Thursday, April 30, 2009

Timeline of Historical Eras

As promised at RT, here's a brief time-line of major (British) historical eras, particularly the ones you find in historical fiction. Keep in mind that oftentimes the dates are a bit fluid with some eras, whereas others are more rigidly defined. Also, you'll notice that there's quite a bit of overlap.

Middle Ages (or Medieval period) -- generally from the fall of the western Roman Empire in the 5th century through the 16th century.

Renaissance -- generally 14th - 17th centuries. Considered a 'cultural movement' that began in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe.

Tudor era -- 1485-1603, spans the range of the Tudor dynasty, beginning with Henry VII and running through the reign of Elizabeth I (though Elizabeth's reign is also treated as a sub-era, the Elizabethan era, from 1558-1603).

Stuart period -- 1603-1714, coincides with the rule of the House of Stuart, beginning with James VI of Scotland and ended with Queen Anne. A period rife with internal and religious strife. The Restoration period took place during the Stuart era, beginning in 1660 when the English, Scottish, and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II.

Georgian era -- 1714-1830, coincides with the reigns of George I, II, III, and IV, and is sometimes extended to include the reign of William IV from 1830-1837. It was a period of cultural vibrancy and great social change. The Georgian era includes the sub-period of the Regency era, when George III took ill and England was ruled by the Regent, who became George IV after George III's death. The architecture style was mostly neo-classical. It was the day of Lord Byron, Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, and John Keats.

Victorian era -- 1837-1901, coincides with the rule of Queen Victoria. The Victorian era marked a long period of prosperity in England, and was characterized by a long period of peace only disrupted by the Crimean War. This was the period marked by industrialism, developments in science and photography. Gothic revival architecture became significant. It was the age of Dickens, and of Jack the Ripper.

Edwardian era -- 1901-1910, coinciding with the reign of Edward VII, though the 'extended' Edwardian era generally continues through to the beginning of WWI (The Great War, at the time), in 1914. Sometimes called the Belle Epoque, or the Gilded Age. The period was marked by an inherent imbalance in wealth and power. It's the day of E.M. Forster, Joseph Conrad, and H.G. Wells. There were motorcars, suffragists, and ocean liners (including the Titanic, which sunk in 1912). Art Nouveau took hold during this period.

Hope that helps--though I'm not promising it's perfect! If anyone sees any glaring errors, let me know!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Getting All Hot and Bothered

Well, I'm all fired up because Romantic Times Book Reviews just gave my debut erotic contemporary, Hot In Here (under that other name, Sophie Renwick) four stars!
I've been waiting for this review and am much relieved that's it's a good one!

Here's what they said....

Readers will root for Jenna to get her man in this hot, tasty treat of a book. Bryce is every woman's fantasy (and he cooks too!), and Renwick nicely builds the romance and keeps the heat level sky-high as she kicks off her sexy new Ryder Brothers series

Thanks for letting me share it! I've been waiting for this review, and am really pleased about it, especially since HOT is a new genre for me.

Sorry the blog hasn't been updated as much this week, I'm working nights (and feeling part dead), and Kristi is getting her house organized after returning from the RT convention. And Amanda is still MIA from Orlando. Think she shacked up with a cover model? lol!

Thanks for all the support, guys. Our LIT visitors are the very, very best, and we appreciate ALL of you!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

RT Roundup!

Whew....home from the RT convention in Orlando--and boy, was it fun! First off, I must apologize for the lack of blogs from convention-land. The internet connection at the convention hotel was spotty at best, but mostly unusable, and thus neither Amanda nor I were able to post from the conference as we had planned. Very sad about that, because it's hard to recap everything after you've gotten home and dealt with unpacking/laundry/etc.

First and foremost, let me say this was by far the best RT convention I've ever been to--it felt more like a mini-vacation (a much needed one!) and I came home tanned, relaxed, and re-energized. The workshops were excellent (thanks to our own indefatigable LIT lady Amanda!), the conference hotel was wonderful (except for the internet connection, darn it!), the food was good (especially the dinner at the Fairy Ball--yum!) and the book signing a great success. What more can you ask for?!

The smaller crowds meant more quality time with readers, with editors, with reviewers. I even managed to get through an entire RT without *once* seeing a condom lollipop or a penis puppet or anything of that kind. The giveaways were all tasteful, and the cover model competitors seemed like gentleman. Yes, there was a different "vibe" altogether, and I was quite pleased to experience it. I'm also happy to report that there were no scandals, and no kerfuffles of any kind (or if there were, I was totally oblivious to them).

I even managed to sneak off one day to Universal Studios (all by myself) for a few hours. I'm a theme park junkie, and Universal Studios was just down the street, so I couldn't resist. I must say, it was kind of nice to go without the kiddies, to do whatever I wanted, and ride whatever I wanted, as many times as I wanted (yes, I rode The Mummy ride--a rollercoaster--ten times!). There was no whining, no complaints....just me, riding rides and enjoying the warm Florida sunshine.

I moderated two panels that went wonderfully--one on the state of the historical market (with RT senior reviewer Kathe Robin, and bloggers Jane from Dear Author and Sarah from Smart Bitches/Trashy Books), and one about historical romance through the ages (with historical authors Melissa Mayhue, Elizabeth Hoyt, Sally MacKenzie, and Tracy Garrett). Both were well-attended, and there was great positive conversation going--lots of interesting questions asked, and I hope some helpful information disseminated for both authors and readers.

As a result of one workshop, I promised to post a breakdown of historical eras here at the LIT blog, and I will get that up later this week (as in, when was the Georgian era, the Regency era, the Victorian era, etc.). In the meantime, I just want to give a shout-out to all the amazing people I met, and say I hope to see you all again next year at RT in Columbus, Ohio!

Amanda will be home later this week, and she'll probably have a much more coherent conference recap. Oh, and LIT regular Genella DeGray was there, too--participating in her first big conference signing as a published author (yay, Genella!!). Pam should have some pics of the three of us to share when she's back!

In the meantime, let us know if any of you will be at RWA in Washington D.C. this summer--all three of us LIT ladies will be in attendance, giving a workshop together. If enough of us LIT folks will be there, we'll have to plan a get-together of some sort.

Oh....I almost forgot to mention Mr. Romance! For the second year in a row, my own personal pick won the Mr. Romance competition! This year's winner was Charles Paz, who was a total cutie with a great personality, to boot. He was sweet, he was charming, and he even seemed quite humble. Not the usual 'smoldering' type who usually wins, but just an outgoing, bubbly kind of guy-next-door (if your guy-next-door happens to be extremely good-looking, that is!). And he's a double-winner, too, because he also took home the trophy for "Reader's Choice" (where the convention attendees cast their ballots for a winner). I'm looking forward to seeing him on the cover of a Dorchester romance in the coming year. Congrats to Charles! (see photo below)

So....who's coming to RWA???

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Alpha Male

Darn that VampFanGirl! She's doing a week long thingie about the The Black Dagger Brotherhood over at her blog, Lovin Me Some Romance and it's got me thinking of big hunky alpha males. Rhage is front and center today at her blog and he's my favorite. I ADORE that guy!

So what is it about the WARDens brothers that gets us all shivering and tingling? What is it about all the hot alpha males that so many authors are writing?
Why do we love these over the top dudes? Even historical alphas are sought after, not just the hot paranormal leads.

To me, I think it's part and parcel with the whole escapism fantasy aspect of romance. I mean, this great big strong, hunky, don't take no shit men call to the base needs in us females. You can argue me with that us modern women who can change our own car oil, hold a job that pays ALL the bills and supports hubby as well don't need that type of 'I'll take care of it' guy around. And that's probably true. But inthe quiet of the night, with a book open on your lap there's some weird genetic prehistoric marker that kicks in when you read about these males who are strong, protective, domineering, and who fall so completely in love with the heroine. That marker is the remnants of primitative hierarchery. The need for the female to be able to rely on her male no matter what. The hunter/gatherer. The warrior. The dominant. The sexual persurer.

It's almost become a novelty in today's society, this alpha male. I know in romance it's become *the* hero archtype. I think as more and more women become self supporting, able to do whatever they want, provide for all their needs (money, food, shelter, and lets face it, sexual as well,) the urge to connect with something lost is stronger. And that lost thing is the alpha male of long ago.

Now, in real life, could I handle one of these guys? Maybe once a month. But on a daily basis? Yeah. No thanks. But in fantasy, man, is he a turn on. And in a romance? He's everything I need for a satisfying read.

There's something about a big man surrounding you, comforting and protecting you. Something about raging sexual appetites that makes you feel so womanly. The very idea of man fighting for you, giving up his life for you is so awe inspiring. Even as I'm writing this, I'm thinking about how inside I know it's really rather abhorent to be thinking of some guy dying for me, but then there's that part of me that says 'yeah, fight for me. Earn me. Show me your worth'. It's weird how we can't get rid of that little bit of cave woman in us! lol!
I think why alphas are so sought after in romance is because it's not real. It's fantasy and a fantasy can be stopped at any time without fear of retribution. You can simply put the book down and go back to your ordinary life. Or you can keep reading and live out a deep rooted desire to be utterly adored by some big strong hunk.

So, that's my take. What about you? Are you down with those over the top dominant alphas? Or do you like something in between? And if you can, name your favorite alpha hero. I myself cannot. I have waaaaay too many of them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day to all of you who are observing! While it's a worthwhile day of awareness it's rather sad that we even need it!

Since last October, I've been doing a lot of research into Druid/Celtic history and life. The research has been for the Celtic anthologies that Kristina, Amanda and myself are writing. Also, it's been for the Annwyn Chronicles which I'm writing under the name Sophie Renwick. I've learned so much and it's actually changed the way I view a things~the Crown Forest which lies not more than 75 feet from my backyard, for starters! lol!

The research has been fascinating and really rather eye opening. We've come so far, yet we've regressed as well from that time when our ancestors knew nothing more than to work with the Earth.

The Celts and Druids lived their lives by the whims and power of nature. They revered it and lived alongside the earth, working it, taking from it, but also giving back as thanks for the bounty it gave to not only feed their people but heal them as well.

The Druids most especially worshipped trees, even giving male and female assignment. Their history was not a written one, but they did leave the Ogham which is a series of lines, somewhat resembling the Nordic Runes. Each tree had a set of magical properties that were used to decorate their homes, flavor their foods, and as magical amulets used in their rituals. There was Rowan for healing and empowerment, birch for protection of children and purification. Holly for prophecy and sex magic, elder for exorcism. Oak for male virility and sexuality. Each tree has a corresponding set of Ogham that must have been painstaking to write since each line represents a letter of the alphabet. But the writing was never important to the Druids, it was the story telling and the interpreation of the world around them which they called the 'life force' that was most important in their lives.

We've lost that connection to the earth, I think. We don't know what a life force is anymore. Not that I want to give up indoor plumbing and the internet, but their simple way of life sometimes calls to me. To be able to spend a few hours out in nature and not worry about the time or what I've got to do at home would truly be liberating.

The Celts also worshipped the moon. It held a place of importance even over the sun. A day to the Celts was calculated from sundown to sundown. As a Cancer and a moonchild myself, I can see how the lure of the moon, and the mystique of moonbeams awed our early ancestors. I've also read that the more creative types are drawn more by the moon than the sun. This is true for me. I seem to come alive at night and my creativity definitely does!

One thing for sure is, whoever or whatever created this place we call home was truly the ultimate magician. We won't get religious here. We'll be spiritual. Whatever your beliefs we can't deny the magic of the earth and the awe inspiring power of Mother Nature. I hope we haven't ruined that magic with our ways!

So, are you a child of the moon, or a daughter of the sun? Which has more pull over you? And if you're really wanting to connect with nature and the earth in its most base form, please visit our very own Vampire Fan Girl's blog later today and for the rest of the week for some very 'earthy' delights.

Peace, and be well!

Monday, April 20, 2009

What's New Pussycat????

Hey there! Long time no blog. Us LIT Ladies do apologize, but we've been a tad stressed. The picture above is pretty much how we feel (and look) at the moment! lol!

So, Kristina has been totally swamped with writing A Midnight Clear. It needed to be done and shipped off to her editor before RT this week. I've been keeping a low profile because I know she's pulling all nighters and she doesn't need my emails or my 'man candy' pics! I think she's done the book and it's been sent off! YEAH, KRISTINA!! Now, she's got to get her fanny ready for RT!

Amanda is already in Orlando getting everything prepared for the readers and authors who are going to descend in droves to the Romantic Times convention. It's this week, and both Amanda and Kristina have promised to pop in and give us updates and lots of deets as to the going ons at the convention. So, we can look forward to that! And maybe a few cover model pics?

I'm staying home this week and writing Velvet Haven. I worked last week on a few edits for A Highlander Christmas and shipped those off to my editor who liked what I did. So, I'm done edits for that, and now can concentrate on writing. I'll be around this week, though, posting and trying to keep you ladies entertained.

Lord Craven-Moore...well, I've finally convinced him to come out of his high dungeon and post. Look for that mid week. He needs his ego stroked. He's such a baby....

So, we thank you for your patience as we stress out. Hopefully this week will be the detox week, although with all the mayhem going on at RT, it's doubtful!

Anyone got any big plans for this week? Anyone going to RT?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Meet my new boyfriend....

Okay, not really; he's just my newest crush-come-character-inspiration (and don't tell my husband I said that, LOL!--wait, he already knows about my "crush" so I guess it's okay!).

Ladies, meet Gilles Marini. If he took off his clothes (*all* his clothes), you might recognize him as the 'naked guy' from the Sex and the City movie (which, incidentally, I haven't seen--though I have viewed the clip of the famous 'outdoor shower' scene on YouTube--and yes, it was....ahem....quite inspiring). But if you watch the current season of Dancing with the Stars, you know exactly who Gilles is--the guy who surprised everyone with his unbelievable natural dancing ability, who's rocked the dance floor every week with some of the hottest ballroom dances EVER! (and if you think "hot" and "ballroom dancing" don't go together,'ve obviously never watched DWTS!). yeah, he's hot. And he's French, with the sexiest accent. He can dance like you wouldn't believe. But there's more...he's a devoted husband and father, completely humble, and utterly charming, to boot. After he completes a dance, he often runs over to kiss his beautiful wife, sitting on the edge of the dance floor. He brings his children to watch rehearsals. Sigh......the perfect man, perhaps??

I'm pretty sure I've never before been so completely charmed and entranced by a DWTS contestant. And it's not just me--in a matter of weeks, the guy went from an almost unknown ("Who, the naked guy from Sex in the City?") to a show front-runner, a household name. Luckily, he's paired with professional dancer Cheryl Burke, a seeming slave driver who knows how to bring out the best in her partners, and has already won the DWTS title twice.

So what does this have to do with writing, you ask? Well, I'm finishing up my Oct. '09 historical, A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, right now. The hero, Troy Davenport, is an American painter who studied in France for several years, where he befriended another young painter, Englishman Sebastian Drake. And suddenly, as I was writing scenes that included Sebastian, I started picturing Gilles. Sebastian Drake, Englishman, somehow morphed into Sebastien Dumas, Frenchman--accent and all. It worked! Problem is, right now I'm supposed to be entirely taken with my current hero. And yet, out the corner of my writer's eye, I kept seeing Sebastien standing there, just waiting for his story.

It got so distracting that I had to banish him, sending him 'offstage' to Greece for the remainder of the book! Anyway, it's funny how something so completely unrelated (ballroom dancing, anyone?) can influence my writing; how anyone can inspire, and take over a writer's imagination. I hadn't planned on writing Sebastien's story next--that honor was going to Caroline Cressfield, my heroine's best friend. But now that might change, all thanks to Gilles!

I'll leave you with a video clip to inspire and seduce--the passionate Argentine Tango. Enjoy!

Oh, why not one more?? Especially since he begins the dance shirtless (yeah, I'm that shallow!). The Paso Doble...

So, ladies....whaddya you think of my new guy??

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cleopatra's Perfume~Jina Bacarr's in the Manor!

Please welcome fellow Spice author, Jina Bacarr to the manor today! Today, Gina's given us an excerpt, which is really a prequel scene about the heroine's life before the book begins. But it sets the tone perfectly for Cleo! What really draws me to this book is the time-just before the outbreak of war, and the ultra cool cities the book has in it, Cairo, Berlin, London, SO suave and uber cool during that era.
The blurb is below, and and the excerpt follows. Let's give a warm and supportive manor welcome to Jina Bacarr!

Europe 1939
The world may be teetering on the brink of war, but that's no reason for the privileged classes to deny themselves the satisfaction of their deepest lusts. In exotic and exclusive clubs, they pursue the delights of the flesh with little thought to the world crumbling around them.

Eve Marlowe has everything she needs to lead the most decadent of lives: money, nobility, nerve…and an insatiable appetite for sexual adventure. She also has a singular treasure: a fragrance of ancient origin said to have been prepared for the Queen of Kings herself. Seductive, irresistible, even mystical—it is the scent of pure sensuality.

The power of this elixir is such that it sweeps Lady Marlowe into a game much more dangerous than those she played in the darkened rooms of kinky bars. As the Nazis devour Europe and North Africa, she embarks on a fevered journey, with sizzling stops in Cairo, London, Berlin—each city filled with new perils and pleasures for one anointed with pure lust.

Episode 1: Eve meets a monocled gentleman with a secret fetish.
April 10, 2009 by Jina Bacarr

The Berlin Sex Diary of Lady Eve Marlowe contains adult subject matter and is intended for readers 18+ only

23 February 1928


I was a naughty girl tonight, dear diary. I wiggled my buttocks like a minette* when I met this interesting gentleman wearing a monocle.

Then I let him spank me.

My nipples tighten as I jot down my thoughts for my own pleasure for no one must ever see the contents of this journal. Only then can I focus candidly on the sexual meanderings of this cabaret dancer down on her luck.

So down and out I earned my sustenance on this night by bending over and allowing the monocled gentleman to spank my bare arse with a long wooden paddle until my buttock cheeks turned scarlet. I inhaled my own sweet scent mixing with my perfume smelling of carnations and cedar, the intoxicating odor unlocking a door I never knew existed, as if I had embarked on a glittering adventure and there was no turning back.

You don’t look like a Joy Girl.

My name is Eve and all you have to know is that I entered Berlin on a passport that says I’m of legal age. I have no desire to expose my true identity should a curious lover find my diary hidden among my lacy underwear and try to blackmail me. I will tell you that I have powder-white blond hair and men often remark that I have a good figure.

I’m not vain about my body, but I struggle to keep the seams on my black stockings straight and I revel in the applause from the audience when I dance. I am also the sentimental girl who sends postcards to her mother back home in New York, knowing she rips them up without reading them.

I am alone here in Berlin with no one to depend upon, dear diary, but I will survive. I am passionate about this. Obsessed. I hold in abeyance my secret self, letting it out only when I must, as I did tonight when the monocled gentleman struck my buttocks over and over again with the paddle, its dark enchantment holding me prisoner.

What choice did I have?

I have no job. The girlie show I came to Berlin with folded after two weeks when the manager’s wife shot him. She caught him fucking the lead act (a sister duo from Morocco) and ran off with the payroll. The story filled the newspaper columns for days.

Lustmord, the Germans call it. Lust murder.

Alone, jobless, I discovered that Berlin in the winter is dreary and cold, the sky gray overhead, clouds hanging low over the city making everything look bleak and sexless. But not at night when beckoning tiny white lights mysteriously appear, tempting me. It is a city of sin awash in an underworld of pleasure.

My foray into this erotic world began when Herr ______ asked me to join him at his table in a small café near the Hotel Eden where I had tried to find work. I noticed an exceptionally tall man in a black Fedora and cloak observing us, gloating like a god looking down at a pagan rite, living, breathing, watching the players perform. His presence made me tingle with an ecstasy I’d never experienced before, as if inviting me into his sinfully rich, private world.

Who was he?

The paleness of his skin belied the fiery dynamic of his persona, his broad shoulders, square jaw. He wore his long black hair tied back, the poetic lift of his dark brow giving him the air of a romantic cavalier. But it was his eyes that held me. Black pools of perpetual movement that lured me into their swirling depths. I could not escape the fatality of his stare, a look that was eternal. It was as if he could read my mind, knowing I was hungry and out of work. I swear he nodded to the monocled gentleman before the older man approached me.

Why didn’t he approach me himself?

Stroking my arm in an intimate manner, the monocled gentleman bought me a glass of hot, spicy glüwein to keep out the cold, then he said in a raspy voice, “You’re too pretty to work as a kitchen maid, Fräulein. I have a better job for you.”

What could I do? I hadn’t eaten in two days, so I nodded and went with him to his hotel. I was disappointed the tall man in the black Fedora and cloak didn’t follow us. I couldn’t explain why, but his presence induced a need in me that left me breathless, made my nerves bristle, my blood run hot.

I kept up my courage, imagining I was entering a scenario without rules, without soft caresses, without illusions, but not without guilt. The gentleman assured me he wasn’t interested in a sexual coupling, but I didn’t know he had a paddling in mind until he removed all his clothes except for his bowtie, socks and garters. And his monocle.

Curious, I took off my knickers and bent over the royal blue silk brocade chair. The silk was cool to my touch, expensive, luxurious, like everything else in the fancy room. When I heard the whoosh of the spanking paddle slicing through the air, I took a deep breath and lifted my buttocks in anticipation…to be continued.

Next time: Eve discovers the joys of paddling from the Berlin intellectual with the monocle.
* minette: French word used here to describe a girl active in BDSM.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hot Stuff

Thanks to Barbara who made me this little widget for Hot In Here, my sexy contemporary that comes out with NAL on June 2nd.
I'll be posting more about the book next month, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share this! Thanks SO much Barbara!!

And, tune in tomorrow, (Monday, April 13th) when Jina Bacarr is here in the Manor chatting about her latest Spice release, Cleopatra's perfume! Take a gander at that cover! STUNNING!!!!!

Hope the bunny has been generous today!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

TORTURED available now for pre-order

I am excited to announce that TORTURED, my dark ages medieval is now available for Pre-order at Barnes & and There is a discount now if you preorder!! Further fun-- and if you check my news page at , you'll see my new "Quarterly "Love to Read" Contest featuring a gift card from this time around!

Yay! Kristi is a techy wiz! Pictures are back at the manor!!

Let me know what you think!

Trade paperback
featuring Sierra, Dryston
Publisher: Spice
Pub. Date: August 01, 2009
ISBN-13: 9780373605330

True to its name, this book is a complex story with all the intrigue, passion, romance, and angst, not to mention a rough and tumble journey to that coveted HEA.
I hardly ever take the direct route;) So, finally, posted here first at the LIT manor,--an exclusive preview excerpt from Tortured.


Sierra’s eyes were riveted to the Roman’s face, his sturdy jaw clenched as he endured without a sound, the pain to his body. With an exasperated sigh, Balrogan tossed the torch into the pit.

“I will have to think of something else, milord. He is stubborn this one.”

Lord Aeglech stared at the prisoner a moment, before he raised his hand. “Take him down,” he barked, “and bring him to me.”

The Saxon king breezed by her with his guards close behind. He glanced back before ascending the narrow stairs.

“I will have need of you, wealh. You know what to do.”

“Aye, milord.” She lowered her gaze to the floor. Sierra’s body trembled at the thought of seducing this man. She feared his power over her emotions she thought long ago dead. Carefully, she reached up and swung the cage.

“Be watchful of that one, mouse, he may spit poison.” The executioner chuckled as he prepared his next device. “We’ll see first if this will persuade him to speak." He raised a handcrafted piece that can slowly sever a man’s fingers one at a time.

The Roman’s expression remained unchanged as he stared at Sierra from his bat-like position. His face was not that of a farmer, or peasant, not as she was used to seeing. He had a warriors face, proud, rugged, stoic. His eyes, though shadowed from the torture, shone with silent strength. Her gaze drifted to the tight line of his mouth, pursed with determination. A mouth she ventured could command an army as well as command a woman in bed. For no reason that she could think of, she spoke aloud. “Lord Aeglech would not want to be kept waiting.” She imagined she saw a glint of challenge behind the prisoner's turbulent eyes. He was different, strong, unafraid, her vision of a true warrior. Most men, when faced with Balrogan’s forms of persuasion were eager to offer information and, so too, beg for mercy in the process. In three days, this Roman had been through numerous forms of torture without once having wavered. There was nothing innocent about him, only a powerful resilience seething beneath a warrior’s body. A power she was dangerously drawn to.

Balrogan offered a muffled sound under his breath. “Perhaps you are right. He should be intact for whatever the king has in mind for him.”

Since the Roman’s arrival, Lord Aeglech had received confirmation that the Roman-Briton, General Ambrosis and his army were traveling from Rome into the provinces just north of the Saxon stronghold. Given Aeglech’s paranoia, combined with the seeds she had managed to plant thus far in his mind, it was clear that he was preparing himself for a confrontation. Still, Sierra believed that the Saxon king was bored with the pillaging and conquest of common folk. She believed that he longed for an opponent worthy of a good fight. Perhaps that was why he had not yet ordered the death of the Roman prisoner.

A creak of the cage jarred Sierra from her thoughts. The Roman’s gaze met hers and a shiver skittered up her spine. The image of him with the woman appeared in her mind and she I instinctively took a step back. This time she did not imagine seeing the corner of his mouth curve into a wicked smirk. Sierra swallowed a pang of pure desire as she sensed that he was able to look deep inside her, as if reading her thoughts.

“I am on my way to the buttery,” she said to Balrogan, unable to break from the prisoners captivating stare.

“See if the blacksmith is finished with my blades, Mouse,” Balrogan ordered without looking up. Years of having her around to do his bidding made the request easy.

She glanced at the guard who maintained his post at the dungeon entrance. “Aye, milord.” Tearing her eyes from the Roman, she hurried out, taking the steps with care as she held up the hem of her gown. The image of the woman's face as the Roman pleasured her taunted Sierra. Her sighs burned in Sierra’s memory, the sight of her back arched, knees spread, her fingers digging into the Roman's dark hair.

Never had she experienced what she sensed in that Celtic woman’s soul and it both frightened and intrigued her. And ever since she tasted its imagery, her hunger for the same elation grew. The woman in Sierra’s mind wore a look of joy on her face that she do not understand. More disturbing, perhaps, was that it made her realize that her life had become as cold and inhuman as Lord Aeglech.

At the top of the stair, she heard an anguished male cry rise from the room below. Apparently, Balrogan had changed his mind about letting the Roman keep all of his fingers.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Welcome Harlequin's Lara Hyde

Good morning! I'm just finishing up my first cuppa, pushing hubby and children out the door for the day! (Yippee for mopeds!) They say its going to get warmer here today-a whopping 55! Not exactly beach weather, but for early spring in Iowa, not too bad. The bright side is that next week I head south to Orlando!! Now to figure out how not to scare the Florida natives with my extreme, white skin!

But today, we set our minds on the northland, eh? And the mecca of quality reading, Harlequin Enterprises! Joining us for a second day, is Spice/Mira editor, Lara Hyde!
Woohoo <><>clapping<><> Oops, Lord CM is still asleep! Sssh!

Hi Lara, hope your baby girl is doing better! Today I would like to focus a bit on the mechanics side of the industry. First, I'd like to ask, what advice would you give to an aspiring author who wants to get published with Harlequin/Silhouette?

Lara: Do your homework--check out the writing guidelines for the various series and imprints on the and follow them! Read other books published in that genre. Also, get your manuscript proofread and, ideally, "edited" by a trusted critique partner or even a paid freelancer before sending it in. There is nothing more distracting than a submission that comes in full of errors. Besides that, just send us an exceptionally written, original story that we can't say no to!

Amanda:I heard an editor once state that he's waiting for that book about "Scottish Ninja Warriors" to land on his desk. That unique book that is going to blow him away. Do you have any "wishes" of what you would love to see come across your desk?

Lara: Hmm...that's a dangerous question! LOL Actually, I've never really thought about it. Authors are always surprising me with their originality...someone will suggest an idea for their next proposal or I'll come across a Spice Brief in my in-box, and I'll be like "Wow! I really want to read that!" but it's not necessarily something I would ever have thought of. But the premise is really second to the characters. If the characters are rendered realistically and the emotions between them can heat up the page or get me to cry--that's what I wish for.

Amanda: That's what is so amazing about Spice to me. You keep a pretty open mind when it comes to unique story lines. It really gives the author the giant box of crayons to choose from;) That said-in the current economy, what can authors do to help promote their books?

Lara: Authors should take advantage of any self-promotion opportunities there may be, including offering to do readings/signings at local libraries and bookstores, maintaining web sites and doing book giveaways, etc., mass e-mailing fans about their new book, entering contests and contacting reviewers and local media.

Amanda: Most authors now spend equal amount of time promoting and writing. It makes sense to partner with the publisher in this endeavor, after all. That , to a certain extent is something I have seen more and more authors take hand in and I think that's a good thing! In your opinion, what is the greatest change in the writing end of the industry in the last ten years? What do you see as being the biggest change in the next ten?

Lara: Wow. Seeing as how I've only been in the industry for seven years, I'm hard-pressed to say, but I do believe that we've seen a relatively recent explosion of new venues for writers to be heard. With the economic downturn of late, some traditional publishers may be cutting back on the number of new books they acquire, but now there are also e-publishers, print-on-demand publishers and blogs. All kinds of ways for authors to get their stories out there and potentially develop fan bases before they are ever traditionally published. I see this phenomenon as something that is going to continue to grow.

Amanda: It boggles the mind to see the changes in even the last seven years! The education and market awareness of e-books, a resurgence in audiobooks,the creation of multiple handheld readers and iphones that download books, places that offer the classics for download. Personally I have always thought an untapped market of readers were the college students. With nearly every one of them having computers or easy access to them, the potential is endless!

Lara, thank you so much for taking the time from your busy schedule to be here. We appreciate you allowing us to pick your brain a bit and here more about one of Harlequin Spice/Spice Briefs lines. Viva la' Spice! Viva la' Harlequin!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Welcome Harlequin's Lara Hyde!

Today we are happy to have visiting us at the manor a gifted , intelligent woman that I am proud to call friend and editor. And yes, she is fresh, vibrant and gorgeous, but we don't hold it against her;)

I speak for Charlotte, Kristi and myself when I say her vision and encouragement has not gone unnoticed. A rare gem among today's editors, we warmly welcome Lara Hyde to the Manor. She was hoping that Lord Craven-Moore might offer to make her blueberry-banana pancakes in his skivvies.

Spoken like a true Spice editor;)

To all who leave comments, I am giving away some yummy Spice Brief mousepads for as long as they last!

Grab your coffee , tea, or soda and join us for part I of our visit with Lara Hyde.

Amanda: Good morning, Lara! (we'll dispense with the our usual Bawanna for today;) Your picture is gorgeous! Darn it! Beautiful and brainy to boot! *sigh we love you anyway ;) Why don't we begin with a little bit about you and how long you've been at Harlequin?

Lara: I've been with Harlequin for almost 7 years. I studied journalism in university and worked on the production side in television after graduation, then went back to school and got my teaching degree. After a stint teaching abroad in South Korea, followed by teaching night school English, I realized teaching wasn't my passion. Harlequin was looking for a proofreader at the time, and I jumped on the opportunity to get my foot in the door of a publisher I had always dreamed of working for. In between proofreading and my current position as Assistant Editor for MIRA/Spice, I worked for nearly 4 years on Harlequin American Romance and Superromance.

Amanda: Harlequin is so well known and respected in the romance industry, I can understand your desire to work there! This year Harlequin celebrates its 60th anniversary! That is an amazing accomplishment! Further I note that earnings for Harlequin/Silhouette remain constant and/or have shown improvement, in spite of the recent economic blight. Harlequin /Silhouette provides such a broad variety of lines-do you feel this diversity is part of Harlequin's long-running success? What else would you say continues to work for Harlequin/Sil?

Lara: Absolutely--the variety of lines of imprints that Harlequin publishes is incredible. Harlequin is all about staying relevant and giving readers what they want to read. That means continuously revisiting our current products and launching new products where there is a demand. Because the name Harlequin is synonymous with romance, many people are amazed to learn that Harlequin publishes everything from traditional romances to mainstream thrillers to literary fiction and erotica under its various imprints. Of course, when it comes to series romance, Harlequin is #1, and series readers know that when they buy that Harlequin Presents or Silhouette Romantic Suspense, they will get the happily-ever-after ending they are looking for. And I think that promise keeps them coming back.

Amanda: I'm sure our readers have their favorites. I personally love the diversity of Harlequin /Silhouette lines and the fact that they are always open to growth and researching what readers want. In your experience, what would you say are the tried and true lines and what is new at Harlequin? Anything new coming down the pipeline?

Lara: Well, the tried-and-true lines like Harlequin Presents, Silhouette Desire, Harlequin Historical and Harlequin Blaze aren't going anywhere. And then we have the more recent lines and imprints like LUNA (female-focused fantasy), and of course, SPICE, that offer something really unique. As for new products, we've got Harlequin Teen launching this August, and Nocturne Bites (short paranormal e-books) and Harlequin Historical Undone (short historical e-books), which are following in the footsteps of the Spice Briefs program, which is the erotica e-books program I have the pleasure of being involved in.

Amanda: E-Books and "going green" is a very big step for many pubs these days as well as the devices for reading e-books like Sony's E-Reader and Amazon's Kindle. Hopefully, the move toward e-book will help in offering books to a whole new generation of readers! Is Harlequin/Silhouette planning to offer all of its backlist books in E-Book format?

Lara: We are currently in the middle of releasing a large number of titles in backlist throughout 2009. Since it is difficult to know where to start/stop, so we are using customer requests, sales history, volume of titles by an author, connected editorial etc….as our guidelines. We actually just released 50 titles in March and will be releasing another 85 in May. Our goal is to meet as many of our customers’ needs in eBook format as we can, so it will an initiative that will continue beyond this year.

Amanda: The possibilities are endless certainly! I am impressed the more I hear about Harlequin and its goal to retain its traditional works as well as offer amazing new lines and even non-fiction! The challenge is there to authors and editors alike to find the stories that will please readers on all levels of the reading palette! And I find that challenge very exciting!

Harlequin has its two sides, category and single-title. You currently edit for the single-title Spice and Mira lines at Harlequin. Have you edited for the category side of Harlequin? How is that the same? How is it different?

Lara: I edited a number of American Romance and Superromance novels before moving over to the single-title side. I loved working on series! The editing process is virtually the same; the only real differences are the length of the books you're editing and, of course, the subject matter (my current MIRA authors write ultra-gory, serial-killer thrillers). I really enjoy working on Spice because many of the stories (particularly the historicals) are wonderful romances at their core, but they are edgier and less predictable than category romance. And the authors who write them are really fun to work with!

Amanda: I love less predictable ;)especially if it involves steamy romance!;) So, I'm curious, what does an editor read for pleasure?

Lara: Oh, all types! Lately I've been reading a lot of non-fiction memoirs about quirky families and dysfunctional childhoods, like THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls, and RUNNING WITH SCISSORS by Augusten Burroughs. I can't seem to get enough of those.

Amanda: Which conjures up a whole host of questions that I will ask in my second half of our visit with Lara, come tomorrow! Meantime, please feel free to ask Lara questions or tell her what you as readers would love to see in your reading!!

I'll see if I can hunt down Lord C. M and bribe him into putting on his silk boxers. Usually he simply tosses on his silk robe and a wicked smile as he prepares our breakfast;)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tomorrow Harlequin's Lara Hyde is at the manor!

Charlotte, Kristi and I want to remind everyone of the special guest we have coming to the manor and staying with us for a couple of days! Harlequin Spice/Mira Editor, Lara Hyde will be sharing about herself, her work, and what it's like to be an editor for the oldest of all the publishers--60 years young this year!

Join us for this special guest! For aspiring authors, this is your chance to ask questions. For our readers, this is your chance to tell an editor what you'd like to see, and what you enjoy reading! The festivities will begin Tuesday morning! Come by and join us for a cup of coffee and a chat with our Harlequin editor, Lara Hyde!

April Book Round-Up

So, spring is here, or at least I keep telling myself that as I sip my morning coffee and watch the snow fall outside my window! Blech!!!!! The ground is white with the S%^&,err I mean fluffy stuff. I find myself going back to Saturday when it was sunny and warm enough to have one or two windows open, and to don my beloved flip flops. This morning I'll be scraping the windshield.
That's April in my neck of the woods I'm afraid. We typically hunt Easter eggs in the snow, and those beautiful pastel colored dresses for little girls are typically worn beneath snow boots and a winter coat. Booooo!!!
But April also means, daffodils (bought a couple of bunches this w/e) and their yellow cheeriness instantly lit up the house. April also means that I will have a bit of time to read for pleasure. I do have deadlines, but if I stick with my daily word count, the deadlines should allow me some free time for reading.
These are the books I've picked this month!!!!!

Sins of a Wicked Duke, Sophie Jordan. Well, I love Sophie's writing, and I've had this book for about a week now. I'm going to start it today. It's a historical and I'm chomping to get back to a good historical.

Larrissa Ione's Desire Unleashed, I love her Demonica series, and can't wait to read this one!!! Sexy and hot and dangerous!

And last but most certainly not least is JR Ward's Lover Avenged. I cannot tell you how much I'm eagerly awaiting this book. I have a bit of a problem with the brothers if you know what I'm sayin'. You thought Lindsay had a problem with opium, yeah, well that's me with the brothers. I luuuuuuv them. I think Rhage, V and Phury are my favs, but I'm anxious to read Rehv's story. He's sexy and bad, and I like those combinations!!!!! I'm also hoping for a bit more romance in this book than the last two she wrote. I'm a sucker for those early books when the romance was really the focus.
So, what books or book are you anxiously waiting for, or reading? Or, a you possibly doing a re-read? Enquiring minds want to know, and possibly my TBR pile!!
Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Better late than Never...

Introducing Helen, Grace, and Sarah Jane, my "muses" for my upcoming Spice historical. More on them as we progress with writing...but wanted you to meet my inspiration for each.

I awoke with every good and noble intent today to announce the title decided upon by my editor, her boss, and the marketing persons at Harlequin Spice.

Then the day went to heck in a hand here I am,the afternoon sun waning in my office window and I'm wondering where did this day go and thinking how many miles I have yet before I sleep!;)

But first things first...all your entries were wonderful and for any author reading through them, surely should have picked up some great ideas for stories! As Genella pointed out, if she had a book written for every title, she'd have shelves full! I'm the opposite--titles throw me, hence the reason for your help!;)

Long story short...the editors carefully looked through the list and decided frankly that they saw great cover art ideas with the title, simply stated-"The Muses."

I was not sure at first I agreed, given all the titles that I really liked, but their conceptual ideas for the cover art and the fact that this is about the women and their experience with bad boy, rebel artist, Thomas Everett Rodin, I began to see their vision.

Simple in this case, is better.

Which one came up with that title. Pish posh*

On the up side, Harlequin Spice has never made a bad cover yet that I've seen and I have full confidence that this one will be just as incredible as the rest!

However, as promised..I am going to award a conciliatory prize. Each of the ten (11 if I count Sophie) bloggers that participated are going to receive a full-color , glossy cover flat of our upcoming Winter's Desire anthology;) That is Lisa, Caffey, Amy, Genella, Sarabelle, Raneria, Cecile, Lea, Jane, Ms. Moonlight!

email to give me your contact info.

My sincere thanks to all who participated, I hope you had fun and and trust that you all got to experience what it is like sometimes to rack your brain coming up with a catchy title! LOL Not my forte'! But you all are pretty darn good at it and I bow to your expertise!

I am giving special thanks in my acknowledgements to the blog support crew of Lust in Time--you guys are the best!

Much love and heartfelt thanks,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wicked Wednesday -- New Cover!

Just in time for Wicked Wednesday, I received my newest cover--for my Edwardian-set October 2009 release, A MIDNIGHT CLEAR (Zebra Books). It's pretty hot, I think! But what I really love about it is that it really captures the tone of the book, which is a little darker and angstier than my previous historicals. I also love that it shares similar elements with the WINTER'S DESIRE cover--the moon, the bare branches, the darker palette. And I'll be the first to admit--I *love* gold foil lettering!

Here's the back blurb:

Miranda Granger arrives at the spectacular seaside resort The Grandview Hotel to spend the Christmas holidays, hoping it will be just the tonic she needs to forget her scandalous past. But when she crosses paths with Troy Davenport, the alluring stranger she met aboard an ocean liner, Miranda fears she will repeat the mistake that almost ruined her reputation many years ago.

Troy Davenport has been struggling to paint the stunning woman he encountered by moonlight on the ship's deck. If only he could meet his muse again. When he learns she's staying at The Grandview, it takes a great deal of convincing to let him paint her. But once he begins he realizes he wants more than to capture her unique beauty on canvas. When they surrender to an all-consuming passion, Troy's past threatens to tear them apart--unless a Christmas miracle can save their love.

So....what do you think??