black with cute little glass doors and about two and a half feet tall. The next day the delivery guys arrive and install the new TV, even carting off the old one. Little fuss, little muss. Two days later, the Direct TV man shows up to install his portion. This required quite a bit more work, fuss and noise. Hunter/Hubby followed him around, talking more than I’ve seen him talk in six months!
Finally, we’re all set to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes play football vs the dreaded Wisconsin team that night, but, LEFT TURN, Hunter/Hubby has decided the sound quality isn’t quite up to snuff, so off to the electronics store once more. This time he returns with this long, low sound bar thing that sits in front of the TV and gives us better quality sound.
At last, the journey has ended. We have a wonderful new Television/electronics system. We can see the picture clearly. We can hear the sound as if we’re in the stadium. It only takes four remotes to turn it on or off.
Dear God, don’t let the two-year-old grandchild wander off with one!!
So, do you have these adventures when you let your husband/significant other loose in an electronic world? Does his eyes get all wild with anticipation when he has to hunt out the best equipment/deal? Do you have more than one TV in your house?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Sep 16 2013, 2:05 am in JD Tyler, paranormal romance, Suzanne Ferrell, The Alpha Pack, wolf shifters
As y’all know, JD Tyler is one of my dearest friends and always loves visiting us in the Lair. Today, she’s taking us on a little field trip to watch as she “chats” with the gang of The Alpha Pack in their Lair!! Be careful what you touch and where you sit…
When I requested this interview with Ryon and The Alpha Pack, the guys weren’t sure whether they could take the time to sit down and talk. They’re really busy these days fighting all the dangerous things that stalk the night, and there’s a new problem on the horizon for our brave heroes. But they graciously agreed to take a few moments to give us an update on what’s been going on their world and satisfy our curiosity.
We’re sitting in the Pack’s recreation room because it’s more comfortable, and the guys are lounging around, waiting for me to begin. The room quiets, and I have to admit, being the focus of so many scorchingly sexy, strong men has me shaking in my boots. I try not to show my nervousness as I soldier on.
Nick Westfall (Alpha Pack Commander/white wolf/Seer): Can I get you something to drink?
JD: Oh no, I’m fine! Don’t go to any trouble—
Nick: Micah, get JD a soda or something.
Micah Chase (brown wolf/Dreamwalker): Sure thing, boss.
He flashes a smile at me, which pulls some at his scarred face, and rushes off. I turn to Nick.
JD: Thank you. And thanks to all of you for agreeing to take time from your busy schedule to talk with me. (I shuffle my notes) I know you guys have been through some rough situations in the past few months. Why don’t we start with what recently happened to Ryon and his new mate?
Nick (nodding to Ryon Hunter): I think Ryon’s the best source for that story.
I turn my attention to Ryon, and try not to ogle the man—but it’s not easy. Like all of them he’s stunning, but his looks are totally different from his teammates. His hair is blond and sort of shaggy, his eyes crystal blue. He has an “honest” face, one of those All-American mugs that screams apple pie and pro football. And I soon discover that he’s a sweet man with a ton of integrity—and one who loves his mate very much.
JD: Ryon, it’s great to finally meet you in person. (His beautiful smile about knocks me off the sofa)
Ryon: Same here. What would you like to know? But keep in mind some of the story is still classified info—sorry about that.
JD: No worries, just tell me what you can. First, how did you meet your mate, Daria Bradford?
Ryon (face softening with obvious love): That’s an easy one. I’d been with the team in New York hunting a group of rogue vampires. We found them and in the fight, I got pinned by one of them.
Aric Savage: Yep. Pretty boy nearly got his throat ripped out. Would have if it hadn’t been for us.
Ryon (shooting the redhead an annoyed look): Anyway, they rushed me home to the compound and I had to spend some time in the infirmary. While I was recovering, this gorgeous spirit with long black hair visited my bedside. She needed help, but I didn’t think I could help her, you know?
JD (nodding): Your gift is a Channeler/Telepath allows you to speak with the dead—but many times you aren’t able to help them because they can’t communicate with you clearly, correct?
Ryon: That’s right. But with Daria’s spirit, it was different. She told me she was alive, and I knew right away that I had to get to her, fast. She wasn’t a ghost at all, but was using a Psy gift called astral projection to reach out to me. I rallied the team and we found her just in time, lying in a ravine. She was near death, and I had to do something extreme to save her life. I thought she’d never forgive me for that one, but she has a huge heart.
JD: Can you talk about what you did?
Ryon: Not yet. Let’s just say she and I worked through it. But that was the least of our problems, considering what came next.
Micah returns with my soda, and I thank him, taking a sip.
JD: You’re referring to the monster in the Shoshone that was killing campers and hikers?
Ryon (expression grim): Yeah.
JD: What can you tell me about that? What—or who—was this creature and how did he come to be in your neck of the woods?
Ryon: I’m not allowed to discuss specifics, but I can tell you that this was one of the most dangerous and heartbreaking cases we’ve ever worked. What happened to this creature wasn’t his fault, believe it or not. We solved that case the only way we knew how, and I think it worked out all right for everyone in the end.
JD: Except you were nearly killed in that battle…
Ryon: That’s the risk that comes with the job.
JD: Unfortunately, yes. And during your mission, you and Daria learned something important about the origins of the Alpha Pack, correct?
Ryon: Yes. But I can’t reveal that information yet, sorry.
JD: No problem. Let’s go back to an issue you already mention—the rogue vampires. I get the impression this is a recent development?
Ryon: That’s right. We’ve been called out in the past to deal with rogue vamps, but it’s always been a light problem, until now. It takes centuries for a vamp to turn rogue, and normally there aren’t many. But for some reason they’re everywhere lately.
Nick: We don’t know where the problem is stemming from, but we’re working on finding out. In the meantime, I’ve put in a call for assistance from the vampire’s leader, Prince Tarron Romanoff.
Jaxon Law (grey wolf/RetroCog/Timebender): The arrogant jackass. (snorting)
Zander Cole (black wolf/Healer), who lost his hearing after an explosion a few months back, has been doing his best to read lips. He agrees with Jax about the vampire prince.
Zander: True that.
Nick: Be that as it may, we need Tarron’s help or we’re soon going to be overrun by rogues. If that happens…
The commander leaves that thought unfinished, but the Pack agrees with mumbled curses. I know there isn’t much more they can tell me on that subject, so I decide to finish the interview on a positive note, addressing Ryon again.
JD: So, tell me about Daria? She seems amazing.
Ryon (beaming): She’s the most wonderful woman in the world, and I’ve been blessed to have her as my mate. She’s not just beautiful, but kind, smart, and funny. Her passion is studying wolves in the wild, real ones, which is sort of ironic.
JD (smiling): So I take it your mating is happy now?
Ryon: We had a lot of stuff to work through, but yes. She’s made me the happiest man on earth.
Aric (wrinkling his nose): Barf, gag.
Ryon: Shut up, asswipe. Like you’re not seriously whipped after mating with Rowan!
Aric: Yeah, well…
JD (laughing at their antics): Nick, thank you for giving up a few minutes to give an update on what’s been going on with the Pack. Ryon, I’m so glad everything worked out for you, and I’m sure our readers will love your story.
Ryon (winking): Thank you, sweetheart. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?
Kalen Black (black panther/Sorcerer/Necromancer): On that note, what do you say we all go get something to eat? I’m starved! JD?
JD: Sounds great, lead the way!
And so, I got to spend the entire afternoon soaking up the welcome attentions of a Pack full of sexy shifters. I guess that makes me, literally, one lucky bitch.
And here’s the book trailer for HUNTER’S HEART:
Wow, JD, thanks for letting us see into the world of The Alpha Pack!
JD is going to give away a signed copy of HUNTER’S HEART to one of our readers today. So, what questions do you have for JD or the members of The Alpha Pack?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Jul 28 2013, 12:28 am in dream destinations, England, Hawai'i, New England, New Mexico, Scotland, Suzanne Ferrell, travel
I’ve been traveling a lot lately. Two trips to Ohio and one to Atlanta, all since the first of June. Boy am I tired! How do baseball players, who have to travel every few days for weeks at a time survive it? This year I still have two more trips planned, one to North Carolina to attend a police academy for writers and one more home to see my mom in the fall.
All this traveling got me to thinking. Where would I like to travel if money were no option. So here’s my top five places:
1. SCOTLAND. The land of my ancestors and lots of tall brawny Scotsmen. Yep. I’d like to walk the moors. Visit some castles. But mostly what I’d like to do is take a tape recorder with me, go into a pub and ask the people to tell me stories. See, I’m a lover of accents. Put me in a room with someone whose accent is different than mine and I guarantee I’ll come home talking like a native! You should hear me when I visit relatives in Tennessee! Drives Hubby crazy for weeks afterwards.
2. HAWAII. I’d want to stay in a fabulous hotel with great room service. Go to a luau. Tour the islands by boat. Walk on the beach at sunrise and again at sunset. This is Hubby’s dream vacation and I think I could love all the touristy things to do.
3. NEW ENGLAND. Now don’t roll your eyes! I have several reasons for doing this. First and foremost, you met my friend Sandy Blair yesterday. I would love to visit her at her new home. The setting for my visit would have to be early fall. That way I could see the wonderful changes in the foliage. Then I’d force…er…ask Hubby to rent a car and head to Boston. There I could go to all the historic sites I’ve always wanted to see. (Am a huge American Revolution buff.) Then we could continue to drive south through the Appalachians to watch the trees change color.
4. NEW MEXICO. I’d love to go watch the hot air balloon races. We have one here in Texas, but nothing like the thousands of balloons that fill the skies in New Mexico. I’d love to visit the art area of Taos. There’s the painted mountains and the stacked rock formations of mesas throughout the area. Visit Santa Fe.
5. ENGLAND. I have several friends, including our own Anna Sugden who live in England. I would visit them, but mostly I’d do all the touristy history things. Tours, double decker bus rides, The Ferris Wheel. Go to all the places I’ve read about for years.
So, where would you go, if money and time were no problem? Some place warm and beachy? Some place with mountains and trails? Touristy and historical? Resting pool side? Would you sit in a bar and record accents to take home with you?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Jul 27 2013, 12:05 am in Castle Blackstone novel, Sandy Blair, Self-publishing, Suzanne Ferrell, taking risks, The Laird, The Rogue, Traditional Publishing
There are some people in this world that just make it a better place, not only because they’re funny and compassionate, but because their books take us to other times or places, and make us laugh, cry and sigh at the Happy Ever After. Today’s guest, my very good friend and critique partner, Sandy Blair, is one of those people. (Although I have yet to forgive her very brawny Scot of a husband for moving her from Texas to New England.) I and her readers, both old and new, have been thrilled that she’s revamped and reissued her back list of Scottish Historical Paranormals, now a series known as the Castle Blackstone Novels. So, please help me welcome Sandy back to the Lair!
Thanks for having me back. The Romance Bandits rock! Suzy asked me to share what I’ve experienced as both a traditionally-published and self-published author.
In 2003, The Blackstone Diaries sold in a two book deal. I was thrilled beyond words. Never could I have imagined I’d someday have books available in six languages through 4 traditional publishers and be self-publish. At the time those seven-year copyright clauses felt like forever.
But seven years passes quickly and suddenly I had to make some decisions. Do I continue pursuing a traditional path or not? I did learn a great deal having gone the traditional publishing house route first.
1) Traditional publishing fine-tuned my work ethic.
2) I learned to listen with my head, not just my heart.
3) Co-op is great! During release month I could walk into Borders and B&N and find my newest novel on the “New Releases” table at the front of store, thus increasing potential “impulse buyer” sales.
4) My publisher produced my ARCs and sent them to high-profile reviewers, thus reducing my out-of-pocket expense and worry.
5) I was invited to be part of an anthology.
All this added to my sense of accomplishment, but there was also a dark side.
1) In the traditional world an author’s opinion/title is not sacrosanct.
2) The house’s Marketing Department builds your image (in hopes of recouping those advances). And so I reluctantly became the “In A Kilt” girl.
3) My deadlines weren’t written in stone when another author didn’t meet their commitment and caused a sudden hole in the production line-up.
4) My page/word counts could change at the last minute if the Art Department screwed up a cover’s spine size. Not a problem while still a WIP, but I’d turned in the manuscript as “done” and they wanted another 10,000 words. Hello!
5) Your career growth is at the mercy of the Traditional house’s whim.
6) Most importantly, I learned I’d work hard for the money. I’d be making only pennies per book and receiving them only twice a year.
That last point finally made me take the leap of faith into self-publishing where Suzy has been an invaluable mentor, as has her daughter Lyndsey.
The best within the Self-published world so far:
1) I get to keep my titles.
2) I have input into my cover art.
3) I’m work at my own pace.
4) And most importantly, I get paid monthly—and well.
But the world of self-publishing isn’t all Champagne and roses. It also has a dark side.
1) You alone bear the cost of editing and cover production. (Where you do get what you pay for, so don’t cut corners. Get the very best you can afford.)
2) You alone bear the cost of producing and sending out ARCs.
3) It takes hours and serious dollars doing what you hope will prove productive both online and in print promotion.
4) You have to do a lot of face-to-face with bookstore owners if you want them to stock your books/capture impulse buyers.
So will I self-pub again? Yes. The money justifies the headaches. Will I again seek publication with a traditional publisher? Yes. Being externally motivated, I work better with a gun to my head.
What else have I learned along the way?
1) Time spent with book clubs and at conferences is well worth the time and money.
2) Speaking at libraries is often counterproductive. (Those folks that do show up prefer borrowing, not buying.)
3) An interesting, multi-page website is worth the cost.
4) Print ads in industry glossy haven’t proved useful.
5) Don’t read those Amazon reviews.
What’s next for me? THE WARRIOR, book #4 in the Castle Blackstone series will be coming out in late September.
The Warrior excerpt:
Recluse ex-Special Forces Sergeant Major Travis MacKay, fearing the violence unleashed inside him when he brutally kills four men viciously attacking a female aid worker, vows never again to raise his hand in anger. Arriving at Castle Blackstone, he remains reclusive, becoming enamored with the portrait of a young woman who, in his opinion, understood only too well what remaining true to oneself costs. Legend says she fell on her sword. History says she was murdered. When he’s thrown back in time to 1540, arriving in the midst of a battle, he comes face to face with the legendary Lady “Skye” MacDougall. As acting liege of Blackstone, Skye is in a fight for her life after defying her king by refusing to marry a coward. In order to reach true happiness, Travis and Skye will both be forced to face life, death and their preconceived notions of what constitutes true bravery.
(Suz: I am soooooo looking forward to this book, y’all!!!)
Below are the covers for Sandy’s books back when she sold them to a traditional publisher. (She’s still waiting to get the rights back to Thief.) While Sandy always has humor in her books, they are not comedies. What do you think? Which covers would make you want to read her if you’ve never read her books? Would you take the chance to step out and do something different with your career, be it self publishing or some other endeavor if you had the chance? If you’re a writer, what have you learned on your way to publishing?
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Jun 28 2013, 12:42 am in action/adventure, gunman, HUNTED., KIDNAPPED, nurses, Romantic suspense, Suzanne Ferrell
Writing About What You Know.
That’s one of the recommendations you get from writing teachers, editors, friends. My first book was an American Historical. Set in my own country’s history, I had a good idea about life back then, but had to research a lot. When I switched over to writing The Surrender of Lacy Morgan, I didn’t really tap into my own experience, but definitely into some fantasies. (TMI? Oh well, now you know.)
So what experience did I use to write the Romantic Suspense books? I’ve never been KIDNAPPED or HUNTED by a hitman.
Setting: Both books take place in my home town of Columbus, Ohio. I know the city and surrounding area well, having lived my first three decades there. And besides, NY Publishers have said more than once, “Don’t set your book in the Midwest. No one wants to read about central Ohio.” Uhm, I do! Lots of interesting things go on there and bad stuff happens everywhere, not just in major metropolitan areas. Heck some of the creepiest serial killers came out of the Midwest. (Dommer is from NE Ohio.)
Heroine: The heroines for both books are nurses, people I know inside and out. Raised by a nurse, taught by nurses and thirty-four years as an Obstetrics nurse gives me insight into what makes good nurses tick—their strengths, their flaws. While I wrote a fairly kick-ass type heroine in Katie Myers from HUNTED, that really isn’t my usual heroine. Someone who thinks clearly and quickly in emergency situations, even if it’s outside her normal comfort zone, that’s my heroine.
Hero: I like them big, confident, slightly arrogant, smart, but not overbearing. Handsome is always good. This is what I like in my fantasy man. I get to spend more time with them than anyone, they should be the kind I like to read about in books or watch on TV. Having a son who had numerous friends hanging out in our house over the years, I’ve also listened to their good-natured banter. I want to show that they use this to show how they come to respect, tease and love each other. My heroes will do whatever it takes to protect the heroine, but understand when she is part of the team and capable of giving as good as she gets, in bed, in conversation, in a battle.
The human experience: Like I said above, working years as a nurse, I’ve dealt with people in their worst moments. Pain, fear, grief all have a way of getting a person down to their core emotions and reactions. I like to think this is where the heart of my romance stories live. Bringing those reactions and emotions to the written page through the plot, setting, characters, I take an everyday heroine and thrust her into a situation that forces her to use all her internal and occasionally external skills to survive and help her hero save the day or each other or both.
So, when it came time to write SEIZED, the novella for the Edgars’ family RS series, I already had a basic blueprint for the book.
Setting: Columbus, of course. This time, however, I took setting one step further. Most of the book takes place in a hospital operating room. My mom was an operating room nurse for many years and regaled us with stories over the years about odd things that happened. In obstetrics, you become quite familiar with your own time spent in the operating room doing cesarean sections or other procedures. It’s a comfort zone for me. There were things I didn’t know, though, in particular the use of the anesthesia machine and medications used by anesthesia. Until I started writing this book, those weren’t things I needed to know.
*Big shout out* Since I needed specialized information, I went to the experts, my friends Colleen, Carole and Keith, three of the best nurse anesthetists I’ve ever worked with. They gave me the ins and outs of the equipment they use, what to do in emergencies and the medications available to my heroine. Love these guys and their enthusiasm for helping me write a book. Oh, and if you’ve ever had a labor epidural or had any kind of anesthesia in L&D, it was more than likely done by a nurse anesthetist, so you should love them as much as I do!
Heroine: Once again, my heroine, Judy Edgars is a nurse. This time she is an operating room nurse. Now these nurses have usually just a few minutes with their patient before they are asleep for the procedure, unless of course the patient is awake for the case for some reason, (new mom having a cesarean section). More often than not, especially in scheduled procedures, things go smoothly except for the occasional arrogant surgeon or new resident who gives her a hard time.
But there are times when those nurses are called on to deal with horrific cases, (i.e. gunshot victims, car accidents, etc.). Massive amounts of blood loss have their own unique complications and then there’s the unknown damage until the docs are in the middle of the case. Here’s where these nurses have to think quickly on their feet and yet stay calm. Y’all would be amazed how these men and women do their jobs!
Hero: Dave Edgars is the oldest brother in the Edgars clan. (Think Jason Statham here.)
He’s been telling people what to do for years. While he is quick to assess a situation and lead by example, he’s patient and understanding. He was a cop when he met Judy and has been on a SWAT team for years. He’s often explained to Judy or his brothers and sister how he’s learned to deal with criminals or crazy people he’s encountered on the job. He’s only ever loved one woman and respects Judy both as his wife and as a nurse.
The human experience: So now, let’s complicate things.
Like I said, Judy is an operating room nurse. She’s seen some horrific things. Imagine her fear when her husband, a SWAT team member, was shot. Now it’s six months later. He’s all healed, but she can’t get over her fear for him every time he walks out the door for work. She decides to show him her anger rather than admit what a coward she is. Dave, her husband is losing his patience with her.
What if we turn the tables?
Let’s put Judy in danger and Dave has to face his fear of losing her. She has to find ways to deal with a crazed gunman. What if the reality of losing each other forces them to remember their love for each other?
So, that’s SEIZED, a roller coaster of emotions and danger. Hope you enjoy it!!
The guys were just settling up the betting and reorganizing the room when Dave’s phone vibrated on the table.
“Oh, man, the woman is psychic. Probably wants to remind us to wrap the leftovers and not to spill any beer on her brand new carpeting,” Luke said.
“Too late. You already did that,” Matt said, shoving their youngest brother sideways.
Dave gave his brothers a warning glare. “Hey, babe,” he said as he held the phone to his ear. “What’s up—?”
“Listen carefully, Lydia” she said, as if talking to someone else.
“Lydia? Did you dial the wrong numb—”
“Dr. Hodges is dead. That’s the gunshot you heard.”
All the men in the room froze. Dave hit the speaker button on his phone and set it on the counter of the bar so they could all hear. Gripping the counter with both hands, he willed the sudden rush of fear to ease its stranglehold around his heart.
“The rest of our team, all four of us are okay and the patient is stable. Mr. Wilkes is in charge and he’s wired a bomb to the doors. If anyone…and he means anyone…tries to come in, all three entrances will blow.”
His knees wobbled when he heard the word bomb. “You’re telling me there’s someone holding you hostage? In the OR?”
A deep voice spoke off in the background, too muffled to make out his words.
“Paul says you have ninety minutes to clear the patients out of the hospital.”
Okay, it’s your turn. 1. What are you bringing to the party? Let’s make it a cookout! 2. If you could write a book about what you know, what would it be? What would you title it?
I’ll be giving away two print copies of SEIZED to readers today!!
Posted by Suzanne Ferrell Jun 27 2013, 12:12 am in Allie Burton, Atlantis Riptide, Suzanne Ferrell, YA Paranormal
One of the perks in being a Romance Bandit is getting to introduce our readers to new authors and their stories. If that author happens to be one of the nicest people you will ever meet and a dear friend…well that’s just bonus points for all of us. So today, dear readers and fellow Bandits, I’m bringing some fresh talent to visit, my good friend and debut YA paranormal author, Allie Burton!
Suz: Welcome, Allie! Pull up a bar stool. Since it’s early in the day, I’ve asked Sven to have your favorite caffeine beverage Diet Pepsi on board for our visit. If we’re lucky he’ll serve us up some lovely blueberry scones to go with it. Congratulations on the debut of your YA series LOST DAUGHTERS OF ATLANTIS. Please tell our readers the premise behind the series.
Allie: Thank you so much for having me here and thanks for the Diet Pepsi. You wrote such a sweet introduction. I have to say without Suzanne Ferrell’s encouragement and advice I wouldn’t be here today.
Believe it or not, the first line in ATLANTIS RIPTIDE was the original premise. I remembered the old line about people running away to the circus and I thought why would someone do the exact opposite? The first line is: I ran away from the circus.
Suz: I loved that opening! How did you come up with this concept?
Allie: I came up with the concept by building on that first line and asking a lot of questions. What did they do in the circus? Why did they want to run away? What are they looking for?
Suz: In ATLANTIS RIPTIDE we meet Pearl. For a Princess with remarkable powers she hasn’t lived an easy life.
Allie: Pearl’s powers were taken advantage of by the circus owners—that’s why she ran away. She wanted to find herself and discover why she has these abilities. By the end of the book she’s found so much more.
Suz: When we meet Pearl, she immediately performs a heroic act. Why did you choose to start the book here?
Allie: A couple of reasons: I wanted the beginning to be a cliffhanger and I wanted to showcase Pearl’s powers to let the readers know this is no average girl. The situation also posed a conundrum to Pearl because her goal was to stay anonymous and not show people her skills, but if she didn’t act the toddler could drown.
Suz: Her life becomes very complicated when she meets Chase Thomas.
Allie: Chase is curious about and attracted to Pearl instantaneously. He wants to get to know her, to break down the walls she’s built up, and her resistance makes him even more determined.
Suz: Men and boys, always intrigued by puzzles. Then things really become complex when she meets a young man with powers like hers.
Allie: One of Pearl’s story goals is to discover why she has these strange abilities. When she meets Finn, she immediately lets down her walls and trusts him. But there’s a war brewing under the ocean and he might be on the wrong side.
Suz: I love the story of how you found your YA voice. Can you share it with our readers?
Allie: I started writing romantic suspense and the kids would always be trying to look over my shoulder. I’d have to cover the screen because I didn’t want them to read about sex and murders. One day one of them asked, “when are you going to write something we can read?” So, I whipped up a middle grade book about a brother and sister and ended up loving the genre. Now, I write both middle grade and young adult.
Suz: The second book in the series ATLANTIS RED TIDE is also out. Which sister is this story about?
Allie: This is Coral and Finn’s story and its available now. Coral has been brought up in Atlantis as one of the three princesses, but she doubts her legitimacy. She believes she must find her sisters to prove her worth. And Finn, who we meet in the first book, is a spy for the opposing side in the war.
Suz: When will the final book, ATLANTIS RISING TIDE, be available for readers?
Allie: ATLANTIS RISING TIDE releases at the end of this month. The heroine Maris thinks she’s a normal teen until she discovers her powers and learns of this other world under the ocean—a world that could be torn apart.
You can find Allie Burton at www.allieburton.com and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/AllieBurtonAuthor and Twitter at www.twitter.com/Allie_Burton
So, dear readers, The Lost Daughters of Atlantis series are great summer reads. What’s on your summer reading list? Allie will be giving away a signed copy of ATLANTIS RIPTIDE to one commentor!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Jun 24 2013, 12:12 am in Donna MacMeans, Jennifer McGowen, Lori Foster, LuAnn McLane, RAGT, readers & authors Get Together, Sheila Clover English, Suzanne Ferrell
Earlier this month I attended a reader conference that was a total blast. Suzanne Ferrell and I both signed at the 9th annual Lori Foster, Duffy Brown, and Linda Keller’s Reader and Author Get-together (RAGT, for short) on June 6 – 9th. That’s Lori on the left. Unfortunately, she broke her elbow earlier in the year and was still in that protective brace. She looked a bit like a bionic woman – half-human/half-machine, doesn’t she?
RAGT is always held at the same hotel in West Chester, Ohio – a little burb outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s has gotten so big, though, that the event has taken over the entire hotel (with a little overflow to nearby hotels). The price for readers is held at $50 which covers food and registration. So it’s no surprise that RAGT sells out within hours of the registration opening. While many of the attendees make it a point to come year after year, I’d guess maybe 75 people were “virgins,” first-time attendees.
Over 100 authors attended and roughly 400 readers were all there for a good time that benefited a number of charities. That’s one of the things I enjoy about RAGT, that it’s all done for charity. In fact, Lori says a check was given to One Way Farm, a home for abused, neglected and abandoned children in Cincinnati for $14,000.
Every year, Lori chooses author to contribute to a benefit anthalogy. This year the proceeds from the sale of Animal Attraction will go to the Animal Adoption Foundation. It’s a great way to find new authors and benefit the animals. The book was only available in print form at RAGT, but you can support the animals as well with the digital version.
Suz and I got a chance to talk to readers who came to RAGT from California, Florida, Chicago, Boston…from all over the country. That was fun. My publisher generously donated a box of Redeeming the Rogue which I was able to give away at the digital night signing on Friday night – that was fun too. Saturday was pretty much devoted to a signing for traditionally published authors and drawing winners of the 250 donated baskets and prizes. You can see a photo of me signing The Casanova Code toward the bottom of the post. Sara King won the Romance Bandits basket – that’s her to the right. I won a video package from Circle of Seven Productions to create a book trailer for a future book, which is pretty cool! Sheila Clover English from Circle of Seven is handing me my certificate on the left.
Every person that attended the event received a tote bag filled with bookmarks, pens, various forms of promotional swag, an autograph book of the attending authors for those that like to collect autographs, and a tee shirt. I was lucky enough to receive a couple leftover bags so I have multiples of some of the above items which I’m willing to share.
BTW, that’s me in my hat, LuAnne MacLane, and debut YA Author Jennifer McGowen on the right.
Tell me what genre you like to read, what author you’d most like to meet, and what sort of swag items you like. Do you prefer things like first chapter books? Or useful items like pens, bags clips, etc. that have the authors name. Would you buy a book as a result of these things? If you’d like me to send you goodies, you’ll have to go to my website at www.DonnaMacMeans.com and send me your contact info so I can put stuff in the mail (Hey – while there you might want to sign up for my infrequent newsletter). Hopefully, one person will receive a tshirt (XL), three people will receive tote bags, two will receive autograph books, and lots will receive their preferred swag.
Also I have one of the rare print copies of Animal Attraction – fully autographed. These were only available at RAGT. If you want to be eligible to win it, please like my author page at http://tinyurl.com/mjca8j6 and add a comment to my contest post so that I know that you have.
So let’s talk RAGT and reader conferences.