Monday, January 29, 2007

Anne Herries: Thank you for having me!

It took me a little while to work out how to get in, because they kept thinking I wanted to go to my own blog, but I got here. I am thrilled to post the picture of my book, which has been shortlisted for the RNA Romance Prize. I know there are several more authors listed, but I am delighted to say that three of them write historicals, and that is something to celebrate! We do not get as much recognition as we should, and it is always pleasing when it happens. I shall keep my fingers crossed for all our authors, because having won it in 2004 I know it is unlikely I shall win again, but I am content to be shortlisted. It proves it wasn't just a fluke last time and that makes me feel good. So good luck to all our authors entered on the list, but being biased slightly I hope it is a historical that wins - one of the three will do for me! Love to you all, Linda/Anne Herries

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Romantic Novelist Association Romance Prize 2007

The Romantic Novelist Associaiton has published the shortlist for its Romance Prize 2007 which is given to the best catagory novel of the year. The prize includes the Betty Neels Rosebowl. It will be awarded at a luncheon at the Savoy Hotel in London on 27 April 2007.

Three Harlequin Historical novels made the shortlist.

Nicola Cornick Lord Greville's Captive

Anne Herries An Improper Companion

Michelle Styles The Gladiator's Honour

Many congratulations to the shortlisted authors.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Harlequin Historicals 'Round The World - Margaret Moore

One of the great things about writing for Harlequin Historical is the translation and sale of our books in various countries around the globe. One of my greatest thrills as an author was finding an Australian anthology of three of my Harlequin Historicals in a gift shop at Alice Springs, half way 'round the world from home!

It's not only a great thrill to get the foreign editions, it's fascinating to see both the similarities and differences in the cover art.

This is the North American version of the cover for my fifth Harlequin Historical. Next is the French edition, then the Japanese and then the Swedish. Note the number of candles visible and the heroine's hand.

I also call this my Baldwin brother cover. Doesn't he look like Alec Baldwin?

The irony is, he's also one of the mature guys I've ever had on a cover, which would be great, except that Hu happens to be one of the youngest heroes I've ever written.

But all in all? I like this guy!

Sometimes, the cover art is "bumped over" even more.

This is the first North American edition of my first Harlequin Historical.

This is the Japanese edition. The broadsword on this cover was on the spine of the original North American edition, and everything to the left of it was on the back cover.

Speaking of back covers...

This is the front cover of the North American edition of my seventh Harlequin Historical.

This is the front of the Italian edition, which uses the picture that was on the back of the North American edition.

And sometimes, the cover art is completely different.

This is the cover of the North American edition of one of my HQN releases. And quite the lovely cover it is, too. However, I also like the Korean edition, even though it's not anything like my usual covers.

My next release, MY LORD'S DESIRE from HQN Books, and which should be out any day now, also has a lovely cover.

I look forward to finding out where else it's being sold, and what they've done for the cover.

(I've also got my own blog, which I hope you'll visit. Today, I'm blogging about JANE EYRE.)

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Pleasure Garden

When seeking an outdoor landscape for a medieval scene, I have used the castle gardens more than once. While some stories offer more broad terrain-- a couple on the run, or a heroine who has been stolen from her home-- a traditional medieval maid would not stray far from her family's keep. In this way, I've found myself researching period gardens and plants more than once, and I'll admit it's always a treat.

For a people who lived much closer to the land than we do, the gardens played a more central role and much attention was lavished on these areas. Crofter's huts had functional gardens for food. An extravagant keep had herb gardens, kitchen gardens, an orchard, possibly a vineyard and a pleasure park or pleasance designed with more careful attention to beauty than I put in my own living room.

It is the pleasure garden that intrigues me.

Unlike the utilitarian herber or the space maximizing plantings of an orchard, the pleasure garden exists for its beauty, extending the living space of the keep in the way our modern porches and desks function as another "room." The pleasure garden offered fresh air and sunshine or a place of privacy for the lady of the keep to retire with her companions. Games were played within the space, which was often walled for protection. If there were no traditional walls, the space might be ringed with trees, decorative hedges, trellises or even a moat.

While the pleasure parks have sometimes been described as "small," historical evidence points us to plots twenty acres in size, and Sylvia Landsberg, author of The Medieval Garden, suggests these gardens were only little in comparison to the 200 acre hunting parks that might have predated them or inspired them.

A pleasure garden might have contained water features-- pools or baths, springs and fountains-- in addition to small clearings among the trees designed for entertaining or relaxing. A small retreat house might be built within the garden for guests to take their leisure.

For more on medieval gardensm visit

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Victoria Bylin: Contests

I'm stoked! Any day now, I'll receive a package from Airborne Express. It'll contain the seven books I'm judging for this year's Rita awards. It's like getting a Christmas present in January. Best of all, I'll have an excuse to make reading a priority.

The only downside this year is not judging any historicals. I'm entered in the Short Historical category, so that's out. It was just luck of the draw that I didn't get a long historical. I wish I had . . . I read primarily westerns and Americana. I was hoping for a medieval or something different, at least for me. It's fun to go to new places. When I read, it's like a mini-vacation that doesn't require airfare. In fact, it comes with a time machine made of paper. Now that's fun!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bidding the Falcon's a Fond Farewell

Ack…I knew there was something scheduled on the 15th besides a chat tonight. At times calendars and scheduling are just beyond my grasp. I have a nice big pristine 2007 calendar hanging right next to my screen. Unfortunately, I can’t see the days because I have a cover flat of Falcon’s Heart paper clipped over the month.

I really love this cover…especially the inside. Marianne looks like such a brat there and that’s exactly what I asked for on the artwork form.

But she is a great match for her brothers, which was the whole idea. Certainly couldn’t have a mild, meek wallflower character. She’d have been brow beaten by the boys from day one.

I enjoyed doing this series…or is it called linked stories? Not sure. Hadn’t planned on 4 Falcon books. There’d originally just been one, Rhys (Falcon’s Desire), but when I turned in the proposal for the next contract my editor asked where the next Falcons were. My ever so brilliant answer was, “Um, next Falcon?”

Obviously, the editor won that debate. However, to my amazement, and gratitude, she was right. There were more Falcon stories. BTW, how do they do that? Are editors just born with some type of strange ESP? Or is it a learned talent? It was a great lesson for me. The HH editors know their job and so far, in my case, they’ve been right each time. Yes, I am blessed.

The three boys; Rhys, Gareth and Darius took me on a wonderful journey. Not only did I get to spend time my favorite period, the 12th century, I tripped over research that I’d never given a thought to before. A dear friend lives in Ireland and talk about some handy info…Kem was able to provide not only pictures of keeps, valleys, rivers and such, but detailed pics and “how-tos” about thatching. Something I’d never considered until I needed Marianne’s beloved to chop his way through the roof and then fix it the next day. Living in the 21st century in the city is wonderful until you can’t figure out what a reed is. LOL – I have a reed flute and I kept seeing bamboo in my mind because it grows along the fence down the street at the Zoo. So, thanks to the invention of technology, Kem was able to email me close up pics of thatching reeds. Small details I know. But the little things just thrill me beyond belief.

Marianne’s journey was a little more melancholy. Don’t get me wrong, I love Marianne and her story, but I knew it was the last Falcon and I didn’t want to let go. It felt like closing a door. What would I write after her story? What was left? I cursed the editor who came up with this seemingly not-so-brilliant idea. I cursed myself for not having the next story idea ready to go. Even though I’m generally quite literal to the extreme (let me read his eyes fell or she dropped her hand or arm in a book and I roll on the floor laughing because of the image it immediately conjures), I found myself actually crying when I typed “The End” how sad is that?

Thankfully, during the editing process the old, over-used cliché “when one door closes another opens” proved true. By the time I finished deleting, adding, changing, moving, fixing, not only was there another story idea, there were three. I’m thinking that having friends as secondary characters is a real good idea, especially arrogant, strong, and hopefully interesting ones.

So for now, while I bid the Faucon’s and their spouses a fond farewell, I also offer up a heartfelt thank you. As the first, Rhys and Lyonesse will always hold a special place in my memories, but I enjoyed all of their stories, and hope you have too.

Take care,

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Michelle Styles: Roman Food

When I first started writing about Rome, I became interested in what sort of food they ate. What did the ordinary Roman actually put on his table?
When people think of ancient Rome and its food, they tend to think of the excesses. -- the orgies, the lying down to eat and the strange foods. Petronius's satirical creation, the very vulgar Trimalchio with his over the top feast which included all manner of decadent items from dormice sprinkled with honey and poppy seeds to young sow stuffed with sausages. It was the Roman philosopher who said that Romans ate to vomit and vomited to eat. And then there is the cookbook of Apicius, a sort of very upmarket cook of his day -- like Gordon Ramsay in the UK. When first reads these references, it is easy to come to the conclusion that Romans were always decadent and there food probably tasted awful.
People forget that the Romans were sometimes laughing at themselves or being fascinated by celebrity culture or simply making a philosophical point. The vast majority of Romans ate simple foods. And until the late Roman Republic, it was considered a scandalous to pay too much attention to your food.
With the exception of later food stuffs introduced from the New World, Romans had access to the same ingredients that we do today, and many Western European and Middle Eastern dishes (or their prototypes) were cooked then. It was basically the Mediterranean diet without things like tomatoes, peppers, maize and chillies. Things like lentils, falfels, flat bread, porridge and even pasta were known to the Romans. Items for cutting out pasta and for rolling it have been found in Etruscan tombs. But it is thought the pasta was probably baked like lasagna rather than boiled.
In Italy, some of the dishes still retain their Roman names. For example in 79 AD, Pliny mentions tordilion or polenta and greens. The polenta would have been made with corn ( roughly crushed wheat). Corn in Britain even today does not simply refer to sweet corn or maize. In Fortitune, near Naples, the dish is called tordiglione and still served on fast days. They also call cakes Sisimegle instead of the more general Italian -- torta. Sesaminus was a specific type of cake during Roman times -- a sort of sesame wafer made with sesame seeds, spelt flour and honey -- very crumbly but very good.
The Romans loved strong flavours, and they used herbs such as lovage. Lovage tastes like celery, and if you don't particularly like the texture of celery, you can add lovage to stews and soups to give the celery flavour. It also works great in salads and is very easy to grow in the herb garden.
One item -- fish sauce-- was a great delicacy during Roman times. Liquamen or garum was much prized and features in many of Apicius's recipes.There was several different grades of fish sauce, and many towns did make their fortunes on the back of fish sauce. Many containers for garum have been found, but it is thought to have been a luxury item much as say Worcestershire sauce is today.Most ordinary recipes call for salt.
The Romans also used a great deal of cheese in their recipes -- both in sauces, and in doughs. Cheese graters are often found on archaeological sites. In Lystrata, there is an intriguing reference to a sexual position known as a lioness on a cheese grater.
Because there was no potatoes or rice, bread was very popular and served in a variety of different loaves. Most bread was cooked outside the home in special communal ovens or bought from the baker.
Hopefully, you can see that Roman food was not all dormice and lark's tongues. If this has piqued your interest in Roman cookery -- you could try Roman Cookery by Mark Grant ISBN:1 8979397 as he has made accessible some Roman recipes for modern kitchens, along with their ancient references. I found it very useful when I was writing A Noble Captive.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Deborah Hale: Paging Colin Firth...

Oh it possible one of your lady ancestresses was intimately acquainted with this gentleman? The moment I saw Sir James Kempt's portrait, I was struck by the resemblance to you as Mr. Darcy.

Sir James became the inspiration for Sir Robert Kerr, the hero of my novel The Bride Ship (Mills & Boon Historical, Jan 07). A Scot from the Edinburgh port of Leith, he served four years as quartermaster general in British North America before joining the Duke of Wellington to fight in the Peninsular War. A quiet and unassuming man, Kempt proved an excellent and popular officer. Severely wounded in the assault on Bajadoz, he recovered and was sent back to Canada with troops to reinforce British regiments that had suffered casualties in the War of 1812.

Recalled to Europe after Napoleon’s flight from Elba, he commanded the 8th Brigade, under General Picton at the battle of Waterloo. When Picton was killed in battle, command fell to Kempt, who galloped along the line encouraging his men to hold their position. Kempt was wounded but once again recovered. For his contribution to the British victory, he was awarded many honors. After the war, Kempt succeeded Lord Dalhousie as lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia, where he was universally liked and respected. Even the irascible Joseph Howe seemed to approve his “passion for road making and pretty women.” The governor's aide-de-camp later recalled that “society, by the force of his example, was the most agreeable thing imaginable.”

In1828, Kempt was appointed to head an inquiry into the building of the Rideau Canal, which was running far over budget (some things never change!). Kempt was reluctant to undertake a mission he saw as pointless. Lameness from an old wound had confined him to Government House for most of the previous winter, causing him to protest, “my legs are by no means in Campaigning Order.” But the commission was obliged to inspect the canal site. Travelling over rough terrain between Bytown (Ottawa) and Kingston in sweltering temperatures, Kempt endured more misery and fatigue than during his soldiering days. “Thank God,” he wrote upon reaching Kingston, “I am at last again in a Christian Country and out of the land of Swamps and Mosquitoes!”

Kempt expected to return to Nova Scotia to serve out the rest of his term as governor in peace. Instead he was made governor-in-chief of British North America, a plum post he most emphatically did not want. Since 1825 he had repeatedly told his superiors he was comfortable in Halifax and had no desire at all to be moved to the Canadas. “I am grieved,” he wrote Lord Dalhousie, “to hear you hint at the possibility of my soon filling your shoes in Canada. . . . I do assure you most solemnly that a removal to Canada is the last wish of my heart.” The Colonial Office had other ideas.

Though he was “anxious to get a couple of years to myself to take a ramble on the Continent” and fulfill a long-standing ambition to visit Switzerland and Italy, Kempt reluctantly accepted the appointment out of a sense of duty to his old commander, Wellington, now Prime Minister. But he warned that nothing would induce him to stay more than two years. When he arrived at Quebec he found the colony in a state bordering on rebellion. “My Legislative Bodies are composed of such inflammable materials,” he declared, “that I feel myself seated on a Barrel of Gunpowder not knowing from one moment to another how soon an explosion may take place.”

He tried to act as a mediator and somehow succeeded in preserving a degree of harmony in Lower Canada during his term. When he reminded the colonial secretary of his desire to return to England in the autumn of 1830 he was urged to stay. But Kempt replied, “I have arrived at a time of life, when I am quite capable of judging what is best for my personal interests.” No man, he wrote, “ever relinquished an Office of £8,000 a year with greater satisfaction than I shall do.”

Upon returning to England, Kempt was appointed master general of the Board of Ordnance, which he accepted on condition that he would not be required to enter the House of Commons or have anything to do with party politics. He resigned the post after four years and he began a belated retirement, during which he corresponded and socialized with old army friends, among them the Duke of Wellington and Lord Seaton. Kempt’s death, in London on December 20th 1854 was followed that winter by several other Napoleonic War officers. Veteran John Charles Beckwith lamented their passing. “These men I regard as the patriarchs of all that is solid in England.”

A dozen years after Kempt’s death, the British North American colonies he had governed so ably united to form the Dominion of Canada. A village in Nova Scotia is named Kemptville, in his honor, as well as a town in Ontario where Sir James was said to have camped on his dismal journey from Ottawa to Kingston. Sadly, this man who had a passion for pretty women never married. I hope he would have been amused, and perhaps secretly flattered, to be the inspiration for a romance novel!

Readers interested in learning more about Colonial Nova Scotia (where Queen Victoria's father lived with his mistress Julie St. Laurent) can visit my Colonial Halifax webpage.

M&B January Release: Not Quite a Lady by Louise Allen

Do you always get your own way, Miss France?’
‘I try to,’ Lily confessed.
‘I do not see the point of being extremely rich if one does not get the benefit from it.’
Miss Lily France has launched herself upon the Marriage Mart in style! The wealthy and beautiful heiress is determined to honour her much-loved father’s last wish – and trade her vulgar new money for marriage to a man with an ancient and respected title.
Then she meets the untitled and very unsuitable Jack Lovell. His calm strength and deep grey eyes are an irresistible combination – but he is the one man she cannot buy!

Buy the book

M&B January Release: The Defiant Debutante by Helen Dickson

An irresistible man…a resolute lady!
Eligible, attractive, Alex Montgomery, Earl of Arlington, has always done just as he pleases. Society ladies adore him, and a string of mistresses warm his bed. He’s yet to meet the woman who could refuse him…
Then he’s introduced to the strikingly unconventional Miss Angelina Hamilton. Their animated altercations and her dark, passionate eyes affect him more deeply than he cares to admit. So Alex makes up his mind to tame this headstrong girl! But the beautiful Miss Hamilton has plans of her own – and they don’t include marriage to a rake!

Buy the book

M&B January Release:A Noble Captive by Michelle Styles

Roman soldier
Strong, proud, honourable – Marcus Livius Tullio embodied the values of Rome. Captured on the high seas and brought to the Temple of Kybele, he was drawn towards the woman who gave him refuge.
Pagan priestess
Fierce, beautiful, determined – Helena despised all that Rome stood for. In sheltering Tullio, she had to subdue her awareness of him – or she might confess all! The soldier’s strength and nobility tempted her to lean on him, but she knew that to succumb would be to betray her people…
75 BC, Roman Empire

Buy the book

M&B January Releases: The Bride Ship by Deborah Hale

A ship full of women could only cause trouble!
Of that Governor Sir Robert Kerr was certain, just by considering their chaperon! Though a widow, Mrs Jocelyn Finch was young, vivacious, and utterly determined to have her own way – especially with him!
Challenging the governor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, to a duel was obviously a poor way to introduce herself. But when Sir Robert accused Jocelyn and her charges of something, well, less ladylike than husband-hunting, what else could she do? Besides, someone had to show this strait-laced, yet gloriously compelling figure of a man that there was more to life than doing one’s duty!

Buy the book

M&B January Releases: The Bachelor by Kate Bridges

She’d won herself a Mountie!
Diana Campbell knew even a brief relationship with Officer Mitch Reid, her bachelor auction ‘prize’, could only lead to disaster for her family – and heartbreak for herself. But, a lonely outsider in town, Diana couldn’t help but want this commanding man – even though he was forbidden!
Mitch Reid had returned to Calgary a changed man, wanting only to put right the errors of his wilder days.
He had neither time nor desire for romance – until Diana won his services for a day!

Buy the book.

Monday, January 01, 2007

January Hh Release: The Earl's Secret by Terri Brisbin

The Earl of Treybourne was not going to lose a public argument with a petty, scribbling journalist. So he headed for Edinburgh, disguising himself as plain Mr. Archer, eager to discover the anonymous writer.
A flawless plan, until he found himself distracted by the beautiful Miss Anna Fairchild.
A bluestocking long on the shelf, Anna had no desire for a husband. But she felt a strange kinship with the dashing—and enigmatic—gentleman. With secrets to hide herself, Anna was playing a dangerous game that could threaten their tenuous bond. Caught between deception and desire, could love flourish?

Read the excerpt

Buy The Earl's Secret

January HH release: Fletcher's Woman by Carol Finch

Fletcher Hawk has only one thing on his mind—bounty! The Texas Ranger is in hot pursuit of a woman accused of murder. He'll track her down and claim his reward.
But when he finds Savanna Cantrell, something makes him change his goal. Maybe it's her beauty, maybe it's because she is the cleverest woman he's ever met, maybe it's her innocence—but now he needs to convince her that she needs his help.
With dangerous men on their trail, these two fiercely proud and independent people must learn to trust…and to love!

Read the excerpt

Buy Fletcher's Woman

January HH Release: Falcon's Heart by Denise Lynn

Rescue from kidnap by a commanding stranger brought Marianne of Faucon the spice and excitement for which her restless heart yearned. She wanted to tumble into love as her brothers had done, but there was danger in surrendering to desire.
Because Bryce of Ashforde was looking to destroy the Faucon family, and the innocent, headstrong, tempting Marianne had just become his means of revenge….

Read the excerpt

Buy Falcon's Heart

January HH Release: The Abducted Heiress by Claire Thornton

Lady Desire Godwin's gentle existence is rudely interrupted when a handsome brigand crosses the parapet of her rooftop garden. She watches, dismayed, as the impudent stranger is carried off to jail.
As the Great Fire rages across London, Jakob Balston uses the confusion to escape. He fully expects that Desire will have already fled town. Only, she is still there, at the mercy of the flames and…alone.
Is his intention rescue or abduction as he rows them both to safety upstream? He must surely be after her wealth, because no man could possibly want a woman as scarred as she….

Read the excerpt

Buy The Abducted Heiress

January HH Release: Wedding Night Revenge by Mary Brendan

Rachel Meredith is beautiful, witty, an heiress—and single! She's turned down every offer of marriage and jilted the most eligible bachelor, handsome Major Connor Flinte.
When her father loses her family home in a game of cards, Rachel is furious! Especially as the new owner is Connor Flinte, now the Earl of Devane. She will do anything to get her home back. But Connor wants revenge—he'll return the deeds of the estate on one condition. Rachel must give him the wedding night he never had….

Read the excerpt

Buy Wedding Night Revenge

January HH Release: Bachelor Duke by Mary Nichols

Left orphaned and destitute, Miss Sophie Langford had no choice but to throw herself on the mercy of her mother's family, namely the Duke of Belfont. But instead of the elderly gentleman she had envisaged, she was confronted by the fifth duke, James, a most eligible bachelor.
The presence of Sophie's widowed sister enabled James to take Sophie into his household, although he little guessed what he had let himself in for. Sophie was quite unlike any other lady of his acquaintance—she certainly had no hesitation about speaking her mind! So why did he find her so damnably attractive?
Read the excerpt

Buy Bachelor Duke