Thursday, August 31, 2006

Writing to Music

I was going to call this "Writing Music" until I realized that could be taken two ways, and wasn't necessarily what I meant :-).

As Cheryl and Margaret mentioned in previous posts, I also write with pictures nearby. I try to find pictures of my characters (or close to what they look like, in some cases), and also any pictures that capture the times, the places, or the feel of my story. These often act as my touchstones, keeping me grounded in my story when I'm stuck, or having a tough time making the mental journey back in time.

Just as important to my writing, however, is the music I write to. I have a small collection of cassette tapes and cds that I constantly play in the background while I write. Many of them are movie soundtracks (talk about some dramatic stuff!), but I also have some with vocals. Generally if I can hear the lyrics clearly, the music distracts me, but there are several vocal artists whose work actually helps me stay in the mood and "in character."

At the top of that short list is Loreena McKennitt. The music is wonderful--it flows over and around me as I write; it's evocative and emotional. It also, imo, captures the flavors of the past, very important to a historical romance writer. The lyrics are often from the past, as well--"The Highwayman," "The Lady of Shalott," "Bonny Portmore," to name a few.

Works for me :-)

At the moment I'm back in the medieval era, so I've been playing the soundtracks from "Kingdom of Heaven," "Tristan and Isolde," and "King Arthur," along with Loreena McKennitt's 2-cd set "Live in Paris and Toronto." I may switch out several of these soon, or dip into my stash of cassettes, for the soundtracks from "Last of the Mohicans," "Robin Hood," the two recent "Zorro" movies, or "Gladiator."

I look on the music as a type of soundtrack for my writing. When I hear it, I get into work mode--it's time to write. It's also helpful for brainstorming.

I've been tempted at times to include composers and artists in the dedications for a couple of books. They've certainly helped me get from blank page to finished book!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cheryl St.John: August UK release, THE MISTAKEN WIDOW

This is the cover of the August UK release, THE MISTAKEN WIDOW. I fell in love when I saw this cover. Isn't it exquisite? The colors are just breathtaking. And I appreciate how the artist used the details of the original US "theme" cover in the new design. Note the wallpaper, the golden glow of the room, and even the accessories. THE UK cover also has a more elegant linen/matte look than the glossy US cover.

Has anyone seen it on the shelves where you live?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Joanne Rock - August Release

Eleanor of Aquitaine, anyone?

If you've seen Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor in The Lion in Winter, you already know what an intriguing historical figure Eleanor made. I read Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings by Amy Kelly several years ago and became even more fascinated. My August 2006 Harlequin Historical release, The Knight's Courtship, stems from my interest in Eleanor's Court of Love that she set up in France while she was miffed at her second husband, Henry. My heroine is a troubador who is captivated by the idea of being a court poet in this famous (infamous?) court and I imagined Ivy might have reacted to the revolutionary ideas of courtly love the same way artists of the sixties embraced the concept of free love. Surely one idea was as earth-shaking in its time as the other. Ivy is a little scandalized... but also wickedly interested!

Here's the backcover blurb:

She would write poems about love, not become captive to it!
Quiet and studious, Lady Ivy Rutherford is content merely to observe the intrigues and scandals of Queen Eleanor's glittering court. But then the Queen insists that Ivy would be the ideal mentor for notorious heartbreaker Roger Stancliff. Her duty? To transform the errant knave into a courtly knight. A simple task for such a proper lady!

But in the sultry castle grounds just who is educating whom? Chaste, courtly love seems much less appealing than losing herself in the passion of Roger's arms...

I hope you'll join me for this trip back in time to Poitiers. And I highly recommend Amy Kelly's book for anyone looking for more reading on this fascinating time period and the woman who left a memorable imprint on it.

Mills and Boon Historicals on radio

Several of the Mills and Boon Historicals were recently made into audio cds. Now Mills and Boon has teamed up with One Word Radio to broadcast them.
As One Word Radio is digital, you can listen over the internet.
Every Saturday and Sunday new episodes are broadcast.
Starting on Sunday 27 August The Gladiator's Honour by Michelle Styles will be broadcast in 10 episodes. Simon Poland is the reader. And he has a wonderful voice.
The books are abridged.
Upcoming historicals include Nicola Cornick's Lord Greville's Captive and Lousie Allen's The Viscount's Betrothal. Micheal Pread also reads.
You can find One Word Radio here

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Harlequin Mills and Boon 2007 Romance Report

The marketing team for Harlequin Mills and Boon are busy gathering data for the 2007 Romance Report. In particular they are doing a survey about how romantic are you?
If you would like to help, please fill in the following survey. Your answers are totally confidential and can not be traced back to you.
Obviously the more people who fill out the survey, the more information Harlequin Mills and Boon will have about the currnet state of romance.
The survey does need to be filled in by 30 September for your answers to be included in the 2007 Romance Report that is sent out to media worldwide.
Thank you in advance for helping.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pam Crooks

Pam Crooks Posted by Picasa
If you’re reading this, then it’s because you love Harlequin Historical romances, right? Or maybe you’re here because you’re curious about us, the authors at HH.

Well, as long as you’re reading, I’m Pam Crooks. I write westerns for Harlequin, and my seventh book, WANTED! was just released this month.

Ironically, many years ago, I entered the very first book I ever wrote in a contest. One of my judges was intrigued with Lark as a secondary character. She noted that she would’ve made a great heroine, and for some reason, that kind comment stuck with me. I always knew I’d write Lark’s story, and WANTED! is the result.

I think of all the books I’ve written, I’ve never had a heroine as conflicted as this one. She’s the only one who knows the location of the stolen money she helped bury when she rode with an infamous outlaw gang. Her case is the only one the hero never solved. He has some personal stakes in the money. So does Catfish Jack, a desperate outlaw from her past. To reveal the money’s location would expose her guilt, ruin her new, law-abiding life and throw her back into jail. If she doesn’t reveal the location, Catfish will kill her. What a quandary to be in, eh?

As for the woman behind the author, well, they don’t come any more ordinary than me. I’m a wife of thirty-one years, mother to four beautiful daughters, and grandmother to the sweetest angel in the world. In the last five years or so, I’ve become increasingly aware that I’m getting older, which I deplore, so I’ve been making a concentrated effort to take care of myself. I try to eat better and exercise more. I’ve done some traveling and loved it. Unfortunately, deadlines have kept me away from airports lately, but I have a growing list of places I want to visit. It’ll happen eventually.

Currently, I’m hard at work on book one of three I’ve recently sold. I’ve been re-thinking my writing process, concentrating more on writing that first draft and less on perfectionism.

I’ve found it fascinating how differently we writers write. If you’re a writer, what works best for you?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Margaret Moore: Visual Inspiration

I'm going to make a confession. As much as I enjoy a handsome male face and ripped abs, and sometimes tell people it's part of my job as a romance writer to look at attractive men (because really, if you want to write a medieval or Dark Ages romance about a good-looking guy, what's not to find inspiring about Gerard Butler in his Beowulf ensemble?), I've discovered I don't really use such visual inspiration for my heroes. In fact, I rarely visualize my main characters at all. I "hear" them much more than I "see" them.

It's my theory/excuse that that's one reason I don't like to outline. I get to know my characters through dialogue, and I need to get 'em gabbing to really figure out what makes them tick. So when I'm thinking about my story and merrily typing away, I'm not watching a movie so much as eavesdropping. If I do "see" my characters, it's only their eyes or lips.

However, I've also discovered I like to model my villains' looks after actors. For instance, right now, and no doubt to his surprise, Colm Feore is about to portray the Big Bad in the work-in-progress. Richard Armitage is already portraying the Slime.

Not that I think these guys are evil or anything. What they have is intensity, and amazing eyes. My villains are nothing if not determined to get what they want, and these guys protray that in spades. See what I mean? (Colm Feore is on the left, Richard Armitage on the right.)

That's why I loved Colm Feore in Julius Ceasar, and why I can hardly wait to see Richard Armitage as Sir Guy of Gisborne in the new BBC production of Robin Hood.

But here's the other thing: my heroes have intensity and determination and amazing eyes, too. Because in my mind, there's often a very thin line between a hero and a villain, and it's drawn by motivation more than anything else.

Anybody else think so, or am I weird that way?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cheryl St.John: Behind the Scenes with Covers

Call me prejudice, but I think Harlequin Historicals covers are absolutely gorgeous, and they just keep getting better. I get a lot of questions about how the covers are created. In years past we had to fill out ten pages of Art Fact Sheets, known among us as the AFS. Since all my writing is done on the computer, I bought a typewriter just for the Art Fact Sheets. Then we would mail the completed forms, along with artwork, to the editorial staff. More recently, technology has allowed us to fill out these forms at a special Harlequin author website developed just for this purpose. Doing so involves scrolling through a lot of pull down bars and finding something close to the description needed. We suggest specific scenes as well as a couple of generic ones that portray the theme and feel of the book.

You can teach some of us old dogs new tricks, and I love the ease and simplicity of the new method. I now scan and send my artwork as attached files. I always send pictures of my hero and heroine, and usually a shot or two of scenery for the location, as well as description and accurate photos of clothing, horses and other items that play an important part in the story.

The editor who is working on my cover, adds her own thoughts and suggestions to the package, and then they have a meeting where the art department and editors plan covers for the coming months. They look at the author's past covers and consider her specific "branding" or the look that says this is a particular author's book by sight, often using the same font and similar style. They also look at the covers from the previous months so they don't duplicate, and they consider all the books in the line that will be coming out that particular month, so that each cover is unique.

Sometimes the resulting cover is exactly a scene, a couple, or a theme I suggested; other times it's nothing like I imagined. I always defer to the strategy of the marketing and art departments who are in the business of packaging for greatest impact and who want an appealing item to sell as much as I do.

I don't see the finished product until I get a .jpg file from Harlequin or receive an envelope full of cover flats in the mail. It's always exciting to see that new cover for the first time. Some covers I love it at first sight, others grow on me.

The next cover I will see is for my February '07 release, THE LAWMAN'S BRIDE. Here is the picture of City Marshal Clay Conner that I included with the AFS. Now it's just a waiting game to see if my hero looks the way I imagined him the whole time I was writing his story. I don't know who the model is. I found him in a magazine ad and knew he was my marshal. I keep pictures of my hero and heroine above my PC as I work on the story and it helps me visualize.

clay Posted by Picasa

What do you especially like about Harlequin Historical covers?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Increasing the profile of the blog --Michelle Styles

Because we want this blog to be visited by a number of people, I have created a Technorati Profile'>Technorati Profile for the blog. This was reccomended by Harlequin VP Isabel Swift several months on her blog. And if you want to know about the latest going ons in Harlequin new business as well as the publishing world, it is worthwhile keeping up with her blog.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Congrats to Our Cataromance Winners

For Cataromance ReviewersChoice in Harlequin Historical:

Elizabeth Lane, Wyoming Wildfire

For Cataromance Reviewer's Choice in Mills and Boon Historical:

Michelle Styles The Gladiator's Honour

To see the whole list of winners, please visit Cataromance.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

August Release -- THE BRIDEGROOM's BARGAIN by Sylvia Andrew

Till death us do part."
A solemn wedding vow, and one Lord Deverell's young bride most ardently wishes to bring about — sooner rather than later! Only minutes after the wedding ceremony Alexandra is brandishing a pistol, accusing her husband of ruining her family.
So Deverell makes one more vow — that he's completely innocent and will prove it. If she isn't totally convinced, then he'll take the consequences. He sets about winning Alexandra's trust — using every means at his disposal….

Read an excerpt

Buy the book

If you have read the book, leave a comment.

August Release -- BELOVED VIRAGO by Anne Ashley

Spirited Katherine O'Malley, sent to France to flush out a traitor, is prepared for discomfort, fear, even danger in her country's service. She isn't prepared to work with handsome rake Major Daniel Ross — posing as his wife! Katherine knows all about his womanizing ways, and she's determined to resist his charms — no matter how strongly they affect her.
But when Napoleon's escape from Elba forces the pretend couple to flee across hostile France, Katherine has to trust Daniel absolutely. Even if that means letting him get intimately close….

Read an excerpt

Buy the book

If you have read the book, leave a comment.

August Release -- THE SPANISH PRIZE by Joanna Makepeace

Doña Maria Santiago y Talavera understood only too well what the corsair threatened.
Despatched by her uncle to Cartagena, to marry her betrothed, Maria had rebelled against a loveless arranged match to a cold-hearted and autocratic Spanish hidalgo. Her brief freedom was cut short by an encounter with an English buccaneer. Now Maria was aboard Captain Giles Norwood's ship, her fate entirely in his hands.
She could not tolerate such a rough freebooter — but as they sailed together Maria began to realize that she could not imagine life without him!

Read an excerpt

Buy the Book

If you have read the book, leave a comment.

August Release -- THE RUNAWAY HEIRESS by Anne O'Brien

Mistaking Miss Frances Hanwell for a runaway kitchen servant, Hugh only realizes his grave error the next day. With scandal imminent, a reluctant marriage seems the only course of action.
Reluctance turns to respect when Hugh uncovers the brutal marks of the unhappy life she's been leading. Suddenly, he will do all in his power to protect her…especially now, as an unexpected inheritance threatens to take Frances from him….

Read an excerpt

Buy the book

If you have read the book, we'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

August Release -- The Knight's Courtship by Joanne Rock

Quiet and studious, Lady Ivy Rutherford is content merely to observe the intrigues and scandals of Queen Eleanor's glittering court. But then the Queen insists that Ivy would be the ideal mentor for notorious heartbreaker Roger Stancliff. Her duty? To transform the arrant knave into a courtly knight. A simple task for such a proper lady!
But in the sultry castle grounds just who is educating whom? Chaste, courtly love seems much less appealing than losing herself in the passion of Roger's arms….

Read an excerpt

Buy the book.

If you have it, we'd love to hear your comments.

August Release -- WANTED by Pam Crooks

Tough, rugged and a dead-eye shot — Ross Santana is the kind of man a woman wants at her side…and in her bed.
Respectable, refined, her town's virtuous bank-teller — Lark Renault hides a dark secret.
Their new passion heals old wounds, but the bounty hunter and the outlaw must find a way to work together against the danger on their trail!

Read An Excerpt

Buy the Book

If you have read the book, please post a comment about it in the comments section.

Congratulations to our RITA award winner


Harlequin Historical author Diane Gaston won a RITA for her Regency historical romance -- A Reputable Rake.

Many Congratulations to Diane!!!!

Congratulations to Harlequin Historical Nominees

Several Harlequin Historical authors have been nominated for the 2006 Cataromance Reviewers' Choice Awards.

They include:

Charlene Sands Renegade Wife

and Michelle Styles The Gladiator's Honour.

Please join us at the Cataromance Reviewers' Choice Award Ceremony on 18 August to cheer them on!

Welcome to the Harlequin Historical Authors' blog

Welcome to the Harlequin Historical Authors' blog and thank you for visiting.
We hope to bring you the latest news and information about all the wonderful and exciting things that are happening in Harlequin Historicals as well as interesting articles and recipes by your favourite Harlequin Historical Authors.
We hope you will find this a fun and informative blog and will visit frequently.