Posted by Anna Campbell Jul 3 2014, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, contemporary romance, Cosmo Hot Reads, Harlequin, Harlequin Presents, interviews, Maybe This Christmas, O'Neil Brothers, Sarah Morgan, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, Suddenly Last Summer, writer's life
I’m delighted to welcome back to the lair multi-award winning (including two RITAs!) and bestselling author Sarah Morgan who is here to tell us about SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, the next book in her wonderful O’Neil Brothers series.
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER recently received a Top Pick review from RT Book Reviews, who said, “Morgan’s romantic page-turner will thrill readers…The chemistry between the misunderstood hero and the victimized heroine is combustible. Morgan’s handling of social and environmental issues impresses, her storytelling rocks and her lovemaking sizzles. Brava!”
Here’s the blurb:
Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the opening day plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O’Neil is back in town, and looking more delectable than ever. Last summer, they shared an electrifying night together…and the memories have Élise really struggling to stick to her one-night-only rule! Her head knows that eventually Sean will be leaving, so all she can do is try to ignore her heart before she spontaneously combusts with lust.
Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O’Neil’s worst nightmare. For Sean, returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means being forced to confront the guilt he feels about rejecting his family’s rural lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise has settled in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Thinking he can persuade her into a replay of last summer is tempting, but remembering how good they are together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine….
You can find out more about Sarah and her fantabulous books on her website: http://sarahmorgan.com/
Sarah, I absolutely loved your 2013 Christmas book, SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW. And now we’ve got the sequel to delight us, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER. Can you tell us about this story?
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER is Sean O’Neil’s story. Sean is a talented surgeon, totally committed to his career. He is forging his own path and much as he loves his family, he doesn’t want to be involved in the family business at Snow Crystal, Vermont. But events conspire to bring him back home for a short time and he’s forced to confront his feelings about the place, as well as his feelings for Élise, the fiery French chef with whom he spent one steamy night the previous summer.
Sean and Élise are both strong, passionate people. They have great chemistry, but neither of them is looking for a relationship and they think they have their feelings under control. They are so wrong! These two were meant to be together, but it takes a whirlwind ride of passion and emotion before they realize it themselves. I had so much fun with this book!
Ooh, sounds delicious! What were the inspirations behind this book?
I always enjoy writing about characters who have an intense relationship history. In Sean and Élise’s case it was brief, but it left a lasting impact on both of them. I wanted to explore how two guarded, very independent people manage to lower their barriers enough to embark on a relationship, but I also wanted to look at how family pressure had impacted on Sean.
The resort of Snow Crystal has been in the family for four generations and there has been a huge amount of pressure on all three brothers to play a role in the business. Sean in particular carries a lot of guilt about rejecting the family lifestyle. I wanted to explore how someone with a different life goal, in Sean’s case to be a surgeon, might respond to that pressure and how he eventually reconciles his loyalty to his family with his own needs and ambitions.
In Élise’s case, she has history that has made her very wary of romantic relationships. She doesn’t trust her feelings and Sean has to work hard to help her overcome her understandable reluctance to expose her heart.
What’s coming up next for the O’Neil brothers?
The final book in the series, MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS, will be out in October. Right from the start of this series I was excited about writing Tyler’s story, probably because he’s the bad boy and we all love a reformed bad boy. Since the injury that ended his career as a medal winning downhill skier, Tyler has been helping with the family business. He’s also a single father, raising his teenage daughter Jess, a situation that brings its own challenges for a man used to putting himself first. He’s had plenty of relationships but only one friendship, and that’s with Brenna who he has known since childhood. Brenna’s feelings go way beyond friendship but she doesn’t think Tyler sees her that way.
Tyler’s story is a romance, but it also explores love in its widest sense and what it means to be a father, a son, a brother, a lover and a friend. I can’t wait to see this story on the shelves!
Hurry up, October! What were the challenges and/or pleasures of writing a trilogy of three single-title length romances? Do you know anything now that you wish you’d known before you started?
I’d wanted to write a single title contemporary romance series for a long time so being given that opportunity was very exciting for me. The pleasure was in having the extra space to enable me to explore the characters in greater depth. When I’m writing Harlequin Presents the focus is very much on the hero and heroine. It’s like taking a close up shot with a camera. You focus on the couple and no one else. With single title you have a wide-angle view, so you see the couple in the context of the world around them. You see how they relate not only to each other, but to other people. I enjoyed exploring those extra layers of complexity.
One of the main challenges was to remember that I had the space of three books to tell the overall story and didn’t need to cram it all into the first chapter! I wanted the focus to be three brothers, but I also wanted to explore the complexity of being part of a big, loving family.
As you know, I’m a huge fan of your Harlequin Mills and Boon Presents stories. Do you have any plans to write more?
I do! In fact I’m working on one at the moment. It’s set in Greece and will be loosely linked to my next single title series, which will be out in 2015. I’m very excited about it. I love the emotional intensity of Presents, and of course it’s always fun to add in the glamour and sophistication that is part of that line.
You’ve written a couple of Cosmo Red-Hot Reads (RIPPED and BURNED). Was it a challenge writing short and super hot? Any plans to write more?
Last year I had the opportunity to write single titles that were 100,000 words and novellas of 30,000 and I really enjoyed the challenge presented by the different length of story. The Cosmo Red Hot reads are a very intense, short read and, yes, they are super hot! My books are always quite sexy so I simply stepped it up a notch!
I don’t have plans to write more at the moment, but I wouldn’t rule it out because I had so much fun writing them. My next big focus is my new contemporary series for HQN. I’ll be revealing more about that over the summer. I do enjoy variety and I find it good for creativity to move between projects of different lengths. Learning to write short and tight is a good skill for any writer.
You’re so prolific and your books are of such a consistently high quality. Interested parties (well, me!) want to know your secrets. Do you have any time management techniques that really work for you?
I put the writing first. There are so many distractions in this job. A writer could spend all day on different social networking sites. I do use Facebook and Twitter and I find them excellent ways of communicating with readers and also making professional connections, but I try and limit the time I spend. All writers struggle with the balance between promotion and writing, but I always try and remember that without the book I won’t have anything to promote so I make writing the book a priority. I do tend to write every day. If I take time off away from the story it’s harder to get back into the flow.
Sarah, thanks for such a great interview. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER is set in the beautiful lakes and mountains of Vermont. Where is your ideal summer destination?
I love mountains and water and my ideal summer destination would involve both those things, so Vermont would definitely be right at the top of my list. Last summer we had a family holiday in Crete, which is very mountainous and also has fabulous beaches. I have two sons and our happiest vacations involve plenty of outdoor activity because boys need to be kept busy!
Sarah is giving away a print copy of SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (international) to one lucky commenter today. So get commenting, people. Good luck!
Posted by Kate Carlisle Jun 25 2014, 12:05 am in bibliophile mysteries, book tour, Just For Fun, Kate Carlisle, writer's life, writing life
Note: At 7:00 pm Eastern/4 pm Pacific today (Wednesday, June 25), I’m being interviewed for Shelf Pleasure, a radio show by book lovers, for book lovers. To listen live, go to LATalkRadio.com and click “Listen Live!” in the left-hand column. Archived shows are available to play anytime on the LA Talk Radio show page or for download on iTunes under the podcast section or through Stitcher.
I’m writing this from the road. It’s Saturday, June 21. I did a signing yesterday at Clues Unlimited in Tucson, today at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Phoenix, and now we’re getting ready to catch a plane home. The perfect time to catch up with my Banditas, I thought.
I’m just wrapping up my book tour for THE BOOK STOPS HERE, my latest Bibliophile Mystery. Yesterday’s signing was with fellow mystery writers Jenn McKinlay and Hannah Dennison. Hannah and I have done so many signings together over the past few weeks that we can (and do) finish each other’s sentences. The addition of Jenn yesterday was great because Jenn always brings cupcakes. Plus, a fabulous reader named Jennifer brought us all slushies. Soooooo welcome in that Arizona heat! (From left to right: me, Hannah Dennison, Jenn McKinlay.)
Book tours are both fun and exhausting. The fun part comes during the signing itself, when we get to meet readers who love our books. What a natural high! Communication is a two-way street, but to novelists, writing can feel very solitary until we have the opportunity to talk to people our books have entertained. I got a real kick out of the necklace made by reader Jane, featuring the covers of THE BOOK STOPS HERE and of THE SECRET GARDEN. (The Secret Garden is the rare book at the center of the mystery in THE BOOK STOPS HERE.)
Prior to coming to Arizona, we were at Murder by the Book in Houston. (I heart mystery bookstores!) We got some video that I thought you might enjoy. You’ll find a few more short videos of both me and Hannah at www.youtube.com/katecarlislebooks.
Have you ever gone to a book signing? Who was the author, and what memory stands out for you about the event? (For the authors in the group, share a funny or touching story from one of your book signings!)
Posted by Anna Campbell May 27 2014, 12:02 am in Alison Stuart, Anna Campbell, Australian Authors, ebooks, Escape Publishing, Gather the Bones, Historical Fiction, historical romance, Lord Somerton's Heir, mysteries, reading, writer's life
I’m delighted to welcome back to the lair my friend, Aussie historical romance writer Alison Stuart. Alison’s here to tell us about her latest release, the Regency mystery-romance LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR. Here’s the blurb:
Can the love of an honourable man save her from the memory of a desolate marriage?
From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams, only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.
Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. But, her dreams are shattered, as she is taunted from the grave, discovering not only has she been left penniless, but she is once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.
But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?
To find out more about Alison and her books, please visit her website: www.alisonstuart.com
LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is available from AMAZON, Barnes & Noble and all good ebook stores.
For the month of May, Alison is offering a Rafflecopter contest with the prize of an author goody bag. You can enter HERE.
I was very sad to hear of the death this month of Mary Stewart (although to be honest, I didn’t know she was still alive so I shouldn’t have been taken aback by the announcement of her death). Anyway, it got me thinking about the authors who have most influenced me in my writing.
I actually haven’t read many of Stewart’s mystery stories for which she was best known in the early part of her career. The books that grabbed me by the throat and which sit on my ‘keeper’ shelf battered and thumbed and reread are her three Merlin stories beginning with THE CRYSTAL CAVE. What set them apart for me from the hundreds and hundreds of Arthurian reinterpretations (MISTS OF AVALON is another fave), was the humanity she invested in Merlin. Instead of a mystical being in a tall pointy hat, Merlin starts out as a boy in a Romano British household and comes to his position of power and influence in a thoroughly human way. Along the way he loves, he loses, he is betrayed… It is not, as has been described in some reports, a “romance”… there’s not a happy ever after for Merlin but there is a satisfactory conclusion and when you close THE LAST ENCHANTMENT you have the feeling of a life well lived. I had great pleasure in introducing my teenage son to these books and watching him devour them as I had done.
Like most writers, I was a voracious reader from an early age. However my taste was for action and adventure and although I cut my teeth on Enid Blyton, it was not the namby pamby FAR AWAY TREE, I was straight into the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, the shenanigans of Mallory Towers. Other childhood favourites included:
- Horsey stories such as the MY FRIEND FLICKA stories by O’Hara
- The fantasy stories of Alan Garner such as ELIDOR
- The Laura Ingalls Wilder stories which I read and reread until I could practically repeat them and were probably the most “girly” books I read.
But my overwhelming favourites were the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff and Ronald Welch and the English Civil War stories of Barbara Softly – strong historicals written for young adults with plenty of action and adventure and a good dose of romance but not necessarily romance stories. I devoured these books and there is no doubt that they had the strongest influence on the stories I write. I think I damaged my eyesight reading EAGLE OF THE NINTH under the covers by torchlight after my light was supposed to be out.
Has anyone out there read Ronald Welch? They were boys own adventures revolving around the “Carey” family – wherever there was a war or an interesting period of history, there you would find a Carey. Of course my favourite was FOR THE KING – the English Civil War story. I graduated to the stories of Jean Plaidy and Robert Neill by the time I was fifteen I had pretty much exhausted every historical book that the Parkdale Library had to offer.
My passion for all things English Civil War began with THE KING’S GENERAL by Daphne DuMaurier. On Sunday afternoons my father would read to my brother and I but he loathed reading “children’s books” so the choice of book tended to be his and he, of course, chose the books he liked which is how I came to have THE KING’S GENERAL read aloud to me when I was only eight. The love affair between Honor and Richard Grenville and the derring do of the period really struck a cord with me and inspired a life long interest in both the period and books that encompassed a strong relationship between a man and a woman within the context of a historical period.
My other great love was Agatha Christie. Every year my family holidayed at a guest house in Marysville (sadly destroyed in the 2009 bushfires) and my overwhelming association with that guest house are the books of Agatha Christie which I would purchase from the one shop in the town and read either curled up in front of the fire or in one of the chairs on the wide, wooden verandah.
On the other hand, I was a Georgette Heyer fail. I think I might have read THE BLACK MOTH and I know I read THE ROYAL ESCAPE (because it was about the English Civil War) but her regency romances held no interest for me whatsoever. However, I hasten to add, I have come to Georgette in more recent years and as an adult (and a writer) I love her books (although am I the only who find THESE OLD SHADES just a bit creepy?). While I am making my confession, I wasn’t all that fond of Jane Austen either. As for Harlequin Mills and Boon, I read my first one on the plane home from my very first Romance Writers of Australia conference (a gorgeous Marion Lennox story which I still have on my keeper shelf). To be honest I didn’t even know the first book I wrote (later published as BY THE SWORD) was a romance. I was, in short, a romance fail.
So I suppose it is little wonder that my own writing cuts across all these influences – romantic action adventures with action, mystery, murder, ghosts, time travel – sometimes all in the same book. Even with my latest story LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR, which is my first venture into the world of the Regency, the romance is bounded by a murder mystery that must be solved before the hero and heroine approach anything like a happy ever after. I think I can quite safely describe my style of writing as cross genre!
Just recently I started trawling Ebay looking for copies of my childhood favourites. Having them back on my bookshelf with the familiar covers, is like being reunited with old friends.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD BOOKS?
Thanks, Alison, that was fascinating. And yeah, I get you on THESE OLD SHADES, although as a pre-teen when I first read it, the age difference didn’t strike me the way it does now. Good luck with Lord Somerton. I loved GATHER THE BONES and this looks like another winner!
Posted by Anna Campbell May 10 2014, 12:01 am in Anna Campbell, Aunt Dimity, Barbara O'Neal, Carola Dunn, cozy mysteries, Daisy Dalrymple, favorite books, Great reads, Liz Fielding, Nancy Atherton, writer's life
Recently I settled down for a day of utter enjoyment with a book by one of my favorite writers, Barbara O’Neal (who also writes as Ruth Wind and Barbara Samuel – she’s great under any moniker!). Seriously, check out THE ALL YOU CAN DREAM BUFFET – it’s a beautiful read.
As I devoured this wonderful, life-affirming story about hopes and dreams and love and finding the path you were meant to find, no matter how far away you feel you’ve strayed from where you should be, I thought about how restorative it was to slip back into Barbara O’Neal world. And how there are certain authors who just seem to chime with my tastes, no matter what they write. Picking up one of their books is as pleasurable and welcoming as slipping into a warm bath when you’ve got plenty of time to wallow. Hence the title of this blog!
Barbara O’Neal and her aliases definitely fall into this category. So I started thinking about other writers who I know will always give me just what I want in a book. Often, they’re writers on the sweeter edge of things – I turn to these comfort reads when the real world just seems a little bit bruising and sharp-edged. It’s pure escapism – but there’s nothing wrong with that. And I also find that these authors, for all their positive take on life, pack a huge emotional punch. I was crying like a drainpipe in a downpour by the end of THE ALL YOU CAN DREAM BUFFET.
One of my favorite category romance writers is Brit Liz Fielding who also manages to capture that lump in the throat quality that seems to be part and parcel of these comfort reads. All her books are great, but the one I’ve featured, TEMPTED BY TROUBLE (if you click on the cover, it takes you straight to Amazon), is one of her best. Again, it’s about life leading the characters down winding paths to their rightful place in the world. Liz’s books are unfailingly charming and she writes the most gorgeous characters. They’re the sort of people you’d like to move next door (or into the spare bedroom – or MY bedroom if we’re talking about the heroes!).
Recently, thanks perhaps to the influence of our fabulous Bandita Kate Carlisle, I’ve become a devotee of cozy myteries. It seems odd to talk about books featuring someone done to death as comfort reads, but both the authors I’ll mention here take the whole death and dying thing fairly gently. And the characters are real charmers. so you smile even when nefarious deeds are afoot.
Carola Dunn is an English writer who currently lives in Oregon. She’s written several series, but my favorites are her Daisy Dalrymple books set in 1920s Britain.
Daisy is a lovely character – again, someone you want to move next door. She’s also a girl who seems to attract murder. If you get invited to a house party with Daisy, for the sake of your health, stay home!
There’s a lovely romantic arc through the books as we see Daisy’s relationship and eventual marriage to policeman Alec Fletcher. I’m just waiting on the 20th instalment of Daisy’s adventures to land in my mailbox (HEIRS OF THE BODY). I find it difficult to say why these books are such must-reads for me. Perhaps it’s that the characters are so warm and interesting and I certainly love the settings. But whatever the source of the magic, it’s definitely there!
My last example of an author to warm your heart is Nancy Atherton. Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series, starting with AUNT DIMITY’S DEATH, is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The series features American Lori Shepherd and her friends and family and are mostly set around the type of Cotswolds Village that you’ve probably seen on a calendar or two.
So who is Aunt Dimity? Aunt Dimity is a ghost who helps Lori to solve the various (not particularly dire in most cases!) mysteries that she finds herself stumbling upon. Again, like the Daisy books, these books are gentle and charming and life-affirming and heartwarming. Just what you want in a comfort read. I discovered these about a year ago and I’m about to start number 17, AUNT DIMITY AND THE VILLAGE WITCH. The world always seems like a better, kinder place after I’ve read an Aunt Dimity book.
So do you have any authors you turn to when your spirit needs refreshing? What are some of your favorite comfort reads? Why do you think those particular books are so appealing to you?
Posted by Anna Campbell May 5 2014, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Annie West, Australian Authors, Back in the Italian's bed, Bandita Booty, ebooks, Guests, Harlequin Presents, Hot Italian Nights, novellas, Rebel's Bargain, the Chatsfield, writer's life
Let’s give a lovely warm welcome to Aussie author Annie West who is such a favorite here in the lair.
Annie’s here to tell us all about her brilliant new novella, BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED, featuring a hero called Fabuloso, oh, sorry, that’s FABRIZIO. But he is pretty fabuloso!
This is Annie’s first indie effort and having read it, I can guarantee that it has all the passion and emotion and heat of her award-winning books for Harlequin Mills and Boon. Don’t miss it. Even better, it’s the first of a series called Hot Italian Nights. So there’s more fabulosoness to come!
Here’s the blurb:
No woman walks away from billionaire Fabrizio Armati’s bed. No woman except Jenna MacDonald. Now he’ll stop at nothing to get her back, and keep her there.
It’s love at first sight for Jenna when charismatic hotelier Fabrizio Armati sweeps her off her feet in Venice. That chance encounter sparks a sizzling affair that lasts until she discovers Fabrizio sees her as no more than a convenient, expendable mistress. Then her world falls apart.
Six months later Jenna tells herself she’s moved on. Until Fabrizio walks into a meeting to find her working for his greatest rival. She’s about to discover just how far he’ll go to get her back in his bed.
When revenge turns to passion, will surrender be on his terms, or hers?
BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED is available at the bargain price of 99 cents! If you’ve got a Kindle, just click on the blue cover above and it will take you right there (we make life easy for you in the lair – cabana boys and Kindle click-throughs!). If you’ve got a Nook, here’s the link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/back-in-the-italians-bed-annie-west/1119378950?ean=2940149175154&itm=1&usri=2940149175154
You can find out more about Annie and her wonderful books at her website: www.annie-west.com
And mark your diaries for a special release toward the end of the year when Annie’s entry in the fabulous Chatsfield series hits the shelves. I’ve read REBEL’S BARGAIN and it’s a corker! Here’s some more info: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebels-Bargain-Mills-Special-Releases/dp/0263246272/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395650778&sr=1-1&keywords=Annie+West+romance
FINDING HIDDEN TREASURE
Hi Banditas and especially the divine Ms Anna C for allowing me to visit again. It’s such a warm and welcoming place and it’s great to be amongst fellow romance lovers.
I don’t know about you, but as a child I used to love the idea of hidden treasure. I devoured stories about buried gold or lost heirlooms, secret passages and locked doors leading to neglected gardens or ancient mysteries or, of course, wonderful libraries. The idea of sparkling gems and bullion was fantastic, but I learned that sometimes the best hidden treasures didn’t necessarily have a huge dollar value. Take these:
When I get ideas for stories and when I write them, I make notes in these books. They’re full of cryptic scrawls, reminders of plot points I mustn’t forget, jottings on names for future stories, ramblings about how scenes fit together, even notes for workshops. I use one daily as I write but their value is such that I don’t dare discard even one of them.
Recently I needed to find a reference in an old notebook. It took me a little while to find (see note above about cryptic and rambling jottings) but in the process I found a hidden gem. A couple of lines scrawled at the bottom of a page that was otherwise devoted to an earlier story. It said (I’m translating here from my jottings) ‘What if a powerful businessman walked into a meeting to discover, on the other side of the conference table, his ex-lover, who’d walked out on him six months before with no explanation? What if she was working for his rival?’ Then there were the words ‘Italian, ruthless, can’t let her go.’
Wow! I sat back and stared. I couldn’t even remember writing the note but I knew in an instant I’d discovered hidden treasure. For in that moment I saw the scene in my head, I felt his emotions at the unexpected reunion. I even sensed her fear and dismay in the air, for I knew meeting him again was the last thing she wanted.
Here was the elusive idea I’d wanted for the novella I’d been meaning to write but kept putting off. The timing was perfect too. If I worked really hard I could just about find time to write it between other deadlines. Then too, I had a visit from my crit partner (take a bow, Ms Campbell) coming up so I could nut out any plot problems with her. After all, I’d never written a novella and didn’t know how I’d go with the shorter length.
I’d found hidden treasure, right when I wasn’t looking for it. And I did write the novella – BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED is out now.
I’ve discovered that being a bit of a hoarder means that discovering hidden treasure is one of the ongoing joys of my life. Whenever I do one of my sporadic clean ups I find something marvellous. Take these – not lost but hidden by a plethora of boring beverages bought by other members of the family. I’d been given the teabags as a gift from my husband. He knows I got a kick out of an earlier collection of tea bags featuring famous writers.
Imagine my glee! I’d put them aside, thinking to save them for a special occasion (like when I’m having a particularly difficult day with the writing) and now it’s like the thrill of receiving them all over again. Guess what I’ll be drinking? As for the lovely Klimt mug – it’s one of my favourites but got put in a cupboard I rarely use by a helpful guest a while ago. So now I’ve got something special to drink my tea from too.
Then, the other morning, when I woke far too early to work and the rain was pounding down and really, there was nothing else to do but read, I grabbed at the pile of books I’d rescued from a cupboard in the spare room (my tbr pile spills over several rooms) to discover a book I’ve had for a couple of years but never got to. I was just in the mood for a sweet romance about a put upon Cinderella in a lovely bygone European world. What a find! I love discovering treasures just when you need them.
And let’s not get to the joy of discovering something at the bottom of the ironing pile that you forgot you had! Yes, that’s happened to me too.
How about you? Have you found any hidden treasure lately? An object or a special place perhaps? Or if not, have you found any in your reading?
Annie has very generously offered two people (international) who comment their choice of a signed book from her backlist. So get commenting people. And make sure you pick up BACK IN THE ITALIAN’S BED. You won’t be sorry!
Posted by Anna Campbell Jan 10 2014, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Escape to the Country, Holidays, Judge Judy, reading, Television, writer's life
I’m going to channel my grumpy hero Jonas Merrick here. Those of you who have read SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED will know that Jonas spent a lot of his childhood in Italy and tends to break into Italian at moments when he’s moved – as he is quite often when he’s pursuing Sidonie!
Jonas would know well the wonderful Italian saying of il dolce fa niente which basically means the lovely art of doing absolutely nothing.
By the way, here’s a health warning for people currently suffering the awful cold temperatures that are afflicting those in the Northern Hemisphere. This program is rated HW (hot weather). There will be pictures of people basking in sun and enjoying warm temperatures. But I warn you no champagne cocktails were harmed in the creation of this blog.
Huh? Who am I kidding?
Of course champagne cocktails were harmed in great numbers!
2013 was such a flat out year for me and I reached the end of it feeling utterly exhausted. I usually try to take the week between Christmas and New Year off. It’s the middle of the Australian summer, nothing is happening (my father always said not entirely as a joke that if anyone wanted to invade Australia, they’d get from Cape York to Tasmania without striking an ounce of opposition if they decided to come on 27th December). The world seems to be made up of steamy weather, afternoon snoozes and crickets scratching their lungs out. Perfect break weather.
In 2011 and 2012, sadly I got hit with book revisions right on top of Christmas so my hopes of a decent bit of time off went completely west. This year, thanks to a very speedy response from my editor, I managed to get the revisions for Cam’s story WHAT A DUKE DARES, in before Christmas.
So much downtime that I renamed my house Downtime Abbey!
So for one delicious week, I just pottered around doing what I felt like. Surprisingly, while I did a lot of reading, I didn’t get through nearly as much of the TBR pile as I thought I would. Instead I seemed to be hooked on watching hours and hours of quite uneducational TV (OK, a hint of education snuck in now and again, but it was very much under the cover of darkness!).
My parents had cable installed in the house before I moved up here and now I’m addicted to it. There’s something wonderfully comforting about watching LAW AND ORDER from back when Jerry Orbach was still investigating. Makes me feel immortal – clearly nobody ever dies in cable TV land. Apart from the victim in LAW AND ORDER, obviously! And even then, they have the comfort of knowing that the tecs of NYPD always get their man. At least on TV!
So I had a lovely time watching stuff on the Criminal Investigation Network. Strangely relaxing hearing about the pursuit of nasty people, no idea why. And a myriad of antique shows on Lifestyle. As some of you know, I’m addicted to people talking about secondhand stuff. Just give me ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, FLOG IT!, ANTIQUES ROADTRIP, CASH IN THE ATTIC, ANTIQUES MASTER, you name it!
Now I think of it, there’s a kind of immortality in Great Aunty Edna’s dining table. It kind of goes on forever too!
And a few other shows I just love. One of my guilty pleasures is JUDGE JUDY. I tell myself it’s research for my books – after all, life’s rich tapestry is displayed with all its clashing colors on JJ.
If I’m not working – as you’ve probably gathered by now, I wasn’t – I’ll also watch THE PEOPLE’S COURT too. I’ve no idea why other people’s loans to their boyfriends and nasty fights with their housemates are so compelling. But somehow they are!
And joy of joys, the Lifestyle Network had new ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY episodes. I’m not sure if this BBC show is on in the States, but it features U.K. city dwellers who enlist the help of a presenter to help them find a wonderful place in the gorgeous British countryside.
The only real downside (rather than downtime!) of ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY is that it makes me desperate to own a thatched country cottage in Somerset. Sigh. But nonetheless, it’s perfect lunchtime viewing.
So now I’m back at work, in spite of the fact that the weather is still horrifically hot and the crickets are still carolling in the new year and most other people I know are also having a break. Started a new book on Monday. Wish me luck. And those hours of guilty pleasure TV are but a memory.
So what’s you must-watch TV show? Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to TV? Do you take the week between Christmas and New Year off? If so, what did you do this year?
And it bears saying again, may you all have a wonderful 2014!
Posted by Kate Carlisle Nov 25 2013, 12:05 am in bonus content, Kate Carlisle, recipes, writer's life, writing life
Let’s talk bonus content! I’m working on my website update for 2014. That is to say, I’m writing a lot of notes, which my fabulous webmaster will turn into an actual update. I’ve decided that I want to add a lot more bonus content for my readers, things like games and recipes and interactive book excerpt widgets, like this one for SECOND-CHANCE SEDUCTION, which will be out next month from Harlequin Desire.
I also thought it would be fun to include pictures of things from my books. I have a Pinterest board for each book (www.pinterest.com/booksbykate), so I’ve asked my webmaster to post a Pinterest widget on each book page, too, like this one. Isn’t this just the coolest thing?!
Thing is, I’m not a natural cook. I try, I really do, but I just don’t have the knack. Still, I think if you keep trying different combinations, eventually you’ll come up with something delicious. (After discarding lots of not-so-delicious combinations.) Which is just what happened when I threw together this Apple-Bacon French Toast Casserole. It turned out really delicious, even with the surprise ingredient I threw in! And it looks pretty, too. If you make it, please email me via my website to let me know what you thought.
Kate Carlisle’s Apple-Bacon French Toast Casserole
1 baguette, torn into 1-inch chunks
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 apple, cut into ¼-inch chunks
4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, cut into ¼-inch chunks
¼ C maple syrup
¼ C apple cider
Place the chunks of bread, apple, cheese, and bacon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, syrup, and cider. Pour over the bread mixture. Stir to soak bread thoroughly. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan, add the egg mixture, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the casserole until cooked through, and bread on top is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Serve with bacon and additional syrup. ‘Cause you know, you can never have too much bacon or too much syrup!
Okay, it’s your turn! Share a favorite breakfast recipe. Oh, and please do let me know what kind of “extras” you enjoy seeing on authors’ websites.
Posted by Kate Carlisle Oct 25 2013, 12:05 am in Anna Campbell, Kate Carlisle, writer's life, writing life
I’ve been staring at a blank screen a lot lately. It happens whenever I’m trying to start a new book. That first line is key, and it’s disconcerting to calculate how much time it takes me to get it right. One thing I like to do during this phase of the book is study other authors and their first lines. Some of them make me laugh. Others hit me right in the heart. If nothing else, reading the first lines of other authors’ books stirs up my creative juices, and that can’t hurt.
Here are five of my favorites in no particular order. You might not find these lines in a book of “Famous First Lines,” but I found them memorable and evocative. And just to be friendly, I included one of my own.
1. “The whole world knows you for a slut, Madam.” – A Rake’s Midnight Kiss, by Anna Campbell.
2. If my life were a book, I would have masking tape holding my hinges together. – If Books Could Kill, by Kate Carlisle.
3. My wound is geography. – The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy.
4. Phoebe Summerville outraged everyone by bringing a French poodle and a Hungarian lover to her father’s funeral. – It Had To Be You, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
5. “Your latest mistress is causing a sensation back in London, Masters.” – Mistress, by Amanda Quick.
What are some of your favorite first lines?
Posted by Anna Campbell Aug 11 2013, 11:00 pm in A Rake's Midnight Kiss, Anna Campbell, ARCs, Bandita Booty, great books, historical romance, Regency romance, Sons of Sin, writer's life
Thanks so much for everyone who swung by to talk about borrowing books yesterday. I had a great day and picked up some wonderful recommendations for my TBR pile. I’m delighted to announce that the winner of the signed advance reader copy of A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS is:
Aislinn, can you please email me on anna @ annacampbell.info (no spaces) with your snail mail details and I’ll get your book off to you. Happy reading!
Posted by Anna Campbell Aug 10 2013, 12:07 am in Anna Campbell, Annie West, books, Dick Francis, Jennifer Crusie, Martin Walker, mysteries, Rachel Bailey, romances, Sharon Archer;, Vicky Bliss, writer's life
Recently, I was away staying with a friend and as you do (well, as I do!), I was checking out her bookcases. As a result I ended up with a pile of new authors to try. How lucky am I?
I think as readers, we’re hardwired to lend the books we like to people we also like. It’s part of the friendship bargain – as long as the books come back. I have some friends who NEVER returned the books I lent them and it certainly cast a pall over the friendship.
I remember an exchange in OUT OF AFRICA where the Robert Redford character is talking to the Meryl Streep character about lending a book to someone who never returned it. It went something like this. MS says “What a pity you lost a book,” and RR goes “What a pity he lost a friend.” Ouch!
One of the things I love about people lending me books is that I get to discover authors who otherwise would never have crossed my path. I get a lot of recommendations from friends and people on the net. Did you know I do a review on the 24th of every month on The Romance Dish? I’ve got some great recommendations there. But still, there’s something about that rifling through someone else’s bookcases and finding things that look interesting that makes for wonderful discoveries!
Or if a friend sends you a book they’ve loved. Great too!
It’s also great if you can get your friends interested in books you’ve loved. One of the sad things about people NOT returning the book you lend them is that you never give someone a book you didn’t like. It’s always a book you’ve loved – and you want it back!
What fun when you can discuss a beloved series with someone as crazy about the characters as you are!
I’m sure some of you are saying now, “But don’t you want people to BUY all your books?” Not necessarily. Partly because when I’m hooked on an author, I’ll tend to buy them all anyway. Also because I think lending a book is part of the pleasure of buying it in the first place. We all love to chat books – that’s one of the fun things about being part of a wonderful community like the Banditas.
Although having said that, I haven’t seen Paolo with anything beyond THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. Sigh. That boy!
So I thought today, I’d share with you a few books that people have recently lent me that I’ve really enjoyed.
My lovely critique partner Annie West has lent me many a book over the years. Mind you, I’ve lent her many a book too. Just to give you an example or two, she’s hooked on the wonderful Daisy Dalrymple books by Carola Dunn (really fun light 1920s mysteries set in Britain) and the much darker Elly Griffiths mysteries featuring forensic archeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway. And now she’s devouring the brilliant Julia Spencer-Fleming series featuring vicar Clare Fergusson and police chief Russ Van Alstyne like I devour Toblerone.
Do I need to paint you a picture? Anyway, I love that she’s getting the same kick out of these wonderful books that I do.
Two recent discoveries for my TBR pile thanks to Annie are the delicious Bruno, Chief of Police, series by Martin Walker and an older release, the Vicky Bliss books by Elizabeth Peters.
So far, I’ve read four of the Bruno books and they’re like soaking in a lovely deep bath drinking fine French wine. Bruno, the hero, is an ex-soldier who takes the job as chief of police in a small town deep in the French countryside. While the mysteries in these stories are intriguing, the best bit is the wonderful texture of French life that invests the stories. I’m ALWAYS hungry when I read a Bruno book! I’ve been a huge Elizabeth Peters fan for a little while now (I’ve got a feeling that Bandita Christina Brooke put me onto the Amelia Peabody stories), but Annie recently lent me the first two Vicky Bliss books. Contemporaries rather than historicals, but still with that wonderful madcap sense of humor.
Another great read recently thanks to a fortuitous bit of borrowing was thanks to Desire author Rachel Bailey who lives not far from me. I went up to stay with Rachel and her dogs (and her long-suffering husband who has learned more about romance fiction than a man should!) earlier this year and brought back so many books, I needed two boxes to carry them! In amongst the booty was a Jennifer Crusie book that I hadn’t read before. MAYBE THIS TIME is a great romantic ghost story – as anyone who has read my THESE HAUNTED HEARTS knows, I’m partial to a great romance on the other side!
Finally, out of this whirlwind tour giving you just a tiny glimpse of my recent borrowings, I’d like to thank the wonderful Harlequin Medical author Sharon Archer who has got me well and truly hooked on Dick Francis’s racing thrillers.
Last October, Sharon lent me a couple to try and I’ve been devouring them like DOUBLE Toblerone ever since. I think I’ve now read about 20.
The joys of getting addicted to Dick Francis’s books is that there’s a huge backlist. They’re fantastic – I always learn something when I read his books and he writes the most wonderful heroes, calm, resourceful, brave, kind, honorable. Sigh. I want to marry a Dick Francis hero. I would suggest a more illicit relationship, but did you see I mentioned honorable? What fantastic books! I even wrote a My Favorite Things piece on them for my website, I love them so much: http://annacampbell.info/favethings13.html#march%2013
So I have to say I disagree with Shakespeare’s Polonius, who says “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” If I was neither, my life would be MUCH poorer.
So are you a book lender? A book borrower? Have you discovered any treasures in your friends’ bookshelves? If you had to lend someone new to romance a book to get them hooked on the genre, what book would you pick?
I’ve got an ARC of A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS for one commenter today (international!) – and you don’t even need to return it to me once you’ve finished it! Good luck!