Thursday, April 26, 2007

AN interview author Michelle Willingham

Michelle Willingham's first book, Her Irish Warrior is published this month. It is a stirring tale set in medieval Ireland. Michelle Willingham has since sold several other books set in the same time period. So everyone will be able to get more of her hunky Irish warriors as she calls them.

What attracts you to your chosen time period?

I visited Ireland several years ago and was drawn to the mysticism of the country. Scottish medieval romances were very popular, and I wondered why I hadn’t seen many Irish medievals. After visiting the castles and experiencing such wonderful hospitality from the people, I decided to research medieval Ireland. I learned that there was an Anglo-Norman invasion in the 12th century, and I could easily envision an Irish warrior paired up with a reluctant Norman bride.

What is about the heroes from that time period that excites you?
There’s a raw wildness to the medieval time period. Men had to be stronger and more protective of their families. And who doesn’t love a sexy hero who can wield a sword?

What is the worst thing about being a writer?
Forcing yourself to sit down in a chair every day whether you want to or not. But it’s also the best thing because sometimes the magic happens and you look back, excited at what you’ve done that day.

Although many writers know they want to be a writer from an early age, was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue your dream?
I wrote my first romantic short story at the age of twelve. It was terrible, but I loved the feeling of looking back on a story I had created. In high school, I teamed up with a friend and we wrote a 90-page romance. We used to critique each other’s chapters during American History class. It’s a good thing we were never caught! I started seriously pursuing publication in 2002, after the birth of my son. I had written four children’s books and was receiving positive rejections from editors. But my true dream was writing romance. I realized that I didn’t want to give up on the dream, and so I decided to go for it.

How long after you first started submitting, did it take for you to have your first book accepted?
It took four years total. I wrote 4 books in two years, and the second book took over two years from submitting the original proposal to the Call before it was bought. I’ve since sold the third book, and my agent is helping me find a home for the fourth. The first book will never see the light of day. It needs to be destroyed, and thankfully it was rejected!

What is the biggest challenge you face when you are writing a book? The beginning, middle or end?
All of them! In particular, when I start getting close to the end, I develop “Fear of the Ending.” My writing starts to lag a bit until finally I bite the bullet and force my way past it. My first drafts are bare-bones, and the second draft involves the most work. I’ve been known to delete 50 pages and add 75 (which is rather frightening!) I love the third draft because it’s mostly just polishing and tweaking.

When you are not writing, what do you do?
I teach sixth grade American History and English during the day, and I’m also the mother of two children, ages 5 and 3. I have to balance family time with writing in the evenings, due to my day job. Thankfully I have a very supportive husband who doesn’t mind me going off into my writing cave while he watches sports.

What are some of your favourite movies?
I like movies with strong, sexy heroes. Last of the Mohicans, Gladiator, Braveheart, and the Patriot are among my favorites.

Who are some of your favourite romance authors?
LaVyrle Spencer is my role model. No one writes emotion the way she does. My other favorites include: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Quinn, Jude Deveraux, and Johanna Lindsey.

What does your writing cave look like?

I mostly write on my laptop, so I move around the house depending on my mood. My “office” is being converted over to a bedroom, so I am now a nomad. The worst place to write is in the kitchen. You tend to reach for snacks without realizing it!Her Irish Warrior

Can you tell us about your future books?
The Warrior’s Touch is a companion book to Her Irish Warrior and it’s the story of Connor MacEgan. It’s a “wounded hero” story and I have a particular love of this novel since it’s one of those rare medieval books that doesn’t take place in a castle. I’m delighted that it will be available in September 2007. The third book in the MacEgan warriors series is Her Wild Irish Rogue (the title may change). It’s actually a prequel about the warrior king Patrick MacEgan and the arranged marriage he makes to save the lives of his people. It is tentatively scheduled for January 2008

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Cowboys and Chocolate by Stacey Kayne

A perfect combo for this western author - as well as the heroine in my next 'Bride' book ~ Lily loves her cowboy and her hot chocolate.

While researching beverage servers of the 1800's, I discovered the wonderful world of antique chocolate pots--like a coffee pot, only specifically designed for serving hot chocolate. They just don't serve hot chocolate the way they used to.
I was intrigued to find out that chocolate was so revered by the Aztecs that they used chocolate as both food and currency. Near the end of the XVIII century, Spanish explorers took chocolate back to Spain where it became the Kings' Official Drink in New Spain and Europe. Europeans began preparing chocolate with cream and sugar, creating what we know today as Hot Chocolate.
The first chocolate pots, like that of my heroine (shown above - 1852), were made of sterling silver, and sometimes copper. Similar to coffee pots, chocolate pots were designed with shorter spouts and did not have filters, though some had holes through the center of the lids for stir sticks. Ceramic chocolate pots gained popularity in the 1890's and 1900's, the leading manufacturer being Limoges, in France. Click on a ceramic pot to see more of these beautiful antique pots by Limoges.
I'm suddenly in the mood for a chocolate party :)

Monday, April 16, 2007

An Interview with...Stacey Kayne

Stacey Kayne is one of the new forces in Western historical romance. Specializing in the adventerous wild west, Stacy brings her love of the past vividly to life on the page of her novels. Her first book Mustang Wild was well received and her second book --The Bride of Shadow Canyon is currently available in bookshops.

What attracts you to your chosen time period?
I have a passion for rugged, dusty westerns, so in many ways, setting dictates the storyline for my western historical romances. The wild, wild, west…..what’s not to love? In a lawless untamed setting, the sky is the limit—that’s one aspect I love about westerns. My mind is constantly searching for ways to submerge my characters in the beauty and grandeur of the American West. While writing my first western, Bride of Shadow Canyon, I discovered that an adventurous setting with ever-changing untamed scenery is a driving force of my imagination.

Bride of Shadow Canyon

What is about the heroes from that time period that excites you?
Rugged, wild, resilient--there’s such an elemental connection between a western setting and my heroes, and my heroines for that matter. It’s the adventurous spirit of the characters, their sense of purpose, determination and loyalty that is a major draw for me. I enjoy a hero with steadfast yet misguided convictions, and watching him grow and evolve throughout the story as love works through his rough exterior and into his tender soul.

What is the worst thing about being a writer?
I love being a writer—I’m actually allowed to spend hours lost in my thoughts, building on daydreams. If I had any complaint it would be the hours of being imobile; lack of circulation. It’s been a challenge to find a balance between the hours I spend in front of the computer and forcing myself to get up and get the circulation flowing. To help me out, some of my writing pals and I formed a walking group—teenagers aren’t the only ones who can tie up the partyline! We set a time each day to talk about our books, brainstorm, and fire up our treadmills. There’s nothing like group guilt to get you to put on those walking shoes!

Although many writers know they want to be a writer from an early age, was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue your dream?
Honestly, until six years ago, I never even imagined I’d write a romance novel…or any kind of novel—heck, I wasn’t even a reader! But I have always been a daydreamer. It wasn’t until six years ago, when I bought my first computer and headed back to college, that I attempted to put those daydreams into words. While sitting in my American History night class I had this vision of a women in buckskins, surrounded by the windswept grasses of the Sierra foothills, and instantly began trying to figure out who she was, where she was going, why she was in danger, how was she going to get her man… That night I decided to try and capture my daydream on paper. It only took one night of watching my characters come to life on a computer screen to get me hooked! I found my passion. By the time the sun came up, I had a hundred pages of what would become my first historical western romance novel.

How long after you first started submitting, did it take for you to have your first book accepted?
My agent told me I popped onto the western market about two years too late. We sent out my first submission four and a half years ago. After a year of hearing that no one wanted westerns, I began writing a new genre. Just as I was about to embark on a new round of marketing, a friend suggested I submit my westerns to Harlequin Historical--finally, a publisher who appreciates WESTERNS! Three weeks after submitting MUSTANG WILD, she sold!Mustang Wild

What is the biggest challenge you face when you are writing a book? The beginning, middle or end?
When Stacey-Vision kicks in it’s like watching a movie, the rest of the world falls away and I’m gone for hours. My problem is I can’t write fast enough and I never know what to write first. I do absolutely nothing in a linear fashion. With my current manuscript, the second “BRIDE” book, the very first scene I wrote was the last chapter of the book, then I sketched out a few middle chapers, whichever scene is the most vivid in my mind. I generally have a solid visual for the entire story and start by sketching out the major turning points of the story. Once I have a solid flow for the story and the voice and personality quirks of my characters, I’ll start fleshing it out, molding and merging the chapters together and brushing in the scenery. I clean as I go---by the time I write the last word in the last scene (no telling what chapter that will be), the book is finished. My biggest challenge with writing is trying to balance book world with the rest of my life, the pesky stuff like housework and cooking. Luckily, I have an ultra supportive family.

When you are not writing, what do you do?
I'm not sure if keeping up with active teenage sons is a hobby, but it can sure be a blast, and is where I like to be when I'm not staring at the computer screen. I used to enjoy painting, sewing and running a skill saw—before I started writing my mom and I used to peddle our crafty creations at craft shows; wood work, toll painting and such. These days writing takes up all the time in between being a mom.

What are some of your favourite movies?
A Walk In The Clouds, Pirates of the Caribbean (first one), Maverick (of course), iRobot, Young Guns (of course), The Wild, Wild West (with Will Smith) – I love adventurous movies that can make me laugh.

Who are some of your favourite romance authors?
I began reader romance six years ago, when I realized I was trying to write a love story. I quickly fell in love with westerns by Dorothy Garlock, LaVeryl Spencer, Elizabeth Lowell, Linda Lael Miller…currently I’ve enjoyed contemporary romantic suspense by Kathleen Long and Roxanne St. Claire and western historicals by Pam Crooks and Cheryl St. John.

What does your writing cave look like?
The great thing about having a laptop is that I can paste this picture to the door of my office, pretend it still looks like that, and go write in the living room or the on the back porch where I can see the mountains :-) But this is what the desk in my office used to look like, one day in July…before writing deadlines hit. The cowgirl hat was gift from my hubby the day I sold MUSTANG WILD, and the handsome bear resting his boots on my printer is Mustang, a celebration gift from my writing pals.

Can you tell us about your future books?
MAVERICK WILD, the second story in my “WILD” series, will be released later this year. Chance Morgan will meet his match, and tries to outrun her (*he can try*).

BRIDE OF SHADOW CANYON also has a follow-up title, tentatively titled BRIDE OF VENGEANCE. As Juniper struggles to overcome his past as a gunslinger, a girl who lost her father to his gun has grown into a woman, and she’s after vengeance.

Upcoming release dates will be posted on my website:

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

An Interview with ....Pam Crooks

Pam Crooks writes well-received Westerns. Recent novels have included Her Lone Protector and Wanted. Wanted is currently out in the UK. Pam has taken time out of her busy schedule to speak with the Harlequin Historical Authors blog.

What attracts you to your chosen time period?

I grew up in the sandhills of western Nebraska, and it’s ranch country out there. Cowboys and farmers everywhere. Lively celebrations like NebraskaLAND Days and Cheyenne’s Frontier Days are held annually. Their rodeos, country music and tons of good, family fun still help keep the Old West traditions alive.

What is it about the heroes from that time period that excites you?

There’s something about the cowboy and the code he lives by. The way he honors a woman by removing his hat in her presence. His fierce devotion to the land. His willingness to work hard and get dirty to fight the elements. Watching a cowboy on the back of a horse is appealing, too!

What is the worst thing about being a writer?

Deadlines. Ugh. That pressure to let life go by without you while you strap yourself into the chair and write the necessary number of pages to meet your goal. I’m easily distracted, and if I didn’t have a deadline, most likely the book wouldn’t get written. At least, not on a timely basis.

Although many writers know they want to be a writer from an early age, was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue your dream?

When I was pregnant with my first baby 30 years ago, my mother gave me a copy of THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER. The romance genre was just taking off back then, and that book sucked me in, made me want to devour more. And the more romances I read, the more I wanted to write some of my own.

How long after you first started submitting, did it take for you to have your first book accepted?

It took me a long time. Nine years, unfortunately. I hit every roadblock a writer could hit--lost manuscripts, agents who didn’t submit my work (I went through 3 agents during that time.), editors who left and so on. But I wanted to be published more than anything, so I stuck it out. Thank goodness, I had a life back then. Through all the long months of waiting and rejections, I raised four little girls and stayed active in my RWA chapter.

What is the biggest challenge you face when you are writing a book? The beginning, middle or end?

The beginning is always hard. And writing the synopsis for the book’s approval is hard because the book isn’t written yet, and I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. (I’m a seat-of-the-pants kind of writer.) Every book needs a strong beginning to set up the story for several hundred pages of conflict.

Then, of course, the middle is hard because it seems like I’ll *never* get to the end. Thankfully, the end goes fast when I get there and is very satisfying because I’d managed to pull it all off.

When you are not writing, what do you do?

I work fulltime in the emergency department of a medical center. At some point, I hope to write fulltime, but with retirement in my next decade, I want to make sure the 401(k) plan is good enough. I love spending time with my little granddaughter on the weekends, too.

Who are some of your favourite romance authors?

Suzanne Brockmann, Nora Roberts and Linda Howard, hands down. But I’ve recently discovered Linda Lael Miller--she’s great with details and gives a wonderful western feel to her books.

What does your writing cave look like?

I have a nice big room downstairs, painted in pretty lavender with my book covers hanging on the wall. My office is my home inside my home. I love it. The only thing it lacks is a window. As if I need something else to help me procrastinate!

Can you tell us about your future books?

I’d love to. UNTAMED COWBOY is coming in July. I’m writing its sequel now, which will be released sometime in Spring, 2008. In between, though, I’ll have a Christmas novella out in October, 2007. My story is titled ONE MAGIC EVE, and I’ll be in with Cheryl St. John and Jenna Kernan. Writing this Christmas story was great fun--maybe my favorite so far.

Of course, I’d love everyone to visit my website: Be sure to sign up for my newsletter, too.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

An Interview with... Anne Herries

Anne Herries is a firm favourite with many Harlequin Historical readers. The 2004 winner of the RNA's Romance prize, she is once again a finalist for the prize with her Regency -- An Improper Companion. This month, Anne has a book out in both Harlequin Historicals as well as Mills and Boon Historicals. She kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some of our questions.

1. What attracts you to your chosen time period?
I write all time periods, from Anglo Saxon to WW11 and the occasional modern story, but Regency is a favourite. It is partly to do with the clothes, I think, though I like the manners very much. It all depends on the idea that comes for the story, which always suggests its own period. I enjoy the cut and thrust of conversation that can be taken two ways and is often amusing when writing Regency.

2. What is about the heroes from that time period that excites you?
I like laid back Englishmen who have exquisite manners and a sense of honour but also a wicked sense of humour. I also like swashbuckling pirates and that type of hero, but I think the cool English hero who is hardly ever ruffled but always comes to the rescue is my favourite.

3. What is the worst thing about being a writer?
Having a book refused. Each book you write is like a child. You give birth to it painfully, with a lot of blood sweat and tears, as well as laughter, and if it is rejected it hurts like hell for a while. However, most of us have to go through it and you just have to pick yourself up, grit your teeth and do it all over again.

4. Although many writers know they want to be a writer from an early age, was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue your dream?
I don't think I thought about it until I was in my thirties, because I was always too busy doing other things. I was very imaginative as a child and always making up stories in my head, but putting them on paper didn't occur to me until I had to stay home with my beloved dog. He couldn't get out much and hated being left so I read and knitted until I was bored. I then decided to write my book, and the first one duly went off to M&B - who sensibly lost it, or so they said when I asked nine months later. It was such awful rubbish that they did the only sensible thing and denied all knowledge. I learn quickly though and my second completed book was accepted by Robert Hale. It was a year or so before Devil's Kin was taken by M&B and longer before I got a second accepted. However, once I got into my stride I did OK.

5. How long after you first started submitting, did it take for you to have your first book accepted?
I think it must have been about a year before the second one actually went to a publisher. I re-wrote it eleven times!

6. What is the biggest challenge you face when you are writing a book? The beginning, middle or end?
I always know how a book will end and once started at the end, and then wrote the beginning and joined the two bits up. However, I wouldn't recommend it and I start at the beginning these days. If you aren't too sure where you are going the middle bit can be a bit daunting, because it is often slower than the dashing start we all try for and endings are always satisfactory. I don't usually have too much trouble anywhere, but if I do I go back and revise the first chapters and that usually sorts out any problems I have. Of course my editors sometimes want changes, and that can be difficult when you first look at what they want, because it may mean rethinking something you thought was a must. I have learned not to think in the negative. It can be done, it just takes some thought and work - and the biggest thing is to accept that they have the right to ask for changes. The publisher pays for everything. They put their name to the book as much as the author and they have to sell it to make the business pay so it is silly to sulk because they want to change a name you like or something similar. Just get on with it!

7. When you are not writing, what do you do?
I like shopping, especially for shoes. I enjoy going for a nice walk with my husband, and we walk a lot in Spain where we take holidays as often as we can, which is about four times a year. There I swim, walk, read, do a little bit of writing and go out for meals. I also like watching good films on TV - like the Jane Austen season. I also like the Internet, blogs and email - perhaps too much.Forbidden Lady

8. What are some of your favourite movies?
Gone with the Wind. Wuthering Heights. Jane Eyre etc. I also enjoy good crime films. I like watching Midsomer Murders.

9. Who are some of your favourite romance authors?
I am a big fan of the classics and Margaret Mitchell, but if we come to modern authors there are a lot of them. I review books with some friends for Romance authors. and we always give favourable reviews. I have no interest in hurting people, especially authors like myself. So I set up the redrosesforauthors review site in order to give something back to a career that has been good to me and help authors, particular those who are just starting. I have recently reviewed Nicola Cornick, Fenella Jane Miller, Marina Oliver, Karen Rose Smith and lots of other authors. Not just regency but magic and all sorts, and I loved quite a few of them. I could never say one was my favourite because tomorrow I shall read another book that will blow my socks off.

10, What does your writing cave look like?
It looks as if a bomb hit it! I have books everywhere, not quite floor to ceiling but nearly. My husband complains the bookcase is too heavy. I have a lovely modern flat screen computer he bought me for my birthday and also a lap top. My desk at this moment is barely visible from the clutter, and finished manuscripts cover most of the floor. Most people peep in at the door and run away.

11. Can you tell us about your future books?
I am in the middle of writing a single M&B Regency title, because I've done several series for them, but after this one I have to finish the third in the Dynasty trilogy. The first came out in USA this month - Forbidden Lady. I am not sure when it comes out here, because there is a Regency trilogy scheduled for later this year, and I think they want two other Regency stories after that. For Severn House I am writing a crime series set in the 1920's and I had a wonderful review for the first from Booklist yesterday so I am still glowing. I may write some sagas for someone, but that is in the future. Mostly it is M&B and the crime that I have in mind for now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

M&B H April Release: A Most Unconvetional Courtship by Louise Allen

Respectable gentleman…accidental pirate!
Benedict Casper Chancellor, Earl of Blakeney, is the kind of elegantly conservative English lord that Alessa despises. She wants nothing to do with him – even if he is shaped like a Greek statue come to life! But the maddening man seems determined to wrest her away from her comfortable life in beautiful Corfu. Worse, he’ll return her to the bosom of her stuffy family.
The Earl hasn’t anticipated Alessa’s propensity to get herself into a scrape. Now, in order to rescue her, this highly conventional Englishman will have to turn pirate!

M&B H April Release: A Worthy Gentleman by Anne Herries

She’d put the shadows of her past behind her…
Now, Miss Sarah Hunter was delighted at the prospect of a Season in London – and at the opportunity to spend time with the man who’d once saved her life! But Mr Elworthy was much changed. Rumours and secrets tarnished his honourable name, and the ton had begun to wonder where the truth of the matter lay. He found a staunch champion in Sarah – but as she defended him she was inexorably drawn into the mystery…
The Hellfire Mysteries Three daring gentlemen who’ll brave all for the sake of the women they love!

Buy A Worthy Gentleman

M&B H April Release: Rake's Wager by Miranda Jarrett

The rake’s reform
Miss Cassia Penny’s inspired style has always set the fashion – and Richard Blackley is in need of her talent!
Blackley, coming from an impoverished background, is determined to establish himself as a proper London gentleman. When Cassia loses a wager, he collects by demanding her services to refurbish his run-down estate. He quickly realises her beauty is the most perfect adornment his home could have.
Now, as Cassia restores the old house, she begins to transform Richard. The unlikely pair are drawn together – until the appearance of a secret from Richard’s past…

Buy Rake's Wager

M&B H April Release: Sold and Seduced by Michelle Styles

In just seven days, she will beg for his kiss!
Lydia Veratia made one mistake - and now her freedom is forfeit to the man who all Rome knows as the Sea Wolf. Sold into marriage, the one thing over which she still has control is her own desire. So when Fabius Aro offers her a wager - if she doesn't please for his kisses in the next seven days, then she will have her independence - Lydia thinks it will be easily won.
But Aro is a dangerously attractive man. And Lydia is finding his lips more and more tempting...

Buy Sold and Seduced

M&B H April Release: Wanted! by Pam Crooks

He’s looking for revenge…
Tough, rugged, and a dead-eye shot – Ross Santana is the kind of man a woman wants at her side…and in her bed. She’s a wanted woman…
Respectable, refined, her town’s virtuous bank-teller – Lark Renault hides a dark secret.
And he wants her for himself!
Their new passion heals old scars: but the bounty-hunter and the outlaw must find a way to work together against the danger on their trail!

Buy Wanted!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

HH April Release: The Wicked Earl by Margaret McPhee

The Wicked Earl
The very proper Miss Langley does not know what she has done to encourage the attentions of a lord, only that they are most unwanted and very improper!
So when a handsome stranger saves her from his clutches, Madeline is too relieved to suspect that her tall, dark defender may have a less than respectable reputation….

Read the excerpt

The Wicked Earl

HH April Release: Bride of Shadow Canyon by Stacey Kayne

Bride of Shadow Canyon
When the widowed boardinghouse keeper he has come to rescue turns out to be a scantily-clad showgirl, Jed Doulan knows he's in for trouble. With his shadowed past, he'd be mad to let this spirited—and surprisingly innocent—woman get close.
Bound by a hasty marriage to her reluctant hero, Rachell Carlson senses his struggle to keep a distance between them. But the message in Jed's eyes makes her pulse quicken—and even dares her to believe in love.

Read the excerpt

Bride of Shadow Canyon

HH April Release: Commanded to His Bed by Denise Lynn

Commanded To His Bed
He was taken from Adrienna on their wedding night, and sold as a slave. Now, released from captivity, Hugh of Ryebourne wants revenge. Believing Adrienna played a part in his capture, he plans to seduce his wife into bed—but he won't use force. He wants her to come willingly….
Adrienna is shocked by the reappearance of her estranged husband. She can't deny the desire this dark, brooding man arouses in her, but Hugh is no longer the young boy she once knew. He is all man now, rugged and very dangerous.

Read the excerpt

Commanded To His Bed

HH April Release: The Vagabond Duchess by Claire Thornton

The Vagabond Duchess
He'd promised to return.
But Jack Bow is dead. And Temperance Challinor's quietly respectable life is changed forever.
Practical Temperance has no time to grieve for the irresistible rogue who gave her one night of comfort in a blazing city. She must protect her unborn child—by pretending to be Jack's widow.
A foolproof plan. Until she arrives at Jack's home…and the counterfeit widow of a vagabond becomes the real wife of a very much alive duke

Read the excerpt

The Vagabond Duchess

HH April Release: Forbidden Lady by Anne Herries

Forbidden Lady
Sir Robert came in peace to claim his lady honorably. But Melissa denied their love, and her father had him whipped from the house.
Forbidden to return, Rob seeks his fortune in the wars, determined to forget the woman who tricked him.
As the Wars of the Roses ravage England, Melissa falls into Rob's power and declares she knew nothing of his punishment. He should not trust her—but can he resist such vulnerable, innocent beauty?

Read the excerpt

Forbidden Lady

HH April Release: A Scandalous Marriage by Mary Brendan

A Scandalous Marriage
William and June Pemberton have been happily married for three years—but the longer they go on without June's conceiving, the more concerned she becomes. Especially since William's old flame is now free to marry again and, according to his mother, would make him much the better wife. And then a handsome charmer turns his attentions to June….
Pushed apart by jealousy, William and June must fight to keep their marriage alive. Sometimes, it seems, their mutual passion is all that holds them together….

Read an excerpt

A Scandalous Marriage