Friday, June 26, 2009

Road-trip Inspiration

I recently returned home after an almost two-week road trip, filled with happy memories and loads of inspiration--there are just so many stories to tell, and so little time to tell them all! I'm a serious history buff--not to mention the fact that both my undergraduate and graduate degrees are in history--so it doesn't take much to inspire me. Pretty much every history-filled place I visit leaves me desperate to write a book about said place. Is it just me, or do others experience this, too??

A few years ago I visited the North Carolina Outer Banks and Roanoke Island, and came away desperate to write a YA book about the mysterious disappearance of the original Roanoke settlers. My bookshelf is full of research books I bought and read, and I brainstormed ideas for quite a while. Unfortunately, I never got around to writing the book.

But this recent trip similarly inspired me. First up, Williamsburg, VA. I'd LOVE to write a Colonial America-set romance. Armed with a new knowledge of the streets, residences, and life in Colonial Williamsburg, I can totally picture a book set there.

Same with nearby Jamestown--I've always wanted to write a YA romance between an early settler and a Powhatan (in the vein of Pocahontas and John Smith--only with teenage protagonists). But after visiting Jamestown....I swear, it was like stepping back in time. I could hear the voices of characters just whispering in my head as I walked alongside the James River and through the shady woods where the Powhatan tribe lived.

Later on the trip, we spent a couple of days in Savannah, GA, which left me longing to write a Civil War era romance set in that moody and atmospheric southern city! And later, we toured the Antietam Battlefield, further fueling my musing about a Civil War set book.

It's amazing how a vacation can fuel my imagination, and how, whenever I'm visiting a historic site, the 'voices' come out to play in my head!

How about you? Any place you've visited that has inspired a book or just a story in your mind? Or made you want to write a book set there? Any historical site/place you've visited that has made you want to read a book set there?

*Photos from top to bottom: Sunken Lane at the Antietam Battlefield; Draped bed in the Governor's Palace, Williamsburg; Path alongside the James River, Jamestown; Dunker Church, Antietam Battlefield.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wicked Wednesday!

It's been a while since we've done this, but it was always so much fun! So, this is for all the creative hussies out there.....

Eye candy and captions....
Here we go! CAUTION: Fans, ice, and additional undergarments could be required!!!!

Number One!

Number Two!

Number Three!

Number Four!

Special thanks goes to LIT lady and hussy, Amanda who sent me these 'pick me up' dudes last night while I was writing Sinful. Gotta love a writing bud like that!!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Midsummer Everyone!

Just taking a short break to wish everyone a Happy Summer Solstice!
The LIT ladies are deep into life the past week-one of us enjoying a family vacay, the other two madly writing and trying to meet deadlines! Balance! Isnt that what we all strive for?
Just asked the question, "how do you nurture your creativity?"(on an author loop this was directed toward writers) but it does affect us all.
To me one of the most difficult tasks I had to learn (and I'm still learning) is the importance of balance between work and "play"--
When I was growing up, summer was a time of "total play"--whether that meant a long visit to my grandmother's house or a family road trip. It meant a seemingly endless stretch of long, hot days, dotted with lemonade stands, catching turtles in the creek, playing out a blanket in the backyard coloring for hours with that great box of crayons, or catching lightning bugs in your pj's--

The whole world was a wonderland of discovery and delight. Where you could play outside for hours in the heat and you didn't mind that you smelled like fresh mown grass and kid sweat;))
Now I'm grown, but the sense of discovery and wonder exists still as it always has if we take the time to notice-ask me if I believe in fairies, I'll tell you yes. Ask me if I believe that stones carry an aura of history and I'll say yes.

There is so much to learn, so much to discover. Despite being grown up-I hope you have a moment of absolute "kid" inside you today and that it makes you smile to know that that "inquisitive , creative child " is alive and well, still discovering the world and all its wonder!

From all of us here at the manor~Happy Solstice!

Amanda, Charlotte, Kristi & Lord C.M.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

And the winner is.....

I wanted to get your attention ;))


Lucky lady! You win a pdf copy of Genella's romantically haunting " REMEMBER ME"
Just email Genella and she will hook you up!

Congratulations and our thanks once again to Genella for stopping at the manor for a visit!

Watch for more coming soon from this rising star!

Amanda M

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Welcome Author Genella DeGrey to the Manor!

A little bit about Genella:
By day, Genella deGrey is an executive assistant to a Senior Vice President and a Vice President at a major motion picture studio, by night she is a romance author. She’s had stories rattling around in her head since high school, and has been writing off and on ever since. In her spare time (what spare time?) Genella enjoys reading historical romance, collecting healing crystal and stone jewelry and participating in historical reenactments.

In addition, she is a makeup artist for independent films and does occasional set dressing. Her favorite set dressing gig was with the Resort Enhancement Team where she refurbished,created, and displayed Christmas decorations for the Walt Disney Resort. She has worked for the resort in many capacities, both back stage and on stage, and for her, Disneyland will never lose its magic.

Genella also has a keen interest in the spiritual. She loves wandering around in graveyards and haunted places, the older the better. New Orleans is one of her favorite haunts,as is Tombstone, AZ.

Welcome to the manor, Genella! I have to say, you are one beautiful lady both inside and out!

How you were inspired to write this particular book?
We hear all the time about bad boys and tortured heroes - but there is something innately sexy to me about a man who dedicates his life to honor, goodness and humility. We find these types of men care about the environment and are conscious of every living thing in God's universe. They are good humans, hold manners in high regard and treat all others with a deep respect. And if he's smokin' hot, I'm a gonner and you may as well serve me to him on a platter. LOL

I found this Angel picture so long ago that I don't remember where I got it from - and if anyone knows who the artist is, please let me know. I'm sure they have many other works I'd gladly purchase. After the concept of Dacious fully fleshed himself out in my mind, this picture was one of my inspirations. :)

So, I had in my hand - or rather, head, my perfect man- strong, sensitive, perfection to look upon, humble - I knew he was the type to fall completely in love "come ruin or rapture" (to quote 'Shakespeare in Love.') He was going to need a very special soul mate to complete him. Thus, Gemmah Parker appeared and the rest of REMEMBER ME wound itself around the two.

Hum...I can defintely see why you'd be inspired!! LOL What's the most gratifying part of writing for you?
The most gratifying part of writing for me is creating a character that inspires and stays with readers. I aspire to write characters like Diana Gabaldon's Jamie Fraser from the OUTLANDER series, and Stephenie Meyer's Edward Cullen from TWILIGHT. If your heart went pitter-patter at the mention of these guys, raise your hand. Yup. Me too. ;)
And then there is this Thomas Rodin guy I seem to have developed a crush on lately. (Wink, wink, Amanda!)

Your check is in the mail, Genella,LOL, thanks! ;) What do you have coming up?
I am anticipating hearing from a few publishing houses who have some of my other stories - One in particular is about a client of REMEMBER ME's Gemmah, Valerie Hempstead, and her journey to Paris, France. It's a sexy historical romance entitled, 'The Art of Temptation' and it's about the opening of the Moulin Rouge.

What would you like to write that you haven't tried yet?
As far as writing something I haven't tried yet . . . Fantasy has been calling to me lately. The Fae wish to be heard! ;) I know the industry urges you to find that 'one thing' and stick with it - but I can't stick with one sub-sub-genre within historical romance. I'd get terribly board. If you look at my 'what's in the can' page on my website, you will see that I'm all over the place, historically speaking. They say to write what you know, and I know I have a deep interest in all things historical; when coupled with a yummy hero and a happily ever after, sign me up.

I understand that you have a spectacular review for "REMEMBER ME"? If I may quote a portion here?
"Genella deGrey has a gift for storytelling and I look forward to future tales from her. This is a treasure to anyone who needs a get-away read that has it all, romance with heat burning up the pages, a historical set in polite society, and even an angel or two."~PNR Reviews

Thats' an awesome review! Can you share the link so we can catch the rest of that wonderful review?

Sure, it's Paranormal Reviews

You also have a hauntingly beautiful boooktrailer! Can you tell us a bit about its creator?
I've been blessed in this life with the presence of many a talented person. Artists, actors, writers, singers . . . One of my friends, Jeff Mclane, who covers the gamut of gifts, made this trailer for me. If you wish to inquire about his book trailer services, you can find him on my MySpace page.

He is quite good! We loved that you were able to squeeze in a bit of time in your busy schedule for a visit and hope you'll come back again to the manor! Lord C.M. so loves it when we have guests! (particularly of the female variety) Is there someplace readers can contact you to find out more about your books?

I wish to thank the LIT gals for having me - and for fun, I'd like to give away a PDF of REMEMBER ME. Winner will be chosen by random from list of those leaving a comment. You can find out more about my books at my website! I love hearing from my readers!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sneak Peek at next weeks guest!

Our special guest at the manor next week just received her new booktrailer and it was so hauntingly beautiful that I thought we could enjoy it over the weekend!

Join us Tuesday when Genella DeGrey stops by the manor to talk to us about her fabulous new book, "Remember Me," and whats coming up for this talented lady!

Friday, June 12, 2009

And the Winner is.....

Hi guys!
Well, the marketing department at NAL have made their decision about the series title. I know I gave you till noon today to enter, but they were unamimous in their choice, and knew it wouldn't change.

I'd like to say that all the entries were great, and that when I get some promo stuff made up for Velvet Haven, I'd like to send everyone who made a suggestion a signed covered flat (if you want one) for all your hard work and creative juices!!!

So, without further ado, I announce the new name of the Annwyn Chronicles it's a variation of a suggestion. Immortals of Annwyn

The winner of the contest is flchen1!!!!!!!

Congrats!!!!!!!! Will you send me your name and address at
Thanks to everyone who stopped by and participated. I REALLY appreciated it!

And I thought I'd let you lovers of Lord Wallingford know that on my Charlotte Featherstone blog, I've been spreading little breadcrumbs about him and his book Sinful on the blog. I updated with a few little excerpts yesterday if you're interested.

Happy Friday everyone, and a good weekend ahead!!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wicked Wendesday....Research

I know, you were all waiting for some man candy to pop up, weren't you! Well, maybe at the end of the post! lol!

Currently, two of the three LIT ladies are writing and researching. I'm one of the two. Personally, I ADORE research. I read research novels for pleasure. I know, some of you are cringing, but it's the truth. You wouldn't believe the mundane facts you come across. In one second it's an obscure fact that has tickled your fancy, the next, you have the seeds of a plot. It's really rather fascinating.

I've done a lot of research this winter/spring. First there was my research into the Druid relgion and way of life. I delved into the Druidic black arts like death and sex magic. Which utterly absorbed me. I found obscure references to Celtic terror machines and more about human sacrifices. I learned how to cast a dark sex spell....well, the steps to it, I haven't actually practiced it in theory!!!! I read six books on the occult, the modern day gothic lifestyle and modern day Druid religion. I have pages and pages of small details that I did write into Velvet Haven, and want to incporporate into future books.

Right now, I'm in 1850's London. I'm researching cholera, there was an epidemic of it in London, as well as the first grassroots movements of nursing and the early thoughts/views on women's rights. I'm also having fun reading about London College hospital and the shennanigans that went on there! I was astounded to learn that the wealthy actually had operations in their own home, on their own beds!!!! BLECH! I suppose though, the hospitals were rather dirty and the indigent and down on their luck were the usual patients. There is no way a duke would want to be in the bed beside a dirty consumptive! I'm just thinking of the mess in their homes, but then, the rich had servants!

While glutting myself on a new supply of Victorian research books, as well as some new romance pleasure reading, I got to wondering about how people of the Victorian age found their reading pleasures? Was it through ads in the newspapers? Word of mouth? How did the best sellers of the times become bestsellers?

Myself, I find that I wait for my monthly issue of Romantic Times to come out so I can scan the upcoming releases. I find many books in that magazine. I sometimes look at the 'also recommended' at Amazon. Something that is new in my research, are blogs. I seem to be getting alot of books that are receommended by readers who run their own blogs and do reviews. I especially enjoy the 'I'm eagerly anticipating' or 'I can't wait to read' venues of the blog. Nothing is more exciting than to find someone who shares your reading tastes. And to find new books, from someone you know likes what you likes makes the book buying process easier.

I must say that I no longer scan the romance shelf, perusing covers and blurbs looking for something to raed. I don't know why. It might be time constraints or the fear of parting with money on a book that may not satisfy my cravings. It may be the huge availability and my inability to choose what I want to read.

There is a vast choice for us readers today. How do we chcoose? Perhaps that's what's different for us. The Victorians didn't have the choice we do? So, what did those Victorians do without blogs, the web, Amazon and and RT? How do you research your books?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Can You Help a Brother Out???

Let me introduce you to my new best friend, Bran, King of the Night Sidhe (pronounced Sith as in the Scottish way, not Shee as in the Irish) Sophie does love to reprimand! I especially like it when she gets out that little leather strap...However, I digress....

Bran is a lovely fellow and a royal pain in the arse. He's been giving Sophie fits for weeks now and I have sat back in my chair with my news sheet and port and have a had hearty chuckle watching the two of them go at it. Bran actually made Sophie conceed defeat and he got his own way during a pivotel love scene! Which is more than I can say for moi!

Brans a good bloke. So it is because we are kindred spirits that I come to you, our fellow LIT followers and self confessed hussies, to issue a call to arms for my brother Bran. It seems his series needs a name, and despite a few gallant entries on the part of Sophie and her editor, the marketing department is, using the modern day vernacular, 'not feeling it'.

I have informed Bran that if there is anyone on the face of this earth who knows books, (and men!) it is LIT's followers. So, listen ladies, to what our brother needs. Then hear what I managed to wrangle out of the tight fisted ba...err...his Kingship.
Without further ado, here's what Bran needs....

A series title for what is now now known as The Annwyn Chronicles. They would like to try to keep in the word Annwyn if possible. It can't be too long, should convey the fact that the series is paranormal/fantasy and should be dark, sexy if at all possible.

Now, here's the blurb for the first book, along with the cover. Warning....bring the bounty picker uppers! I'm just saying, because Sophie is standing over me, drooling like a rabid dog over this damn Cover!

Hidden from mortals for all eternity, Annwyn, the Otherworld, is home to shapeshifters, wraiths and dragons. But in a nightclub called Velvet Haven, desire brings humans and immortals together…

Built atop the mystic passageway to Annwyn, the gothic nightclub Velvet Haven has seen its share of lost souls—both mortal and immortal. It is here that Bran, the shapeshifter king of the Sidhe, searches for his brother, who is ensnared by a centuries-old curse. When a vision foretells his own death, he knows his time to find Carden is running out.

For help he must turn to Mairi, a mortal woman with an unusual aura. Bran has never liked humans, other than using their sexual pleasure to restore his magic energy. But with Mairi everything is different. Her lush curves and teasing caresses enflame him like no Sidhe has ever done. He has no idea that the woman he’s falling for holds the key to his destruction – or his salvation.

This contest runs all week,and will close on Friday,May 12th at noon EST. All entries will be submitted to Sophie's editor who will forward them to the marketing department at NAL.
So what's in it for you??? (greedy vixens! I love it!)

If your suggestion is chosen, Sophie will announce the news of your genius thither and yon.

She will dedicate the first book, Velvet Haven exclusively to you!

She will send you your very own signed copy of Velvet Haven before the release date and make certain the 'yummy' (her words not mine) cover is prepared for full out stroking.

She will throw herself at your feet and thank you a million times over because she is currently now verging on the sidelines of madness with having to think of coming up with yet another title!

So that it is, mon chers! Come up with a series name and win some swag. (Couldn't resist. I've been hanging out with the Smart Bitches too long!)

Hugs and Kisses,
Lord Craven-Moore.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rainy Day Musings....

It's a gray, rainy day here in NYC (not good, because today is the kids' school carnival!)--hard to believe that summer is just around the corner. But it is, despite the chill in the air! I LOVE summer--everything about it. The heat, the freedom from regular schedules, the greenery everywhere.

But this time of year I always feel as if I have so much to do, so many loose ends to tie up, projects to work on, before I can truly relax and enjoy summer. Right now I'm tinkering with a YA paranormal manuscript that I've been working on for years, trying to get it ready for my agent to send out. I love this book--I probably had more fun writing it than anything else I've ever written--so I'd love to see it in print one day. It's just a matter of revising the heck out of it, which I've been doing for more than a year now, between other projects. I just finished copyedits for my Dec. '09 Harlequin NASCAR release, FORCE OF NATURE, and I'm trying to patient as I wait to see the cover art. I'm also batting ideas around in my head for my next Edwardian-set historical romance, trying to get the story to come together in my mind before I start writing it.

But there's also a lot to look forward to in the relaxing summer months. RWA Nationals are coming up soon--I'm really looking forward to that! All the LIT Ladies will be in attendance, and giving a workshop together on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. on author-initiated anthologies (if you're there at RWA, we hope you'll come!). It'll also be my first year to attend the annual Harlequin authors bash--can't wait!

Other summer plans include a trip to Florida to visit family and a few days at Universal Studios in Orlando, and now it looks like we'll also be taking a trip out to the Los Angeles area (one of my FAVORITE places to visit!!) in August--my 9 yr. old daughter is in a short, independent film and we just found out that the film was selected in the Short Film category for the Indie Fest independent film festival held annually in Anaheim, CA. It'll be our first chance to see the film on a 'big screen' and so I think we'll go and check it out!

So, what about you? Any summer plans? Vacations or conferences? Projects you're working on for the summer?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Winner of Hot In Here

Good morning! Just wanted to give a big thank you to all of you who stopped by and asked questions, made comments, and generally showed Tracy all kinds of love! She said she had fun!

So, randomly picked from the hat as the winner is.....

Allison(s) Reads!!!!

Congrats, Allison! If you'd email me a with your address, I'll get Hot to you.

To all of you who'd like another chance to win a copy of Hot In Here, go to
The Good The Bad The Unread on Thursday, June 4th. I'll be there giving away two copies!

Happy Tuesday to all!

Monday, June 1, 2009

NAL Editor Tracy Bernstein in the Manor!!!

All of you on the blog know me as Charlotte Featherstone, but some of you might not know that I write erotic contemporaries, (and soon, erotic paranormals) under the name Sophie Renwick. Well, tomorrow is the official relase date of my debut erotic contemporary, Hot In Here And I'm really excited about it!

A few months ago, I asked my (Sophie's) editor to come and visit us and tell us about herself and her job. Tracy is an awesome editor, and I count myself very lucky to have her in my corner. She's a hands-on editor, and I love that. We've brainstormed plotting snaffoo's, sex scenes, and my new Annwyn world. She's read countless rough drafts, and helped me forge my contemporary voice!

Without Tracy, Hot might not have made the light of day!
So, without further ado, here's Tracy B (as I call her). Don't be afraid to comment, ask questions, she doesn't bite, regardless of what you've heard about editors! Tracy is going to be checking in periodically throughout the day, too. I've already warned her about our rakish lord. Perhaps you might want to rouse Lord Craven-Moore, I'm sure he'd love to make an appearance! :)

Leave a comment, question etc for Tracy and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of Hot In Here!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the mother of two (brilliant and talented) children, a proud native New Yorker, and started in publishing many years ago (I won’t say how many!) as a summer intern. I fell in love with the business immediately and have never done anything else. Since then I’ve worked at publishers large and small, literary and commercial. I absolutely love my current job at NAL because it gives me the most freedom to do all kinds of books.

What type of books do you edit?

Everything from memoir, health and parenting to women’s fiction, romance and mysteries. On the side I run our Signet Classics program, so I can pretend I’m Jane Austen’s editor!

In your free time (I know, that’s funny ) what kind of books do you read for pleasure?

For fun I definitely prefer to read fiction, but my taste therein is pretty broad: I love historical fiction, women’s fiction, comic novels, historical mysteries, dark suspense. . .

What makes a book hot for you?

A really conflicted relationship! I think that push-pull is what makes a relationship hot – and a book gripping.

What makes a book better for NAL’s Signet line as opposed to the Heat line (In regards to heat/sex)?

Signet books can be very explicit and steamy, but no matter how erotic they get they follow the basic rules of romance: the hero and heroine love only each another and they end up happily ever after. In Heat, those rules do NOT apply!

What kind of book would you love to get your hands on?

Some amazing new kind of contemporary romance. It’s time to reinvent the genre! Anyone have a great idea?!

What genre/theme/ are you tired of?

Nothing, really. A great writer can make anything seem new.

I know we shouldn’t write to trends, but do you see any trends emerging?
Romances that are darker and grittier.

Favorite celebrity crush.

Hugh Jackman. And Pierce Brosnan. Oh, and Jimmy Smits.

Favorite type of hero.

Someone surprising, someone who defies the heroine’s expectations. (Of course he has to be strong and sexy too!!)

I hate heroine’s who are....

Foolish, who make stupid choices. We all make bad choices, but stupid I can’t forgive!

What’s your favourite scene in Sophie’s Hot In Here?

Wow, that’s personal! Well, OK—the one in the alley that starts with an ice cream cone and ends with. . .something else entirely!

Thanks for visiting today! Since we're getting personal, my favorite scene is when they're in Tuscany and Bryce makes Jena that omelet and they share it! Sigh...wish my husband would tear the page out of that book and follow the instructions! :)