Archive for June, 2012
Today I am so pleased to welcome honorary Duchess Mary Jo Putney.
A New York Times bestselling author, Mary Jo Putney was born in Upstate New York with a reading addiction, a condition with no known cure. Her entire writing career is an accidental byproduct of buying a computer for other purposes. Most of her books contain history, romance, and cats. Her current releases are No Longer a Gentleman, fourth in her Lost Lords series. April also saw the reissue of The Rake, her classic, RITA winning story of alcoholism and recovery. Her third young adult paranormal historical written as M. J. Putney, Dark Destiny,will be released in July.
SW: Thank you so much for joining us today, Mary Jo. We’re honored to have you and since I have the same reading addiction you suffer from, I can’t wait to hear more about your newest releases.
MJP: I have two books in that category! No Longer a Gentleman is fourth in my Lost Lords historical romance series. The hero, Grey Sommers, Lord Wyndham, never met a predicament he couldn’t charm his way out of until recklessness condemns him to a decade in a dungeon. Read the rest of this entry »
The Duchesses are thrilled to receive Regency Author Bronwen Evans for what promises to be a delightful morning call.
Last year, Bronwen made her debut with Invitation to Ruin, an eloquently and expressively written book I adored. I wasn’t the only one. Invitation to Ruin was given a coveted 4.5 star review by Romantic Times Book Reviews and nominated for Best First Historical by RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards.
Duchess Wendy: Welcome, Duchess Bronwen. Tell us a little about your latest releases.
Duchess Bronwyn Evans: Thanks for having me here today, ladies. I’ve had a few releases in the last two months. May 2012 saw the release of my second Regency romance with Kensington Brava, Invitation to Scandal.
Invitation to Scandal is the story about love and honor and what happens when a man has to choose between the two. Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore’s late father was accused of treason and so Rufus lives his life focused on atoning for his father’s sin, while trying to restore his family’s honor. He hides his true self from the world in order to gain approval for his mother and sister. He sees the world in black and white. So, when he finally falls in love, what happens when he’s forced to choose between the woman he loves and clearing his father’s name?
Something writers must learn to master is how to pitch. We do it when we want an agent to represent us. In turn, our agents pitch to editors. Then editors make a pitch when they want to acquire and they need Marketing to get on board. Then the Marketing Department pitches our book to buyers to stock our books. There are many ways to pitch, but the more you boil your plot or characters down to a few choice words, the better. One way to accomplish that is to compare our story or characters to a well-known or currently popular story or characters. For example, the first book of my Secrets & Scandals series, Her Wicked Ways, is about a highwayman who steals from the rich to support the poor and a rich Society girl plucked out of her comfort zone and dropped straight into the backwoods. I described this book as Robin Hood meets Paris Hilton (in The Simple Life). I really sort of hated using the Paris Hilton comparison, but when I used those characters to convey my basic story conflict, people totally got it. And, more importantly, they said, “that sounds awesome!”
Anna Campbell was kind enough to call my second book, His Wicked Heart, “Cinderella meets Fight Club.” You get a very specific idea from that, don’t you? Now, my hero does not (Fight Club spoiler alert!) have a split personality, nor does he fight himself. He does, however, seek and use violence as a sort of catharsis. Someone might ask if stereotyping or analogizing could drive our plots or characterization. My answer: sometimes, yes. I didn’t read or watch Fight Club and think, “I’m going to write a Regency version of that.” I had an idea for a very straitlaced hero who needed to sort of explode emotionally. I wanted his arc to go from very proper and stoic to incredibly passionate and maybe even a bit reckless—or at least finally finding the ability to indulge his desires and own that indulgence. So I decided he should get in a fight. That’s how Regency Fight Club was born.
They say there are no new stories, that we’re all just rewriting the same basic ideas, emotions, tropes, etc. That’s true, but there are endless ways in which to tell those stories. If there weren’t, we could all use the same pitches! But we don’t, and we find new and exciting ways to reinvent the wheel. In fact, I liked the elements of Regency Fight Club so much, I wrote another book about it—To Seduce a Scoundrel. It’s not just Regency Fight Club II, however. It opens with what I call a Regency Date Night, if you saw that movie starring Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. And that’s one instance where I saw a movie, and it inspired what I wrote. I knew how I wanted Scoundrel to open, and then I thought a roller coaster ride of a night would be a lot of fun. So I put my hero and heroine through the ringer and let the fallout drive the rest of the book.
Finding the right pitch has driven more than one writer to the brink of lunacy. So let’s have some fun with it! Leave a comment with the worst pitch you can think of for a Regency romance, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win my debut, Her Wicked Ways.
Today we welcome best-selling author Sally MacKenzie. Duchess Sally first made her mark in Romance with the Regency-set Naked books, which readers adore for their scandalously witty humor and sexy charm. She joins us today to dish about her new Duchess of Love trilogy, which introduces readers to a whole new cast of characters. Duchess Sally will also be giving away a copy of Bedding Lord Ned to one lucky reader–so leave a question or comment to enter to win!
Duchess Emily: Welcome, Sally! Do tell us a bit about your latest release, Bedding Lord Ned. I love that it has a matchmaking cat in it!
Duchess Sally: Thanks for having me here. It seems fitting to be talking about the Duchess of Love with all you dashing duchesses, a number of whom I realize I’ve actually seen dashing in person.
Bedding Lord Ned is the first book in my new “Duchess of Love” trilogy. However, the series actually begins with a novella, also entitled The Duchess of Love, that released as an e-book April 24. But for those readers (including me) who haven’t made the jump to an e-reader, the novella is included in the back of the print versions of Ned.
I open my browser, start a search, and then come up for air two hours later with no word count, Mt. Laundry is still untouched and a family meal uncooked. My eyes are glassy, I have crazy-person hair and really, really have to pee. So what happened?
The Internet Time Warp.
That’s right. You go in, and you never come out. Thing is, research is a historical writer’s best friend. You must know the time period, and you must know the oddest little details so you don’t make a ghastly mistake. I wouldn’t wish to tarnish my Duchess tiara! (Of course, now that I say that, I’m guaranteed to make said ghastly mistake.)
A handful of scientific journals have recently discussed the correlation between reading fiction and the emotion of empathy. The more books we read, they report, the greater our ability to care for the feelings and experiences of others in real life. Fiction is a practice ground in which we learn to extend our attention beyond ourselves and take on the concerns of others.
Perhaps this is why the romance community is so involved with philanthropic projects. Through our love and care for our fictional characters, we strengthen our capacity to love and care for the world around us. Far from hiding behind our computers, romance writers are involved in the daily grind, offering our efforts toward everyone’s Happily Ever After.
It is my privilege today to introduce you to Erin Knightley. In 2011, Erin finaled in the Regency category of the Golden Heart®, alongside Duchesses Valerie, Anne, Sara and me. She also became semi-famous among romance writers that year for her packing mojo. This year, she’s set to become renowned for something else. Her debut, More Than a Stranger, releases tomorrow. I’m very honored she chose to spend the eve of her big day by visiting the Duchesses.
So sit down to tea with Erin and me, and make sure you leave us your direction for a chance to win!
In the Beginning…
June 6, 2008
SO here I am working on my brand new apple computer and I think that I may soon learn to like it. What will I be doing with this little machine in a few weeks? Will I be well on my way to writing a new book? Will I still be staring at a blank (expensive) page? We shall see…
Those, my friends, are the very first words I wrote in my journey towards being a writer. I only just rediscovered them as I was searching through my files for the first draft of my debut novel, MORE THAN A STRANGER. As I opened the document, expecting to see Evie and Benedict’s first incarnation, I stared in astonishment at those incredible words.