Random Thoughts – Christmas Mayhem by Vanessa Kelly
Thanks for hosting me on Romance at Random. It’s great to be here, especially during my release week of Christmas Mayhem!
What images normally spring to mind when you think about Christmas and the holidays? Trees gorgeously decorated with glowing lights, eggnog, fantastic holiday meals with turkey and stuffing, chestnuts roasting by an open fire…the usual, wonderful stuff. What do I think of when it comes to the holidays? Smugglers, Quakers, decrepit manor houses with smoking chimneys, scandalous incidents in the ballroom, and hastily arranged marriages. Read more
Kris Kennedy: The Wild Animal That Is My Book Release
Kris Kennedy shares with us what it’s like to experience the all important and ever-changing ‘book release’.
I have been blessed enough to have had 4 of the stories I’ve written turn into books. Each release day is different, and I’ve done tons of things on those “On Sale” days: drink champagne with friends, worry endlessly, hide in my bedroom, clean the bathrooms… I’ve even wondered why there has yet to be a parade thrown in my honor. (Still wondering about that one…)
Kris Kennedy on Heroes and Heroines
Historical author Kris Kennedy discusses what it is that draws us to a hero and keeps us coming back for more.
Most romance readers read for character, for the romantic conflict between hero and heroine. Yes, we need a plot, some of us more than others. And yes, we love strong world-building, so we can get lost in a new world, be it a fictional U.S. town in 2011 or a medieval castle in 1153. We need tension, tough choices, and sensual energy.
But all those devices should be used to create vivid characters we can totally fall in love with. Characters that can become Keepers.
Closed – ‘Live Chat’ with Stefanie Sloane historical romance author – what makes a good hero?
Random Thoughts: Cherishing Charlie (and a few other people, too)
It is the eve of the release of The Saint Who Stole My Heart, my fourth book to be published. I spent a lot of the day at the emergency vet with Charlie, my love sponge of a chocolate Lab. He has a seizure disorder, and so infrequent but small attacks are not uncommon. Unfortunately no matter of valium would stop the seizures this afternoon, so I packed him up and headed to the ER. Read more
Random Thoughts: Stefanie Sloane Interviews Kate Noble
Romance author Stefanie Sloane sat down with Kate Noble, author of several historical romance novels including her latest: If I Fall, for a fun, no-holds-barred interview.
The delightful Kate Noble burst onto the historical romance scene with her debut, Compromised, in 2008, and she hasn’t slowed down since. Her latest delicious tale, If I Fall, is out this week and I know you’re all going to love it! I caught up with Kate recently and asked her a series of unrelated and silly questions. Luckily, the lovely Ms. Noble obliged.
Stefanie: Dinner with four famous people, living or dead, at the restaurant of your choice. Which restaurant would you choose, who would you invite, and why?
Kate: Betty White, Bea Arthur, Rue McLanahan, and Estelle Getty. Because who doesn’t want to hang out with the Golden Girls?
And my favorite restaurant is Mozza in New York City, because it is the home of the most delicious creation on the face of the earth: Olive Oil Gelato. So any chance I have to eat there, I’m taking it. And I’m willing to force my new famous friends to experience it with me.
Oh, olive oil gelato – thank YOU for being a friend.
Who is your latest author crush, romance or non-romance, and what about this person’s writing makes you swoon?
I recently read 1776 by David McCullough. I am generally not a big enthusiast of reading page after page of troop movements, but McCullough’s voice and impeccable research made these dry historical figures of Washington and the Continental Congress become incredibly alive and flawed and real. And that’s a feat, literary or otherwise.
And my favorite romance author of late is Madeline Hunter. I just gobbled up her The Rarest Blooms series—four books–in the space of one weekend. She’s an incredible world builder.
When it comes to research and the setting of your books, do you weave your story from history (facts that intrigue or inspire you) or think of a story and then insert it into history?
Actually it’s a little of both. I know my characters first, and they in turn are very much informed by when in history they hail from. So as historical context informs their characters, it will also be used to build the obstacles they have to overcome to get to happiness.
What is your favorite thing about being a published author?
I love having the opportunity to get the crazy voices out of my head, down on paper, and someone actually pays me for it! And the romance community is so incredibly welcoming and supportive of each other, I’m just grateful that I get to be a part of it, and interact with other writers and readers on a daily basis.
What is your favorite line from IF I FALL and why?
“To give in to gravity’s pull.” It’s a phrase that gets repeated a few times as the characters go up and down emotionally–and sometimes they don’t give into gravity’s pull… but oh, do I love it when they do.
Which do you prefer reading, paper books or e-books and why?
I love reading no matter what the format. While I find my e-reader convenient in certain situations–planes, trains and on the treadmill–I do have a soft spot in my heart for the smell and feel of traditional paperbacks. Kicking back at the beach just isn’t the same without one!
If you could have written one book in history, what would that book be and why?
Harry Potter. Damn, I wish I had thought of that.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?
Writing historical romance is the absolute best for learning random things through research. I think my favorite thing I learned was from my sister, a medical doctor, about ‘laudable pus’. Let’s just say medical knowledge had a looooooong way to go back in the day.
Hope I didn’t gross you out too much there.
What’s coming up from Kate Noble?
My latest novel, If I Fall, is out this week! It’s the story of Sarah Forrester, whose engagement with a duke was ended abruptly last season. To protect her vulnerable heart–and to survive the poisonous tongues of the social scene–she reinvents herself as the Golden Lady. But only one person can see beneath the brittle façade–her childhood friend Lieutenant Jackson Fletcher. And he’ll do anything–and I do mean anything, even dressing up as her childhood hero, the mysterious spy the Blue Raven–to bring her out from behind the mask and back to the sweet and loving girl he once knew.
Also, I have a special bonus e-novella out too! The Dress of the Season – It’s the story of Harris Dane, Viscount Osterley, who orders a very fine and scandalously cut dress to be made for a certain lady he wishes to woo. While with the dress designer, he also orders a pair of gloves to be sent to his ward, Miss Felicity Grove, to wish her well for the new Season. But when Felicity accidentally receives the dress, along with Osterley’s affectionate note, it sets into motion a tale of scandalous misunderstandings and love in the last place you look.
And while If I Fall and The Dress of the Season connected through familiar characters, you don’t have to read one to enjoy the other. But I of course hope that you’ll enjoy both!
|Kate Noble is the author of Compromised, which became a national bestseller in 2008. She has since written Revealed (which was a 2010 RITA Finalist), the critically acclaimed The Summer of You (named a Kirkus Reviews Best Romance of 2010), and Follow My Lead, (which earned stars from both Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal). The upcoming If I Fall is the next in her well-loved Blue Raven series.
Kate lived in New York City for a number of years before moving to Los Angeles, and would be unable to declare which city is her favorite – weather vs. culture remains the eternal debate.
Visit Kate’s website to learn more.
Random Thoughts: Stefanie Slone Interviews Eloisa James
Romance author Stefanie Sloane sat down with Eloisa James, author of Paris in Love, her new memoir, to discuss her year in France, her writing style, and a few of the life lessons she learned during her time away.
Stefanie: Everyone dreams of packing up and moving to a romantic locale. But so few of us actually manage to turn such fanciful imaginings into reality. For you, a health scare sent you overseas. Many in your position would have hunkered down and sought comfort in the familiar, but you went looking for an adventure. Why? And are you glad you chose the unfamiliar over the comfortable?
Eloisa: For one thing, my cancer was not life threatening: it was caught at an early stage. So, for me, it was more of a wake-up call than a nesting call. I realized that time—my time—could be cut short at any moment. Sometimes nesting is the best possible action (when caring for a new baby, for instance), but not always. I strongly believe that it is still OK to seek out adventures as an adult, a mom, a wife.
Throughout the book, you experience epiphanies, if you will; moments where life reveals itself to you in an effort to educate, inspire, and encourage. Was there one lesson that was particularly hard for you to learn? And which was the most satisfying?
It was very hard for me to say goodbye to my friend Rose. The fact that I had moved to Paris for a glorious year, post-cancer treatment, and that she—during that same year—succumbed to incurable cancer, gave me a great deal to think about. Rose lived with incredible joie de vivre: her call to me from the top of a mountain—“It’s beautiful here…you must come before you die”—became one of the most heart-wrenching and heart-felt lessons of my year.
Clothing, including lingerie, plays a reoccurring role in your memoir. For French women it appears that fashion—and the bits underneath that keep one’s assets in place—are to be celebrated rather than feared. Why do you think it is that we American women possess such a drastically different view of clothing? How did your own opinion of your body and wardrobe change after experiencing Paris?
I could sum it up as this: French women do get fat. They have bodies of all different shapes. But they dress to suit their figure, no matter its shape. I understand my figure differently, after a year of observing Parisians. My closet is less crowded, for one thing—but the clothes I have are tailored to fit my body, and I have figured out how to make them go together. I’m so much happier now that I know that I can quickly put together a chic and flattering outfit.
Your memoir is written in a rather unique way with stories told in short bursts of vivid description and unforgettable prose. Why did you decide to tell your Paris story in such a way? What is gained and/or lost in this abbreviated style?
I wanted to write about Paris in the way I was experiencing it: in very short bursts. My father (Robert Bly), is a poet, and when I was in elementary school, he was working on prose poems. Mastering a very short form of prose, even if my snippets have no comparison to his poetry, was an exercise in affection. What’s more, I wanted this book to give readers the sense of small but vivid pleasures, and so I resisted turning it into a traditional travel narrative.
What do you hope readers take with them from reading Paris in Love?
Whatever you do, whether it involves travel, or a new language, or a painting class, don’t allow fear to stop you. If you do visit a foreign country, don’t spend all your time (or even much of your time) being a tourist. Sit in a café and watch the world passing by. Be joyful rather than learned.
Watch Eloisa and her husband discuss their time in Paris:
|Eloisa James is a professor of English literature who lives with her family in New Jersey. She is the also the author of Midnight Pleasures and Enchanting Pleasures.
PreorderParis in Love, on sale April 3rd.
Why Kick-Ass Heroines Rock
Author Shana Galen shares a few of the reasons why she loves writng (and reading) about strong female characters.
First of all, let me say thank you to Romance@Random and Stefanie Sloane for having me. I’m thrilled to be here!
Lest the title of this blog confuse you, let me first say I love all heroines. I’ve written my share of young virgins who certainly had, or developed, a backbone but wouldn’t utter the word ass even if they were talking about a donkey. I have nothing against those types of heroines. They have their pros and cons.
But this blog isn’t about sweet, demure little misses. This blog is about tough, spunky, fearless heroines. And let me tell you they are as much fun to write about as they are to read about. Take Sophia from my recent book Lord and Lady Spy. As the title would suggest, she’s a spy, and there’s pretty much nothing she can’t do.
Accurately throw a dagger? Check.
Hand-to-hand combat? Check?
Set booby traps? Check.
Cipher code? Check.
Fire a pistol? Well…she needs a little work in that area. But I had to give her some weaknesses. She can’t be perfect.
The heroine in my new novel, The Rogue Pirate’s Bride, is far from perfect. Raeven is young, impulsive, and a little spoiled. She likes to get her way. At the beginning of the novel, she’s after the blood of the notorious pirate Captain Cutlass and has no qualms at all about challenging him to a duel. Her weapons of choice are swords.
I had so much fun with these two characters. I loved seeing what trouble they would get into next. And the best part was they always managed to get out of it as well.
So here are just a few reasons why I love writing kick-ass heroines:
You never know what they’re going to do next.
For an author like me, who’s not much of a plotter, the sweet miss can take a bit of work. She wouldn’t be caught dead doing so many of the things that normally makes a story exciting, and while I have to make sure she remains in character, I also want the writing to be interesting for the reader. The kick-ass heroine, on the other hand, isn’t afraid of much. She may have one or two hang-ups, but she’s pretty much ready for any adventure I imagine. Raeven in The Rogue Pirate’s Bride fights a duel with a pirate, is kidnapped, kisses the hero, and shimmies down a ship’s anchor cable to escape. All of this happens in the first two chapters!
They defy all convention.
My stories are set during the Regency era when rules were not simply a suggestion. A lady followed the rules or she found herself living in the country with sheep and a lady’s maid for company. So when one of my heroines breaks the rules, she is taking a big risk and those scenes are really enjoyable to write. It’s also fun to push the envelope. No one reads books about average people who only do average things. We read to live new lives. A heroine who isn’t afraid to step out of her comfort zone is a welcome escape from our own, sometimes routine, lives.
They have great sex.
It stands to reason that most heroines who aren’t afraid to take risks outside the bedroom wouldn’t be afraid to take them in it. I had to think hard about the sex scenes between Sophia and Adrian in Lord and Lady Spy and those between Bastien and Raeven in The Rogue Pirate’s Bride. I didn’t want to write typical sex scenes. I wanted the action in the bedroom to reflect the characters. Sophia, for example, likes Adrian to be a little rough. Raeven has no problem using a dagger for erotic purposes. The kick-ass heroine makes sex scenes more fun to write and read.
What about you? Do you like kick-ass heroines? Who are some of your favorites? I’ll be checking in all day to read your comments. I’m also pleased to offer copies of The Rogue Pirate’s Bride to two readers who comment (U.S. and Canadian residents only).
Shana Galen is the author of numerous fast-paced adventurous Regency historical romances, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold worldwide, including Japan, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and the Netherlands, and have been featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She’s a wife, a mother, and an expert multi-tasker. She loves to hear from readers: visit her website at www.shanagalen.com or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.
Katharine Ashe on Masks and Mischief
Just in time for Mardis Gras, author Katharine Ashe talks masks and all of the delicious trouble that happens when we don a disguise.
Do you remember the ball scene in Romeo and Juliet? It’s one of my all-time favorite Shakespeare moments, for two reasons. First, the ball is when the young lovers meet and fall into infatuation. Their words, their gestures, their desire for each other — so immediate, so intense — take them lightning-fast from touching, to teasing, to kissing. From there it’s an intoxicating spiral of emotion into full-blown love.
Second, I love this scene because in order to enter his enemy’s house, Romeo arrives masked. In disguise he believes he’s safe. He has no idea that he’s never been in greater danger. A paper mask, after all, is a feeble barricade against the power of love.
In a gorgeous rendering of that moment in the play, in the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film, Romeo wears the mask until he sees Juliet. At that moment he removes it and she sees his face.
In seeing his face — his eyes full of her — she sees the real man behind the mask, heart stripped of disguise, vulnerable and ready to fall.
I remember the first time I visited Venice during Carnevale. There were masks everywhere. No one was recognizable. You couldn’t tell the Venetians from the other Italians, or the Italians from the tourists. Old men were young, young men were girls, and girls were ancient sorceresses. Even the city wore a mask; confetti covered all, sprinkling pristine stone with rainbows of glitter that tangled in hair and floated on the canals like stardust come to earth.
I think masks are the biggest reason people love Mardi Gras. Sure, the holiday is about good food and drink and out of control partying. But Mardi Gras is much more than overindulging and cutting loose.
It’s about inversion. Turning the up side down, and the in side out. During Carnevale, poor men strut like gods while rich men fade into crowds. Peasants feast like kings and fools speak like wise men.
But I write romance. And in the thrilling cliff-dive of falling in love, a little insanity can be a really good thing.
So I adore a hero in disguise, especially a disguise that flips everything we expect of an alpha hero on its head. Such a disguise convinces everybody he’s harmless, only to reveal — when it is most dangerous — that he is nothing of the sort. Nothing at all.
In my new book, When a Scot Loves a Lady (available one week from today!), London spinster Lady Kitty Savege has vowed to give her heart to no man, and she’s certain she has the measure of the Earl of Blackwood. He’s everything she doesn’t want: barbarian, rogue, incorrigible flirt. Yet every time he comes near, she is entirely at the mercy of her desire. She just can’t keep her hands off him.
So she fights it. He does too. With reasons of his own that include a secret mission, the earl resists and resists and resists. But their rational minds are no match for passion. And when his mask finally falls…
Insanity. The best kind.
Happy Mardi Gras!
Have you ever hidden behind a mask for a party or Mardi Gras, or perhaps for some bigger reason?
Katharine Ashe is an author of historical romance and a professor of European History. Visit her website to learn more.
Random Thoughts with Stefanie Sloane – Dancing with the Stars!
Dancing with the Stars!
I thought long and hard about what special gift I wanted to give you all. My pocket book doesn’t allow for diamonds or a new Benz in the driveway. And my schedule is too tight to fit in an extra story.
But I’ve got something even better. It’s a secret. A secret that needs to be told. You see, Julia Quinn and I love the nightlife. We love to boogie. That’s right; we’re disco dancing fools. It’s incredible aerobic exercise and, let’s face it, we look awesome in our bell bottoms and platform shoes.
So just for you, we’ve put together a holiday dance routine. We hope that it brightens the holidays and inspires everyone to get on down to Funky Town and shake your groove thing!
What is your fav dance era?
Random Thoughts with Stefanie Sloane – Exclusive!
Peeps, I have a confession to make: I am not a patient person. Typically, this does not work to my advantage—nor anyone else’s, for that matter. But there’s a first time for everything!
See, I’m the type of reader who looks early and often for new books. A premise might interest me. Or a gorgeous cover. Maybe the author’s background or a glowing quote from one of my favorite writers. Whatever it is, it captures my attention and will not let loose, even if the book isn’t due out for months.
Months? Months! Argh! How can I be expected to wait when all I want are the words in my hot little hands?
Well, turns out I don’t have to. Now that I wield the power of the Random Thoughts column, I can legitimately
harass ask authors to share tasty excerpts and treats from their upcoming books.
Sneaky, right? But oh-so effective!
victim author is Heather Snow, who makes her debut this coming February with the historical, Sweet Enemy. It is the first in Snow’s Veiled Seduction series and features a newly minted Earl and a brilliant female chemist. According to legendary author Julie Garwood, Sweet Enemy is filled with “historical intrigue and heart-pounding passion.”
Beakers and ball gowns don’t mix, so when a lady chemist goes undercover as a husband-hunter to investigate the earl whose family she thinks may have murdered her father, romance isn’t part of her formula. But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can’t control…
Just before this scene, Geoffrey, Lord Stratford, has evaded two determined marriage-minded misses who’d stalked him through the darkened hallways of his country home at a house party arranged by his mother. Find out what happens when he literally catches our heroine, Liliana Claremont, in his library after he knocks her from a rolling ladder. Though Liliana was, in truth, scouring the library for evidence, Geoffrey understandably mistakes her intentions…
“If you think getting yourself ‘discovered’ alone with me will win you a husband, Miss Claremont, you are sadly mistaken.”
Liliana Claremont’s gasp of outrage sent her flying from his arms. The sight might have amused Geoffrey . . . if he weren’t so damned irritatingly aroused. Her shocked expression, the delicate hand spread across her chest in a “how dare you accuse me” gesture. Oh, she was good. No doubt about that. Geoffrey ruthlessly shoved aside the part of him that wondered, given their recent embrace, what else Miss Claremont would be good at.
He exhaled as the burning pain that speared through his lower back eased a bit. He shouldn’t have held her so long. Geoffrey willed his discomfort into the background and instead focused on the fiery woman standing before him.
Her eyes sparked, sending embers sizzling through his chest. The flame she’d roused when he’d met her earlier this evening flared back to life. He squelched it.
Geoffrey raised a brow, waiting to see what excuse she would give.
Miss Claremont took a deep breath and stiffly lowered her hand to her side. Her pouty lips opened, then snapped closed and firmed. Geoffrey thought he could actually see her mind working through the accusation he’d leveled at her.
He watched this transformation from accused innocent to affronted angel with fascination. God, she was exquisite—for a conniving little actress.
‘NEW’ Random Thoughts: Follow the Yellow Brick Road by Stefanie Sloane
Follow the Yellow Brick Road—to Seattle! Emerald City Writers’ Conference 2011
Billions and billions of fleeting ideas are produced day-in, day-out, by every last person on the planet. Are you really allowed a five mile an hour cushion before it’s considered speeding? Somebody needs to design the sarcasm font. Nachos! What is another word for “thesauras”? See!
As for mine? Well, mine are decidedly more romantic in nature. Not that kind of romantic. Not all the time, anyway. Who inspired Julia Quinn’s Lady Whistledown? Are vampires hotter than warewolves? Rakes! How does one write the perfect query letter? Cowboys! What do booksellers want from authors?
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, people! I was raised by a romance author. I’ve worked as a romance bookseller. And now I’m writing romance novels of my own. You can’t even imagine how much is on my mind—and now you don’t have to. Random Thoughts is the column that will answer the who, what, when, where, and whys of the romance novel world—maybe even the how-on-earth-did-that-happen ones, too! Welcome to Random Thoughts, where every road leads to romance.You might wonder what, exactly, would bring someone to Seattle at the end of October; a time when the Emerald City has quietly slipped from a mild summer into a soggy fall and quite literally slid into dark, cold days in anticipation of the coming winter. Last weekend, most Seattleites were busily dreaming of tropical locales and drinks topped with umbrellas. Not so for over 300 romance writers, readers, editors, and agents who made their way to the 22nd Emerald City Writers’ Conference just east of the city, where they spent the entire weekend talking shop, getting their inspiration on, and honing their craft, despite the grey skies and pelting rain. Produced by the Greater Seattle chapter of the Romance Writers of America, ECWC is the largest regional romance writing conference in the west. The annual event attracts writers of romance and other genre fiction from around the world who are serious about building their careers.
With over 100 workshops, chats, and events offered, there was something for everyone. Friday alone featured a Master Class taught by renowned writing coach Bob Mayer, Diana Love’s inspirational opening address, and the ever-popular Editor Agent panel. Attendees listened to such industry experts as Ballantine editor Junessa Viloria, Knight Agency agent Melissa Jeglinksy, and Angela James of Carina Press field questions concerning everything from what they’re tired of seeing in submissions to the ideal query letter.
Feather boas went to those authors who managed to complete a manuscript within a year’s time—and this year, Cherry sweetened the deal by randomly selecting eight awardees that will be given the chance to get their work in front of New York editors and agents!
New York Times bestselling author Cherry Adair closed the evening in signature style by recognizing those who participated in her “Finish the Damn Book” challenge.
Saturday and Sunday brought their A games as well, with Sherrilyn Kenyon’s heart-wrenching keynote speech, the massive bookfair which featured many local authors, and the closing talk given by Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books fame.
And those are only a few of the highlights. Yes, you read that right. Only a few. Want in on the action next year?
Be sure to check out the Greater Seattle chapter’s website for updates on what’s sure to be an awesome conference in 2012!
Stefanie, host of Random Thoughts
Stefanie Sloane’s Regency Rogues series burst onto the scene in 2011 with three captivating Regency historical romances that delighted readers and critics alike. The fourth book in the series, The Saint Who Stole My Heart, will be released April 24, 2012. Please visit her on the web at the following fabulous sites: