Posted by Cassondra Murray Sep 24 2014, 12:08 am in Cassondra Murray, Cassondra's blogs, hotels, security, travel
The day I turned sixteen, I got my driver’s license in the morning. That afternoon I loaded my suitcase and my guitar into my mom’s car and I drove almost all the way across the state to play music at an event up near the Ohio River. I drove home after the event, and that drive is the subject of another blog post–one about big strapping angels pulling a little girl’s car out of a ditch in the middle of the night (someday maybe I’ll tell that story)-—but bottom line?…I should have stayed in a hotel that night, because I was too exhausted to drive two and a half hours home. But at that time, I’d had very little experience with hotels. It just didn’t seem like a good option.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking I had a bad mom. (She’s 86, still sharp as ever, and I am grateful that I still have her). She was the best kind of mom because she understood what I was about. She knew I was not up to shenanigans, she knew I’d been driving since I was thirteen (that’s a whole nuther blog) and she knew I could take care of myself. And she knew that playing music was all I cared about. I could not wish for a better mom because she encouraged me to pursue my passion, which was music.
Still…there are some things one can learn only by experience.
I’d booked the event near the Ohio River a few months before. I always took an overnight bag in case of some emergency, and though I’d planned to go home that night, I should have stayed rather than drive. It was just too late. That’s a lesson you learn the hard way—that you are mortal and have limits. Another lesson is that you are not necessarily safe in a hotel, no matter how they tout their security.
I learned my lesson that night about my limits when I’m tired, and in subsequent years I learned a lot of other things from other musicians, salesmen (they were almost all men at that time), and other business people living out of suitcases as they moved from place to place. I also learned a lot about how to survive as a young woman traveling alone, about fixing my own car, and about how to tell an honest offer of help from one that came with strings attached.
Over the years I learned to survive in hotels. I learned that to actually sleep, I had to wear earplugs. I learned how to shove a chair under the door handle. This was the days before electronic key cards, so I learned how to be patient and play the desk clerks one at a time, pretending I was locked out so I ended up with every extra key to my room. That way a stranger couldn’t find out my room number and con the desk clerk out of a key to get in, because I had all of them.
Things have changed. Now the keys are electronic, the security is much better, and in good hotels there are actually enough plugs, there’s an iron and a hair dryer in every room, and the lamps have simple switches you can reach by swatting at them in the dark.
Still…they have their security risks.
When I stay in a hotel, if it’s just for a couple of days, I ask for extra towels and I don’t get maid service. That way nobody but me comes into my room. I figure the housekeeping staff is one of the biggest security risks. That housekeeper has a key to every room on her floor.
If there’s a balcony with a sliding door, I leave it locked, with the security device in place. I leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door at all times, so it appears I’m in there, even when I’m not.
In the book I’m writing, my heroine, Del (short for Adelaide because she hates that name) is staying in a hotel. She has something significant stolen out of her room. Something that will decide the fate of her career and her future. This item won’t fit in the room’s safe, so that’s not an option.
So, Bandits and Buddies, I’m trying to stage a hotel room theft, and I need your help. Tell me your hotel stories…
Have you spent a lot of time in hotels?
Will you share your hotel experiences?—What are your favorite hotels–or your least favorites? What’s the most awesome hotel experience you’ve had–and what’s the worst?
What do you think of hotel security?
What do you think are the weak points?
Do you trust the cleaning staff to leave your things alone? Do you take measures to prevent theft when you stay?
If you wanted to stage a theft from a hotel room, how would you get access?
Do you sleep well in hotels?
Do you have any tips or tricks to offer for hotel stays?
Any horror stories to share about hotels?
Posted by Nancy Northcott Aug 26 2014, 12:19 am in baseball, birdhouses, Fall, owls, space shuttle, summer's end, travel, vacations
Yesterday was one of those summer days we just hate around here, hot and muggy. Oppressive. Today, though, was nice. The air felt light. There was even a breeze, and the temperatures were down about 10 degrees from yesterday. It was almost like, well, fall.
Now Dragon Con is upon us, ending on Labor Day. While summer doesn’t officially end until September 22, Labor Day feels like it draws the curtain over summer and its freedom. Maybe that’s because school used to start right after Labor Day, not in August like it does now. For whatever reason, Dragon Con itself has become my signpost for summer’s end.
As far as food goes, the end has been in sight for a couple of weeks. Watermelon starts being less good after July 4. By Labor Day, it’s often pretty anemic in both appearance and flavor. Corn on the cob is not as plump or as large.
When I look back at the summer, I managed to do quite a few things I intended. I ate more fruits and vegetables, cut back seriously on soda, and am exercising more–though not as much as I’d like to. The boy and I got his travel arrangements made, and we had a nice, if short, family vacation and saw this unusual birdhouse in a park. We even planted some irises, which steadfastly refused to bloom.
We even went to a minor league baseball game, courtesy of the boy’s boss. The dh used to go to minor league games regularly until the stadium burned down and the team moved to South Carolina, but that’s a long, involved story! Anyway, we were glad to experience this bit of Americana together. And our team won–go, Knights!
And of course, as you may have seen on Facebook, I finally got to see a space shuttle. And it was the Enterprise! I know she never actually flew, but…the Enterprise! I’d wanted to see the U.S.S. Intrepid Museum and the shuttle for a long time.
A big event for us, though it seems fairly insignificant in the grander scheme of things, was spotting an owl in our back yard. We stood under it, talking and taking pictures, and it ignored us totally. It might be a sort of “I know I can take you if I have to” kind of attitude. Still, we were all agog, and watching the big raptor was one of the highlights of our summer.
But I didn’t go out to our local park and watch the geese on the big artificial pond. I didn’t whittle the TBR pile noticeably. I didn’t learn to make pretty raffle baskets (I rely on other bandits for that), nor did I tinker around with changes to my website or paint the upstairs bathroom. *sigh* I keep hoping the painting elves will just, you know, do that, but they haven’t so far!
What did you do this summer that you especially enjoyed? What did you hope to do that you’re probably not going to get done before the seasonal calendar changes?
Posted by Nancy Northcott Jun 26 2014, 12:39 am in comic books, costly, mothers and sons, Nancy's blogs, travel
Whether or not we’re parents, we were all kids at one time or another. All of us stretched our wings and pulled away from the nest in ever-widening circles. The boy has been doing that the past few years. We like his friends, are proud of his choices, and yet…occasionally, the dh and I miss the way it used to be.
I got a taste of days gone by last week. The boy and I went to Washington, DC, so he could apply for a visa to study abroad. This was the trip with the infamous car trouble, which Jeanne and her mechanic stepped up to fix so we could get home. We took the car to the garage first thing, and then the boy and I headed into the city with Jeanne’s dh as our guide.
The visa process took mere minutes, so we headed down to the National Mall to see some of the sights. Just as a note here, if you go to DC, don’t forget your sunscreen. I did, but I didn’t worry about it. What tourist mecca doesn’t sell sunscreen virtually everywhere in the summer?
Um…our nation’s capital? We tried at the Washington Monument (no luck), a kiosk across the street (closed for the next half hour), a street vendor (didn’t sell it but graciously allowed us to use his), and the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum (none in the main gift shop, but we lucked into a tube in the basement).
One of the things I most wanted to see was the Vietnam Memorial, and I didn’t want to shuffle past it with a mob. I wanted to be able to walk up to it, go back and forth along it, and think about what I was seeing. One of our family doctor’s sons (much older than I was, so not a buddy of mine) died in Vietnam. I wanted to find his name, and with the assistance of a park ranger, I did. There’s a battered book you can consult where the wall’s two halves intersect.
It was very moving, the dark stone, the memorial bouquets laid against it, and the people staring up at the names.
From the Wall, we walked down to a reflecting pool, where we bought some water and sat on a bench in the shade to drink it. Suddenly, we heard a lot of loud honking. A massive gaggle of Canada geese rushed over the grass, across the walkway, and into the pool. We called this the Blitz of the Goose Commandos.
Some of the geese, however, were not so sure they wanted to take this plunge. A bunch of them hung back near the water’s edge. This apparently infuriated one of their peers, who hopped out of the water and bit one of the holdouts on the tail before jumping back in. Seriously. Why this goose got behave this way, and with no retaliation, we had no idea. Whatever the reason, it did not spur any of the reluctant geese to hop in.
Here are the reluctant ones:
One thing that was cool about traveling with the boy was that he’s an adult now, able to decide what to do and figure out how to get where we need to go. I had a folding map. He had a map on his phone, and his was more helpful than mine.
When the car was acting up, I didn’t have to worry about taking care of a toddler if the car broke down. Instead, I had a someone in the shotgun seat who could help me deal with any problem if need be.
To get out of the sun, we walked up to the shade behind the Washington Monument. I’d never been up there before and didn’t realize what high ground it was. We had a great view of the Lincoln Memorial from there. Also the Capitol and the top of the White House.
Those fountains in front of the Lincoln Memorial are part of the World War II Memorial. When we walked by there, the boy took a photo of me in front of the column honoring the Phillippines. My father was born there and joined the navy there, after Pearl Harbor.
Eventually, with a conversation with Jeanne’s mechanic en route, we reached the Air & Space Museum. They had three external doors open on the Mall said, but only one bag check station. Yes, one. Many foreign visitors joined hordes of our fellow Americans in demonstrating our national preference for surging masses over an orderly line. We did eventually get inside, though, and we had a great time poking around.
Here is Chuck Yeager’s plane, Glamorous Glennis, in which he broke the sound barrier. We also wandered through a duplicate of Skylab, walked through an old TWA jet, and admired the Spirit of St. Louis despite wishing Lindbergh had not been so pro-Germany in the lead up to World War II.
There was a great exhibit on aviation in World War I. I was nattering on about the war, telling the boy (a huge LOTR fan) about Tolkien’s service on the western front, the Battle of the Somme, etc., when the boy stopped me.
“Did you say Tolkien fought in the war?” he asked. When I nodded, he said, “Come look at this.”
He pointed to a poster showing French anti-aircraft soldier watching the sky for German planes. I took a picture but I couldn’t get a clear one. Alas, but I didn’t realize something had flicked the camera setting off “auto”). The caption above the poster was “They shall not pass!” Seriously. We loved it!
If you’re not a LOTR freak and so don’t get this, don’t worry about it. “You shall not pass!” is what Gandalf says to the Balrog on the bridge in Morder right before smiting the bridge with his staff and breaking it.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was locating the actual Enterprise from actual Star Trek in the basement gift shop. The boy took a photo of me, but the camera difficulties made it blurry. I do wish I’d thought to check the setting! Anyway, here is a photo I took that turned out more or less okay.
After that, we headed back to Jeanne’s to get the car. We remain deeply grateful to her and to her fabbo mechanic for getting it fixed. It ran like new on the way home.
We finished out the week, the boy and I, by going to the HeroesCon comic book convention in Charlotte. After so many years of going to cons, I have pretty much everything I care about that isn’t totally out of reach (not that I wouldn’t love to own Action Comics #1, the debut of Superman, or Detective Comics #37, the origin of Batman, but let’s be real!). I like to wander and look around, though.
Shown at left is the pillar with the con’s hours, which I photographed because I love Supergirl and Batgirl, who actually had some joint adventures at one time.
I didn’t discover the camera issues until after the con. I knew I was having trouble with it, but it never occurred to me (no idea why!) to check the setting. This is unfortunate because the boy is into cosplay (attending dressed as a character) and made an amazing Magneto outfit, and I took scads of photos, only a few of which turned out.
Anyway, here he is facing off against Darth Vader in the booth of the 501st Legion Carolinas Garrison (stormtroopers).
And here he confronts Iron Man, a perfect opponent for a villain whose power is based on magnetism.
I wasn’t in costume, but I did have on my Superman shirt. It seemed the perfect thing to wear to have my photo taken with Superman’s dog, Krypto, in the DC Comics Petting Zoo.
One of the pleasures of attending a con is the level of energy and excitement in the room. Most people are there because they love some aspect of what’s being celebrated. There was a sort of cosplay hangout near one of the stages, and people were taking pictures of those in costume.
Several people stopped the boy to ask if they could be photographed with him or could take his picture. In cosplay circles, that’s a sign the costume is a hit.
I also got to meet someone I’ve long admired, artist Ramona Fradon. She worked in comics in the late Golden Age and early Silver Age, when women were just not in that field. She revamped Aquaman and helped create Metamorpho, the element man. According to one source online, she was the first woman to work on a superhero comic.
There she is, at left. She was so friendly and gracious.
Sorry it’s blurry. The moral of this story is “Always check your camera settings.” With my old 35mm film camera, I had to do that every time. I tend to trust the digital point-and-shoot, obviously more than I should.
The boy and I had a great time wandering the Dealer’s Room. Part of the fun for me was watching the reception he got after all the hard work he put into that costume. The breastplate is constructed in layers, and the helmet is in segments. It took him days to put all that together. A coworker of the dh’s made the cape.
What about you? Have you ever done cosplay, either at a con or for Halloween (yes, childhood counts)? What was your favorite costume?
What was your most recent trip with someone close to you? What were the highlights?
Posted by Joan Kayse Mar 13 2014, 12:22 am in Ireland, Irish, Joan Kayse, paranormal romance, St Patrick's Day, travel
I miss my homeland.
What, you might say? You miss Kentucky? The States? Your favorite McDonald’s and Diet Coke?
Nope, I’m talking about the land of 3/4 of my ancestors….Eire. Ireland. The Emerald Isle. My heart.
It’s been six years since my last visit. SIX YEARS! That is way too long, inexcusable considering I spent the first 2/3 of my life not even imagining I would ever visit. The budget is being cruel and alas, it will be a while yet before I return.
But I yearn for my ancestral home.
My first visit started out in a stunned state. We de-barked at Shannon Airport to a cold, cloudy, dreary landscape and I could only think “I spent thousands of dollars for THIS?”
Then we left the airport. Dear. God. In. Heaven. It was as if the spirit of the isle reached into my heart and soul and hugged me. As corny as it sounds, I knew I was home. It only got better from there. So here are some of the things I have been missing:
1. The earth. The sky. The rivers. The coast. The rocks. The birds. The flora, the fauna. The sheep. The sun as it breaks out over stone wall lined pastures after a soft rain. There is a richness to sol’s rays there that does NOT exist anywhere else. And the lakes! Blue is to bland a word to describe the beauty of the water. I’m not a hiker by nature but I tell you walking in the woods there? I knew…just KNEW that if I sat on a log I would become one with the earth. Ahem…I also firmly believed that if I looked under the right rhododendron bush, I’d find the King of the Fae
2. The Irish spirit. Ya gotta admire a people so resilient. They meet their challenges and either beat the crap out of them or dance around them. The honor those who have gone before them, respect those who suffered and then thumb their noses at the cause. Every meal includes the potato in some form or fashion and one particular eatery in Killarney…seriously…served potaotes FIVE ways! Roasted, mashed, chips, boiled, added to pasta.
3. The history. Yeah, in the States you have to go through park gateways to see a lot of our infant past. In Ireland, you drive down the highway and past castles, cemeteries hundreds of years old, thatched cottages that invaders missed (Ha!). It’s just part of life there. Part of who and what the people, the land are. All of it right next door to a McDonald’s that serves the apple pie crusted in sugar with REAL clotted cream!
4. The people. Especially the musicians who play in the pubs. These people are transformed as they play ballads, jigs reels. They connect with another sphere of life as they play the fiddle, the bodrhan (my fav), pipes even spoons. I was only feet away watching an older guy play spoons with his eyes closed as he felt the life of the song. Oh and of course the black-haired, blue-eyed stone mason I oogled…er, watched at work on the Ring of Kerry. Momentous time that lead to the premise of my upcoming paranormal Guardian Isle series.
I could go on and on. While I can’t quite make it back right now, I always have the promise that, just like it has for an eternity, home will always be there for me.
What about you? Have you experienced anything similar in your travels? Have you been to Ireland and what do you miss?
Posted by Anna Campbell Mar 11 2014, 11:00 pm in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Harlequin, historical romance, Mills and Boon, Regency romance, Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed, Sons of Sin, travel
Thanks so much to everyone who went all posh and tea-drinking to help me celebrate the release of the U.K. edition of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED from Mills and Boon in London. I’m delighted now to announce that the winner of the book is:
Megan, can you please email me on anna @ annacampbell.info with your snail mail details and I’ll get your lovely purple book off to you. Happy reading!
Posted by Anna Campbell Mar 10 2014, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Great Britain, historical romance, International Releases, Mills and Boon, Regency romance, Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed, Sons of Sin, travel
Ahoy, my hearties! Feast your eyes on this purple beauty!
What’s that you say?
Is this a new release from Anna Campbell?
Hmm, the title sounds strangely familiar, yet I’ve never seen that handsome fellow and that blonde wench before. Who can they be?
Why, they’re the wicked and sexy Jonas Merrick and the brave and passionate Sidonie Forsythe from the first book in the Sons of Sin series, SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED.
Sidonie, as you’ll notice, has had a bit of a makeover and is now a blonde, but I must say I love the tension between these two in this picture. You just know sparks are going to fly!
If you’re regular visitors to the lair, I don’t think it will be any surprise when I tell you that I’m a bit of an Anglophile (along the lines of the way that Bluebeard had a few marital issues!). But while my books have come out all over the world (we’re currently at 16 languages), I didn’t have a British publisher.
You can imagine my excitement last year when Harlequin Mills and Boon in London bought the first three Sons of Sin books for a range of European territories, including a U.K. release. Yay!
Now I’m delighted to announce for U.K. Bandita Buddies that Rogue came out as a Special Release in both print and e-book in Great Britain on 21st February. A week after Valentine’s Day strikes me as a lucky release day for a romance.
If you don’t live in the U.K., but you’d like one of these gorgeous purple books, you can order them post-free from the Book Depository: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1455512079/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1455512079&linkCode=as2&tag=romanbandi-20 And I’m also giving one lucky person a chance to win their own lovely purple book at the end of this blog.
There’s a new blurb for the U.K. Rogue:
‘I’m your payment, Mr Merrick.’
When notorious Jonas Merrick finds the wife of his greatest enemy up to her neck in debt to him, he offers her a bargain – she can work off the debt…in his bed. But Jonas is more than a little surprised when her innocent, naive sister arrives in her place, bravely offering herself to the scarred, brooding rake. Unexpectedly moved by young Sidonie’s beauty, innocence and wit, the ruthless loner finds her seduction a much more compelling prospect. Instead of a martyr in his bed, he wants seven days to make her come willingly.
But when the week is up and the world intrudes…will beauty claim her beast?
Works for me!
The U.K. version of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED is available at all good booksellers including:
The Book Depository
Mills and Boon
You can read an excerpt here: http://annacampbell.info/rogue.html
By the way, the photos illustrating this post are from my visit to Haddon Hall which is one of my favorite stately homes. It’s one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been – no wonder it pops up as the setting for so many historical shows, including the lovely BBC JANE EYRE featuring Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester. When I visited in 2007, they had costumes from the series on show in the rooms where the scenes had been shot. A lovely touch!
If ever you’re in Derbyshire, don’t miss it.
So let’s stay British with our question today. If you’ve been to Great Britain, what were some of your favorite places and why? If you’d like to go to Great Britain, what would you especially like to see?
I’ve got a signed copy of a U.K. edition of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED up for grabs today for someone who comments. International giveaway. So good luck!
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 Anna Campbell Jul 24 2013, 12:03 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Claimed by the Laird, Forbidden, historical romance, Nicola Cornick, One NIght with the Laird, Regency romance, Scottish Brides, Scottish Romance, series, The Lady and the Laird, travel, Wicked Ladies of the Ton, writer's life
It’s always a pleasure to host historical romance star Nicola Cornick in the lair. Today Nicola is back with us to tell us about her latest book THE LADY AND THE LAIRD (oh, yummy, Scotsmen ahoy!) and also about some of her recent travels. If I’m good as this life, I think I’ll come back as Nicola’s suitcase. She always goes to the most wonderful places!
THE LADY AND THE LAIRD is making friends all over. Publishers Weekly recommended the book as one of the second chance at love romances to watch out for this year and RT Book Reviews said: “There are many delicious moments in the first of Cornick’s Scottish Brides series. The lively dialogue and sexy cat-and-mouse games (a little touch of Cyrano de Bergerac!) combine with poignancy and tenderness so readers become invested in the characters and their love story.”
You can find out more about Nicola and her wonderful books on her website: http://nicolacornick.co.uk/
Nicola, welcome back to the lair. Congratulations on your new release for HQN, THE LADY AND THE LAIRD. Can you tell us about this story?
Thank you so much! It’s great to be back in the Bandits’ lair. THE LADY AND THE LAIRD is the first book in my new Scottish Brides series. I’m thrilled about the series because it’s set in the Regency period in the Highlands of Scotland, thus combining two of my favourite things!
Lady Lucy MacMorlan is the very proper daughter of a Duke but she has a very improper hobby; she writes erotic love letters on behalf of her brother Lachlan and his friends. When Lachlan elopes with the Marquis of Methven’s bride, Lucy is in big trouble because Robert Methven guesses that she is the real author of the letters and threatens to expose her secret and ruin her reputation.
Robert is also in trouble. He has to marry and beget an heir or his ancestral estates will be lost. Worse, a royal decree means that he can only marry a lady descended from a rival clan. Lucy is the obvious candidate but even though there is a chemistry between her and Robert from the start, she has sworn never to marry after losing her fiancé years before. Robert’s courtship of Lucy isn’t exactly conventional; there is a lot of the rugged highland laird in him and Lucy frequently points out to him that he needs to learn some refinement. I really enjoyed showing this ill-matched pair starting to recognise and respect each other’s strengths and falling in love.
Rugged Highland laird? Let me at him! What were the inspirations behind this book?
I’ve always wanted to write Regencies set in Scotland and I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long! As you know, I love the Scottish scenery. I love the wildness of it, and the way you can reflect that in the characters and their story. Lucy in particular is a very well brought up and proper Regency young lady but there is another side to her, a wild side that she has never acknowledged before. Robert makes her confront that.
I was also hugely inspired by the tumultuous history of Fair Isle, an island off the north coast of Scotland. I drew on that a lot for the book.
Love the photos of Fair Isle you sent for the blog. What’s coming up next for you?
Book 2 in the Scottish Brides series, ONE NIGHT WITH A LAIRD, is out at the end of November. It’s the story of Lucy’s sister Mairi and Robert’s wicked cousin Jack. I’m currently writing book 3 CLAIMED BY THE LAIRD, which will be out next summer.
Scotsmen abound in Romancelandia (even from Sassenach writers like your good self). What do you think is the enduring appeal of a Scottish setting?
I’ve thought about this a lot (It’s no hardship to think long and deeply about men in kilts!) and talked to a lot of people about it. The Scottish hero is masculine and powerful, a real alpha, but he has a loyalty to his clan, his people, and that demonstrates that he also has a protective side. He possesses other qualities we admire in our heroes too – honour, resourcefulness, independence, determination. He’s usually very physical and shows this through fighting for a cause he believes in. He’s the whole sexy, swashbuckling package!
In addition, there’s the appeal of the clan as family. In Scots Gaelic if you ask someone “where are you from?” the actual translation is: “Who are your people?” This goes to the heart of the whole idea of kinship for me. I think the Scottish set romance is all about loyalty and belonging, about fighting for what is important to you and protecting your kin. I think that is a very appealing concept.
Are you noticing any particular trends in historical romance right now?
There’s been a lot of talk recently that the historical romance genre is either dying or already dead. I think this is an over-exaggeration and there are still some fabulous historical romances about and some great authors putting their unique twist on the genre. At the same time it feels as though the time is right for the genre to develop in new directions. Sometimes it can be difficult for authors to push change through. Established authors may want to try something different and take a few risks, but get vetoed by publishers who want to stick with tried and tested success. New authors may come up with fabulously fresh ideas, but then find it difficult to sell them.
I think it’s actually an exciting time. I’ve lots of fresh ideas I’m keen to explore in my writing and I’m also keen to see the direction others writers are going to take in the genre.
We love to hear about your travels here in the lair. It’s a little while since you last ventured into the Bandita cave – can you tell us about some of the interesting places you’ve visited lately?
Well, I went to Fair Isle last year to research the background for THE LADY AND THE LAIRD. When I say that it is the most remote inhabited island in the UK that sounds pretty tame – I mean just how remote can the UK be? But in fact we’re talking miles off the north coast of Scotland sort of remote. You have to take three flights to get there with the planes getting smaller and smaller until you’re in one so small you’re in the co-pilot’s seat. Our pilot was an ex-RAF Biggles type who was frightfully re-assuring to me as a nervous flyer. His pre-flight checks consisted of tugging on the wings to make sure they didn’t come off and kicking the wheels to make sure they weren’t flat. Then we were off and I swear he threw in some aerobatics just for fun.
Fair Isle feels like the end of the world – in a good way. It’s the most beautiful place, with huge cliffs and white sand beaches and masses of history from the Vikings to the wreck of a Spanish Armada ship to sea battles against French privateers during the Napoleonic Wars. I was in history heaven! And as if that wasn’t enough, there were ceilidhs in the evening where we enjoyed some fine Scottish dancing. I even came away with a genuine Fair Isle sweater. It was an amazing trip.
Lucky duck, visiting Fair Isle. It’s been on my list for a long time. Do you have a question for our Bandits and Bandita Buddies?
When it was time for us to leave Fair Isle a storm blew in, the planes were grounded and we were marooned for several days. Where would you like to be marooned – and with whom?
Thanks, Nicola, and all the best with THE LADY AND THE LAIRD.
Get commenting, people. Nicola has very generously offered a copy of THE LADY AND THE LAIRD to one of our visitors today (international). Good luck!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 5 2013, 12:22 am in Anna Campbell, Australian Authors, Bandita Booty, Category Romance, contemporary romance, Destiny Romance, Jennifer St. George, Penguin Australia, Seducing the Secret Heiress, The Convenient Bride, The Love Deception, travel
Just lately I’ve been lucky enough to catch up in person a couple of times with one of my favorite people, talented Aussie romance author Jennifer St. George who lives a couple of hours south of me in glorious Byron Bay, Australia’s most easterly point. And now, lucky me and lucky you, we get to catch up with the lovely Jen here in the lair.
Jen’s here today to talk to us about her latest release, THE LOVE DECEPTION, which is available worldwide as an e-book.
You can find out more about Jen and her glamorous, sexy stories on her website: http://www.jenniferstgeorge.com/
Jen blogs with the fun and clever Love Cats Downunder: http://lovecatsdownunder.blogspot.com.au/
You can also follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.s.george.31?fref=ts
And make sure you check out her first two books, THE CONVENIENT BRIDE and SEDUCING THE SECRET HEIRESS!
Phew! Plenty of chances to get to know our Jen!
Jennifer, welcome back to the lair. Congratulations on your new release for Destiny Romance, THE LOVE DECEPTION. Can you tell us about this story?
THE LOVE DECEPTION is my third novel with Destiny Romance. It combines legal intrigue, courtroom drama and a dash of exotic Barbados.
When Felicity Carter wakes up naked in a strange bed, she has no idea how she got there. And no recollection of meeting the gorgeous man calmly offering her breakfast. Felicity flees – hoping that their paths never cross again.
The last thing she expects is to discover that her mystery man is Damon Fullbright, partner at the law firm where Felicity has just started work – and her new boss!
Damon is appalled to find the out-of-control young woman he rescued has been hired to work on his team. Apart from anything else, he doesn’t need the distraction of a hot blonde with a barrel-full of issues. But one-by-one, Felicity blows all Damon’s preconceptions out of the water. When Felicity explosively reveals her dreadful secret, will he risk his reputation and trust her to discover the truth?
Sounds great. What were the inspirations behind this book?
Through my various jobs, I’ve travelled extensively and would often wake up in a hotel in a foreign country and forget where I was. In those first few seconds of waking, I’d always get a jolt of adrenaline and my brain would scream…where am I? Of course I’d quickly realize I was fine, in a hotel and had to get up and go to work. I wondered what it would be like if you woke up and had no idea where you were.
Felicity does just that at the beginning of the book. From that point on, her life is a rollercoaster ride in the search for truth, understanding and ultimately…love.
What’s coming up next for you?
My current hero is an IT guru working in central London. My heroine runs an orangutan sanctuary in Brunei. He lives a fast paced, stressful, inner-city, jetset lifestyle. Building his global business is his sole focus. She’s a wildlife warrior who thinks the hero represents everything that is wrong with the world – IT gadgets, expensive lifestyle and no connection with animals and the natural world. It creates wonderful conflict, which I’m loving. I’ve already cried a couple of times writing their story, so I hope I’m conveying this emotion on the page.
Last time you visited in January, we were talking about your wonderful second release SEDUCING THE SECRET HEIRESS. You’ve now been published for nearly a year and I wonder if becoming a published author has offered any surprises along the way.
I was pretty excited at the recent Australian Romance Readers Convention when a reader came up and told me how much she loved my books, took a photo and then tweeted me! Hadn’t had that happen before. I did feel pretty special.
Having people review your work publicly is also something very new and at first I found it quite confronting. Fortunately most of the reviews I’ve received so far have been positive (thank goodness!!).
Your books feature fabulous exotic locations like Venice and Barbados. What are your favorite travel destinations? Can we expect to see any of these destinations in future books?
I love walking and do at least one bush-walking holiday a year – usually up in Queensland’s Lamington National Park. Two years ago I walked the Cinque Terra trail in Italy. This year I hiked the Tasmanian Overland Track. This 65km, six-day trek winds through places of extraordinary beauty. I walked with a company that’s been running guided walks for over twenty-years and they’ve built huts along the trail. Huts mean hot meals, hot showers, warm cabins and chilled wine (I’m not much of a camper). All this delivered by young, fit guides who take care of everything. Food tastes, oh, so much better when you’ve trekked at least twelve kilometres and someone else has cooked. I’d love to feature the Tasmanian rainforest in a book.
Having lived in South America, I’m considering setting a book there. Perhaps Rio or Santiago. New York also appeals as a setting. I remember that thrilling feeling the first time I walked down Fifth Avenue. Just being in that city made me feel like anything was possible.
But my favourite destinations will probably always be in Europe. I lived in Europe (mostly England) for seven years and just loved the history, architecture, different languages (I can speak a bit of Spanish and am currently learning French), the landscapes, the food and the fact you can travel a few hundred kilometres (or much less) and be in a completely different culture.
My favourite cities are Prague, Seville, Salzburg, Bruges, Venice, Florence and of course, Paris.
What do you think makes a great romance hero?
Yes, lots of romance heroes are tall, dark and good-looking. But, I don’t think there’s a template for a great romantic hero. He can be cute, blond and wayward; brilliant, serious with glasses or ripped, gorgeous and executive. As long as the heroine fancies the knickers (or Calvins) off him I generally find I’m on the right track. Sometimes on the surface my heroes appear to behave a little badly, but there is always a very strong motivation for doing so. However, he always respects the heroine and deep down is very, very kind.
Do you have a question for our Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation rolling?
I spend a lot of time thinking about what profession to give my characters. Felicity and Damon from THE LOVE DECEPTION are both lawyers. Are there any character’s professions you really love reading about? Are there any that you really don’t like or just didn’t suit the characters? Comment today for a chance to win a e-copy of THE LOVE DECEPTION (Amazon or iTunes).
Thanks so much, Jen! Love the sound of the new book! Sounds like those two have a rocky road to love ahead of them.
Get commenting, people, to win the copy of THE LOVE DECEPTION!