Archive for the ‘giveaway’ Category
I’m thrilled to welcome Cecilia Grant to my blog!
Ceci is a wonderful friend and a wonderful writer, witty and awesome with great taste in TV. Her debut historical A Lady Awakened is fantastic and fresh and charming and sexy, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell, who named it a 2011 Must Read!
Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate—and housemaids—from a predatory brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes…for a fee.
Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow’s weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she’ll get her money’s worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh—only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can’t resist him forever. But could a lady’s sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all…love?
RL: You changed your hero’s name because the original name wasn’t popular among the upper class during the Regency. Tell me more about the class connotations of first names!
CG: Theo was “Christopher” for a long time, because it’s a name that happens to please my ear. But it’s not, I found out after a little investigation, a name that a class-conscious Georgian baronet would have given his firstborn son. I know, because I paged through all the baronet listings in the online Peerage, and the only Regency-era Christopher I found was a new creation, probably in reward for military distinction.
The Georgian aristocracy (which baronets were a step below, but close enough to want to follow the same naming conventions) overwhelmingly tended to name their heirs – the eventual Regency aristocracy – after the past few hundred years of kings. Lots of Georges, Jameses, Henrys, Williams, Edwards, and Charleses. Occasionally you come across a more novel name that’s been in a family for generations, like Hungerford (or Theophilus, as I eventually re-named my hero), but for the most part, Regency peers were christened out of that small pool of fashionable names – which almost nobody addressed them by, anyway. Theo would be “Theo” to his brothers and sisters; “Mirkwood” to pretty much everyone else.
As a reader, I don’t mind a little creative liberty in hero-naming, but as a writer, I want to be respectful of those readers for whom it is an issue. Changing the hero’s first name to something historically plausible (in fact, verifiable) was a sort of low-cost no-brainer, so I did it.
That said, I have to mention that the other week I got an email from someone asking the derivation of the hero’s last name, because Mirkwood didn’t look English to her. And I had to say, “Uh, actually that’s just a play on the kind of surname historical-romance heroes always seem to have, all dark and threatening. No historical basis.”
So there you have it. My commitment to historicity lasts just until the next opportunity for a meta-textual joke.
RL: “Murkwood” isn’t nearly as pretty-looking, is it?
The sex in your book starts out awkward and complicated (the hero is into it at first, but the heroine is just doing her duty and won’t allow herself to enjoy it for quite a while), but I thought it was a very hot, almost kinky scenario. Was it fun torturing your hero that way?
CG: I love that you thought the bad sex was hot! You’re the first person who’s said that, and now I’m going to have to go back and re-read it and see whether I mightn’t agree, just a little.
Torturing Theo was tremendous fun, both sadistic and masochistic. (I identify with whoever I’m writing at the time, so when things were going bad for him, and I was in his POV, I was feeling his pain.) There’s this one early scene in particular where things between them just go to hell in a handbasket and I was sure, while writing it, that any eventual editor would tell me I had to cut it or heavily revise.
That would have been a dealbreaker for me–literally, I promised myself I would walk away from a publisher who wouldn’t let me keep that scene, not so much because of the merits of the scene itself, but because it’s eminently representative of the kind of romance I want to write.
And then of course nobody – neither agent nor editor, though both had plenty of revision requests – raised any objection to that scene at all. So much for my pretensions to radical envelope-pushing!
RL: I can’t really be the first, can I? Come on, let’s see a show of hands, who else thought that was hot like burning?
It used to be that every romance I read had an unhappy, tightly emotionally controlled hero and a heroine who helped him open up. When I first started developing the idea for Lily ten years ago (which flips those roles), it was a very unusual book. But now I’m thrilled to see more and more of that type of romance being published: Meredith Duran’s Wicked Becomes You, Sherry Thomas’s Not Quite a Husband, and Courtney Milan’s Unclaimed are a few stand-outs for me, but there are plenty more! Why do you think this type of romance is becoming more popular, and what drew you to writing it?
CG: This is something I spend a lot of time thinking about, and I’m not sure my thoughts have jelled into a cohesive answer. But I’ll give it a try.
The non-nurturing woman is a fascinating character to me for a lot of reasons, probably beginning with the fact that she transgresses against one of the bottom-line social expectations for her gender.
Have you seen the toilet-paper commercial where a bunch of women address the camera about how important toilet-paper-related cleanliness is for themselves and their families? I can’t imagine anyone ever shooting that commercial with a bunch of men, even though men, too, have families, and presumably put just as high a value on that sort of cleanliness as women do. There’s just this assumption that women will be the ones to “own” that concern, since it can fit under the Nurturing umbrella.
In that societal context–even aside from the whole question of whether or not nurturing ought to be women’s sphere–the non-nurturing woman is automatically an arresting figure.
And I’m not alone in thinking so. Look at all the people gobbling up those books about Lisbeth Salander. Look at the ratings for Revenge. Thorny, emotionally unavailable heroines are interesting, and why wouldn’t romance join the rest of pop culture in recognizing that fact?
The obvious challenge, for the writer, is figuring out to what degree you can integrate a character like that into a romance without either diminishing the character (I’m starting to think I’d rather not see Emily Thorne soften up and fall in love with anyone. Stay strong, Emily! Eyes on the prize!) or writing something that’s not true to the fundamental precepts of romance.
But that sort of challenge is invigorating. Between Lisbeth Salander, and the feistiest historical-romance heroine you can name, is a big swath of characterization territory just begging to be mucked around in. So I hope we’ll be seeing a greater and greater incidence of “difficult” heroines alongside the more-traditionally-accessible kind.
RL: Tell me about the coolest book you read for research for ALA. (And bear in mind, one of my favorite research books is The Genesis of Modern Management: A Study of the Industrial Revolution, so “cool” doesn’t necessarily preclude “obscure”!)
CG: I wish I could say I’d read Theo’s bête noire pamphlet, The Utility of Agricultural Knowledge to the Sons of the Landed Proprietors of England, &c &c, by John Claudius Loudon. But I never did succeed in tracking it down–I’m not sure the text has survived–so to get the general flavor I read some of Loudon’s other agriculture-themed work, in particular his posthumous publication (get ready)–
Self-instruction for young gardeners, foresters, bailiffs, land-stewards, and farmers; in arithmetic and book-keeping, geometry, mensuration, and practical trigonometry, mechanics, hydrostatics, and hydraulics, land-surveying, levelling, planning, and mapping, architectural drawing, and isometrical projection and perspective: with examples, showing their application to horticultural and agricultural purposes.
It’s a dry book, as you can imagine, but the context makes it kind of sweet: you can picture an ambitious, disciplined boy whose parents can’t afford a Rugby education working his way through the pages, memorizing how many gallons make up a firkin, and learning how to solve problems like the following:
If 12 roods of grass be cut down by 2 men in 6 days; how many roods will be cut down by 8 men in 24?
Of course I also picture the breeches-clad Beavises and Butt-heads of the era confronting the title with bug-eyed outrage, or falling asleep and drooling on the pages.
RL: What’s your favorite TV or movie romance of 2011?
I’ve talked elsewhere about my love for like-minded government wonks Ben and Leslie on the show Parks and Recreation. So instead of repeating myself I’ll put in a word for a non-romantic TV relationship I loved in 2011: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on the BBC’s Sherlock!
It’s not a slash-fiction thing, I swear. I don’t want to see them kiss, or silently yearn for each other, or anything like that. [RL: Well, that makes one of us!] (In fact I’m totally down with Sherlock meeting his match in a female adversary, as I hear is going to happen in season 2.) I just get a lot of the same enjoyment out of that relationship that I do out of a good romance. See, you’ve got Dr. Watson, back from the war, at loose ends, not quite sure what’s missing in his life–and little does he suspect that the cure for what ails him is a rude, brilliant, high-functioning sociopath who’s going to be constantly dragging him into danger!
(Isn’t it just like the setup for an excellent romance? That person who seems like anathema to you is, it turns out, exactly what you need! A lot of their dialogue, too – impatience and exasperation with a side of insuppressible respect – wouldn’t be out of place in a good romance. God, I can’t wait for season 2.)
In movies, although I had some issues with the movie itself, I thought Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were insanely adorable together in Crazy Stupid Love. In the back of my brain I was thinking, “Eww, I hate this trope of the player who meets the One Special Woman who makes him change his ways” (Like you, I always feel bad for all the previous women who weren’t Special enough), but the actors’ combined charm just mowed down my resistance.
RL: What’s your favorite non-romance historical fiction book?
CG: Two spring to mind. Jennifer Donnelly’s YA novel A Northern Light, set in the early-20th-century Finger Lakes region of New York, is sort of an anti-romance – you’re rooting hard for heroine Mattie to break her engagement and take that scholarship to Barnard, and when she does, it’s hugely exhilarating–while also being a deeply romantic account of how a girl with the odds against her finds her voice and forges her own future.
And Geraldine Brooks’s March, an imagining of the Little Women father’s experiences in the Civil War, stays with me for a lot of reasons, but chiefly for one pivotal moment in which the protagonist fails, in utterly craven fashion, to step up and stand with the former slaves among whom he’s been living. I have a thing for stories of people who fall short of what they’d like to be/ought to be, and this was a particularly vivid one.
Wow, I will definitely be checking those out, especially the Donnelly book. I love early-20th-century coming-of-age stories SO MUCH. Thanks for visiting, Cecilia!
What was your favorite TV or movie romance of 2011? Cecilia will be giving away a copy of A Lady Awakened to one lucky commenter (in the US or Canada)!
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but after being unavailable as a print book for a while except from Dorchester’s website, In for a Penny is now readily available in trade paperback!
I’ve also put up deleted scenes for A Lily Among Thorns (WARNING: they contain spoilers!). You can find them here.
In honor of the occasion, I’m giving away a signed copy of the new Penny trade and one of A Lily Among Thorns to two commenters chosen at random. Let me know in your comment which book(s) you’re interested in.
ETA: Mo won Lily, and Kim won Penny! Congratulations, guys.
This month I am giving away a signed copy of Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair! Check it out! I love that book a LOT, and the series just keeps getting better.
I just started his new book Shades of Gray, too.
I also made my second post over at Favorite Thing EVER, on The Online Etymology Dictionary. I also talk about Regency words for blowjob and how I CAN’T FIND ANY GOOD ONES.
I am reading a biography of Ann Yearsley, the working-class poet “discovered” by Hannah More: Lactilla, Milkwoman of Clifton by Mary Waldron. I’m really enjoying it; the author has the perfect mixture of affection and humorous clearsightedness about her subject and it’s got lots of great information about smalltown life in late 18th century England. But it just said this:
Few even of the agitators for political reform or supporters of the American revolutionaries would have contemplated doing without their servants. Most people–even, it must be said, many of the poor themselves–would have agreed with Bernard Mandeville, writing in 1723 about the charity school movement, which had begun in 1699: “Going to School in comparison to Working is Idleness, and the longer Boys continue in this easy sort of Life, the more unfit they’ll be for downright Labor, both as to Strength and Inclination. Men who are to remain and end their Days in a Laborious, Tiresome and Painful Station of Life, the sooner they are put upon it at first, the more patiently they’ll submit to it for ever after.”
I just don’t think that’s a fair transition. I agree completely that very few people (maybe no one) were free of class prejudice in Georgian England. (But then, the same is probably true of modern America.) But unless you’re going to get argue we should get rid of social class altogether and redistribute the wealth, which this author doesn’t seem to be doing, saying that having servants was unprogressive seems to me to completely ignore the reality of 18th (and 19th) century life.
1. They didn’t have vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves, sewing machines, central heating, food processors, electric lighting, or much in the way of processed/prepared food. Very, very few people had any kind of indoor plumbing.
Maintaining even a small middle-class family home was a full-time job for more than one person. Doing without servants entirely would have meant turning the women of the household into unpaid drudges who worked every minute they weren’t sleeping and slept five hours a night. How progressive!
Even women who had servants spent huge amounts of time in household chores. Even the Lucas girls in Pride and Prejudice (a VERY upper-middle-class home, with presumably more servants than most) helped in the kitchen (or so Mrs. Bennet says with some degree of plausibility, even if she’s being catty).
2. Domestic service was a huge part of the economy. Not employing servants meant depriving working-class people of jobs without, as far as I can see, empowering them in the slightest.
3. There’s no connection between employing servants or not and supporting mass education or not. Servants can go to school as children just like anyone else.
Anyway. Sorry, awesome biography author! I do love your book.
This month I am giving away two signed books (it’s a package deal, if you win you get them both)!
Last weekend I went up to the San Juan Islands to visit a friend, and while I was there I got to see my friend Gayle! And in honor of the general awesomeness of summer, the San Juans, and friendship, the first book is a signed copy of her amazing futuristic/dystopian romance, Tsunami Blue. Here’s the back cover copy:
NO SAFE HARBOR
With her badass rain boots, her faithful dog, and the ability to predict the monster tsunamis that have reduced the US to a series of islands, Kathryn O’Malley isn’t afraid of much. Cut off from all society, she takes to the airwaves as Tsunami Blue, hoping to save something of humanity as the world around her crumbles. But Blue should be afraid—because her message reaches the wrong ears.
Now she’s the target of ruthless pirates known as Runners who want to use her special talents for their own profiteering—as soon as they can find her. Blue’s only shot at survival lies with the naked stranger who washes up on her rocky beach. A man who might just be working for Runners himself. Torn between suspicion and attraction, the two will have to navigate a surging tide of danger and deceit if they hope to stay alive.
And here’s my GoodReads review:
“I freaking loved this book! Full disclosure: Gayle is a friend of mine. But wow this book was awesome. I loved the world she created and all the cool little details she put into it–it’s not a place I’d ever like to go personally (too dangerous! I’m a wuss) but I can’t WAIT to read more books about it. And I loved the heroine SO MUCH. She was incredibly badassed and vulnerable and tough and she and Gabriel were truly partners–he was never her white knight. I loved that her DOG was trying to get her to stop swearing. Also, I cried about four times. Gayle can really bring the heartwrenching feelings of loss. And then I cried again when happy things happened later. So READ THIS BOOK AND BRING TISSUES TO DO IT, I guess is the message of this review.”
…My reviewing style is a little incoherent, but you get the idea.
The second book is a signed copy of the amazing Stella Cameron’s second Court of Angels book, Out of Mind. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve heard good things! Here’s the back cover copy:
Her uncanny sight reveals abuse and damage suppressed deep within—little wonder she’d rather close her eyes. Willow Millet longs to deny her family’s exceptional gifts—paranormal talents known to few, shared by even fewer. Benedict Fortune is one such—a connection that should have strengthened the undeniable bond between him and Willow. But her self-doubt has driven them apart.
Married instead to her business, Willow’s concierge we-can-do-anything service is thriving until it is hit by a string of bizarre and fatal accidents—every victim a client. Now her livelihood depends on two enigmatic socialites and their notoriously decadent parties. In this anything-goes atmosphere, Willow and Ben are thrown together again and their need for each other is as strong as ever, but they are challenged at every turn…
For dark forces are staking Willow—coveting her gift as a means of cheating death…and ruling New Orleans forever.
Enter to win this awesome prize here at my website.
1. My beloved critique partner Susanna Fraser recently sold her Regency-set historical, The Sergeant’s Lady, to Carina Press. It’s coming out towards the end of August, and it’s a really great book. I’ll be posting more about it when it’s available for pre-order, and I’m hoping Susanna will come here on her blog tour, but for now I’ll just say it’s about a gently-born officer’s widow and a common sergeant in the Peninsular War who end up having to fight their way across half of Spain together.
Actually I will also say, because I cheat, that I have it on good authority that the hero looks a lot like Captain Mal-era Nathan Fillion:
and that he wears one of these lovely green uniforms:
Mmmmm. She’s posted an excerpt at her blog. Go read!
2. Courtney Milan posted a response to the History Hoydens post about the importance of historical accuracy in historical romance that I linked to a few days ago. I really love what she says about the ways “the past is a vehicle for the present” in her books. It clarifies some things for me about my own use of history.
In honor of the awesomeness of her post, I have a confession to make: I seem to have acquired no less than three copies of her book, Proof by Seduction. Don’t judge me! There were library book sales involved! It was a really good book! I can’t be held responsible!
Now, I obviously need to keep one of these copies for myself, but I’d be happy to mail the other two to the first two people to comment and tell me they want one. Put your e-mail address in the comment so I can contact you for your shipping information. (NB: Both these copies are in good used condition.)
3. I’m going to a family wedding next month, so I went dress shopping today…and in addition to the dress I bought for that, I seem to have…accidentally acquired an evening gown? One very much like this one, only mine is this beautiful shimmering deep blue, and it was on sale, and it fit me perfectly (dresses NEVER fit me perfectly), and I could not leave it there. I tried. But I went back.
Maybe I can wear it to one of the dinners or parties at the RWA National Conference next year? Will I look overdressed? It is already way too dressy for pretty much EVERYTHING ELSE in my life, and also it kind of looks like something Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl would wear to pretend to be a grown-up at a soirée, but I don’t even care, I adore it.
The cover for A Lily Among Thorns arrived in my inbox a couple of days ago! So, without further ado:
Isn’t it lovely? While those people don’t physically resemble my hero and heroine very much (the woman would if she didn’t curl her hair and dressed differently, though), the vibe between them is perfect. And I love the outdoors London backdrop! You can see a larger version here.
The back cover copy for this one has been up at the website for a while, but I can’t remember if I ever posted it here. Either way, I love it and here it is (again?).
It was him. Serena couldn’t breathe. She’d been looking for him for years—the man who’d lifted her out of the dregs of London’s underworld. She remembered that he’d looked like an angel. But either she’d embellished or he’d grown up. Because he didn’t look like an angel now. He looked like a man, solid and broad, and taller than she’d thought. And now he needed her help.
Solomon recognized her as soon as they were alone in the dark. He’d not forgotten that night five years ago either. But Serena had changed. She was stronger, fiercely independent and, though it hardly seemed possible, even more beautiful. She was also neck-deep in trouble. Yet he’d help cook a feast for the Prince Regent, take on a ring of spies, love her well into the night—anything to convince her that this time he was here to stay.
How great is that?
Plus, I have a new contest up! I’m giving away a (Region 1) DVD copy of High Plains Invaders, the costume drama monster movie starring James Marsters (Spike from Buffy) I reviewed a few months ago. You can watch a preview for the movie and enter the contest here. (I’ll ship anywhere in the world!)
And finally, an adorable addendum to my recent post about Luddites and John Henry. I talked about Byron’s speech in the Lords opposing the Frame Bill. I just found this in Byron’s Romantic Celebrity by Tom Mole:
“Byron learned his speech by heart, and practised some parts of it in front of Robert Charles Dallas, who reported that ‘he altered the natural tone of his voice, which was sweet and round, into a formal drawl, and he prepared his features for a part–it was a youth declaiming a task.’”
I didn’t fully understand the use of “task” in this context, so I looked it up in the OED. Definition 2b reads “A portion of study imposed by a teacher; a lesson to be learned or prepared[...]Now arch.[archaic]”
I’m working on a post about Luddites, the British tradition of collective bargaining by riot, and John Henry, but in the meantime:
My friend and fellow Dorchester author Marie-Claude Bourque has a book out this week! So do Emily Bryan, Christie Craig, and Cindy Holby! So Marie-Claude is doing a fabulous giveaway at her group blog for aspiring authors, Musetracks.
Three bundles of books by Dorchester authors, and the second one includes In for a Penny. Check it out!
All the authors contributed inspirational quotes, too. I know you want to read mine!
Hey all! Revisions are BENDING TO MY WILL! MWAHAHAHAHA!
Okay um. I think all the oxygen from my brain is gone because of too much revisions (I just typed “brain from my oxygen”) so I will be brief! Actually brief, not like Friar Lawrence or Polonius when they say that (Shakespeare REALLY liked that joke: “I will be brief” followed by a million lines).
My GSRWA and blogging friend Cecilia Grant (her blog is awesome, you guys) just did an amazing and a half interview over at Romance Writers on the Journey. It’s sooo good. Although I feel that it’s very unfair to post an interview like this when your book is NOT AVAILABLE YET. Here is the description of her first book:
“When a pretty young widow enlists his help in conceiving a fraudulent heir, Christopher Mirkwood knows exactly what to expect: pleasure and more pleasure, and the chance to bestow the sensual awakening of which any such widow must necessarily stand in need. What better diversion from the tedium of a parentally mandated rural exile?
Awakening. Really. Martha Russell is wide awake, thank you, and has more important matters on her mind. Armed with principle, fortitude, and a bone-deep certainty of her own righteousness on all occasions, she’ll do whatever she must to keep her estate, and housemaids, out of her brother-in-law’s hands — even if she must do it with a wastrel who can’t get it through his pleasure-addled head that their arrangement is strictly business.
They need a month of illicit encounters. They’ll be lucky if they make it through a week. But if they can keep from throttling each other, they might find that even the most unromantic of bargains can turn into more than either one bargained for.”
How awesome does that sound! Prickly women with an over-developed sense of responsibility are my FAVORITE. And then the next book which is EVEN FARTHER AWAY sounds, if possible, EVEN MORE EXCITING:
“Martha’s brother’s story: Sworn to provide for a fallen comrade’s widow and child, Waterloo veteran Will Blackshear ventures into the gaming clubs of London in pursuit of quick cash – only to run afoul of a stone-cold cardsharp who’s staked out the territory as her own.
Lydia Slaughter is everything Will doesn’t need: ruthless, untrustworthy, and another man’s mistress. When she proposes a truce, and a tactical alliance, the resulting partnership could make his fortune… or ignite a passion that will leave them both in ruins.”
::drools:: Apparently Lydia is even a mathematician! Glamorous professional gamblers who are secretly math geeks make me SO HAPPY. (Have any of you read The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley?)
Here is an excerpt from the interview:
“My characters often start out as reactions to something I’ve read. For instance there was a period where I happened to read a whole string of romances featuring heroines who were downright Lady Chatterley-esque in their enraptured wonder at the male anatomy. It made me want to write the opposite: a heroine who’d look at an unclothed man and think, ‘Is this some kind of joke?’ Then it followed that her hero needed to be someone whose whole self-concept was rooted in his appeal to women, because those two could give each other maximum grief.”
Okay, maybe I like that so much because I get a lot of my ideas the same way. But also, that’s hilarious. And THAT IS JUST ONE EXCERPT. IT IS A VERY LONG AND GREAT INTERVIEW. And then in the comments there’s a discussion about emotionally manipulative things that totally make us cry! Which is something I love talking about because I’m a sap. If you want to know how to make me cry this is your chance. ALSO she’s giving away a signed copy of In for a Penny AND of Amanda Forrester’s The Highlander’s Sword (which I hear is a FABULOUS book and has been getting wonderful reviews even though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet) so this is your chance for those too.
…Okay that wasn’t that brief was it? But most of it was excerpts. Oh God I shouldn’t be allowed to make blog posts when I have done about ten hours of revision in a day. Whatever! Go! Read!
My blog tour starts today! You can read my post about classism in Regency England over at History Hoydens. Here’s the opening:
When I started writing In for a Penny, about a rich brewer’s daughter who marries an impoverished earl, I realized I was going to have to do some research to figure out how people in the Regency thought about class. I had general ideas, obviously, but if I was going to write about my heroine from the point of view of my antagonist, the snobby poacher-hating Tory Sir Jasper, or write about my heroine meeting the hero’s newly-middle-class tenant farmers, I needed to understand more.
I quickly discovered that there were endless gradations, just as there are today:
1. A biography of Hannah More tells this story: the Duchess of Gloucester “desired one of her ladies to stop an orange-woman and ask her if she ever sold ballads. ‘No indeed,’ said the woman, ‘I don’t do anything so mean, I don’t even sell apples!’”
And I’m giving away a signed copy of my book in the comments, too. Check it out!